• Amtrak Empire Service (New York State)

  • 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

  by Ridgefielder
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:11 pm
WhartonAndNorthern wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:09 am I think some folks here are missing how much influence the Governor has over MTA and MetroNorth. Lately, the current governor has treated the MTA as his personal fiefdom overriding its decisions and imposing his personal stamp on it. Examples of his micromanagement include overriding the plans and schedule of the L train rehab and specifying a New York State-centric paint scheme for the LIRR M9s and newer subway cars. I've also noted the police cars of the TBTA (MTA Bridges and Tunnels) Police have a prominent "NEW YORK STATE" on the trunk. They almost look like State Police cruisers with the dark blue and gold lettering.

In short, this governor will get what he wants from the MTA. If he wants higher speed for his HSR trains, he'll get it.
Yes that is the point I don't understand when I noted that Metro North is a creature that exists at the state's will. If Cuomo wants MetroNorth to allow faster Amtrak service, he will get it.

What is exactly Metro North's issue with higher speeds? This seems like the kind of issue that could go away at least in part with some money and prodding.
Couple things.

First, there's physics. Which even His Excellency can't overrule. Because of friction you can't go much over 80mph on under-running third rail. 100mph is the absolute outside limit for any sort of regular service on third rail-- believe the Brits have some trains that reach that on the London-Brighton line, which is over-running 3rd rail using the somewhat-terrifying British system in which the uncovered energized rail is at the same level as the running rails.

Then, there's station spacing. There are 15 stations in the 22 miles between Spuyten Duyvil and Croton-Harmon. No point spending big $ to bring the line up a couple FRA classes if very few of your trains will ever reach that speed because they're always accelerating out of or braking for a station.\

If you want to speed things up, figure out a way to run faster up the river and west of Albany where there's open space to run.
  by Greg Moore
 
Someone with more history can correct me, but I believe about 15 years ago Metro North lowered the speeds on their tracks because it didn't do them much good with the higher speed. This is when Amtrak trains lost about 10 minutes to Albany.

The solution I've been told (which should be easier with PTC as I understand it) is to implement full moving blocks so you can have more traffic density and higher average speeds.
The other spot to work on for Amtrak's sake is to improve the Spuyten Duyvil Interchange. Amtrak spends too much time there waiting in my experience.

As I've said... if Amtrak has clear tracks.. it can do NYP-ALB in 2:00 hours. Years back, last train on Friday, clear signals all the way to Poughkeepsie. Arrive 10 minutes early. Since that station is NOT "Discharge only" at that hour of night, we had to wait 10 minutes before leaving. At the time, the train was carded at 2:20 to Albany. So there's 20 minutes right there.

But that was before the MNRR change in track speeds I seem to recall.
So.. again.. it's all about the small stuff for now.
  by scoostraw
 
Greg Moore wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:17 pm Someone with more history can correct me, but I believe about 15 years ago Metro North lowered the speeds on their tracks because it didn't do them much good with the higher speed. This is when Amtrak trains lost about 10 minutes to Albany.
Yup I remember this.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
scoostraw wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:24 pm
Greg Moore wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:17 pm Someone with more history can correct me, but I believe about 15 years ago Metro North lowered the speeds on their tracks because it didn't do them much good with the higher speed. This is when Amtrak trains lost about 10 minutes to Albany.
Yup I remember this.
MAS was 90 MPH back then. I forget where it started, though, but it was allowed thru Cold Spring.
  by rcthompson04
 
Thanks for the background on the speed issues. Sounds like some are tied to the imperfections of third rail while others can be addressed via signal and track improvements. I guess a good discussion would be what are feasible improvements that could make it higher speed (thinking Keystone Service speeds where it operates with SEPTA commuter service which serve more stops but make better time). That seems like a doable goal.
  by mtuandrew
 
This is more properly a comment for the MNRR forum so I don’t want to get into it here, but under-running third rail seems neither safer, simpler, nor more efficient than over-running (like nearly every other system in the world uses.) It has to frustrate MTA head honchos so badly that they can’t balance power between Metro-North and Long Island despite the two systems being functionally identical in nearly every other way. If I’d been in charge, I would have slowly installed dual-sided third rail over the entire MNRR system, then once complete, taken a weekend to shut down the entire railroad and flip over every shoe on every car.

