Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

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Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:44 pm

It seems to me as though after the Penn Station-to-NJ tunnels, significantly speeding up trip times on the New Haven Line should be the #1 passenger rail priority in the US:

1. The New Haven Line is the most heavily used passenger rail line in the Americas.
2. The New Haven Line is relatively slow: nearly 2 hours for the 75 miles between Grand Central and New Haven, even accounting for no stops between 125th Street and Stamford.
3. The New Haven Line is the slowest stretch of track for the Acela, and the slow speeds significantly add to the Acela's overall trip time and significantly reduce its competitiveness.
4. The Connecticut coast is highly affluent and highly populated, and improving train service should further significantly enhance real estate values; I would expect that the area's affluent citizens could have their voice heard pretty easily.
5. New CT Rail trains starting from New Haven could easily connect with quick trips from Grand Central, opening up new parts of Connecticut to commuting.

So why isn't fixing the New Haven Line's slow speeds a huge priority for governments with cash to spend on passenger rail?

It seems absolutely ridiculous for a 75-mile rail line, which is the most heavily used passenger rail line in the Americas, to take nearly 2 hours for end-to-end trains. There should be express trains that do Grand Central-Stamford-New Haven in one hour.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:50 pm

Governments with cash to spend on passenger rail? Please name two. :wink:
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:31 pm

Since CDOT started allowing Metro North to make every single stop on the schedule between STM and NHV, the travel times have been just over two hours. I don't know what the ridership is of stations such as Rowayton, Greens Farms, and Southport. I think the two hour times between NHV and GCT are a bit long, even when the train runs express from 125th St to STM. It would be nice if travel time was taken off of the schedule for trains on the New Haven Line. One section of the New Haven to start with the speed increases would be between W Haven and just to the east or Bridgeport as it is straight on that stretch with the exception of a few curves. It would be nice to have the speeds increased some more east of Mamaroneck to the Miamus River bridge. Don't count on any hour running time on trains between GCT and New Haven. For that to happen, the New Haven Line would probably have to have a new right of way built in many areas.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:28 pm

did you know that if speeds were upgraded to 100 mph (hell with cost) the time upgrade would be less than 6 min for a train with no stops ? the line was NEVER higher than 70 in New Haven days. and with traffic levels as they are will never be higher than 75 in reality ? specially with many restrictions like bridges ??
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:35 pm

If the line were consistently rated for 100 mph operation, then Grand Central to New Haven would be one hour, which would include crawling through the Park Avenue tunnel and stopping at Stamford.

I think that the cost is worth paying.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:45 pm

the experts and persons with purse strings do disagree.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:56 pm

Bear in mind that traffic on 95 in Connecticut, especially the stretch that parallels the New Haven Line, has plenty of stop and go traffic, even during the cooler months. I'd much rather be riding a New Haven Line train that takes 2 hours to go to New Haven, rather than having to drive to New Haven(if I had my license).

Unlike traveling from New Haven to Midtown Manhattan, if you travel on a local NJT train from NYP to Dover, it is just over an hour and a half-way too long to be sitting on a train to go 46-47 miles(railroad miles).

Back to the New Haven Line, it's not unusual for trains to arrive at their endpoints ahead of schedule.

The bridges on the New Haven Line also hinder the trains to slow down. The original New Haven wasn't meant to be a high speed line.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby twropr » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:52 pm

A big problem with the New Haven is that it is plagued with curves. The curve west of Bridgeport (I believe it's called Jenkins Curve) at 30 MPH is the most severe restriction on the entire Northeast Corridor, and there are 45 MPH curves at Portchester, South Norwalk and east of Bridgeport.
An issue that it not talked about often is that after Penn Central took over the NH, speed restrictions were placed upon the moveable bridges at Cos Cob, Saga and Devon. After Metro-North took over in 1983 and began upgrades that resulted in some speeds being raised from 70 to 75 MPH (and even a 3.9-mi. stretch between Larchmont and Harrison up to 90 until a few years ago) all of the moveable bridge restrictions remained.
I am not a civil engineer, but I would think that reducing the four tracks to three for about a mile west of Bridgeport would be a possible method or realiging the 30 MPH curve, and that either this method or superelevation could be used to increase speeds through the other curves. Granted it would be a collosal undertaking to come up with track time to do the work, but there would be time savings. Regarding the moveable bridges, none of the former PRR structures west/south of Dock (Newark, NJ) have restrictions, except for Perryville, MD which is good for 95 MPH (prior the NEC upgrading it had been a 35 MPH bridge).
In summary, it would be great if the states could get together and figure out a way to fund curve realignments and bridge upgrades that would remove many ofthe speed restrictions. Indeed it takes an Acela at least 1 HR 25 min. (with an intermediate Stamford stop) to make the 74.1-mile Penn Station-New Haven run, which compares unfavorably 1 HR 5 min. for the 90.6-mile Penn Station-Philadelphia run that includes an intermediate Newark, NJ stop).
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby BandA » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:26 pm

