Danbury Branch Study (Ext to New Milford, Electrification)

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Electrification on Danbury Line

Postby thedarkliberator » Mon May 17, 2004 3:44 pm

As a lot of you know the electrification of the Danbury is being debated. I personally think it is wrong. Firstly it might put a couple of retro FL9's and F10s into retirement. Secondly due to the railroad Xings engineers come to a halt at would leave the questions of 1) Could the electric trains make it across efficiently 2) could someone get fried. Secondly I know for just one instance, there are "unofficial crossings" in which fisherman go to a pond to well... fish! Electrifiying the yard which would have to be done, where the Danbury Railroading Museum is would be EXTREMELY dangerous, children pass over that, and is just plain akward. Yes there are remedies for this, but it would be 1) Costly 2) Taking away from seeing an F10 or better yet FL9 parked, Cantenary would not work because there are too many obstructions above ie: Trees bridges wildlife and other complications that could lead to leathal consequences or costly adventures.
Lastly the money stricken NHL and CT govt both cannot afford this, they are already in debt, and should concentrate on other issues.
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Postby DutchRailnut » Mon May 17, 2004 6:38 pm

The 24 mile electrification would be over $100 million and would not be worth it in speeding up the branch. compared to diesels electrification would speed up the branch by 5 minutes in acceleration/decelleration but nothing in track speed.
a seperate study was done to extend the branch and speed it up but price was near $2 billion to raise speed 10 mph from its current max speed of 50 mph.
as far as those ponds they are all posted private propperty and fisherman do not have acces to them (legally)
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Electrification of Danbury

Postby Tom Curtin » Tue May 18, 2004 6:47 am

Your comment to the effect that catenary electrification would be a problem is not borne out either by history or by current operation.

History: the New Haven had this line electrified with catenary from 1925 to 1961. Operation was mostly excellent --- I know, I was there and rode it a number of times as a kid during its last decade. Regarding safety, I won't say no one ever got "fried;" in fact I know of a boy about my own age who very nearly did, by climbing onto a car top under live wire.

Current: the New Canaan Branch is electrified with catenary, and is a rural single track line much like Danbury.

No one has ever suggested electrifying Danbury with third rail. A lonely outpost of DC electrification nowhere near any of MNCR's other third rail lines would make no engineering sense.

All that said, I agree with the idea that there is no conceivable business justification for this capital expenditure. As Jaap points out above, the gains in running time would be minuscule. Installation of TCS --- which I believe is planned anyway --- will allow raising the speed limit, which will buy greater running time reduction. I also think that if they were to lengthen the grade crossing circuits on the last 1.5 or 2 miles coming into Danbury, so it would no longer be necessary to make such a drastic speed reduction way back around Sperry Rail Service (on track that is otherwise good for more speed), they could buy a few more minutes at minimal expense.

One more comment on a disadvantage of electrifying Danbury: the line has some pretty steep grades, like 1.1 or 1.2 per cent, and has always been infamous among engineers (right, Jaap?) for slippery conditions during autumn leaf drop. MUs, which are not sander-equipped, would have a hell of a time --- just as New Haven MUs did when they ran the line 50 years ago.
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Postby DutchRailnut » Tue May 18, 2004 7:50 am

Correct Tom there are several area's were speed could be increased and a few curves straightened.

From Wallstreet tunnel to Merrit 7 the speed could be 50 instead of 30 if the double S curve between Perry and Glover could be straightned a bit.

The stretch from mp 4.2 to Wilton station curve could be made 60 its fairly straight.

From just north of Redding to Bethel(Taylor Ave could be made 60.
The 20 mph restriction from Shelter Rock Rd to mp 22.8 could be raised to 50 by just changing crossing circuits. will it happen ???? most curves on Danbury go around hills and rock, the branch was designed at about 40 mph but extended to 50 on most parts.
signaling would be biggest help and would most improve reverse trafic in rushhours etc.
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Danbury line

Postby Tom Curtin » Tue May 18, 2004 8:20 am

I distinctly recall for a while in MNCR's early years in the 80s, when I was still commuting daily, they did raise a stretch from roughly the S-curve north of Topstone Road, to somewhere north of Redding, to 59 mph for a while. Of course having the Redding stop in the middle of that stretch put a crimp in their ability to take much advantage of it!
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Postby BenH » Tue May 18, 2004 11:40 am

Those who wish to learn more about this topic can visit the official
"Danbury Branch Electrification Feasibility Study" website.

