Shore Line East or Metro North to Rhode Island Green Airport

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: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:26 pm

I read the above post as: this may not be worth the cost, nor the effort. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. If it were to be successful, I think there would need to be thru service to Stamford. Yes, I know that already exists, but it needs to be more than just one train each way on a weekday.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby ebtmikado » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:56 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Ridgefielder wrote:Both Mystic and Westerly are on curves-- sharp enough that when you're stopped the tilt from the superelevation will make things slide off a table. How are they going to put in high levels?



Really, to justify the operating costs of only a *skeletal* diesel schedule the only prerequisites they need are for RIDOT to secure the Westerly reconfiguration grant and build the layover yard, and probably an Amtrak request to rehab Track 3 in Groton. Mystic they can probably just install a $75K Home Depot-quality wood mini-high for the first few years of diesel service then figure out the permanent station reno later when they're refilled the piggy bank a little.


Shore Line East has been operating since May, 1990, and still 3 of the stations have platforms on only one side, meaning that only peak hour/direction trains can stop there: Branford (platform has been under construction for 2 years); Madison and Clinton work hasn't even started yet. So don't plan on using SLE to get to Misquamicut in the next decade. There is still no connection to either of Connecticut's large state beaches, Hammonasset and Rocky Neck.

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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby NH2060 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:22 am

A couple of things to point out:


a) SLE ran on a weekday rush hour only schedule from 1990 until 2008 and prior to 2000 had only around 10 round trips or so including the "Reverse Express" runs. The new stations only got built when the demand was finally there for level boarding and more frequent + bi-directional service. So a "skeletal" schedule of say 4-6 round trips per day (mostly as Westerly-NLC/NHV/STM in the morning and STM/NHV/NLC-Westerly in the evening) just to get something up and running should be easy enough to achieve. It would appear that the only issues would be being able to have enough equipment to shuffle to make the extra 40 mile round trip beyond New London.


b) SE CT residents have long complained for who knows how long about either the lack of commuter rail service or the paltry level of existing service. And considering how many monthly passholders (as well as single reserved local travelers) probably eat into certain Amtrak trains @ New London they might be more receptive to the idea of multiple frequencies to Westerly if it means more seats freed up for more profitable travel patters. I recall when taking Train 94 during the summer and seeing what appeared to be a number of folks traveling between Old Saybrook, New London, Westerly, and Kingston. No doubt that there is enough demand for SLE service to RI. It could be just a matter of how much more demand there is beyond that basic startup timetable; which at this point would appease A LOT of residents just for there having some kind of local service.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:39 am

The billions this would cost doesn't seem worthwhile take 5 people to the beach once a month.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:14 am

MCL1981 wrote:The billions this would cost doesn't seem worthwhile take 5 people to the beach once a month.


Sounds like your crystal ball is quite shiny today. Do you have some sort of facts to back up your prediction? :wink:
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:17 am

his crystal ball is same make as that one used by proponents of service to Rode Island.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:01 am

Please do tell me how I'm wrong. I have a huge problem with burning piles of tax dollars on pointless projects. The need for service must justify the service's existence and the cost to make it happen. The notion of spend a billion dollars for years, while disrupting existing transit to take a few people to beach is outrageous.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:26 pm

MCL1981 wrote:Please do tell me how I'm wrong. I have a huge problem with burning piles of tax dollars on pointless projects. The need for service must justify the service's existence and the cost to make it happen. The notion of spend a billion dollars for years, while disrupting existing transit to take a few people to beach is outrageous.

Point isn't to take a few people to the beach. Point is to take a few hundred people from their houses in Westerly, Stonington and Mystic to their workplaces in Groton, New London and New Haven-- and take their cars OFF I-95 and the Gold Star Bridge.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby ebtmikado » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:40 pm

Point is to fill your trains.

In the summer season, transporting passengers to destinations they want will help with that.
There are many in cities who have no access to recreational facilities, such as beaches, historic places (such as Mystic Aquarium and Seaport), even the casinos.
When weekend trains carry fewer people than on weekdays, this is a perfect time to offer such service connections.
A perfect example is Rocky Neck State Park, where trains are just feet away from beaches crowed with people, the park's parking lots closed because they are full,
yet no public transportation is offered.

It can also help to alleviate highway congestion.

Take a NJT train to Asbury Park, Belmar, etc. on a summer weekend. Or a LIRR train to any town along the south shore.

You have to start thinking outside the box, which is the problem with many planners in this state, as well as much of the country.

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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:33 pm

MCL1981 wrote:The billions this would cost doesn't seem worthwhile take 5 people to the beach once a month.


Please reference the price quote that says this would cost "billions".

Or is that price after "hyperbole tax"? :wink:

DutchRailnut wrote:his crystal ball is same make as that one used by proponents of service to Rode Island.


CDOT? Gov. Malloy? The State Rail Plan filed with the FRA four years ago?

Those proponents?
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:51 pm

A few hundred people?? Worthless waste of time and money. If a few hundred people need to go to work, that is what cars and roads are for. A few hundred people will fill one train once a day. And they want to spend a billion dollars on all these stations, track modifications, rail cars, motive power, scheduling, managing, bridge BS, etc... for a few hundred people? No.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:13 pm

This might be a worthwhile project down the road, but I think they have other, more effective projects they could push, as I've mentioned before.

