MOM Rail Service

Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

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jb9152
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Re: NJ-ARP: Deception not our card.

Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:52 pm

Douglas John Bowen wrote:We urge skeptics to examine the available rights-of-way. The true MOM route is a one-track railroad, but its right-of-way allows for significant expansion, allowing for expanded capacity, allowing for superior running times.
Capacity does NOT ipso facto equate to running time improvement. You can only use one of the tracks at a time, no matter if you have one or six. Don't be so fast to cast me in the light of "skeptic". I just want it to be clear that some of the arguments that are being advanced to support a particular alignment or another are somewhat deceptive - including equating the presence of extra tracks with an improvement in running time. As I noted, you can only use one at a time; the train does not run faster because there is an adjacent track rather than a cornfield.
Douglas John Bowen wrote:Deceptive? Let the "Oops! Where's Matawan?" backers -- whomever and wherever they might be -- explain to us just how one will shoehorn in even one track with an existing, active, state taxpayer-funded bicycle rail trail that happens to be -- one rail track wide throughout. THEN explain to us how such limited capacity can handle two-way traffic and offer anything better than a Pascack Valley-model "commuter" rail operation, especially at the rush.
Granted. But again, you're mixing apples and oranges. Capacity and running time are separate issues. Related in a peripheral way? Sure. But indisputably different.

And now, to boot, you're changing the discussion to an evaluation of right of way width. Fine. If it turns out to be financially, politically, or otherwise prohibitive to build the Matwawn alternative, then that alternative will, in good faith, have to be thrown out. I don't disagree with you one iota there. But let's be clear about what we're discussing - this has nothing to do with the slashing (by fiat, it seems) of 17 to 18 minutes of run time from the Monmouth Junction alignment with the stroke of a magic pen. It has to do with future capacity and service considerations. And on that basis, I don't disagree with you.

Douglas John Bowen wrote:Finally, distance does not automatically equate to schedule times on a one-for-one basis. To suggest such a correlation is, to be polite, a stretch. We offer as an example any trip from Garden State Parkway Exit 131 to Albany Street in New Brunswick. Going via Route 27 is faster than the New Jersey Turnpike? Possible, but not likely, and certainly not guaranteed.
Absolutely right. However, your example is badly misleading, and you misquote (or at least misunderstand) my point, which is not that distance equates to "...schedule times on a one-for-one basis". I never said that, nor do I think I implied it.

Highway traffic is a MUCH more 'perturbable' and chaotic stream than rail, which tends to have an order and flow enforced by the signal system (which the highway system has in only the most rudimentary way) and schedule (which highways in general do not have). But if you're honest, and acknowledge that *any* MOM alternative will have a modern signal system, passenger train-appropriate track structure, and a rational station distribution coupled to a rational timetable, the comparison breaks down quickly.

Perhaps I should have been clearer in stating my assumptions, but I thought they were so obvious as to be self-evident. A 15-mile commuter-rail quality rail line will ALWAYS produce longer running times than a comparable commuter-rail quality 5-mile rail line. That's just the way it is.

jb9152
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Re: NJ-ARP: Re: 'track saturation'

Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:57 pm

Douglas John Bowen wrote:Any capacity overload on the Northeast Corridor, real or pending, becomes more intense the closer one comes to Newark-Penn Station and/or New York.

Given that, alternatives to the true MOM, real or in fantasyland, suffer the same handicap, at the very best, as MOM does.

South of Rahway, we'd continue to argue that a four-track main line offers better options than even a clean, well-run, two-track North Jersey Coast Line does.
Not if you can only use two of those four tracks in the eastbound direction (and really only one, since the center tracks are reserved for Amtrak trains and NEC express service - there is no plan to provide a way for MOM trains to access the NEC center Track 2 at Monmouth Jct.). Then you've got virtually the same options, no?
Douglas John Bowen wrote:And then, of course, we get to one-track operation at Matawan.
One-track with passing sidings. Just like the Monmouth Junction and Red Bank alternatives. That's a red herring. Sorry - I'm not trying to be confrontational here, but you keep repeating this single track mantra. I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it if you'd at least acknowledge that all three alternatives are single track with passing sidings.