I’d also have encouraged Amtrak to consider stringing 1500/3000 VDC wire from Poughkeepsie to Albany, and to use 750 volt third rail south of Poughkeepsie.
  by SRich
 
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:02 pm

I’d also have encouraged Amtrak to consider stringing 1500/3000 VDC wire from Poughkeepsie to Albany, and to use 750 volt third rail south of Poughkeepsie.
Please don’t encourage Amtrak to set-up 1.5/3 kV=. We have it in the Netherlands and Belgium, where the volatege is raised to 1.8/3.3 kV so they can run more trains. Its for a reason that NS (and later ProRail) that they give the High Speed line and “dedicated” freight lines have 25 kV~.
  by mtuandrew
 
SRich wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:34 pmPlease don’t encourage Amtrak to set-up 1.5/3 kV=. We have it in the Netherlands and Belgium, where the volatege is raised to 1.8/3.3 kV so they can run more trains. Its for a reason that NS (and later ProRail) that they give the High Speed line and “dedicated” freight lines have 25 kV~.
Surprised that’s the case - a few American roads have operated on medium-voltage DC power without issue, both interurban (early light rail, but sometimes as fast as 150 kmh) and heavy freight rail (the Milwaukee Road and some mining railways.) It isn’t very common now but is still used in and around Chicago.

Not that Amtrak has ever expressed interest in using medium-voltage DC anyway, so this is all a moot point :wink:
  by SRich
 
MACTRAXX wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:35 am
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:22 pm
Jeff Smith wrote: Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:25 amBrilliant. It was a 4-track ROW at one point. At least get the portion below Albany.
Amtrak is already in a long-term lease from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie, and it doesn’t sound like they’re in any danger of the lease getting canceled. Why not lease or buy Niagara Falls to Schenectady instead of purchasing Schenectady-Poughkeepsie outright?
Andrew and Everyone:

The 86 mile segment of track between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady should be a
priority for Amtrak and NYS DOT to take full control of insuring its use for improved
passenger train use. (Poughkeepsie is at mile 74; Albany-Rensselaer at mile 142;
Schenectady at mile 160) Ownership of this line along with MNCR south of POU
could lead to future changes such as electrification with any move towards high
speed trains which is currently being proposed by NYS.

The 304 miles of the Water Level Route between Schenectady and Niagara Falls
(SDY-160 to NFL-464 from NY) will be a much more elaborate purchase knowing
that this is CSX main east-west freight route the same as it was under Conrail
and predecessors. Unless NYS DOT purchases this line outright there will have
to be track additions and other upgrades that will satisfy CSX as owner and allow
Amtrak to provide more service along with increases in speed limits on the route.

One of the first improvements could be a second track on the 9 mile segment
between Schenectady and Hoffmanns - where the passenger route meets CSX.
The one good note about this single track is the 110 mile speed limit on the
line between Hoffmanns and just west of Albany that helps move trains through
this single-track "bottleneck".

I realize that I may be repeating what others have mentioned on this subject
but in this case I fully agree that improved Empire Service will benefit NYS
going forward into the future.

MACTRAXX
Amtrak is investing 1 billion $$$ in Virginnia. So why not een shared purchase with NYSDOT with share CoOwnership of the already leased portion and the rest to the state line.
Amtrak(as Coowner) can electrify with 12.5/25 kV~ and speed up to 125 mph. MNRR can use the M8's to Albany. Electrify (with catenary) the MNRR owned portion of the empire corridor and the empire connection speed up the portion to 125 mph where possible. Amtrak doesn't need the Dual power Gennie's anymore and the trip time from albany to penn wil be reduced.

