NH2060 wrote: ↑Thu May 20, 2021 4:17 pmUsing a pool of locomotives (with spares) and coaches provides for more operational flexibility across the Danbury, Waterbury, SLE, and Hartford lines. Using whatever remaining RDCs are left (and they're OLD to boot) or newer DMU technology is more limiting given the nature of the commuter rail operations in CT. The current fleet of BL20GH, GP40-3H, and P40s can haul up to 5 cars at a time (with 4 cars having been the norm until the pandemic set in and consists were cut back down to 3 cars) which provides adequate capacity and flexibility that fixed consist DMUs can't provide; if one part of the consist goes wrong, the whole train needs to be taken out of service.
There just aren't enough RDCs left to make them practical for much of anything, even though they are virtually indestructible, so new DMU services would need to get modern DMUs.
Loco-hauled diesel push-pull has a very, very narrow niche where it makes sense on lines with limits to frequency that go into a major city station. Examples of these services are Port Jervis (which probably should be electrified at Suffern and use dual-modes) and the Old Colony/Greenbush lines.
The GP-40s are long beyond their time to be retired from passenger service, the P40s could probably run some regional/mid-distance services somewhere, but both are horribly ill suited to commuter operations in Connecticut where they guzzle fuel and make a racket, with the P40s unable to get out of their way when accelerating.
SLE in it's own right doesn't merit electrification, but it should be fully electrified, only because the infrastructure is there anyway. There is no excuse for diesel under the wire except where a significant portion of the route is not electrified.
I don't know if Hartford warrants electrification, I go back and forth on that. If not, a pooled Hartford/Valley Flyer/Shuttle/Waterbury set of DMUs between CDOT and Amtrak would be a perfect solution.
And single unit DMUs must be inspected at the same rate as locomotives while at the same time they don't become economically feasible above a certain number of cars per train. The Boston & Maine was the exception to the norm on that score, but they also decided to replace and equip just about all of their passenger trains in the 1950s and 1960s with RDCs so their fleet (of about 120 IIRC) was
For services requiring 4 or fewer single level cars, DMUs are clearly the winner in fuel consumption, noise, cost, acceleration, basically everything. Services requiring 6+ single level cars generally should be electrified, with that very, very narrow niche in the middle of lines with limits to frequency, which should be served by locomotives like the HSP-46 or SC-44 that are purpose built for fast acceleration and low emissions.
What MAY prove viable down the road are Battery EMUs. If they can be easily charged en route at stations and at terminating points (either via a 3rd rail (if CT repeals its ban on 3rd rails) or overhead wire that may be a better alternative if they can form a large enough single fleet instead of locomotives and coaches. But that is decades down the road, if ever. The LIRR is currently testing a prototype using 2 of their M-7 cars and ConnDOT intends to purchase 20 Siemens Chargers to replace the 4 dual modes (and presumably the GP40-3Hs) and to augment the existing CTrail pooled fleet so diesels will continue to be used in the near and forseeable future.
There's no clear evidence that BEMUs are going to make any sense. DMUs already are widely used and widely proven effective worldwide, HMUs look very promising in Germany, although they remain unproven, BEMUs might work somewhere, but they don't, on the surface, appear to make a whole lot of sense. I could see a battery switcher that's captive in a terminal with a few miles of trackage, but for heavy rail passenger, they seem unlikely to be successful. The energy density and weight balance just doesn't really add up at this point. Unfortunately, American railroads like the LIRR are already using BEMUs as an excuse not to just electrify routes like they should be, which uses proven, reliable, efficient technology that's been around in one form or another for well over 100 years.
3rd rail makes no sense in a new heavy rail service, it should be expanded on LIRR because it works with the rest of their system (most of which has to be rebuilt anyway), but otherwise, it's incredibly expensive compared to overhead wire, where the world and industry seems to have settled on 25kV overhead wires for all new passenger installations and conversions in the last 2+ decades including Amtrak, NJT, Denver, and Cal Train.
Unfortunately, LIRR and MN missed the boat on electrification and now they've put themselves into a corner of their own making with these dual-mode kludges. More poor planning, and they will end up spending almost as much on dual-modes as they would have on just electrifying to Poughkeepsie, Danbury, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, and Patchogue. CT shouldn't be buying into this mess, if we want decent Danbury service, we should put the wire back up to Danbury and use some of the that huge M-8 fleet or future loco-hauled trains for Penn Access to get up there. Third-rail dual-modes were a kludge invented by the New Haven to provide through service and save money in an era where diesel was cheap, and no one cared about emissions, and they wanted to provide through services to GCT beyond the reaches of electrification. The physics dictates that they will never work well. Overhead wire-diesel dual-modes can be an OK compromise between electric and diesel as evidenced by the ALP-45DPs, but for GCT and LIRR operations, the proper solution is full electrification. Locomotives similar to the ALP-45DPs might have some use for Amtrak to open up potential new routes that connect with the NEC.
At least with the new dual-modes, the railroads appear to be all pooling together on one locomotive design, effectively buying the wrong thing the right way. There needs to be standard designs for this stuff, as every railroad re-inventing the wheel is nuts and drives costs up even more. There basically already are standard bi-level and gallery designs, which don't work in the Northeast. For the Northeast, we need a standardized single-level coach design, a standardized DMU design that can fit over the third rail, a standardized diesel locomotive design for those few places they make sense, a standardized EMU design that could either be equipped with third rail, third rail/60hz, 25hz/60hz, or 60hz if such a design is technically feasible, a standardized electric locomotive design, and possibly a standardized multi-level design for NJT/LIRR clearance, and one for MBTA/MARC clearance if there are actually applications where those are necessary.
But to get back to Waterbury, there is no justification for electrifying it, it doesn't need 6+ car trains, so the only solution that makes sense is DMUs (or maybe HMUs if they work out).