Douglas John Bowen
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NJ-ARP: Open to corrections department

Post by Douglas John Bowen » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:05 pm

We at NJ-ARP will readily acknowledge we haven't seen the track layout for the "Oops! Where's Matawan" route, other than at the (missed) Matawan site itself. So it's possible passing sidings are part of the proposed mix. In Fantasyland, anything's on the table.

But we have seen track layout approaches for Monmouth Junction on the NEC, and that sure looks like two tracks to us. Maybe we misread the diagrams.

Hey, if someone local really wants to step up for "Oops! Where's Matawan?" then have at it. We're game in the real-world arena where it counts; others can count coup or score points here in e-land all they want, and we don't mind "losing" here.

MOM serves New Brunswick. All the others ... don't. All the others don't.

Douglas John Bowen
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NJ-ARP: ...and a question.

Post by Douglas John Bowen » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:17 pm

Just to clarify, and not striving to be cute or coy: For "Oops! Where's Matawan?" are we talking single track, passing sidings, andbike/hike trail? Or sans trail?

Again, apologies if it looks as if we're cruising for a spat ...

Jishnu
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Re: NJ-ARP: Re: 'track saturation'

Post by Jishnu » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:20 pm

jb9152 wrote:
Douglas John Bowen wrote:Any capacity overload on the Northeast Corridor, real or pending, becomes more intense the closer one comes to Newark-Penn Station and/or New York.

Given that, alternatives to the true MOM, real or in fantasyland, suffer the same handicap, at the very best, as MOM does.

South of Rahway, we'd continue to argue that a four-track main line offers better options than even a clean, well-run, two-track North Jersey Coast Line does.
Not if you can only use two of those four tracks in the eastbound direction (and really only one, since the center tracks are reserved for Amtrak trains and NEC express service - there is no plan to provide a way for MOM trains to access the NEC center Track 2 at Monmouth Jct.). Then you've got virtually the same options, no?
No.

(a) Because the MOM Express trains can get to the center tracks at County using the high speed crossovers there and run express at 100+ all the way to Lincoln and then 90 to 90+ all the way to Union.

(b) Even the two outer tracks have 100+mph speed limit all the way to Lincoln and some 90 or 90+ from Lincoln to Union interlocking, as opposed to some 80mph and mostly 70mph (with several severe speed restriction) on the NJCL, to Union interlocking.

It is true that all three alternatives have a single track with passing sidings component at its Western end. But one of them joins the four track NEC at a point further West than the others thus allowing it a greater usage of the high speed line (and access to New Brunswick as an added bonus). Of course to balance that out that routing is a somewhat longer overall distance than the other two.

Even though there is no plan for crossovers at Midway East where the MOM line will join the NEC, there are very usable high speed crossovers in place at County which would give access to MOM trains to the express tracks. Even for those that do not get on the express tracks the allowed speed on the slow tracks on the NEC is generally 100+ until you get to Lincoln interlocking which the MOM line joining the NEC at Midway can avail of. Contrast that with any of the MOM alternatives that follow NJCL whether joined at Matawan or Red Bank. They are limited to a bit of 80 mph and a lot of 70mph (with several severe speed restrictions e.g. around Matawan, Essay, Raritan River Bridge, Wood, etc.) until they get to Rahway, and with limited opportunity for express running in heaavy traffic during rush hour due to only two tracks.

Actually, I don't think I disagree with your point about the single track with passing siding aspects of it, and also the fact that the Monmouth Jct. alternative does have a bit more of that. The point I am trying to make is that once the Monmouth Jct. alternative gets to the NEC it provides a vastly superior situation in terms of speed possibilities, flexibility to run express service, and not to mention, access to New Brunswick.

jb9152
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Re: NJ-ARP: Re: 'track saturation'

Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:20 pm

Jishnu wrote:No.