30-40MPH on the New Haven Line is a glorified subway line. Metro-North controls NYG-NH and probably has different ideas about how fast they want the line to run.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby EuroStar » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:33 am

Unless the line is straightened out by building significant portions of it underground, you will never get any straightening through New York and Connecticut. The surrounding areas are just dense enough (note that they are not dense, just dense enough) and rich enough to never allow any eminent domain takings. Just look at what happened to the little straightening the FRA tried to push in their NEC Future east of New Heaven. The problem with tunnels is that they have the tendency to be really expensive, so the short answer is: you are never going to get anything much better than what you have now, not now, not in 10 years, not in 200 years. Little trims here and there might happen, for example maybe the new bridges will be good for slightly higher speeds, but nothing revolutionary is going to come.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:09 pm

There are many stops on the New Haven Line that are an enhanced subway style interval distance from one another, especially between Noroton Heights and Fairfield-Metro. For one thing, the New Haven Line is meant for MU sets and those M8s are great!

If there could be little trims that could happen, then at least, that could take off some travel time, especially getting those all stop MNR locals east of STM to New Haven to hopefully about an hour and fifty minutes. Hopefully getting new bridges will help bring down the travel time. Along the New Haven Line, the bridges that need to be replaced are over the Norwalk River, the Saugatuck River(I believe), and the Housatonic River. That Jenkins Curve is extremely sharp and I don't think that speed restriction will ever get upgraded. It is not possible to built a new right of way in Bridgeport bypassing Jenkins Curve because the baseball stadium. If they could bring the 45 mph curves in Portchester, South Norwalk, and east of Bridgeport up to maybe 60, that might help. It might not be a bad idea to replace the Miamus River Bridge eventually.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:53 pm

This line is carrying the heaviest passenger traffic ever in its history and it continues to grow, the line has a lot of curves that while a good number are good for 70 MPH, overall it limits the number of trains and the running time, drawbridges slow down the operation as well. Five drawbridges or swing bridges in 62 miles does not help either. The more trains you try to run over these overcrowded tracks per hour or per day or whatever the slower your schedules will be. I could add to this but for now at least I have said enough, As the old saying goes there is more to the story.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:19 pm

Yes, there are so many trains that run on the New Haven Line and during rush hour, it is basically a subway style schedule, especially between GCT and STM. Metro North does a great job running the railroad, especially being very good with providing zone expresses. It would be nice if MNR ran trains twice an hour between New Haven and GCT. I know that they do it twice an hour most times of the day and on weekends.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:48 pm

When work starts on replacing Walk Moveable Bridge sometime in the future,there will be a rash of delays that will effect Both MN and Amtrak services.
Most of the moveable bridges are at the century mark age wise,Walk is the first,due to age and condition.
PC did very little to none maintenance wise work on the bridges,and had big problems keeping Cos Cob Power plant running.
As each of the Bridges get replaced,some of the speed restrictions may be eased a bit.
Still 2 hours on a train beats 2 + hours on I 95,a windy narrow construction chocked interstate!
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:48 am

Backshophoss wrote:When work starts on replacing Walk Moveable Bridge sometime in the future,there will be a rash of delays that will effect Both MN and Amtrak services.
Most of the moveable bridges are at the century mark age wise,Walk is the first,due to age and condition.
PC did very little to none maintenance wise work on the bridges,and had big problems keeping Cos Cob Power plant running.
As each of the Bridges get replaced,some of the speed restrictions may be eased a bit.
Still 2 hours on a train beats 2 + hours on I 95,a windy narrow construction chocked interstate!

Most of the moveable bridges are well past the century mark. PECK in Bridgeport was replaced in the 1990's but the rest were built between 1896 (WALK) and 1905 (DEVON).
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