• Through Running Instead of Penn South?

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by ElectricTraction
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:44 pmAmeriStarRail's proposal also relies heavily on through running as a highly beneficial solution.
They do a little bit of through running, but not at a large scale. The toughest routes on there would be the two to Ronkonkoma. I clicked on a random spot in the video and they were talking about tri-power trainsets, which is a very technically challenging solution. As it is, the M-8's, which aren't diesel and can't run on 25hz are some of the most complicated commuter railcars in the world.
Although not exactly the same as Penn Station, I need to add that in Boston through running is a big part of and important reason for building the North-South Rail Link. Seems people can spin things in any direction they want in this matter.
Philly and Boston have and could have, respectively, systems entirely powered by overhead AC electrification (maybe except for Greenbush/Old Colony, which aren't part of the proposal for the North-South link and would likely remain dieselized to terminate at the existing South Station), which makes things a LOT easier. Had the LIRR been electrified with 11kV overhead, the discussion on through running would be a totally different discussion.
A disconnected rail system is an inefficient rail system. Our stub-end terminals require every train to back out of our downtown stations before another can enter. This process requires extra platform space and wastes a lot of valuable real estate, but it also and wastes the time of crews, equipment and passengers alike, driving up operating costs and suppressing ridership.
You can get most of those advantages of run-through by turning and burning, with good reverse-peak service that's relatively balanced and no throating. Most services are naturally stub-ended, even ones at stations like Washington Union that have run-through trackage. Actually, the whole system would become more efficient in New York by bringing back frequent ferry service from Hoboken and LIC and stub-end turning and burning a lot of trains there plus at Atlantic Terminal, which has great subway connections. LIRR has a long way to go on utilizing crews and equipment more efficiently, like better scheduling, completing electrification to all points west of Ronkonkoma and Patchogue, and moving to proof of payment with off-peak trains running with OPTO, none of which requires any technically daunting and very expensive through-running schemes.

Which also brings us to the point that any savings realized operationally would be quickly burned through and then some with the bespoke, highly complex equipment you can cook up that can do the through-running, if a third rail/25hz EMU design is even feasible within the weight limits for the North River Tunnels.
  by ElectricTraction
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:44 pm AmeriStarRail's proposal also relies heavily on through running as a highly beneficial solution.

https://ameristarrail.com/



Although not exactly the same as Penn Station, I need to add that in Boston through running is a big part of and important reason for building the North-South Rail Link. Seems people can spin things in any direction they want in this matter.
That presentation is fascinating to say the least. It is a bit disconcerting to see a private operator basically trying to take over a big chunk of Amtrak, but that's a separate issue from the technical validity of their plans.

Their whole plan basically hinges on those tri-mode trains, which sound a bit beyond plausibility to me. They're proposing a 25hz capable HSR trainset that's going to carry around a diesel engine or two and all the equipment to run on 770VDC third rail. That's a really, really tall order. All of the existing dual modes only do two of the three, are some of the heaviest and most complicated locomotives and railcars out there, and have a top speed of, at most, 125mph.

His endorsement of NJT-LIRR through running is also concerning, as even if it would work for a relatively small Amtrak fleet, the cost to do the same for LIRR and NJT commuter trains would be positively astronomical.

I do like the idea of through-running to Alexandria, the operations through Center City Philadelphia, and the other extensions make sense from a market perspective.

I got a few other takeaways:
[*]That guy really, really hates those Amfleet cars. Ok, they're ugly, uncomfortable, noisy, and generally lousy, but I don't think they're that big of a safety hazard
[*]He does have a point about mixed high-speed and regular trains on the corridor creating a dispatching nightmare, BUT running all high-speed trainsets hinges on his tri-mode trainsets actually working
[*]His comments about the restrooms not working due to a power outage were pretty rich coming from the guy who did SEPTA run-through with trains that don't have bathrooms and are run on electricity
[*]The compartments are bonkers, they make no sense with the clientele on the NEC who are often traveling alone or in smaller groups
[*]Their comments about diesel under the wire operations are spot on, and diesel under the wire passenger operations should have been banned from the corridor a long time ago, except for reaching stations on the NEC for a short distance.
[*]They appear to have circumvented the BS with the Coast Guard limiting the number of bridge openings at CONN interlocking by running trains over the inland route, but at some point, someone needs to fix that stupidity. Maybe it requires an act of Congress, but that's a purely paper problem. In the meantime, there are slots to be clawed back by allowing SLE passengers to use SLE tickets on Amtrak trains and turning those SLE trains at OSB.
[*]Ronkonkoma, Hoboken, Center City, and Brunswick are all great markets to access from the NEC, and worthwhile, but there are others that he didn't get into, like Atlantic City, Newport, Hyannis, Greenfield, etc that are accessible with varying levels of additional infrastructure investment.

