Amtrak Vermonter (Montreal Greenfield Boston CT River Line)

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shadyjay
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Location: Conn River Valley

Post by shadyjay »

We have discussed many issues regarding the Vermonter route through MA over on the Amtrak thread, I believe in the "Vermonter" discussions.

1.. The last passenger train on the Conn River Line in Mass (today owned by Pan-Am) ran around 1986 and was the Montrealer. It was suspended around that time, then resumed in 1988/89, using the CV/NECR route from New London all the way up to Vermont and Montreal. Delay was caused with Amtrak acquiring the Conn River Line in Vermont and NH and then selling it to the CV, and associated rehabbing to get speeds up to 59 mph.

2.. Without visiting Palmer, it is easy to say build the nw quadrant of the wye. But when you go there, or ride on the Vermonter, you'll see the diamond is not oriented due n/s - e/w. The NECR line actually runs from SE to NW. Any connector track in the "NNW" quadrant would have to be quite the land acquisition and an extensive track. Not to mention, the tracks at that point are on an embankment and there are wetlands down in the hole. I don't see the railroads going through the hassles of building the connector track.

3.. Best route to improve the Vermonter, timekeeping and schedulewise would be to get off CSX. While the connection between CSX and NECR at Palmer is done fairly rapidly, due to the line being single-tracked to Springfield, I've been on board and waited 30-45 minutes for a CSX freight to clear from the west. Double-tracking the 10 miles or so would help - the ROW is there. Other option would be to send the Vermonter down the NECR right to New London, then over to New Haven on the Shore Line. NECR has no problems hosting Amtrak (at least on the central/northern end) and with some track upgrading, it may make more sense to upgrade south. I don't see the Pan-AM line being upgraded anytime soon, unless the state of Mass gets involved, or Pan-Am sells the line (yeah right), or if they are bought out (again, yeah right).

Noel Weaver
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Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Post by Noel Weaver »

It would be interesting to know the passenger counts for people boarding
or detraining on the Springfield Line and bound for or from Vermont
points. My guess is that it is not too great.
In my opinion, it would be better to reroute the Vermonter via New London
and the NECR from New London north. It could probably stop again at
Willimantic and maybe Norwich as well. No more reverse move at Palmer
and a nice straight shot. I would bet the running time would not be too
much different from the present route but the on time performance would
probably be improved over the present route. The portion of this line
south of Palmer was upgraded in the 1980's for the Montrealer and should
not be in too bad condition, it probably needs spot work here and there
but it should not be too bad.
I suspect that New England Central would offer full cooperation.
Noel Weaver

gprimr1
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Location: Towson Maryland

Post by gprimr1 »

I suspect they would to. I imagine, unlike the class 1's, Amtrak is a major customer.


As for your question about Springfield and Vermont, it verys by day and by season. Sometimes, the train will have a few people on it, sometimes it will be moving alot of people north to colleges and towns in Vermont. It's such an unpredictable load.

I've always toyed with an idea of resurrecting Palmer Station. The Vermonter approaches Palmer and stops at the station, then a DMU or Springfield shuttle pulls up to Palmer, dumps it's passengers then travels back to Springfield and the Vermonter crosses the NECR diamond, all in the same "block" period. It would probably take about 40 minutes and there is no need for people in Springfield to go out of their way. [/quote]
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
Ave Atque Vale

theozno
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Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:22 am

Post by theozno »

Noel,
That Idea could make the ultimate ski train. many people come from the new london area to ski in southern VT. I as well like the idea of that.
the biggest issue right now I think time. if someone got a one seat ride from new london to vt with either a connecting bus or the train going through the bellows falls connection - Chester - Ludlow would probably show huge intrest especially if you were to compare to drive times from new london to Southern VT

Has anyone suggested that to amtrak?
Noel Weaver wrote:It would be interesting to know the passenger counts for people boarding
or detraining on the Springfield Line and bound for or from Vermont
points. My guess is that it is not too great.
In my opinion, it would be better to reroute the Vermonter via New London
and the NECR from New London north. It could probably stop again at
Willimantic and maybe Norwich as well. No more reverse move at Palmer
and a nice straight shot. I would bet the running time would not be too
much different from the present route but the on time performance would
probably be improved over the present route. The portion of this line
south of Palmer was upgraded in the 1980's for the Montrealer and should
not be in too bad condition, it probably needs spot work here and there
but it should not be too bad.
I suspect that New England Central would offer full cooperation.
Noel Weaver

gprimr1
Posts: 3909
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Post by gprimr1 »

if this goes down, someone has to make MA and CT pay up? MA fills about 1/3rd of the Vermonter, yet pays nothing. This plan would work but..

