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 nomis
This is the splinter thread from the original M-8 thread :-)
  by bulk88
In addition to maintaining Shore Line East's electric fleet, the plan proposes $40 million to purchase additional M8 cars to expand service between the New Haven Line and New York and $100 million to "upgrade Amtrak's existing catenary system and power."

That article is implying that SLE wont get M8s until Kawasaki builds more M8s. Remember M8 order was finished this month and there aren't any options left. I am thinking that those future M8s will be SLE specific and designed/approved by Amtrak engineering, not MN engineers like the existing M8 fleet. Which means the existing M8 fleet will never be certified for Amtrak. IIRC the original plan was to just retire M2s, not M4s and M6s. I suspect it was decided that the M8s wont be made Amtrak compatible and the already built M8s intended for SLE became unintentionally stuck on NHL, allowing enough M8 cars to retire the M4/M6s. NY State (owner of MN) has no reason to waste NY taxpayer money on Amtrak compatibility (until PSAS capital funding), it is solely CDOT's pet project.

The M9 order closed the M8 assembly line. The M9s are intended for ESA's opening. PSAS can't happen until after ESA opens, with ESA's M9s being delivered. At that point the M9 order is done, and Kawasaki's plant will build M10s for SLE and PSAS.

So what issues would a M10 address over a M8?

-ACSES certified
-correct voltage changing
-dual mode shoes (only some of the M8s have switchable shoes, other have the old shoes)
-LCD screens with ads/route map (fixes the greenwich/rye/sono/nh semi-express problem)
-official rollout wifi (experiment on M8), maybe only on SLE CDOT fleet
-triplets (S cars are part of the married set instead of current setup), more bike room/seats, SLE and MN disagree on bike policy
-tables, a SLE/CDOT thing that old NE RRs say is a not invented here west coast invention
-bar car :P

A M10 might be a Kawasaki SL, with 25 hz transformers and no 3rd rail shoe, with through running at Penn (or NJT sunnyside storage). SLE doesn't need shoes, PSAS doesn't need shoes. West side Hudson line would remain dual mode diesel, since MN will never go 100% electric. Making a M10 with 25 hz and no 3rd rail is the easy political way out. No expensive NIMBY ROW construction that most voters except the protesting ones dont see, more jobs for "Buy NY" procurement rules. It is easier to get money for new cars than for other improvements, or improvements to existing cars. A M10 might also be bought by MARC if Amtrak forces them to go back to electric on the Penn line or face slot cuts. SLE's Mafersa cars were rebuilt by Kawasaki, and the M10 contract will probably require M10 to be parts compatible with M8 for maintenance.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
There's nothing that needs to be SLE-specific. Nothing whatsoever.

