• SEPTA seeks $$ for major West Trenton Line Help

  • Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.
Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

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  by 25Hz
 
Perhaps they could file for an exemption for that section of the line..?
  by Clearfield
 
25Hz wrote:Perhaps they could file for an exemption for that section of the line..?
I could be wrong, but I don't believe there are exemptions.

PTC is a federal unfunded mandate designed to save lives and property, An exemption would invite disaster.
  by Adirondacker
 
Matthew Mitchell wrote:It doesn't remove hope: it simply means that if passenger trains use the NYSL, they're going to need to have freight-compatible PTC equipment as well as ASCES (the system SEPTA, Amtrak, and most passenger carriers will be using).
Like the NJTransit trains do? Or the MTA trains do? Or the MBTA trains do?
  by Clearfield
 
Every train needs to have PTC equipment on board for the host railroad, as well as PTC equipment for its own railroad.
  by jfrey40535
 
Dumb question: Why don't they all have the same type of equipment? Are the standards really that different or is this just somebody's way of making an extra buck thanks to the law?
  by Matthew Mitchell
 
jfrey40535 wrote:Dumb question: Why don't they all have the same type of equipment? Are the standards really that different or is this just somebody's way of making an extra buck thanks to the law?
Not a dumb question at all. Freight carriers have widespread route networks, moderate speeds, a lot of single track, and CTC. Amtrak and the legacy passenger lines have compact networks, high speeds, multiple tracks, and various more sophisticated signal systems already in place. What's best for one application isn't best for the other.
  by jfrey40535
 
Maybe that should have been taken into account before blanket implementation. Maybe some politicians need a bug in their ear about this rather than just throwing dollars at a problem that seems to have no good solution. Granted every carrier has unique operating circumstances, however once upon a time things were "standardized", which is why things worked much more harmoniously 50 years ago compared to today. I wish SEPTA luck, though it sounds like commuters north of Woodbourne would be wise to start looking at transit alternatives or a different place to live.
  by glennk419
 
jfrey40535 wrote:Maybe that should have been taken into account before blanket implementation. Maybe some politicians need a bug in their ear about this rather than just throwing dollars at a problem that seems to have no good solution. Granted every carrier has unique operating circumstances, however once upon a time things were "standardized", which is why things worked much more harmoniously 50 years ago compared to today. I wish SEPTA luck, though it sounds like commuters north of Woodbourne would be wise to start looking at transit alternatives or a different place to live.
Hey Jon, there's no freight on the Newtown line these days. ;)
  by Matthew Mitchell
 
Maybe that should have been taken into account before blanket implementation. Maybe some politicians need a bug in their ear about this rather than just throwing dollars at a problem that seems to have no good solution.
That's just what APTA and the AAR were doing. They pointed out that the regulations were going to cost billions more than they saved, but the "do something" mentality from NTSB and Congress overrides such considerations.
Granted every carrier has unique operating circumstances, however once upon a time things were "standardized", which is why things worked much more harmoniously 50 years ago compared to today.
Huh? Now I'll agree that there was more harmony when freight trains and passenger trains were operated by the same companies, but communication between one company and another is far better today than it used to be. Same with standardization of equipment from one company to the next.
I wish SEPTA luck, though it sounds like commuters north of Woodbourne would be wise to start looking at transit alternatives or a different place to live.
Huh? This isn't the Fox Chase separation. There'll be a third track from Wood to Yardley. Taking away the potential freight interference is a net win for most riders. The potential negative is mainly at West Trenton. Unless we get a huge increase in demand, this ought to be OK.
  by 25Hz
 
Ok, so the plan is to put back the 3rd track towards yardley?

What happens with trains coming off NS that need to go to woodbourne yard? More freight traffic across woodbourne road where the connector crosses it?

I'm beginning to think that SEPTA needs to file a formal petition to exempt their whole system from this nonsense. They have very infrequent moves compared to most other transit rail system, antiquated physical plant, and no budget to speak of.

The whole situation confuses me. Why was so little thought put into this?
  by Matthew Mitchell
 
25Hz wrote:Ok, so the plan is to put back the 3rd track towards yardley?

Right.
What happens with trains coming off NS that need to go to woodbourne yard? More freight traffic across woodbourne road where the connector crosses it?
They cross through SEPTA's Wood interlocking (which does not require ASCES on the freight train). There'll be a lot less freight going from NS (the Trenton Cut-off) to CSX once CSX finishes its clearance project on the rest of the Trenton sub.
I'm beginning to think that SEPTA needs to file a formal petition to exempt their whole system from this nonsense. They have very infrequent moves compared to most other transit rail system, antiquated physical plant, and no budget to speak of.
Huh? First of all, the West Trenton line does have a lot of passenger traffic: not a lot by NEC or MTA standards, but frequent by comparison to most other commuter rail systems--count the total trains in a week. Second, these are government bureaucrats and Congress: they don't give a flying leap about whether or not their mandates are funded. Third, the freight roads have a much better case for a waiver, and FRA has shown no inclination to give them one.
The whole situation confuses me. Why was so little thought put into this?
It shouldn't be that confusing. Something has to happen by December 2015. Period.

