• Amtrak to Long Island: MTA agrees to explore

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Jeff Smith
 
I cross-posted in LIRR to raise visibility. The topic concerns Amtrak, though.

IMHO: I’d have to think Amtrak would not supplant any LIRR service due to Union issues, as Dutch notes. I’d also wonder if any Amtrak trains would have to be LIRR-crewed or piloted. An example is Amtrak crews operate SLE for CtDOT; west of New Haven SLE through trains terminating in Stamford are operated by Metro North crews due to territory rules. This is the difference between intercity (the NEC, Empire Service, etc.), and commuter service.

An extended train from either Empire and NEC, disregarding operational issues, would comply with that as it would be intercity. Jamaica, Ronkankoma, the Hamptons, may line up with that. Service to Port Jefferson? Not really.

And it’s all pie-in-the-sky until third track and ESA/Sunnyside interlocking are done.
  by Kelly&Kelly
 
There's a lot of political fluff in this proposal. What governor wouldn't like to see a modern, first class, one seat ride whisking the Washington elite to their summer homes in the Hamptons? White coated attendants could serve champagne, and Hollywood's movers and shakers could stir conversation in the parlor cars. You could even name the train after a former governor.

It sounds good, looks great for the Empire State's leadership and could easily be done. But it's a useful as mammaries on a bull, and more costly than replacing every duct-taped M-3 seat on the LIRR.

So it probably will never happen.

Just more fluff to build an electorate's confidence in the status quo of political hacks. Get ready for the glossy brochures of the future. Monorails, anyone?
  by hrfcarl
 
As mentioned previously, extending NYS paid for Amtrak run Empire Service onto LI does have merit for access to Jamaica, with its connection to JFK airport, and allowing for easier access to colleges upstate. The problem seem to be what to do with the trains after that, as the engine needs to swap ends and as far as I know there is no easy way to do that in Queens. Montauk has a wye to turn the engine around and is a tourist destination, but is seems pretty well served by LIRR. Ronkonkoma has an airport which might benefit from an express service from NYP and might have room for a wye or maybe the service continues to under served Greenport which has tourist attractions (such as wineries) plus a turn table that could be refurbished for the turn around.

But also as mentioned, I will believe if service actually starts...
  by Arlington
 
Premises:
1) New York has a "statewide" and "out-of-district" interest in connecting Empire service to Long Island:
- Improving bi-directional access to school and work
- Improving access to airports (eg JFK via AirTrain from Jamaica)

2) Amtrak wants to monopolize what is, today, the Southern NEC air-rail market. For this it would be good to squeeze out as much of the remaining air service as possible:
Amtrak has already completely won in:
* LGA - BWI (no airline nonstops anymore)
* EWR - BWI (no airline nonstops anymore)
Focusing on Long Island, some places there's little left to squeeze:
* LGA - PHL (AA is 3x...essentially FFs and hub feed only)
* ISP - PHL (AA is 2x...FFs and hub feed only)
* JFK - PHL (AA is 1x...just FFs and hub feed)
But how about:
* ISP - BWI (WN is 3x on 737s cut this by 1)
* JFK - BWI (AA is 1x, DL 4x; cut this by 1 or 2)
* JFK - DCA (AA is 4x, DL 5x; cut this by 1 or 2)
* EWR - DCA (UA is 8x; cut this by 1 or 2) (but this will happen with Acela 2, not LIRR)
But the big prize:
* LGA - DCA (DL is 12x, AA is 13; what will it take to make this look like JFK-DCA?)

3) Note how small "outer" LI (via ISP) is as a (DCA+BWI+PHL) market compared to "inner" LI (via LGA or JFK).
* Basically, the ratio of ISP/(LGA+JFK) tells you all you need to know about where the demand-generation is on Long Island: at the western end.
* So, really, a train needs only to get about as far as today's double-tracking goes in "inner" Suffolk; a sort of demand-cutoff a zone defined by Huntington ~ Farmingdale ~ Babylon

4) "Frequent trains near me" will be sufficient to dominate the airlines in almost any point-to-point market (they'll keep flying to serve hub connections but not to run a competitive hourly service)

THE 2030 KILL THE AIRLINES PLAN
A) Surround both LGA and JFK
- with a Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau-Suffolk that meets demand on left, right, and middle.

