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 Nester
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:If they go to Albany, the third rail is getting ripped out north of Spuyten Duyvil, 25 kV overhead is getting strung where only 3 substations can cover the entire near-150 miles, and MNRR will be ordering New Haven Line MU's to run the Hudson out of GCT & NYP and sending it surplus-to-(Harlem)-requirement 3rd rail-only MU's to retirement or LIRR repurposement.

All of that...including the SD-CH re-electrification and rolling stock purchase...are less expensive and less painful than building new substations every 6 miles to poke north of Croton-Harmon. 750V DC just doesn't scale well at intercity distances. If Albany ever gets truly serious about funding NYSHSR, there'll be enough MNRR pot-sweetener for the electrification change and rolling stock to get their cooperation. Blind opposition from the MTA isn't a fait accompli if the effort to do Keystone-or-better service all the way up the Hudson is deadly serious about treating the whole corridor's needs...commuter and intercity. It's just that Albany thus far is really half-arsing it on the NYSHSR studies, and interagency turf warrage is NY politics' favorite sport. Passive-aggressiveness isn't a terminal condition. It's just that if nothing changes...nothing changes and of course change-resistant fiefdoms are going to butt heads.
Is this accurate? I was under the impression that you would need substations every two miles or so for 750VDC and every 4 miles or so for catenary. I think it's a great idea and would a tremendous amount of long-term good for the Empire Corridor - but who is going to pay for it and where are you going to put a substation between Peekskill and Cold Spring in the marsh and swamp to power anything? If your one-per-50 (linear) miles statement is correct, it becomes a non-issue for power but a large issue for cost.

  by Jeff Smith
MNRR I think had looked at this in one of their 5 year plans, or long-term plan/study. I'd have to look back through the forum for it. It was on their radar at one time.
  by RRspatch
Nester wrote:
Is this accurate? I was under the impression that you would need substations every two miles or so for 750VDC and every 4 miles or so for catenary. I think it's a great idea and would a tremendous amount of long-term good for the Empire Corridor - but who is going to pay for it and where are you going to put a substation between Peekskill and Cold Spring in the marsh and swamp to power anything? If your one-per-50 (linear) miles statement is correct, it becomes a non-issue for power but a large issue for cost.

The standard rule for catenary, at least the AC type, is 1 mile for every thousand volts between substations. The PRR system, which was built for 11Kv, featured substations about every 10 miles. If that rule holds true then 25Kv would need a substation every 23 to 25 miles or so. Going any higher than that (South Africa has some 50Kv stuff) and you run into too many over head clearance issues.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
That's more or less accurate, although the NEC's New Haven-Boston electrification went variable-distance between substations.


NEC 25 kV substation listing:
-- Branford @ MP 80, powering MP 73.6 New Haven (12.5 kV to 25 kV phase break) to MP 103.1 Westbrook* [29.5 miles]
-- New London @ MP 123.6, powering MP 103.1 Westbrook* to MP 150.2 Richmond* [47.1 miles]
-- Warwick @ MP 177, powering MP 150.2 Richmond* to MP 198.7 Norton* [48.5 miles]
-- Sharon @ MP 212.4, powering MP 198.7 Norton* to Boston South Station terminal district (roughly MP 228.5 + terminal trackage) [29.8 miles]

*locations of switching stations, which isolate each substation's power sections.


The substations are all built off the ROW requiring offsite local road access, and obviously need to be placed near enough to a set of transmission lines to tap them. The Shoreline's switching stations are built on or adjacent to the ROW and require no external access, but take up the equivalent of 2 track berths and thus may require strips of property acquisition for a tri- or quad-track section. Each power section bordered on one end by a substation and the other end by a switching station is then broken up by paralleling stations once every 6 miles located within the ROW containing the circuit breakers and single autotransformers. Those are laid out as wide as the switching stations (i.e. about 2 track berths), but are only about half as long...basically similar in size to any old biggish set of signal bungalows.

Paralleling stations:
-- Mill River/New Haven phase break to Branford sub - 0 paralleling stations (total distance < 6 mi.)
-- Branford sub to Westbrook switching station - 3 par. stations
-- Westbrook switch to New London sub - 2 par. stations
-- New London sub to Richmond switch - 4 par. stations
-- Richmond switch to Warwick sub - 3 par. stations
-- Warwick sub to Norton switch - 3 par. stations
-- Norton switch to Sharon sub - 1 par. station
-- Sharon sub to South Station terminal district - 2 par. stations (Readville par. is the only paralleling station NHV-BOS that features 2 autotransformers instead of 1)

Note that Sharon and Warwick subs are only half-filled with equipment...at only enough equipment to run Amtrak equipment on 2 tracks. Slack space is fully future-proofed within the substation security fences for adding the MBTA/RIDOT's and SLE's shares of transmission equipment for commuter rail capacity, and at 4 full electrified tracks when NEC FUTURE expands out the capacity inside MBTA/RIDOT Providence Line territory. The switching and paralleling stations appear to be set up to be expanded back-to-back on that same approx. 2-track footprint for any future tri- or quad- track considerations, so would be expanded by length not width.


