• AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by daybeers
 
It's really unfortunate any transportation or infrastructure changes/projects take so much longer in the United States than other countries (the Berlin airport excluded :-D), because the New Haven-Springfield Line desperately needs new/more equipment and more trains. The Amtrak trains are always only two cars long except for rush hour southbound #475 some days and during peak periods maybe when there are three cars and only the CTrail trains allow bikes, which reduces the usefulness of the service by half. There needs to be more trains and a clockface schedule on the line, as I've said before. There is still way too much traffic on I-91 that could easily take the train. Connecticut could get a lot more ridership by giving free transit passes to state employees, an issue some advocacy groups are working on in the legislature.

CT is working on getting an RFP ready, but passengers won't ride on the new cars/trainsets until 2023 probably.

Track 2 through West Hartford from OAKWOOD to just before Hartford Union Station (forget the interlocking name) needs to be upgraded to 110 like track 1 was. OAKWOOD is 45 MAS and that really slows the northbound trains, especially if a southbound train is late.

I believe 5+ minutes could be shaved off the schedule SPG-NHV once Hartford is rebuilt with the I-84 Hartford/Greater Hartford Mobility Study project in never-ending-can-kicking years, but at least a minute could be saved by reactivating that freight siding mentioned above.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
In the short term, that would be great if that freight siding just west of Hartford is reactivated. Hopefully, that would help enable more trains to be added-maybe have the same type of schedule that was offered this past Thanksgiving day weekend. By running more Ctrail trains 30 to 40 minutes following Amtrak trains, that would enable people who get left behind by overcrowded Amtrak shuttles to find seats.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Most of the time now when headed north trains are shifted to track 1 just north of Berlin station at Willow interlocking instead of accelerating up to Wood and then slowing down. Seems most of the dispatchers are treating track 2 between wood and willow as a siding and northbound trains continue on track 2 only when there is an opposing southbound train.
  by daybeers
 
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:14 pm In the short term, that would be great if that freight siding just west of Hartford is reactivated. Hopefully, that would help enable more trains to be added-maybe have the same type of schedule that was offered this past Thanksgiving day weekend. By running more Ctrail trains 30 to 40 minutes following Amtrak trains, that would enable people who get left behind by overcrowded Amtrak shuttles to find seats.
Agreed! Do people still get left behind on normal Thursdays and Fridays? I know Amtrak limiting reservations has helped a bit, but that's not a long-term solution and throws away revenue.
lordsigma12345 wrote: Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:39 pm Most of the time now when headed north trains are shifted to track 1 just north of Berlin station at Willow interlocking instead of accelerating up to Wood and then slowing down. Seems most of the dispatchers are treating track 2 between wood and willow as a siding and northbound trains continue on track 2 only when there is an opposing southbound train.
Yes, I love when that happens! However, as you said, if a southbound train is late or coming at the same time, they won't switch. I've also only seen an Amtrak train switch at the Willow interlocking once.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
With the years of the Amfleets being numbered, it will be a welcoming feeling when those two car Amfleet and Genesis consists are replaced with twice the amount of cars in a set. If Amtrak decides to use all locomotive hauled sets for the Shuttles, then the motive power will be something that can accelerate like a jet, which is a must for the Springfield Line.
  by Jeff Smith
 
This is one line I think electrification actually makes sense. Obviate the engine change at NH for the NEC trains. Would it be possible at Springfield, though, with CSX?
  by Ridgefielder
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:54 am This is one line I think electrification actually makes sense. Obviate the engine change at NH for the NEC trains. Would it be possible at Springfield, though, with CSX?
Not too sure of that, actually. I believe that studies have confirmed that diesels are still optimal on this route. The stations aren't that close to each other, and track speed is limited by grade crossings through Wallingford, Meriden and Windsor. Furthermore the track layout at New Haven is optimal for changing engines, with center tracks to scoot the power out of the way. Would require major work at Springfield to get it the same. I'd say the line is a prime candidate for some sort of modern DMU, though.
  by shadyjay
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:54 am This is one line I think electrification actually makes sense. Would it be possible at Springfield, though, with CSX?
Yes, yes it would (or should I say "should"). There is at least one track that is Amtrak-controlled, between SPRING tower and the west end of the platforms. This one splits into the platform tracks 4,6,8 (4/6 being the platform just upgraded to high level, 8 being the Amshack station side platform). Just north of this track is CSX Tracks 1/2, which provide access to station tracks 1 (not used for PAX train stops)/2/2A. There may be room to sneak in another Amtrak controlled track between CSX Track 2 and the Amtrak line, but not positive.

By the time electrification would make it to Springfield, I would have high-levelled Track 8 and reinstalled Track 10, so you'd have at least 2 high level platforms at SPG, serving 4 tracks. Keep 2/2A low level for CSX high and wides, but restore the stairs/elevators for direct station<->platform access for east/west trains.

