Waterbury Branch Improvements: PTC, Sidings, Service

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

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Noel Weaver
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Noel Weaver » Sat Dec 26, 2009 8:06 pm

YEA, SURE Build a railroad in the middle of I-84, just like that. It doesn't work that way, there is no room to build a railroad
in the middle of this road through Waterbury and how do they handle Southington Mountain as well.
This belongs in the same catagory as commuter service on the Maine Central, Mountain Subdivision out of Portland,
returning rails to Eastport, Maine, trolley cars on the Beacon Line and others.
Ridiculous is not even enough to use for this one.
Noel Weaver

Train322
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Train322 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 8:25 pm

You must not have been on the road to Ohare in Chicago where the blue line runs in the median. Also I210 in Pasedena where the gold line is in the median. I am not saying Airtrain over the Van Wyck.

CDOT messes everything up by advocating what ends up being a more expensive BRT.
As mentioned, land acquisition for BRT pushed the cost up. Why not do light rail, it is hard to believe the bridge over Rt 9 needs to be replaced but this CDOT, I guess someone is designing storm drains that don't go anywhere.

Best solution for Waterbury line - extend to the northern part of Waterbury only (many employment locations). Add periodic passing tracks, signalize as they are starting on the Danbury branch and run trains every two hours. More during peak. If you check the fares, its very cheap to travel Waterbury to Bridgeport so one would expect lots of people would use the service where plenty of free parking is available. Set up shuttle busses from Shelton to employment/residential area's. Add a station near Bic in Milford. (guess that would be big $'s). Is anything shovel ready for Fed $'s?

Noel Weaver
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Noel Weaver » Sun Dec 27, 2009 1:05 am

Train322 wrote:You must not have been on the road to Ohare in Chicago where the blue line runs in the median. Also I210 in Pasedena where the gold line is in the median. I am not saying Airtrain over the Van Wyck.

CDOT messes everything up by advocating what ends up being a more expensive BRT.
As mentioned, land acquisition for BRT pushed the cost up. Why not do light rail, it is hard to believe the bridge over Rt 9 needs to be replaced but this CDOT, I guess someone is designing storm drains that don't go anywhere.

Best solution for Waterbury line - extend to the northern part of Waterbury only (many employment locations). Add periodic passing tracks, signalize as they are starting on the Danbury branch and run trains every two hours. More during peak. If you check the fares, its very cheap to travel Waterbury to Bridgeport so one would expect lots of people would use the service where plenty of free parking is available. Set up shuttle busses from Shelton to employment/residential area's. Add a station near Bic in Milford. (guess that would be big $'s). Is anything shovel ready for Fed $'s?
YEA SURE!! Run it to Waterville, there is nothing left there, a housing project on the hill to the west, two big empty
factories in Waterville itself, more stuff across the flats but not residences and not much else.
Chicago and its area is bigger than the entire state of Connecticut and rapid transit well serves the entire metro area and
it is warranted and necessary. Waterbury does not need any expansion of service other than what present exists although
I think an additional train or two would be warranted especially a through train in the AM to New York and back to
Waterbury in the PM.
I do think feeder bus service out of Waterbury north to Torrington and maybe Winsted is warranted and maybe to Bristol as
well. I also think the local bus service in Waterbury could probably be inproved but maybe there is just not enough call for
evening local bus service anymore.
It is very sad but Waterbury has really changed since I lived there in the 50's and early 60's. I do not think the good days will
return at least not in my lifetime and probably not at all. I really wish I was wrong on this but I don't think I am.
Noel Weaver

theozno
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by theozno » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:32 am

I-84 traffic can Just really suck at times.
I hope something happens. the line in Danbury *Maybrook I believe* has not seen any usage anymore in the Danbury area towards NY. I only pass by it almost everyday on my way to the Danbury train station.
could you make a light rail/bus line where it has the right of way that WCSU could also use it for their shuttles getting between the classes and dorms. It is a real pain in the *** getting between the two campuses at rush hour. I am glad my apartment is near the midtown campus. I love hearing the Danbury branch trains come in :-D
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Otto Vondrak
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:48 pm

theozno wrote:I-84 traffic can Just really suck at times.
YES.
Maybrook Line... Could you make a light rail/bus line...
NO.

Are we still talking about the Waterbury Branch here, or are we trying to have a contest for the most nonsensical "service expansions" we can think of?

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Ridgefielder
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Ridgefielder » Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:58 am

Train322 wrote:Build rail in the center of I 84 from Waterbury to Plainville. Should have done that prior to the widening work.


