Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Busway)

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue May 17, 2016 1:59 pm

I like the Windsor Locks idea and connecting the Naug Valley, but how practical is it to turn a train there? Right now it's a god-forsaken park and ride lot with a bus shelter platform. While Union Station's fate in Hartford is in some flux for viaduct reconstruction, there is an "Airport Special" bus stop there. Having taken that bus, it's a hellaciously long trip to the airport making many local stops; if they "FasTrak" it and extend a route, make it every half hour, and cut the local stops, that might be a better idea.

Devon requires, as I noted, a "permanent" option and should be instead of "Barnum" in East Bridgeport. I think it would simplify operation on MNRR greatly. If you wanted an island platform New Haven bound, you might be able to crow-bar one in that wouldn't be full length by shifting track 4 a la New Rochelle rather than adding an additional track. And keep the station transfer only. This minimizes station footprint and cost to an overpass, and keeps the main line connection trains from crossing over.

It also opens up the possibility of operations to someone NOT MNRR. As I understand it, MNRR has zero interest in operating NHHS; if Waterbury comes off the main line, would it be possible to remove that from the contract? I know; labor complications.

Con: Amtrak Regionals still end up on local tracks at Bridgeport rather than an island at Barnum.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby The EGE » Tue May 17, 2016 2:54 pm

Windsor Locks will get moved to a downtown location, just a few feet north of the 1875-built station that still remains. Much more passenger-friendly location, plenty of room for parking and a Bradley shuttle bus loop. The 2012 EA specced out both that location and the current location because they didn't yet have money to build, but the town is heavily advocating for the downtown location.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu May 19, 2016 1:20 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:It also opens up the possibility of operations to someone NOT MNRR. As I understand it, MNRR has zero interest in operating NHHS; if Waterbury comes off the main line, would it be possible to remove that from the contract? I know; labor complications.


They can probably coexist if anything that moves west of Bridgeport or running thru to GCT is strictly an MNRR job originating/terminating no further than Waterbury. Which for distance and schedule's sake makes sense. Hartford-Bridgeport is too long a ride on a pair of branchlines; it's too much faster to make a one-seat trip from Hartford to Bridgeport via the Springfield Line and New Haven that I just don't see any demand for doing a Z-shaped routing through the Naugatuck Valley. Devon transfer is perfectly situated and schedule-timed for runs that cover the whole of the I-84/CT 8 corridors; Waterbury-terminating is far better situated and schedule-timed for anything that has to enter the mainline and continue west of Devon. It's a sharp enough division in demand overchurn and schedule tolerability that it gets too messy to start blurring the lines with too much of a western overreach.

As for coexistence...SLE manages it to Bridgeport without any inter-agency bloodshed, so unless a crew change at Devon or allowances for a shortish-distance single crew run-thru are way too big an administrative P.I.T.A. to square there's a viable path for MNRR to grudgingly allow it. The congestion mitigation upside of having majority of the Waterbury schedule pull back and terminate at Devon transfer without ever fouling the mainline is a tasty enough proposition for MNRR that they have to seriously consider their options for being a little more flexible. They may not ultimately agree to it...but they have ample motivation to give it serious thought before making a decision. I don't think it's a case where the MTA is going to instantaneously flip its lid if CDOT has the temerity to pose the "What-if?" question. Pros and cons will be given their full and pragmatic consideration before anyone takes an official stance.



But this one won't be the big and consequential test case for overlapping operations. Hartford-Bridgeport is the juicy one CDOT's going to want to pursue sooner rather than later. The rail distance between those two cities is almost an exact match for the 60 miles from New Haven to Springfield, at roughly similar track speed as a NHV-SPR run. Pick the correctly judicious skip-stop selection on the New Haven Line for balancing the schedule and a Hartford-Bridgeport terminating schedule is way too-perfect a #2 service pattern on the Hartford Line to shoot for after the initial NHV-SPR service startup finds its legs and scales up to its full Year 5 target schedule. That's the one that's going to be an icy turf standoff between MNRR and CDOT. Squaring SLE run-thrus were comparably too small-potatoes to ignite passions like Hartford Line negotiations will. If an amenable solution gets reached in that much bigger and more inevitable standoff, then by the time east-of-Waterbury enters the scene you're dealing with another small-potatoes entrant whose path will have been cleared by prior precedent. So monitor the Hartford Line developments and controversies that are inevitably coming much sooner down the road. That's going to be the bellweather negotiation that sets the standard for any future bit players who may follow.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu May 19, 2016 3:43 pm