(a) Because the MOM Express trains can get to the center tracks at County using the high speed crossovers there and run express at 100+ all the way to Lincoln and then 90 to 90+ all the way to Union.
What MOM Express trains? They're all programmed as NEC middle zone trains in the operating plans I've seen...which makes sense, because they'd be taking up existing NEC slots, so short of reducing service to NEC customers, you can only do one thing - stop the MOM trains that have taken the NEC slots.
Jishnu wrote:(b) Even the two outer tracks have 100+mph speed limit all the way to Lincoln and some 90 or 90+ from Lincoln to Union interlocking, as opposed to some 80mph and mostly 70mph (with several severe speed restriction) on the NJCL, to Union interlocking.
You're right about the speed limits, but the run times tell the story - the Monmouth Jct. alternative simply takes longer to get to Newark than the two NJCL alternatives. I think you'd probably have to have civil speeds on the NJCL in the neighborhood of 30 MPH (just wild-@ss guessing) to make up for the difference in distance. The fact is, as the run time analyses have shown, when you stop trains (which you have to do with MOM) you lower the average speed, so it *almost* doesn't matter what the max speed is.
Jishnu wrote:It is true that all three alternatives have a single track with passing sidings component at its Western end. But one of them joins the four track NEC at a point further West than the others thus allowing it a greater usage of the high speed line (and access to New Brunswick as an added bonus). Of course to balance that out that routing is a somewhat longer overall distance than the other two.
OK, but you can't have it both ways - either you have a MOM Express going 1 to 2 at County, or you have a train that goes 1 Track and stops at New Brunswick. Which is it? Actually, it has to stop at New Brunswick, according to its advocates. And that makes sense, because otherwise you'd be reducing service to NEC middle zone customers (who happen to make up the most rapidly growing segment of riders on the NEC).
Jishnu wrote:Even though there is no plan for crossovers at Midway East where the MOM line will join the NEC, there are very usable high speed crossovers in place at County which would give access to MOM trains to the express tracks.
High speed? By what measurement? Don't trains get knocked down to Medium or even Limited speed in advance of the diverging movement? That's not 100+ MPH. In any case, you can't cross over at County *and* serve New Brunswick, which is one of the lynchpin arguments for the Monmouth Jct. alternative, right?
Jishnu wrote:Even for those that do not get on the express tracks the allowed speed on the slow tracks on the NEC is generally 100+ until you get to Lincoln interlocking which the MOM line joining the NEC at Midway can avail of. Contrast that with any of the MOM alternatives that follow NJCL whether joined at Matawan or Red Bank. They are limited to a bit of 80 mph and a lot of 70mph (with several severe speed restrictions e.g. around Matawan, Essay, Raritan River Bridge, Wood, etc.) until they get to Rahway, and with limited opportunity for express running in heaavy traffic during rush hour due to only two tracks.
I think I said it once, but it bears repeating - the MOM trains will become NEC middle zone trains once they're on the corridor. They almost HAVE to, because your only other alternative would be to eliminate NEC middle zone or outer zone trains to make room for the MOMmers, and that's just not going to happen. So, MOM trains pick up stops in the middle zone. You can have all the 100+ MPH railroad you want - you still have to stop the trains, which brings your average speed, MAS being whatever it is, significantly down. That's where distance comes into play, and the NJCL alternatives are just closer to Newark.
Jishnu wrote:Actually, I don't think I disagree with your point about the single track with passing siding aspects of it, and also the fact that the Monmouth Jct. alternative does have a bit more of that. The point I am trying to make is that once the Monmouth Jct. alternative gets to the NEC it provides a vastly superior situation in terms of speed possibilities, flexibility to run express service, and not to mention, access to New Brunswick.
Can't have express service if you serve New Brunswick, and you can't run express if you eliminate an outer zone (3900-series train) slot..yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm starting to sound like a broken record here. :wink:
Last edited by jb9152 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jb9152
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Re: NJ-ARP: ...and a question.

Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:21 pm

Douglas John Bowen wrote:Just to clarify, and not striving to be cute or coy: For "Oops! Where's Matawan?" are we talking single track, passing sidings, andbike/hike trail? Or sans trail?

