Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

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rr503
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Tue May 07, 2019 2:23 pm

Again, I think this is more than just “they can’t do it because environmental reasons.” All the litigation hasn’t helped, but NJT definitely seems to have deprioritized this project — and I frankly can’t blame them. Not only are there more pressing needs than this, but the fact of the matter is that development patterns and priorities have changed quite radically since this was conceived; it would be a bit of a white elephant.

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lensovet
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by lensovet » Wed May 08, 2019 1:32 am

kilroy wrote:And when they built the transcontinental railroad they built now many miles PER DAY? I know the track quality was poor but it was all done by hand.

I wonder what they would think of us if they could see this debacle.
the transcontinental railroad was built with a good amount of immigrant labor with no care for worker safety. the eastern end was built with mostly white people some of whom weren't even paid. the people who did get paid earned $1/day, which is equivalent to $16/day in 2019. think you'd find a lot of people willing to work for less than $2/hour?

it was also built on land that was literally given away for free by the federal government. no need to fight with property owners and easy to 'make' money when you can literally take land given to you for free and then sell it.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by CharlieL » Wed May 08, 2019 7:39 am

That doesn't address his point.

If memory serves the two companies had a competition where in one day each of them laid 10 plus miles of track. that does not include survey, grading, etc, strictly laying rails and ties.

That was of course atypical. given the slow start, and the mistakes, two miles per day was probably closer to reality.

The treatment of the workers was typical of the times. It was what it was.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Wed May 08, 2019 7:55 am

lensovet wrote:it was also built on land that was literally given away for free by the federal government
Mr. Len, since at my age, my definition of "political correctness" differs from that held by some younger members around here, there were people indigenous to this "Federal Land" that held differing views regarding who held the Deed to such.

Oh well, such gave Cecil B. De' Mille a good story line.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by kilroy » Wed May 08, 2019 2:00 pm

lensovet wrote:
kilroy wrote:And when they built the transcontinental railroad they built now many miles PER DAY? I know the track quality was poor but it was all done by hand.

I wonder what they would think of us if they could see this debacle.
the transcontinental railroad was built with a good amount of immigrant labor with no care for worker safety. the eastern end was built with mostly white people some of whom weren't even paid. the people who did get paid earned $1/day, which is equivalent to $16/day in 2019. think you'd find a lot of people willing to work for less than $2/hour?

it was also built on land that was literally given away for free by the federal government. no need to fight with property owners and easy to 'make' money when you can literally take land given to you for free and then sell it.
Yes. And all was standard operating practices of the time. Can't change history as hard as you try. I still say, what would they have through of the process NJT is going through for the Cutoff?

You can't have any great public works anymore as the needs of the few (or one) outweigh the needs of the many.
Why do we drive on parkways and park in driveways?

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by lensovet » Wed May 08, 2019 2:19 pm

kilroy wrote:
lensovet wrote:
kilroy wrote:And when they built the transcontinental railroad they built now many miles PER DAY? I know the track quality was poor but it was all done by hand.

I wonder what they would think of us if they could see this debacle.
the transcontinental railroad was built with a good amount of immigrant labor with no care for worker safety. the eastern end was built with mostly white people some of whom weren't even paid. the people who did get paid earned $1/day, which is equivalent to $16/day in 2019. think you'd find a lot of people willing to work for less than $2/hour?

it was also built on land that was literally given away for free by the federal government. no need to fight with property owners and easy to 'make' money when you can literally take land given to you for free and then sell it.
Yes. And all was standard operating practices of the time. Can't change history as hard as you try. I still say, what would they have through of the process NJT is going through for the Cutoff?

You can't have any great public works anymore as the needs of the few (or one) outweigh the needs of the many.
Isn't that capitalism? Individualism over the common good?

Who cares what they would have thought? What would they have thought of an African-American president? How is this relevant?
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by ExCon90 » Wed May 08, 2019 3:30 pm

In any case, you don't need to go back that far for a comparison. How long would it take a railroad today to get approvals to build the cutoff in the first place ...

