• Northern Branch HBLR (was DMU proposal)

  • Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.
Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

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  by IRFCA_RRfan
 
Irish Chieftain wrote:-- If you ever saw the traffic congestion in northeastern Bergen County, you wouldn't even ask that question. It's horrendous up that way. They have lots of bus service (intrastate, GWBBS and PABT, by NJT, Coach USA and ShortLine), but those buses are mired in the traffic. Rail service, even going to Hoboken, would be a major relief valve in terms of transportation.
You're so right IC. Having lived up there for a while, I can attest to the fact.
In the beginning even a 2 seat ride to anywhere which does not involve roads and traffic will be a huge relief! Once service begins, I think ridership will be surprisingly higher than ppl predict.

  by Steve F45
 
living in eastern bergen county i can say first hand how much i hate the f'n traffic. No matter what time of day, school day, work day, holiday etc, there is backups on rt.17, rt.4 east of paramus, 46 east and west at rush hour is HORRIBLE! And rt.3, dont get me started.

Any rail service would be better then none.

  by AndyB
 
"Light-rail is no longer a consideration for the Northern. There is just too many problems trying to deal with the freight congestion and CSX"

Comments?

  by Nasadowsk
 
They actually still use those tracks? All I ever see near Tonnelle is a bunch of rotting locos idleing away and a few random cars strewn about.

  by wantsrail
 
The problems are with the POLITICIANS NOT CSX. They could easily run the single daily freight at night.

But the politicos of Bergen County have given in to Hudsons who want the light rail to go to Secaucus.

Read my reply to Rothman here and come to the meeting on Wed. the 22nd, in Tenafly. I will be there from 3pm to 9Pm.




Suburbanite Newspapers

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

In reality, the $3.6 million of federal funding that Congressman Steven Rothman has secured will not help make the Northern “commuter rail line a reality.” Actually, Rothman and his cronies from Hudson County have done the utmost to prevent Eastern Bergen County from getting any practical rail service.

In 2002, all the legislative officials of Bergen County met and agreed that extending the Hudson Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) up the Northern Valley would receive the highest priority for any rail projects in Bergen County. This was an endorsement of the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) which was begun in 2001 and was scheduled to complete its Locally Preferred Alternative Report before 2002. The DEIS was to examine all environmental issues as well as preliminary design.

In early 2003, a newspaper article appeared stating that Hudson County politicians were seeking to divert the destination of the HBLR from Tenafly, in Bergen County, to Secaucus in Hudson County. Later, I heard from NJ Transit that they had decided to route the HBLR to terminate in the Sports Complex. They NEVER issued the “Locally Preferred Alternative Report.” What ever happened to the promised extension of the electric light rail line?

NJ Transit claims that extending the HBLR to Tenafly would cost a billion dollars, which they say is too much. Seeking to appease the public in Eastern Bergen County, NJ Transit now is promising that they will spend half-a-billion dollars to provide a Diesel Multiple Unit Shuttle service to a new isolated Transfer Station, located at the edge of the swamps in North Bergen. The 3.6 million dollars, secured by Mr. Rothman, are to pay mainly for the design of the North Bergen Transfer Station and for a bridge to connect to the Tonnelle Avenue Station. Afterwards, this bridge will be used to carry the light rail extension to Xanadu.

Is this a good deal for Eastern Bergen? Definitely not! Instead of riding in a rapidly accelerating electric light rail car from Tenafly direct to Weehawken and Hoboken, we would be stuck doing the following. We would board the slower Dinky Diesel Shuttle to an isolated Transfer Station on the edge of the swamps in North Bergen. There, we would need to climb upstairs to catch a light rail train coming from Secaucus to take us to Weehawken and Hoboken. How much time would you spend waiting for a train in the middle of nowhere? Of course, knowing the poor on-time performance of NJ Transit, I guess I would use my automobile instead.

Because of this extra and uncomfortable transfer the ridership will drop, meaning that fewer trains will be run. With longer waits between trains, fewer people would use rail services between stops in Bergen County. According to preliminary data received from NJ Transit, the projected ridership on the HBLR Northern would be three times greater than for the Dinky Diesel Shuttle.

Is it a good business practice to cut the cost by half to get only one-third the ridership and be left with a service requiring a huge annual operating subsidy? Based on their past decisions in South Jersey, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will certainly think it is a bad deal. Even if Mr. Rothman can obtain federal funding to build the Dinky Diesel Shuttle, with the weak ridership numbers, the FTA will turn it down.

Then, NJ Transit has proposed that the Dinky Shuttle will eventually be connected to the new rail tunnel into the City. Maybe so! Possibly in twenty to forty years! Meanwhile, we can continue being stuck in ever-increasing traffic.

