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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by pnaw10
 
After "lurking" these boards for a week or so, I'd like to start out with a quick hello. Lived literally next to the New Hamburg station until I was 10, when my family moved upstate. (Really upstate, near Syracuse.) Fell in love with MNRR then, and another 16 years later, I still try to ride MNR and get pictures whenever I visit the city. (I recently sent a ton to Dave Pirrman at nycsubway.org, so maybe they'll show up there soon.)


OK... a few questions regarding electrification... whether you can answer just one, or more, or all, thanks in advance for enlightening me!

1) Shortly before my family moved away in the late 80s, there was talk about electrifying the Hudson Line all the way to Poughkeepsie. They got part of it done -- I saw that the new raised platforms were in place by the mid/late 90s. I realize this had to be done for ADA compliance anyway, but what happened to the electrification?

I know it would cost a lot of money to get the third rails in place. But with rising gas prices and increasing concern from "envirowackos" (as another poster called them), wouldn't it be cheaper and "greener" in the long term to electrify the entire line? As much as I love the FL9's (and I hate that there's fewer and fewer of them each time I visit back), electrifying the entire line would also give the railroad more flexibility because ALL equipment would be able to run the entire line. MU units wouldn't have to call it quits at Croton Harmon.


2) Similar question - this time, the upper Harlem line. Never heard if there were ever any plans to keep going north of Southeast. Was there ever any talk of running 3rd Rail up to Dover Plains (and now Wassaic)?


3) I'm guessing this one's mostly historical, but maybe it's a law. Why the overhead electrification for Connecticut? How come the caternaries were never replaced with third rails? To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any M7a's with pantographs, so they're useless for the New Haven Line. (If I am wrong, I apologize... I just haven't seen any in person, online or otherwise.) Same goes for the Gennys and FL-9's, right? If they can't use overhead lines, any "through express" runs from the branch lines must be running diesel until they get closer to the city. More diesel costs, more pollution.

If NH were electrified with third rails instead, again, ANY rolling stock could run it... including the "blue" MU units and the new M7a's. Wouldn't this make it easier to keep things rolling smoothly when there would otherwise be an equipment shortage?

The current NH MU's are already capable of using third-rail power since they do that getting in and out of GCT... so it's not like they'd need to be modified in any way. Wouldn't eliminating the pantographs reduce the maintenance costs for these units? And how much more will the New Haven version of the M7 cost because they'll need pantographs too? We're talking extra costs for more redesigning, and more parts required... if the NH line were all third-rail, they wouldn't have to design an entirely different type of M7. Just use the same ones already in use on the Hudson and Harlem Lines.

  by Nasadowsk
 
<i>3) I'm guessing this one's mostly historical, but maybe it's a law. Why the overhead electrification for Connecticut?</i>

Two reasons - 1, it's illegal to use third rail in CT. 2, overhead is MUCH punichier than third rail.

<i> How come the caternaries were never replaced with third rails?</i>

See above. Plus, the need for a substation every mile with third rail.

<i>If NH were electrified with third rails instead, again, ANY rolling stock could run it... including the "blue" MU units and the new M7a's. Wouldn't this make it easier to keep things rolling smoothly when there would otherwise be an equipment shortage?</i>

Why bother? Third rail sucks for long distances. It simply doesn't put out the power you need.

<i>The current NH MU's are already capable of using third-rail power since they do that getting in and out of GCT... so it's not like they'd need to be modified in any way. Wouldn't eliminating the pantographs reduce the maintenance costs for these units?</i>

Maybe.

<i>And how much more will the New Haven version of the M7 cost because they'll need pantographs too? We're talking extra costs for more redesigning, and more parts required... if the NH line were all third-rail, they wouldn't have to design an entirely different type of M7. Just use the same ones already in use on the Hudson and Harlem Lines.</i>

Since they can't figure out how they're gonna build them, nobody knows yet. Then again, with AC inverter propulsion, there's really not much to add to get HV AC capacility - basically a pan, a transformer, and a converter.

There's no reason to dump overhead on the NH line. There's reasons why the catenary should have gone to GCT, but that probbably can't be done today because of the tight clearances. Had the NYC and NH actually thought back in 1900, though....

  by Noel Weaver
 
Nasadowsk wrote:<i>3) I'm guessing this one's mostly historical, but maybe it's a law. Why the overhead electrification for Connecticut?</i>

Two reasons - 1, it's illegal to use third rail in CT. 2, overhead is MUCH punichier than third rail.

<i> How come the caternaries were never replaced with third rails?</i>

See above. Plus, the need for a substation every mile with third rail.

<i>If NH were electrified with third rails instead, again, ANY rolling stock could run it... including the "blue" MU units and the new M7a's. Wouldn't this make it easier to keep things rolling smoothly when there would otherwise be an equipment shortage?</i>

Why bother? Third rail sucks for long distances. It simply doesn't put out the power you need.

<i>The current NH MU's are already capable of using third-rail power since they do that getting in and out of GCT... so it's not like they'd need to be modified in any way. Wouldn't eliminating the pantographs reduce the maintenance costs for these units?</i>

Maybe.

<i>And how much more will the New Haven version of the M7 cost because they'll need pantographs too? We're talking extra costs for more redesigning, and more parts required... if the NH line were all third-rail, they wouldn't have to design an entirely different type of M7. Just use the same ones already in use on the Hudson and Harlem Lines.</i>

Since they can't figure out how they're gonna build them, nobody knows yet. Then again, with AC inverter propulsion, there's really not much to add to get HV AC capacility - basically a pan, a transformer, and a converter.

