• Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by scoostraw
 
Was it ever considered to construct a wye connection between the Hudson Division and the Post Road a mile or so below Rensselaer?
  by east point
 
scoostraw wrote:Was it ever considered to construct a wye connection between the Hudson Division and the Post Road a mile or so below Rensselaer?
Trying to remember. Doesn't the post road start climbing up to a higher elevation immediately south of the station?. If so that would probably preclude any wye south of the station as wye would have to be too steep of a climb ?
  by Allouette
 
The Post Road grade begins almost immediately after the new track 1/track 3 double slip at the south end of the station. The branch parallels the Hudson line a block or so to the east for a couple of miles before heading east, climbing all the while. There's really no place to put a wye. It might be possible to build a connection off the Hudson line's route to Selkirk Yard where it joins the B&A, but that would cut out Albany/Rennsalaer. I don't think Pittsfield is a big enough market to compensate.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Station Aficionado wrote:Having looked through the study and read the articles, one thing I’m not clear on—has CSX agreed to this, or is that something that has to be worked out before 2020?
I'm bumping this question; it hasn't been answered yet. Because if CSX hasn't agreed, the whole project is on the rocks.
  by J.D. Lang
 
The Housatonic makes a lot more sense. It kind of seems like MA has just backed away from CTs objections rather than actively pursuing it.
I'm not sure what Massachusetts has in their future plans for the portion of the Berkshire line that they bought from the Housatonic but they are presently putting around 30 mil. into the line. Two welded rail trains have dropped a lot of rail along the right of way this summer. I took a ride a couple of months ago from Canaan north to Great Barrington and there is welded rail laid out all the way from the CT/MA state line to Great Barrington. There is also tons of new ties spread out in bundles all the way plus a mountain of tie plates for pandrol track clips along the siding in Sheffield. This is all brand new 136lb. rail. I've also heard that they dropped rail from Stockbridge south toward Housatonic.

Again I don't know what their end game is here but one could assume that at some point they would want to bring passenger service back through there. I guess time will tell.

J. Lang
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
Obviously there have been numerous studies about restoring passenger service on the Housy. Even if any regularly scheduled passenger trains use that line, factors to consider would be first ridership-what is your target market. It seems that in this case, it is people who are making long weekend trips to the Berkshires. While those people might not be in a huge rush as a commuter, it is important for them to get up their as safely and quickly as possible, even if it involves making the train travel time a little slower than driving. On Metro North from GCT to Danbury, it takes a little under two hours to take an express through train. If you are doing a semi express and changeover at SONO combo, it takes anywhere between two to two hours and fifteen minutes. If they ever run trains to Pittsfield, they would probably want to run super express to Danbury if posslble. I know that the line is mostly single track with sidings and that holds true for the line above Danbury. Not just Pittsfield, but if they were running anything on the Housy, then make other stops too and stop at stations where there are larger villages closeby, New Milford, maybe in the Cornwall area, definately Canaan, Great Barrington, Lee, and Pittsfield.

Even with this possible seasonal service, people who live along the Housy will continue to drive across the border to the Harlem Line. Towns like Canaan and and the Cornwalls are not far from Wassaic Station and there are other towns south of there in Ct that are close to Harlem Valley-Wingdale.

We have family friends in Great Barrington and when the wife goes into the city, she drives to Wassaic and takes Metro North from there. There are members of that family who will take Amtrak to Hudson.
  by scoostraw
 
I realized after thinking about this that a connection between the Post Road and Hudson Division would not really accomplish much that could not be achieved by just wyeing the train at Rensselaer.

But then there still remains the problem of not being able to turn the equipment at Pittsfield right?
Last edited by scoostraw on Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by scoostraw
 
J.D. Lang wrote:
The Housatonic makes a lot more sense. It kind of seems like MA has just backed away from CTs objections rather than actively pursuing it.
I'm not sure what Massachusetts has in their future plans for the portion of the Berkshire line that they bought from the Housatonic but they are presently putting around 30 mil. into the line. Two welded rail trains have dropped a lot of rail along the right of way this summer. I took a ride a couple of months ago from Canaan north to Great Barrington and there is welded rail laid out all the way from the CT/MA state line to Great Barrington. There is also tons of new ties spread out in bundles all the way plus a mountain of tie plates for pandrol track clips along the siding in Sheffield. This is all brand new 136lb. rail. I've also heard that they dropped rail from Stockbridge south toward Housatonic.

Again I don't know what their end game is here but one could assume that at some point they would want to bring passenger service back through there. I guess time will tell.

