• AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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  by troffey
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:10 pm
gokeefe wrote: Sat Dec 21, 2019 5:17 pm
lordsigma12345 wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:07 pmI guess I meant in terms of passenger it does not serve federally funded passenger rail as such as the states are going to have a roll in this.
Not true. Commuter rail service everywhere receives significant grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Also Amtrak provides some support to each state route so there's technically some federal support there as well.
I used bad terminology there. I meant exclusively federally funded trains like the long distance network. I do understand that the state corridors do receive some federal support from Amtrak's accounts and states can get federal grants for various things. But regardless the point is, the states have to take a leading role in a long term solution for this bridge - I'm sure it'll get some federal dollars but CT and MA Will have to cough up some cash.
But doesn't Amtrak own the bridge? It's their right of way and their line, so I'd imagine it is their responsibility. Not saying that Massachusetts or Connecticut wouldn't wind up contributing, but I'm not sure it is Massachusetts or Connecticut's job to plan the replacement.
  by troffey
 
ebtmikado wrote: Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:27 pm
troffey wrote: Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:07 pm The bridge also carries the Vermonter, doesn't it?
The Vermonter is a state-funded train, paid by Vermont.
I forgot it switches to state funded north of New Haven.
  by Arlington
 
Mass pays for its segment.
  by lordsigma12345
 
troffey wrote: Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:18 pm
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:10 pm
gokeefe wrote: Sat Dec 21, 2019 5:17 pm
lordsigma12345 wrote: Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:07 pmI guess I meant in terms of passenger it does not serve federally funded passenger rail as such as the states are going to have a roll in this.
Not true. Commuter rail service everywhere receives significant grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Also Amtrak provides some support to each state route so there's technically some federal support there as well.
I used bad terminology there. I meant exclusively federally funded trains like the long distance network. I do understand that the state corridors do receive some federal support from Amtrak's accounts and states can get federal grants for various things. But regardless the point is, the states have to take a leading role in a long term solution for this bridge - I'm sure it'll get some federal dollars but CT and MA Will have to cough up some cash.
But doesn't Amtrak own the bridge? It's their right of way and their line, so I'd imagine it is their responsibility. Not saying that Massachusetts or Connecticut wouldn't wind up contributing, but I'm not sure it is Massachusetts or Connecticut's job to plan the replacement.
They do, but all the Amtrak service on it is state supported. That means the states have to take a leading role on figuring out how to fund it. The State of Connecticut funded all of the recent upgrades to the line that restored double tracking and increased speeds even though Amtrak owns it. Amtrak as owner needs to keep the bridge in a state of good repair To keep the service going as is, but as far as a major refurbishment of the bridge to improve speeds and capacity, the states will need to take the lead on getting the funding. It’s no different than other states that are buying the rolling stock for Amtrak to use on their services. Amtrak will probably spec out and plan the actual scope of work for what they want done with the bridge and then they will hand it over to either CTDOT or MassDOT to take the lead on it and they will have to figure out how to fund it. I’m sure both state and federal money comes in to play. Its just like at Springfield Union Station Amtrak Speced out and planned the scope of work for the new platform and then the state took the lead of funding and bidding out the project - Amtrak owns the platform but it was bid out as a MassDOT project.

My hope is that it will somehow be done as part of the final phase of double tracking.
  by gokeefe
 
The recent upgrades were funded by federal grants with Connecticut and Massachusetts as the applicants.
  by lordsigma12345
 
