Extending service on the Harlem and Hudson lines

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Extending service on the Harlem and Hudson lines

Postby Nester » Thu Sep 02, 2004 11:54 am

There has been on-again/off-again discussion about extending the Hudson line north to provide services as far North as Tivoli, NY (the last village in Dutchess along the Hudson) and there has been discussion about Discussion on this forum has talked about extending into Columbia County and possibly as far north as Rennselaer) I've also spoken to people in Northern Dutchess who have heard grumblings about MN extending the Harlem line another 10 miles or so to Millerton.

My research (and public record) seems to indicate that many residents of Northern Dutchess to not want to erode the quasi-rural atmosphere by making the area accessible to commuters. There's also the cost of living changes in the two counties that do not currently subsidize MTA operations beyond what Albany gives to the MTA from the general state funds (no phone, business income, real estate, or sales tax money).

I'm curious to hear what other railroad-types have to say about this...

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Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:15 pm

And I'd be curious to know how many people from Hyde Park, Staatsburg, and points north drive to Poughkeepsie and park. Any studies done on that. Maybe Dutch has info?
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Postby Lackawanna484 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:30 pm

I'd be surprised if the voters in Columba County want to pay extra taxes to subsidize part time residents who commute to NYC. There's some resentment already against folks who oppose the cement plant expansion, and subsizing their commute with a 25 bps increase in the sales tax wouldn't help.

On my visits to Wassaic, it looks like many cars are from CT and MA. Extending Harlem Line service another 10 miles to Millerton wouldn't do much, and extending another 30 miles to Copake would require moving buildings now located on the right of way
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Thu Sep 02, 2004 9:56 pm

MN wanted to go to Millerton... a natural crossroads of the Berkshire foothills (US 44 crosses NY 22 here). From what I heard, towns blocked the northward movement, so terminal was made in Wassaic (Amenia). I dont see MN going any further north than they have gone now... once that rail trail moves in, say goodbye to railroads.

As far as MN going north on the Hudson Line... the only think stopping any northward progress is a) lack of terminal facilities to service and store trains b) extra equipment to meet service demands c) station and parking facilities d) cooperation from the towns to be served e) extension of the MTA charter to include the rest of the Hudson Valley counties.

Did I miss anything?

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Postby Nester » Fri Sep 03, 2004 1:13 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:As far as MN going north on the Hudson Line... the only think stopping any northward progress is a) lack of terminal facilities to service and store trains b) extra equipment to meet service demands c) station and parking facilities d) cooperation from the towns to be served e) extension of the MTA charter to include the rest of the Hudson Valley counties.


A, B, and C cannot happen without E (which requires a change in state law). You can't get E without D. This is why MN was looking to stay within Dutchess and only go to Tivoli, and they can't get that working either. Suffice to say that there will be no expansion anytime soon. :(

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Postby Nester » Fri Sep 03, 2004 1:31 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:And I'd be curious to know how many people from Hyde Park, Staatsburg, and points north drive to Poughkeepsie and park. Any studies done on that. Maybe Dutch has info?


Dutchess County runs buses from Hyde Park that are timed to meet MN trains. The express buses that run from Tivoli to Poughkeepsie will stop at the train station if requested. I doubt the county would offer these services if there weren't plenty of people doing it already.

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Postby UpperHarlemLine4ever » Sat Sep 04, 2004 1:35 am

I might be wrong but if MN would extend the service to say Millerton and to Tivoli and make it just rush hour service and perhaps one mid-day train, I don't think people would mind it so much but to run bi-hourly service to these areas would kill the rural atmosphere of these areas. It would bring an almost subway-like quality to the service.
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Postby Lackawanna484 » Sat Sep 04, 2004 9:39 am

UpperHarlemLine4ever wrote:I might be wrong but if MN would extend the service to say Millerton and to Tivoli and make it just rush hour service and perhaps one mid-day train, I don't think people would mind it so much but to run bi-hourly service to these areas would kill the rural atmosphere of these areas. It would bring an almost subway-like quality to the service.


-------------------

The rural atmosphere is getting killed pretty quickly already. Some local people don't want to make it easy for city people to move in and take over. City people move in and build $700,000 weekend houses, then complain about the farmers and cows polluting the atmosphere with their smells.

One big issue in the area is the new people's opposition to the cogen cement plant across the river. Local people see it as a permanent job creation machine and reliable electric source. City people see it as a threat to their views and an enviro menace.
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Postby Nester » Sat Sep 04, 2004 9:53 am

I might be wrong but if MN would extend the service to say Millerton and to Tivoli and make it just rush hour service and perhaps one mid-day train, I don't think people would mind it so much but to run bi-hourly service to these areas would kill the rural atmosphere of these areas. It would bring an almost subway-like quality to the service.