Again, apologies if it looks as if we're cruising for a spat ...
The latest plans I've seen are single track with passing sidings. And I don't think you're cute at all. :-D

Jishnu
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Post by Jishnu » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:41 pm

jb9152 I think you are right. We will figure out the slower possible alternatives for the service. I was just dreamin'. Sorry for being a dreamer :(

I was hoping that at least a few trains could move over to the express tracks at County and express all the way to Newark, while others do the New Brunswick thing and still potentially go express from Lincoln on. But I am sure there will be many reasons that such compications cannot be tolerated. Anyway, no harm in dreaming I suppose :shrug:

jb9152
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Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:47 pm

Jishnu wrote:jb9152 I think you are right. We will figure out the slower possible alternatives for the service. I was just dreamin'. Sorry for being a dreamer :(

I was hoping that at least a few trains could move over to the express tracks at County and express all the way to Newark, while others do the New Brunswick thing and still potentially go express from Lincoln on. But I am sure there will be many reasons that such compications cannot be tolerated. Anyway, no harm in dreaming I suppose :shrug:
I completely understand, and I too wish/dream it could be different. The issue (and it affects all three alignments, I might add) is that, in general, when you add MOM to the NEC or NJCL, you take away a slot for an existing train during the peak hours.

For the NEC, you have a tough choice - if you run the MOM trains express on Track 2 from County, you first of all need to be completely out of the way of any Amtrak trains, high speed or regional, that are coming up behind, because you *cannot* hope to run with them, in the sense of getting out in front and staying out in front (even the 3900-series NEC expresses have this problem). That really hamstrings you as to when you can fit the MOM train in. In addition, once you do find a slot for a MOMmer that stays out of Amtrak's way, it's probably going to be right on top of a 3900 train, and that won't fly. You cannot take away a slot out of Trenton/Hamilton/Princeton Junction, period.

If you decide to keep the train on Track 1, you step on the middle zone trains, and either get bogged down behind one, or come out in front of one and delay it or take its slot. The middle zone is the fastest growing portion of the NEC right now, and you cannot think for a second about taking a train away - there practically aren't enough of them today. So all you can do is to replace the middle zone train with a MOM train. That means stopping the MOM train at all of the middle zone stops.

On the NJCL, I won't belabor the point, but you have the same situation. You can't run MOM expresses every 15 minutes without blowing away some existing slots. So, you have to stop the MOM trains at some stations. All of the alternatives have to deal with the reality that they are "overlays" to existing service, and the existing service simply cannot be cavalierly bumped out of the way to accomodate MOM.

jb9152
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Re: NJ-ARP: Open to corrections department

Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:00 pm

Douglas John Bowen wrote:We at NJ-ARP will readily acknowledge we haven't seen the track layout for the "Oops! Where's Matawan" route, other than at the (missed) Matawan site itself. So it's possible passing sidings are part of the proposed mix. In Fantasyland, anything's on the table.
And only in Fantasyland do you get to wave a magic wand and shave 17 to 18 minutes off a legitimately calculated run time, just because it supports your point of view.

Also, in Fantasyland, having two tracks side by side somehow imparts the gift of higher speed to trains operating on either of those tracks.

In Fantasyland, you can also go a longer distance in a shorter amount of time. That's my personal favorite.

Hmmm...maybe this Fantasyland isn't such a bad place... :wink:

Jtgshu
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Post by Jtgshu » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:55 pm

The crossovers at County (the new ones, not in service yet) look to be high speed crossovers. A "Cab Speed" signal could easily be put into the signal system, which would allow an 80mph crossover at those crossovers - again, thats if they are indeed high speed crossovers, which it looks to me like they are.

A new station is being discussed for North or South Brunswick. If they were to bulid a station right at or near Monmouth Junction (Midway), they could easily have MOM trains on outside tracks (a new A or B on the outsides of 1 adn 4) there is plenty of room down there, especially at and around Midway itself. Trains could get up to speed, and merge into the NEC further east, at either a new interlocking (something similar to Elmora) or extend the interlocking limits of Midway. Let MOM riders transfer at the new South (or North) Brunswick station, between A and 1 and B and 4, for station stops east (to New Brunswick) or west, to PJ, Hamilton, Trenton or Septa points west. No clogging up the NEC with MOM trains making a station stop, and tehy can cross over to the inner tracks at County at 80mph, and continue at 100mph (granted NJT doesn't get new equipment allowing higher speeds) all the way up to Elmora, then then back to 100 east of Elmora and the S curves up to Hunter, except for a very few speed restriction for curves, which if i recall are curves west of Metuchen by the 287 bridge, but i think the slowest speed is 80mph anyway.

