Trainlawyer wrote:We need to remember that the State Rail Plan is frequently more of a dream sheet than a working document, and that DOT's idea of what NJT ought to do is frequently not in sync with NJT's concept of what they think they need.
First, NJT's plan for West Trenton Line Service not only politely ignores the reality of through ridership originating in Pennsylvania, but actually acknowledges that a significant portion of new ridership (I believe over fifty percent - I don't have a copy within reach so please feel free to correct me if you do) will come from the additional trains stopping at Bridgewater on the Raritan Valley Line. Any moderately competent analyst can figure out that the cost of installing a center track long enough to hold one or two trainsets for turnback will allow that portion of the ridership increase with a far lower investment, both in real dollars and dollars-per-additional-passenger, than the extending into West Trenton - and not Oxford Valley/Woodbourne Road - will do.
Second, A diamond in the middle of an already interesting interlocking?? This may well be a railfans' dream but it is also an operator's nightmare. The entire reason for the improvements is to increase the fluidity of the junction. If a diamond is added then this fluidity will be lost during rush hours since everything on the Lehigh Line and possibly the Trenton Line (this depends on the final design) will have to stop while NJT is crossing. NJT's stock answer has been that they will build a flyover. This will of course increase the need for cubic truckloads of money which NJT does not have for far more vital projects.
NJT seems to have been opposed as a matter of policy to even consider running any passenger trains on the Lehigh Line. Phillipsburg, and even A-B-E, trains when they have been considered have been planned as running on the CNJ via the Alpha connector rather than the Lehigh despite the considerably better times and the ability to directly serve Flemington. At least on NJT rep is alleged to have claimed that if they did run to Flemington Jct or Three Bridges the trains would have to move to the Raritan Valley at Bound Brook and that Flemington service would have to be considered separately from Phillipsburg.
The idea of running West Trenton trains on the Lehigh to Bound Brook or even all the way through to Aldene is a sound one as long as they are really intended to serve West Trenton and are not merely an expensive way to jack up Bridgewater ridership numbers. The diamond is unlikey and the flyover is probably a nonstarter so do not hold your breath.
Your point about the diamond is exactly how I feel,
and I'm pretty sure it would be cheapest for NJT to upgrade the single track at bound brook so that trains can jump off the Lehigh Line and join the RVL at CP Brook. This would give a good reason to upgrade to high-level platforms there too (im not sure if they are even considering doing that)
but one thing running trains on the LL from Port Reading Jct to Aldene will do is cut travel time for those West Trenton riders. Im sure the last thing they want to do is stop every handful of miles. Express is the way to go!
An hourly local train (joining the RVL at CP Brook) in and out of West Trenton and maybe every 2 or 3 hours have an express train that stays on the Lehigh the whole way...
doesnt seem like a terrible idea to me.