Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

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Frank
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Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Frank » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:39 pm

West of Albany are there any bottlenecks on the lines the Lake Shore Limited runs on? I know the approach to Chicago is mentioned occasionally as well as part of the Empire Line west of Albany, but are there any slow points on the Lake Shore Limited?
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Railjunkie
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Railjunkie » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:21 pm

CSX in general

neroden
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by neroden » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:44 pm

West of Albany, you say? In order from east to west these are what I've identified as causes of slowdowns; I may have missed a few and some are much more important than others:

Bridge over Hudson River at Albany (replacement considered but not yet funded)
Single-tracking Albany-Schenectady-Hoffmans (double-tracking paid for, will be constructed next year)
Low platforms at Schenectady (new station with high platforms paid for)
Low platforms at the very busy stations of Rochester and Buffalo (Rochester has planning, but no funding, Buffalo has neither)
Short platform at Syracuse
Single platform at Syracuse
Slow tracks through the Syracuse yard area (supposedly paid for, but no progress -- CSX obstruction?)
Single-tracking near the Howland Island Wildlife Management Area (west of Syracuse)
Bad dispatching from CSX west of Buffalo and east of Cleveland
Very slow bridge and curve immediately east of Toledo station
Long section of lower-than-79 speed limits from Gary all the way through Chicago
Traffic congestion from Gary through Chicago
Englewood Crossing (being replaced with a flyover, funded)

JoshKarpoff
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by JoshKarpoff » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:56 pm

NYSDOT, Amtrak and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter just announced the funding for the replacement Amtrak station, which will be an intermodal station, similar in function to Syracuse's station, but with a pedestrian crossover similar to Utica, Albany or most Metro-North stations. Construction is slated to start in mid to late 2013. It will be a design-build project and Amtrak will continue to own and operate the station. The intermodal terminal for thruway bus service will be part of phase 2.
http://www.rbj.net/article.asp?aID=193388
An agreement has been reached to allow the National Passenger Railroad Corp.—commonly known as Amtrak—to own and operate Rochester’s $26.5 million train station, officials said Monday.

The state Department of Transportation will oversee the design and construction of the facility at 320 Central Ave., officials said.

The intermodal transportation center will be funded primarily by a $15 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.
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neroden
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by neroden » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:06 am

Lovely news about Rochester! :-)

I would say that after the funded projects, the most significant slowdowns are, in this order:
(1) Gary to Chicago speed limits (trains routinely run slower than parallel Skyway traffic)
(2) The single-tracking near Howland Island, which often involves a long time at a dead stop for an opposing train. Much of this is on a long trestle which is slow, too. I haven't heard any plans for restoring double track or speeding it up, unfortunately.
(3) That bridge east of Toledo. The bridge must need repairs or replacement or something, as the speed limit is *extremely* low.

Greg Moore
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Greg Moore » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:50 am

This is definitely one route I'd love to see some speed improvements on.

Being able to run segments at 110mph once the new Viewiners in service should help a bit.

But at a scheduled running time of 19 hours, it's just really to slow. That averages to 50mph.

Upgrading the average speed to
55mph makes it a 17:45 hour route - This means you can leave at NYP 5:00 PM (I know, scheduling of train slots is an issue) and still get into Chicago for a mid-morning meeting.
60mph makes it a 16 hour route. - This means you can leave NYP at 6:00 PM, after your day finishes there and still get into Chicago for a mid-morning meeting
65mph makes it a 14:75 hour route - And THIS means, you could leave NYP at 7:00 PM, and make it to Chicago for an early morning meeting.

So, find the slowest bottlenecks (which sounds like neroden has done) and fix those. We don't need drastic changes. While sure, 110mph across upstate NY would be nice, let's go for smaller incremental changes.
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Frank
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Frank » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:58 am

neroden wrote:West of Albany, you say? In order from east to west these are what I've identified as causes of slowdowns; I may have missed a few and some are much more important than others:

