What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

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What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby one87th » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:25 pm

While reading some old issues of Railfan magazine, I came across an article that mentions an early USRA plan for Conrail included plans for a through freight line between Allentown and Selkirk Yard (Albany) which was to utilize the Lehigh & Hudson River and a rehabilitation of the Penn Central's (NYC's) Walkill Valley Branch between Kingston and Campbell Hall, with a new connection built to the L&HR. There is also mention of a proposal to rehabilitate the Poughkeepsie Bridge and resume service from Maybrook/Campbell Hall to southern New England via Danbury.

Obviously, this never came to fruition, but my question is why? The article mentions the granting of trackage rights to the D&H from Binghamton to Allentown via Wilkes-Barre, which would have duplicated the proposed L&HR+NYC route, but was this the reason it never came to be? Or were there other reasons, like the labor problems that kept the Chessie from absorbing parts of the EL? Was there not enough traffic to warrant the route? Or did it simply come down to money that needed to be spent on other parts of the fledgling new system?
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Re: What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:10 am

The Walkill Valley had rather light rail and at least one bridge which would have needed very heavy repair or replacement in order to regularly use this line for through freight traffic. In 1976 there were other routes from the south to the north which were far more efficient, in better shape for heavy traffic and probably more direct as well. I am not sure but the Walkill might have had clearance issues as well. I don't think the Rosendale Bridge could handle six motor diesels either. One more issue, it would not have been a direct move at Maybrook either because the Walkill came in to Campbell Hall (over the Erie Lackawanna) while the Lehigh and Hudson River came directly in to Maybrook. What might have looked good to planners did not look so good to railroaders.
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Re: What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby GulfRail » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:58 am

It certainly would've been interesting to see the Maybrook gateway restored. For one thing, you'd get a Hagerstown-Boston route via Allentown and Maybrook. The existence of this line could've made Conrail decide to retain the former NYNH&H from New Haven to Springfield so that New England bound traffic from Hagerstown could connect to the B&A at Springfield, or perhaps the New Haven's Maybrook-New Haven-Boston line would've been more important to Conrail.

BTW, here's a map of Conrail depicting the L&HR+NYC route:
http://crcyc.railfan.net/refs/news/conr ... 08-map.gif
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Re: What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:26 pm

GulfRail wrote:It certainly would've been interesting to see the Maybrook gateway restored. For one thing, you'd get a Hagerstown-Boston route via Allentown and Maybrook. The existence of this line could've made Conrail decide to retain the former NYNH&H from New Haven to Springfield so that New England bound traffic from Hagerstown could connect to the B&A at Springfield, or perhaps the New Haven's Maybrook-New Haven-Boston line would've been more important to Conrail.

BTW, here's a map of Conrail depicting the L&HR+NYC route:
http://crcyc.railfan.net/refs/news/conr ... 08-map.gif


Would Of, Could Of, maybe interesting but it would not have been the least bit important to Conrail. It would have been an excessive route and the presence of more railroad than was really needed was one of the things that brought Conrail on the scene in the first place. There were two very practical main line routes in to New England from the south and west in 1976 and both of these routes remain in 2012. The other routes of the past were not needed by 1976 and they cetainally are not needed today in any form.
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Re: What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby GulfRail » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:16 pm

True, Conrail's purpose was to rationalize the east, not to preserve every single railroad line that there was.
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Re: What happened to derail the proposed L&HR+NYC route?

Postby Engineer Spike » Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:06 pm

I agree with Noel that it was not needed. It could have provided a route north, which bypassed NJ terminals. One needs to consider the costs of rehabilitation of the NYC to Kingston, vs. the amount of through traffic. If it was small, then the cars would have to be classified in NJ anyway, and go up the River Line.

CR would have likely not solicited north-south traffic because the max $$$$$$ came from linehauls to Chicago and St. Louis. The linehaul is much shorter to MD, or Pot, in VA.

The talk about rebuilding Poughkeepsie Bridge is analogous to the discussion in the New England forum about rebuilding the MEC Mountain Div. NEVER would have happened! My friends and family who worked on the New Haven talked about the strenuous restrictions it had. By the 1970s, plate c cars were in vogue. Could the bridge have been economically been strengthened? Those same big modern cars had to fit under the wires in Devon. Would they have fit? I'm sure the new plate f wouldn't. The only alternative then would be the Highland. This route is pie in the sky.

The River to Selkirk, then B&A, or D&H-B&M were the only REAL choices.
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