Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by J.D. Lang
It's always been the sign of the times. Whichever special interest group has the most power over the Pols. w/o any pushback will win. Trail people are winning everywhere in NYS. :(
  by Jeff Smith
I hate to say it, but there's really not a use for it. While more and more people are moving out into the "exurbs", it's just not a practical east-west routing. Route topography and geography work against it as a through route. Too hilly, too circuitous. I've thought it would be a great route for Amtrak and Hudson line stations to reach White Plains and restore a route into GCT, but it would clearly take too much time.

Not too long ago, MNRR tried to find a transportation use by issuing an RFP for use of the Beacon line. I believe it was specifically for the portion west of Hopewell Junction. That was what made the most sense to me. It would make a great feeder to Beacon as a shuttle (as with the connection at Dykeman's, a reverse move would have to be made to go into GCT). Apparently, nobody bit.

I also thought of a spur off the Harlem, but it really just parallels the Harlem Line Wassaic extension up until around Stormville I think; it would just cannibalize any ridership from the west of 22 along 55.

So unless someone in Dutchess gets their panties in a bunch, and decides Fishkill and environs needs this line, the line between Beacon and at least Hopewell is toast.

I haven't seen anything about this in the news in Danbury.
  by west point
The only use of the Beacon line in my opinion is as a bypass of NY City upon the failure of the North river tubes. That would require an emergency declaration eliminating all usual permits for immediate restoration of the route that would still take over 2 years while new Gateway tunnel bores are built. That is expecting the new bores to take longer.
  by unichris
J.D. Lang wrote: Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:57 amTrail people are winning everywhere in NYS.
What's really weird is that to the best of my knowledge MNR just built the new 23 mail trail segment from Brewster to Hopewell in a way that preserved the single line of tracks that are all that's been there for years.

You'd think if they were going to abandon it, the time to do so would be before building a trail that looked like it was going to require attention to fit alongside at various bridges, etc.

But that trail was state money funneled through MNR specifically for that purpose, and maybe in the process of watching the work they got to thinking about what it was going to take to get the rails back in usable shape.

But this was sold and approved as "rail with trail" and not "trail instead of rail".

Though if they eventually do something with the beacon secondary that would seem to be trail in place of rail, and neither segment of rails seems of any use without the other...

At the end of the day, the value of the new trail, the existing trail to and over the poughkeepsie bridge, and the Putnam Division trail rests quite heavily on the fact that they remain connected to active rail with frequent, affordable, bike-friendly service at Brewster and Poushkeepsie. Being able to do those lengthy rides as one-way pedals with rail return makes them far more valuable than and out-and-back of comparable length. Passenger service along the Brewster-Poughkeepsie route would have been a great asset for that trail - but realistically it's far too many miles winding through nowhere to be useful as a passenger route.
Last edited by unichris on Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by Jeff Smith
J.D. Lang wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 4:27 pm You are probably right about it not bring a good E/W route in terms of terrain and sapping some of the Harlem line passengers above SE. Anyway here is something interesting.

HRRC filling with the STB:
Docket 301616
Thanks for the link. I've been wondering what HRRC's position would be, given that they have no customers west of the old Danbury station, and no prospects certainly west of the state line. They are of course contemplating passenger service to Southeast, and on to NYC. Whether that intent is serious or not is a subjective matter.

They also have had a tenuous relation with MNRR and CtDOT. If they are serious about such service, they need those extra few track miles and overhead to Southeast. They have had freight service, albeit via operation with MNRR, over the Harlem line IIRC.

I doubt MNRR would actually abandon and rip up rails east of Dykemans, as they would need it in cash of another washout on the Danbury. I don't think traversing the Maybrook east of Danbury is an option. And they'd need a stub over the Harlem to maneuver/reverse.

I think really what this all is is posturing, meant to force someone's hand. Get CtDOT to buy the line west of Danbury, and potentially, the missing link to New Milford. I do think HRRC is looking to monetize those portions, and perhaps even bid as an operator for any contemplated passenger service.
  by Jeff Smith
From the PDF (emphasis mine):
Unless Housatonic Railroad and Metro-North reach agreement to the contrary, Housatonic Railroad expects to both oppose and object to the adverse abandonment application after it is filed. ...
Housatonic Railroad has no comments with respect to most of the requested waivers..1 However, HRRC does object strongly to the request for a waiver of the requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 1152.22(b) which section requires a description of the “Condition of the Properties”. Metro-North has been in complete control of the property since its acquisition in 1995. Since Metro-North acquired the property, maintenance of the property has been exclusively the responsibility of Metro-North. The Condition of the Property is an important factor for the Board to consider in reviewing the Application when it is filed and it is particularly relevant to HRRC’s likely opposition to the application.

