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grenavitar

Amtrak and Metro North on the NEC

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So, I was reading http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic.pdf -- the 2004-2008 Strategic plan summary and always saw the New Rochelle / New Haven section blacked out with Amtrak doing no improvements on it.

 

I am curious how the relationship works and if Metro North does improvements to this area in coordination with Amtrak to improve Acela service. There are still 11 grade crossings all in the Metro North zone. How does this affect NEC service and what do you think.

 

(Also, does Amtrak have a plan for 2009 / 2012 out yet?)

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So, I was reading http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic.pdf -- the 2004-2008 Strategic plan summary and always saw the New Rochelle / New Haven section blacked out with Amtrak doing no improvements on it.

 

I am curious how the relationship works and if Metro North does improvements to this area in coordination with Amtrak to improve Acela service. There are still 11 grade crossings all in the Metro North zone. How does this affect NEC service and what do you think.

 

(Also, does Amtrak have a plan for 2009 / 2012 out yet?)

 

Metro-North, as a NYS authority owns trackage right for the New Haven Line right up to the border on NYS and Connecticut. From there on, Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) owns trackage rights out to the Rhode Island border, I believe. Metro-North has signed a long-term contract with CDOT to use their tracks, and technically CDOT can run another commuter railroad if they so choose once the current contract expires, but that will most likely never happen as long as Metro-North is around.

 

On the New Haven Mainline, catenary wire replacement has been underway for several years now, and some of the older wooden ties have been replaced with concrete ones. While Metro-North maintains this infrastructure, CDOT certainly pays a chunk of the bill.

 

While an aging catenary system (some parts are a century old) and grade crossings tend to slow service some, the real problem with the NEC lies within a line already operating at peak capacity for its signalling system (which is being updated), the numerous station stops and most notably, the excessive curves which call for speed restrictions due to a tight radius. Moreover, mainline New Haven has four tracks in most sections and they are spaced closely together. Because the Acelas "lean" when taking curves in order to maintain high speeds, and trains already run with their sides as close as ten inches apart in certain sections, the concept of leaning with current track set-up is not feasible. To remedy this problem entirely, new tracks would have to be installed, and the line is nearly 60 miles from New Haven-State Street to the Harlem Line junction. That doesn't even include further eastern trackage.

 

In short, the trains will be a little faster between NYC and New Haven at some point. Just don't expect the Acelas to reach their maximum-rated speeds.

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Amtrak owns the ROW from New Haven eastward.

 

Does Amtrak own the line up to Springfield through Hartford? I've heard rumors that Amtrak owes MTA and CDOT a big bill for track usage, and CDOT was considering some sort of trade so that service could be provided on that line. Any truth to any of this?

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While an aging catenary system (some parts are a century old) and grade crossings tend to slow service some, the real problem with the NEC lies within a line already operating at peak capacity for its signalling system (which is being updated), the numerous station stops and most notably, the excessive curves which call for speed restrictions due to a tight radius. Moreover, mainline New Haven has four tracks in most sections and they are spaced closely together. Because the Acelas "lean" when taking curves in order to maintain high speeds, and trains already run with their sides as close as ten inches apart in certain sections, the concept of leaning with current track set-up is not feasible. To remedy this problem entirely, new tracks would have to be installed, and the line is nearly 60 miles from New Haven-State Street to the Harlem Line junction. That doesn't even include further eastern trackage.

 

Wow, so that would be incredibly expensive even if the ROW is wide enough... and if it isn't then even more expensive (if even possible). Especially with smoothing out curves which I know is a problem with the California HSR plans on the peninsula. Thank you very much for the information. :)

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Wow, so that would be incredibly expensive even if the ROW is wide enough... and if it isn't then even more expensive (if even possible). Especially with smoothing out curves which I know is a problem with the California HSR plans on the peninsula. Thank you very much for the information. :)

 

As far as the existing ROW being wide enough for such provisions, I'm not entirely sure. I tend to think not, as in most places, the local tracks (3 & 4) sit at the edge of the ROW. A few MNR engineers that I know have said that if adding a fifth track was possible, they'd rather see that than the tracks being wider. MNR trains yield to Amtrak trains, and with Amtrak almost always running behind schedule, this often delays MNR runs as well.

