RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:51 am

Say the NEC blows up somewhere in New Jersey where one of these theoretical Trenton-Stamford thru trains runs. Why on earth should passengers between New York and Stamford have to suffer because of something that happened in NJT territory? Now that train is an hour late, and this railroad conglomerate needs to scramble to find an extra train and crew to run an on-time NYP-Stamford section. There goes your alleged efficiency. SEPTA thru-runs on the ex-Pennsy and Reading lines and it's less than ideal - and that's on a small scale.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby EuroStar » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:46 am

The football train does not tell you much given that by design it had two deadhead moves and ran only a few times a year.

The idea that one can run every train through Penn providing RER type service is also bogus, due to demand, differences in power supplies, differences in consists, etc. Also SEPTA is not exactly world class agency setting example in operations.

What can be done and what is probably reasonable to do is to have a few through runs per day between NJT and the New Haven line once Metro-North Penn Access happens. Something along the lines of one train an hour (or every two hours, if you so desire). What that gets you is removing a few extra yard moves through the tunnels, removing the need to store a few set during the day, allows you to test the through-Penn demand, and to generally evaluate whether the whole idea is worth it. Doing this will not unclog the tunnels making space for many more trains or make the yards obsolete, but will provide certain flexibility by reducing the yard moves through the tunnels and avoiding the need for a few extra yard tracks to store trainsets during the day. And NJT and Metro-North have established relationship, so it is not as if we are inventing the wheel here. The state of maintenance of NJT equipment is certainly a concern, but if you through run only one train every hour, for every set that gets overly delayed in NJ, you could probably find another one sitting in the Penn yards during the day anyway, so with proper planning you would be OK on the New Haven segment delays and cancellations.

If that works reasonably OK, several decades from now a similar arrangement can be cooked up between LIRR and Metro-North for some through running between the Hudson Line and the Main Line, but the payoffs there seem more remote at the current time. The RPA's idea that you could through run everything is non-sense, but some limited through running could be OK and open up commuter markets that today do not exist simply because even driving between points on the NJT Northeast corridor and the New Haven Line is impossible to do in reasonable time for a commuter.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby Ridgefielder » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:52 am

It's not just the political subdivisions that would prevent a Tri-State RER or S-bahn from working. The geography of the New York area is uniquely challenging.

London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna-- they all sit inland, on flat or slightly rolling ground. The rivers that run through the city centers are either navigable only by shallow-draft vessels, or, as in the case of London, the city sits at the head of navigation for ocean-going ships.

New York City, on the other hand, is built across a series of islands that lie where a major river, navigable for ocean-going ships for ~150 miles farther inland, meets no less than three deep-water arms of the sea (the Kill van Kull, the Narrows, and the East River.) As you head inland the countryside gets rugged quickly. On the New York side of the Hudson, the hills are 200' high by the time you reach the north end of Manhattan, while the New Jersey side is lined by 400+ foot tall cliffs for ~15 miles. The Ramapo Mountains and the Hudson Highlands rise up to >1,500 feet within 20 miles of midtown.

It's just not as easy to build a unified system here as it is in rolling farmland of the Ile de France or the flat sandy soil of Brandenburg.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby johndmuller » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:43 pm

How about using the dreaded Port Authority (Gasp!) to hire Amtrak to run a frequent service or two linking Newark Airport with Laguardia and a separate one with JFK, each via Penn station run-thru's. Do the tracks work out for that in NJ, or do some additional track connections need to be made before it would work? In NY and in NJ, the route would connect with existing (or in-the-works at LGA) airport shuttle train lines at existing railroad stations.

The Authority exists, works for NY & NJ and already runs trains even. Amtrak obviously exists and presumably has the necessary trackage rights. We know politicians love airport connectors, even if they are impractical; must be a slam dunk idea.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:10 am

johndmuller wrote:How about using the dreaded Port Authority (Gasp!) to hire Amtrak to run a frequent service or two linking Newark Airport with Laguardia and a separate one with JFK, each via Penn station run-thru's. Do the tracks work out for that in NJ, or do some additional track connections need to be made before it would work? In NY and in NJ, the route would connect with existing (or in-the-works at LGA) airport shuttle train lines at existing railroad stations.

The Authority exists, works for NY & NJ and already runs trains even. Amtrak obviously exists and presumably has the necessary trackage rights. We know politicians love airport connectors, even if they are impractical; must be a slam dunk idea.

Amtrak doesn't, so far as I know, have rights on the LIRR east of Harold.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby 35dtmrs92 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:59 pm

The problems that keep getting brought up are significant, but they are solvable and/or nonfatal to run-through. I get that it is tough to picture the three New York transit agencies working well, but with the right political pressure, they can be fixed. The bottleneck at the Hudson can be lessened; that is the point of Gateway. SEPTA has imbalances, but proposals exist to correct those imbalances; few are suggesting scrapping through-running in Philly because of the issues. On the same note, I am sure that disruptions temporarily disrupt through-running all the time on lines that have it. No one is seriously considering re-segmenting, for example, the RER A, because of occasional truncation of service. I find it hard to believe that they don't have contingency plans for those sorts of eventualities. The existence of multiple agencies is also nonfatal; see the Parisian RER or the Tokyo suburban lines. Rolling stock power supplies and FRA crashworthiness are also solvable with the right federal leadership. A New York RER won't be easy to implement, but few worthwhile things are. New York has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of inaction and lack of imagination. It is time to end that.
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Re: RPA: Merge NJT, LIRR, and MNRR Into One Unified System

Postby MACTRAXX » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:13 pm

Everyone:

The RPA suggestion for a unified tri-state commuter rail operation is an interesting one-BUT:

1-Running unified lines (Example: Ronkonkoma to Trenton would be about 110 miles one way)
could possibly work - many interlinked routes would be in triple digit miles and would be subject
to any number and type of intermediate problems. I noted comparison with the unified SEPTA
Regional Rail system - the longest runs are currently Doylestown to Thorndale-about 70 miles.

2-Until the Gateway Tunnels are built to replace and allow rebuilding of the 108 year old current
tunnels and a new replacement Portal Bridge is built a unification plan will not be feasible now.
The current infrastructure is in too precarious condition as it is let alone having to rely on it not
failing until alternate badly needed replacements go into service.

3-With three states - and numerous bureaucracies to work with - it likely will not be worthwhile
to attempt to create a giant commuter rail conglomerate that would be the result of merging all
of the current operations into one. Will the price tag of $71.4 billion be worth it in the long run?

4-I agree with Ridgefielder describing the geography of the region and how tough it would be to
attempt something of this magnitude - it could work but as the doubters note larger is likely to
not be better especially if problems arise and create a divisive "us vs. them" mentality. It is bad
enough that politics - especially in a system of this type - could be more trouble then it is worth.

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