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

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  by TomNelligan
 
Tom Curtin wrote:Folks, it appears to me that CDOT's record (going back a few decades) indicates they will not be interested in instituting any passenger service on any lines that don't already have it. Thus we have SLE. Thus we might have Springfield line service. But they have turned thumbs down on "Highland Line" passenger service before.
And aside from that and the impending bankruptcy of governments everywhere, I remain unconvinced that there is enough of a potential rail commuter market between the Waterbury/New Britain corridor and downtown Hartford to support trains. Sure, I-84 is jammed every weekday, but the overwhelming majority of those drivers are traveling from a suburban home to a suburban job, and a downtown-to-downtown commuter train will be of little use to them. South of Hartford, the same thing applies to the Berlin Turnpike (Route 5)... it's jammed with rush hour traffic, but the demand for public transit on the route supports only an infrequent Connecticut Transit bus line that roughly parallels it as far as Berlin.
  by Noel Weaver
 
There is ample track capacity on the Springfield Line for more service than is presently operated. If Connecticut is serious
about service on this line they should come up with the money to increase the existing service and never mind spending a
fortune to operate commuter service with a huge cost involved on this line.
Noel Weaver
  by Woodcrest295
 
just a clarification... metro north is not the largest commuter railroad in the usa, the lirr is. that said, metro north is part of the mta that includes the lirr and therefore is part of the largest commuter railroad in the usa.... end clarification.
  by Jeff Smith
 
There have been some topics on Waterbury service, but I thought I'd start a new one on this, as there have been some comments in the M8 thread, and a separate thread (link) on GCT thru trains, but nothing right on point.

I know there's some strong feelings on this branch, so I thought I'd post these questions:

-There's been no serious recent proposal to end service on this line, but how about expansion? There's the HRRC connection at Derby; I'm fairly sure traffic is light due to the decrease in freight on the Waterbury. Would some limited service be in order to avoid traffic on 8 and backroads to Waterbury/I-95? I know there's no studies right now for this, but there are some active state legislators (even with no money in the pot, there's a lot of talk).
-There has been talk and studies of extension to Bristol and the NHHS line with service to Hartford. Who would operate? Would this be an extension of the "Naugy" or a separate operation with W'Bury serving only as the terminus of two separate branches, or an off-shoot of NHHS?
-Since there are no thru-trains to GCT, and really, no need for them, would it make sense for CDOT (who currently only contract operation) to assume operation of the branch in light of studies for Hartford, even down the "line", pun intended? I mean, actually set up their own rail operations? Could they run service down the branch to both New Haven and Stamford, solely in state? I'm thinking along the lines of the SLE service (Amtrak operated east of New Haven only). MNRR would operate the trains beyond Devon similar to SLE (satisfying ACRE?).
-Would service via the wye to New Haven make sense? That might take some cars off 8 and 95.

Thoughts?
  by Steamboat Willie
 
The reason why the Waterbury trains are turned at Bridgeport because it makes sense for the transfer, whether you're going east or west. Wouldn't make sense for someone going to Fordham getting on a train destined for New Haven out of Waterbury, especially considering the infrequent service.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I completely get why they turn the trains at Bridgeport; I was just wondering if there was a demand for New Haven as a destination from stops along the branch (either as a destination in and of itself, or perhaps to connect to SLE, or Springfield, or the NEC).
  by RearOfSignal
 
I'm not a "New Haven" guy, but the times I've gone up there I've never seen anyone go from the Waterbury to New Haven, usually only west to SoNo, Stamford or New York.
  by TomNelligan
 
Sarge wrote:Would service via the wye to New Haven make sense? That might take some cars off 8 and 95.
Connecticut Transit already runs bus service between Waterbury and New Haven via Cheshire, and between Seymour and New Haven via Ansonia and Derby. That leaves only Naugatuck and Beacon Falls without an existing direct route public transit option, and you can get from Naugatuck to New Haven by bus via a change at Waterbury. The question would be how much additional market demand exists. Most of the jobs in greater New Haven are in outlying suburban locations that are a lot easier to drive to than to get to by any form of public transit.

Regarding potential service on the former Maybrook Line west from Derby Junction, once you leave Shelton the territory is still pretty rural until you get to the Newtown/Brookfield area, and from there people can just drive a few miles to Danbury to catch a train to New York. I doubt there's enough of a market to support rail service.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Sarge wrote:-There has been talk and studies of extension to Bristol and the NHHS line with service to Hartford. Who would operate? Would this be an extension of the "Naugy" or a separate operation with W'Bury serving only as the terminus of two separate branches, or an off-shoot of NHHS?
That would be a CDOT operation, primarily Waterbury-New Britain-Hartford, although half the point of doing it would be all the other potential routings including MNRR.

