NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby pbass » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:48 pm

Tommy:most of us NYWB fans know the financial history of the company.The topic of this thread was shared useage of the IRT.Even if the debt was paid or erased, for reasons previously explained,shared trackage rights would not be a practical solution to the dilemma as to how to keep the company solvent and operational albeit modified and altered.Your input is always welcomed and enjoyed.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Tommy Meehan » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:12 pm

Sorry if I intruded but I thought I was making a pertinent point. Yes, the fact the line lost money was mentioned but no one mentioned how really really bad the Westchester's financial performance was. So bad that, realistically, it precluded any possibility of continuing private operation. By anyone. The only outcome possible was exactly what happened.

The creditors took possession of the NYW&B and liquidated it. Scrapped it.

Fortunately the Bronx segment was taken over by a public agency, the NYCTA -- by the IRT -- and in that sense the line was extended into Manhattan. Yet I think to this day the Dyre Avenue-180th Street section is one of the most lightly used of the city's subway lines. The lowest ridership of any of the Bronx lines I would bet.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby pbass » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:04 pm

I grew up in the Bronx less than one half mile from Dyre Ave.When the atmospheric and harmonic conditions were in sync,late at night when all was quiet,I could hear that No.5 train rumble across the Boston Road trestle loud and clear and hear every wheel as it hit the gap in the rail.I would ponder that it was a different time and era and that was a late night NYWB train rolling along.For an extra bonus,under the same conditions,I could hear the squealing flanges at the 239th St.yard as the subway trains negotiated the tight curvature.When I ran the Harlem late at night with MU'S and not M1"S I imagined myself at the controls of an NYWB train and not where I was at that time and moment.It's a good thing dreams and thoughts are free,otherwise I'd be broke.As it was when I lived in the area and probably still is now,the Dyre Ave.no.5 train was rush hour heavy and slacked off during off hours just as it did in NYWB times.The Wakefield section of the Bronx was mainly residential especially in the territory served by the NYWB/NYCTA.I rode the no.5 on a Sunday a few years ago out of Dyre Ave. and the train filled rapidly to 180th St.if only it was like that for the NYWB.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Tommy Meehan » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:44 pm

I used to get the same feeling driving a cab along the old Heathcote Bypass in Scarsdale, a mile-long parkway-like stretch of road constructed on the old NYW&B ROW between Heathcote and Old Mamaroneck Road in White Plains.

Btw I looked up the 2011 NYCTA ridership figures for the stations in the Bronx and the No.5 Dyre Avenue-180th Street line does have the lowest ridership. The margin however, is nowhere near as great as I thought it would be.

The TA shows about 19,400 riders per weekday at the No.5's five stations between 180th Street and Dyre Avenue along what was once the main line of the NYW&B. (I presume this is boardings only.) The No. 2 White Plains Rd line has about 21,400 per day at its five northernmost stations and the No.6 Pelham Bay line has almost the same, 21,300 per day, at the five northernmost stations. That's not that many more.

The only line that carries significantly more traffic than the No. 5 is the No. 4 Woodlawn with about 45,000 riders per day boarding at its five northernmost stops.

I apologize for having doubted the attractiveness to riders of the old Boston-Westchester. :)

[The figures have been updated because I missed one of the No. 5's stations.)
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby fredmcain » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:28 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:IF the Westchester had been connected to the subway before the Bronx portion actually was the logical place to do that would have been 180th Street, right where it eventually was. The subway at 180th Street (actually an el at this location) offered much better transit connections even in the 30's and 40's. If the Westchester had been brought back before the wrecking started it would have made much sense to terminate Westchester service at 180th Street and just transfer everybody to the subway at this location. There could have been a lot of interesting possibilities as to what could have been done in this regard.
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One thing that I've always wondered about is WHY they couldn't have rerouted at least some NYW&B trains to Penn Station? I mean, the track connections were there! They wouldn't have needed to build anything.

