Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:38 pm

andrewjw wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:50 am
Sorry, but as a member of "Gen Z" you are straight up wrong. For most people who graduate college, there is no "post college, pre life" mode where you live carefree on someone else's money, there is the struggle to pay for loans and bills.
<REDACTED>, not for one moment do I suggest that "post college, pre-life" means sleeping in all day at Mom and Dad's home, then going out to "fight with a vim that is dead sure to win, for old Nassau". It simply means a transitional period where you hopefully have a job requiring a degree earned in your field of study, preparing to address your student debt (what's the number nowadays? 65% of graduates have such and average of $25K?), and still developing a relationship that could potentially lead to an "I do". That's all I meant; sorry if you read it otherwise.

Now back to Sussex County and the potential for NJT rail service.
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jrevans
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by jrevans » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:19 pm

rcthompson04 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:56 pm
I don't think the Boomers will ever get the concept of millennials and Gen Zers not wanting to move far out because of the hellish commutes. If places like Sussex County want to attract high income folks in the future they are going to have to get on board with aggressively pushing better commuter rail.
<sarcasm>You guys know that there are good jobs at locations besides in a big city, right? </sarcasm>

Sorry, the old man in me just came out. I could never work in a big city, let alone live in said big city. But, I'm from the burbs, out in the boondocks, so my experience may differ from yours. Maybe it's a PA vs NJ/NY thing?
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JoeG
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by JoeG » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:50 pm

Many millenials and younger can't do an arduous commute because they need 2 jobs to keep afloat. Things are so bad that the population of nuns is increasing for the first time in decades. When I mentioned that to my millenial daughter, her comment was, "It has job security and a place to live."

Back to Sussex and NJT. If NJT wants to make that long haul work, they have to make the commute shorter. Instead, trip times creep upward.In 1955 there were expresses that did Hoboken to Dover in an hour and 7 minutes. (And their timekeeping was excellent.) The fastest train i could find today was an hour and 26 minutes. To Lake Hopatcong, which is about the start of the cutoff, is another 12 minutes.

So, before we get to the Cutoff, the commute from Hoboken is at least an hour and 38 minutes.
The longest ride on NJT now is to Port Jervis. One of the relatively speedy expresses takes 2 hours and 7 minutes. As a former rider of this line, I can say that almost no one could do the PJ-Hoboken trip daily; the regular riders were often those whose work schedules were 12 hours a day, 3 days a week, or some other unusual schedule.
In 1960 the Phoebe Snow took 31 minutes from Dover to Blairstown. So at that rate our blairstown train is an hour and 37 minutes. And, Blairstown is in Warren County. It seems that our Sussex commuter still has to drive to the train if the train is on the old Lackawanna. How long is that?
If you actually wanted a train to Sussex County, since the Branchville line is long gone, you would have to run trains on the Susquehanna. The proposed schedules I've seen for that option make the M&E look like a bullet train. And the chance of that happening is about zero. So,I'm not quite sure who in New Jersey the cutoff would help. Maybe that is one reason progress on its reconstruction is so slow.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by JasW » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:01 am

JoeG wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:50 pm
Many millenials and younger can't do an arduous commute because they need 2 jobs to keep afloat. Things are so bad that the population of nuns is increasing for the first time in decades. When I mentioned that to my millenial daughter, her comment was, "It has job security and a place to live."
I would become a monk today if it were in an abbey that brewed strong Belgian ale.

In any event, I do not disagree, it's highly unlikely younger generations will either want or be able to undertake this kind of long haul commute. Although the romantic inside of me was all in favor of this project when it was first broached what seems like eons ago, now I think NJT is simply throwing good money after bad. There are more pressing needs closer to the urban core.

ExCon90
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by ExCon90 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:35 pm

It seems like yet another example of the pointless tendency to say "here's an abandoned right-of-way--we should try to find a use for it" instead of "what are the transportation needs here and how can they best be met?"

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:59 am

Hear you loud and clear, Mr. ExCon.

The Lackawanna's traffic base had simply "gone up in smoke". Anthracite coal was mainly used as a home heating fuel; while it is my understanding that such burned with less emissions ("My gown stays White from noon to night"), it apparently did not have the same energy power (BTU, I think) as do the "dirty" coals. Besides, NE Pennsylvania was largely "mined out".

Was or wasn't it a good idea by the Managers (that's DL&W-ese for the Board) to spend the $$$ they did to build that superbly engineered road? Not sure on that one; they had to realize that both supply of and demand for Anthracite was finite; their "friendly" at Buffalo, the NKP, with their circuituous routing West of Cleveland, could not be competitive with a straight Central or Pennsy.

So what happened: a virtual "gobble up" of their their "sinking lifeboat" by a leaking one resulting in the EL. The end was inevitable; Conrail saw EL routes as "redundant" - and that is why likely 75% of 'em are gone - including that which has resulted in this "Beowulf" of a topic.