gokeefe wrote: Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:55 pm The recent upgrades were funded by federal grants with Connecticut and Massachusetts as the applicants.
Yes I am aware they received money from the HSIPR that ultimately came from the Obama stimulus (ARRA) bill. This money did require state matching which they bonded for. They then received additional HSIPR grants that Florida declined to use. But as you stated, the states had to apply. That is most likely how this bridge improvement along with the final piece of double tracking will be funded - I'm sure the states will go after grants. The only argument I'm making is that because this is state supported service these will have to be state initiatives even though Amtrak owns the corridor. I am sure they will go after federal grants.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
It will be great when that second track is built from the MA/CT state line to where the SPG Line goes over the Connecticut River Bridge as well as that freight siding south of Hartford being restored for passenger use. That will hopefully enable more trains to continue onto Springfield and even a few more to Greenfield(depending on how the ridership is during the pilot year.). It would also be great to have a few inland regionals running from New Haven to Boston. There are plenty of people who live along the SPG Line, especially around Meriden, Harford, and the Windsors who would rather take a direct train to Boston rather than have to drive or take Peter Pan. It would be great to have the Connecticut River Bridge double tracked but that probably won't happen, at least in the next five to ten years. I could be wrong though. If the Valley Flyer service ridership falls below expectations this year, then what MA should do is replace those Valley Flyer trains with Thruway buses from Springfield.
  by Jeff Smith
 
To expand on the above thought, one wonders what Amtrak's future plans for the line are? You've got the Vermonter, and the FKA shuttles.

I think an inland shuttle using s three car set diesel push-pull or DMU would be popular. They could go to either BOS or BON or both (not the same trip, of course). The Valley Flyer could fit into an inland mix, too.

It seems to me that the old shuttle is almost obviated and easily replaced by CtDOT service in any case. Especially intermediate stops. I've always thought that once CtDOT had a serviceable schedule that the shuttles could just go NH-HFD-SPG with no intermediate stops. Using that model, why not an inland shuttle with limited stops to Boston?

Otherwise, what's the point of Amtrak owning the ROW to Springfield just for the Vermonter, if CtDOT can fill in the blanks of the remainder of the schedule?
  by lordsigma12345
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Fri Dec 27, 2019 12:18 pm To expand on the above thought, one wonders what Amtrak's future plans for the line are? You've got the Vermonter, and the FKA shuttles.

I think an inland shuttle using s three car set diesel push-pull or DMU would be popular. They could go to either BOS or BON or both (not the same trip, of course). The Valley Flyer could fit into an inland mix, too.

It seems to me that the old shuttle is almost obviated and easily replaced by CtDOT service in any case. Especially intermediate stops. I've always thought that once CtDOT had a serviceable schedule that the shuttles could just go NH-HFD-SPG with no intermediate stops. Using that model, why not an inland shuttle with limited stops to Boston?

Otherwise, what's the point of Amtrak owning the ROW to Springfield just for the Vermonter, if CtDOT can fill in the blanks of the remainder of the schedule?
I personally like the split setup now with Amtrak and CTrail for the Hartford Line. Having a viable commuter rail service is great, but I also like having the through ticketing to the NEC and guaranteed connections. Even so I don’t think this can happen any time soon anyway as CTDOT doesn’t have enough rolling stock to have TASI run the full schedule. I think Amtrak will want to keep the service it has on the line because it delivers a lot of passengers to the NEC and this type of corridor service is where Amtrak wants to be focusing. That being said having some of the trips go to Boston once Amtrak replaces the current push pull sets would be a great idea. As far as the VF goes, I don’t think anything more can be added without adding PTC to Pan Am’s territory north of Springfield. That could be pricey as MassDOT would also have to upgrade all of Pan Am’s locomotives. They certainly aren’t going to go down that path unless the VF meets the targeted ridership within the first two years and continues. Personally I think CTDOT will focus on adding additional frequency to the schedule once they get their new cars not replacing the Amtrak runs with CTrail. My hope is by the time the two car trainsets get replaced there will be some sort of path for the Springfield - Boston service and then there could be a joint purchase. They’d need more than the current 3 trainsets to add full inland trips and additional VF trips. Hoping the East-West rail study has a decision by 2021.
  by troffey
 
Pan Am already has 52 locomotives with PTC paid for by the MBTA: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... per118.pdf

MassDOT paid for Platform C at union station because they are the one who want to use it, and because their waiver for the ADA width of the existing platform was denied.

Connecticut paid for the recent track upgrades because the upgrades were for CTrail, a service that is neither Amtrak operated or supported.

