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 Steamboat Willie
Expanding on what DRN said, during the week 1186/1188 originate in Stamford and deadhead to Waterbury. 1188 is the second deadhead, and that turns for the first southbound train as 1923 in the morning, with 1935 following. 1935 sits between BL-WATER and Division Post while 1923 sits in the station. 1935's equipment does the first three round trips on the branch, and 1923's crew and equipment does a round trip on the Danbury as 1806/1849.
  by njtmnrrbuff
I came across this most recent article the other day about the future of the Waterbury Branch. I hope to see the sidings built for the added trains. Just a few things I need to address-throughout the day, the Waterbury Branch trains don't operate every two hours. If they can get the trains running on two hour headways on the branch during the off peak hours and on weekends, that could be a start. Even if the sidings get built, there would still need to be more things to be worked on before there are any through trains to NYC-longer platforms, expanded shelters, especially in Waterbury, and of course a good demand for through trains. If through trains were to run on the Waterbury, probably they would only run during the rush hour at first. I think the majority of people who use the Waterbury Branch are traveling within the branch as well as traveling to cities in Fairfield County. Keep in mind that many people who live along the Waterbury Branch don't have a lot of money and those are the type that might not be traveling all the way to NYC a lot.
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  by GirlOnTheTrain
Don't discount the Waterbury to Fordham market...particularly on weekends. I can't tell you how many people I saw on the platform at Fordham on a Sunday afternoon ended up on the Waterbury train when I was doing my weekly trip. If they'd ever finish CP109 it would allow many more NHV trains to stop at Fordham, and that in and of itself would be a massive improvement! Only one Waterbury train per day each way connects with a New Haven train that stops there. On Fridays I would make sure I took the one that did...eliminating the transfer and cutting the ride down to two trains from three did actually make a difference.

As for lack of money - Waterbury tops that list, but the rest of the towns aren't complete dumps. I suspect the further down the valley you go, the crappiness of service drives people to the main line. (It was a whopping 30 minutes from my house in Naugatuck to Fairfield Metro) If they have a way to get to the main line they will. If they had better service more people would use it, and I bet there's more straight to New York commuters than you'd think.
  by Backshophoss
The towns along the Waterbury branch are most likely the last refuge of the middle class that have been squeezed out of Greenwich,Stamford,and
most of the shoreline towns along the New Haven line by inflation and high township real estate(& school) Taxes
Stamford is the "Backoffice" town of chose for supporting the High Priced HQ offices in NYC.
Most of the "back country" in Greenwich and Stamford is "Country estates" of the top execs that still commute to NYC.
ConnDOT has "pissed away" $$$$$$$ for a useless busway in Hartford,instead of upgrading one of the last "manual block" branch on MN
with active passenger service.
Fordham is one of the last middle class enclaves in NY City Limits,and possibly home to some family's grand parents or other extended family.
  by njtmnrrbuff
That's true about Greenwich and Stamford being what they are.

I'm sure that even though more and more people are moving along the Waterbury Branch, many of those people will still drive to one of the mainlines for better service. Yes, the other towns served by the Waterbury Branch are not that bad. Don't be too surprised if they run the through trains during the rush hour and they only run one in each direction.

The busway might be more important than you think as there are many towns within easy reach of Hartford where commuters and travelers might not want to use their cars. I know that Waterbury has a Ctrail route that runs to Hartford and I believe that it uses the busway.
  by Traingeek3629
Here is the per capita income of Waterbury branch towns:
1. Shelton, 38,341
Connecticut, 36,775
2. Beacon Falls, 32,710
3. Seymour, 32,346
4. Naugatuck, 27,933
United States, 27,334
5. Derby, 26,264
6. Ansonia, 26,225
7. Waterbury, 21,545.

The Waterbury Line also serves passengers from more wealthy towns like Bethany (47,241$), Prospect (40,126) and Oxford (41,909$), but most of the towns directly on the line are dumps.