ExCon90
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by ExCon90 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:46 pm

They had a tough decision to make. If they had stuck with that poky Old Main Line via Hackettstown and Washington they might have been effectively shut out of the Buffalo-New York market during the fat years and had nothing but lean years the whole time. And somehow the ex-lake grain-milling business also dwindled drastically, which didn't help any of the Buffalo roads. Maybe one railroad too many, right from the start?

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:42 pm

I have to agree Mr. ExCon; to the extent that that that they could have/should have realized that the Anthracite market had been "burned up" and was being replaced by heating oil and natural gas.

I guess that was asking a lot from the Board of Managers to effectively sign a death warrant to their road "before the end" (and lest we forget, the DL&W had never Petitioned during their history), but "the flipside" was should have the Managers realized the end was at hand and simply folded as a solvent concern? Even if that was during the '20's, some public agency would have stepped forth to operate the commuter lines making government involvement of such happen thirty years before it actually did.

The Managers should have realized that the ERIE was also "just hanging on"; the Southern Tier has never represented that great a source of traffic - especially for two competing roads.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by JoeG » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:55 pm

A few things in response to Mr Norman.

When the Cutoff was built around 1911, I don't think too many foresaw the end of anthracite. The peak year for anthracite production was 1917--although that was helped by the war.

The Cutoff and the improved route through PA including the Tunkhannock Viaduct, combined with the high speed line in western NY, made the Lackawanna a viable freight route. In addition to the Nickel Plate, the Lackawanna had good relations with the Wabash.

The NY Central apparently had working control of the Lackawanna, and had I think 2 members on the DL&W's board. I don't know what that did, but at least it probably reduced the speed of the Lackawanna's passenger trains.

What completely did in the Cutoff was when in the early sixties the broke and desperate EL sold a piece of the Boonton Line to the state for the construction of I80. The Boonton Line was a reasonable through freight line, which, combined with the Cutoff, the PA improvements, etc made a reasonable through freight route. Without the Boonton Line the Cutoff's only outlet was the M&E, whose grades, curves, and heavy commuter traffic made it a non-starter as a through freight route.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:15 am

JoeG wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:55 pm
Without the Boonton Line the Cutoff's only outlet was the M&E, whose grades, curves, and heavy commuter traffic made it a non-starter as a through freight route.
Even after 1963, EL did have some through freights on the reconfigured Boonton Line via Montclair to Croxton, but the grades around Little Falls and Upper Montclair were too high compared to the original Boonton Line.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:30 am

JoeG wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:55 pm
A few things in response to Mr. Norman....

In addition to the Nickel Plate, the Lackawanna had good relations with the Wabash.
On this point, I must ask how viable a DL&W-Buffalo-WAB routing could be?

X-ing the Niagara River and tracking through Ontario on someone else's road - arch enemy Central no less - then having to X the Detroit River on a car ferry - would make such a routing either a Shipper's (where the shipper tells the originating road how the car will be routed) or if cars were originating or destined to an on line industry.

It would appear that an NKP-Ft. Wayne-WAB routing could have offered advantages to both roads for traffic routed through the Kansas City gateway in that WAB's Hannibal bridge over Ol' Man River could avoid delays of a Chicago interchange.

Finally, WAB was controlled by DL&W arch enemy Pennsy, so I would think, but deferring to those with greater expertise, the primary interchange at Buffalo was the NKP with its circuitous, "Toonerville Trolley" (when compared with Central) line.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:59 am

Moderators, I hope you allow these admittedly off topic thoughts of even with the DL&W's magnificent ROW through NJ and PA, its beautiful livery, and their "this is us" operation of passenger trains, it really was a "basket case" well before "the merger of equals" - both sinking, and that Conrail virtually abandoned the entire road, opting to keep "weary ERIE" through the Southern Tier to serve online industries, shows to public rail passenger agencies that there are better places to put your scarce funding.

Somewhere, many moons ago in this topic I linked New York Times articles regarding Monroe County (PA) bus commuting life back in the days of houses bought on the strength of "liar loans". That life is over, with the "victims" having ruined credit, zero Net Worth, and the only way left to reverse the situation will be to win big in a Lottery - and preserve the winnings.

It's a telling tale suggesting that even with a full employment economy we enjoy at present (but with no assurance of the future), the preference is to live closer to the urban core. That spells the same for Sussex, as did the liar loans for Monroe.

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:16 am

Do we have a topic on Cutoff history in any of the fallen flag forums? In any case, I'm sure it's interspersed throughout the 100's of pages in this thread (which you started of course). It's all very useful and interesting, so while it's not on topic for passenger, perhaps we should split the more recent posts on the history into a new thread, and link it here?
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joeycannoli
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by joeycannoli » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:50 pm

I haven’t heard a peep in months with this project. Has anyone else heard anything?

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Post by JoeG » Tue Oct 15, 2019 8:21 pm

Chuck Walsh continues to post videos relating to the cutoff on youtube. I doubt if he will be alive when the cutoff is fully restored but the project is not totally dead and embalmed yet.

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