Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby JamesRR » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:55 am

Defiant wrote:
Yes but only for NJ residents is the timely NYC access is a source of their livelihood. I guess for NY as well but NYC has such an excellent access to talented people that it can probably replace all or most NJ residents employed in Manhattan by either NYC residents or residents of NYS suburbs. But that would still generate a lot of disruption so NYS should contribute to Gateway for their own benefit.


I hardly think NJ residents employed in NYC can be that easily replaced. You've vastly underestimated the employment dynamics between the two states. (Not even getting into Philadelphia/PA and NJ).
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby JamesRR » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:57 am

EuroStar wrote:I am not even sure what the argument here is for. ARC had about $3B from the Feds, about $3B from the Port Authority and the rest was to be taken care of by NJ including any cost overruns. Cristie, as a car guy, had never commuted to the city, but had been gotten stuck many times at "the Merge". He did not want to increase the gas tax as that would stop all his presidential ambitions dead in their tracks and as a result had no money to fix "the Merge" or the Pulaski Skyway. The solution he found was to use NJ's money designed for the ARC to fix "the Merge", the "NJ's half" of the Port Authority money for the Pulaski and "to hell" with the $3B from the Feds. His thinking was "who cares about giving up the Fed money?" at a time when rejecting Fed money for rail projects was in vogue (think Florida and Wisconsin). Using "NJ's half" of the Port Authority money for the Pulaski was borderline illegal as the Pulaski is not an approach to the Holland Tunnel, but Obama's SEC did not seem interested enough in pursuing that, probably for political reasons, so the Port Authority got away with a fine and a scolding. I believe that Obama's administration made behind the scenes effort to change Cristie's mind, going as far as promising to find ways to cover half of the overruns, but Cristie did not budge as that would have left him with the problem of how to fund "the Merge" elimination and the Pulaski. At that point the Feds recognized that they would never get sincere cooperation from the Cristie administration in NJ, so they turned the other way and for several years in a row rejected NJ requests for money for the Portal Bridge and other rail projects. Once Sandy's effects on the Hudson Tunnels became apparent with the multiple commuting disasters during several summers, the Cristie administration mellowed its opposition to rail. That allowed the awarding of a small TIGER grant during the last Obama year for preliminary work on the Portal Bridge. Since then though, the Feds represented by the Trump Administration have turned really adverse to passenger rail and as a result NJ has gotten zilch. In the meanwhile Cristie had no other choice, but to raise the gas tax and was replaced by a more rail friendly governor. This is just the history of it. Plain and simple.

Now as to project management. You will be surprised how little that matters. The real issue is always at the top, and in any public construction project, the top is a public official. If it is an elected public official who is clearly responsible you can get results as long as that official is interested in the project. Just look at how Cuomo made the Tappan Zee bridge, and the LIRR third track and Metro-North's Penn Access (jury is still out on that) move after many years of stagnation. In NJ Cristie had personal interest in getting to the beach or elsewhere, so "the Merge" elimination happened. He had no interest in any rail project, so nothing happened (indeed so much time was wasted that NJ will lose some of its Sandy recovery money). Projects like the Gateway tunnels are so much worse due to the fact that there is not one elected official or even one organization responsible for it, so there is nobody whose name or reputation is at stake. The Feds are blaming the states. In turn NY and NJ are blaming the Feds and Amtrak. And there is no end in sight.



Thorough and insightful response - but do check your history. Christie was against the widening NJ Turnpike project - and said so much publicly. He saw it through but declared he never would have approved it had he been governor.

These discussions are very healthy but you have to watch fact vs. fiction.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby EuroStar » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:29 am

JamesRR wrote:Thorough and insightful response - but do check your history. Christie was against the widening NJ Turnpike project - and said so much publicly. He saw it through but declared he never would have approved it had he been governor.
These discussions are very healthy but you have to watch fact vs. fiction.


Christie was a politician. As with any politician, ignore what he says, look at what he did. A politician will tell you whatever you want to hear and Christie did that all the time. He could have cancelled the NJTurnpike project and redirected the money to the ARC. But the did not! He could have taken the Port Authority money and redirected them to PATH. But he did not! Instead he sent the Port Authority money to the Pulaski. Chirstie favoured roads to the point where he drove NJT into the ground with no increases in NJT's budget deferring capital spending on everything from maintenance to PTC (and NJT and the state are paying for those decision now). It does not matter what Christie said. It matters what he did. Man is evaluated based on his deeds, not his words.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:14 pm

Is this true?

What ought to seal the deal is the fact that weekend trains are already squeezed into a schedule for a single tube, allowing the other tube to be closed from Friday night though Monday morning for non-stop repairs. But Amtrak only rarely uses this precious time. We know, because we got ahold of actual tunnel usage and work schedules, discovering Amtrak wastes 93% of these available 55-hour long weekend periods.


https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny- ... story.html
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby JamesRR » Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:04 pm

Have no idea...the Post's journalism can be sketchy at best. I also believe Amtrak considered the method now being planned for the Canarsie Tubes but deemed it not appropriate for the job at hand.

I think the capacity argument is not right - I believe the plan is to open two new tunnels, and close one for complete rebuilding. Leaving 3 in service.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:22 pm

As it is MTA is NOT convinced the" Cuomo's bright idea" will work for the "L" train tunnels under the East River.
Amtrak has to rebuild the entire North(Hudson) River tube from the iron shell,remember Both Tubes were totally flooded ,all
the cabling and power lines need to be replaced,NOT salvaged !
All the concrete is shot and flaking apart in the tubes.
Don't believe "Cuomo's bright idea" will work for the North (Hudson)River tubes. :(

Both the NY Daily News and the NY Post "fishwraps" try to out do each other content and editorial wise! :P
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby east point » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:31 pm

Thee "L" train tunnel rebuilding as we read it will cause there to only be an evacuation ramp on one side of each bore. IMHO that is unacceptable. What happens if a 12 car NJT train with average of 150 per car catches fire in the North river bore on the side that the walkway is situated? Cannot imagine 1800 NJT passengers trying to evacuate at front or rear of train on one side.

