Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

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Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby MaRoFu » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:15 pm

If an incident happens that affects all tracks on the NEC, it can cause service disruptions on the line and inconvenience commuters.

To avoid this, alternative routes to the NEC should be made. Here are two examples I know of in NJ:

- Raritan Valley Line and West Trenton Line to Philadelphia
- North Jersey Coast Line, Amboy Secondary, and Freehold Secondary via Jamesburg Junction

Unfortunately the latter is unlikely to become real due to potential NIMBYism but the tracks are already there on the West Trenton Line. To execute this the line may need catenary and extra tracks but all trains except for Acela can run Diesel I think. As a matter of fact, it may already be possible right now. Passengers can be bused to West Trenton from Trenton for free. That way, Amtrak trains can still operate to Philadelphia if an incident occurs that shuts down the NEC. What are your thoughts on this?
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby east point » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:38 pm

A shutdown of the regular NEC between Newark Penn and PHL would have to be what at least 4 weeks. There is not much in that section that would cause that long of an outage. Even the 188 derailment at Frankford did not shut it down that long. The route you propose would not be able to carry even part of the traffic due to being much single track. Now it has been proposed that NJT electrify and double track the line from Newark to west Trenton to provide service. Unlikely as CSX would probably want 3 or 4 tracks even if NJT was not in the dire financial straights that it is. Now maybe in 15 years if another Governor like Christie does not get in office ?
Last edited by east point on Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:41 pm

I've always supported the B&O/RDG main line as a alternate route between Washington and New York. There were once through trains on this corridor.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:35 pm

Won’t get many trains/hour on the ex-Reading as mentioned. I would like to see NJT invest in it, but it can’t be a priority right now.

The Camden & Amboy is permanently severed unfortunately, I think it should have been a prime freight route (I feel like there should have been a bridge over the Delaware just south of Trenton, the track arrangement just looks like PRR considered it) and a minor passenger route to this day.

What emergency would take out the entire NEC for more than a few days? Are we talking about the Raritan Viaduct collapsing or something?
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby MaRoFu » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:00 am

mtuandrew wrote:What emergency would take out the entire NEC for more than a few days? Are we talking about the Raritan Viaduct collapsing or something?


Maybe a major weather event, but it is unlikely. Still helps to be prepared in case something happens though. If I recall the West Trenton Line is already connected at Bound Brook so Amtrak would operate trains but with some cancellations to free up space.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby electricron » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:49 am

MaRoFu wrote:If an incident happens that affects all tracks on the NEC, it can cause service disruptions on the line and inconvenience commuters.

To avoid this, alternative routes to the NEC should be made.What are your thoughts on this?

Why limit this discussion to just New York City and Philadelphia? Shoulldn't Amtrak worry about finding alternate routes along its' entire network?

Engineers and conductors must learn like the back of their hand every corridor they work on - that's already a difficult task, asking them to learn and stay qualified on twice as much may be asking too much.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby east point » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:57 pm

The PHL - WASH route might just be more vulnerable, Unfortunately CSX predecessors reduced the number of tracks on that route . Did most of the route once have 4 tracks ?. Most surely CSX would demand restoring those 4 tracks ? CSX has pressured MARC to add tracks Baltimore - WASH. That seems a stretch as MARC needs more tracks on Amtrak NEC Perryville - BAL - WASH eventually 4 tracks all the way. CSX tracks might become a necessity for the NEC if a major weather or other event damaged or destroyed one of the 3 draw bridges BAL - WASH. Bridge replacements not cheap or speedy. A run away barge can do a lot of damage .
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:58 pm

east point wrote:The PHL - WASH route might just be more vulnerable, Unfortunately CSX predecessors reduced the number of tracks on that route.
Going back to a historical context, how much through NY-WAS traffic did B&O have? The PRR main line (NEC) was electrified and high speed (and preferred by travelers), but how much service was on B&O?

In addition, the "inland route" provides redundancy for NEC. Some of the cities along it are also regional anchor cities.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby STrRedWolf » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:02 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:
east point wrote:The PHL - WASH route might just be more vulnerable, Unfortunately CSX predecessors reduced the number of tracks on that route.
Going back to a historical context, how much through NY-WAS traffic did B&O have? The PRR main line (NEC) was electrified and high speed (and preferred by travelers), but how much service was on B&O?

In addition, the "inland route" provides redundancy for NEC. Some of the cities along it are also regional anchor cities.