So...basically 30-mile long power sections for sections that contain a big terminal district, and 50-mile long power sections everywhere there isn't a terminal district (incl. regular end-of-line commuter rail layovers that lack shops). If space for the sub & switching equipment is provisioned with foresight like they did with the NEC, spacing on the Hudson Line would be roughly the same for 2 vs. 4 tracks and dense vs. less-dense commuter traffic. You can hedge a little bit on tighter spacing in current MNRR electric territory because Croton-Harmon is a full-blown terminal district with shops, but don't go overboard and assume that twice the traffic in MNRR electric territory requires twice the number of 25 kV subs. Distances between electrical section breaks are not so rigidly fixed that you have to go shopping for more sites instead of bigger sites like the NEC Shoreline has done to provision for more tracks and electric commuter rail density. Hudson Line will probably need more square feet per substation site than the max-provisioned Shoreline subs to stuff more equipment, but you'll never be so pinned in for +X square footage at any one candidate site that you'd be forced to build wholly additional substations too-short a distance away. Not when the sub spacing is flexible enough that you can just shop around for a different site in the same area that's got +1 extra acres of land to be had inside the security fence, and when the switching and paralleling stations will already fit on what's a contiguous 5+ track ROW Spuyten Duyvil to Hastings-on-Hudson and contiguous quad everywhere SD to Barrytown except for the rock cliffs pinch between Peekskill and Garrison.

Use the NEC layout of subs + switching stations as a guide to come up with your Hudson/Empire layout. Figure that because of the Croton-Harmon terminal district you'd need a shorter 25-30 mile distance to an adjacent sub on the immediate power section that contains Harmon shops. And also that you'd need a shorter 25-30 mile distance to an adjacent sub on the immediate power section that contains Albany shops. But everything in-between--including MNRR Upper Hudson on 3 electrified tracks in former diesel territory--can probably be spaced at 50 miles. Including Poughkeepsie layover, since that extra storage wiring is going to host far less activity than a terminal w/shops like CH or ALB or a heavy inner-vs.-outer zone transfer station like CH. Note also that the Hudson layout does not have to take into account the Penn Station terminal district, which is on the 25 Hz side of the Empire Connection phase break at MP 1.2...or GCT and anything inbound of Hudson MP 11, which would remain on the existing 750V DC third rail south of CP 12 interlocking where the Empire and Hudson merge.

Just mapping out a few spacing scenarios in my head...I keep arriving at a consistent 4 subs for spanning the whole corridor to ALB. Definitely no more than 5; that's shorting way too many power sections by way too much if you're arriving at a count of 6 subs or greater.
  by Nester
Very insightful. Thank you. Using the information in this post you could conceivably place one substation in the vicinity of Beacon and one at Croton to cover the Hudson line, one in the vicinity of Rennsaler, leaving only two locations in between to deal with. Rolling stock and motive power issues notwithstanding, this isn't as exepensive as I projected it to be.

  by truck6018
Costs aside, there are also the "environmental" concerns, (NIMBY's) to deal with. I guess they would rather have smoke billowing from the motors than miles of third rail (or wire) and substations.
  by DutchRailnut
other than plans in mind of buffs, there is nothing about further or replacement of electrification.
  by Ridgefielder
truck6018 wrote:Costs aside, there are also the "environmental" concerns, (NIMBY's) to deal with. I guess they would rather have smoke billowing from the motors than miles of third rail (or wire) and substations.
They're not using first-generation Alcos on the Empire Corridor. The P32DM's run pretty clean, without much smoke at all. I know-- I live within sight of the Harlem Division, see the MN Wassaic expresses barreling though all the time.