The poorest town in the Danbury Line (Danbury ) is still wealthier than Naugatuck, Derby, Ansonia, and Waterbury. The other branches also have affluent towns like Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston, New Canaan, and Redding.
  by Bill D
I happened to attend the CT Commuter Rail Council meeting Wednesday evening in Derby. This meeting was (according to Council members) the highest in attendance that they could remember. Passengers from all towns served by the branch were in attendance, as well as several local politicians and representatives of Metro North and CDOT. The primary issue of discussion was the poor quality of service in the past few months, with on time performance hovering around 64%. In response, the MN rep stated that 67% of the issues were caused by congestion (causing late connections) due to work being done on the main line. Two specific areas mentioned were Southport and New Rochelle, where tracks have been out of service. Locomotive issues accounted for 12% of the delays and the rest were due to miscellaneous problems, including weather, bridge and trespasser strikes, which have been up as of late. Regarding the locomotives, it was reported the the Brookvilles average 7,590 miles between failures, not a good figure at all. The BL20's are currently in the early phase of the rebuild program, but it will be about 18 months before improvement is realized. Some of the riders in attendance stated that the felt that service was at its' best when Devon Transfer was in operation. There are no current plans to create anything permanent at that location.

The signaling project is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2019, with completion (as well as the new sidings) sometime during 2020. Of course, even with these improvements, there will not be any real improvement in service until new / additional equipment is obtained, and that is at least five years off. A design contract has already been awarded by CDOT for 120 new passenger cars, to provide service on the Waterbury and Danbury branches, as well as for SLE and the Hartford line. The State of Connecticut also plans to purchase 18 new locomotives to be used for these services, possibly tagging on to the MN order. In this case, they may all be dual modes. (And slightly off topic, the CDOT representative told me that M-8's for SLE would most likely be used only on the through trains to Stamford.)

Waterbury station improvements are being handled by the city, and there have been funding issues with the grant for that project, so there is no firm date for completion. Riders reported that break ins at the Waterbury lot are down, but they still occur.

Some posters here have mentioned through service to GCT. The commuters in attendance at the meeting travel mostly to towns in Fairfield County between Stratford and Greenwich, but a couple mentioned GCT as their final destination. These are generally peak hour commuters. Not represented at this meeting were those the ride off peak and weekends, which is a significant portion of ridership on the branch. I believe that many of those travel to / from the city and branch. It would be interesting to see ridership numbers with origin and destination. Through service would probably be feasible, not only weekdays, but on weekends as well. Despite the problems with service on the branch, ridership has been improving over the past several years, and hopefully improvements will not be delayed any longer than necessary.
  by njtmnrrbuff
I don't think Danbury is that poor. I have a relative who lives not too far from there. The Danbury Branch serves plenty of affluent communities and my relative lives in Ridgefield. She doesn't do too much traveling but whenever she went to NYC, she would always drive to Katonah for the Harlem Line.

The intermediate towns served by the Waterbury Branch, yes, are not affluent but Oxford, Bethany, are close by. I'm sure many of those people will just drive to the New Haven Line. Last time I rode the Waterbury Branch was in October of 2010-the trains were quite crowded. I believe that the majority of people who use that line are going to counseling services in the larger cities in Fairfield County. Despite Waterbury being a tough city, that station does well with ridership as the station is centrally located and it's not in the worst part of the city either. You don't want to be hanging out there too long as well as after dark.

The New Canaan Branch definately serves plenty of affluent areas-even the stops that it serves in Stamford that aren't on the New Haven, are not in poor areas.
  by Traingeek3629
I predict that as housing prices closer to NYC in Westchester, Fairfield, and Nassau counties rise, ridership on the Waterbury Line will increase. This could also increase ridership for the LIRR east of Babylon and Islip, the Wassaic part of the Harlem Line, the NHHS and SLE corridors, and north of Beacon on the Hudson.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Yes, that is true. As for the Wassaic segment of the Harlem Line, I am not sure how many new homes are being built but what I do know is adjacent to Harlem Valley-Wingdale, there is transit oriented development going up. That is still far from Grand Central but for a person who wants to live country life while being within 75 miles of the heart of Midtown, it's probably not a bad deal. I don't know how many people commute five days a week from the extreme far reaches of the Harlem Line. You have many people who commute to White Plains though.

