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 gokeefe
 
Are there any ticket agents in Hartford at all?
  by Rockingham Racer
 
I had to search the Amtrak website for a bit, but I finally found out that Hartford currently has a ticket agent.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Yup, the agent is located in the current station waiting area under the viaduct. However, it is an Amtrak agent; not sure they sell Hartford Line tickets although they do cross-honor, so I guess that's a moot question. Not sure what stations had agents previously (Amtrak); I know Berlin lost their agent a few years ago when the station closed.
  by shadyjay
 
Meriden also used to have an agent, but was eliminated when the PC station building was torn down. It was a weekday operation just like Berlin, with no staffing late afternoon or on weekends. To the best of my knowledge, no agent existed under Amtrak at Windsor or Windsor Locks stations (same goes for North Haven and Enfield/Thompsonville). Wallingford may have had an agent early in the A-days but not positive.
  by Traingeek3629
 
Extra trains added to the schedule starting Monday. 11 wkdy RTs, and 11 wknd RTs.
  by daybeers
 
I emailed the Hartford Line for information on how the future station designs were progressing and got the following response:
We have answers to your questions regarding updates for the design and construction of the additional train stations on the Hartford Line. They are as follows:

Windsor - The current station is being modified to have level boarding (commonly referred to as high level platforms). Construction will begin in September (yes as early as next week) with O&G as the general contractor.

Windsor Locks - The station is in the final stages of design and environmental permitting and is scheduled to be in construction about this time next year.

North Haven - Design is progressing and will be substantially completed in late 2021 with permitting to follow.

West Hartford - Design is at 60%.

Newington and Enfield - Designs are progressing.

Bruce A. Olmstead, PE with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, provided the above information.
I'm glad they responded! Now let's compare this to the improvements map on the NHHS Rail Program website, taking COVID into account.
First off, Newington and Enfield "designs are progressing" lol what kinda BS is that? Classic CTDOT. Enfield is set to be finished design by "late 2021" and Newington is "TBD." I'm glad they're getting along with the high-level platforms at Windsor. I hope that will bring in additional ridership but worried they're probably spending a lot right before the new station gets constructed because the new station was set to be finished design by "late 2020." Windsor Locks's design was already fairly substantially completed at the meeting in September 2019 and was supposed to start construction "late 2020" and open in stages in "late 2022 & late 2023". Guess that's pushed back a year which is really disappointing since that's by far the worst station. North Haven was supposed to be finished design by "summer 2020" but guess that's pushed at least a year. West Hartford was supposed to be finished design in "spring 2020", idk what's going on with that one since it just says 60% complete.

I'm going to email them about Windsor and Windsor Locks since those should be getting constructed soon and about West Hartford, as that was supposed to be completed design by this past spring. I understand COVID has upended everyone's life, but Connecticut needs to keep on these projects if they're ever going to get a return on the money spent and have any chance of meeting emissions goals.

Thoughts?
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Daybeers, it's good that you emailed CDOT and they gave you updates. It's been a while since we last heard about the stations upgrades and new stations.

Between 9/5 and 9/12, I'm going to be spending a week in SPG and will be riding the SPG Line a lot. In fact, after coming off of 88 at NHV from NWK, I'm going to be riding 488 from NHV to SPG on 9/5. On 9/12, I'll be taking 461 down from SPG-NHV and then 161 from NHV-NWK.

I will definately check out Windsor and it looks like I will see the platform construction there. I will be in Windsor Locks as well. I look forward to when the new station in WNL opens up.

Something tells me that Amtrak trains will skip the stops like Enfield, W. Harford, Newington, and North Haven. I remember learning that for a short time, Amtrak did stop at North Haven and the station there was in a good location. Who knows, maybe CDOT will let Amtrak trains make some of the brand new stops.
  by daybeers
 
Awesome! I hope you report on your trip and how crowded it is. Have a nice & safe ride! Hopefully you'll get a peek at Windsor's platform construction.