The Coast line's maximum speed east of Matawan is 75mph, with some significant restrictions along the way - Matwan curve, 45mph, Morgan 45mph, 30 through South Amboy, 35 over River, and 60 to Wood. Then your back up to 75, but the best you are gonna get between Graw and Union is 30mph. Also, considering going west bound, the cab signal slow down for Union on the inner tracks (2 and 3 - Automatic 177) being JUST west of Linden, that takes several minutes longer for trains to make it just to Union to cross over. I can easily see how a routing via the coast line, even with no stops, adding up to about 8 or 9 minutes to the trip, compared to a simple express train from a new South Brunswick station, crossing over to the inner tracks, or even staying on 1 and 4, and sailing all teh way up EWR or Newark or whereever.

West of Midway on the Amboy Sec and West of Red Bank on teh Southern, the MOM tracks are similar, both single tracked, all the way down to Farmingdale and beyond. However, the Amboy Secondary was double tracked at one time, so there is plenty of room, with no need for new bridges, moving poles, etc. The Southern Sec between Red Bank and Farmingdale is little different - sure there are some areas where double track could be put in, or should i say passing sidings, but there are fills and cuts to deal with and it seems at least, tighter property lines, with houses and businesses, etc. I would think that the area through Farmingdale in one way or another would need to be double tracked, or at least a pretty signfiicant siding put in, on either route. And again, i think double track would be needed ot the end of the line, im assuming in Lakehurst. However, i think that Red Bank route would allow for higher speeds. I think the Freehold Sec would require pretty significant speed restirctions through Farmingdale, Freehold - definitely, and Jamesburg. of course, its assumed that trains would be stoppign there at those locations too, but coming into a station at 80mph is much better than crawling in at 30mph.

But it shall be interesting - but this is great thread!!! LOTS of great posts and discussions going on!!! :-)
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Frogger

Post by Frogger » Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:50 pm

Doug,

Would the tunnel plan for Monmouth Junction include a track alignment that would allow trains from MOM to travel south to Trenton?

Also why single tracked if 20,000+ trips a day will be made? The Main/Bergen line have about 20k and they are both double tracked. Same with the Raritan Valley line. I'd think they would want more than just passing sidings on a line that is going to have that much ridership.

Also any plans for MOM to be electrified? If so what would the additional cost be? About $100MM?

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Post by jb9152 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:26 pm

Jtgshu wrote:The crossovers at County (the new ones, not in service yet) look to be high speed crossovers. A "Cab Speed" signal could easily be put into the signal system, which would allow an 80mph crossover at those crossovers - again, thats if they are indeed high speed crossovers, which it looks to me like they are.
True enough - with money, you can do almost anything. But I don't think a "Cab Speed" aspect was part of the installation at County, which would mean that high speed crossovers would be a waste (which suggests that they're not high speed crossovers), but I could be wrong.

It won't matter anyway, because you could put 100 MPH switches there, and they wouldn't be used by MOM trains. Unless NJT trains can run with Amtrak (which they obviously can't), the slotting on Track 2 is way too dicey to use up on new service. It's already tough enough to slot in the outer zone expresses during the peak, let alone add some diesels or dual modes to the Track 2 mix. To make it work, you'd have to steal a slot from an existing outer zone express train. And that will not happen; you can't cut service from Trenton, Hamilton, and Princeton Jct., and NJT won't.
Jtgshu wrote:A new station is being discussed for North or South Brunswick. If they were to bulid a station right at or near Monmouth Junction (Midway), they could easily have MOM trains on outside tracks (a new A or B on the outsides of 1 adn 4) there is plenty of room down there, especially at and around Midway itself. Trains could get up to speed, and merge into the NEC further east, at either a new interlocking (something similar to Elmora) or extend the interlocking limits of Midway. Let MOM riders transfer at the new South (or North) Brunswick station, between A and 1 and B and 4, for station stops east (to New Brunswick) or west, to PJ, Hamilton, Trenton or Septa points west. No clogging up the NEC with MOM trains making a station stop, and tehy can cross over to the inner tracks at County at 80mph, and continue at 100mph (granted NJT doesn't get new equipment allowing higher speeds) all the way up to Elmora, then then back to 100 east of Elmora and the S curves up to Hunter, except for a very few speed restriction for curves, which if i recall are curves west of Metuchen by the 287 bridge, but i think the slowest speed is 80mph anyway.
The question is not providing service for MOM customers to middle zone stations. The question is - which existing trains on the NEC do you eliminate to fit the MOM trains in? The only plausible answer is to eliminate some middle zone trains, and replace them with MOM trains.