They have to let go of their half-billion dollar BRT fantasy first for the New Britain Secondary ROW to become available. The CR debate's heating up as lawmakers question the wisdom of building a busway that expensive that'll only serve New Britain to Hartford and involve some mixed-traffic running, but they've also got cold feet about scrapping it this far into the studies for fear of never being able to build anything there. I think ultimately it's just going to get nixed at funding time...CR would be far cheaper infrastructure to lay down, and the upside goes way beyond the New Britain-centric busway. It may take NHHS finally getting funded and shovel-ready, though, for them to let go of BRT. Except for New Britain's blathering idiot mayor most pols prefer rail and probably would vote that way when their "but build something...I don't care what!" anxiety fades.

Any Waterbury-Hartford route and restoration of the New Britain Secondary would also bring NHHS trains into New Britain via Berlin through a reinstated wye downtown so a portion of North-South trains can be routed through New Britain. Entire ROW was double-track up until the mid-50's so reinstatement of double-tracking on the N-S detour is likely and there's ample room for passing sidings to Waterbury. Think some of the bridges might've been rebuilt to single-track in the ensuing decades, but if the demand merited it could be made into a mostly 2-track line without issues or much in the way of encroachment to deal with. 15 total grade crossings, all downtown Bristol east to the wye (7 Bristol, 3 Plainville, 5 New Britain) No grade crossings from Waterbury to downtown Bristol. Of the 15, 6 are at or bookend the blocks of probable station sites, 2 are on station approaches, and 1 is on a dead-end street in an industrial park. Past the wye the existing tracks to Berlin have 3 crossings, 2 within stopping distance of the station, and the NB Secondary ROW has what appears to have been 4 crossings (not clear if any would be eliminated with restoration).

Probable stops (besides Waterbury and stations concurrent with NHHS) would be Terryville (S. Main St?...probably wherever the old B&M station used to be), downtown Bristol (between Center St. and Main St. at the demolished mall, roughly where the B&M station was prior to downtown's radical reconfiguration), possibly Forestville at the beautifully restored vintage B&M station, Plainville center on the block between Routes 372 and 10 (couple blocks east of the old B&M station site that was at the diamond with the Canal line), and downtown New Britain at Columbus Blvd. and Elm St./Route 71 (with the wye splitting off there and north/south lines diverging on their respective bridges over Route 9).
  by Noel Weaver
 
Restoration of passenger train service between Hartford and Waterbury has been discussed on here in the past and it makes
no more sense today than it did six months or five years ago for that matter. The destinations of commuters to Hartford
are not necessarily located around the railroad station nor even near the tracks so what happens when the people get to
Hartford? Most of the business that is in Hartford County is located in areas away from the railroad tracks and at least a
two seat ride would be necessary to reach work and maybe even a three seat ride. Furthermore a bus running on I-84 could
make it between Waterbury and employement in Hartford County in far less time than a commuter train would.
The cost of restoration of passenger service between Waterbury and Hartford would be huge and Connecticut is having
enough problems paying its bills as it is without a waste like this.
Noel Weaver
  by Jeff Smith
 
Noel, you make some great points. I would point out that any downtown terminal has the same issue; people not commuting to the immediate area need good connections to their final destination, whether it's Hartford, New Haven, Penn, or GCT. Folks from Westchester who work on Wall St, the West Side, or even on Park in the 50's still need either a bus, subway, or to walk. The idea is to get you in the vicinity and set up a good feeder service. Setting up Hartford as a terminal may even spur development in the neighborhood, which I understand may not be that good.

Now, whether or not there is a need or demand for the service is what's up for debate; I only raise it as it is connected to the Waterbury line, and with CDOT/MNRR upgrading service and spending on maintenance on the line, it would make sense to incorporate any proposal for service to Hartford to take into account the existing branch service.

Here's a link I didn't see before starting this thread; apparently, the New Britain busway is coming under some scrutiny. With Rell not running for reelection, this may change the equation.

National Corridors
BRISTOL, CT NOVEMBER 27 -- For twelve years or more Connecticut transportation officials and some transit advocates have been pushing to get a dedicated busway, otherwise known as “bus rapid transit,” built between New Britain and Hartford. Studies and engineering plans have been done, costs estimated. Supporters insist that the state should make this project, which is estimated to cost about $570 million, a top priority. At the earliest, it might open at the end of 2013.

But in a recent story in the Hartford Courant, Don Stacom reports that advocates of restoring passenger rail service from Waterbury to Hartford are pushing for a study of the costs to rehabilitate the rail line, which is already there except for a stretch between Newington and New Britain that was abandoned. The busway which only goes a few miles from New Britain to Hartford would eat up any funds that could be available to restore the rail, they say.