They could still build rail in the center of I 84 from the Newtown to Waterbury - use existing rail to connect to the Harlem line and forgo the I 84 widening from Waterbury to Brewster NY. Can they use the $'s from the highway widening for rail.
No offense intended, but how many times have you actually driven I-84 from Newtown to Waterbury? It's a rollercoaster. Certainly wouldn't be easy grades for rail. There's a reason the old NY & NE mainline over Towantic Summit was downgraded as long ago as 1900. You can even detect the steepness of the grade when you hike the rail trail. As for Waterbury-Plainville via I-84, how would you propose a train climb Southington Mountain? It would make Saluda Grade look gentle.

Remember, the geography of Western Connecticut is like a giant plowed field-- all ridges and valleys running N-S. That's why lines like the Highland from Waterbury to Hartford seem so indirect when you look at anything other than a topo map (or actually walk the ground or ride the engine).

More on-topic, though: what were the speeds and schedules for Waterbury-Hartford service "back in the day"-- say late '40's-early '50's? Would they be competitive with current I-84 rush-hour commute times?

TomNelligan
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by TomNelligan » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:48 am

Ridgefielder wrote: More on-topic, though: what were the speeds and schedules for Waterbury-Hartford service "back in the day"-- say late '40's-early '50's? Would they be competitive with current I-84 rush-hour commute times?
Looking at the September 1951 timetable (after dieselization), there were three weekday trains each way between Waterbury and Hartford with times in the 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minute range for the 31-mile run. Most made all intermediate stops (Bristol, Forestville, Plainville, and New Britain).

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:14 pm

TomNelligan wrote:
Ridgefielder wrote: More on-topic, though: what were the speeds and schedules for Waterbury-Hartford service "back in the day"-- say late '40's-early '50's? Would they be competitive with current I-84 rush-hour commute times?
Looking at the September 1951 timetable (after dieselization), there were three weekday trains each way between Waterbury and Hartford with times in the 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minute range for the 31-mile run. Most made all intermediate stops (Bristol, Forestville, Plainville, and New Britain).
That sounds about right. Line was full double-track back then including through the Terryville Tunnel, but passing sidings along with the track upgrade and resignalization would probably net similar travel time. The only slower portion of the ROW would be the hairpin turns, grade crossings, and steep grade through downtown Bristol on the station approach. It's straight and flat east of there, hilly but straight and zero grade crossings west of there. I would think you'd hit pretty high speeds Waterbury-Bristol.

You definitely aren't getting to/from Waterbury-Hartford in 1:15 at rush hour. Not even close. Exit 23/Route 69 in Waterbury to the I-691 interchange in Southington is a parking lot even with the lane widening, and Exit 37/Fienemann Rd. in Farmington to the Route 15 interchange in East Hartford is the other bottleneck, with very choppy traffic through Farmington, West Hartford, and the western part of Hartford proper before the terrible continuous backup hits a mile ahead of the I-91 interchange. The lighter-used 72/9 detour through New Britain is not bad, but it only shaves off 2 exits off the I-84 backups. And Bristol has no direct highway access, with even the expressway-downgraded Route 72 parkway scheduled to open soon not providing enough relief and only serving Forestville before ramming back down to a 2-lane city street through downtown.


Except for missing Cheshire and Southington it would be a very good commuting line. I lived in Bristol half my life, and most of my extended family lives in Terryville. The economies of Bristol and Plymouth are severely hampered by the lack of highway access. There are many people in those communities that have to take lower-paying jobs in-town because they can't practically make the commute east with the time and fuel commitments it would take, even with the distance being so short. Forestville and Bristol-proper are almost two different places entirely, with downtown Bristol being much more isolated than the subdivision and commuter-driven Forestville neighborhoods close to the Plainville and Southington borders with easier and vastly more accessible shots to 72 and 84. It's a weird dynamic...you get whole swaths of population that don't ever go anywhere, and very depressed property values downtown. Likewise Waterbury residents being able to go east to the higher-paying office park jobs...they're stuck in end-stage blue collar decay in the Naugutuck Valley. The transformative effect rail would have in unlocking that population and the economy from its commuting imprisonment would, I think, blow all initial ridership projections out of the water. Even the light-use Terryville stop. It would create lots of intercity commuters who didn't exist before, whereas New Haven-Hartford-Springfield is a more straightforward cars-removed-off-I-91 estimation.

Ridgefielder
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Ridgefielder » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:12 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
TomNelligan wrote:
Ridgefielder wrote: More on-topic, though: what were the speeds and schedules for Waterbury-Hartford service "back in the day"-- say late '40's-early '50's? Would they be competitive with current I-84 rush-hour commute times?
Looking at the September 1951 timetable (after dieselization), there were three weekday trains each way between Waterbury and Hartford with times in the 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minute range for the 31-mile run. Most made all intermediate stops (Bristol, Forestville, Plainville, and New Britain).
That sounds about right. Line was full double-track back then including through the Terryville Tunnel, but passing sidings along with the track upgrade and resignalization would probably net similar travel time. The only slower portion of the ROW would be the hairpin turns, grade crossings, and steep grade through downtown Bristol on the station approach. It's straight and flat east of there, hilly but straight and zero grade crossings west of there. I would think you'd hit pretty high speeds Waterbury-Bristol.
How bad is the existing track structure on this line? Any PAR engineers out there with recent experience on the Highland?

