Danbury-New Milford is tougher than Norwalk-Danbury for electrification because the Maybrook + Berkshire overlaps are Plate F (17 ft.) freight clearance routes. That means they'd have to clear a bunch of overpasses for 19'6". 25 kV clearance is +2'6" over the tallest car clearance, and even though Danbury is a proposed 12.5 kV electrification chained off an upgraded New Haven Line substation @ Dock Yard the initial build would have to follow new-construction guidelines in case 50 years worth of future NEC upgrades end up shearing off the main vs. branch power sources. The extra clearance work ends up a blowout cost item when there's just enough overpasses that have already been undercut and retrofitted to their limit since the NYNH&H days to cram Plate F through there.GirlOnTheTrain wrote:Now now, I appreciate the history lessons!
It would be more useful to extend service to New Milford before stringing wire but we know our dear friend Gail just won't let electrification go....
End result is you get a binary choice:
-- Electrify some/all of the existing branch but not New Milford because it's too big a reach to do it all. Meaning +2-3 stops to New Milford either have to get served on a completely different diesel schedule at much poorer service levels, or not at all.
-- Build the New Milford extension as diesel and shelve electrification of any of the rest of the branch for another generation. And if/when electrification picked back up, furthest it can go is Danbury because of the cost premium of modding all those extra overpass clearances...meaning the branch service must be dense enough at that point for electric vs. diesel service layering to not hurt New Milford's headways or cause undue tension for managing equipment pools. Because you must assume that DAN-NM electrification has to be a much later Phase 2 that re-charges the piggybank for all those overpass clearances, and is too much a reach to do in one shot.
This doesn't end up a very hard choice. Super 7 traffic suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, so demand to a New Milford extension has long been self-evident. The branch's schedules are gimpy, so whether any short-turn layering to Merritt or Danbury is in the mix to beef up headways on all/parts of it...the baseline for covering a New Milford extension is going to be no less than a straight-on extension of a much better end-to-end schedule. Since frequency improvements are far and away most important overall to this corridor, by all practical measures that means the additional service layering has to be well-established before you can realistically segment electric trainsets to Merritt or Danbury vs. diesel trainsets to New Milford without hurting the diesel outliers' service levels. Realistically, sharp service layering of that sort doesn't get established overnight...so it's going to take another 2 decades of constant ratcheting-up of frequencies before service levels are fleshed-out to a point where they can support 2 equipment pools on layered schedules where frequencies for those pools/schedules aren't at constant odds and friction with each other. And then a whole sustained generation of flush layered schedules before the funding pool is recharged enough to mount an electrification extension to NM that tackles all the overpass clearance work.
For that reason...NM extension with generous end-to-end service increases is the easiest first step to an end goal of service that eventually throws a denser-frequency service layer on the inner stops, diversifies it enough to support Danbury electrification, then sustains it long enough to recharge funding for a Phase 2 NM electrification. You're talking like a 30+ year stepped-out sequence of non-sexy improvements before everyone Norwalk to New Milford gets a ride on a shiny EMU. No instant gratification when delivering frequencies to the masses is the thing that matters over eye candy.
And yes, I agree that when MNRR orders its MLV coaches that perception of quality (or lackthereof) will change among riders. Two scenarios: (1) CDOT eats all its MLV options and Waterbury/Danbury get state of art P-P consists. (2) The MLV's are an MTA-only order for Hudson/Harlem, CDOT buys up all the MTA's Shoreliner IV's and half its Shoreliner III's for displacement of all Shoreliner I/II and Mafersa coaches to stretch its dollar with a much larger intrastate equipment pool, sends the III/IV's through a full midlife overhaul, and all intrastate diesel routes go over to like-new reman flats. Either way the creature comforts get an enormous upgrade over the current Shoreliner I/II toilet bowls and decidedly utilitarian Shoreliner III/IV & Mafersa experience.