• New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

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  by codasd
 
Class I is depressing, I remember the Concord, Manchester, Nashua run back in the 80's. I knew a number of people from the Concord area that loved the ability to can the car commute.also
Did they put a layover in Lowell? On another thread they mentioned a dead head up to Lowell due to the lack of a layover. However, that was a while back. I believe there was mention of putting a layover in the Nashua yard to support a downtown platform/stop. Again the old snow balls chance.
Last edited by codasd on Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by NHV 669
 
Hard to see any commuter service, period, without a massive cash influx on the track, let alone any facilities. Back in early July, an NA-1 went something like 10 miles during their entire shift.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Probably for the first time, I thought of comparing Indiana and New Hampshire. Neither state really has any interest in paying Amtrak to run corridor trains (Indiana did for a very little while on two different occasions in the last 20 years, IIRC). Neither state runs commuter trains into a big city in its own state (NH doesn't have CR-sized city to run into). But both states have a lot of residents who work in a big metro area in the state next door, a big metro area with nasty traffic and difficult roads.

Indiana operates and subsidizes the South Shore Line, a really busy commuter operation that's long enough to be regional rail, explicitly to make it easier for people to work in Illinois. It's part of Indiana's plan to gain residents and revenue by convincing people to keep their jobs in Chicago but move to Indiana.

New Hampshire... doesn't.

Is it just a quirk of the two states' politics and preferences? Is it because Indiana happened to inherit a bankrupt interurban line that still had a lot of passengers, while commuting from NH to greater Boston really developed AFTER the end of B&M service to Nashua and Manchester? Is it just that Chicago is bigger that Boston and therefore has more jobs? Is it that the state line is a little closer to Chicago than to Boston? Do relatively few people who might move to or stay in southern NH have jobs near North Station? Do express buses reach Boston locations from NH as fast as a train reasonably could even with the traffic on I-93? Is it because NH has no income tax, and so the state government doesn't make a calculation that says "our rail subsidy is more than paid for by the taxes paid by people who would otherwise go live in Illinois because driving is so tough and parking is so expensive"?
  by The EGE
 
All of your ideas have truth to them; I see two differences as the most significant. One, as you mentioned, Indiana inherited a well-trafficked railroad with substantial commuter usage. By the time Indiana began subsidizing the South Shore in 1977 under threat of discontinuance (Illinois had put up some money a year or two earlier), it still ran 19 round trips. New Hampshire service was down to 9 round trips by 1950, 5 by 1962, and just one when the MBTA began subsidies as far as Lowell in 1965. That's a lot more service (and passengers) to bother with.

Second, even without NH putting up a dime, there will always be substantial service as far as Lowell subsidized by Massachusetts. NH is happy to ride on those coattails for free. Indiana doesn't have any comparable Metra service to use for free.
  by BandA
 
NH doesn't have a personal income tax. The state gains essentially no revenue for new residents, and the cities & towns face greater pressure on their property taxes. So there is no money for subsidies, compared to Indiana which could "allocate" some of the income tax from the new residents towards Commuter Rail.

How is the traffic on I-93 & US-3? Several years ago there was so much traffic headed towards Boston at rush hour that cars had trouble merging onto US-3S at Lowell. (In California they have put stop lights on the onramps to reduce the number of cars entering highways). With traffic levels like that Commuter Rail becomes necessary and should be able to charge enough to break even.
  by b&m 1566
 
BandA, are there any commuter rail operations in this country, "breaking even"?
  by BandA
 
No, but breaking even should be the goal. I will say it again, Commuter Rail is valuable infrastructure, which the passengers should appreciate and be willing to pay (a reasonable amount) for.

I still cannot understand how private companies were able to operate passenger trains profitably (at least "above the rails") during the "golden age" 1834 - ~~1920 with much smaller trains than used today, stopping at every village, but agencies such as the MBTA lose money ("above the rails") on trains carrying 500+ passengers.
  by b&m 1566
 
I have been under the assumption that passenger service was rarely, (if ever) profitable for the railroads. It was the freight business that sustained them. As freight started to die off, railroads could no longer support passenger service and that's when public funding started or service was cut completely. If the big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, cannot break even, we can't expect ridership around Boston (a much smaller city in comparison), to break even and certainly not with the volume that would be coming from New Hampshire. Raising prices won't work either that will just sent people right back to their cars, so passengers service, (Intercity or commuter) will always need public funding.
  by arthur d.
 
BandA wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:23 pm
I still cannot understand how private companies were able to operate passenger trains profitably (at least "above the rails") during the "golden age" 1834 - ~~1920 with much smaller trains than used today, stopping at every village, but agencies such as the MBTA lose money ("above the rails") on trains carrying 500+ passengers.
Crappy roads and damn few cars before 1920, mail and express contracts, time sensitive commodities, (milk and newspapers come to mind) rent from telegraph companies, lower costs of living/ lower costs of everything...
  by jaymac
 
arthur d. » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:01 am
BandA wrote: ↑
Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:23 pmI still cannot understand how private companies were able to operate passenger trains profitably (at least "above the rails") during the "golden age" 1834 - ~~1920 with much smaller trains than used today, stopping at every village, but agencies such as the MBTA lose money ("above the rails") on trains carrying 500+ passengers.
Crappy roads and damn few cars before 1920, mail and express contracts, time sensitive commodities, (milk and newspapers come to mind) rent from telegraph companies, lower costs of living/ lower costs of everything...
Add to the above, many owners' sentiments that followed "Commodore" Vanderbilt's 1882 "The public be damned."
The reluctance to universally apply Janney couplers, Westinghouse automatic airbrakes, steel underframes, steam heat and electric car-lighting were all part of the push for profit. Gosh -- I'm getting nostalgic to the ICC!
  by troffey
 
codasd wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:58 pm Class I is depressing, I remember the Concord, Manchester, Nashua run back in the 80's. I knew a number of people from the Concord area that loved the ability to can the car commute.also
Did they put a layover in Lowell? On another thread they mentioned a dead head up to Lowell due to the lack of a layover. However, that was a while back. I believe there was mention of putting a layover in the Nashua yard to support a downtown platform/stop. Again the old snow balls chance.
There is no MBTA layover anywhere on the Lowell Line. Everything deadheads to/from BET.
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