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

  by Bill D
Noel Weaver wrote:Then as the heavy industries closed or moved out things really went to hell fast. Take a ride through the various neighborhoods in Waterbury and you will find some very nice areas to live in that are still decent. The floods in 1955 caused a lot of damage and problems but the biggest hit wasn't the floods or McGinns but the loss of Scovill, American Brass, Chase, Farrell Birmingham, U.S. Rubber and Naugatuck Chemical and the footware, Torrington Company and a host of other heavy and lighter industries through a period of time. Every one that quit the Naugatuck Valley made things go downhill a bit more. When things were good Waterbury, Torrington and the lower valley were all quite prosperous with good jobs, thriving business both big and small and happy people. Today the big things are crime, drugs, prostitution and other bad things.
Noel Weaver
Noel, you are absolutely right on this. Waterbury no longer has enough jobs to support the population (100,000+). As the industries left, so did many long time residents. Housing prices dropped, many homes were purchased by absentee owners and rented to lower income people, many dependent on state aid. Add to that city and state leaders who don't have a clue as how to improve the situation (except for themselves), and you have a once great city that may never come back. The towns south of Waterbury have a better chance of prosperity, but for Waterbury the situation is not good.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Many old factory cities in New England have been revitalized very well. Unfortunately, Waterbury, Connecticut isn't on the list. There are a few good parts of Waterbury but for the most part, the city is crime ridden, poverty stricken, and many people are unemployed. It could take many years for Waterbury to come back and I am talking probably a few decades. The surrounding towns around Waterbury are much better and probably Waterbury makes Hartford look like paradise.

The Waterbury Branch deserves more service than what it does. I'm not talking from a railfan perspective but from a business point of view bc many people who live in Waterbury who have to go to work in other communities along the branch as well as along the New Haven Line don't own a car. Having trains that run a few times a day is a huge inconvenience, especially for a person who doesn't drive.

The other towns along the Waterbury branch aren't that bad at all and hopefully will get even better, especially with more and more people moving to them.
  by Ridgefielder
njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Many old factory cities in New England have been revitalized very well. Unfortunately, Waterbury, Connecticut isn't on the list. There are a few good parts of Waterbury but for the most part, the city is crime ridden, poverty stricken, and many people are unemployed. It could take many years for Waterbury to come back and I am talking probably a few decades.
It could happen quicker than you think. Beacon, NY, for instance, did a 180-degree turn in basically a decade. I suspect however that better transportation links are going to be key to any sort of revitalization we see in Waterbury.
njt/mnrrbuff wrote:I don't think Danbury is that poor. I have a relative who lives not too far from there. The Danbury Branch serves plenty of affluent communities and my relative lives in Ridgefield. She doesn't do too much traveling but whenever she went to NYC, she would always drive to Katonah for the Harlem Line.
Well, as you can probably figure out, Ridgefield is my home town :wink:. The choice of rail lines for travel to NY pretty much depends on where in town you live. If you're north or west of Ridgefield Center you generally drive over to the Harlem-- Katonah, Golden's Bridge or Purdy's (parking can be an issue at Katonah.) If you're on the east or south of the Center you generally pick up the Danbury Branch at Branchville, Cannondale or Wilton.

I actually grew up *in* Ridgefield Center, and my father commuted into the city from New Canaan, which in those days had plenty of non-permit parking at meters or in the Weed & Duryea lumberyard (this is no longer the case.) My mother, when she goes into New York, catches the train at Branchville.

I think the bigger point here is that station catchment areas don't necessarily align with political boundaries. The economic situation of the community in which a station is located doesn't necessarily parallel the economic situation of the people using that station.
  by njtmnrrbuff
My relative who lived in Ridgefield in a house lived on the west side of town so she would drive to Katonah. She doesn’t travel much anymore.

Yes, Beacon has been transformed nicely. You are right about your prediction.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Bridgeport isn’t that bad. The waterfront is nice. I’m sure the downtown is okay. There are probably still many areas that need help though.