And we're not talking something trivial here like ripping up an encroached driveway or running a freight on a long-dormant line like the Grafton & Upton. The whole of the Hudson from Manhattan to Albany is a National Heritage Area under the protection of the National Park Service. Running wire through the views from FDR's house at Hyde Park, or Frederick Edwin Church's Olana, at Hudson, is going to be controversial with all sorts of people, not just local yappers.
  by Patrick A.
This push for electrification as a top priority for NEC branch corridors (Empire Corridor, Springfield Line, Danbury Branch) ignores the many less arduous improvements that could be made at a fraction of the cost of electrification. Raising running speeds through improvements either in signaling, track geometry, additional track, bi-directional/high-level station platforms) should all be exhausted prior to any iota of institutional dollars or energy is focused on electrification. Some ideas for the Empire Corridor:

-High level platforms at RHI, HUD (easily saves 5 minutes of dwell time) accessible from all tracks (eliminates potential bottleneck)
-Double track Empire Connection in Manhattan and upgrade to higher operating speed running if possible (bottleneck reduction, running speed improvement)
-Reconfigure Empire/Spuyten Duyvil interchange to reduce conflicts with MNRR (eliminates potential bottleneck)
-Make all grade crossings HSR compliant, if not already

The express runs from NYP-ALB are already at 2:30, close to a 60 mph average speed, definitely beats the car. If you can squeeze another 10-15 minutes with the above improvements, the locals could be clocked at 2:30 as well. Plus all of the above would reduce the risk and severity of en-route delays, thereby making the service more reliable and attractive than it already is.

Let's get to a state of good repair and optimize what we already have first before sinking capital into pie-in-the-sky ideas.
  by Railjunkie
High level platforms at HUD and RHI are not going to happen, Conrail tried to remove the canopy at RHI and was stopped cold. As for I believe the Hudson station is on some form of historic registry. Adding a bridge to access high level platforms would take an act of congress. We wont even bring the freight siding into the conversation its still active by the way.

Dwell times for both RHI and HUD are two minutes, if we are there longer its for heavy travel, ADA, or just waiting on time.

The Empire connection is double tracked, MAS of 60mph. The only two spots that are not, CP12 to Innwood and Empire through the tunnel to NYP. All of about 1.5 miles out of 10. I dont see how one could reconfigure CP12 to relieve a supposed bottle neck. Ive taken a couple of minute hit waiting for a MNRR train to clear, no biggie there.

I know Amtrak re did all the crossings on the Hudson HSR compliant Im not sure. As long as they work when Im coming.

Express out of ALB still makes two RHI and HUD we had trains back in the day that only stopped in Harmon and I think the running time was 2:10. The trip can be done in 2:20 with all the stops and a good run down MNRR I average 2:30 making all the stops and 2:25 with added fat and D stops at night.
  by Jeff Smith
Back to electrification: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id= ... 9;size=125" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

See page 31.

Apparently, there was a plan afoot back in 1973 to electrify to Peekskill:
Extending Electrification and Increasing Power

A study was begun early in 1973 to extend electrification from Harmon to Peekskill. It will also cover the power requirements to enable the new Metropolitan cars to operate at full capability, and the replacement of obsolete elements of the present power system for savings in operating and maintenance costs. Preliminary planning and engineering will also be included.

A related, second study is also being made at the same time. It will determine the feasibility of changing the present automatic, wayside signal system to a modern cab signalling and train control system. The new Metropolitan cars were designed to accommodate this equipment at a future date.
A very interesting link; lots of stuff system-wide. Obviously, the extension never happened. Interesting to note that they were aware the Metropolitan's needed more power; when the Harlem north of NWP was electrified they apparently had already forgotten this fact.
  by DutchRailnut
not really forgotten, but at time there were almost no trains longer than 6 cars, and no one expected the electrification to open up region as it did.

they never expected to run trains within 6 minutes of each other either so signal system is designed for 6 minute headway.
  by Jeff Smith
A(nother) new push (from an article on multiple Putnam County Topics): https://www.pcnr.com/articles/zuckerman ... or-putnam/
He called on the MTA to electrify the Hudson Line due to its surge in popularity between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie: “Such remediation will provide a redundant capability given the unreliability of the locomotive fleet.”
  by jonnhrr
Re third rail, London to Dover in the UK is 67 miles and is third rail, so 3rd rail to Poughkeepsie would be comparable. A lot of substations admittedly, but less of an issue with NIMBYs objecting to wires.
  by Traingeek3629
One word on full Hudson Line Electrification, SPG Line Electrification, and Danbury Line Electrification: Stupidity.

Stations are far enough apart that EMU time savings would be minimal, and that combined with the fact that most EMUs don't reach 100+MPH would mean that at least on the SPG and Hudson lines, this would probably counter the 2-3 minute time savings and make this a huge boondoggle. The Danbury Branch has relatively low ridership and when you think of all the NIMBYs who would pitch a fit, it makes it worthless. When (if) the SPG Line gets new railcars, dwell times will likely be reduced, as faster acceleration and automatic doors would doubtlessly be features.
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