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Wed May 08, 2019 3:45 pm

ExCon90 wrote:In any case, you don't need to go back that far for a comparison. How long would it take a railroad today to get approvals to build the cutoff in the first place ...
And PRR built Penn Station, the tunnels, the 2-track main line from Newark to the North Bergen portal and also Sunnyside Yard in about five years.

If anything, it seems EIS/NEPA is holding more up than anything else now.
kilroy wrote: You can't have any great public works anymore as the needs of the few (or one) outweigh the needs of the many.
At least there are some safeguards in place to protect against the power of someone such as Robert "The Highwayman" Moses.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Wed May 08, 2019 7:59 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote: If anything, it seems EIS/NEPA is holding more up than anything else now.
Not to single out you, R36, but this is a really important misconception to combat. NEPA's ask of public projects is actually really light -- IIRC the recommended maximum length of an EIS is on the order of 300 pages -- it's actually the weaponization of the law by various special interest groups (generally NIMBY types) that's made it so damaging. This damage has manifested in two ways: in that the findings of an EIS (which, by the way, are not binding) have been used in lawsuits alleging the proposing body is violating such-and-such regulation, which lengthens project timeline insofar as the lawsuit is successful at slowing/stopping/cancelling work, and in that, in attempts to head off opposition, planners attempt to deny opportunities for opposition (or for allegations of incompletion or inattentiveness) by writing unnecessarily exhaustive EISs, which lengthens project duration in its own right.

This is all to say that I think there's a lot more to our public works issue than just environmental regs. Pretty much all of Europe has built out transportation networks that outstrip ours by orders of magnitude, and yet their environmental policies are much stronger. To be sure, there's a unique myopia that pervades some corners of American environmental regulation (see, for example, New York's latest quest to stringently limit emissions from buildings when the consequent further discouragement of new construction in NYC is sure only to promote sprawl), but the imperatives of environmental stewardship are indeed imperatives -- as the line goes, we only have one planet. But regardless, it seems that a lot of seemingly environmental opposition to major projects these days comes not so much from the proverbial 'greenies' but from, well, NIMBYs.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by amtrakowitz » Thu May 09, 2019 12:14 am

rr503 wrote:Pretty much all of Europe has built out transportation networks that outstrip ours by orders of magnitude, and yet their environmental policies are much stronger …
Actually, they are not much stronger. In many respects, they are a lot weaker. Take their emissions requirements for trucks and tractor-trailers; far more lax than in the USA. Not to mention, their "carbon" initiatives are continually sidestepped and/or ignored.

And no, it's not "all of Europe" by far. Things like high-speed rail are limited to just a few countries, and due to government ownership there any surpluses are reabsorbed by the government and the debt keeps rising. It might also be noted that "Europe" loves automobiles more than the USA does. As for freight rail haulage, the trucking industry there laughs quite hard and cannot see it in their rather large rear-view mirrors.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by JasW » Thu May 09, 2019 6:24 am

ExCon90 wrote:In any case, you don't need to go back that far for a comparison. How long would it take a railroad today to get approvals to build the cutoff in the first place ...
Which illustrates what a joke this has become -- the damned cutoff is already built. They just need to re-lay the tracks Conrail removed thirty-odd years ago. I admit that's a bit of a simplification, but the general fact remains that the ROW with infrastructure is in place. Historical comparisons may be inapt for a number of reasons -- here's another, in 1924, Seaboard, to compete with the FEC in South Florida, built a 200+ mile extension to West Palm Beach across central Florida wetlands in just nine months -- but such comparisons do underscore that where there's a will, there's a way, and a quick one at that.
rr503 wrote:Again, I think this is more than just “they can’t do it because environmental reasons.” All the litigation hasn’t helped, but NJT definitely seems to have deprioritized this project — and I frankly can’t blame them. Not only are there more pressing needs than this, but the fact of the matter is that development patterns and priorities have changed quite radically since this was conceived; it would be a bit of a white elephant.
As sad as it makes me as a railfan to admit it, there is much truth in this. The younger generation (or "younger generation," as the esteemed Mr. Norman might put it) has gravitated to the urban core, rather than West Podunk. People will not be lining up to commute to NYC from Blairstown or anywhere across the Delaware. Even Andover seems like a waste -- you might as well just drive to the station in Mt. Olive. NJT realizes this, I think, and while I'm not sure it has yet relegated the cutoff to white elephant status, it is instead more conscious of the real elephant in the room, that being the looming failure of the PRR tunnels. Priorities, priorities.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Union Tpke » Thu May 09, 2019 6:38 am