Waterbury has a few okay areas. That city has gone through a lot of tough times since the factories closed. It may come back but not soon enough. Not related to trains but still related to Waterbury-I learned that the boys and girls club there is doing a good job at keeping the children on the right side of the law.
  by theseaandalifesaver
Waterbury is a sad, poor, dilapidated wasteland. But if you're into abandoned railroads, the old yards are definitely something to see and checkout.

i'm honestly surprised MN still runs to Waterbury.
  by njtmnrrbuff
That is true about the old yards. People who live in Waterbury do need the trains and probably many of the people living there have to use it as a fast mode of transportation to get down the valley to the coast. There are people who live in Waterbury and the other towns along the Branch who probably work in Bridgeport and Stamford and need to use the train to commute to work in those cities. Commuting to nyc depends probably on where along the branch you live and whether you want to actually have a long two seat ride trip or do you want to drive to the New Haven Line. I’m guessing that the majority of people who live along or in any of the towns bordering a town served by the Waterbury branch drive to the main line such as Stratford.
  by Noel Weaver
theseaandalifesaver wrote:Waterbury is a sad, poor, dilapidated wasteland. But if you're into abandoned railroads, the old yards are definitely something to see and checkout.

i'm honestly surprised MN still runs to Waterbury.
I take exception to these remarks. I'll grant that you might not be familliar with these parts.
I lived in Waterbury for several years and it is not nearly as much a "wasteland" as you described above. Granted it is not nearly as prosperous as it was when the heavy industry was still running at capacity or near capacity BUT Waterbury has some very nice neighborhoods: upper Cooke Street, Overlook, Bunker Hill to name three. It has a modern waste treatment facility, has decent schools several of which are fairly new, several city parks including two municipal 18 hole golf courses, two good hospitals, several nice old and historic churches, the green (AKA Exchange Place), a good fire department with stations all over the city and a railroad station still standing that stands out all over the city. As commuting costs, living costs and other problems continue to rise in Fairfield County the Naugatuck Valley can and will be a good alternative to the problems along the mainline. Metro-North and CDOT need to take the necessary steps to improve service on the line between Waterbury and Devon to make it more useful than it already is. It has potential to be a lot more useful than it currently is. Waterbury has potential as well as the other Naugatuck Valley towns to improve dramatically into very useful commuter towns and I think there is a good chance of this happening in the future. For somebody in Seattle to say that Waterbury is a "sad, poor, dilapidated wasteland" is out of place here. Other cities have made comebacks and in my opinion Waterbury will too in time.
Noel Weaver
  by njtmnrrbuff
Yes, Waterbury has some nice areas and the train station isn't in the worst part of town. The courthouse is right there and the downtown basically starts where the depot is. Do you want to be hanging out there after dark? No. Do you want to bring a sports car there? No. Waterbury will get better eventually but it will take time. It has so much potential. The city literally sits at a crossroads. It's on I-84 and there are several state highways nearby such as Rt. 8, which follows the majority of the Waterbury Branch.

The Waterbury Branch will probably never see a direct train to Grand Central Terminal anytime soon. It seems that the majority of people who board the train in Waterbury and are commuting are traveling to other cities in Fairfield County. It's about a 2.50 hr train ride from Waterbury to Midtown Manhattan and I don't think a person would want to commute that far in each direction five days a week. People do it. With more and more people moving to the Naugatuck Valley, it will be paramount for more trains to be added to the Waterbury, even if they are shuttles. Hey, there are actually people who live near Pt. Jervis who make that trek daily. I doubt that it's many. Housing prices in Orange County, NY are cheaper than closer to the city, and plenty of people use the Pt. Jervis Line each day but most of the ridership drops off at Middletown-Town of Walkill Station. One you get to Harriman, then you are probably on a close to standing room only train.
  by J.D. Lang
To add a couple of more things that are on the positive side for Waterbury there is some private investment with tax incentives to redo some of the buildings in the downtown area. Because of this UConn has relocated its Waterbury campus to downtown and one of the larger buildings has been turned into apartments for on campus students to live in. It is hoped to revitalize some of the downtown shops and restaurants. Are there areas of the city that are rough, yes there is but there is hope. To label the whole city by calling it a “wasteland” is uncalled for.

