Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Jul 18, 2016 7:32 pm

As far as the loop goes at SEC, you will be passing the upper level, over the loop at reduced speeds and stopping at the lower level, and this would be a reason not to build it. It would probably take almost as much time to either keep the current layout for switching from upstairs to downstairs and vice versa as opposed to operating over the loop. NJT might also want to look into building escalators and steps directly from the NEC platforms to the Main & Bergen County, Pascack Valley, and Pt. Jervis Line ones. Remember this about rail ridership in North Jersey-it is not as strong as the bus.
About express service on the Pt. Jervis Line, it would be nice for there to be more of them as that travel time is very long on a local through NJ. Having a third track through Passaic and Clifton might not be a bad idea. Of course, it would also be good to have it go to where the Hackensack River Bridge is, and add a second track over the bridge on the Main Line. The triple track between Ridgewood Junction and WC interlocking probably has overtakes during the week but sadly, it would be nice to see that third track extended all the way to Suffern which will probably not happen anytime soon. Again, many people who live in North Jersey, even in Bergen County take the bus to the city. This is not the Northeast Corridor.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:07 pm

If the money is available, a new Lyndhurst station (closing Kingsland) could be made wide enough for 3 tracks. The Delawanna station would also need to be widened for a 3rd track to be added. I believe a new Lyndhurst station was/is considered, but I've never heard anything about adding a 3rd track on the main line. The running times on both lines for an express train are comparable, and since the Main Line is the easier one to add a 3rd track to, it should get it. As was mentioned earlier, extending the 3rd track past Waldwick Yard to reduce congestion with trains entering the yard would not cost much, and would reduce some scheduling headaches.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby EuroStar » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:40 am

trainbrain wrote:One of the Waldwick issues looks pretty simple to fix, by extending the 3rd track past the yard, almost to Allendale. That allows express trains, and through trains to Suffern to pass terminating local trains. However, it doesn't solve the problem of the trains going into service at Waldwick blocking all 3 tracks. I don't think building a flyover would be cost effective, but it would definitely solve all the issues.

I cannot see them extending to Allendale only. If it ever happens it will be three tracks up to Suffern. Technically the issue is that you cannot just end the track, you need a full interlocking where that happens and moving the existing one just a couple of miles north seems like a lot of cost for little benefit. The big problem is the money. Who will pay? Why would NJ pay for a track used to run Metro-North expresses? Why would Metro-North invest in out of state project? The latter has happened(Metro-North chiped in some money for Secaucus Junction Station), and could happen again, but NIMBYs from NJ will see it as a NY project and get NJ politicos to kill it, or at the very least make it much more expensive than necessary. The way to avoid blocking all tracks at Waldwick is to build a pocket track in between the running tracks (it is four track right of way) -- take a look at what LIRR is doing at Massapequa. I do not see that as likely though. It is more likely that if ridership grows enough they will just give up on the short turns at Waldwick and run everything up to Suffern.
trainbrain wrote:Personally, the Secaucus transfer doesn't bother me as much as spending an additional half hour slogging through 15 local stops. Say I, or anyone for that matter wants to go into the city outside of rush hour. Do I change my travel times to take a fast train that runs when it isn't convenient for me, drive in and deal with the traffic and parking headaches, or take a train that runs at a convenient time, but gives me a scenic tour of suburban NJ, when I just want to get to NYC.

I do agree that an express is about 30 minutes faster than a full local through NJ. That is a big difference, but I still fail to see how the off-peak trains can get enough ridership to justify running express. Losing the transfer, which turns many people off because they have to get up from their seats and get on a likely crowded NEC train is the only way I see that ridership can be bumped enough (both peak and off-peak) to justify the off-peak trains becoming express.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby EuroStar » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:47 am

trainbrain wrote:If the money is available, a new Lyndhurst station (closing Kingsland) could be made wide enough for 3 tracks. The Delawanna station would also need to be widened for a 3rd track to be added. I believe a new Lyndhurst station was/is considered, but I've never heard anything about adding a 3rd track on the main line. The running times on both lines for an express train are comparable, and since the Main Line is the easier one to add a 3rd track to, it should get it. As was mentioned earlier, extending the 3rd track past Waldwick Yard to reduce congestion with trains entering the yard would not cost much, and would reduce some scheduling headaches.

