• Amtrak Gateway Tunnels - Freight Usage

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by JohnFromJersey
 
west point wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:50 pm Cannot schedule freights over a draw span same time every day. The tides are a contributing problem.
Even still, the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge crosses over some of the busiest waters on the Eastern Seaboard, and they account for tides by having the time it closes each day change, but it's always a consistent 15 minute period.

They could definitely do the same for a freight bridge crossing the Hudson
  by Jeff Smith
 
I split this topic from the main Gateway topic, as there currently no provision for freight through the new tunnels.

Some observations:

1. I don't think it's feasible for many of the reasons noted above.
2. CSX and NS aren't going to invest in any type of project which would not be of minimal utility to them, if any.
3. They also haven't shown any interest in a Cross-Harbor Freight tunnel, which was the original mission of the Port Authority. Why move an interchange point to Brooklyn when they just transload in Jersey?
4. Freight offloading would be a huge lift in Manhattan. That possibility was foreclosed when the Westside Yards near Riverside at the foot of the Henry Hudson Parkway was developed.
5. The West Side freight improvement (the High Line) would not have supported modern freight weights. The demand dropped late in its use anyway, and the demolition of the St. John's freight terminal foreclosed any increase in usage.
6. A tunnel through Manhattan doesn't do anything to help freight traffic into Manhattan. Where would you offload it? You're just moving trucks from one bridge to another, because you'd have to put the yard in Brooklyn.
7. I can't think of anywhere in Manhattan where you could put a freight yard, certainly being unable to compensate for grade issues in the northern tip. It would be a massive cost to acquire the real estate, unlike when the Pennsy was buying up the land in midtown for NYP.
8. The closest freight yard existing is Oak Point, and you can't access the Hell Gate from the link IIRC. You could use the NEC coming off the New Haven, but you have limitations with Amtrak and Metro North, plus clearance issues. It works for local freight, and P&W stone. So the connection is Selkirk or Cedar Hill.
9. That's not to say that a freight tunnel is not a worthwhile idea, but not as part of the Gateway project. But it would be a vast, expensive undertaking, one which the Class 1's won't fund. It might make the NY&A happy, but that's about it. But it would take trucks off the road.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Sun Oct 17, 2021 2:07 pm 9. That's not to say that a freight tunnel is not a worthwhile idea, but not as part of the Gateway project. But it would be a vast, expensive undertaking, one which the Class 1's won't fund. It might make the NY&A happy, but that's about it. But it would take trucks off the road.
Yeah, that's my thinking as well. At least get some offloading of those trash trains off the Metro North Hudson line.
  by photobug56
 
As you noted, the PA's only reason for being created was to build a rail tunnel. It's not about Manhattan except that it avoids freight trucking through Manhattan to get to the 4 counties of Long Island. And that is still badly needed. Now I don't know what it would take, but like Congressman Jerry Nadler I still think it must be built, though I don't trust the PA to get it right.
  by Ridgefielder
 
photobug56 wrote: Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:25 pm As you noted, the PA's only reason for being created was to build a rail tunnel. It's not about Manhattan except that it avoids freight trucking through Manhattan to get to the 4 counties of Long Island. And that is still badly needed. Now I don't know what it would take, but like Congressman Jerry Nadler I still think it must be built, though I don't trust the PA to get it right.
I don't think much freight is trucked through Manhattan unless you count the ~3/4 mile stretch of I-95 between the GW and the Alexander Hamilton. I think most the draying from the terminals/docks on the Jersey side either takes the GW then Cross Bronx to the Whitestone/Throgs Neck or the Staten Island Expressway to the Verrazano Bridge and the BQE/LIE. At least that's certainly my impression as a periodic motorist on those roads. I don't see many 40' boxes on trailers grinding across Midtown on 42nd St.

If the goal of this tunnel is to improve rail freight traffic into the 5 boroughs and LI, the easiest solution probably isn't a freight tunnel straight across from Greenville Yard to Bay Ridge. It's a tunnel connecting the West Shore to the Hudson Division somewhere in the neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil so freights from the west can access Oak Point without going through Selkirk or Cedar Hill. Plenty of excess capacity on the Hell Gate Bridge.
  by photobug56
 
This tunnel was meant to bring in freight from south and west and obviously has to connect into the Long Island rail network. Part of of it would be LIRR over night to freight depots with intermodal and maybe some less than car load and of course lumber. That doesn't mean we couldn't do more over Hellgate - the idea is to get the trans Hudson and East River freight off jammed highways and streets. I think we do need the original PA tunnel in some form, but also Hellgate. Time to retire the Cross Harbor barges and replace by rail.

Now if there was a viable way to add commuter / passenger rail to the south and west, great. Not expecting it.
  by ElectricTraction
 
Gateway cannot handle freight. The clearances in and through Penn are way too tight. The smallest clearance for freight on 99.9% of the US freight rail system today is Plate C 15'6", Penn is 14'6" with rounded corners. The freight tunnel linking Brooklyn and New Jersey is a totally separate project which should be done, but has nothing to do with Gateway.
  by photobug56
 
Hence the need for PA to build the freight tunnel they were created to build.
  by andegold
 
Wouldn't a tunnel also facilitate the development of ports on the island anywhere from Brooklyn in the east all the way out to Montauk? Unload the ships on the island right onto the train and express to the mainland. Quicker (marginally) time to port for the ships but also no worries about bridge clearances or harbor traffic. Of course shoreline real estate is way too expensive for this now but it could have worked 50 or 75 years ago.
  by Ridgefielder
 
andegold wrote: Fri Oct 22, 2021 11:48 am Wouldn't a tunnel also facilitate the development of ports on the island anywhere from Brooklyn in the east all the way out to Montauk? Unload the ships on the island right onto the train and express to the mainland. Quicker (marginally) time to port for the ships but also no worries about bridge clearances or harbor traffic. Of course shoreline real estate is way too expensive for this now but it could have worked 50 or 75 years ago.
Brooklyn still does, in fact, have an active container terminal. https://goo.gl/maps/2W5VrsgLtyuAMkoQA

But once you're past NY Harbor there are no suitable deep-water anchorages on the rest of LI. Even a WW2-era Liberty ship drew 28', too much for anything other than Fort Pond Bay out in Montauk and the dredged channel at Port Jefferson. A modern Panamax container ship draws 39' and a Suezmax (like the M/V Ever Given) draws 66'. The closest harbor east of NY that could accommodate even a Panamax ship is Providence.

The original reason for the LIRR building to Montauk was to develop a port a half-day's steaming time closer to Europe. Even in the 1890's it turned out to be unworkable.
  by photobug56
 
The reasons today are different. The problem to be solved is to get all but local delivery trucks off the road.
  by Tom V
 
Speaking of increasing freight rail service into the city, the most obvious is to add back the fourth track to the Hells Gate Bridge. It used to have two passenger and two freight tracks, now it’s three ( 2 passenger 1 freight). That and improvements in Queens and Brooklyn to the existing freight lines can really do wonders for increasing freight rail into the city.


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  by eolesen
 
It was built for four tracks using 1900's clearances for safety between passing trains when cars were 40' long and a lot lighter.

The trend for the past 40+ years has been to increase space between track centers due to longer and sometimes wider cars.

Will the bridge support those wider clearances? Heavier cars? Longer cars?

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  by west point
 
Eoleson: good points. IMO 4 tracks needed but 3 passenger and one freight if clearances possible. Needed for MNRR service to NYP. Freight track should also be available for passenger service.