They had their reasons I guess but I truly believe this would have been possible and might've even save the Westchester (at least the White Plains Line the Port Chester line was largely reduntant with the New Haven).

And now 75+ years later it has dawned on Metro-North to "explore" rerouting some New Haven Line trains to Penn. Duh!

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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby NH2060 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:57 pm

fredmcain wrote:One thing that I've always wondered about is WHY they couldn't have rerouted at least some NYW&B trains to Penn Station? I mean, the track connections were there! They wouldn't have needed to build anything.

They had their reasons I guess but I truly believe this would have been possible and might've even save the Westchester (at least the White Plains Line the Port Chester line was largely reduntant with the New Haven).

It never occurred to me that they theoretically could access Penn Station, but nevertheless you raise a very intriguing question/hypothetical scenario!

With Penn Station being a PRR owned and operated station with not even half the platform trackage GCT had (and with LIRR traffic mixed in under the East River, etc.) I doubt the Pennsy would have been open to having more non-PRR/LIRR trains running in and out of the station when their own trains could be using that space. Now granted this was still during the Great Depression so perhaps passenger traffic on the Pennsy wasn't as high as it was in the 1920s and during WWII, but I gather still high enough nonetheless being in the Northeast and all that there wouldn't have been much room to spare for more NH or any NYW&B traffic.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Jeff Smith » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:23 am

Unless they acquired the NH... They would have had entry into the New England market and competition with the Central that way, as well as through service opportunities (the exact argument over PSAS today!).
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Ridgefielder » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:09 pm

ChooChooChuck (Jeff Smith) wrote:Unless they acquired the NH... They would have had entry into the New England market and competition with the Central that way, as well as through service opportunities (the exact argument over PSAS today!).

IIRC the Pennsy tried to do just that-- buy the New Haven-- in the 1920's but were thwarted by government and business opposition in the State of Connecticut.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:01 pm

fredmcain wrote:One thing that I've always wondered about is WHY they couldn't have rerouted at least some NYW&B trains to Penn Station? I mean, the track connections were there! They wouldn't have needed to build anything.


With so much mystery surrounding the NYW&B, it's hard to say for sure why the railroad did anything... But here's my best guess on the matter. As others explained, the New Haven was a tenant in both Penn Station and Grand Central. They paid rental fees to the owners for every train they ran into those stations. One of the reasons the New Haven later came up with for building the NYWB Port Chester Branch was to siphon off some of the local commuter service so they could run fewer trains into Grand Central Terminal (a convenient rationale that was most likely developed in hindsight).

The NYW&B was initially routed to the New Haven's Harlem River Terminal because 1) the promoters believed that New York City was to keep growing northwards and would eventually envelop HRT and 2) "convenient" connections to the Second Avenue Elevated for riders to make their way to Manhattan. Remember that at the time the NYW&B was launched in 1912, the New Haven had spent considerable money upgrading the line between New Rochelle and HRT and continued to offer local passenger service into the 1920s. If HRT was such an inconvenient arrangement for commuters, why didn't New Haven explore routing some of those trains into Penn Station once Hell Gate Bridge opened in 1918? I believe the answer is manifold: 1) NH paid rent on every train routed into Penn Station, so they weren't about to add any more charges, 2) Penn Station was never designed for the level of traffic it handles today. It was designed as a long-distance station, the PRR had the majority of its commuter trains terminate at Exchange Place in Jersey City, and only a few LIRR trains ran into Penn from Jamaica. To add NYWB commuter trains into the mix would have been chaos, and 3) It is my understanding that routing NYW&B trains over Hell Gate and into Penn Station would have added significant time to the schedule, almost more than if you had hopped the Subway at East 180th Street.