J. Lang
I agree. They didn't purchase the line and drop coin on CWR just so the Housatonic can have a better ride.

Perhaps this is making a bit of sense after all. Upgrade the line to the state line and then work on getting CT on board.

In the meantime, let the BSRR run their Budd Car to Canaan.
  by Greg Moore
 
Just to remind folks this is the link to the study;
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o8XEMn ... okSJ7/view" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My understanding is the current plan is to adopt Option 1A which requires (in theory) no new equipment other than an engine I believe. The train would be operated in push-pull configuration and layover in Pittsfield and would only operate (initially) 20 weeks of the year.

I do agree it would make sense to consider adding in a Saturday trip.

As for the Housatonic, having grown up in the area, I've always been a fan of restoring service here and I think there's merit.
Yes, Wassaic gets heavy use, but again, I think there's an argument for a "weekend only" train that traverses this route to at least Canaan, and more likely Pittsfield on the weekends. It's not about daily commuters at all, but the weekenders.

Wassaic is already pretty maxed out on parking and this would relieve some of that. It would also permit more families where one partner works in the city during the week and comes to the country on the weekend to maintain just one car, rather than leaving one at the station, or having to make the round trip from locations such as Great Barrington, etc.

And, as I've suggested up above, it's ultimately about the network.
Multiple connections along the ALB-BOS east-west route in Albany, someday perhaps Pittsfield, now Springfield and Boston ultimately make the entire network stronger. I suspect with enough flexibility you'd start to see folks taking the trains for more local trips also.

I think we'll see in general over the next decade, despite the naysayers a slow but steady uptick in rail traffic in the US. It's simply going to take investment.
  by J.D. Lang
 
I totally agree that the Harlem line is plenty accessible to people in western CT. and parts of western MA. Actually in another thread about this about a year go I suggested that a good alternative would be to build an enclosed secure parking garage at Wassaic for long term parking so people could leave a car there and take the train up from NYC on the weekend and get in their car to drive to their final destination.

Anyway to get back to this threads topic maybe in the future this test train via Albany could run down thru western MA. and stop at all of the popular towns along the route. They (Mass.) must have some reason to for pouring all of this money into their part of the Berkshire line. I just don't think that Pittsfield is the best end point for this service.

J. Lang
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
Yes, the states of Ct and Ma should allow Amtrak to run a test train stopping at the stops along the Housy Route first. If this service is going to be catered toward people heading to the Berkshires and Pittsfield is the largest town, then the service should end in Pittsfield. Whether if it should stop in the towns along the Housy should depend on whether if it runs by way of Rensellaer. If it runs by way of Rensellaer, then unfortunately, it wouldn't do any good having the train end in like Great Barrington as they would be heading back far south.

On the proposed Amtrak train to Pittsfield by way of Rensellaer, it would also be nice considering having an infill stop somewhere around Chatham. There are people who are going to vacation spots in NY State very close to the Mass Pike.
  by TomNelligan
 
As one who rode the New Haven to Pittsfield back in ancient times, I would love to see a restoration of passenger service along the Housatonic route, but the practical question is how it would be paid for. Massachusetts may be supportive of upgrading the line within the Commonwealth, but south of the state line it's up to Connecticut, a state that is perpetually in financial crisis and having trouble just maintaining existing transportation infrastructure. A big pile of money would be required to restore the Houstonic to something resembling reasonable passenger train speeds before you even start thinking about operational costs, and I doubt that the current financial climate in Connecticut would be warm to that.

As a historical note, even in NH days that was not a very fast railroad due to its challenging topography. In the 1950s the basic speed limit between Danbury and Pittsfield was 50 mph, dropping to 40 mph in the 1960s as the bankrupt NH began cutting back on maintenance. With the higher limit the running time for the NH's "express" train, the Berkshire, was 2 hours 45 minutes Pittsfield-Danbury, and Pittsfield-Grand Central was 4 hours 45 minutes. That sort of timing might be OK these days for a cruise/party train aimed at vacationers, but otherwise I think it would be hard to grab a significant number of riders from the Wassaic alternative with its 2 hour 10 minute through trains from New York.
  by J.D. Lang
 
In the meantime, let the BSRR run their Budd Car to Canaan
Scoostraw, I like that idea.

J. Lang
  by scoostraw
 
mtuandrew wrote:When you all say “use the Housatonic”, are you attempting to run this train NYP-Danbury-Pittsfield? And if so, via the MN Danbury Line or the Harlem Line? Trying to get a lay of the land here.
Just extend existing Danbury service north on the Housy.

Of course this brings into question - who would the operator be? Metro North? Amtrak? Or...??
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