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

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

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:50 pm

Being that the New Haven Line has the highest ridership in the Metro North system and ridership could expand, building parking garages are key. People drive from all over to use the train at Stamford station, especially those who might live in Darien who want to get first dibs on a seat. Obviously, the majority of trains that terminate at Stamford are locals on the New Haven Line and once they are on the Harlem, they only make Fordham and 125th Street. There are probably many people who live along the New Canaan Branch who would drive to Stamford for more service anyway. Hey, they might as well. Plenty of people who live near a Shore Line East or Ct Rail station will drive to New Haven to get MNR. They would rather not have to depend on the sparse levels of SLE service. In fact, there are multiple SLE and Ctrail trains that arrive at NHV 45 minutes before a MNR train departs westbound. That 45 minutes is a large chunk of time to be waiting between trains.

I think on weekends, the limited stops express east of Stamford can be improved but as others are saying, yes, the New Haven Line has capacity issues, but at least the MNR trains move fine.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby 35dtmrs92 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:42 am

TomNelligan wrote:To me, the problem with all of these schemes to straighten a curve here or there that sound nice to railfans is that the capital cost per minute saved would be insane, even if Connecticut wasn't already in perennial financial trouble. What practical difference would it make if you save five minutes on an hour-long ride but the rest of the infrastructure is collapsing due to lack of investment?


As I wrote in my earlier post, no sane investment program would start at any form of Stamford-Darien cutoff; it would start on items like the undergrade bridge changeouts, the drawbridges, platforms for all tracks at Bridgeport, ten-car platforms everywhere, etc. The New Haven Line doesn't need to support 180 mi/hr running for riders to feel benefits and to make room for substantial numbers of new customers. It does need a revamped operation coupled with targeted infrastructure interventions. Around the country, there are legions of road and airport projects that are spending hundreds of millions if not billions each to save comparable amounts time for fewer people than would benefit from comparable amounts put into the New Haven Line.

If the money must be spent on getting more customers to the trunk line, garages are the least efficient way to do that. The NH and Stamford garages if realized would furnish under 2000 new spaces, enough to increase ridership by a few percentage points, at $70k/new space. By contrast, investment in feeder bus and rail services would provide many more seats than the 2000 spaces the new garages would furnish; 2000 riders fit in about 50 buses. To really take a bite out of VMT, we want to put those coming from inland/east CT on transit for 80-90 % of the journey instead of 50-60 %. For the $150 million cost of the two proposed garages, CT could make the SLE territory M8-ready, reassign the current SLE diesel sets to the Hartford Line/Danbury Branch/Waterbury Branch, and still have some cash to cover additional operating costs for the new bus and rail service. Based on numbers I've heard for platform projects, I'd guess the missing Clinton and Madison platforms would cost circa $10 million each. The NHV-BOS NEC was electrified for $8 million/mile; the remaining unwired Guilford station track should cost a few million to electrify. Twenty more M8s at $4 million apiece for SLE would cost $80 million. The remaining $40 million could be spread across the operating costs of new rail service and increased CTTransit and jitney service to New Haven Union and Stamford and outlying stops.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby shadyjay » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:26 pm

I thought I'd mention this, even though it was never built... Once upon a time, there was another railroad proposed to run from the New York border to New Haven, then another that would've gone in a relatively-straight line from New Haven to Thompson in the "quiet corner". One has to wonder if these lines had survived the "dark times" (1960s-1970s), they would make great alternatives to the present shore routes today. Even if the so-called "New York and Connecticut Air Line" was just double-tracked and electrified, it probably would've been a nice NHL alternative. But, as they say, "the time for that has come and gone". (source: "Connecticut Railroads, an Illustrated History", proposed rail lines map in Appendix)

Today, the real estate values in Fairfield County would crush any proposal. If it wasn't built by the early 20th century, its not gonna get built.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:59 pm

I don't think too many tony folks living in coastal Fairfield County would be very happy if the New Haven Line was moved because it would create even more noise. Many of the bridges and existing infrastructure along the New Haven Line have to be upgraded sooner rather than later.

As for SLE, it would be great to have those second platforms built at Clinton and Madison as well as the outer eastbound track wired in Guilford. Those SLE M8s can't come soon enough and that would help shuffle the Mafersa cars to the diesel Ctrail lines. New locomotive hauled equipment is a must as well.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:46 pm

Figure on the ConnDOT owned Shoreliners,when replaced by a joint order of new loco hauled Coach stock by MN and ConnDOT
to be used on the Hartford/Springfield services,returning the MBB's back to MBTA/MassDOT for the "T west" service to Greenfield
Untill all the moveable bridges are replaced/rebuilt on the New Haven line,along with the last section of catenary replacement is done,
any attempt to increase the line's MAS is NOT POSSIBLE!
At Best maybe MN with ConnDOT might revamp the schedules to create some zone based semi express services beyond Stamford,
working along with Amtrak for the East Bronx services to NY Penn,and the Inland services via Springfield-Worcester to Boston
Also rebuild Devon station to get rid of the wasted miles to/from Bridgeport on the Waterbury shuttles.
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Fishrrman » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:03 pm

I'm going to jump in with a prediction:

Think trains aren't running as fast as they used to?
Once ACSES is fully implemented, watch for average running times on the New Haven line to INCREASE by 5-10 minutes, at least.

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

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:55 pm

I hope that that doesn't happen where the trains travel time increases. It will make the New Haven Line look like NJT. When ACSES is installed, I wonder how long it will take Amtrak to travel from NYP to NHV?
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Re: Why no big plans to speed up times on New Haven Line?

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:50 pm

shadyjay wrote:I thought I'd mention this, even though it was never built... Once upon a time, there was another railroad proposed to run from the New York border to New Haven, then another that would've gone in a relatively-straight line from New Haven to Thompson in the "quiet corner". One has to wonder if these lines had survived the "dark times" (1960s-1970s), they would make great alternatives to the present shore routes today. Even if the so-called "New York and Connecticut Air Line" was just double-tracked and electrified, it probably would've been a nice NHL alternative. But, as they say, "the time for that has come and gone". (source: "Connecticut Railroads, an Illustrated History", proposed rail lines map in Appendix)

Today, the real estate values in Fairfield County would crush any proposal. If it wasn't built by the early 20th century, its not gonna get built.

There was more than one proposal for this, for what it's worth.

Two primary things killed them: the formidable opposition of the J. Pierpont Morgan-owned New Haven Railroad (a company so powerful that it actually had a non-voting representative in the General Assembly); and, more importantly, the terrain, which made east-west railroad building in CT an expensive proposition.

Take a drive on the Merritt Parkway and the problem will become immediately apparent. From the north end of Greenwich all the way to New Haven the landscape is a continuous series of steep ridges and deep valleys. Take the Wilton area as representative. Between the top of Turner Ridge and the High School the elevation drops 200+ feet in .3 miles. Then gains that 200' back again in the next .75 miles, only to drop another 300' in .6 miles to the Saugatuck River by Cobb's Mill. It's up-and-down like that, sudden steep rises and drops of 2-400', all the way to West Rock in New Haven. It's not the Alps by any means, but it's hard country to traverse with a railroad without spending big $$$ on cuts, fills, tunnels and viaducts, or having an insane amount of curvature. That's the reason all the main east-west routes-- the Boston Post Road, the New Haven Line, and the Connecticut Turnpike-- cluster together within ~1mi of each-other in what passes for the coastal plain.
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