Regional rail to Pottstown

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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby rr503 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:39 pm

ExCon90 wrote:Also, if initial ridership is low because of scant frequency, such as lack of a couple of "cleanup" trains after the pm rush hour, it may be difficult to get funding for expansion of service, making the initial low ridership a self-fulfilling prophecy.


My point exactly. Realized loads per train generally follows a rough approximation of a laffer curve if plotted against frequency. This is also why ‘doing it right’ ie analyzing and tailoring service/pricing to a given market should be much, much, much more important than acting reactively to passenger loads. If the latter, myopic route is taken, one has no way of knowing if perceived disinterest in a service is a factor of corridor demand or service provided.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby ChesterValley » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:16 pm

Norfolk Southern isisn't going to play ball: https://patch.com/pennsylvania/phoenixv ... l-proposal
Norfolk Southern is not interested in the project to bring passenger rail to Phoenixville as it is currently designed, according to sources, and this has been the company's position since the summer.


Additionally,

And a year-long feasability study, fully funded by a sponsoring public agency but executed by Norfolk Southern, must be undertaken, per the guidelines, "so that Norfolk Southern could fully understand the potential impacts," Glass added.


It looks like a NHSL extension along 422 would be a move viable option but even then, its not looking good.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby mcgrath618 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:27 pm

I mean let's be honest, did you think they'd jump at the chance?
I feel, however, that should the state or federal government become in any way involved with the project, perhaps NS would be more accepting.
It doesn't seem like they're being unreasonable. I mean a year long study is too much if you ask me, but the company itself hasn't said either way and won't until an official proposal is put forward.
I think that they could handle a few trains a day. I know the biggest issue here is catenary but I'm sure a solution can be devised to solve that too.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby BPP1999 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:56 am

I have a few questions about this

Did NS actually pay for the former rail line to Reading, or was it “acquired” via Federal law?

Isn’t it true that in many other parts of the country, passenger service shares track with freight? (I own John Pawson’s book and have seen some of his quotes in Wikipedia).

Does anyone think NS’ stated position is at the request of SEPTA and/or state leaders who simply want to squash this idea because they don’t want the regional rail system to expand?
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:41 am

BPP1999 wrote:I have a few questions about this

Did NS actually pay for the former rail line to Reading, or was it “acquired” via Federal law?

Yes, when it bought Conrail from the shareholders who had bought it from the Federal government.

Isn’t it true that in many other parts of the country, passenger service shares track with freight? (I own John Pawson’s book and have seen some of his quotes in Wikipedia).

Yes, but freight railroads’ positions on passenger rail can vary wildly from permissive to indifferent to hostile, even on different parts of their systems.

Does anyone think NS’ stated position is at the request of SEPTA and/or state leaders who simply want to squash this idea because they don’t want the regional rail system to expand?

No, I think it’s because NS wants more money.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:15 pm

For passenger and freight to share the same tracks there has to be enough trackage to accommodate both while keeping them out of each other's hair. The Reading had four tracks in that area when it handled both. At the choke points freight trains had to defer to passenger, but a lot of the freight in those days was coal, which moved at relatively slow speeds so that waiting for a passenger train to clear didn't cost much time. Today's merchandise traffic requires faster movement than was the rule in those days. Another factor that may be bothering NS is the lamentable tendency of Amtrak trains to fail to show up at the time agreed upon with NS, therefore disrupting NS's operations. That should be less of a problem with SEPTA Regional Rail, but NS may be taking a "better safe than sorry" attitude.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby BPP1999 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:30 pm

Thanks.

Isn’t it safe to say, though, that dispatching has improved dramatically since the last time there were passenger trains on the Reading line in that area, plus there are simply many less trains nowadays? And, let’s be honest, the old Reading line, in most given areas, doesn’t have trains on it for what, 23.5 hours a day?
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby mcgrath618 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:46 pm

I would say that if SEPTA agrees to lay down some more track (maybe just one more, I don't know about 2 more), NS would be less hesitant. SEPTA could lay down another track in between the existing two, and either NS could use it as their track 2 or SEPTA could use it. I feel like it'd actually be easier for NS to use it because then SEPTA could electrify the outside track (i.e, the track closer to the Schuylkill) without interfering too much with NS double stack traffic (or any for that matter, as I'm pretty sure that track 2 is the one that continues over to Norristown TC, if I'm not mistaken).
Speaking of, don't they already share the trackage around NTC with SEPTA already?
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby JeffK » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:26 pm

mcgrath618 wrote:).Speaking of, don't they already share the trackage around NTC with SEPTA already?

Correct, there’s a shared stretch for a couple of miles. The single NS track branches off south of NTC and runs parallel to the Schuylkill Valley Trail for a similar distance.

However AFAIK that stretch is only used occasionally, usually Sunday mornings when conflicts with SEPTA's needs would be minimal. The proposed RRD service would use the multi-track route along the river which could be more complicated. Traffic isn’t heavy (only a few trains per day) but they operate throughout the week and often travel very slowly.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby nova08 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:49 am

JeffK wrote:
mcgrath618 wrote:).Speaking of, don't they already share the trackage around NTC with SEPTA already?

Correct, there’s a shared stretch for a couple of miles. The single NS track branches off south of NTC and runs parallel to the Schuylkill Valley Trail for a similar distance.

However AFAIK that stretch is only used occasionally, usually Sunday mornings when conflicts with SEPTA's needs would be minimal. The proposed RRD service would use the multi-track route along the river which could be more complicated. Traffic isn’t heavy (only a few trains per day) but they operate throughout the week and often travel very slowly.

That stretch around NTC which is essentially the start of the NS Morrisville line and is used 6-8 times a day. Including some hot intermodal traffic. NS trains are held until Septa traffic clears NTC. I've seen trains held 30-60+ minutes. So not exactly ideal for NS which might be another reason they are not jumping to play ball.

That said, the NS line between Abrams-Pottstown really has a low utilization with about 10 trains a day on a 2 track main. I agree that the ROW once held 3-4 tracks, but laying any new track will be a significant cost (ala Wawa).
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby mcgrath618 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:04 pm

In that case, the only way I see this happening is if SEPTA gets a dual mode engine. That way no catenary would be required, and therefore minimal construction work.
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Re: Regional rail to Pottstown

Postby JeffK » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:32 pm

nova08 wrote:That stretch around NTC ... is used 6-8 times a day. Including some hot intermodal traffic.

Yeah, I was kind of pushing the definition of "few". Also there's the issue of consist size and speed. Most of the trains I've observed are hauling 80-100 cars, plus they're running at low speed due to safety concerns*. The length of time for each one to clear would further limit sharing. In any case as I understand the FRA's rules, wide temporal separation is required if physical separation isn't possible; I'm fairly sure that's why such long holds are imposed. The temporal separation rules would probably monkey-wrench anything more than infrequent commuter service.

I agree that the ROW once held 3-4 tracks, but laying any new track will be a significant cost (à la Wawa).

As someone :-D once said "Aye, there's the rub."

* My understanding from newspaper reports is that a permanent slow order was imposed after two visiting scientists were hit by an NS freight as they walked the tracks in an area with poor sight lines. It was their first time in the US and they'd told friends they were going for a walk near VF Park. The police surmised they didn't realize the line was active. (Well OK, I've got 2.8 science degrees but they don't make me so wifty I'd ignore polished rails and a maintained roadbed, but then again I also know a bit about railroads.)
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