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 TCurtin
I've written this post before, several times. Re-electrifying to Danbury will NOT, repeat NOT, improve the operation one twit above what is accomplished today with the present equipment. Believe me , I remember and rode under, the NH's electrification in the 50s. Get yourself a NH timetable from the 50s and you will see what I mean. The track improvement, and now the TCS, have accomplished a great deal. So please stop pushing electrification!!!!! It ain't worth it.

BTW, they really do need to improve one thing which I doubt is very difficult: get rid of the extreme speed restriction between Danbury station and south of Shelter Rock Rd. crossing. It was never that way before and doesn't need to be now. It's terrible. Probably the solution is to make the crossing circuits longer.
  by MattW
Perhaps the point of electrification isn't to improve speeds, wouldn't it improve consist rotation flexibility by not having to worry about fueling? Wouldn't it improve storage space by not having what is basically a non-revenue car that has to have room (the locomotive)? Improve maintenance by being able to confine the oddball fleet to fewer routes? Then there's the environmental aspects, pollution, noise, etc. Why the resistance to electrification? If CDOT wants to fund it, let them. Better get something for the railroad that at least won't hinder performance, than nothing at all right? If that's the choice anyways. If there was serious competition between funding Danbury electrification or funding, say, the NHHS, then sure, I personally would pick the NHHS, but if this money would otherwise not go to rail at all, then why not?
  by NH2060
With all those trees along the ROW one bad enough storm/strong enough wind and you've got problems. It can be enough of a problem on the New Canaan Branch as it is, but with it's <8 mile length it's at least somewhat manageable. At 25 miles the Danbury Branch would be more problematic just because there is that much more trackside forest to contend with. And don't even think about a third rail as CT banned the use of third rails in the late 1890s/early 1900s.

Even if that weren't an issue there aren't enough M-8s to go around just for the New Haven Line (including the cars earmarked for SLE) so electrification would require another batch of cars to add to the pool.

In short, a lot of $$$ for little if not zero advantage. The money would be better spent on the New Milford extension, additional sidings on the Waterbury Branch, Waterbury-Hartford commuter rail, more NHHS upgrades (that aren't electrification), etc. If the branch had 20+ round trips per day diesels would still be better.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Yep. This is feel-good cosmetics and little more. It's zero performance benefit, zero operational benefit, too few daily trains for equipment rotation or pollution to have any discernible effect, and too few additional schedules that can possibly be crammed up the New Haven Line to Danbury that would move the needle on any of this.

And mind you, CDOT diesel ops are not going to be shrinking. Not by a longshot. It's probably a quarter-billion's worth of grade crossing eliminations to ratchet up the Springfield Line's performance through elimination of slow zones enough to make wires and EMU's on NHHS make any difference in the world. It'll easily be over 35 trips per day by the time they eat their peas on all that necessary busywork. And those proposed MassDOT trains to the north-of-Springfield I-91 'burbs which would make such a nice Hartford-terminating run if Massachusetts pooled resources with CDOT will forever be diesel even if the line south of Springfield is electrified, because of the protected 19'6" freight clearances on the Conn River Line. Then you've got Hartford-Waterbury, and all the run-thru options from there onto the Waterbury Branch which will be a substantial grower if they ever find the funding to do it.

And we're not even in foamer land yet or talking deep long-term prospects like:
-- The Manchester Secondary (on the spectrum from short Manchester/I-84/Buckland Hills shuttles to more expansive Willimantic reconnection and full-on Hartford-Mohegan Sun-New London commuter rail)
-- Griffins Secondary shuttles to the dense residential swath of western Hartford, Bloomfield, and the airport (i.e. a RR rehash of the old "just around the corner" light rail plan that Federal Inmate Rowland killed in the late-90's)
-- New London-Worcester regional rail
-- ...and, yes, maybe someday a sensible dose of right-sized service befitting those Berkshire Line villages.

CDOT's going to be making a couple more 25-year diesel push-pull procurement cycles each bigger than the last. And they will each be bigger than the last even if the Springfield Line gets its wires and fleet of M12's while we're still alive to see it, because there is just that much expansion territory of plausible-or-better upside to be had over the next 30-50 years. Diesel will never be an "outlier" fleet in Connecticut. In fact, we're probably counting down the last 24 months where it will even be as rare a sight as it is now.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Removed nesting quotes from immediately preceding quotes
  by Steamboat Willie
TCurtin wrote:I've written this post before, several times. Re-electrifying to Danbury will NOT, repeat NOT, improve the operation one twit above what is accomplished today with the present equipment. Believe me , I remember and rode under, the NH's electrification in the 50s. Get yourself a NH timetable from the 50s and you will see what I mean. The track improvement, and now the TCS, have accomplished a great deal. So please stop pushing electrification!!!!! It ain't worth it.

