Jeff Smith wrote: ↑Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:03 pmDoes the new higher frequencies, including the Hartford Line, justify electrification? I think if you threw on inland regionals to Boston, maybe. The issue as far as the inland route goes is the stretch from Springfield to Boston not being electrified. All you're doing is moving an engine change.
I wonder the same thing. I'm not convinced that there's enough demand to justify high frequencies or electrification. One part of me says it's part of the NEC operations, it should be electrified, but it poses a number of problems. Even with overhead wire dual-mode locomotives for through trains, it doesn't fully electrify the inland route, and it's basically impossible to justify electrifying that between Worcester and Springfield. With the Valley Flyer, the Vermonter, and CSOR freight, electrifying the route would only electrify some of the trains that run on it, or move the dual-mode switch point from New Haven to Springfield. And getting dual-mode equipment for the Valley Flyer would be massively expensive.
IMO, the money would probably be better spent building out a combined fleet of DMU/HMU 4-car trainsets with Amtrak-like seating that could be pooled for Amtrak, CDOT, and MN use for Hartford Line, Valley Flyer, Amtrak Shuttle, and Waterbury Branch operations, with inland route and Vermonter service switching to diesel locomotives in New Haven as the Springfield and Vermonter do now.
I think part of the reason that it doesn't justify high frequencies (although later service would be nice) is that it seems to mostly be successful as a regional rail type of system for occasional trips, not as a daily commuter service. SLE has some commutation, but seems to do very well, especially seasonally as a regional rail system as well. Also, with only 4-car trains, the justification for electrification may not be as strong as it otherwise would be.
But maybe I'm wrong and I'm underestimating the potential for traffic growth on the Hartford Line, and it does justify electrification? Or maybe I'm overestimating the breakeven point for electrification over using DMU or HMU trains?