I don't think the issue is the trains (maybe it is for Millerton) but the rest of the stuff that goes along with having trains in the area. Yards (land use issues, lights, diesel exhaust, noise from idling trains, other machinery in the yards (e.g. Car Wash), parking areas for crew quarters, etc.)

The other issue is the biproduct of having commuter train service in your village or town - the inevitable desire to sell land to commuters. This can lead to subdivisions of existing plots of land, which increases the population of the area. Increasing the population will have additional effects on the infrastructure in the area (trash removal, schools, police and fire services, roads, etc.). One argument would be that the additional property tax revenue from the subdivided areas would cover this, but this is almost never the case, even if the relative property tax rates are equal between the "old" and "new" properties in the are.

When I was young I used to think it was very simple. Build some platforms along the ROW, add a parking lot and TVM, maybe a passenger footbridge or underpass to cross the ROW, and BAM! (like Emeril says) you have a train station. My biggest concern would be any signalling and track improvements you would have to make if the service continued beyond the station.

Now that I am older, and I have a better understanding of how government works (at least in New York), I know that it could never be that simple. A community can and probably will continue to feel the effects of a new station for a long time after service starts (some communities on LI are still tinkering with traffic light patterns at stations decades later)

I would love to see MN extend service as far north as they can, opening service up to as many communities as they can. But I also respect the wishes of communites along line, for they are fearful of what the long-term effects of commuter rail service will be on their communites.

One of the arguments that the folks in Northern Dutchess raised dealt with the degradation of service that would come if MN took over operations at Rhinecliff, since they assumed (and I think there is some truth to this) that Amtrak would probably look to reduce or eliminate service at the station. MN trains are slower and do not provide space (such as what is found in the club car) for riders to work while they are en route to NYC. Nor do they have provisions for power outlets that a person could use for a computer while on the train (while I think the coaches do have outlets, I don't think they are designed for passenger use, and I question how reliable the current coming out of the outlet is).

They also seemed to take issue (and this one I heard, not read) with MN servicing GCT rather than NYP, which also disrupts the "pattern" of the riders who commute from this area now (some people can no longer walk to their offices, different subways to use, etc). While it is nothing that is insurmountable, it is something to consider.

Maybe if MN planned on offering service to Penn Station (something the MTA considered) along with raising the speed of the service (I don't have all the performance specs of the Genesis engines so I don't know if this is possible) the communities in Northen Dutchess would not have *as much* to fear if the service was replaced by MN.

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Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Sep 06, 2004 3:57 pm

You can't have additional service in Penn Station. 1) equipment is not compatible to enter Penn Station complex 2) not enough room in Penn for the service as it stands now.

I miss the old days of railroading when they were private companies that more or less operated at their will irregardless of environmental impact reports and the irelevant comments of "concerned residents" who live along the tracks.

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Postby Lackawanna484 » Mon Sep 06, 2004 5:47 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:I miss the old days of railroading when they were private companies that more or less operated at their will irregardless of environmental impact reports and the irelevant comments of "concerned residents" who live along the tracks.

-otto-


-------------------------------

"The Public Be Damned" came from the Vanderbilt heirs, as I recall.

Many of us regret the railroads taking over the shoreline all along the Hudson. And, NYCentral, PennCentral, Conrail, and MetroNorth are prefectly happy to ticket fishermen for accessing the shoreline
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Postby DutchRailnut » Mon Sep 06, 2004 6:18 pm

Metro North does not ticket fisherman from legaly crossing tracks and exersizing their right to fish on public property.
They will however arrest or ticket anyone who enters right of way owned by the railroad. and most railroad right of ways are 25 feet from nearest rail. and if their is public property beyond the 25 feet mark make sure you get their legaly by using a station overpas or existing bridge, do not cross the rail.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Postby Nester » Tue Sep 07, 2004 5:56 am

Otto Vondrak wrote:You can't have additional service in Penn Station. 1) equipment is not compatible to enter Penn Station complex 2) not enough room in Penn for the service as it stands now.


I never said that it was simply a management decision to add service to Penn. IIRC, the studies acknowledged this and implementation was supposed to happen *after* the LIRR started using GCT, which would free up some slots on 13-21 at NYP.

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Extensions

Postby metroduff » Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:30 am

Regarding the Hudson Line service, if Metro-North took it over, it would most likely simply operate the Amtrak equipment into Penn, in the event that Amtrak was no longer the operator.

Regarding the impact of commuter service on communities which don't have it, it is the local governments who have the power and responsibility to regulate growth in the best interests of their residents. Their failure to do so is nothing more than that.

Blaming more efficient transportation for sprawl is like blaming the Atkins diet for increased obesity -- it's a failure of the will of the people most responsible.
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Sep 07, 2004 10:21 am

I don't think Amtrak would simply hand over some of its equipment and let MN operate it. MN would want to own, operate, and maintain its own trains, and not have to worry about adding something else into the mix.

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