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 F-line to Dudley via Park
GirlOnTheTrain wrote:Now now, I appreciate the history lessons! :)
It would be more useful to extend service to New Milford before stringing wire but we know our dear friend Gail just won't let electrification go....
Danbury-New Milford is tougher than Norwalk-Danbury for electrification because the Maybrook + Berkshire overlaps are Plate F (17 ft.) freight clearance routes. That means they'd have to clear a bunch of overpasses for 19'6". 25 kV clearance is +2'6" over the tallest car clearance, and even though Danbury is a proposed 12.5 kV electrification chained off an upgraded New Haven Line substation @ Dock Yard the initial build would have to follow new-construction guidelines in case 50 years worth of future NEC upgrades end up shearing off the main vs. branch power sources. The extra clearance work ends up a blowout cost item when there's just enough overpasses that have already been undercut and retrofitted to their limit since the NYNH&H days to cram Plate F through there.

End result is you get a binary choice:
-- Electrify some/all of the existing branch but not New Milford because it's too big a reach to do it all. Meaning +2-3 stops to New Milford either have to get served on a completely different diesel schedule at much poorer service levels, or not at all.
-- Build the New Milford extension as diesel and shelve electrification of any of the rest of the branch for another generation. And if/when electrification picked back up, furthest it can go is Danbury because of the cost premium of modding all those extra overpass clearances...meaning the branch service must be dense enough at that point for electric vs. diesel service layering to not hurt New Milford's headways or cause undue tension for managing equipment pools. Because you must assume that DAN-NM electrification has to be a much later Phase 2 that re-charges the piggybank for all those overpass clearances, and is too much a reach to do in one shot.

This doesn't end up a very hard choice. Super 7 traffic suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, so demand to a New Milford extension has long been self-evident. The branch's schedules are gimpy, so whether any short-turn layering to Merritt or Danbury is in the mix to beef up headways on all/parts of it...the baseline for covering a New Milford extension is going to be no less than a straight-on extension of a much better end-to-end schedule. Since frequency improvements are far and away most important overall to this corridor, by all practical measures that means the additional service layering has to be well-established before you can realistically segment electric trainsets to Merritt or Danbury vs. diesel trainsets to New Milford without hurting the diesel outliers' service levels. Realistically, sharp service layering of that sort doesn't get established overnight...so it's going to take another 2 decades of constant ratcheting-up of frequencies before service levels are fleshed-out to a point where they can support 2 equipment pools on layered schedules where frequencies for those pools/schedules aren't at constant odds and friction with each other. And then a whole sustained generation of flush layered schedules before the funding pool is recharged enough to mount an electrification extension to NM that tackles all the overpass clearance work.

For that reason...NM extension with generous end-to-end service increases is the easiest first step to an end goal of service that eventually throws a denser-frequency service layer on the inner stops, diversifies it enough to support Danbury electrification, then sustains it long enough to recharge funding for a Phase 2 NM electrification. You're talking like a 30+ year stepped-out sequence of non-sexy improvements before everyone Norwalk to New Milford gets a ride on a shiny EMU. No instant gratification when delivering frequencies to the masses is the thing that matters over eye candy.

And yes, I agree that when MNRR orders its MLV coaches that perception of quality (or lackthereof) will change among riders. Two scenarios: (1) CDOT eats all its MLV options and Waterbury/Danbury get state of art P-P consists. (2) The MLV's are an MTA-only order for Hudson/Harlem, CDOT buys up all the MTA's Shoreliner IV's and half its Shoreliner III's for displacement of all Shoreliner I/II and Mafersa coaches to stretch its dollar with a much larger intrastate equipment pool, sends the III/IV's through a full midlife overhaul, and all intrastate diesel routes go over to like-new reman flats. Either way the creature comforts get an enormous upgrade over the current Shoreliner I/II toilet bowls and decidedly utilitarian Shoreliner III/IV & Mafersa experience.
  by Backshophoss
There needs to be a "house cleaning", as in HRRC needs to leave the Danbury area,allow P&W to take over the remaining freight
customers,and reopen the Maybrook line to Derby Jct.
As it is now,as long as HRRC controls the trackage at Danbury(Maybrook side) there will not be MN expansion to New Milford! :(
  by DutchRailnut
since state did not want the Danbury cluster when Gonerail left, they can not now claim eminent domain.
and unless Hanlon wants to sell point would be moot.
  by Gilbert B Norman
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: Super 7 traffic suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, so demand to a New Milford extension has long been self-evident.
Mr. F-Line's captioned thought is so indicative of what I have held through this and related topics about the site.

Isn't it funny how the upgrade of US7 to Interstate highway standards stops right smack at the Fairfield-Litchfield county line?