Good points; anything on the main line is going to be MNRR crews, regardless of where it originates or terminates on the branch. Period. That's a union thing; I don't think CtDOT or MNRR want to open that can of worms. The precedent is SLE service west of New Haven; they switch crews. Even if a train never enters the main line (operationally a bonus), I don't see ACRE giving up those jobs on the branch. So who services north and east of Waterbury? MNRR already begged off the Hartford line; I don't see them going beyond any of their current terminals (which makes me wonder who would operate any New Milford service, but that's another topic.). It would have to be the operator of NHHS.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby NH2060 » Thu May 19, 2016 6:06 pm

Forgive me if this is going off topic, but how would/could a crew change @ Devon be pulled off? Even with a permanent station it would require a run-through train to either:

1) cross over from Track 2 or 4 to Track 3 and stop at the platform
2) and then pull up to where Track 5 splits from the main line (i.e. a pocket track extension from the "east leg" of the wye however the station is configured) and then
3) back up down the pocket track to go up the Branch

OR

1) again cross over to Track 3 to access the west leg of the wye and then
2) stop the train in the vicinity of the power plant to change crews there at some makeshift crew center

Neither scenario I see happening. And I don't see it happening @ Bridgeport either. It obviously works at New Haven for SLE because of the existing crew bases for both MNRR and Amtrak so an exchange between MNRR and Keolis or Bombardier or Amtrak for Bridgeport-Hartford "express" runs is a piece of cake for that reason alone. At this point what Branch riders really want are more frequencies and cleaner trains. And if they can get 2-3x the trains they can choose from now albeit with a transfer I think they'd be very happy with that.


Now of course if MNR is indeed interested in operating the "Highland Line" all the way to Hartford (which is questionable since it would involve using the SPG Line/Inland Route tracks from Berlin to Hartford) that solves the problem of through running vs. crew/union issues. And if CDOT decides to siphon the Branch off from MNRR to their CTrail umbrella I agree -as F-line pointed out- there should be some wiggle room for allowing Branch trains to just go to Bridgeport. If Barnum Avenue is really going to be the all-in-one "mini-hub" there should be no issue in having a Waterbury/Hartford train arrive and shortly after head back to the Valley.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Jeff Smith » Sun May 22, 2016 12:09 pm

1. There'd be no need for a crew change at Devon if the train never comes off the branch, and the branch is withdrawn from MNRR contract and put under the CtDOT umbrella and operated by someone else. Labor complications aside (the loss of "bid jobs" for the MNRR union members, which is no small concern), this to me makes the most sense except for the union scenario. I'm not sure what the pre-temp Devon schedule was, i.e. do all trains end at Bridgeport, or do some go to Stamford? Either way, the best operational scenario for the main line is a permanent Devon transfer with an overpass to New Haven bound trains. No crossovers, no fouling multiple tracks, etc. There's no need to access track 3, or 4, in this scenario. MNRR dispatching is greatly simplified.
2. If for some reason, CtDOT does want branch trains to continue to Bridgeport (not sure why) or Stamford (makes more sense), or he!!, why not New Haven?, then there's no reason MNRR crews can't run it, to satisfy union concerns about ACRE territory. MNRR runs football trains in Amtrak territory, this would just be more of the same. Here's the opportunity to address union concerns: existing level of service continues to Waterbury only from main line; MNRR crews operate those trains. They lose no jobs. This however retains the current level of dispatch complications. Even a Barnum Station doesn't obviate the need for crossovers or simplify operations. It does however allow increased service that doesn't increase fouling the main line. So that at least is something.
3. Allow MNRR to operate the same number of trains to Waterbury, even if the originate or terminate at Devon on the wye. Or don't withdraw the branch; change crews at Waterbury. Only Waterbury east would be non-MNRR crews. Unless MNRR is interested, which I doubt.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Backshophoss » Sun May 22, 2016 7:24 pm