Also- is this line owned outright by Pan Am, or is it owned by the state and leased out to PAR (I'm thinking any commuter-rail operation would be easier to start up if the latter)?

TomNelligan
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by TomNelligan » Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:22 pm

Ridgefielder wrote: How bad is the existing track structure on this line?
Mostly 10 mph, I believe, but others may have more details. Freight business is light.
Also- is this line owned outright by Pan Am, or is it owned by the state and leased out to PAR?
It was sold by Conrail to the Boston & Maine in 1982, so Pan Am owns it via the B&M corporation.

Noel Weaver
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Noel Weaver » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:48 pm

The last round trip between Waterbury and Hartford came off in 1960. In 1957 the one remaining trip made the trip in 1
hour eastbound and 54 minutes westbound. The westbound stopped in Terryville while the eastbound did not except on
Saturdays at the time. It was a hard pull upgrade east out of Waterbury so that probably help add minutes to the trip.
The double track between Highland Junction, Waterbury and Plainville came up before WW-II. The double track between
Plainville and Newington came up in 1954. Of course Newington - Hartford (actually New Britain) is history today. I don't
know exactly when the second track between Hartford and Newington came up.
The year 1955 was the last year of good service before the August flood ended much of it. At that time there were still 4
trains each way, two of which ran through between Waterbury and Boston. One of these, 131 and 136 carried US Mail and
had an RPO as well. The running times for 131 and 136 were longer over the entire route because of mail work enroute.
In the 1955 timetable, the best running times were 53 minutes in both directions.
At the time the train came off they were still carrying a fair number of commuters but most of them from just Plainville or
New Britain and the operating costs were high. They just couldn't make money carrying commuters especially on a line
like this one. They still had to use two Budd Cars in order to provide seats for people traveling a total distance of less than
15 miles each way.
There were other reasons that the operating costs were high as well.
Noel Weaver

H.F.Malone
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by H.F.Malone » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:31 pm

The rail east of Highland Jct in Waterbury to Plainville diamond is mostly jointed NH 107 lb, with the usual (terrible) 5-hole single-shoulder tie plates and 4-hole joint bars. It was Class 2, 25 mph freight after the two-year CDOT-funded upgrade in about 1990-91. About 1 million state dollars in each of those years, into ties and surfacing. Little has been done since, and much of the line is FRA Class 1, 10 mph freight, 15 mph passenger.

A complete renewal of the track structure would be in order for modern-day commuter operations at speeds above 15 mph. Rail would be at least 115/119 CWR, with all-new ties, and lots of new ballast.

This is going to be expensive, and then add stations, parking lots, passing sidings, FRA-mandated PTC by 2015, well, you get the picture. Still less than the busway, though.
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by Port Jervis » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:37 pm

RearOfSignal wrote:I'm not a "New Haven" guy, but the times I've gone up there I've never seen anyone go from the Waterbury to New Haven, usually only west to SoNo, Stamford or New York.
I've done it a few times, needless to say the schedules aren't laid out to make this x-fer more convenient.
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MNR's #1 Conductor
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Re: Whither Waterbury?

Post by MNR's #1 Conductor » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:54 pm

RearOfSignal wrote:I'm not a "New Haven" guy, but the times I've gone up there I've never seen anyone go from the Waterbury to New Haven, usually only west to SoNo, Stamford or New York.
I have seen a small amount of NH to Waterbury Branch travel, but again a very small number, mostly midday with an occasional evening rider hoping to snag the last train up there.
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Re: Waterbury Upgrades Discussed - W'Bury-Berlin? Hartford???

Post by Jeff Smith » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:30 pm

More developments and money for.....












.....wait for it....................














.......A STUDY!

Bristol Press
BRISTOL — The Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency took a small step Friday toward the possible re-establishment of commuter rail service between Waterbury and Hartford.

The agency’s director, Carl Stephani, said it is asking the federal government for $1 million to do a wide-ranging study of transportation needs in the region that will look at everything from carpooling to commuter rail.

Combined with the $250,000 the state legislature approved last year to study the rail option, the money should be enough to get all the planning work done for whatever alternative makes the most sense, Stephani said.

The study will take as long as two years, he said, but there’s no telling when the federal funding might be approved for the application submitted Friday.
TWO YEARS! I love the guy who wants both. Yeah, reelect that guy. Uh huh.
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