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 DutchRailnut
The November commuter counsil minutes are on line at:

The piece of the Danbury line electrification is quite interesting. specialy the low figure, only 75 million ??

The New Canaan branch renewal cost near $30 million for 6 miles of track(one mile is part of mainline), no sidings other than stub tracks in new Canaan.

My estimate would be $200 million based on 4 times New Canaan figure plus 12 years of inflation, plus 3 sidings and the yard at Danbury.
plus the lawsuits by nimby's who don't want the 12.5 Kv going tru their town.
and will these electrics make the hills ??? or more specificly will they stop ??????

The electrification in past had plenty of drawbacks including lots of power outages, which took long to find what caused it.
Atleast in that time the Danbury switcher could be dispatched to go rescue the train, today that would take hours to get an engine from Stamford
  by Tom Curtin
Thank you for posting thoise minutes.

Amazing to me that the utter ridiculousness of electrifying to Danbury just doesn't occur to anybody!!! It's borderline criminal that DOT is bankrolling a firm to study that.

And, the proposal of double-tracking just is too outrageous to comment on politely. It seems to me that TCS installation, plus restoration of Bethel Lower Siding, will provide more than enough train handling capacity.

(By the way, there are some other locations on the line --- 5 that I could name --- where the New Haven Railroad had meet sidings many years ago, one or more of which which could presumably be restored, on the assumption that the ROW is still 2 tracks wide at those spots and has not been encorached upon.)

  by Clean Cab
I doubt that $75 million would even pay for the power substations. I can't imagine how they came up with such a low figure?

Let's look at the two biggest "Electrification" projects in our area.................

The 8 mile long New Canaan Branch came in at $30 million and that was just for 6 miles of new catenary structures and wire replacement. No new substations were part of that package.

The 156 mile Amtrak shore line project was estimated at about $400 million and came in just short of $700 million. That was a ground up build. Everything was new, catenary structures, wire, substations and the Acela trainsets.
The design alone was almost $50 million.

The money would be much better spent on a cab signal system and better passing sidings with higher speed switches.

I truly doubt that anyone can re-electrify the Danbury Branch for only $75 million. If they could, CDOT had better sign that deal ASAP!!!

  by DutchRailnut
It seems to me that the price quoted for Dual mode locomotives is a bit high too, same in electrificatiion study:
http://www.danburybranchstudy.com/Websi ... Report.pdf
They are talking about 8 million per locomotive??? the Dual mode Genesis was in 4.2 million range and with the 18 engine order last, price came down to just under 4 million per locomotive.
Even with inflation that figure seems to be skewed just to make diesel service look bad.

  by Clean Cab
The study is definately a loooooooong read!! I would love nothing better than to see the wires go back up on the Danbury Branch, but there would be endless problems and a lot of NIMBYs who would almost certain stall the project for years with court challenges. Plus, I just can't see and type of EMUs taking on that terrible hill in Branchville in the fall.

But, if they do decide to re-string the wire, they had better consider using triple mode electric engines (overhead, 3rd rail and deisel) and kill two birds with one stone and run the wire all the way up to New Milford. I'm certain that the odds are quite slim of that ever happening!!!
Typical waste of taxpayer money (studies). Has Mr. Gunn Said, run frequent, reliable service and they will keep coming back! The biggest commercial build up area is right in Norwalk. Re-string the wire to Wilton and put the wire into the siding. Run turn electrics off the mainline to Wilton and Merritt Seven (building a high level platform at Merritt Seven-of course) that would be feasible. The rest is pipe dreams and wasting taxpayer money.

  by DutchRailnut
CDOT should stop studying, and get off their posteriors.
The Signal system was to have started in 1987, its now 2006 and were not one way or another closer to making this branch safer and faster.
put the signal system in, upgrade the sidings.
And get rid of the rediculous low speeds in Norwalk and Danbury.
From Wall street tunnel to mp 4 should be continous 40 mph from mp 4 to wilton raise to 60.
At Danbury end get rid of the 20 mph from shelterrock road to Danbury station, it should be 50 from shelterrock road to link switch in Danbury.
The track can handle it its just a matter of upgrading crossing circuits.
not safe in manual block you say, your right but 3 to 5 minutes can be shaved of the current schedule by intalling the damd signal system CDOT has been dreaming about but were the money keeps disapearing.

Sidings should be from walk tower to mp1 to accomodate turns from mainline and get trains off mainline, siding also needs to be long enough to accomodate stone or welded rail trains.
Wilton use existing siding but with better south switch to accomodate better leaving speeds.
Branchville same but with 45 mph switches.
Bethel 30 mph on north switch and 45 mph on south switch and extend the siding by about half a mile to Rt 153.

  by shadyjay
CDOT should stop studying, and get off their posteriors
Dutch, I couldn't have said it better myself. They study and study everything to death that by the time the study's complete, another study is required, or there's no money left to do anything else.