The NYP through-running utilization plan is intriguing, but this to me fit with the overall theme of the whole presentation, which is a series of band-aids. Sure, that makes sense temporarily, but we can't let band-aids prevent actual infrastructure projects:
[*]NYP through running doesn't negate the need for adding capacity, removing MSG, and re-balancing LIRR and NJT operations
[*]Running corridor services via the inland route and Grand Junction Line doesn't negate the need for the North-South Rail Link which has the side benefit of being able to run corridor operations from the Shore Line to Rockland.
[*]Tri-mode equipment, if it's even possible doesn't negate the need to electrify to Albany and beyond for high speed rail service and commuter operations to Poughkeepsie.

The services that go off of the traditional NEC would work with ALP-45DP like locomotives, but then they wouldn't all be high-speed which seems to be a core part of their plan.
  by west point
 
All this talk about thru running is going to be subject to items that we cannot even conceive. The amount of passenger and train load in NYP in the next 10 years cannot be predicted as it depends on too many variables.
All the following are extremes and each item could fall anywhere in the range. It is the unpredictable combination that will be interesting.
1. East side access (ESA) may take a largen number of passengers and trains from NYP or it may just increase many new LIRR passengers to GCT keeping the demand to NYP about the same..
2. The new MNRR Hell Gate service may cause a large influx to NYP or maybe cause a demand for it to serve GCT (would require different equipment )
3. NJT may have a decrease in number of passengers or to the contrary a large increase. 10 years is about the time that Gateway tubes can begin revenue service. If one tube has to close for whatever reason then its number of passenger will significantly decrease as NJT goes to Hoboken.
4. Amtrak is the wild card. Demand and # of trains will stay nearly same or demand and trains greatly increase causing a few NJT trains to be diverted to Hoboken. Acela-2s are planned to start 1/2 hour services during rush hours, Demand Amtrak NYP - BOS may stay near now or could increase significantly.
5. Penn south might be complete allowing for more NJT trains maybe 8 - 10 years.
6. Once Gateway bores are in revenue service they and the one open North River bore will definitely increase the number of trains and passengers. Once both North River bores rehabbed then even more services and passengers.
7. West side access may also bring in few to many more trains and passengers.
8. Once 1-7 with some or all are complete then the need for East River bores 5 and 6 may be needed to be in service. for LIRR and Amtrak.
9. There could be thru trains from / to Hell Gate trains to the West side service all the way to / from Harmon. That seems to be the only possible service due to other incompatibilities with other
  by ElectricTraction
 
west point wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:29 pm All the following are extremes and each item could fall anywhere in the range. It is the unpredictable combination that will be interesting.
In one sense, you're right. There are a lot of variables. But I don't think any but the most extreme scenarios change the need for the three major NYP capacity projects to be completed.
2. The new MNRR Hell Gate service may cause a large influx to NYP or maybe cause a demand for it to serve GCT (would require different equipment )
Politics of LIRR aside, I don't think it's physically possible. I'm not sure the tracks at HAROLD are even set to make that connection, but even then the LIRR GCT tunnels are really tight, I seem to recall they are too tight for M-8's with all the AC gear on the roof? It also doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a service, as the New Haven Line north of SHELL already goes to regular GCT, and the majority of that traffic will continue to go to regular GCT, even after full operations of Penn Access are opened, so it would basically be serving a handful of stations in The Bronx.
3. NJT may have a decrease in number of passengers or to the contrary a large increase. 10 years is about the time that Gateway tubes can begin revenue service. If one tube has to close for whatever reason then its number of passenger will significantly decrease as NJT goes to Hoboken.
NJT and LIRR both need to re-balance their traffic flows at NYP anyway, regardless of adding capacity to NYP. NJT is in a world of hurt if one tube goes down, as Amtrak would take priority, and NJT would get a few scraps left over. Even with SRO 14-car MLs, it's a drop in the bucket.