B) Specifically, 2 stations are key
* Must have a Jamaica and a Nassau
* I'd rather do Jamaica (Queens), & Farmingdale (Nassau-Suffolk) via a rebuilt Central Branch (and NEC compatible catenary)
* Budget and County politics probably demands Jamaica (Queens), Mineola (Nassau), & Huntington (Suffolk) (chosen because they're all multi-track)

C) Offer NYP Express Service every :20
Hourly Empires
Hourly Keystones (PHL twice hourly when combined with...
Hourly Washington (extend those NECs from WAS that don't go to/from BOS; assumes Acela 2 is already running every :30 along with some NERs & LDs about hourly)

D) Yes, assumes that Amtrak develops a serious ability to turn trains at the Nassau-Suffolk terminus and that it'd be worth it to finally drive air competitors from the local market(s)
  by STrRedWolf
 
Lets actually explore the LIRR in the guise of running Amtrak service to it, shall we? A mental exercise?

We can agree that there are a few routes that can be taken out of Penn Station (NYP).:
  • Ronkoncoma to WAS
  • Greenport to WAS
  • Montauk to WAS
For simplicity sake, we'll assume the following:
  • A train every two hours in each direction at ISP, and every four hours at GPT and MTK.
  • The trains will travel at LIRR track speed
  • Push/pull service and an engine swap at Penn Station (similar to the Pennsylvanian at 30th street).
  • All trains stop at Jamaica
  • Service will start after 2022, when there are at least three tracks Penn-Hicksville and two tracks Penn-Ronkonkoma. This will also be after the reconstruction of Jamaica.
The big question I have is will they have any capacity for those trains?

This is a big question, because of the following:
  • Between Floral Park and Hicksville is double tracked (and I'm purposefully ignoring grade crossings here), and LIRR operationally will turn those tracks rush direction only during rush hours (If I remember The LIRR Today's site correctly). That means no reverse flow traffic goes through. If they dedicate that new track they're laying down for reverse flow traffic, then the answer turns from "No they don't" into "Barely enough for Ronkonkoma." Since this is New York, I'm leaning more towards LIRR turning all three tracks into rush flow tracks during those rush times... and they really need four tracks to Hicksville in order to get that dedicated reverse flow track.
  • The branches past Sayville and Ronkonkoma are single tracked (which is an operational issue in general IMHO). That turns Greenport and Montauk into "No they don't".
  • Penn Station LIRR takes the Main line through Woodside, Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens. We can mitigate some of this by having all trains take the LIRR Montauk line out of Penn Station, which if I remember correctly is barely used by LIRR (if at all). This reconnects to the LIRR Main line at Jamaica.
Just doing a satellite survey, I can already say what the official study would say:
  • Double-track out to the end of the branches.
  • Third track the Montauk line for extra capacity to Babylon.
  • Four track the Main line OR build a Montauk-to-Main connection and reactivate the Main-to-Montauk connection.
  • Signal the whole mess at least!
  • Oh, and it's going to be expensive.
Probably not going to happen.
  by andrewjw
 
There is no way any of that is necessary to run a few trains per day through to Long Island, which is what is being explored. Even your suggestion of hourly service would not drive construction demands after the third track - this would just take up one of the added slots generated by the third track during the peak hours. Also, the Inner Montauk does not connect to the East River Tunnels.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Before any Amtrak trains head to Long Island if that even happens, I think there are more important projects that should happen. I would love to see sidings added to the Montauk Line east of Sayville as well as some sort of speed increase on the Main Line east of Ronkonkoma, maybe somewhere between 60 and 70. Running Amtrak to Greenport wouldn't be practical. In fact, I am rather surprised that year round weekend service was restored east of Ronkonkoma given the fact that the trains crawl. The Hampton Jitney runs a better business not only on the North Fork but on Eastern Long Island in general, especially during the off season. When the traffic is horrible, especially heading to the South Fork, then the train wins. It's still better for the MTA to call the shots. A few months ago, there was a study to add third rail to the Central Branch which isn't a bad idea at all.
  by Backshophoss
 
Both New Haven and PRR swapped motors at NY Penn,as did LIRR swapped DD-1's on trains headed to Montauk with Pulman parlors back in the day
Amtrak Had done power swaps at NY Penn for the Adirondack when it was extended to DC,P-32/'AEM-7.

