Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby J.D. Lang » Sun May 28, 2017 10:00 am

Was the connector to the B&A at Castleton always one-way? Or was there a wye at one time?

They would need to use the Post Road to get from the B&A to Albany, then run around the train at Renssalaer to head down the Hudson to get to NYC. Totally impractical.
J.D. Lang wrote:
needs to get on with the Danbury New Milford extension.
What in the world is the holdup with that anyway?

Other than study after study the state needs to buy the trackage from the Housatonic RR.. Housatonic owns what's left of the Maybrook in CT. and the Berkshire line from Berkshire Jct. to Boardmans Bridge just north of New Milford. They may need to cough up some big money to buy up all of that trackage which is in terrible shape.

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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun May 28, 2017 10:03 am

scoostraw wrote:
J.D. Lang wrote:needs to get on with the Danbury New Milford extension.

What in the world is the holdup with that anyway?


Cost blowout. Nothing the CT Dept. of Studies About Studies studies ever turns up a non-crooked number on capital costs, so CDOT's still at the square-one of figuring out how to improve baseline Danbury Branch frequencies as a prerequisite for doing anything else. This fiscal year's state budget crisis doesn't have much to do with it as the (latest...hardly the first) Danbury Improvements study has been languishing for 10+ years figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun May 28, 2017 10:34 am

J.D. Lang wrote:They would need to use the Post Road to get from the B&A to Albany, then run around the train at Renssalaer to head down the Hudson to get to NYC. Totally impractical.


This route would be running with a cab car since Pittsfield doesn't have a turning wye. Same as the Burlington-extended EAE will for handling its Rutland reverse. Operationally it's no different from what the EAE will be doing in another 15 months; time for the ends change would be baked into the ALB station dwell. NYSDOT/VTrans are already on the hook for some cab cars in the PRIAA single-level order for the EAE + fleet padding for the second VT route on the lower Western Corridor via Mechanicville. Depending on how NYSDOT wants to plot ops on the Empire and any intrastate short-turns therein they may opt to order a bunch of cabs of their own just for future flex. For the at-most 1-2 round-trip pokes to Pittsfield this study would be looking at the fleet needs are covered within the main PRIAA procurement and the ops logistics chuck up nothing unorthodox.

Feasibility of running the train isn't really a question, because it folds pretty neatly within service range and patterns that are within ALB hub's norm. It's all about whether the ridership is there, and how well they can leverage Pittsfield Intermodal's connecting services to give this thing a hook. It's a totally legit inquiry to frame some metrics around a mission statement and crunch the numbers, because at minimum the "No-Build" alternative could find some exploits for more intercity bus patronage at Pittsfield Intermodal if an ALB poke of the train is a bridge too far. It won't be wasted energy to quantify the numbers formally and categorize the options from smallest-scale (minor bus improvements) to medium-scale (major bus improvements) to medium-large scale (train poke + minor connecting bus improvements), to large-scale (train poke + major connecting & intercity bus improvements).


My only suspicion is that the study's entire existence is based on wasting energy: wash hands of Gov. Patrick's Housy folly by throwing some data at the wall around self-defeating and poorly-conceptualized metrics that don't even scale down to useful no-build options...then throw it in a file cabinet for 20 years. Even the studies worth studying on empirical merits are useless if their intent is little more than deflection.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby scoostraw » Sun May 28, 2017 11:46 am

Running push-pull, the train could operate via Castleton. Of course this would bypass Rensselaer.

The real shame is that the Harlem was ripped up. That would solve almost all of these problems.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun May 28, 2017 7:32 pm

