• Amtrak to Long Island: MTA agrees to explore

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by andrewjw
Arlington wrote:The branch from LI City to Jamaica. How suitable for 2-track overhead electrification from Hunters Point-ish to Jamaica? Lots of grade crossings? How suitable for a tie-in to the tunnel portals?
Very unsuitable. Much lower speed limits, lots of expensive-to-avoid grade crossings. The East River Tunnels come up substantially north - significant new tunneling would be required to connect, including either under or over the Newton Creek branch that goes up to 47th Ave.
There are 4 tracks under the East River. These split to 8+ tracks east of the East River (2 to PW, 4 LIRR, 2+ to Hell Gate). The bottleneck is NOT the LIRR Main Line to Jamaica.
Edit: There will be 6 tracks under the East River come ESA, but that is still strictly less than the 8 tracks they are splitting into.
Last edited by andrewjw on Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by ConstanceR46
There is never going to be amtrak over the Lower Montauk. If you really wanted to, you could run Amtrak in a big loop-de-loop via the yard tracks and the Montauk Cutoff, but that would need a lot of new construction. But the real problems lie in the trackage, which is frequented by NY&A freight trains and operated as an industry between BLISS and WATCO's facility. In addition, there's a surplus of grade crossings on it, most of which can't be moved into overpasses or don't pay to be converted.

Another factor about the non-use of the Lower Montauk Branch is the NIMBY opposition in Queens
(Glendale, Maspeth, etc.) being against upgrading this route for more trains with higher speeds.

I took notice to the thought of expanding the LIRR Main Line to six tracks (WIN and JAY)...
The distance between WIN (3.8) and JAY (9.0) is 5.2 miles (from LIC) and even though that
sufficient land is available on parts of the ML route there would need to be changes such as the
demolishing half of both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens Stations (and possibly the store row that
is on the Lefferts Boulevard bridge at KG) along with changes to all bridges on the route.

WIN is the former interlocking at the point the Port Washington Branch separates from the Main
Line and JAY is the tower controlling the interlocking plant west of Jamaica Station (HALL Tower
controls the interlocking plant east of Jamaica) for the record here.

There also is the apartment buildings over the Main Line between Forest Hills and Kew Gardens
where the Jackie Robinson (Interborough) Parkway crosses the LIRR: Is there enough room
under these buildings to allow two more tracks to be added at this point?

The Main Line has four tracks between Harold and Jamaica which is sufficient for the levels of
service operating currently. Two new tracks would not only be expensive but could encounter
again opposition from Queens communities enroute to significant changes on the Main Line.

Last edited by MACTRAXX on Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by DutchRailnut
Everyone, ever think this study is not going anywhere and was just to shut up a bunch of politicians ??
Amtrak did a study years ago and it was not favorable, nothing has changed.
  by Arlington
Got a link to the study?

I would venture that what has changed is that Amtrak's share of the WAS&DCA to NYP&LGA has gone from 35% to 70% since 1999 (and also driven airlines out of BWI-LGA).

Additional Acela capacity will sqeeze a little more

This puts Amtrak within striking distance of an effective monopoly, if only it can squeeze the airlines down to, say, 10% (effectively leaving the local market and serving connections only).

A JAM terminus would have that power--something which earlier studies likely could not plausibly show.
  by NIMBYkiller
I also agree that this is largely just a "yeah yeah sure sure no problem we'll study it yeah sure" just to shut somebody up as part of the deal to get the bridge in Pelham done (in addition to letting them get MN on the Hell Gate).
  by njtmnrrbuff
FYI, that bridge is not in Pelham, but very close to Pelham Bay Park. It's still in NYC.

Back to the topic, Amtrak is not going to run on the Lower Montauk Branch. If it is coming from NYP, it will stay on the Main Line which is faster. Four tracks is enough to handle movements on the Main Line from just east of Woodside to Jamaica.

The Montauk Line could use more double tracking, especially if Amtrak were to ever run any trains to the East End of LI. What I do want to see at Montauk Branch stations east of Patchogue is to extend the platforms, especially if 12 car trains are running out there.

Just one thing about if Amtrak ever plans to run trains to Ronkonkoma-they would probably have to have an engine on both ends or a cab car on one end. I doubt that there is or has ever been a loop at Ronkonkoma. The yard has always been set up for MUs.

1-Agreed. Take into consideration NYA's use of this line for much of their freight service.

2-A 3.3 mile extension of double track from Y (Mile 50.6 from LIC east of Sayville) where single
track begins into Patchogue (53.9) could be a start. There are limited trains operating out east
that run with more then 8 cars seasonally (such as the Friday Cannonball) that require either a
double stop or for passengers to walk forward or back. Eight car platforms are sufficient for the
C3 fleet at major stations since these are the longest diesel trains in regular service.

