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 Larry
I know there is no money right now but does anyone know of a timetable for the continued double tracking through Windsor Locks, Enfield and unto Springfield MA on the MSR line? Any start up dates been announced?
  by njt/mnrrbuff
Double tracking through Windsor Locks and Enfield will probably not happen in the short term but maybe at some point in the next 10 years. It would be great if it could happen sooner as that will help with adding more rail frequencies.

There is a possibility that sometime this weekend, I might take a trip on Ctrail to both Hartford and Berlin.
  by Jeff Smith
I would posit that double track past Windsor Locks might never happen or will be dropped unless Massachusetts pitches in. The only infill station CtDOT is looking at north of WL and before Springfield is Enfield. And infill stations is where I think they'll concentrate, except south of Hartford. And expect those to be lower budget than the expensive but otherwise very nice new stations along the line.

CT's money is going to be tied up in Hartford with the 84 viaduct and rail replacement, as well as equipment upgrades.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
It’s very important for CDOT to get on it with the 84 viaduct so that way, they can work on relocating the Hartford train station and add a second track at the depot. This right there would probably help eliminate a significant bottleneck by providing two trains to do their station work at Hartford Station.
  by J.D. Lang
And they'll have to do a lot of work on the CT. river bridge above WL before any doubletracking can take place up to Enfield.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
Yes, that Connecticut River Bridge in Windsor Locks is going to have to be replaced eventually probably. When it's time to replace it, then hopefully Connecticut will let Amtrak build a brand new bridge that can support two tracks over the river. I believe that the Springfield Line is double track for several miles south of Springfield until right around the Connecticut State Line.

I like the list of proposed stations for Hartford Line trains. It seems like there are ones that used to be in service many years ago like North Haven. I know that decades ago, Amtrak used to have a park n ride style stop in North Haven very close to I-91. Well, there is a proposal to open up a station in North Haven but the question is will it be built at the old station site. It would be good to have a station in West Hartford, especially one that is connected to the Fastracks Busway.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
Yesterday(4/7/19), I did a Metro North/Ctrail trip combo which was good but but as good as I hoped for, especially in the beginning. My plan was to be able to take MNR Train # 6518 to NHV where I would switch to Ctrail Train # 6454 to Hartford, take Ctrail Train # 6455 from Hartford to Berlin, and then the next Ctrail train from Berlin to New Haven and then switch at New Haven for Metro North. Due to significant delays on MNR Train # 6518 which lead to me missing Ctrail Train # 6454, I ended up going as far as Berlin.
Here are the specifics. Metro North Train # 6518 had to stop just outside of Stamford due to mechanical difficulties. The conductor got on the loud speaker and explained the reasoning for the delays-very good on the part of that. He mentioned that when we got to Stamford, there would be a replacement train waiting across the platform. Guess what, there was none. For those of us continuing from stations between S. Norwalk and New Haven, we had to wait like 10-15 minutes extra at Stamford. Anybody wishing to get off at the Darien Stations had to wait for the next scheduled Metro North train in which the crew would accommodate those people so that way, 6518 can attempt to try to get people to their stations where they might have connections like to Waterbury, Shore Line East destinations, and Ctrali Hartford Line destinations. At some point between Stamford and Westport, we were told that our Ctrail train would wait for us. Passengers heading to Waterbury Branch and Shore Line East destinations were informed many times that their trains would wait for them while Ctrail Hartford Line people, it was only once. We got to New Haven over 30 minutes late. When we got there, we could see the Shore Line East train # 3618 wait but it didn't wait a very long time. It left literally a minute or two after the delayed MNR Train # 6518 arrived.
After getting off the 30 minute delayed MNR Train # 6518, I was pretty surprised and annoyed to see that Ctrail Train # 6454 left just before we arrived. On a normal day, there is 16 minutes carded in the timetable for layover time between when MNR Train # 6518 arrives and Ctrail Train # 6454 departs. Ctrail Train # 6454 still could have waited for us, given the fact that the majority of the Springfield Line is double tracked all the way to Hartford. Plus, it wasn't like 6454 would have messed their timeslot up with other Amtrak trains. It has more than plenty of layover time in Hartford before it comes back to New Haven. I believe that Ctrail trains that terminate in Hartford layover in a yard, rather than block the main line.
I ended up going as far as Berlin. After grabbing a pizza lunch in New Haven, I decided to walk over to State Street Station and grab Ctrail Train # 6456 there. I did along with twenty other people. When I boarded the train which was three cars, I could see that there were quite a few riders for a midday train and a train that isn't going up to Springfield. We ran on time. I noticed that many of the twenty people who I saw who boarded the train at State Street Station got off in Wallingford. I think like 10 people got off in Meriden and only a few including myself got off in Berlin. I spend a few hours in Berlin railfanning at and around the station. It's a very nice station. Many of the Ctrail trains that I saw there didn't have many riders getting on or off any of the trains-that included the Amtrak trains. I wasn't able to see how many people were on the Amtrak trains that stopped there, but the number was probably very high. Almost every train that I saw at Berlin, except the southbound Vermonter was on time. The southbound Vermonter wasn't running very late.
Heading back to New York City, I took Ctrail Train # 6459, a three car set which wasn't full but at the same time, it wasn't that empty. I observed that about 10 people boarded the train there. Very few people boarded the train in Wallingford. We ran on time the entire journey southbound. The one drawback is that if you are looking at making the 6:25 Metro North semi super express to Grand Central, don't count on it. It leaves just before Ctrail Train # 6459 arrives. At least, there is about twenty minutes until MNR Train # 6557 departs-good amound of time, just in case something goes wrong with Ctrail.
From what I have read a few months ago about Ctrail's ridership stats, it seems to be very good. I guess some days, it is more than others. As mentioned in other posts, it doesn't surprise me that there are many people who might live along the Springfield Line, especially the lower part, who will drive to New Haven or even West Haven for better connections. I hope that CDOT can prevent the same issue that I had with my train yesterday morning with other trains that people are connecting to from Metro North.
  by daybeers
As of now, CT wants to rebuild Windsor and Windsor Locks so they have high-level platforms and add infill stations at Enfield, West Hartford, Newington, North Haven, and possibly Hamden. Enfield will be at the intersection of Main Street and River Street with 185 parking spaces. Interestingly there will be a connection to the adjacent revitalized factory building. Windsor Locks (117 spaces) is planned for Main Street (Route 159) just north of the current site and Windsor (239 spaces- a combo on both sides of the tracks) will be located just south of the current station between Town Hall and Mechanic Street. West Hartford (132 spaces) will next to the current CTfastrak Flatbush Avenue station at Flatbush and Newfield Avenues. Newington has issues with its station location due to traffic and land issues, but it will most likely be off of Cedar Street (Route 175) near Central Connecticut State University, instead of at Newington Junction as originally planned due to parking constraints. North Haven will be at the intersection of State Street (Route 5) and Devine Street with 200 additional parking spots on top of the current park-and-ride there.