“Lawmakers and business leaders from Bristol and surrounding towns argue that rebuilding the dilapidated freight rail line would benefit all of central Connecticut in ways that the New Britain-to-Hartford busway could not.” The rail-based alternative would mean rehabilitating the tracks from Waterbuty to New Britain, then restoring tracks on the abandoned right of way from New Britain to Newington, where they would merge with Amtrak’s main line into Hartford.
  by shadyjay
 
Bristol-Hartford I can see.... Waterbury-Hartford I cannot. Just take a look on google/yahoo/wherever and follow the tracks. Leaving Waterbury they go north for quite a distance, through a tunnel, then make some pretty hard turns within Bristol, crossing several busy streets and sometimes the same street several times within viewing distance. The line straightens out through central/eastern Bristol, then heads for New Britain, then NE through the "grass" to Newington Jct and the Springfield Line. I think the busway is a terrible idea, and if you're going to do commuter rail on this route, you have to go Newington Jct-New Britain direct and not via Berlin (as I've seen proposed once - if the busway got built).

The worst section of I-84 (outside of Waterbury) is in West Hartford/Hartford. I could see a nice park & ride facility being built adjacent to I-84 or Rt 72 in Plainville. Of course this is still years down the road, we still have to study for another 20 years.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Ok, I can see that; Bristol - Hartford. Who operates it? Does CDOT go "live" with rail operations, or contract it out, and to whom? Since it wouldn't go to Waterbury, it's not contiguous with any current MNRR territory, unless CDOT contracts with MNRR to operate NHHS, which is a big if because who knows if MNRR would even want to operate NHHS (I'm assuming they weren't interested in SLE ops).

And that leaves Waterbury, still with service only as far as Stamford; would CDOT, if they stand up actual rail operations, want to assume operations of Waterbury from MNRR (while working out the main line operation issues within CT with ACRE a la SLE to Stamford)?
  by Train322
 
Need to get New Haven-Springfield up and running asap - use the equipment from SLE as M8's are introduced. No need to run Waterbury to Hartford rail yet, plus the route is very indirect. Or - I guess its too late - to do this

Build rail in the center of I 84 from Waterbury to Plainville. Should have done that prior to the widening work.


They could still build rail in the center of I 84 from the Newtown to Waterbury - use existing rail to connect to the Harlem line and forgo the I 84 widening from Waterbury to Brewster NY. Can they use the $'s from the highway widening for rail.

Wonder what they would say if the rail trail from Southbury to Naugatuck/Waterbury was changed over to rail?

Also, why is the busway 560million when light rail cost would be at most 35/mile?


If they build light rail instead of busway, could they run heavy rail eventually or would it make sense to run heavy rail Waterbury to New Britain and change trains?

Best and lowest cost idea is spend $20m on busses and implement a $2/car toll booth at the entrance to the casino's.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Train322 wrote:Need to get New Haven-Springfield up and running asap - use the equipment from SLE as M8's are introduced. No need to run Waterbury to Hartford rail yet, plus the route is very indirect. Or - I guess its too late - to do this

Build rail in the center of I 84 from Waterbury to Plainville. Should have done that prior to the widening work.


They could still build rail in the center of I 84 from the Newtown to Waterbury - use existing rail to connect to the Harlem line and forgo the I 84 widening from Waterbury to Brewster NY. Can they use the $'s from the highway widening for rail.

Wonder what they would say if the rail trail from Southbury to Naugatuck/Waterbury was changed over to rail?

Also, why is the busway 560million when light rail cost would be at most 35/mile?


If they build light rail instead of busway, could they run heavy rail eventually or would it make sense to run heavy rail Waterbury to New Britain and change trains?

Best and lowest cost idea is spend $20m on busses and implement a $2/car toll booth at the entrance to the casino's.
The busway cannibalizes the New Britain Secondary in-total. There's no going back if that happens, and it's not a route designed for conversion because it's a feeder route for several surface bus lines and not really a "true" BRT. That's why it's losing steam quickly. The $560 million (as of now...each estimate keeps climbing higher) is in large part due to ROW acqusition, with 2 bus lanes requiring more land than even restoring the long-ago 2 tracks on the route. Plus would require total demolition/rebuild of the long Route 9 overpass and several underpasses. It's those costs that are going to doom it.

It's not all that indirect a route when you consider that there are zero grade crossings between Waterbury and downtown Bristol. Upgraded track would net good speed through the more roundabout portion of the line where there would only be the one light-use Terryville stop, and then it is a pretty direct path from Bristol center to NB. Even the widened I-84 is so horrific from Waterbury to Southington it would still be a relative time savings. Although I do agree your highest ridership is going to come from Bristol in. But then again half the upside of doing such a routing is the connection to the existing MNRR branch. HFD/NB to Bridgeport links a ton of communities together and itself would be a good idea. 84/8 is a commute from hell itself heavily travelled by commuters Bristol-west, and west-central CT is a daunting trip to Bradley.
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