Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

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Matt Johnson
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Matt Johnson » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:42 am

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The expansion of NJ Transit's rail network will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for rail service to the Poconos.

We choose to go to Scranton. We choose to go to Scranton in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Roadgeek Adam
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Roadgeek Adam » Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:51 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:so first we had 349 pages of cutoff and now we start ** pages of non relevant fantasy schemes not related to cutoff ?? I get it...

All I've done is try to explain why most alternatives proposed are bad. I don't think it's too much to ask.
...they are solid plastic, so don't settle for imitation.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by scoostraw » Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:39 am

Matt Johnson wrote:If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The expansion of NJ Transit's rail network will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for rail service to the Poconos.

We choose to go to Scranton. We choose to go to Scranton in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Ha!

I often wonder what the builders of the cutoff would think about the current state of affairs - and how hard it is for modern man to lay just a few miles of track on an already existing ROW and run trains over it.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:44 am

Getting the cutoff restored to at least E. Stroudsburg is a big start and okay by my books, once improvements are made on the system closer to NYC. In fact, it's like 50 something miles driving from E. Stroudsburg to Scranton and one of the things that people don't comprehend is that 50 miles is still a long distance from E. Stroudsburg to Scranton. It's not like the two towns are next to each other. Yes, people will drive 50 miles to a commuter rail stop, especially those who might live in a community served by Amtrak service. Having NJT run all the way to Scranton would probably be like having NJT run all the way from NYC to Philadelphia. If I was Amtrak or the head of PADOT, I would say, let's have NJT end in E. Stroudsburg and have Amtrak continue the rest of the way to Scranton.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:31 pm

scoostraw wrote:I often wonder what the builders of the cutoff would think about the current state of affairs - and how hard it is for modern man to lay just a few miles of track on an already existing ROW and run trains over it.
Rudolph, Bambi, Hootie the Owl, Squirmy the Worm, and Tuffy the Turtle didn't have too much say with the D,L,&W's Board of Managers when they authorized construction of the Cutoff.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:45 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote: Rudolph, Bambi, Hootie the Owl, Squirmy the Worm, and Tuffy the Turtle didn't have too much say with the D,L,&W's Board of Managers when they authorized construction of the Cutoff.
I feel blaming it on environmental review processes is a bit of an obfuscation. EISs aren't binding; they merely make recommendations (though, if impacts to protected species are found, then mitigation does become enforcable). Where they become really impedimentary is when NIMBYs/anti development folks weaponize their findings to make a case against a project, and when (in response to this NIMBY-cum-envrionmentalist trend) planners feel they have to document *everything* in hopes that a document dump can fend off a lawsuit (never works). That cycle of negative reinforcement does truly terrible things to construction costs and timelines.

As for the Cutoff (and I hate to be such a grinch), I really don't think the case is there anymore, or not at least for a commuter service. By really every metric, investments in public transit serving denser core areas are better; the nature of development surrounding them encourages use. This, combined with the reality that people don't really want to live in exurbia anymore makes the case for the Cutoff weak. I'd rather see that money spent building out extensions of HBLR/NLR, increasing service/track capacity on NJT's core network, or developing commuter rail on high-density corridors (NYSW being a great example).

Where I could see a use for the cutoff is in developing intercity rail between the Southern Tier, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, and NYC. Dunno what the ridership on that would be (esp. given that it'd be significantly slower than bus/driving) but maybe something worth looking into.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:54 pm

In the category of new extensions, right now, NJT must get the shovels ready for extending the Westside Spur of HBLRT from Westside Ave across 440 to the new park n ride lot. There is a lot of commercial development there and plenty of residential development will probably be going up. Next, please make HLBRT live up to its true name-extend the light rail from North Bergen to Englewood. Now you are going into Bergen County. It's more denser there than in Northeastern PA, even though the population is probably increasing in certain towns.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by rr503 » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:40 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:In the category of new extensions, right now, NJT must get the shovels ready for extending the Westside Spur of HBLRT from Westside Ave across 440 to the new park n ride lot. There is a lot of commercial development there and plenty of residential development will probably be going up. Next, please make HLBRT live up to its true name-extend the light rail from North Bergen to Englewood. Now you are going into Bergen County. It's more denser there than in Northeastern PA, even though the population is probably increasing in certain towns.
Another unpopular opinion: screw park and rides closer to the core. There has to be some parking, yes, but a development covering the same area as a, say, thousand car lot is wont to provide more ridership than the lot -- density around transit encourages use at all times of day.