BTW, they really do need to improve one thing which I doubt is very difficult: get rid of the extreme speed restriction between Danbury station and south of Shelter Rock Rd. crossing. It was never that way before and doesn't need to be now. It's terrible. Probably the solution is to make the crossing circuits longer.
You can thank the garbage crossing predictor technology for the lower speeds you speak about. With the cold weather, even worse. There have been stop and warns almost everyday in that area due to the gates pumping, gates down but no train, etc. And some local police still aren't aware that such technology is in place and blow in the crossings frequently as not functioning as intended.
  by DutchRailnut
Darn I think police got it, but signal dept is in denial, the * does not work as intended and therefor must be considered as failed.
FRA leaves no doubt about that.
  by FL9AC
Haven't seen a stop and warn in this location in a while so info is slightly incorrect. As for speeds it's better than MBS as speed was 20 from Danbury up to Sperry rail...now it's 20 from Danbury platform until halfway from East Liberty to Taylor Street then it becomes 40 up to MP 21...used to be 20 all the way to Shelter Rock Road so take your pick. Service isn't any slower than before. If anything it's quicker now.
  by TCurtin
OK, so it sounds like it has improved. Thank you --- I didn't know that
  by MNCRR9000
http://www.thereddingpilot.com/21770/de ... walk-line/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) joined her colleagues from southwestern Connecticut, including state Sen. Scott Frantz (R-36) and state Reps. Tom O’Dea (R-125) and Gail Lavielle (R-143), in announcing a series of bills aimed at improving Metro-North and the Danbury-to-Norwalk branch line.

“Transportation is a top priority for our district and our state, and the issue is on the top of the governor’s to-do list this session,” said Ms. Boucher.

“It is critical that the district rail lines are improved for the general welfare of commuters and for commerce. Getting from point A to point B safely and on time has to be a focus.”

Mr. O’Dea, a ranking member of the Transportation Committee, said the update and upgrade of Metro-North’s lines are “seriously overdue.”

“Commuters have suffered under unacceptable conditions as unnecessary obstacles are thrown before the workforce we depend on as the engine of our state economy,” he said.

“These bills will take us through the critical first steps of changing those conditions, and providing the necessary investments which will ensure safety, reliability and efficiency.”
  by NH2060
I think it's time -if it hasn't happened already- that James Redeker sit down with everyone and explained why electrification of the branch isn't feasible. They should be focusing more on the other improvements/items listed as well (including the New Milford extension).

From what I can see the only possible way electrification would be worth it at all is if:

1) As much greenery along the ROW was cleared to lower the risk of damaged wires (which I don't see happening without any opposition given just how many trees, etc. there are along the branch).
2) Rte. 7 becomes too congested that even 30 diesel round trips isn't enough to satisfy demand (at which point maybe then electrification would begin to look more economical).
3) There are enough MUs for branchline service.
4) It begins to become more feasible to run more through service to/from GCT (presumably as extensions of existing Stamford and South Norwalk trains).

Perhaps if they were told "You can either have enough money budgeted for more service expansion and operational improvements + all service expanded to New Milford OR electrification to Danbury. But not both" the arguments in favor of electric service would fade.

And even with the New Milford extension it is a priority, but IIRC omes after NHHS so it appears that will have to wait until Hartford Line service is up and running/getting closer to full service levels. So post-2020, etc.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
#1 isn't going to happen because NIMBY's.

#2 isn't a factor because in no way, shape, or form have they even begun to exhaust what service diesel can provide. That's a wretched schedule with very short trains. And besides, the number of passing sidings that would have to be installed to achieve service anyone would call reasonably dense so greatly outstrips the choice of rolling stock that they've got plenty to do.

#3...I would say, much like SLE, that the demands on the equipment pool for branchline service are such a drop in the bucket it doesn't functionally matter. The MTA hates that SLE is going to vulture 23 or whatever M8's...and that's why it's still all these years later being hashed out. But that's largely because they're the ones pushing Penn Station Access as their #1 Metro North goal, while CDOT has intrastate expansion goals. It's a political turf war. In the real world branchline service just isn't a statistically significant portion of equipment demands. If there has to be an "M8A" supplemental order of exact lookalikes in 8 years it's PSA service alone that's going to force it.