Discussion of routing the NYW&B into the IRT or other rapid transit facility has its roots in the original New York & Portchester (one word) proposal that was competing with the NYW&B before the New Haven purchased them both and scrapped the NY&P proposal. If you read in detail Gotshall's initial filing with the railroad commissioners, he describes essentially a four-track, third rail powered, heavy rapid transit line from the South Bronx (projected connection with the north end of the IRT Second Avenue Elevated), north along the Sound Shore communities to the state line at Port Chester. A branch was to be built to the ferry terminal at Clason's Point (present day site of Whitestone Bridge). The description of the construction and the design of the right of way sounds like it was taken right from the IRT playbook (no surprise, since the IRT engineers had a good head start, why reinvent the wheel?)... Furthermore, when we look at the construction of the NYW&B, especially the surviving portion in The Bronx, it is amazing to note how similar it looks to the nearby IRT rapid transit lines. The NYW&B was built to carry high volumes of passenger traffic, and so you should expect similarities in the design of basic facilities for moving large masses of people on and off trains. In fact, it is my understanding that New York City did not have to make very many modifications to the NYW&B physical plant other than installing third rail and a new signal system when they took over in 1940-1941. So it's easy to see why so many parallels are drawn between NYW&B and rapid transit lines.

Two things doomed the NYW&B: The lack of a convenient terminal (though East 180th Street wasn't bad); and crushing debt that its corporate parent wanted no part of. Remember that the New Haven was in a dead cold sweat panic knowing that the NYW&B's construction bonds were going to mature in 1946 (which meant all debt much be paid in full). Not waiting until 1946 to sort the matter out, the process to rid itself of the NYW&B started as soon as the NH entered bankruptcy in 1935. The only way to eliminate that debt was to liquidate the company and get it off the books. In the game of "what-ifs" the only thing that may have saved the NYW&B is if the New Haven's own bankruptcy had been postponed by a couple of years, which would have delayed the NYW&B's own entry into receivership. As it stands, the NH declared bankruptcy in 1935, and the NYW&B was shut down two years later, and the Port Chester Branch dismantled in 1940, and the remainder in 1942 (except the portion purchased by New York City in 1940). Given the short period of time from bankruptcy to shutdown, the only thing that could have saved the NYW&B is if bankruptcy could have been staved off until 1940, and if both railroads could have limped into World War II together, and possibly serve through the war years as essential infrastructure. However, the bond maturation date wouldn't change. With the war over, and the physical plant of both lines in rough shape, would the outcome been any different? Rescue by the Port Authority? Create a new state public benefit corporation? Sell to a private investor? These solutions were tried in 1937 with little success, it's hard to imagine that the postwar scenario would be any different.

IF ONLY!! :-)

-otto-

ps - Sorry I've been absent for a while. A move upstate and increased responsibilities elsewhere have kept me away.
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Re: NYW&B Westchester Discussion on Potential Use of IRT

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:41 pm

Of course it is moot today but an interesting stastistic from the 30's. I wonder if the New Haven had decided to absorb the section of the Westchester between Larchmont Junction or whatever you call the point where there was once a tower connecting the New Haven and the Westchester east of New Rochelle and 174th Street in the Bronx AKA as West Farms. According to the timetables of both railroads of the era it was 10.38 miles from Larchmont to Westchester Avenue (Bronx) via the New Haven and New Rochelle Junction but only 9.44 miles from Larchmont to Westchester Avenue via the Westchester a saving of close to a mile and in addition it avoided a drawbridge at Pelham Bay. I am not sure that it would have been as good of a route for a Bay Ridge freight job but for a Penn Station passenger train I think it would have been at least as good a route as via New Rochelle Junction. Alas, it didn't happen but it is another interesting thought. This is an earlier example of the governments putting the hooks to the railroad with their high taxes and lack of support for local passenger train services, they just took it for granted until the pot was totally empty and even then they did pretty much nothing. It is so sad that such a splendid piece of railroad engineering was torn up long before its potential peak. I wonder what the ridership on this line would have been today with better connections to Manhattan than existed in 1937. I think trying to run Westchester trains in and out of Penn Station would have been a problem but there was the Long Island facilities at Hunterspoint Avenue and Long Island City with very easy subway connections and never really fully utilized to the extent that they could have been. OH WELL!!!!
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