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 Guest
Major changes to the New Milford railroad station are among the
proposals in a $1.9 billion plan to upgrade Metro-North service
between Norwalk and New Milford.
It doesn't seem likely that Metro-North passenger rail service will
extend from Danbury to points north anytime soon.
Not with a projected cost of $1.9 billion.
The first phase of a study that looks at upgrading the South Norwalk-
Danbury rail line and extending passenger service to New Milford is
nearly complete. On Wednesday, local officials learned the cold,
hard facts about its cost.
The study was funded by a grant procured by former 5th District
Congressman James Maloney in 2001. The state Department of
Transportation is overseeing it.
"Any passenger service to New Milford is well in the future," said
Leonard Lapsis, DOT supervising planner for the line improvement
project. "But it is being studied at this time."
None of the scenarios discussed Wednesday included electrification
of the tracks. The $1.9 billion figure is an estimate of laying a
double track and improving the line for the diesel engines now in
use. Phase two of the study will explore the cost and feasibility of
an electric rail line.
Improving the present track and laying a second track would allow
northbound and southbound passenger trains to run at the same time.
They would go 70 mph from South Norwalk to Danbury and 60 mph from
Danbury to New Milford.
If towns want to stick with a single track, the cost would go down,
but not much. Improvements to the single-track line could be done
for $1.04 billion, according to the study. This scenario would
require short stretches of double tracks where one train could pull
off the main line while another passed. Those sidings would be
installed just south of Danbury, in Brookfield and south of New
"These figures do not include the cost of realignment of Route 7,
which would be required in places, or property acquisition, which
would be required," said Bruce Smith of Gonnett Fleming Transit &
Rail Systems, who is heading the physical engineering part of the
Overhead bridges would have to be replaced along the line, a new
station would have to be built in Wilton, curves would have to be
eliminated with straight track laid in over 20 areas, and signal
systems along the line would have to be radically changed, Smith
said. New, higher platforms would also have to be built at the
Brookfield and New Milford train stations and portions of the tracks
to New Milford would have to be torn up and replaced.
The study was launched after the public asked for a way to reach
southern Connecticut and points in southwestern New York without
having to drive the often gridlocked Route 7.
Commuters who now ride the train from Danbury to Norwalk wanted
faster, more frequent service. The improvements outlined at
Wednesday's presentation would reduce travel time from South Norwalk
to Danbury to 30 minutes. It would take 42 minutes to go from South
Norwalk to New Milford.
But beyond the staggering costs, the proposal is fraught with
problems, as Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials director
Jonathan Chew pointed out.
"He talked about putting in two potential new stations, one in
Wilton and one south of Danbury, and of radically changing the
station in Brookfield," Chew said. "I think we need to take a hard
look at that. The Brookfield train station is now in private use and
houses a business. Would they build a platform that led to parking
to the east of it? A parking lot that would provide spaces for
several hundred cars? We have to ask, `Do we have a viable stop

  by NIMBYkiller

Also, I hope they don't make full high platforms. All they need is a high platform for one car. Too bad so many platforms are high already. If they were all low they cou;ld use low level boarding. It'd be so much cheaper and better.
  by jackson
While they're at it, they should elevate the track(s) between S. Norwalk & Merrit 7. It would eleminate all those crossings and crank up the speed and they should definately electrify.

  by DutchRailnut
it would also crank up the price by about a billion for 9 viaducts to replace the current 9 crossings and a tunnel in the 3.5 miles you just mentioned.
as far as those crossings are concerned if it inconviniences a motorist for 1 minute and 45 seconds to see a passenger train pass, to bad.

  by NIMBYkiller
Exactly as Dutchrailnut put it. There is no reason for the grade crossings to be eliminated. Also, what's the point of slowing trains at the grade crossings?
  by Tom Curtin
This whole issue is utterly, totally ridiculous!!! Absurd!!! To double track the line would increase its capacity far beyond anything that is conceivably called for. To simply install TCS, using existing meet sidings at Branchville and Wilton would give all the capacity needed without laying a foot of track or changing the right of way in the slightest!!

RE electrification: the operating advantages don't come close to justifying the huge cost of this. I well remember when the New Haven operated this line electrically up through 1960, and I can categorically assert that the greater acceleration capabilities of electrics will reduce running times on the line by no more that 3 or 4 minutes. Come on! The current gennies and Bom cars are excellent equipment and are serving the line well. Since it is exactly the same equipment used on other MN nonelectric routes, there is nothing unique about Danbury operations.

Now, I can't buy the validity of the projected cost of extending to New Milford, Sure, the track needs upgrading to FRA Class IV, which will certainly cost; and installation of high platforms at two stations (Those are required much more due to federal ADA compliance than to operational efficiency). But nothing like some of the $$$ figures I've seen.

  by DutchRailnut
Tom your right, for service south of Danbury a new passing siding was in the works with the TCS/cab's instalation.
I saw plans to restore the Bethel lower siding and extend it south to about the Bethel Highway Dept Garage.
biggest obstacle currently in way is NIMBY's not wanting the Route 53 bridge replaced (it has a 30 mph restriction on it since a truck hit it) The Bridge plans are an overpass higher and two tracks wide.
it would give a siding of over a mile long.

