Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by unichris
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:21 am Sometime this year, I might take a trip to Hartford. I may do MNR to NHV and then switch to Ctrail or Amtrak and do the same in reverse.
I've made that trip many times, either because the Amtrak cheap seats for NYP-NHV were sold out or because I wanted to bring a bike they don't allow but CTDOT handles superbly. Works pretty well. The one thing I'd suggest is buying an Amtrak ticket for New Haven - Hartford online ($8 even the same day), CTDOT cross honors it and in theory the reverse, but Amtrak lets people with their own tickets board first. (In theory you can get a uni-rail? ticket from an MNR vending machine but not by following the usual search by city menu) To just get somewhere the Amtrak coaches are nice, but the CTDOT trains are kind of more fun, although I did get stuck on one that had pretty severe issues with a damping mechanism of some sort.
I would love to check out the original Hartford Station as well.
While you can go up the stairs into it, it feels practically abandoned, just a big empty if picturesque room - everything actually in use runs out of what's always felt like the bus terminal under the tracks, and that's where the stairs & elevator to the trains are too. It feels like the only reason they even let you go through the old station is that locals would often prefer to pick up and drop off guests on the back street.
I would like to give some insight of that freight siding just south of the station.
Interesting, what is that? I know there's still a freight spur to the northeast, and feel like I've seen sidings that might still be used down closer to NHV.
  by BandA
unichris wrote: Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:51 pm
BandA wrote: Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:41 pm That picture doesn't show a high-level boarding platform. Perhaps there is a partial-high-level behind the photographer.
While the tracks in the foreground seem to create an optical illusion that make the platform look at the same level (almost to the point of looking as if the tracks are above the platform), the structure in that picture is in fact the high level platform. I was standing on it less than two weeks ago myself. And as previously explained, the ramp to the left comes up from the original level ---snip--- Here's it in use for high level boarding: https://www.nhhsrail.com/images/improve ... ion_01.jpg And a view looking south beyond the high level to the original level where the stairs and elevator are https://www.nhhsrail.com/images/improve ... ion_02.jpg
I stand corrected.
  by njtmnrrbuff
I have ridden the Springfield Line past Hartford many times, all of which were on Amtrak trains and before Ctrail started running. I'd much rather ride in an Amfleet coach on the SPG Line over riding in those MBB cars. I know that CDOT is planning on ordering new equipment for their Ctrail routes. I love how Amtrak honors Ctrail fares on their 400 series shuttles as well as the Northeast Regionals that run on the Springfield Line. Whenever I do the trip to Hartford, whatever I ride on the SPG Line could go either way for the most part. I don't think I will ride any of the NE Regional trains as I would be making a daytrip.
  by daybeers
I believe the partial high-level platform at HFD can accommodate five Amfleet doors if lined up correctly, but they usually only have 2-4 open depending on the load. It has a hinge on it to fold down so high/wide freights can pass through, though I'm not sure how often that happens, just like how often do the gauntlet tracks get used?

There are a lot of things in flux with the new study for I-84 and surrounding area, but I actually would hope they would move out of Union Station. It's in a weird spot just at the edge of downtown and needs better connectivity and amenities. CTfastrak will almost certainly get moved a bit, or at least I hope something done about it: what's the point of one of the best BRT systems in the country dumping out onto Asylum Street to fight with 5PM traffic? All of the new CTDOT stations are much nicer than Union IMO, besides the historical significance. HFD is run-down: puddles form on the lower-level area of the platform and water drips from the canopies above. The waiting area is from the 1970s and has low ceilings and is cramped in general, making one feel like they're not welcome a minute longer than what's needed to wait for your bus or train. The stairs to the platform are an incredible safety hazard and I wouldn't be surprised if a couple people have injured themselves slipping on them when it's wet. Sometimes there's no point to having an Amtrak representative there if they take their breaks right around train time. It's quite drafty, so you're always wearing your coat inside.

Most of all, I think it's just too big of a space for what it's used for right now. There needs to be more street/curb space dedicated to CTtransit buses instead of a silly waiting room on Union Place that I've never seen anyone use. God forbid we take out more parking in the downtown area of a city (GASP)! Or, just use the space more effectively. It's great to have that large hall in the historic part of the station, but really it's only used by some offices on the second floor and a handful of people waiting for their transportation.

I also think it would cost just as much money to repair the viaduct to hold one more track as it would to move the tracks, and if we can get more seating that's maybe not made out of hard metal, better food options, any semblance of convenient outlets, and room to breathe, that's a huge positive in my opinion. Jeff is right: track 2 is in complete disrepair. The freight siding just south of the station would add a lot more reliability to the schedule, and I hope that's something CTDOT makes a priority. It runs from the OAKWOOD interlocking & crossing with Oakwood Avenue in West Hartford north to PARKVILLE interlocking not far from the station.