Amtrak, Fairmount, and the NEC

Commuting Boston Student

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,168
Reaction score
1
The Westchester part of the line will be tunneled from the Mount Vernon Metro North Interchange to I-684 which is about 15 miles so its not going to even touch any of the real estate. From The Interchange to Grand Central and Penn Station the line would share a 4 track Harlem line. I Don't understand why people are still clinging to the NEC , we need a NEW NEC , the current will be over capacity by 2030 and building next to I-95 in CT and RI and MA is out of the question due to costs and NIMBYs. Thats why there going along 684-84-90 and hugging the MNRR in NY to save costs and spend things up. The Existing the NEC will be upgraded to support speeds of 140mph in CT and 3 and 4 tracked along parts of the Shore line and in RI / MA. Don't worry , Providence and New Haven will still be connected.... As for the costs , alot of the cost is to upgrade the Existing NEC and build capacity for the New NEC between New Brunswick,NJ and Westchester about 45 Billion in upgrades are needed.... The MNRR tunnels need to be replaced and bridges above the Harlem line Raised to allow Catenary to be installed... Theres also the feeder lines like the Empire Service , Lackawanna line , Lehigh line , Northwest Service , Downstate corridor , Downeaster , Concord line , Cape Cod Service , Knowledge Corridor , Cross England line , and Virginia Network will be upgraded and feed into the NEC which is spine in this region. Of course the most Expensive new line would only cost 2 Billion....although with upgrades to bring lines up to 125mph and electrification the feeder system would cost 15 Billion. Upgrades to the Existing NEC will cost between 45-50 Billion....at what Amtrak said 2 years ago. The whining about the route on this board reminds me of the moaning about the New stations in Philly and Baltimore , what people don't realize is we can't continue to use the same Infrastructure for Higher speeds ,its to congested as it is...
I haven't once suggested building 'next' to I-95.

I've suggested building inside of I-95, median running, the exact same thing you're proposing for I-84, only with the I-95 plan there's no need for a 15-mile-long tunnel, and there's less miles of track because the distances involved are less.

Once again, it is NOT 'build on I-84 or keep the current NEC.' That's a false argument.

What YOU don't seem to realize is that we're not 'whining' - we're trying to explain to you why your proposal comes off as pie-in-the-sky and impossible to bring to fruition. That Market East station requires a 10-mile long deep bore tunnel just to be reached, with zero chance of bringing those HSR trains anywhere close to the surface once they get there. The sticker shock on Market East alone is going to kill the rest of the project better than any NIMBY coalition ever could - it's literally Big Dig II: Dig Philadelphia! That's why I said we would have been better off with Amtrak letting the proposal they put out die quietly.
 

Nexis4jersey

Active Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Messages
711
Reaction score
0
I haven't once suggested building 'next' to I-95.

I've suggested building inside of I-95, median running, the exact same thing you're proposing for I-84, only with the I-95 plan there's no need for a 15-mile-long tunnel, and there's less miles of track because the distances involved are less.

Once again, it is NOT 'build on I-84 or keep the current NEC.' That's a false argument.

What YOU don't seem to realize is that we're not 'whining' - we're trying to explain to you why your proposal comes off as pie-in-the-sky and impossible to bring to fruition. That Market East station requires a 10-mile long deep bore tunnel just to be reached, with zero chance of bringing those HSR trains anywhere close to the surface once they get there. The sticker shock on Market East alone is going to kill the rest of the project better than any NIMBY coalition ever could - it's literally Big Dig II: Dig Philadelphia! That's why I said we would have been better off with Amtrak letting the proposal they put out die quietly.
1. Oh....i thought you did...

2. Median is out of the question for I-84 or 95 , HSR generally needs a gap for safety reasons. In Europe its at least 50 feet from a Highway or Road along shared corridors. I don't like the 95 route which they ruled out for being more expensive then the inland route. They also ruled out Long Island aswell....due to costs but some Private firm was looking into building that...