1.) The line needs to be signaled north of Palmer, dark territory is slow territory.

2.) Need passings sidings, but that's not a big issue as there is PLENTY of room.

Alternative would be to link up and work with the Green Mountain RR to provide across the diamond transfers from the Vermonter to the Green Mountain Flyer.
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
Ave Atque Vale

TomNelligan
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Location: Massachusetts

Post by TomNelligan »

gprimr1 wrote: 1.) The line needs to be signaled north of Palmer, dark territory is slow territory.
Not necessarily all that slow... the FRA allows up to 59 mph in unsignaled territory, and given funding realities (and curves and grades) it's extremely unlikely that the old CV would ever be upgraded to permit speeds higher than that anyway.
2.) Need passings sidings, but that's not a big issue as there is PLENTY of room.
Freight business isn't all that heavy anywhere along the New England Central... most of the line has just one freight each way a day, and there's noplace that regularly has more than two. Obviously you do need sidings whenever you've got more than one train using a line, but it's far from a capacity-challenged route right now.

BrianS
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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:00 pm

Post by BrianS »

Lots of intresting thoughts and suggestions here.

There is no way to build a leg on the NW side of the Palmer diamond. Too much swamp and land is owned by citizens

Max speed for the vermonter is 59 MPH from Palmer to St. Albans.
This is because you need cab signals to run faster than 59 mph, altho the track I am sure can handle it. There are a lot of places that sharp curves would not permit fast speeds, hence perms for us and amtrak.

There are several passing sidings from Palmer north. There is one in Palmer, Three Rivers, Belchertown, Amherst, Brattleboro, Putney, No walpole, Claremont, WRJ, ect.


Brian
NECR conductor

BrianS
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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:00 pm

Post by BrianS »

Freight business isn't all that heavy anywhere along the New England Central... most of the line has just one freight each way a day, and there's noplace that regularly has more than two. Obviously you do need sidings whenever you've got more than one train using a line, but it's far from a capacity-challenged route right now.[/quote]

I send 60 to 100 cars north a day on 602 and they bring down 50 - 100 a day. That does not include CSX traffic interchanges in Palmer. But since its only a train a day (not including locals) they are always long, IE 5000 - 7500 feet long

Brian
NECR conductor

gprimr1
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Location: Towson Maryland

Post by gprimr1 »

Amherst has a passing sidding? I know it has a place where it looks like one was torn up.

I thought 59-79 required signals period and 79+ cab signals. I wonder how some Talgo like trainsets with active/passive tilt could improve the Vermonter.
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
Ave Atque Vale

Noel Weaver
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Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Post by Noel Weaver »

gprimr1 wrote:Amherst has a passing sidding? I know it has a place where it looks like one was torn up.

I thought 59-79 required signals period and 79+ cab signals. I wonder how some Talgo like trainsets with active/passive tilt could improve the Vermonter.
With Vermont paying the bills for their service, talgo (or turbo for that
matter too) type equipment would not work out very well. Equipment of
this nature is more expensive to operate and the line is by no means a
high speed line anyway. Present equipment on this line does a fine job
with these trains in my opinion.
The Boston and Maine Connecticut River Line in the pre McGinnis days of
the 1950's was very well maintained and fully signaled between
Springfield, Massachusetts and Windsor, Vermont as was the Central
Vermont between Windsor and White River Junction but yet to the best of
my knowledge, passenger train speeds were never higher than 60 MPH so
high speed equipment was never really considered in this territory. The
only place that was never signaled was the Central Vermont track on the
west side of the Connecticut River between Brattleboro and East Northfield
which was used for southbound trains under a paired track arrangement.
Before McGinnis ruined the railroad and before the interstate highways
were built, this line did a really good passenger business and had good
service too.
Noel Weaver

gprimr1
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Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Post by gprimr1 »

I think that if you could get the speeds up to 60-65 mph, then it would be competitive. They could even concievably, compete with trucking.
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
Ave Atque Vale

bozotexino

Post by bozotexino »

Brian -

Is there still a separate turn out of Palmer (611?) that handles the GMRC interchange, or is 602 handling everything again?