rr503 wrote:From a planning perspective, it's a really really bad idea to induce people to live that far from jobs. We already have a sprawl issue in this region, despite areas closer to the core being so underdeveloped. Fixing that -- which, of course, requires public transit $$$ -- should be the focus, not these low-ridership extensions into the urban fringe. I love the cutoff as much as the next guy, but there are many more efficient ways to spend limited cash in this day and age; time to leave this to die.
I share similar sentiments. Spending money upgrading all NJT low-level platforms to high-levels and electrifying lines, such as the RV to Raritan (later to Highbridge), the Montclair-Boonton, and the remainder of the NJCL should be a much higher priority. If you want new lines, restore the West Shore.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Thu May 09, 2019 6:54 am

amtrakowitz wrote:
rr503 wrote:Pretty much all of Europe has built out transportation networks that outstrip ours by orders of magnitude, and yet their environmental policies are much stronger …
Actually, they are not much stronger. In many respects, they are a lot weaker. Take their emissions requirements for trucks and tractor-trailers; far more lax than in the USA. Not to mention, their "carbon" initiatives are continually sidestepped and/or ignored.

And no, it's not "all of Europe" by far. Things like high-speed rail are limited to just a few countries, and due to government ownership there any surpluses are reabsorbed by the government and the debt keeps rising. It might also be noted that "Europe" loves automobiles more than the USA does. As for freight rail haulage, the trucking industry there laughs quite hard and cannot see it in their rather large rear-view mirrors.
The average American drives about twice as much per year as the average German in cars that are, on average, about half as efficient. When they arrive at their destination, Germans can use electricity from a grid that derives 43% of its energy from renewables/nuclear, versus America where that statistic is 29.

I can't speak to the exact regulatory mechanisms, but unlike us Europe has binding emission reduction targets that they regularly meet. Their freight rail network is certainly less developed, but that's much more a function of short freight stage lengths than it is a network deficiency -- when's the last time you saw an American railroad compete well in sub-500 markets. Point being, what they have works and what we have really doesn't.

Back to the cutoff, though, its issues transcend the changing preference in suburban location. It's just an inefficient project. You could spend the same amt of money for four or five times as many riders for, say, LRT on the Newark Branch or regional rail expansion on existing NJT lines.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by TSTII » Thu May 09, 2019 12:23 pm

503 -

You're an above average photographer....particularly in black & white shots.

Oh and your location tag is my favorite movie via Hitchcock :-)

rr503
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Thu May 09, 2019 2:14 pm

Thank you! It’s much appreciated — a little hobby I pursue on the side. I should get back on uploading to RP — have been distracted by Instagram...

N by NW is an amazing film, one of my all time favorites...but of Hitchcock’s movies, I think Rear Window edges it out by just a tiny bit.

On topic, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial adapting NJT’s investment priorities to changing development patterns/development goals is. And sadly, it probably will not reflect well for the Cutoff. This article does a decent job summing up the situation:

https://www.njspotlight.com/stories/18/ ... o-survive/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

...and in light of it, I really do believe that NJT’s investment imperatives today should be upgrading core infrastructure and making investments that support high frequency service in areas with potential for density all the while reducing cost of operation — necessary if NJT wants to graduate from a commuter operation to a true, holistic transportation option with decent off peak service.

I think projects extending rail outwards have a place in discussions, but I think that those projects are better addressed in the context of intercity rail expansion rather than commuter service.

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