The design for Lyndhurst is two tracks without space for another track in the middle. You will not see any portion of the Main line tripple tracked ever in my opinion. Who would pay and why? NJTransit does not really need to express trains over that line(the big ridership is at Radburn and Glen Rock, not Hawthorne and Paterson) and Metro-North will find it even harder to fund something so remotely beneficial to it. And don't forget NJ is broke.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Tue Jul 19, 2016 5:26 pm

Looking at Google Earth, Ramsey Route 17 appears to be wide enough to add a 3rd track without demolishing anything. Allendale, Ramsey Main Street, and Mahwah are not, and would need to be rebuilt. I agree that having a 3rd track from Ridgewood to Suffern is better than having in on the Main Line where I mentioned earlier. I thought it wasn't practical because Ramsey Route 17 wasn't wide enough, but it looks like it actually might be. The way to keep the NIMBY's from blocking it is to advertise that having the extra track, and also the station renovations would be beneficial to riders coming from them.

The Waldwick short turns are absolutely necessary because there is more ridership east of it than west, and it would make no sense to run everything empty to Suffern.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby SecaucusJunction » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:07 pm

There is zero chance of the Main Line east of Ridgewood getting any more track. A few years ago, part of that line was single track through Paterson. The only hope would be to go 3 tracks to Suffern. The platforms along the line need replacement anyway and only one side would have to go. We can be sure that NJT isn't going to pay for it. MTA would have to foot just about all the costs. They would probably want exclusive use of the track.

There is plenty of ridership west of Waldwick. Suffern and the Ramsey stations are some of the busiest on the route. And for many years, the bus was really the only way to get to NYC. Service, especially off peak and on weekends, was very sporadic and all trips required going out of the way through Hoboken. For the decade after Secaucus opened, the Main and Bergen Lines had the highest percentage yearly increases of any line. The numbers between 15 years ago and now are not even comparable.
I think it may be possible that NJ Transit might not be the perfect, infallible organization that most people assume it is.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:03 am

The Allendale and Mahwah stations definitely need to be updated. Ramsey Main Street, while pretty much up to date, would have to be widened to add a 3rd track, and the likely scenario would be to put a track where the westbound platform is, and the westbound platform would become the express track, with the new track becoming the new outbound local track. Ramsey Route 17 looks to have been built with the space to add a 3rd track, so no station modifications needed there. The westbound track would need to be moved to the middle and become the express track, and the new track would replace it as the new westbound local track.

One potential issue would be that most eastbound express trains stop at Ramsey Route 17, and couldn't use the new express track, while 51, 53, 55, 59, and 65 do not stop there. 42 and 50 are the only eastbound Port Jervis trains that do not stop there. I imagine the extra track would allow for some additional semi express runs that could serve Route 17, so that the Port Jervis express trains wouldn't need to make stops there. Also, with 3 tracks there, any mid day freight trains could use it and not have to worry about competing with passenger trains, since mid day passenger service could easily use only the local tracks.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby EuroStar » Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:37 am

Yes, Ramsey Rt 17, was built with the allowance of a third track in the middle. If you look carefully enough you can see that all undergarde bridges on the line have extra space on both sides where the old local tracks used to be. The platforms at Ramsey Main, Allendale and Mahwah were poured where those tracks used to be, so one of them will need to be lifted and replaced by new tracks and the platform set back from there.

NJ pays something for the luxury of the express trains stopping at Ramsey Rt 17(except the one that only receives passengers). I do not know how much, but they do.

While Metro-North will end up paying for the third track eventually, I do not see them getting exclusive use of it. That is a sure way to cripple rail operations. Most likely they will get priority during normal operations, but when trains break down on the local tracks or when there is maintenance on the local tracks, they won't have the middle one exclusively for Metro-North. I do not see any of the stations getting a Ridgewood style center platform.

You certainly hit it on the nail. Metro-North will need to pay for the track. That implies relocating platforms at three stations, which triggers ADA compliance requirements unless they can get away with this being a clearance route for NS and thus only mini-high platforms. Metro-North has no benefit from the high platforms at these stations, so NJ needs to pay for them. Metro-North will probably pay for the Siffern High platforms. The high platforms with a couple of more expresses *might* be enough to get the NIMBYs to relent, bit that is uncertain. More noise separation walls in the style of Ramsey Rt 17 and Wesmont might be needed. This just shows you that the budget stars need to align in both states in order for this project to get going (and this is the one that has a chance of eventually being done as opposed to more tracks on the Main line). Before this ever happens, Metro-North will need to exhaust the improvements they can make west of Suffern and NJ will need to find a way to not use its capital money on operations, so that they can fund the high level platforms. NJTransit has been trying to cobble together the money for Lyndhurst for over 9 years now, but each year it has been a victim of having to move the money to operations.

The only thing that could get this moving faster is more ridership, but at current rates we are probably 40 years away from doubling. I believe we are quite far from pre-Irene ridership levels still. A lot of people switched to buses or to the Hudson line and never came back. The far suburbs have also lost a lot of their appeal since the crisis.

