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 Stephen B. Carey
 
Just to get my thoughts in on the matter, as someone who lives along the Springfield Line in Hartford, I would say that electrifying it at this point would be a waste of money. What I personally would like to see is a low cost alternative to Amtrak such as SLE that would allow people such as myself to take advantage of metro-north service without having to go all the way to New Haven. If this service shows growth and promise like I believe it will then I could see electrification, but up until then I do not think you will see any money put forth for something like that .

Because if the lack of service I really do not ride the Springfield Line very often even though I live so close, it's really a shame.
  by Noel Weaver
 
The Long Island Rail Road operates 18 plus round trips between Huntington and Port Jefferson on a line that is single track
with CTC and diesel operated. It can be done here too with additional controlled sidings much closer together. They do not
need to be 100 plus cars long for freight trains, just long enough to meet commuter trains with.
With today's diesel and push pull equipment, electrification would be a total waste of money.
Noel Weaver
  by workextra
 
Noel Is correct. With the correct placement and building of passing sidings bidirectionally signaled it would be much more efficient as a starting measure then rushing to electric service and double tracking. The LIRR under used many of it's sidings on the Port Jeff branch and even Montauk where they could have been signaled and meets established, Yes signaling every siding between Hunt and Jeff seems like over kill and it is to some degree, but it allows for more operation and less waiting time for trains meeting other trains. I don't really know this line too much but from what I am reading here Starting with Diesel commuter service and low platforms is the way to go. ADA should be satisfied enough with a "high spot" platform approximately the length of one car with a wheel chair ramp/lift or both if it's in high demand. This will also cut cost and keep operations ADA friendly. I believe LIRR made a mistake going all high in diesel territory. A ADA high spot platform similar to NJT is all they needed, with the right protocols and special instructions this could be done very safely and be very cost effective means of starting a new/res erected commuter route. In this operation "Less is More" The less you spend recklessly the more you have for equipment and operation.
  by Swedish Meatball
 
The first thing that Connecticut should do is to purchase the tracks outright from Amtrak. Amtrak has to be losing a ton of money on this line. The Vermonter which is subsided by Vermont is the only viable train. Connecticut has to control it's own destiny and not be held hostage by Amtrak and Congress over funding.
  by trainwreck
 
The Springfield line is signaled in both directions all the way. The Fry switch needs to become dispatcher controlled, making the running track Hart to Fry into a real siding. It'd probably need to be upgraded too, I think it is 10 mph. Never used it all that much.
  by MTACOP
 
What I hear around New Haven is Metro North will eventually operate commuter trains on the Springfield once the M-8's arrive and are used for the SLE. Metro North will then provide the SLE service too. Years ago when Mr. Forbes was in ConnDOT Rail Amtrak tried to play hardball suggesting ConnDOT buy the line, and he said they would just use their track rights and if pushed just use the Airline instead to Hartford.

However it all plays out I'm pretty sure that Amtrak would be willing to get rid of the Springfield and MNR would provide the commuter service.
  by workextra
 
Whoever operates this service (C-DOT via MNCR or C-DOT via Amtrak), are still going to have to tackle the problem that it's still a "long distance" ride into New York (Penn or GCT) The ride is not going to be comfortable sitting in M2's M8's. I know this is not the most important issue here, but There will need to be better seating and a food service car[s] of sorts.
I am not very familiar with this line but how many stations can be located on the line up to Springfield?
  by Noel Weaver
 
MTACOP wrote:What I hear around New Haven is Metro North will eventually operate commuter trains on the Springfield once the M-8's arrive and are used for the SLE. Metro North will then provide the SLE service too. Years ago when Mr. Forbes was in ConnDOT Rail Amtrak tried to play hardball suggesting ConnDOT buy the line, and he said they would just use their track rights and if pushed just use the Airline instead to Hartford.