The web address is:
http://www.danburybranchstudy.com/
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Postby NIMBYkiller » Tue May 18, 2004 3:08 pm

I agree. Danbury electrification would really be a waste.
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Postby johnpbarlow » Tue May 18, 2004 8:08 pm

Electrifying the branch may shorten travel time on the 24 mile branch by only 5 minutes but what about the the time reduction on the other ~ 45 miles between Norwalk and GCT by using electric propulsion? Maybe 10-15 minutes could be shaved on the 70 mile commute to/from GCT? But are there enough MU cars to support the additional GCT to Danbury trips?

By comparison, what was the commute time reduction for the 60+ mile Brewster, NY to GCT trip when 3rd rail was installed beyond N. White Plains?
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Postby DutchRailnut » Tue May 18, 2004 9:59 pm

no there are not enough M series cars for Danbury service, we don't even have enough for mainline service.
as far as speeding up the trip on mainline, hogwash, the Danbury diesels run same distance in same allotted time and thee is no way it goes faster.
same speeds for both types of equipment.
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You must jest

Postby thedarkliberator » Tue May 18, 2004 10:00 pm

You cannot compare in no way: Harlem Line North White Plains ----> Brewster North to the Danbury line. Firstly the ridership is increasing at a steady rate on the upper Harlem where Danbury's Line is keeping hold of regular commuters but not an increase, maybe an occasional tourist or visitor but not a steady permenant increase. Time was not the only factor in electrifying the upper Harlem line. Headway during peak hours had to be larger than the MTA and commuters could handle. With 40 or max 45 locomotives on all lines how can you even suggest keeping Diesel trains running on the Upper Harlem line. People would be crushed in between each other. Furthermore electrification attracted EVEN MORE riders. I doubt you could say the same about the Danbury line. The first peak train arrives at 9:07 or there abouts, thats 7 minutes behind the workers day. When the MTA starts getting hatemail for packed trains and even the conductors complain and their "accurate statistics" show that there needs to be change the MTA will make a move.
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Postby DutchRailnut » Tue May 18, 2004 10:12 pm

actually the rush hour trains arive as followed:
train 1811 arrives in GCT at : 07:38
train 1819 arrives in GCT at : 08:09
train 1833 arrived in GCT at : 08:54

as far as electrifying with third rail the cost is at or near $6 million per mile due to not only third rail but the need of a Substation/Rectifier/Breaker house every 2 miles.
the losses in DC power are enormous over longer distances.
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More Specific

Postby thedarkliberator » Tue May 18, 2004 10:27 pm

Sorry I shouldve been more specific, on the weekends your transfer will get you at GCT at 9:07 nice catch tho :D
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Danbury Branch Electrification. (So. Norwalk to Bethel).

Postby LIRailfan79 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:04 pm

I've heard rumors that the Danbury branch will be electrified from South Norwalk to Bethel.
any truth to this?
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Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:15 pm

Not in my lifetime, a study was done but the cost will prohibit the deal from going trough. A electrification will cost over $200 million for Catenary and another $100 million for new MU cars to run in said electrification.
The reliability of the branch would suffer also, as any short or tree damage would result in entire branch beeing down till rescue engine shows up.
In old days there was a switcher in south Norwalk and a switcher working in or around Danbury, these days a rescue engine has to come from Stamford after a crew is rounded up.
And if it were electrified it sure would not be electrified South Norwalk to Bethel only.
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Re: Danbury Branch Electrification. (So. Norwalk to Bethel).

Postby shadyjay » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:48 pm

Perhaps you're thinking of the CL&P-NU/UI powerline upgrade project from Norwalk to Bethel. While this has nothing to do with Metro North, the powerline does run parallel to a portion of the line especially in Norwalk-Wilton, and there were pictures posted recently on NERAIL (I think) which mentioned the project.

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