Plainvilletrainbuff wrote:Would 263k be able to get through the Tunnel in Plymouth, CT?
Not sure what you mean...263K is the current weight-on-rail rating for the Highland, and the tunnel doesn't affect that because it's a regular ballasted trackbed. Plate F (17 ft. tall) is the current clearance rating contiguous from East Deerfield to Derby Jct., adequate for single-stacked shipping cubes on standard well cars.
PAS can spend to upgrade the Highland to 286K if the business is worth it. Per CDOT's State Rail Plan it's a moderate but hardly back-breaking sum, mostly tied up in just rolling back general state-of-repair with rail/tie replacement that Guilford spent 25 years neglecting. CDOT has done a whole series of rapid-replacement bridges on the Waterbury Branch in prep for the upcoming signal system installation and expansion of Metro North schedules, so Waterbury-Derby is mostly ready for a 286K paper uprate.
The problem is "cahnt get theya from heya". All of the Springfield Line upgrade work for Amtrak and the Hartford Line gets the track and all minor bridge structures up to a 286K rating...EXCEPT for 2 remaining restrictions beyond scope of the current project: Connecticut River Bridge between Enfield and Windsor Locks, and the Hartford viaduct through Union Station.
-- The bridge is sheared off from all other ongoing Springfield Line work because it's a major investment in its own right, needing complete superstructure replacement on par with what the Merrimack River Bridge on the Western Route has been getting. CDOT has ID'd that as a priority for freight because it prevents CSOR and CNZR from utilizing their existing 286K capacity at Hartford Yard and all their Hartford-area branchlines, but since Amtrak owns the Springfield Line it's a multi-agency funding target. If fixed, PAS will be able to interchange 286K loads at Hartford Yard, but they can't get further south because of the next restriction.
-- Hartford viaduct is excluded simply because the I-84 relocation could (actually, now formally planned
) bypass it entirely by relocating the station into a cut. Because the billion-dollar 84 project is still in planning, it will be a minimum of 10 years and probably longer before this restriction is fixed. No way of speeding it up by patching the viaduct; the flimsy rail level over Hartford Union Station would require huge renovations to a building on the historic register. Not rational when the trains are due to vacate the building and move into the I-84 cut only a couple years afterwards. So while CSOR/CNZR and Hartford interchange can start moving heavy loads sooner if the river crossing gets greenlit, there's a minimum 10-15 year hard wait for PAS customers because of the I-84 project.
The only way to ferry 286K loads around that restriction is to utilize P&W out of Gardner interchange, where they have contiguous Plate F/286K to New Haven and a recent special Metro North exemption to run their overnight westbound New Haven-Bronx stone trains heavy when MNRR and Amtrak are idle for the night. Waterbury Branch is pretty much set to Derby Jct., and CDOT can inventory the 13 miles from New Haven to Devon Jct. for any line structures that need upgrading to trade up the overnight exemption on that stretch of New Haven Line to a permanent 286K uprate (no movable bridges on that stretch, so needed work is pretty much only the handful of small rail overpasses that weren't rapid-replaced as part of the great big catenary replacement project).
I very much doubt scrambling a PL-# crew all the way to Derby to complete a three-legged handoff is PAS's idea of optimal efficiency for the profit margins. They are probably well-prepared to just do straight-on 263K hauling on EDPL for service starts. Nobody building this thing in Naugatuck is being caught unaware of the I-84 project and its statewide implications to every mode of travel, so all involved players know there'll be a weight restriction for at least 10 years and are comfortable moving forward with that.
gokeefe wrote:Interesting how this traffic would potentially make full doublestack clearances a worthwhile undertaking for the states concerned.
Not here. It's physically impossible to clear DS's to Naugatuck from anywhere. Moving from back-end up:
-- Waterbury Yard to Naugatuck doesn't really have any restrictions to >Plate F. The I-84 & CT 8 overpasses are all super-tall, the river crossings over the riverbank-hugging rail line are fairly tall (but may need some flood-barrier retaining walls to undercut the rails), and there's maybe 1 standard road crossing away from the riverbank that would need replacement. Easy.
-- Terryville Tunnel and the CT 72 (1975-construction) tunnel underpass in Plainville cap the Highland at Plate F, as do a couple other tricky old road overpasses in Plainville and Bristol. Tunnels not modifiable for the extra height to 20'6" (20'2" absolute height for DS on well cars + 4 inches slack for snow/ice buildup). Potential total engineering infeasibility...and a guaranteed blowout expense greater than the profit margins even if it is paper-feasible.
-- Springfield Line has too many overpasses to increase over Plate F. You might be able to do it between Springfield and Hartford Yard where it hugs the river and the only overpasses are tall crossings over a navigable river. Trackbed undercuts with modest flood-protection retaining walls might work there. Reinstating the Armory Branch from Springfield to the state line may be even cheaper if MassDOT got full-throated involved to keep a strong arm on the Springfield encroachers; that one only has 2 bridges in MA right by the junction to undercut and 1 (I-291) in CT and is otherwise totally height-unrestricted. But either way, you aren't getting between Hartford Yard and the Highland because of too many road overpasses. Considering that 25 kV electrification is likely to come to the Springfield Line in the next 20 years requiring 2.5 ft. of additional safe wire clearance over an unshielded cube, not even a clearance megaproject will suffice to cover all future needs.
-- Conn River Line is 19'6" (autorack) from East Deerfield to Springfield EXCEPT for one low-hanging bridge at N. Main St. in South Deerfield restricting thru traffic to Plate F. It's an ancient span long overdue for MassDOT replacement, so this one probably gets fixed all by itself through no effort of PAS's. Finding the extra +1 ft. to 20'6" top-to-bottom on the Conn River is probably going to be a royal P.I.T.A., however, and there's no compelling reason to reach for that expense when CT is blocked. There isn't even a compelling reason today to take racks or mixed-cubes down here on their 19'6".
No easier from the south on the P&W handoff, either. Wires on the Shoreline, wires on the New Haven-Devon portion of the New Haven Line preventing anything taller than Plate F on P&W cross-state. Berkshire and Maybrook Lines are Plate F, so no Housatonic (HA!) involvement either. And all of Central CT is in too-close drayage distance to the big intermodal terminals @ West Springfield and Worcester, so there's no compelling business reason to carve out more clearance to the south. Unless you can somehow get all the way to somewhat more attractively-spaced Cedar Hill in New Haven...but that involves not only solving for a supertall route between Springfield and Hartford Yard, but also doing hella-invasive work clearing the Valley/Air Lines because Springfield Line-south is impossible. CH wouldn't come close to making sense at that price.
As with the decade-plus wait on lifting the weight limits, all of the players involved know what the score is on this Naugatuck site and are going for it anyway. Plate F forever and 263K...for a non-shortenable interim...they see profits in going for it now. So there's not really anything to troubleshoot if they know what their capacity is and are good to go for it now. We just need a little more info about their business plan to fill in some pressing blanks about what kinds of carloads this operation is intended to support.