3-The yard at Ronkonkoma (before the Hicksville-Ronkonkoma Electrification) once had a wye.
The current Ronkonkoma Station is built on the site of the old Ronkonkoma Yard.
The Greenport Scoot (the only diesel trains on the Main Line) uses cab cars or locomotives on
both ends (when cab cars are not available) in service. Amtrak would need to do the same.

  by mark777
I will echo Dutch on this that this is nothing more than politics. But lets dig deeper into this. Lets back track. Lets pick any Empire service train. It must travel down the west side into Penn station because unless they (the politicians) are planning on creating some new connection via MNR to Hell gate, all trains will have to go through Penn. And lets face it, without a stop in Penn Station, there is little demand east of there without discharging say a good 90% of its load at Penn. Then as mentioned, we would be looking at the same train set powered by a DM to transverse the same tracks that the LIRR already use, and I reckon that LIRR trains would get more of a priority, so it would be exposed to the same delays the LIRR encounter especially at the pedestrian speeds through Jamaica. Then lets train the crew to qualify on the LIRR territory unless the Amtrak train would be crewed by LIRR crew, perhaps even dictated by the LIRR unions who may not dig another RR in it's territory. Then, unless it's double ended, there has to be a place to turn the equipment around which we already know couldn't happen because two DMs are required, one on each end, therefore taking an extra DM from Amtrak's pool to cover a trip that is already being covered by the LIRR. Then lets look at the folks on Long Island who already claim that they pay too much to ride the LIRR. How do you think residents of LI, (Tax payers), feel about having NY state fund such a service yet neglect to upgrade the LIRR service? MY guess would be not at all too happy. The only way Amtrak service would ever make sense on LI would be if one of these bright politicians have the bright idea to build a tunnel or bridge under the Long Island Sound to connect CT or RI that would include a rail line in it. And even with this, you would have to do something about the west end connection through NYC, because the current layout of Penn won't yield any high speeds through it. Guess Guliani's once touted train tunnel connecting NJ to Brooklyn wouldn't have been a bad idea at all now that you think of it.

Getting back to the Empire service, wasn't really aware of this huge market that exists between Long Island and Albany. But if you look at the operations out of ISP, the most popular destinations are all in Florida and Southwest's numerous flights to BWI. Now if there were numerous flights to say ALB, SYR, ROC and BUF out of ISP, then I would argue that there is a big demand for Amtrak to look into. But for now, most folks will head to LGA or JFK and fly there, and those wishing to use Amtrak would take the LIRR into Penn and switch over, which coincidentally will take the same amount of time as say doing it on a thru Amtrak train service. The economics are just not there to sustain any service. Cannonball service is indeed jammed packed during the summer months, but wouldn't be much of an issue to add service if single track were to be given more sidings along the way, more equipment in the form of new bilevels, or the most logical of all, electrify the whole damn RR. Expensive some say? well, buying an orphan diesel fleet and bilevel cars that are not compatible with other RRs isn't very cost effective especially when you have to constantly maintain them. And having NY state fund a dead end Amtrak service wouldn't be too profitable either to serve Montauk that only generates high demand during the summer months. Just look at the off peak season counterpart of the cannon ball and see how many passengers ride that from Jamaica say during January thru April. Not much for Amtrak to take there.
  by STrRedWolf
Hmmm... Southwest has regular flights from BWI to ISP...

BWI to Pittsburgh (PGH) is 210 miles "As the bird flies". This is my go-to threshold for flights, because it takes me four hours (2 through security, 1 in the air, and 1 on the bus or SuperShuttle into Pittsburgh itself) to fly to Pittsburgh.

To JFK, it's 184. LGA is 185. ISP is 220. All of these are a rough hour gate-to-gate... but then you're spending two hours max at these busy airports getting through security. Its still a rough hour gate-to-gate. ISP to Baltimore would be under 4 hours (2 for the security, 1 gate-to-gate, 20 minutes luggage, 10 trip to Amtrak station, 30 min Amtrak or MARC express).

LIRR says it takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to get to Penn Station from Ronkonkoma (where ISP is). From there you're switching trains to a Regional which is 2h30m to BWI... or 3h to WAS. That's a total of 4h 30m (assuming 10 minutes to transfer, it's really more).

I now think some politician wants to shave 30m off that time by not stopping at LIRR stops (maybe Jamacia) and going through Penn to DC. The critter must have an issue with TSA now...
  by Jeff Smith
Nice analysis/comp ^^^. Relieves air congestion along more NEC airports by adding ISP and JFK. Add population centers on LI direct into NEC helps too.

I can’t figure how they’re going to connect to the NB NEC though. The Bay Ridge does cross over the LIRR, but it would be problematic to connect the two. Would there be a market for LI to Westchester, CT, and New England that bypasses NYP?
  by Arlington
I think the northside/eastside NEC will always be a connection from Long Island.

So far, it is the Southside/Westside Northeast corridor where the trains are really crushing the planes, thanks to a happy combination of large population & straight track.
Last edited by Arlington on Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by STrRedWolf
Jeff Smith wrote:Nice analysis/comp ^^^. Relieves air congestion along more NEC airports by adding ISP and JFK. Add population centers on LI direct into NEC helps too.

I can’t figure how they’re going to connect to the NB NEC though. The Bay Ridge does cross over the LIRR, but it would be problematic to connect the two. Would there be a market for LI to Westchester, CT, and New England that bypasses NYP?
I think that's more of a ferry service to get to a connecting city.
  by Backshophoss
With the lower Montauk turned into a freight only secondary track,and the "Freight cutoff" track to Harold abandoned "in place",along
with the whole cutoff at the same time,the only way north to Albany is thru NY Penn to DV to MN Hudson line.
Rebuilding the Wye at DV is also lost.
  by BM6569
Anyway to get from Jamaica directly to the Hell Gate by rebuilding a connection? Was there ever one at Fresh Pond to go in that direction (heading west then north)? It doesn't appear to on the maps I'm looking at.
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