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 Jeff Smith
A minor blurb on Hudson access: TimesUnion.com
There has been talk of bringing some Metro-North Hudson line trains, that share tracks with Amtrak's Empire service between Poughkeepsie and Spuyten Duyvil, into Penn Station, but Becker said that's "still in the global discussion process."
Admin Note: I decided to split off the subject of Hudson Line access, so that any developments are not lost in the New Haven Line Penn Access thread. That thread does have older discussion of the study of options which includes Hudson Line access. This is the link to the thread which has morphed into New Haven Line access, which IS happening:

http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=17711" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by DutchRailnut
talk is cheap, and it depends who is doing it, MTA has looked into it but it would be cost prohibitive.
  by Jeff Smith
Totally agree. SD bridge is single track; so is the Empire Connection gunnel. Not sure about the rest of the ROW, I know it’s tight along the Henry Hudson. And MNRR would have to figure out motive power, as I doubt they’d electrify it the whole way.
  by SRich
The emipre connection is only a few miles long so i guess you need three ore four substations for third rail power, and perhaps double track the bridge and connection to mnrr.
  by EuroStar
DutchRailnut wrote:talk is cheap, and it depends who is doing it, MTA has looked into it but it would be cost prohibitive.
Dutch, how expensive is this in comparison to the New Haven access which supposedly is $1 billion without even replacing the Pelham Bay bridge? I do not know the likely ridership on the Hudson Line access to Penn and it is definitely less than the ridership for the New Haven line, so I am not arguing that it is worth it at this time, but really is it that expensive? In terms of track they will need to double track the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge. Why does the MTA need anything else other than diesel equipment to run the service to Penn (basically the same way Amtrak runs their service to Albany)? That short track and the extra equipment cannot be more than a couple of hundred million dollars.

Now if the MTA begins to insist on infill stations, electric service and a flyover at Spuyten Duyvil then the costs really balloon, but if they wanted to just start the service and see where the demand goes, the costs are not that high. They only need to order more coaches and dual-mode replacements when that procurements finally gets going.
  by DutchRailnut
if they went with electric your talking 2 x 12 miles of third rail plus 6 sub stations. plus expansion of EMU fleet.
If they went the diesel way it would mean double ending all push/pull trains used to NYP due to Amtrak requirements
a new two track bridge and total interlocking replacement at DV/cp12
a second bore for empire tunnel.

plus whatever stations.
  by EuroStar
I will agree with you that there will be some work required at DV/cp12, but still it cannot be that expensive.
The rest should not be a problem if anyone actually wanted to run the trains. Again, I do not know if there is enough demand to justify such trains, but if there was (a big if), the rest of these are not barriers to starting the service.

I said that electric service and the stations are extra and probably should be done only after the service has grown its demand enough. There is no doubt that these are expensive.
I had not heard that Amtrak required double ending the trains into Penn. They operate the Keystones with cab cars into Penn. What is the deal with this? Is the Empire Connection special for some reason?
There will never be a second bore for the Empire Tunnel. The Gateway Tunnel casings that were already built preclude that. And really, there is no need for a second bore. It is a short stretch of track and can be handled operationally.
  by BM6569
They should extend the double track north through the bridge anyway and have it tie in further up the line. I'm sure Amtrak coming off the Empire Connection gets help up by Metro North every so often
  by Tommy Meehan
This is what MTA is saying now about Hudson Line service into Penn Station:
The PSA 2002 Comparative Screening Results Report recommended two alternatives for further consideration: 1) New Haven Line service via Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line with three new Metro-North stations in the eastern Bronx; and 2) Hudson Line service via Amtrak’s Empire Connection with two new Metro-North stations in Manhattan, one each in midtown and upper Manhattan...Serious operational limitations were identified with the Hudson Line service alternative, mainly due to the Empire Line tunnel into Penn Station consisting of only one track. The Empire Line tunnel connects only to Penn Station Tracks 1-8, which are used primarily by NJ Transit, with some usage by Amtrak. It was determined that PSA Hudson Line service would require either: 1) substantial service reductions to those Penn Station tracks by NJ Transit and Amtrak or 2) significant infrastructure investments at Penn Station to allow Metro-North trains to access MTA/LIRR tracks in Penn Station via the Empire Line tunnel.