If you live or work in Eastern Bergen, call or write to Mr. Steven Rothman Please, let the Congressman, and NJ Transit know that they must stop kowtowing to the developers and their cronies in Hudson County. Instead, they can start by doing something good for all the people, namely extending the HBLR at least to Tenafly! !

Albert F. Cafiero
Chair Emeritus, Transit Committee of Bergen County
Transportation Advisor, Senator Gerald Cardinale

  by Frogger
 
thank you Albert, very well said. Now if this doesn't work we can always send Cheney after Rothman and his cronies. :-D

  by uzplayer
 
Just curious.. Couldn't they somehow connect this DMU service to Hoboken or Secacus?

I agree that they should put at least something in terms of a rail alternative. It would make life so much easier in Bergen County when it comes to traffic. They're also missing however the fact that if you build these alternatives up, you'll also attract others that'll travel about 1/2 an hour to an hour to goto these trains. If you really want to have something effective in place, you have to gauge between who passes through to another destination and who originates at a destination in order to determine the best places to put stations/extend a line to.

I have faith in the fact that rail will come back in a big way in New Jersey. It might take a while, but it'll happen. The state has no choice in the matter otherwise since the majority of roads are well over capacity. They'll need to look at inventive ways.

  by Wdobner
 
I don't see what the problem is with doing things like Mr. Nasadowski has proposed. Build the light rail now, but build it to commuter rail specifications, such that all you need is a 12 or 25kv substation, a connection to the NJT commuter rail system, and some FRA paperwork to transition from HBLRT to Arrows. It's clear that the DMU service will provide little if any advantage over the light rail, so why even bother with it? The time-share issues can be worked around with CSX's cooperation, which as with all companies can simply be had for a price. Who knows, perhaps the FRA can be convinced to revise the time-share rules, since it's pretty much insane that a slowly moving freight running overnight can't share track with a half-hourly LRT.

If building the line to both HBLRT and NJT electric standards drives the cost too high then dumb down the HBLRT stuff. North of Tonnelle the ATS and other advanced signalling systems are likely of debatable value. They can be easily left off to save several million dollars a mile. Additionally the line could be 12 or 25kv from the get-go. Dual voltage LRTs are extremely common in Europe, and going to high voltage AC from the beginning would save on substation costs, especially if they're going to be trashed after just 15-20 years. Build one branch to Vince Lombardi, Xanadu, Secaucus or wherever, keep that 750vdc, and then run another branch to Tenafly and make that the transitionable line with high voltage AC catenary. We're going to need new LRTs for the line, and the current 750vdc Kinki-Sharyos could be kept occupied on the system as it stands now (with whatever extension to V-L, ST, or wherever), with the dual-voltage LRTs running up to Tenafly. In the true spirit of Europe's tram-train operations these LRTs could even potentially be equipped with restrooms, thus providing all the benefit the DMUs could, without transfers or trying to punch another way into Hoboken.

If, 20 years down the road ARC actually does get built, a one seat ride into NYC becomes possible, and HBLRT is overburdened then sure, transition to an electrified commuter rail line instead of a light rail. But then at least we didn't waste 20 years trying to make a DMU line to nowhere work, or worse, doing nothing.

  by Jishnu
 
Wdobner wrote: If, 20 years down the road ARC actually does get built, a one seat ride into NYC becomes possible, and HBLRT is overburdened then sure, transition to an electrified commuter rail line instead of a light rail. But then at least we didn't waste 20 years trying to make a DMU line to nowhere work, or worse, doing nothing.
If you look carefully at the proposed operations plan of the ARC tunnels, there are no slots allocated for Northern Branch. So the only way they will be able to deliver a Northern Branch train to Penn Station through the ARC tunnels is to take away some other route's slot allocation. Not that this cannot be done, but it is highly unlikely.

So even if the ARC tunnels are built in 20 years, the Northern Branch folks get to wait another 100 years for the next set of tunnels to be built before they get a one seat ride into NYP.

  by Irish Chieftain
 
uzplayer wrote:Just curious.. Couldn't they somehow connect this DMU service to Hoboken or Secaucus?
Hoboken, yes. Only missing piece is a connector at either West End or (via the Bergen Arches) at East End, though. Not rocket science, and not a lot of dough in terms of capital funds. (Then DMUs would not necessarily be needed, except in terms of noise abatement...)

Secaucus, no, absolutely not. That would send the line westwards unnecessarily; and since there is no extant line that would permit that, the cost to create a whole new line across the Hackensack River would be out-of-reach. (That said, the planned Meadowlands Spur was not intended originally to be merely a spur, but a connector to the West Shore line which would send commuter trains for that line via Secaucus...but even though that would also involve a new alignment, it would meet up with the West Shore at Little Ferry, where the Northern Branch does not pass through.)
wantsrail wrote:The problems are with the POLITICIANS NOT CSX. They could easily run the single daily freight at night.