Other priority areas for NJT IMO are making trains run more than 1/hour in the off-peak, doing *something* with NLR (Newark Branch anyone?), and, as you say, HBLR to Englewood.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:39 pm

Much of the M&E Line stations in the Oranges have little parking and many people can walk to the stations. The same thing goes with the Montclair-Boonton Line between Watsessing Avenue and Montclair State University. Unfortunately, if service were to start to E. Stroudsburg before Gateway is constructed, the trains would be all stop locals and that is not what people want who are commuting from outlying areas, especially as you get closer to Morristown and westward. Presently, a local train to NYP from Dover takes just over an hour and a half. That doesn't please me one bit. Just imagine how long it would take if that train were to get extended to NEPA. This is why track capacity must be expanded in core parts of the system first, such as between NYP and Summit.

As for light rail on the NWK Branch, there is potential for that and I would love to see that happen. It would enable a faster ride from Paterson to Newark over taking the 72 bus which is slow when there is a lot of traffic. I take the 72 bus part of the way from work after getting off of the NWK Light rail at Grove Street Station. If there were ever a light rail line on the NWK Branch, what would probably happen is it would follow the existing light rail to Branch Brook Park Station and then probably it would run on an old right of way through Branch Brook Park connecting to the NWK Industrial Track in Belleville. From Belleville to Clifton, the light rail should run on the NWK Industrial Track and then it would travel on a new set of tracks along the NJT Main Line to Downtown Paterson. The other option is follow Broad Street Spur and run on a new set of tracks closer to Rt. 21 and connect to the existing NWK Branch.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:22 am

I can assure this Forum that when I originated this topic some fourteen years ago, it would be a ten postings and done. I never intended for it to become The Odyssey, Beowulf, and whatever other "Epics" come to mind.

But really volks, would a restored Cutoff to, say, Stroudsburg, generate any more passenger traffic than the ERIE Suffern-Port Jervis? That ROW was largely excavated for the NY&E by God with the Ramapo and Neversink Rivers. Now with the Cutoff, the superbly engineered and graded ROW remains, but track, signalling, and likely bridges, all need be built/laid/or repaired (how many times in this life have I driven under the Slateford bridge on I-80 and wondered if this trip will "decorate" - or worse - my auto?).

One can question " 'till the cows come home" the decision by Conrail to abandon the entire DL&W as a through freight route, but that decision is essentially irreversible. So with the "softening" of the Sussex real estate market, the Monroe County market built on "liar loans", and the inability of NJT to fully operate the services they oatensibly offer, this project, if not buried, is in the morgue.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Dcell » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:23 pm

I think it is buried, as there has been no work on it for a long time and the tunnel rebuilding is not on the list of contracts scheduled for bidding thru July 2019.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by scoostraw » Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:48 pm

Lackawanna Cut-Off - Update #2: Looking to 2019:

https://youtu.be/NlnnBrvivks" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:52 am

Fortunately, I had the honor to ride this line during March 1960 in daylight aboard DLW #3, Phoebe Snow, and sitting in the obs. The memory remains fresh.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by amtrakhogger » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:04 pm

I am amazed that while the Cutoff is held up by bats, turtles, and lord know what else, these new gas and oil pipelines basically steamroll their way across the country with little to stop them.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by scoostraw » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:59 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:I can only reiterate that it is a shame this magnificently engineered piece of railroad was deemed by Conrail to be non-essential.
I agree.

I found Chuck Walsh's video series on the cutoff highly informative regarding why Conrail not only did not want it, but why they wanted it ripped up as well. I highly recommend Chuck's videos to all.

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