Remember the new standard for tunnel bores require a cross passageway to the other bore every 800 feet. The new Gateway tunnel bores will have that provision. Even so the rebuilding of the old tunnel bores will not have that level of safety. We agree that Cuomo's proposal is not good safety in mind.

EDIT: Does the "L" bores have a cross connection(s)?. Know the North river tunnels do not.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:43 am

Believe the "L" East River tunnels Don't have cross connections, Built ages before that requirement.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby jamesinclair » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:29 am

Folks, my specific takeaway is this line:

"actual tunnel usage and work schedules, discovering Amtrak wastes 93% of these available 55-hour long weekend periods."

If this is true, it is outrageous. NJT customers have had to endure 5+ years of horrendous weekend schedules due to single tracking. If 93% of that time was wasted, Amtrak should not control the tunnels.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:59 am

I'd LOVE to see their analysis of how they arrive at that number.

My guess is... it's not true and in a large part based on faulty assumptions and bad data.

I haven't done a major railway tunnel update, but I've done a lot of server and data center upgrades that have required 24/7 uptime.

We sometimes would schedule outages down to the minute.

For example, if we had to move a server from rack A to rack B.
The actual "moving the server" might take 5 minutes.

But, the outage might be 90 minutes.
Why?
Items like:
Get full, clean backup
Ensure that space is clear of any items others may have left behind
Ensure existing servers can handle the traffic
Make sure NOC team is in place and briefed
Give adequate time for old server to power down
Disconnect server
ACTUALLY MOVE THE SERVER, including unscrewing old screws, moving, screwing in new screws
Connect cables
Give adequate time to power back up
Since we're in an outage, perform an update on the server
Make another backup
Have NOC perform testing
etc.

Oh and in there, at every step there's a contingency plan of "if this step goes wrong, how do we get back to a running state".

Note the actual MOVE took only 1-5 minutes, but everything else, even when the server was 'up and running' took a lot more time.

So my guess is their "wastes 93% of the time" is based on not understanding the whole process.
For example, it wouldn't surprise me if one of the final steps is, "walk the tunnel from end to end to make sure no tools were left behind" (or perhaps use a motorized cart). The specific method/detail isn't important, but the point is, it's quite possible there's close-out steps that are critical to safety that might take 1-2 hours out of that 55 hours. There's 5% of your time right there!
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:13 am

Echoing Mr. Moore:

If Amtrak had a specific department with full authority to shut down the wire whenever they need, working with a single contractor who was working full-time on this project and no other, with prompt approvals by USCG, Army Corps of Engineers and NYFD, and having exceptional project management and an ironclad, well-staged plan with zero delays, they would still only be physically constructing a tunnel on-site maybe 15% of the time from inked contract to tunnel acceptance. And that is a huge stretch for a project this complex. Having 7% active work time to apply bandaids on nights & weekends isn’t that bad, considering.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby rr503 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:06 am

Have we ever had a serious discussion about what could be done during a 24/7 single tunnel closure? Amtrak's 75% capacity cut figure seems to come from the assumption that they operate one train in and one out, which is a ridiculous way of doing it. Fleeting trains (say 45 mins inbound and 15 outbound during AM rush) would get you, what, 16-18tph in the peak direction? I'd think such a capacity cut is absorbable, between PATH, ferries, a new XBL, etc. Just seems wrong that we're considering massive new investment w/o evaluating reform-based methods.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby SRich » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:18 pm

Then the trains should leave quick behind each other. That is unreal. And for every change of direction(east bound ore west bound) the entire tunnel must be empty. So 16-18 trains in each direction is unrealistic.

The new tunnels are needed.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:45 pm

Alternate EB/WB operation on a 3-minute headway allows 8 trains max in the 25 minutes available before the tunnel has to be emptied (as noted above) for the opposite direction. Running more trains east in the am rush correspondingly reduces the westbound slots available, and the results of an en route equipment failure with only one tunnel available don't bear thinking about.
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Re: Amtrak Gateway Tunnels

Postby rr503 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:08 pm

Current throughput is 24tph, which is a train every 2.5 mins. Giving a (possibly overly) generous 10 minutes of buffer time between fleets, and dedicating 35 of the remaining 50 mins to peak direction traffic while the other gets 15 gives you 14 tph of peak capacity. That's a cut of 10 peak direction tph. This sort of fleeting is done every weekend, and is a common single tracking technique elsewhere.

What to do about the lost capacity, though?

Currently, no NEC/NJCL trains serve Hoboken whereas a good percentage of their traffic is Hoboken-bound. Building out the other half of the Watefront Connection would probably allow you to sap 5-6tph from those lines' combined PSNY throughput, meaning you're left with 5tph. A combination of Hoboken reroutes (coupled with more PATH service and lower NJT fares), Amtrak short turns, and peak service spreading (ie more trains earlier and later) would be able to preserve capacity. You could also throw in a second XBL, as remember, the current XBL carries more people than the train tunnels.

I, too, think that we need new tunnels. But to advocate for them as an immediate, inflexible need (thus allowing you to bypass some very, very necessary cost and operations reform) is bad for the region.
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