Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

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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EuroStar
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by EuroStar » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:11 pm

This got me thinking why the same argument does not apply today in respect to diesels the way it applied back then in respect to steam. Why isn't it cheaper to just make use of electrics to Danbury and avoid maintaining diesels on the New Haven Line? The answer is obvious: for the foreseable future ConnDOT cannot drop the diesels as they are needed for the Waterbury Branch, the Hartford Line and the Shore Line East. As long as they need to buy/maintain diesel fleets for those lines, buying/maintaining a few more for the Danbury Branch is not that big of a deal (I am leaving aside the issue that Waterbury and Danbury are part of Metro-North while the others are not). The question then is, why was it cheaper back then for NHRR to string the wire and close the facilities in Stamford? Didn't NHRR need to maintain diesels/steam for those other lines too including for any trains going north to Boston? Why didn't they use whatever they had in New Haven for that purpose?

Ridgefielder
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:11 pm

EuroStar wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:11 pm
This got me thinking why the same argument does not apply today in respect to diesels the way it applied back then in respect to steam. Why isn't it cheaper to just make use of electrics to Danbury and avoid maintaining diesels on the New Haven Line? The answer is obvious: for the foreseable future ConnDOT cannot drop the diesels as they are needed for the Waterbury Branch, the Hartford Line and the Shore Line East. As long as they need to buy/maintain diesel fleets for those lines, buying/maintaining a few more for the Danbury Branch is not that big of a deal (I am leaving aside the issue that Waterbury and Danbury are part of Metro-North while the others are not). The question then is, why was it cheaper back then for NHRR to string the wire and close the facilities in Stamford? Didn't NHRR need to maintain diesels/steam for those other lines too including for any trains going north to Boston? Why didn't they use whatever they had in New Haven for that purpose?
By the mid-1920's the only steam locomotives left based in Stamford were those used as power on the Danbury through trains. Electrification was extended from Stamford to New Haven in 1914, and all through service N/E of New Haven swapped power there. The New Canaan branch, from Stamford to New Canaan, was electrified even earlier, in the mid 1890's. By wiring to Danbury the NH was able to outright close the Stamford facility and consolidate operations at the Danbury engine terminal, which in addition to the Danbury and Berkshire lines served the (very busy) E-W Maybrook freight line from Devon to the Poughkeepsie Bridge. Classic efficiency move, really.

And the reason the argument no longer applies-- and the reason the wire came down in '61-- was the development of dual-mode Electric/Diesel-Electric locomotives that could operate off 3rd rail power in the Park Avenue tunnel and Grand Central yards. No engine change needed anymore, period.

TCurtin
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by TCurtin » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:21 am

Ridgefielder wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:17 pm

Going to reinforce what was said here, as someone who grew up along the Danbury Branch and knows the area well.

The only reason the Danbury Branch was electrified back in 1923 was to eliminate an engine change for the Danbury through trains, and move the changeover for Pittsfield service. After the wire went up on the Danbury they were able to consolidate steam locomotive servicing and shut down facilities in Stamford. Unlike on the rest of the West End of the New Haven, the yards and sidings on the Danbury were never wired, nor was the short branch up the hill from Branchville to Ridgefield Center. Freight remained under steam. It was an economy move for passenger service, pure and simple.

If it had never been electrified, nobody would be talking about electrifying it today. Instead half the locals who know zero about railroad operations see the old Cat poles, see the old pictures, hear stories about how the Berkshire carried a diner and parlor cars "back in grandpa's day" and think stringing up 20 miles of 12.5kV wire will magically give us the Danbury Acela. [end of rant]
I may be the only living user of this forum who actually remembers riding the Danbury branch when it was electrified (How's that for a bizarre distinction?). I rode it before and after the electrics gave way to FL9s and can tell you categorically there was no difference in performance.

Two major service problems occurred over my memory:
1. Deterioration of track. There were two major wrecks: in February 1967 and May 1973. The 1973 wreck resulted in a fatality (ironically of a RR employee who lived in Danbury and commuted to his office in NYC. I knew him slightly). BY mid 1975 the track had been upgraded by CDOT funding. This was the first huge improvement.

2. Closing of the block stations in Branchville (completely) and Wilton (afternoons and nights). This made it inconvenient and caused some delays in evening commute hours because crews were required to either radio or phone to the operator at "Berk" in Norwalk for clearance. That of course remained until the TCS went into effect just a few years ago.

That TCS was the second greatest service improvement.

I have written on this forum on at least three previous occasions that re-electrification will not do a thing to result in further improvement in running times. I say this after many years of riding and closely observing the operation of the line.I can tell you this and tell you this and tell you this until I'm blue in the face and the talk still goes on.

BTW, three historical items:
- first electric operation was June 29 1925. This was long before I was around.
- Last electric operation was January 28 1961. The power was turned off effective Feb. 1. I rode the line once in January 1961 not realizing it would by my last ride under wire.
- I laughed at the comment about "Back in grandpa's day." Well, I am a grandpa and I did ride a parlor car on the line while the New Haven was still running it on weekends. Never rode a diner, though, unless you count the diner and later grill car that were converted to bar cars on one of the commute runs.

Cheers,
Tom

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Rockingham Racer
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by Rockingham Racer » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:14 am

Tom, I remember the EP-5s [the Jets] rolling by JO tower in Woodlawn in the late 60's. I believe only a few rush hour trains were run throughs. The rest of the day people changed at South Norwalk, IIRC.

TCurtin
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by TCurtin » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:10 am

Rockingham Racer wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:14 am
Tom, I remember the EP-5s [the Jets] rolling by JO tower in Woodlawn in the late 60's. I believe only a few rush hour trains were run throughs. The rest of the day people changed at South Norwalk, IIRC.
Until the end of the New Haven in 1968 there was more through service to Danbury than just the couple of rush hour trains, all had had FL9s since the fall of 1960. The non rush hour trains were the remnants of what were once the Pittsfield trains. And of course there were still a couple of Pittsfield trains on weekends.

Riverduckexpress
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by Riverduckexpress » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:03 pm

The MTA's newest capital program includes a proposal to re-electrify some or all of the currently un-electrified segments of track 1 (the northbound express track) between Hastings-on-Hudson and Croton-Harmon. https://new.mta.info/sites/default/file ... Report.pdf Details on pages 29 and 128 of the PDF (which are listed as pages 27 and 126 by the document itself). Amazing how much time, effort and money transit agencies spend or consider spending just to restore infrastructure removed in decades past.

DutchRailnut
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by DutchRailnut » Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:19 pm

guaranteed the cost to restore is less than the 30 years maintenance they saved.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer. I am not a moderator.

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:03 pm

It would be great if all four tracks from Croton Harmon Station to CP13 had third rail. It would help provide flexibility, especially for the Croton-Harmon super expresses being able to go around another local train.

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Rockingham Racer
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by Rockingham Racer » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:53 am

What's a "Croton Harmon super express"?

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:41 am

These trains often run express from 125th Street to Tarrytown. They run during the week and during the rush hours-heading south in the am and north in the pm.

ExCon90
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Re: Metro-North Hudson Line Electrification

Post by ExCon90 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:31 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:19 pm
guaranteed the cost to restore is less than the 30 years maintenance they saved.
Absolutely. On the PRR the rule of thumb was that if a track was expected to be out of service for more than one year it was cheaper to tear it up and then put it back later if necessary.

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