As for Long Island, I know somebody who lives in Shirley and he commutes to Brooklyn on the LIRR. That's quite far. Anywhere between Patchogue and Babylon isn't terrible.

In the New Jersey Transit service area, there are many people who move further south and west of the city. There are so many people who commute from Princeton Jct and it's a blessing that NJT runs those 3900 series super express trains for people who live in Mercer County and beyond. In fact, there are plenty of people who have moved to and live in South Jersey near the Delaware River who will drive up the Turnpike or 295 to Hamilton and park there as they don't want to have to play around with the River Line.

In Northeastern PA, I think certain towns have been losing population but many people commute to Manhattan and in general, they take MARTZ bus lines. At this point, much of the Cutoff won't be restored. Oh well, New Jersey Transit has other priorities to take care of closer to NYC. Plus, the travel times on the trains from NYC to Scranton wouldn't be anywhere close to driving or taking the bus, even stop and go traffic. On weekends, the train to Dover from NYP takes a whooping hour and a half pretty much which is very slow and that's 38 miles.
  by Steamboat Willie
Unit more equipment is purchased and increased reliability along with better financial health of CT will you see any improvements in service. We can barely maintain the service we currently run. I wouldn’t expect to see anything materialize for years to come.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Yes, it will be a while until more trains are added to the Waterbury Branch. The demand is there but probably not for through trains to NYC. The New Haven Line's infrastructure has to continue to be upgraded as well. New equipement for the MNR diesel lines as well as SLE and Ctrail are a must. Many of the Shoreliners, Mafersas, and MBB cars are aging. It would be great if all of the SLE trains could have M8 cars as the catenary is there.
  by R36 Combine Coach
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: There are so many people who commute from Princeton Jct and it's a blessing that NJT runs those 3900 series super express trains for people who live in Mercer County and beyond.
These were former Clockers.

As for the Danbury Branch, removing the wire by the New Haven was shortsighted. Once a line is de-powered, it'll cost even more to rewire it.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Sadly the wires won't be energized ever again on the Danbury although it would be nice. That is true about any line being deenergized. The Danbury Branch is good running on diesel power.
  by Noel Weaver
It is so sad to see things around Waterbury as they presently are and were on my last trip there in 2010 as well. All of the towns and cities in the Naugatuck Valley were very prosperous at one time back in the 50's, 60's and well into the 70's. Then as the heavy industries closed or moved out things really went to hell fast. Take a ride through the various neighborhoods in Waterbury and you will find some very nice areas to live in that are still decent. The floods in 1955 caused a lot of damage and problems but the biggest hit wasn't the floods or McGinns but the loss of Scovill, American Brass, Chase, Farrell Birmingham, U.S. Rubber and Naugatuck Chemical and the footware, Torrington Company and a host of other heavy and lighter industries through a period of time. Every one that quit the Naugatuck Valley made things go downhill a bit more. When things were good Waterbury, Torrington and the lower valley were all quite prosperous with good jobs, thriving business both big and small and happy people. Today the big things are crime, drugs, prostitution and other bad things. Crooked politicians don't help the situation either and Connecticut has had its share of them too. The busway was one of the biggest wastes of all time.
Back in the 50's before the flood I could board the train on a Saturday or Sunday for New York at 8:00 AM and be in Grand Central Terminal at 10:00 AM. The trains made the stops in the valley, changed from RS-3's to a motor at Bridgeport and nonstop to 125th Street. Same thing returning, 2 hours end to end. OH the fare was $2.49 for the round trip on the excursion trains and they generally ran with a lot of coaches and 2 RS-3's. Great days.
Noel Weaver
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