Last June on a Sunday after Reunion at SKS was adjourned, I did drive from Rocky River Inn - about a mile N of the 7-202 Junction - to Greenwich. At that time, 7 was free of traffic, so I will accept Mr. F-Line's contention that it's a nightmare during rush hours. Somehow I'll bet that Northbound, there has been "a rear-ender or two" at the county line.

Why sixty years ago "sleepy, bucolic New Milford" went on its industrial development binge when other communities within the county "wanted no part of it" escapes me. They got the industry to come likely on the "campaign promise" of improved highways and even mass transportation beyond bus lines.

Litchfield County "back in my day" was a transportation wasteland - nothing much has changed since leaving SKS fifty six years ago - and I'd dare say fifty six years from now, nothing will have changed.

So again I note, that this is the environment into which any transportation improvement being proposed must face.
  by J.D. Lang
As Dutch has said there is nothing that is going to happen until you deal with HRRC. I'd be curious to know if the state has even approached them about a sale. I know that the state is broke put I wish they would get off of their study after study and go after purchasing the Maybrook & Berkshire lines from them. The state needs to put those lines under their belt because they are of strategic value for the passenger extension and to restore the Maybrook for G&W and as an alternate route for equipment moves for MN. The super 7 extension has helped a bit to get around Brookfield but rush hour is still a mess. This whole thing should be a priority because I think you would have good patronage from New Milford. Screw the electrification.
  by Jeff Smith
Bustitution: http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/DanburyBusing032017.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Why service is being changed:
This is to support the grade crossing work at
this location: TOPSTONE
  by Metzger
Jeff's post about the grade crossing work has gotten me thinking: to what extent would it be possible to grade-separate the Danbury Branch? How much time savings would they get if CDOT were able to do this? Does the curvy nature of the line make it pointless or would you see real gains?
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Geometry's a schedule limiter much more than grade crossings. And traffic levels on a branch will never be high enough that you'd need to grade separate here or New Caanan no matter how much car traffic sucks around the busiest crossings. (Waterbury has few crossings to begin with, and no bad ones).

For CDOT's money they need to get on with zapping another half-dozen Shoreline crossings in New London County pronto, and pluck off more Springfield Line ones between North Haven and Hartford to keep pace with high-speed train traffic that's going to increase at breakneck pace over next 2 decades. Those mainline ones do make a big difference on speeds, traffic management, and safety much moreso than the branches (stupid CT drivers be damned). Lots of SLE growth to be had Waterford-New London to make cutting Miner Ln. and the closing the small riverwalk parking lot crossing in NLN high priorities, leaving only the two downtown ferry terminal un-eliminables (negligible concern because of the station stop and new ADA ped overpass). And they'll need to whack the one in Groton and 3 public crossings in Stonington (Latimer Point Rd., Wamphassuc Rd., Palmer St.) for the New London-Westerly extension, leaving only the 2 adjacent boat landing un-eliminables and brutal-difficulty Mystic Station as outliers. For Springfield Line they've got isolated public crossings in North Haven (Sackett Point Rd.), Wallingford (Toelles Rd.), West Hartford (Oakwood Ave.), and Hartford (Hamilton Ave.) to pick off, plus another 2-3 private industrial driveways that can be outright closed by re-snaking access away from the tracks. That tidy-up clears out all of HFD-NHV except for the megaproject-level downtown Wallingford and Meriden clusters that are too big to swallow for the medium future, plus a couple private driveway un-eliminables of least-concern.
  by GirlOnTheTrain
The only time grade crossings operationally hamper the Danbury branch is when they have to constantly stop and warn with mass malfunctions like they were experiencing a few years ago because of poor drainage shorting out the components in the system or whatever the problem actually was. (Jaap can and will correct me as to what the actual problem was, I'm sure ;) )
  by fredmcain
The proposal to re-electrify the Danbury Branch may have been pushed off into the "long-term" category but it is by no means dead. The latest news that I could find dates to a little over a week ago from April 30th here:

http://www.shorelinetimes.com/news/conn ... ff6b3.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; You have to scroll WAY down to find it. Scroll down to "Success on the rails". I will copy and paste the pertinent part of it here:
Success on the rails

One of the state’s most highly touted transportation programs has been Metro-North, which has expanded service, adding 405 new M8 trains since 2011 at a cost of $1.1 billion, according to DOT spokesman Judd Everhart. Connecticut’s share was $745.9 million; New York state paid $359.82 million. Sixty more M8s, costing $232.3 million, will start going into service in September 2019, Everhart said, and the state has an option for 34 more.

Redeker said on-time performance this year has hit 96 percent, with 500,000 miles between repairs. Connecticut has also built “a state-of-the-art maintenance facility built for these cars” in the New Haven rail yard, Redeker said.