3. There not Pie in the Sky ideas or visions , in this region you need to think big , so Amtrak is thinking Big.... Up in the Boston region your probably not used to large scale projects but down here that's the normal along with crazy Rail projects so that gives me hope for this project. As for Market East , I don't see it that expensive , if your going to compare it to the Big Dig then that falls flat. Were talking a 10 mile long double track tunnel , not a 3 mile long muti lane Expressway with Ramps and a Massive Bridge. The Rock is also different meaning it will be fast and easy to dig through with a TBM. TBMs can chew through 500ft of rock a day on a good day , the only concerns id be worried with the Tunnel is near the Airport , but those could be fixed... Its also not a deep bore , a max of 4 stories , a deep bore is 10-15 like what is being done in NY and needed for the New line. Thats expensive , but a swallow bore is cheap. The Bypass saves 30-40 mins off the trip...due to no Major JCT's or curves.... The Stations themselves with be small with the Airport and Probably to save $$$ , Amtrak will build a New Muti-Modal station and team up with Septa which is looking to expand options to the Airport and the Airport line.

I would say the Tunnel would only cost 6 Billion which is the average ,same with the Baltimore Tunnel which would only have one station in the Heart of Bmore. Downtown Bmore like Center City Philly has been booming recently...so a HSR link would be a godsend. I doubt this will die at all....its one of many plans to be presented to this region....and I can say with tweaking that this plan is good to. Like I've said the New England they want won't work...so they need to find another route between Hartford and Boston. I don't understand why people put up a stink with Worcester , but have no issue with Providence....I guess its one of those New England things. As for the Grade , I don't its 1% , Germany and Spain get away with up to 6 or 8% grade on some lines...and you can do what the Proposed I-287 Rail line called for trench it till it meets up with the grade of the Highway or Tunnel in certain areas or build a viaduct which would be cheap.

I know that Amtrak is very good at keeping its costs in check , they also slimmed the plan down...some of the feeder lines have been shifted onto the States to save close to 10 Billion and some of plan has been thrown out like the Coastal option and LI option if they went with either the plan would have cost in the ball park range of 70 Billion....and ridership would have remained the same. Also you wouldn't save much hugging the cost , only 20 mins vs an hr...and speeds would remain lower. The Inland route is more about speed...the passengers in my opinion although the Rail connections at each proposed station are enough to change that... The Lower New NEC is more about Passengers then speed , even grade separated or traffic separated you couldn't push past 180mph due to noise and a few other issues.

The last 2 problem I have with the plan aside from the New England which we have covered to death is the one the timeline changed which I think made Rail advocates and Rail Fanners gasp and call it unfeasible and madness and still no push for a Newark Bypass. The Original Plan which made it sound more Realistic was to Upgrade the current NEC by 2030 which is still feasible then build the NEW NEC which would be connected in starting in the late 2020s and finishing in the late 2030s... Which sounds realistic... The New Plan i'll admit makes it sound unfeasible ,have 220mph service by 2030 between NYC and DC and New England by 2040.... Everything is squeezed now....which I don't like it sets the bar to high. They need to go back to the old timeline which was easy to do... But either way , the way they put it is they only need 3-5 Billion a year for the next 30-40 years which makes it sound feasible again.... So I don't know how this will pan out... Although I do see it getting built in my lifetime....Ive probably be retired by the time the last segment is built which is sad since i'm only 21.

As for the Newark Bypass, it be silly not to bypass Newark. Its slow , a max speed of 20mph even when they replace all the tracks and Catenary in the Newark area , the speed limit won't increase above 45mph.... Theres also the congestion even with the 6 tracking extension from Linden to Newark , there's still alot of Congestion mostly coming off the Raritan Valley merge which is getting even bigger by 2025 to handle the Western Jersey Network which means more trains. About 200 more trains and also Amtrak Lehigh service down the road ontop of 50 trains currently. Which is why the JCT is being grade separated to allow trains to flyover the tracks instead of switch all 5 tracks. With the Newark Bypass which would fit perfectly with the Expanded Grade separated Kearny JCT which Gateway plans call for Amtrak to bypass the JCT completely... There could be a Flyover or simple Switch to allow HSR trains to break off an continue south along a Freight Corridor along the Eastern edge of Newark then Merge near the Airport into the Center which seems to be Amtrak's plans for the New line between NY and Rahway is for the trains to ride the Center of the extended 6 track NEC and then the 4 Track NEC in the center which is used by Acela and Amtrak mostly to begin with.