Based on these operational constraints, Hudson Line service to Penn Station is not part of the current PSA project. Metro-North will continue to consider the introduction of Hudson Line service to Penn Station as long-term planning and discussion of capacity improvements at Penn Station occur, including future phases of the Gateway Trans-Hudson tunnels project. Link
  by EuroStar
The study is from 2002. It is mostly BS and an easy excuse to justify not having to come up with the $$$ for the Hudson Line access. Given that I am not sure if the demand is there, I am certainly not trying to advocate about making the Hudson Line access happen now. I am just trying to call out the BS excuses used by the MTA and the Governor for it. It is much easier to shut up the proponents if you tell them that it costs too much money or if NJT/Amtrak need to reduce service than to tell them that ridership does not justify the expense because those proponents will find some surveys or something to counter you and then it gets tougher to tell them NO.

Counter for 1 is: When LIRR reduces service to Penn, the freed slots on the upper numbered tracks can be used by NJT and Amtrak as most of the upper numbered tracks still have access to the Hudson tubes, leaving some slots on the low numbered tracks for access from the Empire Tunnel.
Counter for 2 is: Current plans for Gateway call for the Empire tunnel and the Gateway tunnels to get access to tracks 1-18. They need to move some supports for 9th Avenue that are in the way and that is no doubt expensive, but if the Gateway tunnels happen then that is baked in.

Again, I am totally fine with the plans as they are now, but the excuses are lame. Note that the same was true about the Third Mainline track on the LIRR. Once the Governor said that he wanted it, a way was found to make it happen. Same thing here. If the Governor wanted it it would happen, if he does not want it excuses will be found, recycled and so on and it would not happen.
  by DutchRailnut
Keystones operate of catenary ( little secret: no gaps)
MN would run of third rail just like LIRR (little secret: big big gaps in third rail)
  by Tommy Meehan
The PSA 2002 Comparative Screening Results Report recommended establishing both New Haven and Hudson Line service to Penn Station. For a number of years the two plans were supposed to go forward in tandem. As recently as 2014 MTA planning was still focused on building the Hudson Line connection concurrent with the New Haven Line connection. Below is a quote from a message I posted back then, quoting MTA Planning, based on the environmental review dating to about 2013. (The link I had provided is dead.) I highlighted the part where MTA states the two projects are still going together, as a "single alternative."
The analyses performed to date of Alternatives 1 and 2 revealed no significant impacts that could not be mitigated. Therefore, Metro-North is refocusing and streamlining the environmental review process by preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the single alternative, combining Alternatives 1 and 2. While pursuing this streamlined process, Metro-North will update key technical analyses that were previously prepared for the DEIS, focusing on relevant issues associated with combined Alternatives 1 and 2.
Later in 2014 MTA began to have second thoughts. In putting together the 2015-2019 Capital Budget it was decided to NOT include the Hudson Line project. That the Hudson Line project would be in the 2020-2024 budget.

Now, especially because of the Gateway project, the Hudson Line may be moved even further into the future, to 2025-2029. The statement below is current, that was not in the 2002 PSA planning. -
Based on these operational constraints, Hudson Line service to Penn Station is not part of the current PSA project. Metro-North will continue to consider the introduction of Hudson Line service to Penn Station as long-term planning and discussion of capacity improvements at Penn Station occur, including future phases of the Gateway Trans-Hudson tunnels project.
  by Jeff Smith
I.e. Penn South and Moynihan. No one is going to know anything for sure until ESA is open, and ridership trends become clear, and the triumvirate (Amtrak, MTA, NJT) see how many slots get freed, how they can shift traffic in Penn, and who wants the extra slots and who has “dibs”.

Then it’s up to the powers that be to get Gateway done. Then the old North River tubes get rehabbed. And don’t forget the East River tunnels. It’ll be 2030 if we’re lucky.

That’s a lot of $$$ to spend before you get to Hudson access, which doesn’t have the same demand that is apparent in the East Bronx.

Tommy, do you remember what service plans (frequencies) were discussed for Hudson Line access?
  by DutchRailnut
west side to NYP has been a dream since Al D'amato got funding for second empire track and when Per Stangle was interim president at LIRR.
its been pipedream with nothing done in last 30 years.
  by Tommy Meehan
I don't really recall the proposed Hudson Line service levels but news reports in the 2009-2011 time frame quote Metro-North/MTA officials as saying it would be full service.
The MTA is currently [Nov 2011] performing a Federal Environmental Assessment on the project that would bring its trains on the Hudson and New Haven lines into Penn Station..." said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. Link