This is off the subject of subway connections to the national rail network, but there's an interesting story there. The Con Ed Travis Plant on Staten Island was given a permit to test-burn coal (it's a dual-fuel plant, burning either coal or fuel oil) in the early 1980s. NYSW was eager to grab the contract to serve the Travis Branch because of the expected coal moves. They did move several unit trains of coal to the plant, but then Mario Cuomo was elected and yanked the permit. I drove up and down the West Shore Expressway several times a year in those days, and I watched as Con Ed brought in front-end loaders to put the coal back in coal cars, which were then hauled away. Must have cost a fortune, and of course Con Ed's ratepayers paid the price. But you know, we must keep New York's air in the same pristine condition it is now, no matter the price.
So without the Travis Plant, NYSW had little business on Staten Island (Howland Hook did not then have rail access), so they abandoned service. The track deteriorated, AK went out of service, and the rest is history, but now rail service is back. There has been talk of reviving North Shore commuter service, but I'm not sure it will happen. At this point, there is rail service to Howland Hook container terminal and to a proposed trash transfer at Port Ivory. Con Ed pays to maintain the Travis Branch in case they have to move heavy equipment to the power plant, but I don't think there's really any chance of burning coal there again.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.