But the politicos of Bergen County have given in to Hudsons who want the light rail to go to Secaucus
Exactly where in Secaucus? That's the first I've heard of light rail going to Secaucus, apart from rumors in regards to the Bergen Arches and not the West Shore Tunnel alignment. There's no alignment for light rail to go to Secaucus from North Bergen, nor is there any available land to build one.

And CSX running freights at night is not the issue; it would be CSX continuing to own the line, as I said elsewhere. NJDOT bought the Bordentown Secondary for the River Line to run on; I would imagine that not only would NJT (corporate) want to have the final say as to what runs on the line, but also NIMBYs would not appreciate even one freight train running during nighttime hours.
Last edited by Irish Chieftain on Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
Irish Chieftain offers some delicious irony, because no one can pinpoint exactly where light rail would serve Secaucus in an alternate route.

But it would, as part of the Xanadu package, according to numerous New Jersey Transit officials, and those who back a Xanadu route westward from North Bergen, including many Hudson County officials.

Indeed, NJT talks loosely about getting to Secaucus even if Xanadu is postponed. Again, no one can say exactly how, and if one included all the possible station stops an LRT route would zigzag under Route 3 like a stock market graph.

For all the uncertainty, though, the proposal is a real one and, in NJ-ARP's view, has diverted attention away from LRT up the Northern Branch.

  by wantsrail
 
You on this forum have alot of savey about this subject that should get "Official Attention."

Come tomorrow Wed Feb 22 to the Clinton Inn in Tenafly anf get your views in the record of NJ Transit.

2 Seperate sessions 3-5 pm or 7-9 pm.

  by northjerseybuff
 
Did anyone attend the meeting in Tenafly on Tuesday?

  by Charlie7
 
Irish Chieftain wrote:
Secaucus, no, absolutely not. That would send the line westwards unnecessarily; and since there is no extant line that would permit that, the cost to create a whole new line across the Hackensack River would be out-of-reach.
Secaucus is on the east side of the Hackensack River, same as the Northern Branch. Not that that makes it any more likely the Northern Branch is going there.

  by AndyB
 
I attended the Northern Branch Project Meeting Wed.
I got there at 2:30pm and regrettably had to leave at 4:30pm. Would have like to have stayed as most of the public comments were pro light rail. Our distinguish colleague from this forum, Mr. Albert Cafiero, gave an excellent and informative account of the project unfortunately he was cut off before finishing.

My comments on meeting:
There was a good turnout 100+ persons for an afternoon meeting. I have been to these meetings before when only a handful of people turned out.
I was annoyed that there was no handouts describing the project or the service that was planed.
All displays, and they were nicely/professionally done, promoted the use of DMU, say Colorado Rail Car.
DMUs would operate North Tenafly to North Bergen, 12 stations. Change to light rail at new North Bergen Station. No one seat ride to Hoboken. Also note that the planned North Bergen Transfer Station, with upper and lower tracks, is South of present Tonnelle Ave. Station. What is with that???
From NJT personnel manning the displays, I was told light rail is no longer being considered. Knew this already.
More than one rep seem to get unconfortable with me as I asked specific questions about equipment, service, passenger potential.
They could not say for sure who would operate. NJ Transit or DBOM company.
Also, could not say actual operator of DMU, heavy rail engineer? Or, if DMU car/train would require a full heavy rail crew. I would think so since these cars are FRA compliant.

Reasons given for change LRV to DMU:
Cost LRV system over $1 Billion -- DMU system $500 Million
Too many conflicts operating light rail with freight trains.
Future direct access to New York through new tunnel.
And the best.
Public opinion prefers a more confortable ride.

I was unable to stay to make comments but had I:
The potential of light rail service far exceeds that of DMU service. Frequency of service and direct service to Hoboken Terminal, PATH and Hudson County’s business areas.
Cost: LRV projected riders 25,000 -- DMU projected riders 5,000
Even at $1 Billion, almost $100 Million a mile, which is grossly outrages, the build cost per passenger carried is much less.
$40,000 for Light Rail as to $100,000 per passenger for DMU.

Freight train, which NJT said was one a day during the day as far as North Tenafly terminal – Why can’t CSX switch at night. And 50 or more cars a day. Can that be true?
One NJT rep said that CSX owned this line. I thought NJT now owned it.

There was a lot of spin being given by NJT representatives as to why heavy rail was preferred over light rail.

It appears that the heavy rail faction at NJT has control.
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