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 CVRA7
F-line to Dudley via Park, thank you for the time and thought you put into your review. It is refreshing to see the potential rail capacity with the new alignment - hopefully this will be used. The earlier plans I have seen showed just 2 tracks being planned - very short sighted. I worked in the Hartford Union Station building for many years, and tend to be a traditionalist, but I recognize the need for a new transportation center with greater capacity, and realize that the Union Station building is not a good alternative.
And, as Ridgefielder mentioned, this plan for Hartford does not eliminate any current rail approach as the PVD outcome did.
  by GirlOnTheTrain
May issue of Railpace (yeah, I know...) is claiming Metro North was awarded the contract to run NHHS...did I miss the actual announcement of a winner or are they full of it?
  by Backshophoss
Back in Feb of this year(pg 43 of this thread) the "reported" winner was ACI,but no source was cited,would take the "railpace"
report with a large dose of doubt salt... :wink:
  by Jenny on a M2
I spent like an hour scouring the net in search of a press release, newspaper article, or some other proof that MNR was awarded the contract but my search was fruitless thus far.

I definitely have my 50 lb sack of doubt salt on hand, but at the same time I'm going to hold out hope that this might actually be true. To be fair, I'm also holding out hope that tomorrow morning I'll go to my garage to find my car replaced with a unicorn that doesn't require food and farts Sephora gift cards. :wink: :-D

In all seriousness, while I would REALLY like to see MNR be chosen because they've definitely got their ops and maintenance down to a science (on most days), and also so that the Hartford Line is more seamlessly integrated into the rest of the New Haven Line, if I were to put money down it would be on Amtrak.

This has me thinking...can MNR even operate into MA under the current operating agreements/rules/laws/etc?
  by deathtopumpkins
Jenny on a M2 wrote:This has me thinking...can MNR even operate into MA under the current operating agreements/rules/laws/etc?
No, but a new agreement could be drafted that would allow it... so long as it's cost-neutral for MNRR. I can't see the MTA agreeing to that otherwise. Probably something similar to the MBTA's various out-of-district agreements, where someone else (CT in this case) assumes all financial risk and reimburses them 1:1, so that the MTA isn't losing any money on service out-of-district.
  by DutchRailnut
Biggest problems dovetailing the Amtrak engineers, conductors etc into Metro North seniority rosters , pretty Sure ACRE is not happy with it and neither are its members.
Specially since the Amtrak people are currently in other unions.
MTA was chartered to do Commuter lines in a approximately 75 mile radius of NYC , going beyond New Haven would require a total change.
questions the MTA board would need to consider for example is how Pensions will be applied for Employees that basically work out of district.
And once said employees gain seniority within MTA what prevents them from flowing in or out of District and earn such pensions.
  by Jeff Smith
Cost split is definitely an issue, but as Dutch and other's note, MNRR would want CT to pay 100%. Branch lines are already funded 100% by CT; NH Main line is 67/33.

The question then is, HOW and WHY? How being approval of working outside their existing boundaries. Why is, with no profit motive, WHY? Yeah, I would guess seamlessness of operations as CtDOT may want some trains running down to Stamford as they do on SLE. Now, current SLE equipment can't run into GCT AFAIK, but if CtDOT acquires MNRR's Shoreliners upon their replacement, and they end up in pool service, there are even more efficiencies with turns I would think.
  by Patrick A.
I think the logical choice to operate the Hartford line commuter operation is Amtrak by a country mile. For the reasons Dutch mentioned, it would seem quite a complex task to juggle all of the stakeholder approvals and construct the required operating agreements versus just a near 'carbon copy' of the SLE deal. Not going down the Amtrak path would have to provide an order of magnitude cost advantage or other rationale, considering that they not only own the line, but also are the 'incumbent' service provider. Plus we are getting late in the ball game if service is going to start on time in January to have a new operator come in and set up shop.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
AMTK's also qualified on the Conn River Line, which solves the Massachusetts problem. Knowledge Corridor commuter rail operates best glommed onto the Hartford Line via a "reverse Pilgrim Agreement" modeled on the MBTA's seamless integration with Rhode Island. Northampton is most definitely a Hartford-oriented commuter market with a torturous I-91 commute. That service is much more viable terminating in HFD instead of Springfield.

Springfield-New Haven, Hartford-Bridgeport, and Hartford-Greenfield are all roughly 60 track miles, so those 3 service patterns end up the best mix/matches as primary patterns populating the Springfield Line. Amtrak is the one carrier incumbent-qualified on any of those service patterns. Anybody else has paper barriers to square with multiple parties, so one stands head-and-shoulders above on path of least resistance.
  by Ridgefielder
Which of course means that since we're talking about our wonderfully-dysfunctional Nutmeg State, they'll go out and hire somebody completely different... :wink:
  by Jenny on a M2
Haha, that's exactly what I'm worried about....that instead of Amtrak or MNR we'll end up with something like Keolis, BBD, or First, which would be a great way to doom the service from the start.