As an aside into the earlier comment about the extra time spent by the locals in NJ, if NJ converted all stations to high level platforms you could probably save 3-5 minutes on the full run between Secaucus and Suffern. That is not much, but is a low hanging fruit given ADA requirements.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Wed Jul 20, 2016 5:46 pm

Any third track in NJ would most likely be owned by NJT. Again, I wouldn't count on it happening anytime soon.

Short Line runs a better service, especially along the Pt Jervis line. Of course, they provide a one seat ride to and from NYC. For those people who live along 84, especially around Cornwall-many of them drive across the Hudson to Beacon and then train down from there.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:23 pm

I use Tuxedo station the most, and an express stopping at all NY stops plus Route 17 takes about 45 minutes to reach Secaucus, while a local takes 1:10. 25 minute difference. I have to drive 20-25 minutes to get to Tuxedo, and if I take the express train, it is faster than driving to the same destination if going to midtown or lower Manhattan. The local is almost never faster than driving, except during rush hours when all the trains are express anyways. I don't depend on the line every day to get to work, but I think it's a convenient, straight forward way to get to NYC if I wish to spend a day there. No traffic tie ups or parking headaches, just get on the train and be there an hour later. That being said, I typically plan my day so that I am taking express trains.

The Port Jervis Line is well ridden during rush hours, shown by the fact that they use two 7 car trains, and run every half hour. I don't really think there needs to be any additional peak hour trains added for a while. Adding cars to the existing trains should work for now. Mid days and weekends are where there is room to grow. As was mentioned earlier, when the portion of the line east of Suffern got more frequent mid day and weekend service, ridership increased greatly. They've already taken steps to improve this by adding the additional afternoon train. Previously, there was a 3+ hour gap between old 49 (now 47) and 51 (last train before peak hours), which has been filled in, and I'm sure ridership has increased as a result.

I don't get all the fuss about the transfers to reach NYC. Like you can't just make the train magically appear wherever you want it. The current setup gives people easy access to many different areas in Manhattan, rather than just one. Are Americans really that lazy that they refuse to ride a train (or any public transportation for that matter) if they have to make one simple transfer? If that's the case, that isn't something NJT or MNCR could really solve.

Some improvements that would be of minimal cost (relatively speaking) could be to have 47 and 66 run all the way to Port Jervis (eliminating a 6 hour gap between 45 and 51) and having the set from 49 carry passengers instead of running empty back to Hoboken (would be useful for those going to spend an evening in the city).

After those improvements, the next ones could be to make some of the local trains go express in NJ. 62 and 67 would be the most important trains to do this with. There have been a few occasions when I have changed plans so I could take 58 instead of 62 because it's express. 67 would be more attractive to those spending an evening in the city if it were express than local as it is now. If NJ Transit adds trains to make 62 and 67 express, 45 and 68 would also get to become express because of the opposite run of that equipment.

If additional sidings are added, I could see adding a reverse peak train, which could return as an additional late evening express (leaving Hoboken 11-11:30pm). That timing would be perfect to those attending nighttime sporting events, Broadway shows, etc. However, this requires additional infrastructure, and would be much more expensive than the two improvements I listed earlier.

With regard to ridership, it's sort of a chicken and the egg kind of thing. If service is slow and infrequent, fewer people will ride the trains, but if there is low ridership, there's less incentive to improve service.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby EuroStar » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:18 am

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Any third track in NJ would most likely be owned by NJT. Again, I wouldn't count on it happening anytime soon.

I agree not any time soon, maybe in 25-30 years -- I will be retired by then and will not be commuting to the city. You are right, NJT will probably own the track, but the likely setup is the one used by the Hartford Line in Connecticut where Amtrak is the owner of the line, but CDOT and the feds are paying for the second track installation which Amtrak will maintain afterwards in exchange for access fees from the state. Here, NJT will own and maintain, but MN (and if they are lucky, the feds too) will need to pay for construction and then access to it.


njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Short Line runs a better service, especially along the Pt Jervis line. Of course, they provide a one seat ride to and from NYC. For those people who live along 84, especially around Cornwall-many of them drive across the Hudson to Beacon and then train down from there.