Bozo

CVRA7
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Location: Along the Canal Line

Improve the Vermonter, Don't Downgrade It

Post by CVRA7 »

My suggestions to improve the Vermonter:

Maintain it as a through train Washington -St Albans, forget the
proposal to use DMU equipment St Albans - New Haven.
- DMU equipment would not have done too well against the boulder
strike north of White R Jct earlier this week. And how about the many
grade crossing hits over the years?
- Equipment is currently experimental, does VT really want to be a guinea
pig?
- Food service would be minimal compared with today's.
- Changing trains at New Haven would be a detriment - especially with
single seat rides on competing busses. Who wants to search for seats
on an often crowded train from Boston, especially for people travelling
together?

The routing should be changed to the Conn River Line, plain and simple. This routing is far more direct, and Pan Am maintains the line to Portland in good shape because they are compensated. The NECR certainly does not maintain their trackage to the standards of predecessor CV, it seems every year I hear of service suspensions due to track problems on the NECR. Sorry Mr Weaver, routing the train to New London via the NECR would just add to the annual slow downs.

Convenient motor coach connections should be arranged for connections at Bellow Falls to Rutland - Middlebury - Burlington. The last I heard there is no longer any scheduled motor coach service between Rutland and Burlington, which I believe are Vermont's largest cities.
The connection St Albans-Montreal also should be restored.

Although a lot of trackwork would be needed, maybe the Vermonters should be re-routed into Burlington from Essex Jct. How many passengers go to St Albans vs Burlington? Is this service totally dictated by crew scheduling instead of passenger needs?

Sure, the above would cost some money. Maybe some of it could be obtained through the proposed federal rail service grants to states that is now being proposed.

theozno
Posts: 699
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:22 am

Re: Improve the Vermonter, Don't Downgrade It

Post by theozno »

I would refuse to use the train if i had to bus half the way I am sure a few others would as well!
A one seat ride going from white river JCT VT to Stamford CT Is very convinient. Mostly dependent on the stupid fare bucket system I will get off at New haven to save money and get off on new Haven and transfer to commuter rail service. this is unless i get the cheap fare.
CVRA7 wrote:My suggestions to improve the Vermonter:

Maintain it as a through train Washington -St Albans, forget the
proposal to use DMU equipment St Albans - New Haven.
- DMU equipment would not have done too well against the boulder
strike north of White R Jct earlier this week. And how about the many
grade crossing hits over the years?
- Equipment is currently experimental, does VT really want to be a guinea
pig?
- Food service would be minimal compared with today's.
- Changing trains at New Haven would be a detriment - especially with
single seat rides on competing busses. Who wants to search for seats
on an often crowded train from Boston, especially for people travelling
together?

The routing should be changed to the Conn River Line, plain and simple. This routing is far more direct, and Pan Am maintains the line to Portland in good shape because they are compensated. The NECR certainly does not maintain their trackage to the standards of predecessor CV, it seems every year I hear of service suspensions due to track problems on the NECR. Sorry Mr Weaver, routing the train to New London via the NECR would just add to the annual slow downs.

Convenient motor coach connections should be arranged for connections at Bellow Falls to Rutland - Middlebury - Burlington. The last I heard there is no longer any scheduled motor coach service between Rutland and Burlington, which I believe are Vermont's largest cities.
The connection St Albans-Montreal also should be restored.

Although a lot of trackwork would be needed, maybe the Vermonters should be re-routed into Burlington from Essex Jct. How many passengers go to St Albans vs Burlington? Is this service totally dictated by crew scheduling instead of passenger needs?

Sure, the above would cost some money. Maybe some of it could be obtained through the proposed federal rail service grants to states that is now being proposed.

theozno
Posts: 699
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:22 am

Re: Improve the Vermonter, Don't Downgrade It

Post by theozno »

I forgot to say that what I meant by bussing is if it were an hour or more. If I had to be bussed to a place and it was less than an hour Its something I don't think that many people would mind

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