Tying this into the Waterbury MN line, CTRail now offers a U-PASS card to all registered college students so that they can ride all busses and trains within the state for free.
https://ctrides.com/u-pass" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This alone should help with ridership on the Waterbury line. It would be nice if they could put more reliability into the service but right now but the DOT has stretched themselves pretty thin with all the their other projects.

J. Lang
  by Jeff Smith
My 2c, which I've probably put in before:

Someone mentioned that at the CTRCC meeting, most seemed happy with the temporary Devon transfer station. This kept branch trains off the mainline, reducing interference. I've always thought this should be permanent. Right now, you've got the Waterbury "minis" clogging up the platforms at Bridgeport. A simple pedestrian overhead bridge over the mainline at Devon Jct to a Devon transfer would work nicely.

As the schedule increases, the interference increases. One through train a day during rush would make sense; you could terminate it at SoNo on the sidings, or at Stamford. Limited stops. To satisfy my friend, make it Fordham friendly!

You can't lose the connection completely, though, Devon transfer or not. P&W still uses the branch up to Derby, right? And who knows, maybe some day the track is restored and they use it up to Tilcon in Danbury from Derby. And Pan Am still uses the branch north of Derby.

The branch still has serious potential. There's still a running track from north of Waterbury over to the Springfield line at Berlin, where the wye is being restored. There's also the Maybrook up to Danbury. And the track north of Waterbury to Thomaston and Torrington. Nothing that can be used today for passenger service, of course. But keeping that capacity is important.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Personally, I think the Waterbury Branch should continue serving Bridgeport as that would benefit the majority of passengers who might live in the Valley and are going to jobs there as well as counseling appointments.

I remember the proposal to build a new station in the eastern part of Bridgeport. Well, maybe instead of doing that, a possibity would be to built a new station in Devon and this would provide, not only a good transfer point for those passengers heading to anywhere along the Waterbury Branch from points east, but those people who might be coming from New Haven and want to head to Waterbury rather than having to backtrack to Bridgeport. As far as a new overhead bridge goes in Devon, I'm not so sure if that would work. I think that it might go over the area where the temporary platform is.

In the short term, if I were CDOT, I would focus on installing the sidings along the branch as well as replacing as many bridges as possible along the New Haven Line. The New Haven Line is probably at capacity in many spots.
  by Backshophoss
It's a long overdue to bring back Devon as a station/transfer point to/from the Waterbury branch trains,there's no longer any cost savings,
running and doing the transfer at Bridgeport,it's wasted miles on the Equipment including the moves to/from East Bridgeport yard
between runs to clear up off the mainlines.
It's bad enough that there's 2 midday DH moves to New Haven to do an equipment swap with an SLE set for off peak service for maintenance.

With the Walk Bridge rebuild slowly gearing up,It's high time to evict HRRC off the Maybrook line and get it into at least class 2 track condition
to allow P&W and MN to run there as needed and give Amtrak a possible emergency detour route.
  by Jeff Smith
NJTMNRRBUFF I clarified that I meant "pedestrian" overhead. I'm in no way recommending a full station or any track reconfiguration, just platforms on the interior of the wye. The non-wye side you could get a decent length platform, 6 cars I think, maybe even 8. But the wye side, you're only looking at maybe a 4-cars or less platform on the main line I think, and shuttle only on the wye.

There's really no place to put a regular station with parking on the north/wye side, not really (95 is hard on the south side), and in the one lot I'm looking at, you'd need another ped overpass: Google Sat image of wye. Ironically, you can still see the temp platform in that image as of today.

I also think it's a huge waste to be running three car mini's with either BL's or P32's on the line. They need two car DMU's, and let the freight run at night, or use the DMU's (Stadler?) FRA approved. Sh!t, I'd run it all the way over to Plainville? Bristol? where it could pick up the hated busway.

Heartily agree with Backshophoss. Did not know they were still running SLE deadhead sets from New Haven, though. And I forgot to mention the E Bridgeport moves. A waste and huge inconvenience. On the need to solve the Maybrook issue: I don't think it's a great detour by any stretch but as seen with Maybrook west of Danbury, it's a necessary equipment bridge. And if it gets the TILCON train off WALK, the main line, and a busier Danbury branch, it should be done. And the PW Stone train to LI as well. I fear the cost would be huge, though.
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