Still remains to be seen how LSL boarding will take place on Track 2 or 2A once the new high level opens... according to track maps, CSX has no return access to its lines on the west side of the platform if they utilize Track 4/6. So any boarding would have to remain on Track 2/2A, with passengers having to walk down the new platform and cross Track 4 at grade.
  by lordsigma12345
 
It’s unknown whether they will have passengers go down the ramp from the new platform or use the current entrance and crossing from the track 8 platform. The former is the safer way as they could make it so passengers have to stay on platform C until a station staff member opens the gate at a certain time a to let people over to track 2 and they wouldn’t have to cross as many tracks.
  by daybeers
 
I think electrification would be great, but ConnDOT have more pressing priorities first, namely getting SLE double platforms finished and actually doing something about I-84 Hartford. The tracks and station through Hartford are going to be relocated as part of the highway project, so that would be a good excuse to electrify.

DMUs would be great in the meantime but we need to see what ConnDOT decides for new equipment. Electrification will make more sense once they add the stations in North Haven at U.S. Route 5 & CT-40, Newington near CCSU, West Hartford at the Flatbush Avenue CTfastrak station, and Enfield in Thompsonville.
  by daybeers
 
My friend took #494 MDN-HFD Friday 1/17 and it was SRO! They got a seat in Berlin. Really wish more cars could be added because this isn't acceptable as a regular thing for another 2-3 years until the Amfleet replacements are rolling.

In other news, the Hartford Line announced on their Instagram they have reached 1 million rides! Certainly some great news! I do believe that can rise quickly, especially if the packed 2-car Amtrak tains are lengthened.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
[quote=daybeers post_id=1531366 time=1579335944 user_id=285957]
My friend took #494 MDN-HFD Friday 1/17 and it was SRO! They got a seat in Berlin. Really wish more cars could be added because this isn't acceptable as a regular thing for another 2-3 years until the Amfleet replacements are rolling.

In other news, the Hartford Line announced on their Instagram they have reached 1 million rides! Certainly some great news! I do believe that can rise quickly, especially if the packed 2-car Amtrak tains are lengthened.
[/quote]

That's why Amtrak should have ordered enough Amfleets. CDOT should have also planned this Hartford Line project actually better by managing their bookkeeping. At the end of the day, even though Amtrak might be responsible for running the 400 series trains, at the end of the day, the State tells Amtrak what to do when talking about running their own trains up and down the SPG Line. CDOT could have probably even had Amtrak order dedicated trainsets for the shuttle service before the expansion of train service up and down the SPG Line started. MassDOT would probably have to chime in as well. CDOT could have even ordered the brand new equipment a few years ago and have enough to run the shuttles completely with 3-4 car trainsets. The fact that Amtrak constantly runs two cars packed SRO on their trains is not a good look. This is basically like a bus system not running enough buses on a densely used route where the buses are constantly packed to the point that people get turned away.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
We should know by the end of this winter what will replace the Amfleets. It's possible that in one of the next few months, I may ride the Springfield shuttle and if I do, I may be coming off of MNR and paying for a Ctrail ticket. If I see that a person has an Amtrak ticket connecting to another Amtrak train at NHV and I happen to pay with a Ctrail ticket myself, there is no question that I am going to give up my seat for the person with the Amtrak ticket. While there are many Amtrak trains that are reserved, some aren't and that includes the 400 series shuttle trains on the SPG Line.
  by lordsigma12345
 
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:25 am We should know by the end of this winter what will replace the Amfleets. It's possible that in one of the next few months, I may ride the Springfield shuttle and if I do, I may be coming off of MNR and paying for a Ctrail ticket. If I see that a person has an Amtrak ticket connecting to another Amtrak train at NHV and I happen to pay with a Ctrail ticket myself, there is no question that I am going to give up my seat for the person with the Amtrak ticket. While there are many Amtrak trains that are reserved, some aren't and that includes the 400 series shuttle trains on the SPG Line.
Amtrak tickets on the 400 series Hartford Line/Valley Flyer trains are reserved. That’s why CTrail ticket holders sometimes aren’t accommodated at peak times. Amtrak does limit reservations on certain trains at certain times to ensure some unreserved seating is open but it isn’t always enough. When that happens Amtrak tickets Show as sold out and the unreserved seats are open to CTrail customers. They should shift local Amtrak tickets to unreserved and only reserve for folks connecting to the NEC (sort of like what the keystones do - Keystones are unreserved for intracorridor travel but if connecting to the NEC it’s reserved.) whether they actually enforce the reservations and make CTrail passengers stand for Amtrak passengers I don’t know.
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