The problem with an emergency re-route to Hoboken, assuming that they could find some more ferry boats somewhere in the Eastern US to borrow/hire/steal, is that while the Kearny Connection can be closed, and all Morristown Line trains can go to Hoboken, for NEC/NJCL/Raritan trains, the Waterfront Connection is a single track, requiring southbound trains to make an at-grade crossing on both the NJT Morristown Line, and the Amtrak NEC, due to the lack of a flyover. I don't think the 25kV catenary is a limiting factor, as the Arrows that can't switch on the fly could be moved to the Morristown Line or taken out of service in favor of ALP-45DPs and ALP-46As that could probably completely flood both PATH and the Waterfront Connection. They could also reverse the direction of flow at Secaucus (people wise) to use the Main Line to get to Hoboken. With one tunnel OOS, they could use 3 of the 4 tracks as stub-end terminal tracks to feed Secaucus.

However, that would be temporary, as Gateway would eventually provide new tunnels, and even if both of the old tunnels went temporarily OOS when Gateway opened, you'd be back to two tunnels, and then three, and eventually four.

I highly suggest track maps if you don't have them already. The Vanshnookenraggen maps only cover NYC proper, but include abandoned lines, the Richard M Green maps only cover active trackage, but collectively cover a geography of Newark, DE, to Groton, CT, Albany, Port Jervis and Montauk, NY. The ones I have are out of date, I don't think there are newer ones floating around publicly.
9. There could be thru trains from / to Hell Gate trains to the West side service all the way to / from Harmon. That seems to be the only possible service due to other incompatibilities with other
That either requires the hare-brained third rail and double-sided shoe system, and probably tens of millions of dollars for useless substations or doing it correctly with AC overhead electrification to Poughkeepsie, which should be done anyway, but like many other needed projects, isn't getting done. That's also a fun one to argue who should pay for what, as Amtrak benefits from electrifying to Albany, but most of the traffic south of Poughkeepsie would be MN.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Take a look at power.

Amtrak on the NEC is mostly overhead caternary in three different forms: 25 kV at 60 Hz, 12.5 kV at 60 Hz, and 12 kV at 25 Hz. Otherwise it's dual-mode diesel.

NJ Transit is ether overhead caternary at 12.5 kV 25 Hz AC or 25 kV 60 Hz AC or diesel.

MetroNorth is ether 750 V DC third rail or 12.5 kV 60 Hz AC overhead caternary... or diesel.

LIRR is 750 V DC third rail or diesel.

So you got three different caternary systems, two third rail systems (one over-running, one under-running) and diesel. Does someone see a problem here?

To through-run right now to Ronkonkoma, you need an engine that can handle both caternary and third rail... or you string caternary out to it.

To be honest? I'd string 60 Hz AC caternary, get rid of all the third rail crap (that's for subways), and start rebuilding Amtrak's power to 60 Hz. Simplify all this crap and you can save by having to buy engines that can handle multi-voltage 60 Hz caternary power.
  by MattW
 
If the catenary was changed to 60Hz, then we do have a train that could serve Ronkonkoma: the M8. Its only hangup is its transformer isn't big enough to handle the 25Hz.
  by ElectricTraction
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:02 amSo you got three different caternary systems, two third rail systems (one over-running, one under-running) and diesel. Does someone see a problem here?
Catenary isn't an issue. The ACSs and ALPs can run on any of the voltages and frequencies with ease. The ALP-45DPs are a pretty decent dual-mode for both diesel and electric operation. The problems come when you get to third rail.
To through-run right now to Ronkonkoma, you need an engine that can handle both caternary and third rail... or you string caternary out to it.
Amtrak could run diesel with something like an ALP-45DP, which really isn't the greatest solution but it would work for a low level of service.
To be honest? I'd string 60 Hz AC caternary, get rid of all the third rail crap (that's for subways), and start rebuilding Amtrak's power to 60 Hz. Simplify all this crap and you can save by having to buy engines that can handle multi-voltage 60 Hz caternary power.
Mega $$$, and is that really the best place to put your money? Further, the tunnels to Brooklyn and LIRR GCT have even more restrictive clearances than the East River and North River Tunnels, so it's likely impossible to fit both catenary and a train capable of using said catenary inside of them, or even just a train capable of using it elsewhere on the system. Regular GCT cannot handle overhead wire, so it has to use third rail, although it is a terminal with excess capacity only used by MN, so it's less relevant to this discussion.

The PRR catenary system is absolutely monstrous. Even with parts of it dismantled in the 1980's, the portions that are left are huge, it's literally it's own power grid with it's own transmission, substations, etc. There's little reason to convert now that modern locomotives can use any of the three voltages seamlessly.