For labor peace,Crew change at Waterbury,the kink at Bridgeport is the move to/from East Bridgeport yard to layup
between runs,then stage for the run to Waterbury.
Did MN get an OK from ConnDEC for a fuel pad at E.Bridgeport yard?
That would cure the Deadheads to Stamford/New Haven for servicing needs.
"Highland Line" service might be moot untill the I-84 rebuilding is done in Hartford,and what happens to
Hartford Union Station due to the rebuilding of I-84
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun May 22, 2016 8:35 pm

All these goofy ideas have a long wait, I believe ConnDot just signed a new operating agreement with Metro North, which include branches for 10 years starting in late 2015.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon May 23, 2016 5:59 am

Jeff Smith wrote:1. There'd be no need for a crew change at Devon if the train never comes off the branch, and the branch is withdrawn from MNRR contract and put under the CtDOT umbrella and operated by someone else. Labor complications aside (the loss of "bid jobs" for the MNRR union members, which is no small concern), this to me makes the most sense except for the union scenario. I'm not sure what the pre-temp Devon schedule was, i.e. do all trains end at Bridgeport, or do some go to Stamford? Either way, the best operational scenario for the main line is a permanent Devon transfer with an overpass to New Haven bound trains. No crossovers, no fouling multiple tracks, etc. There's no need to access track 3, or 4, in this scenario. MNRR dispatching is greatly simplified.
2. If for some reason, CtDOT does want branch trains to continue to Bridgeport (not sure why) or Stamford (makes more sense), or he!!, why not New Haven?, then there's no reason MNRR crews can't run it, to satisfy union concerns about ACRE territory. MNRR runs football trains in Amtrak territory, this would just be more of the same. Here's the opportunity to address union concerns: existing level of service continues to Waterbury only from main line; MNRR crews operate those trains. They lose no jobs. This however retains the current level of dispatch complications. Even a Barnum Station doesn't obviate the need for crossovers or simplify operations. It does however allow increased service that doesn't increase fouling the main line. So that at least is something.
3. Allow MNRR to operate the same number of trains to Waterbury, even if the originate or terminate at Devon on the wye. Or don't withdraw the branch; change crews at Waterbury. Only Waterbury east would be non-MNRR crews. Unless MNRR is interested, which I doubt.


#3 is what I'm thinking best serves demand. There is an overchurn midway through the Naugatuck Valley between commuters who have to head north to get on I-84 and commuters who have to head south to get on I-95. That overchurn hits its equilibrium inexactly around the Seymour stretch, based on traffic volumes on CT 8. Run-thrus to Hartford would draw little peak-direction ridership at Derby-Shelton, but would probably start outslugging run-thrus to Bridgeport by Naugatuck with Waterbury-proper finding a whole new gear by being more a part of Greater Hartford-Meriden than anywhere else. Even moreso because of the ease of which buses and park-and-riders from Torrington can get there on the low-volume portion of CT 8 for their primarily eastbound commutes. You're likely to see Meriden station on the Hartford Line get a significant spike from people in Waterbury and the upper Naugatuck Valley taking I-691 to P&R at that stop rather than brave I-84, I-91, or CT 15. Counting cars in Meriden by point of origin will be a measurable leading indicator of Highland run-thru demand.