So bringing things back into the spirit, where would CSX hook back into the NEC? Lets trace it down, from Washington going up. Most of these require reverse runs (push/pull operation?)

  • CSX JD interlocking through Bladensburg, MD to the CSX Anacostia yard, then back on the NEC south of New Carrolton.
  • Bayview. CSX Bayview to NS Bayview via Kresson and then out to the NEC.
  • Perryville, MD. Requires a reverse run if going northbound CSX to NEC, but NEC to CSX is perfect. NEC PERRY to NS spur to CSX.
  • Philadelphia, PA. CSX EASTWICK to CSX 60th JUNCTION SOUTH to SEPTA 60th to Amtrak PHIL.
  • Philadelphia, PA again, CSX 58th street to CSX ARSENAL to Amtrak ZOO.
  • Philadelphia, PA again, and our friend the Frankford Junction Yard.

And I think that ends it there. I know there's a few more CSX lines that can get close but you'll be connection up at Selkirk, NY. Anything else will need to get built.

The only other thing I have to warn though is north of Baltimore's Camden Yards, it's basically single track line with numerous tunnels. Putting even three tracks up there is going to be hideously expensive. You're better off four-tracking WAS-NYP and having access on both sides of the rail for emergency crews.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby Arlington » Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:32 pm

In Boston, the Fairmont line should be at the top of the list for Electrification and would permit an alternate route from RTE to BOS if there's ever trouble in the SW Corridor trench or at BBY (it would not serve BBY)

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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby TomNelligan » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:58 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:Going back to a historical context, how much through NY-WAS traffic did B&O have? The PRR main line (NEC) was electrified and high speed (and preferred by travelers), but how much service was on B&O?


The B&O/RDG/CNJ route between Washington and Jersey City, known as the Royal Blue Line, was highly competitive with the PRR from the completion of both as through routes in the late 19th century up until 1910, with both roads running five-hour DC-Jersey City service. But in 1910 the PRR opened Penn Station, giving it direct access to Manhattan while B&O passengers still had to complete or begin their trip on a Hudson River ferry. (Later there was also a bus alternative via the Holland Tunnel.) The completion of New York-Washington electrification in 1935 further sped up the Pennsy service. The PRR then got most of the corridor business, and what sustained the Royal Blue Line until its discontinuance in 1957 was mostly long-distance patronage bound west on B&O through trains. B&O Washington-Jersey City service in later years was just four or five trains a day in contrast to the PRR's hourly runs to/from Penn Station, although the B&O trains had a reputation for excellent service right up to the end.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:20 pm

Minor point: the B&O buses rode the ferry directly to the rail terminal and continued on between tracks 1 and 4 on a paved driveway where tracks 2 and 3 used to be, delivering passengers and baggage directly to the train platform. The buses were then turned on a turntable at the outer end of the platforms and awaited the next train arrival. As to the excellent service right to the end, the PRR put out an all-points bulletin to employees when the B&O discontinued service east of Philadelphia in 1958, pointing out that the PRR would be gaining new passengers who were accustomed to excellent service and urging all concerned to try to achieve that standard -- I would say a historic tribute from one railroad to a competitor.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby MaRoFu » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:25 pm

So as of a few days ago some fire occurred near the NEC in Philadelphia and 12 Amtrak trains got cancelled, including a train that my friend was supposed to take but she had to stay overnight in Philadelphia instead. More trains may have been cancelled. This only further raises the question of whether or not Amtrak should use the West Trenton as an alternative route along the NEC so that maybe less trains would've been cancelled.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:06 pm

Nice to have, but impossible to justify the expense of electrification all the way from Newark plus adding tracks the whole distance -- subject to the highly problematic cooperation of CSX -- together with the difficulty of maintaining qualifications noted above by Electricron, unless (long-term) future developments make it worthwhile to install such improvements for regular service.
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Re: Potential NEC alternative routes between NWK and PHL?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:25 pm

Detours, I doubt it very much. I can't imagine CSX or NS for that matter either allowing passenger trains to interfere with their profitable and important freight opeerations and that is exactly what will happen if they open up their railroads to Amtrak and other passenger operations.
I was lucky enough to ride B & O between Jersey City and Washington before the operation bit the dust in April, 1958. The B & O did such a good job in this operation that there was almost no opposition to its demise. People were understanding. I remember the comfortable coaches, smooth ride, good food and especially friendly people all connected with this operation. Nothing will ever equal it for good service.
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