-- The 8's are already ACSES-equipped.
-- The 8's already change voltage on-the-fly for 25 kV, and if there is any problem uncovered in widespread testing of that on the 8's...it gets fixed under warranty on the 8's not on a subsequent model.
-- They will NEVER bake in a 25 Hz transformer. They had that option on the original order, and a 4th power input added way too much transformer weight. A 1/2 mile extension of the LIRR third rail to the Hell Gate phase break is all that's needed to get them into Penn. That costs like $2M total and accomplishes the same thing as spending $1M more per car.
-- If there is ever a need to poke into NJ to loop at Secaucus or whatever, it won't be because any Metro North vehicle is modified. Either the LIRR 3rd rail will be extended, or the phase break will get moved to the other side of the river. And somebody other than the MTA is going to be picking up vast majority of the cost on any of those scenarios in the very unlikely event it happens. Because Metro North doesn't need or want to loop in New Jersey as badly as state of New Jersey does.
-- 3rd rail shoes are not baked into the base design and can be individually switched to a different type if they want to standardize on the same exact shoe for an M7/8/9/10/11/etc. on both LIRR and MNRR to keep their maint costs low and maint scale high. They would also never buy a new car type without them. M8's make occasional appearances on the Hudson and Harlem lines running exclusively in shoe mode, because some days car assignments get imbalanced and CDOT cars are the easiest thing to grab. There's no reason to give up that capability.
-- Onboard wi-fi isn't a car design thing at all, and is installed after the fact. Any passenger car can have any wi-fi technology installed, and wi-fi is frequently upgraded to higher-bandwidth equipment every few years. Metro North probably does what other commuter rail roads do and contract out their wi-fi installations to a third-party IT vendor they rent the transmitters from and have on-call techs to come in and troubleshoot. The rental is what allows them to trade up to better equipment once every few years.
-- If triplets were needed they would've baked them into the New Haven/New Caanan order to begin with. SLE doesn't change that, and would've likewise had its needs accounted for in the base order.
-- Interior livery changes require no vehicular design changes. Future bar car conversions are allowable on the unpowered singlets they have. If there's a need to change stuff around it'll be a change driven by needs for all CDOT electric services. They're not going to do anything special for SLE.
-- All CDOT vehicles are maintained at the same New Haven Line shops, where uniform fleet offers best equipment scale. It would be self-defeating to start fragmenting. In fact, this is part of the whole reasoning for putting M8's on SLE in the first place.
-- The controls are generic enough that no alternate operator (Amtrak, etc.) would ever need or ask for a different cab layout. Metro North does routinely hire away staff from Amtrak, and vice versa. They don't have to re-learn their whole craft from scratch to get qualified on an ACS-64 vs. an M8. There are MNRR engineers with simultaneous qualifications on any mixture of M2/4/6's, M3's, M7's, M8's, Genesis P32's, and/or BL20GH's. They're not complete alien species from each other.
-- No service as tiny as SLE would ever be justified in asking for unique fleet customizations.
-- No other agency is ever going to buy M# cars. The dimensions are wholly unique to the MTA, especially the M7/9's which have to fit without an inch to spare through ESA. Since NJT's Arrow-replacement EMU's are going to be bi-level fitted inside the dimensions of an MLV coach, bi-levels are going to be the only serious consideration for new buyers. Because everyone else has higher clearances than the MTA has to fit in...be they the MBTA/MARC full-size bi's or the tighter-fitting NJT/AMT/future-SEPTA MLV bi's. You might even see SEPTA doing copies of NJT's next-gen bi-level EMU's for its Silverliner IV replacements.
-- No other agency runs on third rail, so there is no cost efficiency in taking a car designed around third rail lineage and then stripping that out for 100% AC guts instead. It's a waste of the unique way the components are laid out and crammed into the undercarriage and roof of an M# pair. All other EMU's--including the Silverliner V's and NJT's next-generation Arrow replacements--come frequency-agile out of the factory at 25 Hz/12.5 kV AC, 60 Hz/12.5 kV AC, and 60 Hz/25 kV AC by defaultThe two MTA roads, owing to their third rail requirements, are the only ones who differ from that rote standard. So another EMU buyer would always look to a SEPTA or NJT for new AC-only models to copy--like Denver did with the Silverliners--rather than the M#'s.

I'm sure the M10 or M8A or whatever you want to call it is going to be as near-exact a replica as the 4's and 6's were (sans triplet status) to the 2's, with just some unseen updates for components that got perfected since the 8 order and little stuff like the screens (which would probably be added later to older cars).