 

Acquiring additional space for the ROW is all but impossible. The New Haven line runs through downtown business districts, over drawbridges, elevated structures and through back yards and woods. Local, state and federal land would have to be purchased, and with much of the line cutting through Fairfield County, legal wrangles would persist for far too long and more money than is available would have to be spent. In short: it's simply not worth it.

 

Track alterations, tie replacements, and signal and catenary upgrades are being made. In the future, the NEC may be able to maintain higher speeds with the same level of safety. Right now, it just isn't possible.

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Hopefully those improvements on the entire upper NEC from CP216 to New haven and from there to BOS to allow for 300km/h speeds (186 mph), that's how the trains ought to be running, and it may include tie replacement and grade crossing eliminations

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i think that new haven line needs upgrading badly in some areas it look like the tracks are way too close.

 

and i would like Acela to tilt when the trains are going thru those curves and maybe with that it will be faster and destingations can be shorter length.

 

problem is that its alot of money but this wasn't a problem back then when Railway Companies buit these Rail lines and such why is it a problem today?

 

if the USA built Railways then they built Highways and such why is it a problem to build Railways though?

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There are still 11 grade crossings all in the Metro North zone.QUOTE]

 

There are no grade crossings on the Metro North New Haven Line...

 

Mainline no, branches yes. Not a nitpick, just for railfans who may seek grade crossings. ;)

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Does Amtrak own the line up to Springfield through Hartford? I've heard rumors that Amtrak owes MTA and CDOT a big bill for track usage, and CDOT was considering some sort of trade so that service could be provided on that line. Any truth to any of this?

 

Yes, Amtrak also owns from New Haven to Springfield. I've heard ConnDOT owes MTA rumors but not of Amtrak being in arrears to anyone rumors. Not saying you're wrong, but can't confirm either.

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Mainline no, branches yes. Not a nitpick, just for railfans who may seek grade crossings. :)

 

On the branches, yes that is true. The orginal post though was speaking of routes used by Amtrak on the NEC, which does not include any of the branches...

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On the branches, yes that is true. The orginal post though was speaking of routes used by Amtrak on the NEC, which does not include any of the branches...

 

Point taken but I didn't a rookie to think there were no grade crossings at all. I agree there are none on the main line.

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Hopefully those improvements on the entire upper NEC from CP216 to New haven and from there to BOS to allow for 300km/h speeds (186 mph), that's how the trains ought to be running, and it may include tie replacement and grade crossing eliminations

 

186mph would be too much considering that there are no bypass tracks in each station and that having two pantographs running would cause excessive oscillations that can destroy the catenary. The NJ section of the NEC is actually cleared for 160-175mph, but the suspended catenary is too weak, signal systems need to be upgraded, and freight trains have to run during the day instead of the night.

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186mph would be too much considering that there are no bypass tracks in each station and that having two pantographs running would cause excessive oscillations that can destroy the catenary. The NJ section of the NEC is actually cleared for 160-175mph, but the suspended catenary is too weak, signal systems need to be upgraded, and freight trains have to run during the day instead of the night.

 

The very few amount of freight ops on the NEC still taking place are on short stretches north of the "speedway" where track speeds are reduced because of curves and close clearances, so it doesn't really have an impact on pax ops. Most of the freight comes up the old reading line through west trenton and across the :rvl:, or they use the C&A trackage farther south coming across the delair bridge in pennsauken nj.

 

As far as the overhead lines, they are fine on the shore line to boston, but on the PRR part, aside from a short segment near princeton jct it needs to be refitted with constant tension, not just the cat poles, but the bridges & other fixed point locations & yards as well.

 

The real issue up that way is track centerline spacing, if we get them a more spacious loading gauge, even by 2 feet, the acela could be allowed to tilt & other rail tech such as pendalino etc could come into play. I would not be opposed to talgo sets, but since they are low platform only, i don't think it would work out.

 

Then there is the curve at elizabeth NJ... There is a new building owned by UCCC adjacent to the ROW, but i don't believe it is close enough to make straightening the curve even more an improbability, it would just take money to modify the embankment and add an elevated structure to move the tracks closer to the building. There is space on the west side to modify the embankment to the south as well up to about rahway ave.

 

I believe the curved area crossing i287 near edison/metropark stations could be straightened out a bit as well, only being limited by the freight trackage there, if this trackage was made pax only you could do 85-90 on that curve vs i think it's 65-70 now.

 

- A

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