There's no reason to dump overhead on the NH line. There's reasons why the catenary should have gone to GCT, but that probbably can't be done today because of the tight clearances. Had the NYC and NH actually thought back in 1900, though....
In addition to the good reasons already listed above, the New Haven Line
would still need the overhead wires for Amtrak trains.
It would be a huge expense to put up third rail, substations and the other
things that would be needed while the overhead system would still have to
be maintained.
AC via overhead wires is also much more efficient to use. I did not work
on the M-4 and M-6 cars but as for the M-2 cars, this equipment ran much
better on AC under the wires than on DC off the rail.
Some commuter(s) a short time ago proposed that the New Haven Line be
changed over to third rail DC. It did not make any sense at that time and
today, it still makes absolutely no sense.
Noel Weaver
  by Tom Curtin
 
That commuter who did indeed recommend conversion of the New Haven to third rail was no doubt motivated by his seeing new (M-7) DC equipment on the Harlem/Hudson, and believing that such equipment would also show up on The New Haven if only that line had the right kind of propulsion system.

I think everybody on the forum recognizes that lack of new equipment on the New Haven is not due --- not directly, at least --- to the kind of propulsion system, but rather to the Haven's falling under a different funding authority: Connecticut, which has failed to provide the necessary capital funding for new equipment. That lack of funding had its roots in the previous governorship. Let us not forget that the recently departed governor --- however centrist a "front" he put on the longer he spent in office --- was deep in his heart always a far-to-the-right guy who utterly detested funding those rail operations.

  by Lackawanna484
 
The New Haven also needed to assure that its power would be consistent with the Pennsy for the Boston and Springfield trains it picked up from that line. So, dual power became the norm for keeping the peace with the service from Grand Central and NYP for about 85 years.
  by mncommuter
 
pnaw10 wrote:Same goes for the Gennys and FL-9's, right? If they can't use overhead lines, any "through express" runs from the branch lines must be running diesel until they get closer to the city. More diesel costs, more pollution.
The Gennys only run on electric when in the Park Ave. tunnel and up to 125th St. After that they switch to diesel, since their speed is limited under 3rd rail power.

The F units haven't run on electric for years, even though they were once capable of doing so.
  by Noel Weaver
 
mncommuter wrote:
pnaw10 wrote:Same goes for the Gennys and FL-9's, right? If they can't use overhead lines, any "through express" runs from the branch lines must be running diesel until they get closer to the city. More diesel costs, more pollution.
The Gennys only run on electric when in the Park Ave. tunnel and up to 125th St. After that they switch to diesel, since their speed is limited under 3rd rail power.

The F units haven't run on electric for years, even though they were once capable of doing so.
I don't know about the GE's whether they have a speed limitation with
electric operation, "Dutch" can better fill us in on that one.
I do know that the FL-9's did not have any speed restriction on electric and
more than once were run on electric all the way to or from Woodlawn to
try to get back a minute or two on the Harlem that was lost from the
poor acceleration that these engines were famous for. A single FL-9 was
a real struggle with seven cars on diesel but on electric if it was running
right, would get up to speed on the third rail very rapidly. The railroad
wasn't keen on us running them on electric but we often did it anyway.
Noel Weaver

  by DutchRailnut
 
The Gennies were originaly built for 45 Max in electric, but after first 6 the rest were built with a 60 mph average top speed.
One of resons the railroad does not want to use Gennies or even FL-9's at higher speed or tru interlockings is the violent arching that could even flash over to carbody or truck components.
This is how lots of FL-9's got burned and even some damage occured on Gennies, does LIRR 503 ring a bell ??

  by Nester
 
DutchRailnut wrote: This is how lots of FL-9's got burned and even some damage occured on Gennies, does LIRR 503 ring a bell ??
I was under the impression that the LIRR 503 fire was because of a faulty shoe-beam, and not the normal arcing (i.e. the poor design allowed for un-intended arcing). Do you know something I don't (about this fire)?? :)

Nester

  by M1 9147
 
That was the main reason 503 got melted down, but it was also the arching that hit a shopping cart that put it to its fate in Greenlawn.

  by boston774
 
A couple of the more knowledgable posters have mentioned that arcing and current loads through pickup shoes create problems for locos on the third rail. How did the NYC address these with their fleet? Was it simply through more pickup shoes?

  by Nasadowsk
 
Likely through the location/design of the shoes, plus, AFAIK, even starting currents were never spectacularly high on the NYC's electrics. I seem to recall a Penn Central era instruction booklet that had a 2000 or so amp restriction on the S motors.

Multiple shoes could help, but drawing a few thousand amps isn't trivial, period. Didn't they have a LOT of fires along the tracks back then?
  by JayMan
 
Noel Weaver wrote: I do know that the FL-9's did not have any speed restriction on electric and
more than once were run on electric all the way to or from Woodlawn to
try to get back a minute or two on the Harlem that was lost from the
poor acceleration that these engines were famous for. A single FL-9 was
a real struggle with seven cars on diesel but on electric if it was running
right, would get up to speed on the third rail very rapidly. The railroad
wasn't keen on us running them on electric but we often did it anyway.
Noel Weaver
Question: up until when did they do this with the FL-9s? Back in the 80s and early 90s, every FL-9 that ran past my old place in the Bronx (between Tremont and Melrose) seemed to be clearly in diesel mode. None that I can remember seemed to be running with their engines off.

  by harmon44
 
I had a lot of luck when I was in my teens to ride in the cabs of many FL-9s. This would never happen now. In the late 70's I remember the engineers telling me they didn't use the electric side until they were at or near the GCT tunnels. Apparently, the electric side was becoming unreliable then.

  by Rockingham Racer
 
To get back to the question, when I hung out in JO tower [Woodlawn] in the 70's, the upper Hudson electrification was also the rumor. I think the obstacle to its accomplishment is that "it's all about money".