However it all plays out I'm pretty sure that Amtrak would be willing to get rid of the Springfield and MNR would provide the commuter service.
Mr. Forbes did his share of bluffing and hard ball over the years but the scheme of using the Air Line to get from New
Haven to Hartford was so impractical that I could not even laugh at it. This would be like going from point A to point B
by the way of point X (Middletown). Two reverse moves would have also been involved at Middletown and Hartford.
As to whether Amtrak or Metro-North actually operates this proposed service remains to be seen but my guess is that
Amtrak can and will provide the service at lower cost than Metro-North will and would probably be the operator of choice
for this service if it ever gets out of the starting gate.
Connecticut is complaining about the expense of a new MU shop in New Haven, that is nothing compared with the
expense of purchasing the railroad from New Haven to Springfield. They should stick with Metro-North from New Haven
and west and let Amtrak continue with passenger service east of New Haven.
Noel Weaver
  by RearOfSignal
 
The new BL20-GH's do have ACSES capabilites as will the new M8's so one does wonder.
  by Port Jervis
 
Patrick A. wrote:Dutch,
I think the money problem will be solved soon enough. With the $14.4 billion Amtrak appropriation passing the House and Senate by supermajority status and with local Congressmen (Shays D-CT and Neal D-MA) supporting the creation of the NHV-SPG commuter line in remarks on the House floor, it would seem likely that progress will commence sooner rather than later especially with the Democrats likely to sieze power along with a potential President who is very supportive of Amtrak and Commuter Railroads. Highways are no longer the answer, and I think Capitol Hill and the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW are beginning to see that Railroad investment is warranted.

Patrick
Amtrak has so many needs that no amount of realistic funding increase will get them to upgrade a minor branch line soley for another agency's usage. If Connecticut wants to upgrade the Springfield line, Connecticut will have to pay for some, if not all of it. Which is a shame, because I could see significant demand for SLE service to at least Hartford.
  by Patrick A.
 
It will be a sticky situation, but I do recall that in the Congressional stipend provided for Amtrak, Shays and Neal placed a requirement for Amtrak to allocate funds for the NHV-SPG line. I agree that CT should pay for some of the costs, however as Dutch will tell you, the Nutmeg state is in quite the budgetary crisis in terms of transit funds. Thus I think the value of the line will have Amtrak ( through the Feds) will be paying for the upgrades, perhaps ensuring that Amtrak will operate the service much like it does for SLE under the CTDOT. There isn't a doubt in my mind that within the next five years, commuter service will be launched on a broader scale, and that the Springfield Line will be double tracked for the majority of its length.

Patrick
  by Noel Weaver
 
I agree that Connecticut has funding problems but EVERY OTHER STATE also has financial problems of one sort or another.
If Connecticut wants the Springfield Line upgraded, they will need to provide the bulk of the fianacing for it. Why should
my taxes from Florida go for this when we need rail project here just as bad as they need this in Connecticut and maybe
even more than Connecticut.
It would help a lot if Connecticut saw fit to jack up the gasoline tax by a couple of cents per gallon and use that money for
mass transit projects, it would help here in Florida too, but both states are reluctant to do that so status que just
continues.
Noel Weaver
  by Fred G
 
Work with what we have, show ridership and build a case for expansion.

BTW, it's only one SLE station (Westbrook) that's low level now; the new station at Madison opened up a few weeks ago.
Last edited by Fred G on Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Clean Cab
 
If the funds were available and I'd love to see it happen. But let's keep the goals down on earth. Let's start with cab signals on the Danbury Branch, upgrade the stations on the Waterbury Branch and pay for the M8s.
  by Lincoln78
 
Is Springfield a high volume destination from points South? I'm not aware of that many people who expect to go there as a destination. Are the current trains that well patronized?

I would think Manchester, NH and its airport have more potential ridership.

CT gas taxes are already too high-our gas is similar to NY and 20c more than MA. I'm still trying to figure out how CT spends all the money it takes in.
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