One interesting side note is that the cost of AC electrification on SNCF is $2.4M/mi, while LIRR claims that third rail costs $22.4M/mi. However, one cannot draw any conclusions from these numbers, as they are clearly apples and oranges, and LIRR would likely claim that overhead AC electrification costs $10-$15M/mi, even though that can easily be disproven by SNCF. There unfortunately are no good comparisons for third rail costs, as few, if any mainline rail systems worldwide use it, so we don't have a comparison for what it should cost. Given the LIRR's extreme cost bloat, it probably costs somewhere in the $3-$5M/mi range, but that's just a guesstimate. If someone could dredge up the cost to do White Plains to Southeast, that would possibility be a decent comparison after an inflation adjustment, although that was half-assed, and they can't run full-sized trains up there due to the substations not providing enough juice.

I've never been able to find reliable numbers on clearances through LIRR GCT and to Atlantic Terminal, but they are quite restrictive. I'd be interested if they could even clear an M-8, even without overhead wire.

The one place that I would convert from third rail to catenary is the Hudson Line from Highbridge to Albany, which would allow MN to run M-8/M-10s to Poughkeepsie, eliminate the third rail from CSX's freight route, and provide an electrified line to Albany for Amtrak by making the new 25kV catenary meet with the PRR 11.5kV system on the Empire Connection. I'd do Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, and Patchogue with third rail for compatibility with the rest of the LIRR system. Danbury/New Milford naturally would get 25kV catenary.
MattW wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:09 pmIf the catenary was changed to 60Hz, then we do have a train that could serve Ronkonkoma: the M8. Its only hangup is its transformer isn't big enough to handle the 25Hz.
I wonder if they could be adapted for 25hz transformers once they are run somewhere other than the weight-restricted Park Ave Viaduct? Those things are already really heavy for railcars though.

Maybe a future design with the new crash standards could get everything including a 25hz transformer into the same weight envelope? Then there's the clearance issue. If they can't clear Brooklyn and/or LIRR GCT, you end up with a forked fleet on LIRR just for run-through. Is that worth it? NJT uses low-level platforms in some places, can they handle those? They should all be converted to high-level anyway, so I suppose you could argue that is moot, but someone has to do it. Is it worth giving up capacity on the NJT NEC lines that they get with the MLs just to have run-through? Is it worth the massive equipment cost that would be needed for this even more bespoke fleet of highly complex railcars?

Even if all the technical hurdles could be cleared, I'm still not seeing a cost/benefit to this that makes sense. How much time and capacity would through-running really save versus fixing Penn and turning and burning more efficiently with limited run-through between NJT and CDOT, which works with already existing equipment? Where else could the billions upon billions of dollars be spent instead that would have a much larger impact?
  by ElectricTraction
 
So I took a look at the Penn Access EA, and that project has gotten significantly larger in scope than it originally was. Penn Access is looking at running 101 trains per day, almost 1/3 of what NJT runs. This opens up the possibility for some significant through-running with NJT, but the problem at the moment, is that CDOT is just jamming that square peg into that round hole with the M-8s, but in the future, if the proper equipment were used for Penn Access, through running would be easy, as ALP-46As or ACS-64s or any future similar electric locomotive would be able to operate anywhere on the NEC and could be paired with Comet or ML style cars. The through running would be beneficial in both directions, as The Bronx has a significant potential for reverse commutation, alongside traditional commutation into Penn, which creates significant additional utility over separate services. Unfortunately, CDOT is hell bent on extending the PRR third rail, but that doesn't prevent it from just not being used in the future, and electric locomotives using AC power all the way being used instead. While NJT is going to increase the number of trains into Penn with Gateway and Penn South, they still could run-through some or all of those 101 (108 if the deadheads were converted to revenue movements) with NJT.
  by ElectricTraction
 
To clarify about Penn Access through-running, I think it has a lot of potential, both to free up capacity and make routes convenient, but it does not replace the three core actions that are needed to unclog Penn:

[*]Demolish MSG, fix pedestrian flow
[*]Add more tracks to Penn
[*]Track, station, and electrification projects so that all NJT and LIRR lines relatively equally feed Hoboken or GCT/LIC/Atlantic Terminal respectively and Penn with improved ferry service, and fare zones to encourage use of LIC/Atlantic or Hoboken with combined ferry or subway fares cheaper than going to Penn/GCT.