The choices are to equip some of one railroad's equipment with the other railroad's PTC system, segregate the tracks on the existing plant and cut service to Yardley and West Trenton, or upgrade the plant so you can segregate the tracks without too much adverse effect on the service. The latter is the obvious choice, and then the task is to design the project to be as cost-effective as possible. The question at that point is whether you need a new bridge so you can have a third track all the way to West Trenton, and I think the answer to that at this time is "no."
  by wagz
 
They cross through SEPTA's Wood interlocking (which does not require ASCES on the freight train). There'll be a lot less freight going from NS (the Trenton Cut-off) to CSX once CSX finishes its clearance project on the rest of the Trenton sub.
And in fact right now that is only one train per day (each way), Q190/Q191. I'm not sure what 25hz even means because that move doesn't even go anywhere near Woodbourne Rd. I believe CSX only schedules one road train each way to work Woodbourne yard. In fact this 3rd track addition will have absolutely zero bearing on the amount of trains blocking Woodbourne Rd, as the connector he refers to I assume is the Fairless Branch. Its only used by a local or two out of Woodbourne Yard to Interchange at Morrisville.
  by Jersey_Mike
 
I thought one of the mandates of PTC was interoperability?
If it was not, it should be.....

You would think that since PTC has been mandated, a standard specification should have been written so that the equipment could be compatible nationwide.

Oh, wait..... Tha would make sense..... Never Mind.
The PTC mandate did not want to try to impose by fiat a single technological solution as at least congress has learned that those sorts of laws never end well. In fact the there is a standard that is being implemented by most freight railroads that involves the use of wireless datagrams. PTC is a bill of goods sold to the NTSB and congress as an inexpensive technology that uses a low footprint wireless infrastructure to magically stop trains from crashing into each other. There is a lot of things wrong with that, but the freight railroads have doubled down on the whole "wireless" thing, even thought it is probably going to end up no less expensive than a system with a larger physical footprint. In the northeast where cab signaling is already in service a different PTC system is being implemented that doesn't need large amounts of wireless data (and is probably the better for it). Railroads like CSX are highly allergic to cab signaling systems, even more so than PTC, and don't want to have to deal with the headaches of making sure they have CSS equipped leaders on that 10 mile stretch of the West Trenton line.
The choices are to equip some of one railroad's equipment with the other railroad's PTC system, segregate the tracks on the existing plant and cut service to Yardley and West Trenton, or upgrade the plant so you can segregate the tracks without too much adverse effect on the service. The latter is the obvious choice, and then the task is to design the project to be as cost-effective as possible. The question at that point is whether you need a new bridge so you can have a third track all the way to West Trenton, and I think the answer to that at this time is "no."
The best solution is to engage the Tea Party to get the PTC mandate struck in the next compromise budget as a massive waste of both taxpayer and private industry money. The next best solution is to simply INSTALL BOTH SYSTEMS ON THE LINE. The two systems do not work in opposition to eachother and you can run them together as long as regulators and engineers aren't too bone headed about it. Despite what one might hear PTC is at least designed to work on top of existing signaling systems. You do not need to actually go and replace or re-signal anything to get PTC capabilities.

Anyway its a good thing that PTC is threatening the shutdown of passenger services. Congress and voters need to learn that a blind pursuit of "safety" comes with costs. I would have advocated that all the affected passenger lines simply announced that they would shutdown on Jan 1 2016 rather than obey an unfunded mandate or ignore the requirement and dare the FRA to shut them down. If too big to jail works for banks it certainly works for our commuter rail system.
I expect that the western roads like Metrolink that operate over freight lines will be using the freight roads' system, not Amtrak's system. So there won't be an ironic situation like you envision where the Metrolink/UP collision wouldn't have been prevented.
Funny that. Metrolink is having massive problems getting the "wireless" PTC solution to work in the LA area because there are simply too many trains and too many signals saturating the available wireless space. That's on top of the other problems associated with PTC. The root cause of the problem is actually that western railroads never standardized on turnout speeds as eastern roads did. In the east turnouts are set at 15, 30, 45 and recently 80mph. Out west you don't have speed signaling so a turnout can be set for about anything the permanent way engineers want them to be...10mph...25mph...35mph...18mph. In the east you can base a PTC implementation off of cab signal speeds and existing ATC systems. Out west it is impossible to use CSS codes to handle turnout speeds in this way so they wanted a PTC system that could account for the increased variation...oh and that wouldn't have to rely on "expensive" physical hardware like antenna loops and baliases.
  by Tritransit Area
 
I also worry about trains that are running all the way down to Jenkintown as well as NS trains running through Norristown Transportation Center. Also, how will this project affect the feasibility of extending train service to Reading over NS's tracks?
  by Jersey_Mike
 
BTW this isn't a PTC issue. SEPTA is using PTC as a stick with which to beat the Feds into providing third track funding because SEPTA has wanted to separate itself from CSX on that stretch of tracks FOR YEARS. They already segregated the Fox Chase line and there were plans even then to do the same with the West Trenton line as neither CSX nor SEPTA enjoy having to cohabitate.

The reason that PTC is clearly a red herring is that no matter what SEPTA or CSX do they will need to share at least some track unless they build a series of flyovers to eliminate crossover moves at WOOD and TRENT. That means co-mingling potentially different PTC systems within the same interlocking plant. If this were simply a matter of signal systems they could just use both systems like I said, but its not really about PTC.
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