Again (and you hinted at it in your post), if you can't keep out ahead of Amtrak on Track 2, and no NJT equipment, current or planned, can - then you cannot simply dump trains onto Track 2 at County. There are already 3900-series NJT express trains running on Track 2 that cross over at Midway or County, and they've virtually tapped out capacity on that track during the peak. Don't forget the need to keep about 6 minutes behind the cross-over movement of middle zone trains coming out of Jersey Avenue, just to throw another monkey wrench in the works.

The long and short of it is, unless you spend buckets of money to resignal the NEC, AND buy all new equipment that can keep up with and out ahead of Amtrak, you're not going to be able to get much more use out of Track 2 than is already made today. So the "just dump them on 2 Track from County" strategy will not work. They *will* eat up the slot of an existing outer zone express.
Jtgshu wrote:The Coast line's maximum speed east of Matawan is 75mph, with some significant restrictions along the way - Matwan curve, 45mph, Morgan 45mph, 30 through South Amboy, 35 over River, and 60 to Wood. Then your back up to 75, but the best you are gonna get between Graw and Union is 30mph. Also, considering going west bound, the cab signal slow down for Union on the inner tracks (2 and 3 - Automatic 177) being JUST west of Linden, that takes several minutes longer for trains to make it just to Union to cross over. I can easily see how a routing via the coast line, even with no stops, adding up to about 8 or 9 minutes to the trip, compared to a simple express train from a new South Brunswick station, crossing over to the inner tracks, or even staying on 1 and 4, and sailing all teh way up EWR or Newark or whereever.
Absolutely. I agree. But, as I think I've made pretty clear, you're never going to "sail all the the way up EWR or Newark or whereever". You're going to have to run Track 1 and make middle zone stops to make up for the middle zone train you're going to have to eliminate to fit your MOMmer.
Jtgshu wrote:But it shall be interesting - but this is great thread!!! LOTS of great posts and discussions going on!!! :-)
Totally with you there, Jt. I suppose if we had an endless bucket of money, we could do whatever we want. But we have to deal with a finite source of funds. It's nice to dream, though!

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Post by nick11a » Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:52 pm

The best way to keep trains on schedule would be to build a tunnel under the NEC for westbounds to access the supposedly planned MOM line, however, I doubt that will happen. And eastbounds might have to wait for a train to clear on 1.

So, if they do use the NEC, then it'll be crossover time. Keep in mind, crossovers from one side to the other are done every weekday several times a day at Jersey Ave.

While it would be dicy (Amtrak trains and stuff on 2 and 3), it wouldn't be terrible. If 80 MPH switches are in place, that would mean when things are ideal, the train can go through it pretty fast, but if they get held at a stop signal waiting for Amtrak trains to pass, that can slow it down a bit.
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Frogger

Post by Frogger » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:15 pm

nick11a wrote:The best way to keep trains on schedule would be to build a tunnel under the NEC for westbounds to access the supposedly planned MOM line, however, I doubt that will happen. And eastbounds might have to wait for a train to clear on 1.

So, if they do use the NEC, then it'll be crossover time. Keep in mind, crossovers from one side to the other are done every weekday several times a day at Jersey Ave.

While it would be dicy (Amtrak trains and stuff on 2 and 3), it wouldn't be terrible. If 80 MPH switches are in place, that would mean when things are ideal, the train can go through it pretty fast, but if they get held at a stop signal waiting for Amtrak trains to pass, that can slow it down a bit.
The plan is to build a tunnel under the NEC at Monmouth Junction.

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