Jeff Smith wrote:Great background info; thanks for doing the yeoman's work on this. CDOT will have to come up with the funds somehow for Waterbury, or if not, would they have to shut down the line? I can't see that there's much freight left on it, especially with the Maybrook OOS west of Derby and the P&W running up the Danbury instead.
Waterbury's certainly going to get milked as a budget pawn a few more times, as every CT gov raises the threat of terminating service to make a point. And it never lasts more than a week before getting a "just kidding". I wouldn't expect a thing like PTC to up the ante to any more ominous place than we've been before. Not with Malloy up for reelection in 2014 and Greater Waterbury being one of the most entrenched Republican strongholds in the state. Democrats re-took the Gov. mansion and that U.S. Congressional district in part because of the Waterbury area's fatigue and desire to move on from the machine of hometown criminal John Rowland. Malloy knows that those doldrums helped get him elected. Re-galvanizing the opposition is something he'll overtly avoid for '14, and I would not expect antagonizing local commuters with service cuts is part of his reelection strategy. CDOT's up the creek in a big way on the $1B I-84/CT8 interchange replacement that has no hope of getting funded before it falls into the Naugutuck River, so it's path of lesser resistance to keep some transit consistency and play up the vague hope of better service on the line (while simultaneously bluffing on cuts because it's an easy talking point).
I do think because of these political factors and the really big asphalt-transit dilemmas that the improvements study and modest upgrades proposed in it were an earnest gesture of mitigation for other more expensive things Waterbury's not going to get in this lifetime. So I think they can find the money if they've got a gun to their heads. But it's CDOT we're talking. How can they feasibly get it scheduled in time with how long it took to get construction going on the Danbury Branch? If they're not at the starting gates with a plan now, there's no way they'll have one by the deadline. Maybe they can get a deferment from the FRA if a firm plan is enacted and the construction schedule simply starts too late, but they're running out of time for even that.
The FRA's got to say something sooner or later about how they're going to handle the cases that are impossible by '15. MNRR and LIRR are in comparatively very good shape vs. other agencies on the PTC mandate. I don't know for example how the hell the MBTA is going to do it with only its southside being (almost/90%) cabbed and ready for ACSES and northside still being 0% cabs with large backlog of ancient ABS mileage needing upgrade.
EDIT: As per freight, what the hell is Pan Am still doing here? They run only 1 train per week and reduced service to just 1 per week because they didn't want to pay Amtrak's steep fees for use of the Springfield Line. The Highland Line and Waterbury Branch are both on the PAS side of the network, and by far the biggest outliers in the partnership. I can't imagine NS wants anything there if PAR can't fake the slightest interest. It's not worth holding onto for the Housy interchange that's not driving any business. Sell the lines to the state, and sell the trackage rights to (soon-to-be ACSES capable) CSO, and have them hand-deliver the same exact carloads to PAS's doorstep at the Springfield interchange without need to come fetch it themselves.