But while Devon shuttles can certainly outslug all the functionality of today's branch service if the frequencies are good enough...run good frequencies on the branch and the demand is going to crest in the lower Naugatuck Valley for run-thrus to Bridgeport. They go hand-in-hand, because it's all about having useful frequencies. Now...that doesn't mean MNRR has any sort of pickle about needing to increase schedules that touch the mainline, or be forced to run a loss leader extra distance on the Highland where Bridgeport eventually becomes better-served by picking up the Hartford Line for a faster Bridgeport run-thru. But it does mean that the overall farebox recovery is most optimal running Devon-Hartford as the primary all-day service pattern with well-timed NHL transfers, and strictly peak-oriented Waterbury-Bridgeport service splitting the difference for the lower Valley with modest...not much increased...schedules but longer consists to swallow bigger crowds (with assumption that all branch stops will have real full-regulation platforms by that point). All-or-nothing--MNRR crews being banned from the branch with Devon becoming a brick wall, or CDOT crews being banned from the branch with Waterbury a brick wall--leaves too much demand on the table. There'll have to be some sort of compromise; both parties would be passing up revenue if they let absolutist turf wars dictate their stances. I just can't picture it being a total knee-jerk reaction from force of habit when that's the difference between having *somewhat* decent overall cost recovery and leaving revenue on the table. They'll think long and hard about it. That doesn't mean there'll be a compromise or that stubbornness and legacy entanglements won't win out...but they'll definitely be rational actors and think long and hard about it.



BTW...timetable for the build is going to be after the current 10-year labor agreement expires anyway. If the impetus for upgrading the Highland is (as we're starting to suspect) "Oh, crap...our highway traffic counts can't survive 84mageddon unless this transit line gets built too!"...then even if they got their butts in gear now you're not going to see first train depart Hartford Union for Waterbury before 2025 at earliest. The operating contract will have long been up for renegotiation by then. This current 10-year contract term never ever had a need to deal with those considerations. Not here, not New Milford either. Even the Hartford Line-New Haven Line interface is only going to become a sticking point in the last 3+ years of this contract. Start date is now slipping to 2017, they still need another funding release to lock down the infrastructure remainders north-of-Hartford including the Springfield layover, and the meager starter schedule is on a slow 5-year ramp-up before it hits critical mass. Springfield-New Haven is going to be the only service pattern, and not a particularly dense one, until 2022. It's only after that where frequencies get fat enough that there'll be compelling reason to talk crew changes at NHV for overlapping some of the service patterns. As I said in the last post, Waterbury, etc. isn't the fault line where crew structures will be brought to the fore. Hartford Line is. Any branchline considerations will be water under the bridge by the time the Hartford Line has set the bar for those turf battles, and the Hartford Line isn't going to be fighting any of those battles until this current deal is nearing 18-24 months of its next contract renegotiation. It's pointlessly premature to speculate.

Throw in the fact that 84mageddon is going to take 10 years in design before the earliest possible construction starts (like...land-prep construction starts, not even the first traffic cones) and we're really getting ahead of ourselves fretting about the current 10-year contract informing events that won't happen till second half of the 2020's. Including worrying about how the changeover from old Hartford Union is going to mesh with relocated Hartford Union, when they aren't close to picking their final recommended corridor alignment. It's a decade-long ramp up even if they hurry. At typical CDOT schedule pace the Aetna Viaduct will have long pancaked onto the tracks before the first batch of construction scaffolding is ready to be loaded onto a truck in 2031.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby J.D. Lang » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:40 pm

I thought that this may be of interest to some. I was reading the Waterbury Republican/American this morning and saw an ad that had a Notice of Public Meetings on the Central Ct. Rail Study. It says that there will be meeting on June 15th in Berlin at the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library and June 16th in Bristol at the Bristol Public Library both starting at 5:30pm. Although it is asking for comments on both the future of passenger and freight on the Highland I thought that I would post it here. It then references you to:

www.centralctrailstudy.com

which talks about the scope and purpose of the study but in what is typical of CT. government websites it hasn’t been updated to reflect these meetings. I figure that it would at least allow the bureaucrats a chance to extend the survey for at least another 5 years or so or allow them to create a new study to study this survey. :-)
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby CVRA7 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:51 pm