I agree, but that is exactly why direct service to NYC matters. Leaving the buses aside, the distance from Salisbury Mills-Cornwall is 55.5 miles from Hoboken and the expresses get you to NYC in 90 minutes give or take a couple of minutes including the change in Secaucus. The Hudson Line takes you from Beacon which is 59 miles away from GCT gets you there in 80 minutes on the super expresses (90 minutes on the regular expresses). Driving across the river and paying the toll and parking is probably worth the 10 minute difference. That should make the two options about equal for most people who live on the west side of the river. If people still prefer to use the Hudson line then the next three variables are the Secaucus transfer, the level of service and the location of the destination relative to Penn and GCT. I cannot untangle which matters how much. Given that nothing could be done to move Penn next to GCT and that the current level of service is about as good as it could ever be for regular commuters (not for Broadway show night visitors) the only way to attract significantly more ridership is the one seat ride to New York. Too bad NJ cannot get their ducks in row and I will not be commuting by the time that one seat ride becomes available if ever.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:01 pm

I don't remember where I read this, but approximately 1/3rd of riders on the Port Jervis line go to PSNY via Secaucus. The rest go to Hoboken. That means most do not want to get to Penn Station, so sending all the trains there would be a bad idea. What about people with jobs in Lower Manhattan or the NJ side? It's easier to go to Hoboken and take the PATH than to PSNY and take the subway. What if you don't work in NYC, but on the NJ side? Hoboken gets you where you need to go, while if you got sent in and out of NYC, you'd probably give up the train.

I think adding that yard would be a pre-requisite to having trains go into both terminals, and 1/3rd of peak hour trains should go to PSNY and the rest to Hoboken. Problem is that outside of rush hour, you don't have enough trains running to efficiently serve both terminals, so the trains all have to go to one. Problem is that if you abandon Hoboken to provide a one seat ride to NYC, you alienate everyone not going to Midtown.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby SecaucusJunction » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:20 pm

The new yard design and extra track west of Suffern is on MTA"s budget from 2016 to 2019. It should be progressing sooner rather than later. I'm sure they will attempt to schedule so they can keep only 2 tracks west of WC.

The issue with the PJ line is not so much the transfer to NYP, and yes, the line lends itself to people who either work in Midtown or Lower Manhattan, but with the service itself. Outside of rush hour, the service is still no where near what it is on the Hudson Line. Anyone who wants to go to Manhattan in the evening will be arriving very early. Anyone who is not out of Manhattan by 7:30pm is on the slow local up the Main Line and that service is far from hourly. If service was more frequent and mostly express, the ridership would increase dramatically. Weekend service is no picnic either. Only 2 eastbound express trains and 4 westbound express with very limited frequency.

No need to extend service to Port Jervis on the Middletown trains. Ridership is much less past that point.

The line has very good potential and MTA seems to be actually putting more money into it than current ridership requires, so we should probably give them credit. Hopefully with increased service, the ridership will really get going.
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby trainbrain » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:45 pm

I read somewhere else on this site that one night someone got off a train at Ramsey Route 17 and saw Town Cars dropping people off at the station. He said that it looked as if these executives preferred to spend hundreds of dollars to get back home than to take the local train. Having more evening express service would definitely help. I'd think that having 67 run half an hour earlier than it does now, and run express, plus adding another express train leaving at 11-11:30 would do the trick. The train used for the express train at 11-11:30 would come to Hoboken as a reverse peak run, which should be possible once double track is added where they plan to.

They already improved midday service by adding train 49, renumbering old 49 as 47 and running it earlier to close the 3+ hour gap between old 49 and 51. Running 45 and 62 express would help things there, and if the new yard is added, there could be some additional runs that go semi express in NJ and only go out as far as Harriman or Salisbury Mills (wherever the double track ends).
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Re: Scheduling question for Port Jervis Line

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:11 pm

The average Joe isn't going to commute daily 95 miles each way from Pt. Jervis to NYP. You might get passengers who commute a few times a week. The daily commuting patterns probably start at Middletown-Town of Walkill Station but that is still quite a distance away. However, I could see the stations east of there and certainly parallel to the Thruway. The one station that draws a lot of daily ridership is Harriman. It has a very large parking lot and it's close proximity to highways such as 87, 17, and 6 is a plus. For a commuter rail line that goes far into the sticks, I have to say that the express service is good during the rush hour heading east in the morning and west at night. No reverse peak train on the Pt Jervis line, and you are waiting until after 9:25 or even the 10:45 hour if you want to head to the city in the evening. That I don't like but when the second track is built, hopefully they can add at least one reverse peak train going as far as at least Salisbury Mills-Cornwall or even Middletown-Town of Walkill.

The weekend service has gotten better since the opening of SEC, but it's not as good as the Hudson Line and will probably not get the same level of service. For example between trains # 76, 78, 80, and 82, where are at least three hour gaps. It wouldn't even be so bad to make 74 an express, connecting to a Main Line local. Heading westbound on the weekend between trains # 79, 81, and 69, there are three hour gaps.
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