Service north of Danbury is kind of iffy as the Owner of Housatonic RR has stated that CDOT or MNCR won't get acces to his railroad unless they buy entire thing plus pay him 5 years profits.

The untire plan was cooked up by nincompoops in CDOT who have no knowledge of actual railroads out there, and for the dreamers in town governement who think they know whats going on, and believe if there is rail, there is acces to it.
  by Tom Curtin
The NIMBYs, huh? Geez, nobody lives near that Rt 53 overpass --- all that I recall is near there is the Bethel Town Garage, The Dump, A Tractor dealer, and a cemetery!!!

I do have to say I am unable to understand what possible operational advantage there is is extending Bethel Lower Siding way down to there!

  by DutchRailnut
The nimby's want the overpass as a hinderance to trucks, since route 53 is a no truck route.
the Bethel lower siding would give a siding to store worktrains or P&W stone train.
it also would give oportunity to have two trains meet in currently the longest block on danbury line mp 13 to mp 23.
  by omar
The problem with the grant for the survey was the way it was phrased and the "consultants" brought in to calculate the cost.

Consultants are an interesting breed - they just tell you what you want to hear. Someone decided on the bells and whistles solution & the consultants gave them that.

Now, if there was a grant saying - extend to New Milford with class III (60 mph) track and install a 4-car high level platform - what would the cost be? Poof - service to New Milford on the cheap.

The service would be to serve lower Fairfield County mostly. If you wanted to go to NYC - drive to Brewster North - much faster. So the added couple of minutes at a slower speed is not as onerous as taking Rt 7. Anybody did a study to Super-Size Rt 7 through Danbury? Never happen...

There are some fine folks at CDOT (rail ops) who would like nothing better to extend service, but don't forget who owns CDOT - the highway interests. So the "survey says" that it would be rediculously expensive - no news there.

As for the Housatonic, you have to have your ducks lined up before you can approach a private operator. And don't believe everything you hear via the grapevine.....
  by Jeff Smith
Well, here's a blast from the past: https://www.ctpost.com/politics/article ... 895076.php

Housy would be opposed, of course, as they own the 15 or so miles between Danbury and NM, as some of the posters said 20! years ago. CT would have to come to some kind of accommodation with HRRS, whether it involved buying the line, who would dispatch it, who would operate it, what type of equipment, and so forth.
CT lawmakers seek to restore Shore Line East, add train service to New Milford
...And in the Northwest corner of the state, Republicans want to extend the Danbury Branch line to include service to New Milford — a distance of about 15 miles.
The report did not estimate costs associated with other projects in the bill, though it predicted that adding service to New Milford would require a “significant” investment from the state.

With the inclusion of projects that stretch from the shoreline to the Naugatuck River Valley and into Litchfield County, however, the legislation has drawn the support from a broad coalition of lawmakers from both parties.
Cameron also criticized the proposed extension of the Danbury line to New Milford, saying it would offer little value to commuters in Litchfield County, who already have the option of driving to catch trains along New York’s Harlem Line, which already offers quicker commutes into Grand Central Terminal.
  by Jeff Smith
If for some reason Housatonic, or a third-party were to operate it, it could potentially run afoul of Metro-North's union agreements with ACRE. They could avoid such if crews were to be changed at Danbury, or if they enter the station on the disused pocket track via the pocket track, or used the former platform at DRM.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Danbu ... 0vMDl0cDdj
  by Jeff Smith
I don't get Jimbo. He's supposed to be a transit ADVOCATE, but instead treats the idea of service to either New Milford or Southeast with contempt. He's content with the traffic delays on 7 and 84, not realizing that NYC is not necessarily the destination, but perhaps White Plains and lower Fairfield are.

In any case, MEDOT is going to run three of the All-Earth RDC's in a pilot service from Brunswick to Rockland without first spending millions to "study" it. They determined it would just be cheaper to try it out. How I wish CTDOT would do the same: maine-medot-proposed-rdc-service-brunsw ... 75424.html
  by Traingeek3629
I thought I already posted this in here, but they should run it as a branch of the Harlem, Southeast-New Milford. Stops in the mall area, other side of Danbury yard, Federal Road area, Brookfield, and New Milford. I figure it'd be about a 35-40 minute run - 2 hours and a couple minutes from New Milford to New York is not bad and is likely about 20 minutes faster than what it'd take to run that via the Danbury Line. The tradeoff is access to Norwalk/Stamford, but transfers could absolutely be made at Danbury. And plenty of people would commute down to White Plains.