I think the plan is to have all design complete by next year. All this info can be found on the interactive map on the NHHS website. Strangely it didn't have Hamden on there.

I believe there is only about 12 miles of single track left on the route and it's all between Windsor and Springfield: 7.5 miles from MP 46-49 and 50-55, with the rest in MA. The I-84 Hartford Project construction won't start for a whiiiile, so I da** hope CT will prioritize double-tracking.

Does anyone know if CT is going to publish ridership figures?
  by JcPinCT
daybeers wrote:I think the plan is to have all design complete by next year. All this info can be found on the interactive map on the NHHS website. Strangely it didn't have Hamden on there.
Hamden wasn't part of the original scope of the project and I wouldn't expect it to receive a station until after the original scope is built out. Being a separate project and not yet officially a designated future stop, CDOT probably decided to keep it off of the map for now.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamden Station was kept off of the project table. It seems that the station location in Hamden would be extremely close to where N. Haven would be. While I welcome new stations to be built, other factors must be considered-definitely making the whole SPG double track, trying to order brand new equipment. CDOT should look into buying DMUs for their Hartford Line service. In fact, Amtrak is looking at buying DMUs for some of their state sponsored corridor routes and the Springfield Line is an excellent candidate for them. Amtrak actually mentioned considering DMUs for the shuttles.
  by JcPinCT
njt/mnrrbuff wrote:CDOT should look into buying DMUs for their Hartford Line service. In fact, Amtrak is looking at buying DMUs for some of their state sponsored corridor routes and the Springfield Line is an excellent candidate for them. Amtrak actually mentioned considering DMUs for the shuttles.
With the recent rebuild of the geeps and ongoing rebuild of the P40s, it will be a long time before CTDOT looks into purchasing DMUs. I hope CTDOT concentrates any funding on completing the original Hartford Line project scope (double tracking and stations).
  by Jeff Smith
GotT: they don't have us paying taxes there any more, lol, so who knows. In any case, the state needs coaches more than they need power. They're supposedly waiting on MNRR to replace their Shoreliners with ML's and move their share over, but that's nowhere close. We've been up and down the whole C1 shenanigans, and the Amfleets. Maybe they can tow some Acela sets with FL9's? Oops, too late!

There are fleet replacements going on around the country, and CtDOT has gotten by with hand-me-downs. They need to wring whatever life is left out of them and hold on by their fingernails.

Amtrak doing DMU's I can see; I haven't read their fleet plan yet. But that's a discussion for here: http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.ph ... 0#p1505160" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I think the lower infill stations happen first. They could convert Windsor to high level now, on one side. But wouldn't freight clearance be an issue on the single track portions above there? The stations below Hartford are really nice, but they're expensive. Maybe they could double track up to WL, but I just don'e see anything happening north of there, even to Enfield, any time soon.
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