“The state can certainly do more,” Cutrufo said. “Governor Malloy has talked about turning the New Haven Line into a quasi-rapid transit service, having two express tracks and two local tracks, and that’s a way to run trains more frequently, provide better service.”

Besides reducing traffic jams, investment in trains and buses suits the needs of younger professionals who prefer to live in cities and get around without a car, said Cohen of ConnPIRG. She called Metro-North “one of the most successful commuter rail lines in the country” but said its weak link is the branch lines, especially the Danbury branch, which is still running on diesel fuel.

“A 2013 study estimated that the electrification of the Danbury branch line and expansion of service would reduce trip times by 19 percent and it would increase ridership by 46 percent by 2030,” Cohen said.

Redeker said “Let’s Go CT!” includes “electrifying the Danbury branch. Way out in the future it could provide a direct connection to New York,” eliminating the need to transfer in South Norwalk.

Another long-term goal is expanding Shore Line East, which runs east of New Haven, into Rhode Island, he said.

Meanwhile, the Hartford Line, between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts, is “still running on schedule and within budget for opening next year,” Redeker said. “This spring should be the big push on the Hartford Line.”
You'll also notice that there are long-term plans to completely restore the NYNH&H's four-track mainline. Unlike some other people on our list, I remain optimistic that these plans will eventually come to fruition. It's just that we might not live to see them. :(

Fred M. Cain
  by Patrick A.
Fred, thanks for sharing the article. I am glad to see that there are some thoughtful ideas about increasing the reliability and usability of MNRR as a transit option, however the big issue will be how to fund all of the necessary infrastructure improvements which must be made.

The movable bridges as well as finishing up the constant tension centenary work are the key pieces for the mainline. Get those nagging issues out of the way and you can have a serious discussion about restoring the 4th track through Milford or having island platforms at key intermediate stations to allow for more express track usage by MNRR, or quite frankly extending all platforms to at least an 8 car length to shorten approach and dwell times.

Hopefully the Hartford line Phase 1 is ready to go in January and has a successful 2018, which could provide some added momentum to continue the improvements across CT's railroads.
  by fredmcain

You hit the nail on the head. They want to do these things, they really do but the issue is $. Donald Trump keeps talking about a *HUGE* "infrastructure" plan (and talking and talking and talking) but we *STILL* don't know what's going to be in it. Will there be funds for transit and inter-city rail? Possibly, but if so, how much? I e-mailed the lady (Gail Lavielle) who has been really pushing the Danbury re-electrification project and asked her about a possible Trump infusion of funds. Could federal funding for Danbury be included somehow? She did not respond. Probably she simply does not have time to respond to people from outside her district which would include me since I live in Indiana.

  by Jeff Smith
<cough> dust <cough>

https://www.newstimes.com/local/article ... 876201.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The relevant portion? A connection between Danbury and the Harlem Line. It was part of the original study going back, what, 30 something years? We all know the obstacles, of course. Reverse moves, removal of a connection at IGA in Brewster, and so on. I'm curious as to why they think Housy "iced" this out, when it was Housy who was pushing their own service?
City officials have had preliminary discussions with HARTransit, Metro-North, the state and Eversource about the proposal and will develop next steps in the coming months, Calitro said.

In the meantime, city officials are pitching to the groups the possibility of extending Metro-North service from Danbury to the Harlem Line, just across the New York State border.

The idea had long been iced out by the Housatonic Railroad Co., which owns the tracks in that direction, but a thaw could be on the way, Calitro said.

The new route could cut 40 minutes off the commute to New York City and Danbury. Officials said they assume there is ridership demand for the service. They hope to quantify that in a rider study of the two train lines this summer before officially completing the transit-oriented development study.
Cut off 40m? Probably not on that track; by the time you cross over, you're losing any time gained over the branch to GCT. I think it would be more useful in getting traffic off 84/684 the Saw Mill and Bronx River, as perhaps White Plains and Purchase (Pepsico) might be destinations.

Hat tip: Dutch for posting the link in his group.
  by Train322
What would the cost be for:

1) Add a second lane to the 684 to 84 east ramp and a third lane to the CT state line from 684 on Rt 84

2) Upgrade with a sharp U turn the east west line, for diesel service from Southeast? For appropriate class for passenger (Class IV or III?) -
a) Add a second track as needed for hourly head-ways and more frequent peak.
Also-extend to the east end of Danbury.
b) Have Connecticut permit third rail and add third rail (with appropriate fence)
c) Add new rail station at Danbury Fair.
d) Operating cost.
e) Equipment cost/insurance.

  by DutchRailnut
non of what you fantasize about is in the proposal .
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