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 RussNelson
NRGeep wrote:Was there a spur for Rockland State Hospital?
Yes. Nearly all psych hospitals had a central coal-fired steam plant that was served by a railroad. Their spur came south off the Erie main at Van Wyck Road and 5th Avenue. Turned south through a housing development, doubtful anything is left there. Crosses the Palisades Interstate Parkway, then Blauvelt Road very close to Michael Drive. Then you've got a quarter circle between Blauvelt and Covent Road which has nothing built on any part of it. There *might* still be rails through that section. South of Covent it went mostly parallel along 3rd Avenue to the steam plant. I've never been there, but I added it to my todo list.
  by NRGeep
Thanks y'all. I wonder if there was a protocol for preventing patients from escaping the asylums via departing coal empties. Seems likely the spurs had fences to separate ROW's from the hospital grounds at the very least. No doubt, some determined folks found a way around the obstacles!
  by mackdave
My former brother in law's in law's lived adjacent to the spur south of the PIP. In the 1980's, we'd walk back in the woods and walk the trackage that was still there. No reason to think it's any different today.

Dave Mackay
  by Jeff Smith
Is that bridge over the PIP up by New City? I seem to remember a bridge up there. As for escape I imagine so, those hospitals had a bad reputation for abuse, neglect, etc.
  by airman00
I saw that template of the piermont branch and the whole rockland county area was sure a maze of trackage and a hotbed of railroads going everywhere!

I do have a question in regards to all this? How or where did the CSX Northern branch connect to the NJT Pascack Valley line? Or how did it connect to the Piermont branch? I know about the wye in sparkill. But where is the old tracks/row between sparkill and spring valley?
  by mackdave
The Northern crossed the Erie in Sparkill on its way to Nyack. The Piermont Branch and the line to Nanuet was the original (1830's) Erie RR. Try looking for old USGS topographical maps, they'll show where the wreckage was.
  by RichM
If you can find a Hagstrom road map of Rockland County from the mid-60's, the track layouts in Pearl River, Blauvelt, Sparkill and Piermont are well laid out, even the spur into Rockland State. The circular approach in the spur that Russ describes is to compensate for the change in elevation. There's about a 50-75 foot change in elevation between what was the 303 grade crossing and the bridge over the PIP between exits 6 and 7.
  by Jeff Smith
Some photos I found off Facebook, from Yonkers Rail page:

http://yonkersrails.zenfolio.com/nssuff ... C#hc27ffdc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://yonkersrails.zenfolio.com/nssuff ... #h77bd0328" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The more recent picture is serving Manhattan beer. Most of the Metro North owned branch is OOS.
  by RichM
Just bumping this up for anyone interested in the old Erie Northern and Piermont lines. On the NJ side, there's talk about reopening the line north from Englewood to Closter, about seven miles. The rails are still there, but the line north of Englewood was severed by the removal of a stick rail north of the last active customer.

See the NJ Forum for more information.

We'll see...
  by Jeff Smith
Pretty sure the only portion in New York left that stands a chance is between Suffern and Spring Valley, and only then if they ever do TZB rail. It would be a nice connection just on its own, but I'm not sure who or what the ridership would be. It could negate the need for the yard on the PV, depending on the capacity at Suffern. That's all I can think of.

I used to run the trail down by the river that ran down to the Northern Branch. It is a pity it's gone, but I think those folks would just as soon they have TZB rail.
  by andegold
I think the line between Suffern and Spring Valley could have very high ridership as light rail. It connects the two downtowns obviously but it also runs past/through some pretty high density housing as well. With the new alternate rules it could be done without time separation but it would need a few passing sidings. Also, since time separation wouldn't be needed, it could easily be extended to whatever might remain of the Nanuet Mall and run in between Pascack Valley trains or extend a new spur to Palisades Mall and really drive up ridership. Once activated and maintained for light rail it could then serve as an escape route for Pascack Valley sets trapped in Spring Valley or as an alternate route for the Port Jervis Line if there is flooding East of Suffern on the Main and/or Bergen lines. None of this would require the TZB.
  by Hawaiitiki
andegold wrote:I think the line between Suffern and Spring Valley could have very high ridership as light rail. It connects the two downtowns obviously but it also runs past/through some pretty high density housing as well.
NJT has already done something similiar in southern New Jersey, the Riverline. Two semi-blighted communites being connected by a DMU light rail, instead of being used for true through commuter rail services. It would be a stretch to call the Riverline a boondoggle (it is good for NJ), but ridership has never approached the estimates.

Just an open question for anybody who may have more knowledge than I:

Now that the unsurprising bait and switch with mass transit on the new Tappan Zee is done, (i.e. its never going to happen to despite being used as a selling point for getting tax payers to rebuild the bridge), is there any possibility this short clear gap gets filled in (between Suffern and Spring Valley). The benefits have been mentioned here again and again, but has there been any more traction now that mass transit on the Tappan Zee is effectively dead? And as long as MetroNorth or NJT own the ROW, they could theoretically just rebuild the tracks with limited community involvement, rid themselves of the Spring Valley yard, sell trackage rights to NS for through running, provide more redundancy, and serve a new community.
  by EuroStar
The line will never be a DMU as that is not cost effective relative to just restoring it for heavy rail as long as the diesel lines to Spring Valley and Suffern continue to operate.

The political capital needed to reopen the line is not there. The only context in which it might happen is if service to Spring Valley was to be increased beyond what the yard there can handle. This however cannot happen without more double tracking in NJ, however such double tracking is dead for at least the next 20 years as NJ's ridership of the line is not growing fast enough to justify spending money on the double track while NJT is trying to find money for the light rail to Englewood.
  by Jeff Smith
I believe NS still has the freight rights to the Suffern Industrial, but there's no on-line business. The PV thread in NJT, I think, notes that many if not most or all of the crossings have been paved over, including the one lumber yard just off the NJT Main Line.

AFAIK there are also portions that have been cleared and converted to rail trail use on that stretch. I'm not sure if they pulled up rails for the trail, or if the ROW was wide enough for a trail next to rail (similar to the Maybrook between Hopewell Junction and Dykemans).

MNRR owns it, so they could conceivably rebuild it, but at what cost and against what community opposition? Would Monsey want or need a station? When MNRR reactivated the Harlem above Dover Plains to Wassaic, they had to throw in the towel on the remaining OOS stretch to Millerton due to community opposition.

And, they'd have to negotiate with NJT to operate the service, and NJT would have to contend with community opposition downstream on the PV.

The flip side to the NIMBY argument is Rockland and Orange are always on the "MNRR doesn't provide enough service to us" bandwagon. Is a reactivation with one new station between Suffern and Spring Valley enough? Does demand warrant the connectivity?

In the Wassaic extension, part of the attraction was getting the yard out of downtown Dover Plains and putting it in the middle of a farm field in Amenia (Wassaic), plus expanding Park and Ride opportunities you didn't have in DP, and keeping folks from driving all the way to Southeast. I'm not sure if Woodbine is at capacity, or how it constrains PV operation, or if Suffern Yard has the capacity to take over Woodbine.
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