I just don't every see any regularly scheduled passenger train service anytime soon along the Housy, especially north of New Milford. The track would have to be improved and the route isn't direct. Not counting Pittsfield, while your access to other passenger rail routes is tough, it doesn't mean that they aren't available, assuming that you are able to drive a bit. Many people who live in Western Massachusetts, in general, will drive to Wassaic. While the service isn't the most convenient, I have to say that, for a passenger rail line that ends in the middle of nowhere, it's ok. Two hourly headways throughout the most of the day and during rush hours, you have a few through trains. Even on weekends, you have a direct train that runs in each direction-on Saturdays, catering for those who want to spend a day in the city. On Sundays, the direct train out of Wassaic is designed for those people who are heading to the city in the evening, especially those who are finishing spending a weekend in the countryside. The majority of people who use Wassaic, though, probably live south of the Mass Pike in towns like Great Barrington and of course in NW Connecticut.
As far as Amtrak goes, if you live in like Lee or Pittsfield, then you are going to drive to ALB. When you travel from Lee to Rensselaer, it's an easy ride on 90 especially since you don't have to take too many business highways. If you are staying in Great Barrington or anywhere west of there, then it's better to drive to Hudson.
Unlike driving to either Rensselaer or Hudson for Amtrak, driving to Wassaic involves having to take backroads, depending on which town you are in. Missing one train at Wassaic could cause you to not just wait a long time for the next. If you go hungry or want to grab a bite to eat near the station, you have to travel a little. I don't think the MTA will ever go beyond Wassaic. 82 miles is far enough for a commuter train route and I don't think there are any daily commuters from Wassaic to Grand Central. The same thing goes with ALB or Hudson to NYP.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby Greg Moore » Mon May 29, 2017 10:22 am

I'll freely admit I've been an advocate of passenger on the Housy, but I think there's a very specific, limited market.
1-2 trains... a week. Friday night up, Sunday night (or early Monday) back down. There's enough of a weekender market and more and more young families are looking for the "one car, one partner stays home, the other goes to work". So being able to pickup/drop off spouse closer to home is a plus.

The only reason for a 2nd train would a Saturday round trip to catch a show, etc.

But daily... not for decades. More than 1 a day, even on weekends, can't see it.

Otherwise, I think Wassaic, or even extending to Millerton is it. (though here's a radical though, extend to Millerton and relay the CNE to North Canaan. Now there's a far out idea :-)
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed May 31, 2017 11:27 am

scoostraw wrote:
J.D. Lang wrote:needs to get on with the Danbury New Milford extension.

What in the world is the holdup with that anyway?

Housatonic RR. They own the tracks from Danbury to New Milford-- took ownership when they bought the Maybrook from Conrail back in the early '90s.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study

Postby scoostraw » Wed May 31, 2017 12:15 pm

So is there ill will between the Housy and CT? I'm not really up on the back-story on this end of the line.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed May 31, 2017 12:46 pm

A couple of things here; first off i agree with the poster who lamented the loss of the Harlem. The one place where the New Haven competed for passenger business was Pittsfield - New York and the distance was about the same as was the running time and this was back in the 1940's, I don't think the running time would be much different today. I think the Harlem would actually be a better route between Pittsfield and New York although it would not serve the intermediate stations in the Berkshires. They would not have to deal with the Housatonic and that would be a huge plus. Not only was the distance and running time about the same but the Central ran better equipment between Pittsifeld and New York than the New Haven did with most trains having reclining seat coaches and daily meal car service whether it be a diner/lounge or something similiar it was available. At least at present I still think a bus between Wassaic and Great Barrington/Pittsfield could do OK at a lot less cost. Chatham provided good ridership for the Central at one time and I suspect the potential is still there, they ought to take advantage of this potential.
Having said all that, will it ever happen? I doubt it, once a line is torn up for a long time as this has been, it will be extremely difficult to restore it.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Wed May 31, 2017 3:35 pm

Housy holding it hostage as that's the only stretch of the Berkshire that they own.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed May 31, 2017 3:47 pm

Reminder; we're talking service over the Empire line. Over the Housy is a dead issue.

Feel free to discuss Chatham, as a thought exercise if you like, since that's even less likely than Housy. Hey, we could always run it over the Beacon Secondary/Maybrook and connect to the Harlem at Dykemans! :wink: :P It would even be pointing in the right direction! (please don't take this comment seriously!)

Please note topic retitle. If you want to discuss New Milford or other Housy matters:

Jeff Smith wrote:It looks like the Housatonic part of this is dead, so I'm creating a separate topic. The general Housatonic thread where this was previously discussed is here:

Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfield)

...

So it looks like the state is giving up on the Housy because CtDOT is not interested.


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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed May 31, 2017 3:58 pm

Or maybe even the CNE/NYNE? Okay, now I'm just being silly....

