Status of CMSL to Cape May?

Discussion relating to the PRSL

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prr60
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Post by prr60 »

chuchubob wrote:The NJ-Association of Railroad Passengers Patrons lunch was held on Sunday May 20 at Tuckahoe, hosted by CMSL. A question was asked concerning the current status of the Cape May Canal bridge, and a Cape May resident reported that repair work was being done on the bridge last week.
Since the question was answered by a "Cape May resident", should I assume the CMSL, although hosting the luncheon, had no official comment on the status of the bridge or the prospect for service to Cape May this season.

Douglas John Bowen
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NJ-ARP: Assumption times two.

Post by Douglas John Bowen »

Just to clarify, NJ-ARP hosted the Patrons Luncheon, with Cape May Seashore Lines serving as (if you will) a co-host, since NJ-ARP utilized CMSL equipment for the day. (Our thanks to CMSL.)

The Q&A session, at that point, also was directed by NJ-ARP, not CMSL, and it's entirely possible that at the time of the question, no CMSL staff member was immediately available. (This author can't recall.)

So while it may be true that CMSL had "no official comment," it's also true that the question may not have been put to CMSL directly.

Just a clarification.

prr60
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Post by prr60 »

It looks like the speculation on Cape May or no Cape May is becoming the annual rite of Spring for CMSL watchers. And please don’t mistake my criticism as general CMSL bashing. If I didn’t hope for their success, I would not care whether they ever ran into Cape May again. But wouldn’t you think that a group of rail fans sitting and having lunch with or at least within hollering distance of actual CMSL people would pose to those actual CMSL people that always asked and never answered question, “what’s up with Cape May?” I guess not. The true story about the prospects for Cape May service is a mystery of Stephen King proportions. The CMSL keeps secrets better than the CIA.

The sad thing is that running to Cape May offers some real possibilities besides just a nostalgic ride on some old trains. Cape May on weekend evenings is impossible for driving and parking. I, and many others, will not venture into that traffic zoo on a Friday or Saturday night in the Summer. There are great restaurants there (love that) and lots of shops (I can pass on that), but on Friday or Saturday night, forget it. There are other nearby towns that offer similar attractions without the headaches.

Now, what if CMSL, Cape May City, and the town’s businesses got together and cut a deal. A decent size park and ride lot could be constructed somewhere off the Parkway near Cold Spring and on Friday and Saturday CMSL could offer shuttle service into Cape May. You could park outside the town, and ride right to the center of the Cape May action with zero traffic and parking complications. An RDC could just shuttle back and forth every 15 or 20 minutes or so from say 5pm to maybe 11pm catching both early birds and late diners. They could charge $5 a head each way and maybe participating restaurants and business could voucher the return trip. That would be a true transportation service for real people and it would get cars out of the town. This would not be a multi-million dollar venture requiring years of planning and Federal aid. The tracks are there. The trains are there. Add some imagination and a little blacktop, and that would do the trick.

Oh well. It is nice to dream. Right now, just having a train dare to cross the canal would be an achievement.

chuchubob
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Post by chuchubob »

prr60 wrote: It looks like the speculation on Cape May or no Cape May is becoming the annual rite of Spring for CMSL watchers. And please don’t mistake my criticism as general CMSL bashing. If I didn’t hope for their success, I would not care whether they ever ran into Cape May again. But wouldn’t you think that a group of rail fans sitting and having lunch with or at least within hollering distance of actual CMSL people would pose to those actual CMSL people that always asked and never answered question, “what’s up with Cape May?” I guess not. The true story about the prospects for Cape May service is a mystery of Stephen King proportions. The CMSL keeps secrets better than the CIA.
...
An RDC could just shuttle back and forth every 15 or 20 minutes or so from say 5pm to maybe 11pm catching both early birds and late diners.
What would you expect a CMSL spokesperson to say? The repair of the bridge is out of his hands.
Yes, a CMSL spokesperson was present. Yes, he said exactly what one would expect him to say. He fervently hopes that the bridge will be repaired and that train service between Cape May Court House and Cape May City can resume soon.