Then again - as it is ConnDOT and anything is possible - we'll all wake up to a press release stating that JR East has been selected to operate the Hartford line. :wink:

No matter who is selected, unless the timetable for the Hartford line is synchronized with the NHL to allow for painless and quick transfers at NHV - for service continuing on to Fairfield County and ultimately GCT - I doubt we will see the ridership levels ConnDOT is hoping for.

Remember, the bulk of the CT economy (and population) arcs from NYC to Hartford so ensuring the flow of human capital along that arc is critical.
  by shadyjay
Looks like ConnDOT is shopping for Hartford Line cars:
http://www.biznet.ct.gov/SCP_Documents/ ... une_13.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The State of Connecticut (“State”) Department of Transportation (“CTDOT”) is issuing this
Request for Information for Rail Equipment (“RFI”), Solicitation #17RAILOPS‐1, as it seeks to
lease coaches and control coaches in a ready‐to‐operate condition and compliant with all
applicable requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), to be used
in its CTrail Hartford Line passenger rail service (“CTrail Hartford Line Service”) operating on a
62 mile rail corridor between New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts.  
Now, call me crazy, but I thought there were numerous Mafersa coaches sitting somewhere in New Haven ready to go for this service? And if this service is set to start next year (still January?), then they better get on the ball with this. And maybe think about upgrading their archaic nhhsrail.com web site to something a little more realistic - ie - changing that non-Hartford Line train photo, or at the very least, changing the name of the page from NHHS RAIL PROGRAM (which sounds like a pipe dream project), to NHHS RAIL LINE.

  by NH2060
I can think of two possible reasons:

1) ConnDOT took a look at the MAFERSA cars that we never used when they returned from rebuild 10 years ago and found them to be in bad enough shape (unless they've been in rotation every so often so as to break them in?).


2) The MAFERSAs are still very much useable, but ConnDOT would still prefer to have extra equipment around just in case. Remember NHV-OSB is 33 miles; NHV-NLC is 50. NHV-SPG is 62. That's a lot of distance to cover back and forth -even with a startup schedule and with some trains going only as far as Hartford- with just 4 sets of trains without any spares. And for all we know the plan to use the M8s on SLE could be delayed for any number of reasons (in spite of the seemingly successful test runs to New London) so come January they don't want to be caught off guard.

One thing is for certain, they won't be either the MARC Is or IIs as some of those are going to the LIRR during the summer for the next 2-3 years while still staying put in Maryland during the off season. And MBTA has no coaches to spare. All that's left is NJ Transit if there are any single levels no longer in revenue service that haven't already been marked for scrap.
  by DutchRailnut
The People of Conndot still hope and pray that Amtrak will allow the M-8's on shoreline, but still any of those cars still need full ACSES system upgrade.
so splitting the Mafersa's between Springfield line and shoreline would make for very short trains.
Originally 38 cars were for sale by VRE but Conndot only purchased 26.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
CDOT has 33 Mafersas, not 26. 23 trailers, 10 cabs.

Whether all 33 are active and on rotation right this very second, I don't know. It's always possible with such a glut of them for so many years on SLE that some have been raided for short-term parts to keep fleetwide repair costs down. But all 33 cars remain active-rostered and documented as such by CDOT for FRA reporting purposes, so they've been keeping up with inspections and aren't treating any as body donors to be stripped without possibility of being put back together again. If they've got any currently out-of-rotation OOS units, fresh order of parts for prep-for-service will always be cheaper than renting supplementals from outside of the system.

Note that this is just a Request for Information, not a Request for Proposals. There's no implicit intent to actually act on the information with a pending purchase; they're just seeing what's out there. If somebody happens to have some nearly free properly ADA-dimensioned flats laying around that don't look/smell like a toilet and don't cost that much to prep for service, they'll take special note of any responses they get. But the RFI could be issued with a fully-acknowledged 80% probability up-front that nobody's likely to have anything compliant enough, tolerable-enough quality for passengers, or inexpensive enough to ready for service. It's well quantified what slim pickings are available, that anything picked up from anyone will need new ACSES II signal upgrades/replacements to its cab cars, and that stored units that've missed multiple FRA inspection cycles are pricier per-unit to prep for service than anything maintained on active reserve. In all likelihood the RFI is just going to confirm what we already know. But as a measly couple bucks in paperwork it's money well-spent if it does uncover a potential bargain that increases short-term operating flex while the Mafersas are tasked with a slow, not-fully-complete weaning off from SLE to Hartford.
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