Yes, I believe that's what will happen. Amtrak didn't use to stop at New Haven State Street until the platform improvements were completed and CTDOT saw enough ridership to make it worthwhile. Remember that CT pays Amtrak for the service so they can dictate the service pattern somewhat, but Amtrak also owns the line and has to make connections with the NEC. Each station stop adds about 2 minutes taking into account deceleration and acceleration, even with a high-level platform and that's a problem, especially when they regularly advertise "average trip time of 81 minutes". The new stations at Windsor and Windsor Locks will have reduced dwell times but Windsor Locks is only getting one platform with provisions for a second and a pedestrian bridge because there isn't funding for double tracking north of Windsor. Let's say both stations together save 2 minutes. Four new ones are going to open up, that's about 7-8 minutes, which puts us at 86 minutes, a loss of 5. I really hope the Greater Hartford Mobility Study moves along so the viaduct can be rebuilt through Hartford because that will easily save at least 4-5 minutes. That's back to the advertised 81, plus by the time Hartford is finished I hope we'll have double tracking to Springfield. Now if they could get rid of the 25 & 30 mph speed restrictions in Meriden and Wallingford, maybe 30 minutes Hartford-New Haven that Lamont promised seems more feasbile.

I am hopeful for the Hartford Line's future. New cars will be rolling within 3-4 years and all new stations will be in service within 4-5 years hopefully, except the Hartford mess. It'll be interesting to see if CTDOT is open to DMUs. I have a feeling depending on where the political climate goes, CT may get funding to electrify the Hartford Line eventually.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Yes, now many Amtrak trains that run up the Springfield Line stop at State St Station in New Haven and this is great, if you have things to take care of downtown. This station, I believe, is closer to Yale then New Haven Union Station.

The Hartford Viaduct won't be around forever. Eventually, the right of way and station will be in a trench, I think. It would be great to have the viaduct fixed so that way, it can last forever but I wouldn't count on that. The second track at Hartford Station should have never been torn up in the first place.

I agree that the speed restrictions should be eliminated through Wallingford and Meriden. It's not like there are very sharp curves through those stations anyway. Even if they had between 60-70 mph speeds, that would probably not be too bad.

By the end of this year, we will know what will replace the Amfleets and P42s that operate on state supported routes in the Northeast. This includes the Springfield Line. Whatever Amtrak decides to order-acceleration will be better than that of a Genesis locomotive. A Genesis pulling a two to three car Amfleet set is a waste of horsepower. Even with that, the acceleration still isn't good.

Let's not get our hopes up just yet about electrifying the Springfield Line. Improving the existing right of way by eliminating as many parts of single track are a must. Maybe in the short term, the SPG Line will be double tracked through Enfield. The Connecticut River bridge may have to a while but it would be great if it was double tracked soon.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
It will be nice when those four new infill stations will open up. Enfield will be very good for a person who lives somewhere within walking distance of the MA/CT border along the Connecticut River. It's nice that West Hartford will get their own station so that way people don't have to go into Hartford proper or drive further south to Berlin. It will be interesting to see how large the parking lot and platform will be at North Haven Station and compare that with what was there when Amtrak used to stop there. I could see North Haven being a great station for a person who lives in Hamden and works in Hartford.
  by daybeers
 
njtmnrrbuff wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 3:18 pm Yes, now many Amtrak trains that run up the Springfield Line stop at State St Station in New Haven and this is great, if you have things to take care of downtown. This station, I believe, is closer to Yale then New Haven Union Station.

The Hartford Viaduct won't be around forever. Eventually, the right of way and station will be in a trench, I think. It would be great to have the viaduct fixed so that way, it can last forever but I wouldn't count on that. The second track at Hartford Station should have never been torn up in the first place.

I agree that the speed restrictions should be eliminated through Wallingford and Meriden. It's not like there are very sharp curves through those stations anyway. Even if they had between 60-70 mph speeds, that would probably not be too bad.