LIRR normally "brackets" any loco hauled trains with a DM-30 on each end to "jump" the long gaps thru the puzzle switches
Due to the limit of 6 cars max on the DE/DM HEP inverters,the LIRR "Cannonball" is 2 six car sets coupled together.
  by Arlington
 
Please review the relative trip making on the branches and never suggest Amtrak service beyond
Huntington-Farmingdale-Babylon again. We must not have the NEC sent out to the wildnerness to die.
http://web.mta.info/mta/planning/data/2 ... 232016.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by STrRedWolf
 
andrewjw wrote:There is no way any of that is necessary to run a few trains per day through to Long Island, which is what is being explored. Even your suggestion of hourly service would not drive construction demands after the third track - this would just take up one of the added slots generated by the third track during the peak hours. Also, the Inner Montauk does not connect to the East River Tunnels.
*checks Wikimapia*

Actually, the Sunnyside yard connects to it. But for full service, it looks like a loop needs to be built from the entrance to the Tunnels around to the Montauk branch. Not impossible.
  by ADL6009
 
What about the crew staffing issues? Amtrak crews are not qualified on Zone C (LIRR) having them qualify on Zone C with the LIRR rules examiners is a non starter (Qualifying on the LIRR is a MUCH different process than qualifying on Amtrak, i dont see any amtrak crews willing to go through that nightmare lol). So that means LIRR crews will be manning Amtrak equipment, are we selling tickets for Amtrak or the LIRR? Is it an Amtrak train or an LIRR train that switches crews in NY and becomes an Amtrak train? Very confusing stuff lol
  by eolesen
 
Why would Amtrak qualifying with LIRR examiners be a non-starter? Plenty of other examples where Amtrak has trackage on foreign roads...

As long as nobody is losing their job over this, I don't see where the friction would be, and with the third track project, there looks to be an increase of service on the closer-in portions of the network.

Montauk doesn't warrant up to seven trips a day using high density equipment. I'd be curious to see ridership stats by station... do those exist somewhere? I know Metra provides this online for their entire network.
  by andrewjw
 
STrRedWolf wrote:Actually, the Sunnyside yard connects to it. But for full service, it looks like a loop needs to be built from the entrance to the Tunnels around to the Montauk branch. Not impossible.
If you're referring to the flyover from westbound Lower Montauk which would drop you going east in Sunnyside Yard, that has been disconnected on the Sunnyside end as part of East Side Access-related yard works.
I'm going to go with a hard NO on this one. 4 tracks is enough for all service outbound from Penn, including the existing yard layup runs for these trains. Given that some trains diverge for Connecticut, some for the yard, and some for Port Washington, the 4 tracks of the Main Line are absolutely enough for LIRR service and any added Amtrak service.
Additionally, the Lower Montauk is slow, non-electrified, and has many grade crossings. It would be cheaper to add two more tracks to the LIRR main line than to upgrade the Lower Montauk for efficient passenger service.
Look how trains are currently scheduled on the Babylon Branch or the plans for Caltrain / CA-HSR blended service to see how the Amtrak trains could fit there with no additional tracks.
  by ADL6009
 
Yeah but this isnt those other RR’s.its no secret that qualifying on the LIRR is much more rigorous than other RR’s. Also, we don’t “partially” qualify on branches in ZONE C, it’s all or nothing here. that’s a lot to cover just to run one train from KO to NYK. we don’t use NORAC or GCOR or whatever the LIRR rulebook is unique in many ways. We have to actually be able to draw (and verbalize) ANY map contained in PC, that’s a lot of drawing for an outsider to commit to. It just seems like the effort needed to qualify on the LIRR wouldn’t be worth it to invest just to run a handful of trains on the property.
Now if they use pilot engineers and Conductors to work alongside the Amtrak crew that might work

eolesen wrote:Why would Amtrak qualifying with LIRR examiners be a non-starter? Plenty of other examples where Amtrak has trackage on foreign roads...

As long as nobody is losing their job over this, I don't see where the friction would be, and with the third track project, there looks to be an increase of service on the closer-in portions of the network.

Montauk doesn't warrant up to seven trips a day using high density equipment. I'd be curious to see ridership stats by station... do those exist somewhere? I know Metra provides this online for their entire network.
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