To add some more info about the Gateway Plans , it will cost 10-15 Billion , and include 3 new Railway Interchanges between the Raritan Valley line and the NEC , Kearny JCT with more Flyovers and Amtrak Bypass , it will extend 5 tracks from Newark to Kearny JCT , 2 for Amtrak , and 3 for NJT. From Kearny JCT to NYPenn , Amtrak will be left alone separated from NJT , the Project calls for 2 new bridges over the Hackensack River replacing a crumbling bridge which often gets stuck or causes derailments. One bridge will be 3 tracked for NJT and double tracked for Amtrak. 2 New Tunnels will be built under the Hudson River , when the New ones Open the old ones will close and be upgraded. A New Penn Station South will be built along with Plans for a whole New Station called Moynihan Station to built in a unused area of the Post Office across the street and eventually once MSG moves out to build another station on the old Penn station site. The Station and Tunnels cost about 7 Billion , their will also be preps for Tracks to start curving towards Grand Central for future HSR service.... The New Bridges and JCT will cost 1.5 Billion , along with the approaches over the wetlands costing 500 Million.... The Newark Upgrades will cost another Billion , they also include renovating the mile long embankment, Replacing the substation near the JCT , upgrading and repainting the Dock Bridge and Grade separating the RVL JCT , and expanding Newark Penn which is underway that was thrown in with other projects even though their underway in smaller phases... The whole project seems to be growing , they just adding in some old ARC plans for NJT for the NJT part of the line which mean they'll need to elevate the Amtrak tracks. The Regional Upgrade in this region regardless of a New NEC , is very pricey......

And with that....i'm hitting the hay or nap....as i'm very tired....:sad:
 

Matthew

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2012
Messages
3,585
Reaction score
1
The Amtrak "plan" represents over $300 million per mile. That's ridiculously out of line. This isn't thinking "big" -- it's thinking fat paycheck for contractors. "Keeping costs in check" -- you've got to be kidding. This "plan" is nothing but "pie in the sky", and entirely unrealistic. It's a disgrace to good railroad planning all over the world. Amtrak is its own worst enemy.

Fixing and upgrading the current NEC is much more reasonable. What CBS proposes is probably the best way of bypassing the curves on the Shore Line Road. Purchasing proper rolling stock, punching through political turf wars, and doing track work in high speed, high leverage segments is the sane way forward.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,812
Reaction score
638
Honestly I think by 2030 stations like 128 and Metropark which service ever so shrinking office parks will be dumped by Amtrak. They won't be needed , as those 2 corporate parks die off....sure they can be redeveloped into TOD but that doesn't warrant Amtrak... With the Case of Metropark the companies are moving South to Booming New Brunswick or Newark. Idk about 128 so much , I'm assuming there moving south to Providence or North to Boston...
NexiNJ -- 128 Station wasn't built to "service an ever so shrinking office park" -- it was built to service the Rt-128 to I-495 suburban community who dominate the Greater Boston region in population and disposable income -- a lot of whom use Amtrak and who'd just as soon not drive to South Station or Back Bay Station to take the train to NYC

Metropark is a totally different situation and you could well be right
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,515
Reaction score
2,796
2. Median is out of the question for I-84 or 95 , HSR generally needs a gap for safety reasons. In Europe its at least 50 feet from a Highway or Road along shared corridors. I don't like the 95 route which they ruled out for being more expensive then the inland route. They also ruled out Long Island aswell....due to costs but some Private firm was looking into building that...
And that's why 384 might be the only way the east leg is buildable. That greenway median they have to build to satisfy the tough EIS is like 1000 feet wide. And they get to use active or landbanked (and not too difficult to de-landbank) lines on other parts of the route. It looks like Amtrak's taking a turn to the more reasonable for that east leg, so it's probably going to be the most buildable of the inland segments.

I still think they're smoking crack on the rest of it. I find it hard to take these presentations seriously until they come to grips with just how bloody freaking hard it's going to be to plow new infrastructure through the population density of western CT and Westchester county. Or do much fussing around with the footprint of the NEC besides what they're currently doing on the more concrete 2025 cap improvements document: curve straightenings, lowering commuter rail dwell times with high platforms/passing tracks/better rolling stock, overhead upgrades, de-clogging some problem junctions, and addressing the Baltimore and NYC tunnel situations. But I don't think they can go off-footprint on any of those segments without total lunacy cost and opposition.

Make no mistake...the Hartford/inland bypass is a good one for the Shoreline, and a realistic one. Especially if they can do it choose-your-adventure style and hit Worcester on a separate route where the individual track segments have multiple stakeholders who can return investment right away as it's being phased-built. But maybe they need to start separating out this HSR vision into more manageable, asynchronous build. This just isn't currently served up in a way that's going to graduate it from pure fantasy into concrete projects as a tool to whip up support. It needs to be reimagined a couple times over...starting now.
 

Top