Amtrak owns the bridge. They might ask the states to help pay, but it isn't Massachusetts or Connecticut bridge to replace, any more than Portal Bridge is New Jersey's.
  by lordsigma12345
 
troffey wrote: Sat Dec 28, 2019 9:31 am Amtrak owns the bridge. They might ask the states to help pay, but it isn't Massachusetts or Connecticut bridge to replace, any more than Portal Bridge is New Jersey's.
I get it. But the complete overhaul/replacement/possible double tracking of the bridge is something where the states will have to provide a lot of the funding. This isn’t mere maintenance/good repair it’s a capacity improvement with one of the main goals being extended more CTrail trains to Springfield. Depending on how it is funded, it’s very likely it would get bid out by one of the states so that they could go after grants, etc. I would suspect this will probably be bundled in with the double tracking to Enfield and probably bid out by CTDOT. But CTDOT will want a large contribution from MassDOT.

Also the double track work was not just for CTrail, it was for the line in general. Amtrak added additional service frequency in 2018 just before the CTrail trains launched.
  by troffey
 
But the bridge is a double track bridge. It doesn't have both tracks installed, but it is a two track wide bridge.

ConnDOT studied relaying the second track, and it was determined the current status of the bridge can't accommodate two trains at once. So I'm not sure I'd describe it as a capacity improvement, but rather the state of good repair it should be in.

All that being said, the line's website says ConnDOT is intending to seek future federal and state funding for repairs to the bridge ( https://www.nhhsrail.com/objectives/funding.aspx) so it would appear the matter is settled.
  by unichris
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sat Dec 28, 2019 6:15 amI think Amtrak will want to keep the service it has on the line because it delivers a lot of passengers to the NEC and this type of corridor service is where Amtrak wants to be focusing.
Yes, except that they can't keep up with the demand peaks.

Took an absolutely packed Amtrak shuttle last night down to New Haven where I boarded an essentially empty Metro North train into NYC.

Amtrak shuttle let those with Amtrak tickets board first, not sure if they let all the people with CT rail tickets on after or not, but there were definitely more people than seats. An no seats to be had on the NE regional at a reasonable price either, which is why I bought the Amtrak ticket to NHV but was on Metro North thereafter.

Ironically I'd originally had an Amtrak ticket back a day earlier, but had to cancel it due to a change in family plans, guess that won't be possible any more, though the 75% refund under the old policy that still applied covered my shuttle and MNR fare and then some.

Didn't get a great look at it, but by appearances this shuttle comprised two typical coaches with an engine at each end - sort of assume one of those was a positioning move.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Normally the two car trains operate with just one engine with a former metro liner cab car on the opposite end. If you saw two engines, there is probably a problem with the cab car on that trainset. They keep up with the demand most of the time as they have begun limited ticket sales on the busiest trains. It is only during peak times (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) when this sometimes happens. They only have Amtrak riders board first at extremely busy times. Hopefully with some of the state corridors receiving new cars the New Haven - Springfield service will get a couple more cars so they can go to 3 cars on each set. Additionally as CTDOT gets more train cars they can fill in the schedule with additional CTrail trips which will reduce the problem of crowding at popular train times. I’d rather see CTrail add an additional train 30-40 minutes before or after the popular Amtrak time to make the schedule more useful to more people than replace an existing train time. Additionally as I said, guaranteed Amtrak connections provide this line with a decent portion of its ridership. I think it makes sense not to mess with that ridership group.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Due to shortage of Amfleet I cars, the Springfield Line shuttles have been two cars and unfortunately that has resulted in severe overcrowding which has gotten to the point where people have been turned away from riding the train. Amfleet Is have been the bread and butter of the all of the routes in the Northeast. In 2020, we will know what will replace the Amfleet Is. Amtrak should be running three or even four car trains on the shuttles. There are some Ctrail trains that run 30-40 minutes after an Amtrak Hartford Line train. For example, on weekdays, following Amtrak Hartford Line Shuttle Train # 475, Ctrail Train # 4453 runs 35-40 minutes later, but only from Hartford to New Haven only. It would be nice though if more Ctrail trains could run 30-40 minutes following Amtrak trains on the Springfield Line. However, I think that that may wait some more.
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