And its not just railroads that they study to death. CDOT has been studying I-84 and I-95 for years, decades even. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that there's a traffic problem. If you go to the DOT website (www.ct.gov/dot) you'll find links to dozens of studies. Nothing has been done to date.

Guess ConnDOT just likes to waist precious money on studies.


  by Nasadowsk
Which is why I don't believe the Hartford - New Haven commuter rail service proposals (well, that and they don't solve a single problem in the Hartford area!). It's been a pipe dream for years.

CDOT really seems to be clueless about anything. Dangerous interchanges, left exits, pathetically overbuilt HOV lanes, etc etc etc etc. A bunch of clowns, frankly. Course with Rowland gone and Rell not being as ea$ily influenced by the con$truction lobby...
Nardowsk said it so perfectly, not a truer statement!!! Gov Rell in the short period of time that she has been in the Gov's office has done more for rail then Rowland in 8 years.

Some day there will be change with the DOT, with G Colenese going into the DOT there is hope!!!

  by Clean Cab
Hopefully the appointment of Gene Collenese to CDOT will bring a new sence of importance to the rail operations department of CDOT which has for all too many years been a very small part of what they do. CDOT has been too focused of higways, streets and bus routes. The incredible growth of train ridership (especially within the state itself) brings more needs and challenges that MUST be addressed!!

  by Nasadowsk
IMHO, CDOT's been focused too much on overboard useless construction, PERIOD. Look at the hopeless HOV lanes on I-91. Instead of just making an HOV lane, they redid the overpasses and put special on/off ramps and all. For a lane that gets no use and no enforcement. Who wants to be stuck behind a bus struggling to maintain 50?

I always thought Harford was a poster child for something like a GTW 2/6 - small, light, quiet, and can use the basically unused freight trackage in the area, kick the freight to night time, and at least give people a usable option. IMHO, Hartford-New Haven commuter rail solves nothing - the big traffic in the area is people trying to get out of the Old State house - Civic Center area and off to East Hartford, Bloomfield, or West Hartford. A good fast DMU (and by DMU, I mean a modern one, not CRC's joke unit) on the Griffin line going from Hartfoprd, stopping at Albany Ave overpass, UHA, that next big crossroad, Bloomfield center, a bit north of there, and ending in that bussiness park on Blue Hills ave, another line going over to East Hartford and north and east, and maybe something looping back under I-91 and down that line towards Newington, Middletown..

You'll never see rail to Avon (they're too special for it anyway), and going to New Haven is a waste - nobody in their right mind would live in New Haven and work in Hartford. Travelwise, get real, I was regularly faster than Amtrak between those places on I-91, and off hours, I-95 wasn't THAT bad.

Hartford's ripe for streetcar/light rail too, IMHO. The bus operations there are quite good, just not frequent enough and they don't run late enough... Streetcars on the heavier used lines (Blue hills ave, and that other major line up that way come to mine) could speed service, cut costs, and and attract more riders...

But like every other captiol city in the northeast, well, anyway, I wouldn't expect much to happen even under Rell, though the out of control CDOT might get reeled in..

  by shadyjay
Another good possibility line in the Hartford area would be the line out towards New Britain, where they want to build that busway. Also run service over the river and out to Manchester or Vernon. A good sized park & ride lot built at a strategic location near I-84 would help to get people off I-84.

Regarding Hartford NW, it'll be a cold day you know where before anything in the rail/highway/whatever dept happens in Avon, Simsbury, et al. I'm surprised that Rt 44 out there is 4 lanes wide, but then again has to be with all that development. Even if there was a rail line out that way, access to Hartford would be tough, unless you tunnel underneath Avon Mountain. Perhaps they could run cable cars :P

  by Noel Weaver
Any sort of a light rail system in Hartford would be a total waste of money
in my opinion. This city is a classic example of a fine northeastern city
which has gone badly downhill. Population has shrunk from well over
160,000 to 124,000 in 2000 and it is likely that the next set of figures
will continue to reflect a decrease in population. A good number of near
by towns and cities are shrinking too.
There is no doubt in my mind that Stamford will be the largest city in
Connecticut before too many more years.
As for the Danbury Branch, the electrification worked wonderfully well
years ago and would again if given a chance. I do agree that a good
modern signal system should be put in first but I wouldn't write off a
return of the overhead wires which should never have been taken down
in the first place. I strongly believe that MU equipment would handle
Branchville Hill far better than diesel equipment would. It is doubtful that
any substations would be needed for the Danbury Branch.
Noel Weaver

  by boston774
Noel is right - the growth in stamford is unreal. With RBS coming, it is only going to get faster. I've wacthed the New Canaan branch get steadily more crowded, to the point where it is almost impossible to get a seat if you get on in Glenbrook.

And any capacity improvements to the Danbury line would be enormously useful. That area has grown by leaps and bounds, and unlike southern CT, there is still land to build on. I can't believe CDOT hasn't funded and built a usable signal system - that would seem to be a no-brainer on along single-track line.