I don't see any need to improve on the current CT Transit express and busway service between Hartford and Waterbury. If anything this existing service will improve after the current construction on I-84 is completed through the east side of Waterbury. The state pretty much ended any practical hope for commuter service on the Highland Line when they used the Newington - New Britain portion for the busway route - adding a good 8 miles to a route between Hartford and New Britain via a Berlin detour. Additionally the Hartford Union Station is - and will be for years - just a single track facility. The highway design people must reach a final plan for the rebuilding of I-84 through Hartford which directly effects any platform redesign due to the entanglement of the rail and I-84 routes in the area. Compounding the problem of any strengthening of the existing platform is the location of the - -current facility where the bus and rail passenger areas are - directly beneath the viaduct - a very foolish design in my opinion. The single track will just have to stay until some final plan is made and it will be a choke point for the proposed Hartford Line local passenger service that might begin in 2018.
I ride the Hartford CT express bus route 2-4 times a week and it serves my needs better than the rail route would. CT Transit bus service was vastly improved once the busway was opened and I see little need for any rail passenger service on this corridor. Perhaps some sort of deal to improve the line for freight service can be made with Pan Am Southern that would help any future passenger service, but I don't see any need for that passenger service for decades.
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Re: They come to Connecticut: PL-1

Postby BM6569 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:25 pm

"The newest stage of the state's $1.25 million study of the privately owned Waterbury to Berlin rail line suggests three options: Maintaining or improving the tracks for freight service, or completely upgrading the line and the Terryville Tunnel to allow passenger trains."

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut ... story.html
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Re: They come to Connecticut: PL-1

Postby BostonUrbEx » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:14 pm

So can someone remind me why someone made the short-sighted, hair-brained idea to make a busway on a section of what would be an ideal route for a prime Waterbury-Hartford rail line?
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:09 pm

A few more tidbits within fair-use guidelines:

...
The state transportation department hasn't decided how to proceed, but plans to get public opinion this week. Engineers will present their latest findings at public meetings June 15 at the Berlin Public Library and June 16 at the Bristol Public Library. Both sessions run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with brief presentations at 6 p.m.

The 24-mile stretch of railroad links Berlin, New Britain, Plainville, Bristol, Plymouth and Waterbury, and some transit advocates have recommended for years that Connecticut should find a way to use it for passenger service. The New Britain to Waterbury segment carried passenger trains until 1957.
...
Introducing passenger trains would be costlier. In an update about the study, the DOT wrote that the century-old, 3,580-foot-long Terryville Tunnel is the biggest challenge. It would require lighting, modern ventilation and emergency walkways, along with extensive repairs, the DOT said.
...
Notably, the study doesn't recommend that Connecticut try to acquire the line to use as a busway. Any extension of CTfastrak through the region instead should use highways and local roads, according to consultants working on the study.
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Re: They come to Connecticut: PL-1

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:01 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:So can someone remind me why someone made the short-sighted, hair-brained idea to make a busway on a section of what would be an ideal route for a prime Waterbury-Hartford rail line?


Same reason the smell of stale farts lingers over huge swaths of CT state gov't: Two-time Federal Inmate John Rowland. He got his pants stuffed full of BRT-lobby payola back when that was still a thing, and all the firms that got unusually permissive contracts for the scoping study and design contracts were ones he had personal ties to. Better: he canceled the Hartford-Bradley Airport light rail line up the Griffins Secondary through a very residential-dense swath of northern Hartford and Bloomfield specifically so he could enrich himself pushing this BRT turkey. There were actually three BRT studies: here, paving over the Manchester Secondary, and paving over the Armory Branch. The latter two almost in spitting distance of the woefully underutilized I-84 and I-91 HOV lanes that are virtually empty except for all the Greyhound and Peter Pan buses. This was the only one of that trio of BRT turkeys that had any legs.


No one has any idea why Malloy fell over-the-moon for BRT propaganda. He looked like a born skeptic with 60/40 chance of killing it until literally the day of the press conference where he did everything but drink a swimming pool full of Busway kool-aid in front of the cameras. That one will forever be a head-scratcher.
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