For the signal system. The MNRR portion with speeds up to 125 mph must switch from MNRR reduced aspects to Amtrak high speed full signal system.
  by Backshophoss
 
Will everybody stop thinking "wire" is the cure,IT'S NOT!!! NOT on the only freight routing into NY City,NOT cost effective.
Amtrak leases from CP 75 to Albany from CSX as it is now..
  by Tadman
 
Also it makes a lot more sense to tackle low hanging fruit, IE low speed bottlenecks, than it does bumping speeds from 80 to over 100. You just don't save much time, especially when there are blocking 50mph commuter trains that restrict any potential 100mph running even if totally legal.

Speed up interlockings, junctions, etc...

Put higher speed crossovers in

Ensure trains depart originating stations on time, IE make sure ample power is serviced and ready

Ensure ample track capacity.

This will go much farther in making the Empire trains a viable service than 110 mph possibilities.



Also consider the soft side of the equation. Try not to make NYP seem like the Lubyanka, especially the metro lounge. Allow all business class users to use the metro lounge. Have some real refreshments waiting rather than what you'd find at 7-11 in da Bronx. Have a real business class aboard, not archaic amfleet food service cars with a giant line waiting for $9 microwave pizza. Fire the a**clowns at ALB that make you line up and march around for boarding, as half the time they don't know what each other are doing and are just aggravating to the passengers. Most of those passengers ride MNCR, NJT, or LIRR on a daily basis back in the city and don't need a 7-11-type clerk giving them marching orders.
  by jlichyen
 
What would help a ton is if business class had assigned seating like an airplane, and business/coach class cars had markings on the platform for where to line up, so you could just walk out to the platform area near your car/section. It would help a ton with managing crowds and not only for Empire Service (NEC would benefit as well!)
  by NaugyRR
 
Upgrading Rhinecliff and Hudson to high levels would save a ton of time. I don't know how well that'd jive with the two stations being historic in nature... the walkways and elevator at Rhinecliff would need to be modified to accommodate a high level island platform. I think Hudson would certainly see a huge benefit from a high level, especially with the revitalization going on downtown and around Warren Street.

I also wish NYP would have a better setup for boarding Empire trains. It sucks to have to stand around for half an hour leaning up against the escalator in front of Dunkin' after walking around the city all day. I wish they had a mini waiting area for Empire trains where you could at least sit and have somewhere besides the floor to drop your things for a bit.
  by Ridgefielder
 
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:02 pm This is more properly a comment for the MNRR forum so I don’t want to get into it here, but under-running third rail seems neither safer, simpler, nor more efficient than over-running (like nearly every other system in the world uses.) It has to frustrate MTA head honchos so badly that they can’t balance power between Metro-North and Long Island despite the two systems being functionally identical in nearly every other way. If I’d been in charge, I would have slowly installed dual-sided third rail over the entire MNRR system, then once complete, taken a weekend to shut down the entire railroad and flip over every shoe on every car.
One word- snow. That's the reason the Central went with under-running third rail back in 1907, when the LIRR was already installing over-running. The elevated third rail handles snow way better, and the Westchester/Putnam suburban territory gets a lot of snow. Much more than Long Island: because of the ocean, even though Nassau and Suffolk counties are only ~15 miles from Westchester, they're in a different USDA climate zone.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
I agree that RHI and Hudson should get high level platforms. Those stations see a fair number of riders. Hudson Station doesn’t just serve the City of Hudson. It is very close to a lot of the Upper Catskills. In addition, Hudson serves a lot of the country towns of Columbia County. Much of the Berkshires in MA is not too far from Hudson. In fact, I have family friends who live in Great Barrington and when they need to use Amtrak to get to NYP and DC, they go out of Hudson.
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