I also don't see how this signals a policy change for M8's on SLE. CDOT may still be arm-wrestling with MNRR over that--same as it ever was--but in no way have they signaled a change in plans about scrapping the M8's to SLE plan. The car requirements to run SLE are meager...very meager. They will need a generous fleet increase to run to Penn and generally flesh out for growth, but SLE is hardly make-or-break.
  by The EGE
Well, we'll know soon enough what CDOT is thinking: Hartford Line service is scheduled to start by the end of next year, and construction seems to be proceeding well. That means that either most of the SLE diesel fleet has to be ready to be swapped over by then, or CDOT is going to start shopping for used locos and coaches real quick.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
They've got more equipment than they need for SLE. Probably greater than half of it goes unused on a given day and just rotates around different days. Starter schedule for the Hartford Line is going to be pretty meager until the next funding burst for north-of-Hartford finishes the job on last of the double-track and signal/speed improvements, ADA for Windsor station, relocated Windsor Locks station, new Enfield/Thompsonville station, and the all-important Springfield layover needed for running anything close to full-schedule. Until 2019-20 when that's all done and the schedule ratchets up several notches to something more fully-formed they're still going to have lots of slack space on equipment availability. Remember, the GP40-2H locos still have to go out for midlife overhaul and that won't be finished before the probable start of service. Power, not coaches, are the only thing that's really nudging any *slight* pressure on them to resolve the will-they/won't-they on M8's for SLE. And they've still got to build their gapless relocated platform at NLN before the center-door EMU's can cover the full schedule, so it's probably only the Old Saybrook turns that'll see the switch to 8's first with a few diesel sets needing to be kept around to cover New London until those minor to-do's are settled up.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Removed quote from immediately preceding post
  by The EGE
Since they already turn a lot of SLE trains on Track 6 (the NECR track) using a tiny folding metal platform that sticks out from the northbound platform, I wonder if they might choose to use that instead. Only 15 cat poles would need extension to wire Track 6 through the station.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
I thought the plan was to go south of State St. and rework the current low island into a tangent 3-car full-high island (per usual for CDOT, a short-sightedly short platform :( ). Having trouble pulling that up on board search, but somebody in-the-know a few months ago said what the official plan-of-the-moment was. And it wasn't anything grander than fluffing the pillows on the fringes like that.

They really need a permanent fix for this ungangly mess of a station layout. Just bite the bullet on the invasive cost and track shifting and get it over with already. But try getting CDOT, AMTK, the private station owners, the ferry terminal, and the city on the same page. This stop's going to be the NEC's last low platform 20 years longer than the next-to-last one with how many Chef Boyardees are stirring this pot.
  by bulk88
If I am reading the CCRC minutes for June 2015 correctly, an M8 can't go through the MN/Amtrak phase gap/voltage change at State Street since the phase gap is too short, since it was built for atmost 2-3 AEM7s, not an EMU. Now there is no way to fix that without applying for federal grants, bidding it out to a contractor, suspending AE between NH and BOS for a few weekends and run diesel regionals (and CT paying Amtrak's lost profit) and paying for all of that with CT capital construction funds." onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I will guess they are trying to write software for the M8s to switch voltage 1 pair by 1 pair so the head pair's transformer tap is on 25 KV and the rear pair is simultaneously on 12KV and a power loss to each pair triggers the software to change transformer taps, and the whole scheme sounds very risky, and neither Amtrak nor MN want take responsibility for frying an M8 trainset.

CDOT leasing the off-lease HHP8s from Bombardier looks like CDOT's other choice if the phase gap can't be made EMU compatible. Not sure if CDOT would use HHP8s with Mafersa, or get retired Comet cars, or MARC IIs.
  by Backshophoss
If you do it right and have enough speed before the phase gap,drop pans,coast thru the gap,
do the tap change and raise the pans. Is the phase gap too close to East Haven station?
As far as using Hippos as commuter power,don't believe New Haven shop is set up for motors,Just EMU's,
if repairs are needed.it's a long hike to Wilmington to Amtrak's shop!
As long as the Door Comm and MU cables are a standard setup,the Hippo's should be able to work
with any cars in ConnDOT's fleet
  by 8th Notch
The Phase break is closer to Mill River so essentially you probably could drop the pans and coast through without issue, only thing that would be tricky is coming eastbound if you had a set over 4 cars and had to approach the home signal prepared to stop (you are going slightly uphill coming east.)
  by kitn1mcc
They need to figure something out. would be nice if the state would buy a few acs-64
  by DutchRailnut
no one is gone buy electric engines for SLE since coaches are goig to springfield line , so keep dreaming.
  by Jeff Smith
Not sure if the recent meeting in Waterbury was discussed, but apparently some type of testing will happen soon according to that meeting: Waterbury Branch Improvements: PTC, Sidings, Service

From member Bill D who attended in Naugatuck:
Static testing of M-8's on SLE is expected to being in the near future, with more rigorous testing to follow. (Did not hear any firm date on this)
  by kitn1mcc
They need to do something the AC has been terrible all summer. i get on a nice cold m8 in west haven and get on a hot SLE. its not fun folks
  by Shaws cove
Seems the rumor going around is they are going to be testing a m8 sometime this weekend on Amtrak teritority.
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