-Improving the MNRR branches for one, especially Waterbury.
-Extending service to New Milford on the Danbury is another priority.
-Finishing NHHS above Hartford, building the new stations on that.
-The Waterbury - Hartford corridor, even if the connection is at Berlin, produces HUGE connectivity gains.
-Potential New London to points NORTH, not east, whether Worcester or Knowledge Corridor (that's a bit farther down the list).

SLE farebox recovery is poor. I'd concentrate on that. According to this article (quoted in other threads, I'm sure), it's awful:

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut ... story.html

Fares in 2013 covered an anemic 7.1 percent of its operating costs, even worse than the 9.7 percent figure of 2009, according to figures from Jackson. By comparison, fares on the highly used New Haven Line covered about 72 percent of operating expenses in 2013, he reported.


I would certainly NOT stop NHHS based on this, but I certainly wouldn't extend it until the performance is better. Now, if Amtrak wants to do their little bypass, or obviate some regional service, fine. But that's not CtDOT's problem.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:16 pm

7.1%?? WOW! For such a tiny amount, they might as well just make it a free service. They probably spend more money on overheard charging people than they take in, effectively making charging people a loss.
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby NH2060 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:04 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:This might be a worthwhile project down the road, but I think they have other, more effective projects they could push, as I've mentioned before.

-Improving the MNRR branches for one, especially Waterbury.
-Extending service to New Milford on the Danbury is another priority.
-Finishing NHHS above Hartford, building the new stations on that.
-The Waterbury - Hartford corridor, even if the connection is at Berlin, produces HUGE connectivity gains.
-Potential New London to points NORTH, not east, whether Worcester or Knowledge Corridor (that's a bit farther down the list).

SLE farebox recovery is poor. I'd concentrate on that. According to this article (quoted in other threads, I'm sure), it's awful

I would certainly NOT stop NHHS based on this, but I certainly wouldn't extend it until the performance is better. Now, if Amtrak wants to do their little bypass, or obviate some regional service, fine. But that's not CtDOT's problem.

Things is ALL of those bullet points will require A LOT more money than simply extending several SLE trains from New London on existing NEC tracks that already have fully functioning stations.

As for the very poor farebox recovery let's consider a few things:


-There is no full bi-directional schedule yet where all stations are served.
-As Lee Carson pointed out there needs to be service provided to the beaches. No doubt many residents will gladly leave their car at home or the train station just to avoid having to deal with traffic and parking at the beach.
-Too many "off peak" runs use 3 and 4 car sets when 2 cars is perfectly adequate (weekends especially). Adding more cars to any train requires burning more fuel or using more electricity and additional personnel.
-Most of the current SLE timetable doesn't really serve any tourist destination spots. New London has the ferries and Sailfest in the summer. Mystic obviously has the seaport, the aquarium, and just a nice location to walk around, shop, etc. Westerly could definitely facilitate shuttle buses pinging back and forth to Misquamicut and Watch Hill. Put all that together and you've got huge ridership potential. Add in Kingston when the RIDOT/MBTA commuter trains are up and running and there could be shuttle busses going to Point Judith to connect with the Block Island Ferry (for those coming from Boston and if the New London fast ferry is sold out) and Newport and that's even more ridership potential.


And Stonington Borough may not want a train station, but don't say that a platform right at the end of Water Street or near/under the Alpha Street bridge with dozens of bike racks/locks, etc. in lieu of a kiss-n-ride isn't a good idea. I think the folks at the Dog Watch Cafe would agree with me on this one ;-)
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Re: SLE To Rhode Island?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:39 pm

No doubt there are higher infrastructure costs in the other projects I listed. Personally, I think they're still needed first. But when the fare recovery is so low on an existing line, why extend it for the sake of some tourist spots? That's only going to worsen the recovery/subsidy situation. They're not commuters; they don't need a commuter service with a full, bi-directional schedule, which you point out doesn't even exist on the existing SLE. The Amtrak service accommodates tourists. And I'm not convinced beach goers are going to sacrifice their cars for commuter rail and be at the mercy of even an enhanced schedule.

THAT (getting SLE to New London fully serviced) should be the priority. Or, roll back the schedule increases for SLE to get back to the higher recovery, which clearly isn't generating the ridership. They don't even have the Hartford line up and running. They need operating subsidies for that, first and foremost, and capital funds to replace NEC bridges before they even THINK about extending an already under-performing commuter service that is still waiting on M8's. Not to mention they still have to build the additional stations on the Hartford line (they can't even complete the ones for SLE!).

To me, this is a "nice to have" project. But not one when there are more critical needs in the areas of the state that generate more bang for the buck, even if that buck is going to cost more in improving infrastructure. Danbury branch has been studied since the early 80's, and CtDOT can't even get a rehabbed RDC to run a shuttle to New Milford. But all of a sudden we're going to run coaches intended for Hartford out past New London when they already have a stretched M8 fleet that still isn't in revenue service past State St.?
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