Bridge over Hudson River at Albany (replacement considered but not yet funded)
Single-tracking Albany-Schenectady-Hoffmans (double-tracking paid for, will be constructed next year)
Low platforms at Schenectady (new station with high platforms paid for)
Low platforms at the very busy stations of Rochester and Buffalo (Rochester has planning, but no funding, Buffalo has neither)
Short platform at Syracuse
Single platform at Syracuse
Slow tracks through the Syracuse yard area (supposedly paid for, but no progress -- CSX obstruction?)
Single-tracking near the Howland Island Wildlife Management Area (west of Syracuse)
Bad dispatching from CSX west of Buffalo and east of Cleveland
Very slow bridge and curve immediately east of Toledo station
Long section of lower-than-79 speed limits from Gary all the way through Chicago
Traffic congestion from Gary through Chicago
Englewood Crossing (being replaced with a flyover, funded)
Thanks. Are any of these projects going to result in any time savings or any meaningful reduction in congestion?
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25Hz
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by 25Hz » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:18 am

The line west of albany is a major freight artery, even more so farther west towards chicago.
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Railjunkie
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Railjunkie » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:55 am

Frank wrote:
neroden wrote:West of Albany, you say? In order from east to west these are what I've identified as causes of slowdowns; I may have missed a few and some are much more important than others:

Bridge over Hudson River at Albany (replacement considered but not yet funded)
Single-tracking Albany-Schenectady-Hoffmans (double-tracking paid for, will be constructed next year)
Low platforms at Schenectady (new station with high platforms paid for)
Low platforms at the very busy stations of Rochester and Buffalo (Rochester has planning, but no funding, Buffalo has neither)
Short platform at Syracuse
Single platform at Syracuse
Slow tracks through the Syracuse yard area (supposedly paid for, but no progress -- CSX obstruction?)
Single-tracking near the Howland Island Wildlife Management Area (west of Syracuse)
Bad dispatching from CSX west of Buffalo and east of Cleveland
Very slow bridge and curve immediately east of Toledo station
Long section of lower-than-79 speed limits from Gary all the way through Chicago
Traffic congestion from Gary through Chicago
Englewood Crossing (being replaced with a flyover, funded)
Thanks. Are any of these projects going to result in any time savings or any meaningful reduction in congestion?

Nope, with most of the improvements above your looking at seconds not minutes. Its not how fast you go its how you go fast. CSX dispatching could be better which might save you a couple of minutes but...

Single track west of SYR? Been a while but from what I remember its double track from Hoffmans to Collinwood yard and a bit of single track between the yard and CLE station, thats as far west as I was qualified. As for speeds most of the trip between Hoffmans and Utica is 70mph or less with a little 75 to 79mph mixed in depending on the track, that's apprx 70 miles.

ThirdRail7
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by ThirdRail7 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:33 pm

25Hz wrote:The line west of albany is a major freight artery, even more so farther west towards chicago.
Railjunkie wrote: Nope, with most of the improvements above your looking at seconds not minutes. Its not how fast you go its how you go fast. CSX dispatching could be better which might save you a couple of minutes but...

I've never been past but I think these statements sum it up best. When the delay reports come in, it usually reflects the large amount of traffic along this route. It seems as if there is literally a wall of trains. Even when CSX tries to route the passengers around the freights, the crossover moves seem to take time.

Perhaps the schedules along this route are no longer realistic. Perhaps a new schedule based upon today's traffic patterns is needed.
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Greg Moore
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Greg Moore » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:08 pm

ThirdRail7 wrote:
25Hz wrote:The line west of albany is a major freight artery, even more so farther west towards chicago.
Railjunkie wrote: Nope, with most of the improvements above your looking at seconds not minutes. Its not how fast you go its how you go fast. CSX dispatching could be better which might save you a couple of minutes but...

I've never been past but I think these statements sum it up best. When the delay reports come in, it usually reflects the large amount of traffic along this route. It seems as if there is literally a wall of trains. Even when CSX tries to route the passengers around the freights, the crossover moves seem to take time.

Perhaps the schedules along this route are no longer realistic. Perhaps a new schedule based upon today's traffic patterns is needed.
This is one reason why at least in NYS, they want to build a "dedicated" 3rd track. CSX wants a wider distance between the tracks. NYS can't afford it, so I'm not waiting, but I think it'll help if it's ever built.
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Albany Rider
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Albany Rider » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:47 pm

Unfortunately, according to a press release issued by Governor Cuomo when Amtrak took over the CSX Hudson Line earlier this month, the major improvements in the Albany area -- including the Albany - Schenectady double track, Rensselaer Station improvements and Schenectady Station rebuild -- will not be completed until September 2017.