By the end of this year, we will know what will replace the Amfleets and P42s that operate on state supported routes in the Northeast. This includes the Springfield Line. Whatever Amtrak decides to order-acceleration will be better than that of a Genesis locomotive. A Genesis pulling a two to three car Amfleet set is a waste of horsepower. Even with that, the acceleration still isn't good.

Let's not get our hopes up just yet about electrifying the Springfield Line. Improving the existing right of way by eliminating as many parts of single track are a must. Maybe in the short term, the SPG Line will be double tracked through Enfield. The Connecticut River bridge may have to a while but it would be great if it was double tracked soon.
I agree with all your points!

Unfortunately I think the viaduct is just too old to be able to support another track anymore. It creaks and booms like a thunderstorm when a train is going over it.

I think the speed restrictions in Meriden and Wallingford may be political. They are complex intersections or ones with high traffic, but there are measures that can be taken for a reason soo...

That is true, I imagine trip times will change with whatever replaces the current equipment, whether new engines and cars or DMUs. I think Amtrak may not like running the short trains and would still own the line but possibly have Hartford Line service run by a state contractor except the Vermonter and Northeast Regionals.

Yes electrification I'd certainly a ways down the line but I think it's less of a radical idea now than even 5 years ago and worth discussing.
  by west point
 
It has been at least 10 years since I was on the platform at the HRTFORd station when a train arrived. It swayed and groaned enough then I thought glad there is not another track on the iron work to the east, The whole Hartford situation is just a real mess. Any chance of Hartford being an alternate route for HSR is impossible until the whole station mess is ccorrected and in full service. Probably with 4 full tracks for boardings.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I will be in Hartford as well-I plan to get some pictures of the station and a few trains there. I really hope that CDOT can look at having Amtrak build the brand new right of way through Hartford as well as the Amtrak station there before the highway project is finished. I believe that the future plan of the Hartford Station is to have two tracks but four wouldn't hurt so much for trains terminating there. When things improved closer to pre-covid times, hopefully Amtrak will have enough rolling stock to add more cars on their shuttle trains that run from New Haven to Springfield and beyond. If not, then yes, maybe CDOT should just run their own trains between New Haven and Springfield while having Amtrak give its equipment to the few Northeast Regionals that run to Springfield, the Vermonter, and and future inland service trains running from New Haven to Boston.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I merged the posts from the Amtrak Inland thread into this thread as the construction of new stops is a CtDOT/Hartford line matter. No harm, no foul. I know there's a lot of crossover, but the Amtrak thread is really for infrastructure and Amtrak specific service. Infrastructure includes the second track, electrification, and the remaining old Amtrak stations such as Hartford (and viaduct) and Springfield. All of the other Amtrak stations have been replaced by CtDOT; Amtrak just uses them. All of the new ones will be Hartford Line.

As for usage, I seriously doubt Amtrak would serve the new stations; those are for Hartford Line trains. I'd imagine they'd like to drop a stop or two, not add. State St. made sense, but the other ones are really commuter market. Eliminating stations like Meriden and Wallingford would help with timekeeping, and be preferential for Regional service and any extension of an inland route via the B&A into Boston.

It's nice to see CtDOT continuing the project. Now if we can just get them to rip up that (*(^*^)_)^%%$$ busway....
  by lordsigma12345
 
CTDOT is determined to blur the lines even further. In a recent interview the CTDOT rail head stated that they plan to purchase intercity cars to replace the Mafersa and MBB cars used on both the Hartford Line and Shore Line East as well as provide equipment for Amtrak to use on the Hartofrd Line. It's conceivable that this could end up being the same type of car employed by Amtrak for the Amfleet I replacement but we shall see. I think you'll find some of the additional infill station stops will come online over time. As CTDOT/Amtrak are able to add additional round trips on the line with some of the infrastructure upgrades I think in time you'll see (just my prediction) some of the Springfield terminating trains making less stops south of Hartford than Hartford terminating trains. Additionally I think most north of Hartford trains (Amtrak and CTrail) would in turn add the new Enfield stop.
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