A waiver of the requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 1152.22(b) is sometimes granted in connection with applications for adverse abandonments because the applicant frequently has limited knowledge about the condition of the properties. However, that concern does not apply in this case and waiver is unnecessary and inappropriate since, as indicated supra, the applicant has had complete control of and responsibility for the condition of the property. See, Port of Benton, Wash.—Adverse Discontinuance of Rail Service—Tri-City R.R. Co., LLC, STB Docket No. AB 1270, slip op. at 4 (Service Date October 31, 2018).
As you can see, HRRC is looking for compensation for loss of rights.
  by J.D. Lang
As has been said a while back in one of the HRRC threads it's to bad that CTDOT did not buy the Danbury cluster when Conrail put it on the block. They could have leveraged MN to keep the line in tacked from Dykeman's east to the state line. Hopefully that track will be left so a Danbury to SE connection will not be lost. I 84 to I 684 and I 684 south is an absolute bear to travel.
  by Jeff Smith
I notified the News-Times and I-95 WRKI so they can pick up on the story.
  by Ridgefielder
Possibly relevant facts:
-Congressional leaders are reinstating "earmarks"-- in other words, the ability of Representatives and Senators to direct funding to specific projects-- in the 117th Congress.
-Rep. Rosa De Lauro, D-CT, is the new head of the House Appropriations Committee.
  by unichris
Jeff Smith wrote: Tue Feb 16, 2021 8:43 amAs you can see, HRRC is looking for compensation for loss of rights.
Clearly they're looking for money, the question would be if they had any real expectation of being able to practically use trackage that's been in disrepair and literally cut in places for years, or if they're simply looking for money because they think they might able to get some. Corporations are people enough that FOMO seems to apply...

Having foolishly re-read the entire thread in the past day, it occurs that abandoning the Beacon Secondary as a railroad might solve the FRA issues of any Beacon-area light rail project, no?

Keeping the option of a connection from Danbury to Southeast in some form seems to make sense, but from there through Hopewell probably not since it's too indirect for anything but freight or excursions and as a freight route it only really made sense when the whole Poughkeepsie bridge route was there as competition to the Selkirk one.
  by J.D. Lang
I'm going to send an e-mail to Joseph J. Giulietti 's office to see if the CDOT is aware of this.
  by unichris
Subject: Harlem Line Extension To Danbury?
Backshophoss wrote: Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:33 pm Well there goes the option to move equipment between lines,Thanks HRRC,you made the trail geeks happy. :grimacing:
That doesn't really compute - there's already been trail alongside the Brewster - CT portion for years, and more built over the last year between there and Hopewell Junction.

The only part that MNR owns to abandon which doesn't currently have trail alongside the rail is the Beacon Secondary, but that's not really the part that would be useful for equipment moves, since it would be easier and cheaper to do the occasional move between the Hudson line and Danbury over other railroad's routinely used trackage through MA and CT than to maintain 40-something miles of curvy, hilly non-revenue track for a vague need. They are keeping control of it to protect their fiber.

Building a trail on the Beacon secondary might be nice if it's not going to be used for other transit; it doesn't seem to have any future as heavy rail.

But abandoning CT to Brewster - what would actually cut a potential equipment connection - does next to nothing to enhance rail trails, since that trail is already there. The only way such an abandonment would be a win for trail folks would be if the HRRC subsequently gave up their piece in CT allowing a trail connection from Danbury to the NY trail network - fun in concept, but in reality most users could just drive to the state line to start.
  by Ridgefielder
unichris wrote: Tue Feb 16, 2021 12:48 pm Keeping the option of a connection from Danbury to Southeast in some form seems to make sense, but from there through Hopewell probably not since it's too indirect for anything but freight or excursions and as a freight route it only really made sense when the whole Poughkeepsie bridge route was there as competition to the Selkirk one.
For what it's worth, the Maybrook outlasted the Poughkeepsie Bridge by close to 20 years. Conrail ran daily Selkirk-Cedar Hill road freights via Beacon, Hopewell Jct., Brewster and Danbury until they unloaded the Danbury cluster to the HRRC in 1992.
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