As for the Chatham possibility, it may be a 'rail trail', but I don't believe the property was ever land-banked. Even if it's publicly owned, that makes it 99.99% impossible to reactivate because it's purpose as a rail line would NOT have been preserved. Which means, outside of having a fairly intact ROW, you'd have to basically start from scratch, studies, EIS, yada yada. The only thing going for it is a fairly intact ROW, and the lack of density of population that might NIMBY it. Which sort of argues against it.

And does the trail actually go beyond Millerton? I don't see it on Google Maps.

When MNRR looked at restoring what was left of the line (to Millerton), which they owned (upon Conrail abandonment) they stopped at Wassaic (actually above Wassaic but before Amenia, to allow for a yard that wasn't in a town center) because they figured Millerton would not go for it.

It would be interesting to know how Penn Central disposed of the ROW north of Millerton.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby scoostraw » Wed May 31, 2017 5:07 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:As for the Chatham possibility, it may be a 'rail trail', but I don't believe the property was ever land-banked. Even if it's publicly owned, that makes it 99.99% impossible to reactivate because it's purpose as a rail line would NOT have been preserved. Which means, outside of having a fairly intact ROW, you'd have to basically start from scratch, studies, EIS, yada yada. The only thing going for it is a fairly intact ROW, and the lack of density of population that might NIMBY it. Which sort of argues against it.

And does the trail actually go beyond Millerton? I don't see it on Google Maps.


The land ownership above Millerton is a mixed bag. Beyond Millerton I'm pretty sure bikers have to travel on roads for a lot of the way.

IMO the Harlem should have been rail-banked like CT did with the Berk. It was beyond stupid to tear it up.

Jeff Smith wrote:When MNRR looked at restoring what was left of the line (to Millerton), which they owned (upon Conrail abandonment) they stopped at Wassaic (actually above Wassaic but before Amenia, to allow for a yard that wasn't in a town center) because they figured Millerton would not go for it.


I'm pretty sure this is incorrect. When MNRR did the extension, the wheels were well into motion for the part above Wassaic to be a trail, and the railroad did not want to get into a battle. In fact I believe there was even some sort of land "swap" made with the trail folks to get the yard trackage above Wassaic. I have read that MNRR really did want to go as far as possible, which ended up being Wassaic.

Jeff Smith wrote:It would be interesting to know how Penn Central disposed of the ROW north of Millerton.


I'm pretty sure it was sold to one entity, who proceeded to sell off pieces of it - which is how it got broken up.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:56 am

scoostraw wrote:
Jeff Smith wrote:When MNRR looked at restoring what was left of the line (to Millerton), which they owned (upon Conrail abandonment) they stopped at Wassaic (actually above Wassaic but before Amenia, to allow for a yard that wasn't in a town center) because they figured Millerton would not go for it.


I'm pretty sure this is incorrect. When MNRR did the extension, the wheels were well into motion for the part above Wassaic to be a trail, and the railroad did not want to get into a battle. In fact I believe there was even some sort of land "swap" made with the trail folks to get the yard trackage above Wassaic. I have read that MNRR really did want to go as far as possible, which ended up being Wassaic.

Worth noting that Dover Plains - Wassaic still had rails. Think the line was technically o/o/s but it had never actually been abandoned. North of Wassaic was a different story; Conrail pulled the rails shortly after the last train ran.
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Re: Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

Postby scoostraw » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:52 am

Excerpt from a 2012 interview with then Metro North President Howard Permut:

When the Harlem Line extension was being planned, was Millerton ever on the table, or was the main focus always Wassaic?

Again, I was involved with that because I was head of planning then. We focused, and our goal was to get as far north as we could while implementing the project. We wanted to go far north for two reasons, we needed a location for a railyard, we didn’t have sufficient room in Southeast, and we wanted as far north so we could attract as many customers as possible. The best site to do that was Wassaic. If I remember correctly, the rail trail was already in existence to Millerton, so we would have had a huge obstacle. How do you de-map a rail trail? There would have been significant opposition. I believe there was opposition in Millerton itself for train service.

The question became to us, we think if you want to get this done, we think we can make it to Wassaic and get that implemented. If we try to go further north, which would have been in an ideal world nice, we believe we would have had nothing. And so this was a case of getting 80%, and getting it done. And once we got through all the environmental reviews we were able to build the line, and I guess it has been running for ten, almost fifteen years now.


Link to the entire interview: http://www.*/2012/ ... -railroad/
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