I agree that traffic around Cape May is such that frequent train service from remote parking would be of great benefit. Unfortunately, there's no way that an RDC could shuttle back and forth every few minutes, considering that it runs over a swing bridge that has to open frequently for canal traffic. I've been a passenger on CMSL trains in past years and have seen ten or more boats lined up in each direction waiting for the train to cross and the bridge to open again.

bruce a.
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CMSL on the cape

Post by bruce a. »

I just hope the CMSL will run to Cape May this year

prr60
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Post by prr60 »

chuchubob wrote: ...What would you expect a CMSL spokesperson to say? The repair of the bridge is out of his hands.
Yes, a CMSL spokesperson was present. Yes, he said exactly what one would expect him to say. He fervently hopes that the bridge will be repaired and that train service between Cape May Court House and Cape May City can resume soon.
Interesting. Up until your reply there was no hint that a CMSL person said anything about Cape May. The initial response was attributed to a "Cape May resident", and Mr. Bowen was not sure that a CMSL person was even present when the question was asked. I would think that given the importance of the Canal Bridge to the CMSL, that they would know exactly what is happening. It would not take a nearby resident to report that something is being done down there. The work may be out of the control of the CMSL, but I would hope they would at least be talking to those who are in control.
chuchubob wrote: ...I agree that traffic around Cape May is such that frequent train service from remote parking would be of great benefit. Unfortunately, there's no way that an RDC could shuttle back and forth every few minutes, considering that it runs over a swing bridge that has to open frequently for canal traffic. I've been a passenger on CMSL trains in past years and have seen ten or more boats lined up in each direction waiting for the train to cross and the bridge to open again.
Not even worth a look? Just say it can't be done and forget it? First, every 20 minutes is not every "few" minutes. But, if that is a problem, make it every half hour or even every hour. But why not give it a try? The need is there. Otherwise, the CMSL will simply remain a nice but barely viable entertainment product that is no more relevant as true transportation than the horse and buggy rides in quaint, Victorian Cape May.

prsl7668
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Post by prsl7668 »

NJARP had a meeting hosted by CMSL and never bothered to ask about Cape May service? What good is that group if they don't care to find out some information when the owner is right there. I guess that is why nobody takes NJARP as a important player in transit matters for South Jersey.

Douglas John Bowen
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NJ-ARP: Yawn. More hostility.

Post by Douglas John Bowen »

Please, keep underestimating NJ-ARP as so many of our adversaries do. It makes our job so much easier. Really; no fooling; we mean it. Step right up. Make the mistake oh so many others have made.

Meanwhile, we'll keep working with our allies, such as the mayors of Buena Vista Township and the borough of Woodbine, who attended the Patrons Luncheon on Sunday the 20th. They (and their staff) seem to take NJ-ARP seriously enough. So does NJ Transit, regularly in consultation with our Government Affairs Director on matters pertaining to the Cape May Branch.

Now, to address those legitimate issues transcending the hostility unbecoming.

We'd dispute the notion that we "never bothered to ask about Cape May service" because, in fact, we're in constant communication with numerous players, including Cape May Seashore Lines and NJ Transit, on the matter.

The question (we thought) was whether someone had asked CMSL. NJ-ARP (this writer) said he was not sure -- it was a luncheon and various NJ-ARP staff had matters to attend to, as it happens. Chuchubob asserts CMSL was present, and CMSL very well may have been. What's the beef?

Second assumption: NJ-ARP is a bunch of railfans (this is in severe error, but again, feel free to believe that) that just sat around (also in error). We see little "mystery" in the goings-on (and difficulties) of restoring service to the Cape May Branch. We'd be tempted to inform others, but the proactive belligerence offered here would seem to discourage that. So we'll continue to focus on making a difference, and reporting on same as it happens, to our best abilities and -- we hope this is offered with all due respect -- in our best interests.

georgehyland
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Hoping for Cape May City Trains this Year!

Post by georgehyland »

Has anyone heard if the CMSL will make it to Cape May City this year? I am hoping for the best. Any chance that some volunteer labor would help get it done? I know that is a long shot, but labor is expensive, and if enough people helped..... well, maybe something good could happen?

prr60
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Re: Hoping for Cape May City Trains this Year!

Post by prr60 »

georgehyland wrote:Has anyone heard if the CMSL will make it to Cape May City this year? I am hoping for the best. Any chance that some volunteer labor would help get it done? I know that is a long shot, but labor is expensive, and if enough people helped..... well, maybe something good could happen?
Since a week has gone by, I am going to offer my pure speculation. I think it is reasoned speculation, but it is speculation.