That means the Lake Shore will continue to have a troubles for a few more years.

Tony

afiggatt
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by afiggatt » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:45 pm

Albany Rider wrote:Unfortunately, according to a press release issued by Governor Cuomo when Amtrak took over the CSX Hudson Line earlier this month, the major improvements in the Albany area -- including the Albany - Schenectady double track, Rensselaer Station improvements and Schenectady Station rebuild -- will not be completed until September 2017.

That means the Lake Shore will continue to have a troubles for a few more years.

Tony
September 2017 is the date by which the HSIPR stimulus funds must be fully spent (end of FY 2017). My take on the September, 2017 completion dates in the press release is that it is a placeholder date as the construction contracts have not been awarded and schedules have not been finalized. I would think Amtrak and NYDOT would like to wrap up the work more quickly than that. Since the funds are all in place, if the work is actually completed in late 2015 or mid 2016, the 2017 official date will allow the state DOT to issue a self congratulatory press release on how the work was completed a year or two early.

There are 2 other funded HSIPR projects for the LSL route that I don't see mentioned in this thread:
1) the $71 million Indiana Gateway Corridor project for track and crossover upgrades to reduce the bottlenecks on the NS tracks in Indiana. The funds were obligated in September, 2012 so the agreements have all been signed.
2) $18.5 million for Syracuse Track construction and signal improvements. The funds for this project still have not been obligated as CSX and the FRA reportedly have been unable to agree to terms. This is a FY2010 award which does not have the 2017 deadline the stimulus grants do, so the FRA and CSX can continue to negotiate if that is what they are doing. There are benefits to putting a reasonable deadline on project funding to motivate the various agencies and parties involved to reach agreements and get going on the project.

Mcoov
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by Mcoov » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:11 pm

Greg Moore wrote:This is one reason why at least in NYS, they want to build a "dedicated" 3rd track. CSX wants a wider distance between the tracks. NYS can't afford it, so I'm not waiting, but I think it'll help if it's ever built.
Seeing as how the line was historically graded for four tracks the entire way, how is this an issue? Is there not enough space for three evenly spaced tracks?

ctclark1
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Re: Lake Shore Limited bottlenecks

Post by ctclark1 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:20 pm

ThirdRail7 wrote:When the delay reports come in, it usually reflects the large amount of traffic along this route. It seems as if there is literally a wall of trains. <snip>
Perhaps the schedules along this route are no longer realistic. Perhaps a new schedule based upon today's traffic patterns is needed.
Living next to these tracks, some days it definitely seems like a wall of trains. I've heard people talk about getting "double-trained" at 2-track crossings, this is the only place I've ever seen a "triple-train" wait at a 2-track crossing... I don't remember which directions, but as an example, train 1 was traveling on track 1. Just before train 1 finished, train 2 was lumbering slowly across Rt 19. Then, by the time train 2 finished, Train 3 was going by on track 1...

You have to consider that CSX seems to have been doing a lot of major maintenance along the Chicago Line/WLR over the last few years. I know through Bergen Track 1 was replaced in 2009, They just did Track 2 through here this fall... Add in the signal changeovers through the eastern half of the state and routine maintenance, I've seen a heck of a lot of work being done through Bergen just since moving here last winter, and more times than I can count I've witnessed "walls of trains" backed up in either direction, rumbling slowly by at speeds you would typically see them entering a yard. More days than not it does seem to be business as usual, but there are a lot of days when there are backups, I've presumed because of maintenance somewhere; but know that it could be anywhere between Albany and somewhere in Ohio that could be logically causing it based on the of the amount of traffic this road sees. There's not a lot of logical detours nor are there a lot of places for traffic to split between Albany and Buffalo, even farther west of Buffalo really. If it is the maintenance causing these problems, presumably they'll be resolved at some point in the future. Do I know that this is the reason? No, just speculating, but I don't know as the schedules need to be reworked at this point. Particularly as it would probably require reworking the schedules across the country to keep layovers and platform occupancy...

Just my thoughts on the matter... I'm no expert.

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