But...I'd also say maintenance of the diesel fleet is in the same boat. Danbury puts so little demand on the systemwide fleet that any notion of whether operating mixed diesel and EMU through South Norwalk is sustainable is way overblown. There is nothing you can throw at Danbury that Stamford shops won't be able to handle. Total non-issue for choice of mode.

#4 gets answered when they replace the P32's. The next duals fleet is going to be far, far larger than this one. Hudson Line PSA demands it, and it'll be a combo order with LIRR's for one make replacing 31 P32's and 21 DM30AC's + padding all in one shot. They can afford to pack that fleet padding to the max with the scale of the order sharply reducing their unit price. In fact, with only 12 BL20GH's to go around the diesel shuttle fleet is going to be such a small outlier compared to the probable number of next-gen duals available that I could see the MTA simply transacting its 6 Brookvilles over to CDOT and going 'clean' with one single make for all locos in the MTA-owned pool. The Brookvilles could become an entirely CDOT-landlocked feature. And as for the coaches...with the Shoreliners getting 100% displaced for MLV's and the bi-levels being so badly needed on the Hudson and Harlem vs. in CDOT-land, intra-agency transactions of best-of-the-rest Shoreliner dispersals become so cheap and easy the CT branchlines will basically be able to get the fleet of their dreams (well...numbers-wise at least) for pennies on the dollar. All of this is a non-issue the way it times with the huge slate of 2020 power and coach procurements.

A little urgency in the push for New Milford is going to be a good thing. Malloy's humongous transportation bill includes yet another stab at extending 'Super 7' a couple more miles north. Which, given how many times that's been torpedoed before almost makes the New Milford commuter rail extension a necessary prerequisite to touching the road again. Agreed...they don't have the money today, but the whole 'Super 7' debate by its lonesome is tortured enough to light a major fire under the rail extension as a top priority after ongoing capital projects like NHHS are closed out. CDOT may be CDOT, but I think this one is a reliable bet to get real on the planning front within 5 years and be under construction in the next 8-10 years. Route 7 is just that much the third rail of Fairfield County politics that I can't see that one proceeding to design until they have FIRM re-projections on traffic volumes that account for any and all mode share diverted to a maturely-developed New Milford commuter rail service. The road expansion opponents are just going to tell them again and again to refine their capacity assumptions first, and that's how the commuter rail extension and schedule expansion becomes the default prerequisite and cost of doing business for the Dept. of Asphalt on this ever-controversial stretch of asphalt.
  by markffisch
The discussion of wiring the Danbury branch is IMHO a distraction. The real benefit is extending the line north to New Milford. A stop in Brookfield (near 84 with easy highway access rather than the historic depot which has no room for parking) plus downtown New Milford. Insisting on electrification only raises the cost of the extension, making it less likely. The likely number of runs would not indicate a need for wires, nor would the station spacing. As has been pointed out, the NHL is not going to be all electric anytime soon. It is much easier to extend or add services (CR for Hartford, casino service, whatever you like) if you don't have to string wires to start.
  by DutchRailnut
you and I will be pushing up worms, long before you see MN go to New Milford.
  by Backshophoss
Gather that the exisiting catenary in the yard and the Danbury branch main was not upgraded to 12.5 kv standards.
How many tracks are to be added and get wire in Dock yard?
Seems that P+W loose Dock yard as a safe haven for freight trains headed to/from Danbury
if the crew is short on(HOS) time to run.
  by Jeff Smith
Local reps not happy; nothing else (SURPRISE!) happening. But WHAT is the pre-occupation with electrification?

Wilton Bulletin

Brief, fair-use quote:
State plans $4 million for branch line

No other funds for at least five years

She emphasized she would like to see a far greater investment on the part of the state in the Danbury and New Canaan branch lines.

“I am not satisfied with the ordering of priorities” in the governor’s transportation plan, she told The Bulletin on Tuesday.

“There are no plans in the next five years for this Danbury line,” she said. “It seems to be a gesture to pacify people when other things are being done.”


“Conspicuously absent from the list is the electrification of the Danbury Branch Line, which currently provides 700-800,000 rides a year in a highly traveled, very economically active corridor,” her testimony said. “Despite recent improvements to its signal system, service on the line breaks down constantly, with important incidents every week, sometimes every day. Many commuters … often feel literally like hostages to a railroad that doesn’t work.”

In a statement she issued on Tuesday, Boucher agreed that “electrification is the next big step. That upgrade will be crucial for making the Danbury line compatible with the mainline of Metro-North in Stamford, New Haven and New York. It will take some time and a big effort. But, as I have learned from the past, a squeaky wheel is required and we have more of them every year.”
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