I now think that the CMSL has served Cape May City for the last time. The last train into Cape May was in August of 2005. Service was then halted until the some rather non-specific problem with the Canal Bridge was repaired. Then, once the bridge was reportedly fixed, a washout of some magnitude somewhere was the culprit preventing service. However, I now believe the problems preventing service to Cape May are far more more complex than just a bad bridge mechanism and some eroded roadbed. Here is my take, and I repeat, it is pure speculation.

One, the vandalism that plagued the storage of equipment in Rio Grande has resulted in all usable equipment being stored in Tuckahoe. With the slow running required between Woodbine and Cape May Court House (assuming the track is passable at all), it simply takes too long to move equipment to and from Tuckahoe to make the operation viable. It is far easier to run the service between Tuckahoe and Richland, and the fact that Conrail maintains most of that track is an added bonus. Tuckahoe to Richland does not have the pizzazz of the Court House to Cape May, but at least it helps pay the bills.

Second, the condition of the line between Cape May Court House and Cape May may no longer be acceptable for service. It had been a long time since the original restoration of that portion of the line and ties and roadbed only go downhill absent maintenance. There has been little or no maintenance of the line between Cape May Court House and Cape May in the last few years, and I have to believe that the condition of the line in that area is not good and may no longer be suitable for service. I would be pleased to learn I was wrong.

Third, Cape May City does not appear to be particularly enamoured with the CMSL. Let's face it: Cape May is a elitist resort. I'm not sure they look upon the CMSL as being a significant asset to the appeal of the resort to the clientele they are seeking. Maybe if they used some cute old steam engines and some fancy old cars, Cape May would find that acceptable. But the RDC's, historic as they are in there own right, do not really fit the Victorian image of the town.

Fourth, the issues with the junk equipment that the CMSL has stored in Rio Grande is something that has poisoned the relationship between the line and municipalities in lower Cape May County. Now, that is hardly the fault of the CMSL, but regardless, the junk is there and the municipalities do not like it. Politics does not have to be logical or fair. If the line were to resume operation, there would be a strong push to have the CMSL move that stuff out of there. But other than to the scrap heap, I'm not sure where it could go. With the equipment still sitting there, a resumption of service might not be warmly received.

Then, of course, there is the issue of the washed-out roadbed that was the reason du jour for no service last summer. That problem would have to be fixed, and exactly who would pay for that is unknown. Like the Canal Bridge problem through 2006, the exact nature of the washout is just a little bit vague.

The "will the CMSL serve Cape May this summer" has become the annual Rite of Spring for South Jersey rail fans. This year we are a little ahead of the season, but sadly I feel the situation is not good at all. I would love for someone who actually knows what is going on to contradict everything I said, but I am not holding my breath.

JJMDiMunno
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Post by JJMDiMunno »

Hi everyone,
I've been informed by the CMSL that service to Cape May WILL resume at some point, although no one can tell me when. I've been told that when one sees a schedule posted on http://www.capemayseashorelines.org, that will be when the service resumes.

No further information at this time.

Mike DiMunno
~Mike DiMunno
CSAO Beesley Point Secondary - MP 8.69 (Magnolia, NJ)
Moderator: Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines :: Penn Central

prsl7668
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Post by prsl7668 »

Cape May service will start the same time freight service starts......

blockline4180
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Post by blockline4180 »

prsl7668 wrote:Cape May service will start the same time freight service starts......
And when will freight service start? Any ideas... anyone??
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prsl7668
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Post by prsl7668 »

blockline4180 wrote:
prsl7668 wrote:Cape May service will start the same time freight service starts......
And when will freight service start? Any ideas... anyone??
According to the website, they have been running freight for the past couple of years from three locations.

prr60
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Post by prr60 »

prsl7668 wrote: According to the website, they have been running freight for the past couple of years from three locations.
The website does say that they have "commenced" freight service. However, I have not heard that they are actually running freight service.

And, at the risk of being called negative, does anyone else find the CMSL's response that service to Cape May will resume when they say it is resuming to be a rather minimal answer to a legitimate question?

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