Other People's Rail: Amtrak, commuter rail, rapid transit news & views outside New England

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
Starting this thread as a catch-all for noteworthy public transpo developments outside the region, as it's always helpful for the self-annointed aB Local Planning Czar to sample what's relevant happening outside our regional bubble.


I guess stuff like Amtrak fleet procurement that affects the whole nation including us or other projects with direct lessons informing our own remain fair game for the existing T rapid transit, T bus, T commuter rail, New England Amtrak, and "Big Picture" AMTK HSR/Regional threads. So this thread is more for buffing out the knowledge margins to keep the specifically local threads on-point, or for talking about topical choo-choo transit stuff we can learn elsewhere from that's not pigeonholed to lessons for any specific local initiative.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
https://www.masstransitmag.com/rail...-for-valley-rail-sacramento-extension-project

EIR released for Sacramento Valley Rail study compendium. Expansion of Amtrak San Joaquins frequencies (Sacramento-Oakland-Bakersfield, 7th busiest route in nation, 2nd-busiest non-New York route after companion Sacramento-San Jose Capitol Corridor), and 6-stop extension of Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) San Jose-Stockton commuter rail to Sacramento International Airport, with transfers to Sacramento Light Rail for reaching the capitol city. ACE (launched 1998) has been very successful to-date, but thus far has been a bit player in the CR game. This is a massive expansion that really puts it on the map, and is tethered together with ACE's first branchline proposal Stockton-Ceres (then Merced) which will be their hook-in to CAHSR Operating Segment 1. The branch proposal just got a big vote of confidence with this release, because it needs the Sacramento ridership anchor to proceed (Stockton end alone won't float it).

Service plan is for continuing as diesel push-pull and pulsing the service frequency up to RUR-like levels to differentiate the ACE locals from the San Joaquin premium tier. Electrification is eventually desired, but they have to plant the branch flag at Merced with the CAHSR tie-in to really have the juice for it so that's a later phase. Typical generic west-of-Mississoppi 8-inch ADA platformed system, using North American #1 bestseller Bombardier BLV bi-level low-boarding coaches.


MBTA relevance: ACE's incumbent locomotive fleet is 6 F40PH-3C's--including the very last new-manufacture F40PH unit ever produced from 2003--which are currently being replaced by a new (and presumably to be expanded) Siemens Charger order. If their pretty lightly-worn F40's (because ACE isn't all that big) don't get immediately recycled somewhere else in California they'd be excellent pickups by the T to augment the ongoing F40 rebuild project. ACE's units are likewise at the latest/greatest "-3C" spec generation, so if they got cycled into the T's rebuild program they'd only need the lightest of component refreshes (LED lights and new telemetry-logging computers, etc.) and T paint job...no extensive body work like the T's heavily-beaten 1988 and 1993 fleets. Supplemental acquisitions may be something they need to pounce on pronto. While the T's 37-unit "-3C" rebuilds are going to be rated for 20 more years of service with guaranteed parts supply chain, their 25-unit GP40MC fleet--currently being spot-rehabbed for 5 more years of service reliability--does not have industry supply chain to put through another rebuild. They're done whenever the current wave of selective component replacements runs out its clock. Therefore they will need by 2025 to find used power to replace the entire Geep fleet..and it won't be electrics or EMU's because RUR increases service to such dizzying degree that the electric procurements are going to be all- fleet expansion affairs leaving them needing every rostered diesel--and then some!--for 2 more decades minimum. While that shouldn't be an overall problem as Amtrak will have 75-150 worn but rebuildable GE Genesis units available by then, being able to augment the F40 fleet with cheap pickups is a move they can do now. Metro North is likewise replacing its 6-unit West-of-Hudson F40PH-3C (2008-rebuilt) with Chargers. Between MNRR and ACE that's potentially 12 jump-ball supplemental F40's that can be had cheap and already at "-3C" spec requiring minimum-most brush through the rebuild program to be brought up 100.00% identical to the T's own purple-nose rebuilds. That's either worth half the Geep fleet's worth of replacements before they have to consider non-F40 alternatives, or a dozen units worth of badly-needed immediate expansion medium-term timed with the next incoming coach order.

Keep tabs. There might be some lightning-strike wheeling and dealing suddenly happening with either/both of these out-of-region agencies over their loco replacements.


EDIT: Must say those are very attractive lash-ups they run. You've got the F40 with its trademark pentagonal nose and headlight arrangement, then the BLV's with their trademark octagonal shape and perfect door/window symmetry...two North American 'classics' still in their prime. Marvelously clean angles all-around. ACE's paint job is pretty nice, too...great integrity-of-concept the way the stripes flow front-to-back.
 
Last edited:

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
4,745
Reaction score
195
ACE, San Joaquins, Capitol Corridors, and HSR will eventually tie together to make a very robust rail system in northern California. Good mix of "local," regional, and long-distance connectivity.

I put local in quotations because the distances are huge. ACE hosts many super-commuters who are getting on the train at 4:30am for their 2 hour journey to work.
 

HenryAlan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
2,369
Reaction score
357
I think of ACE as being somewhat analogous to any Springfield-Boston service that might eventually be implemented. A lot of people ride sections of it but not the entire route, but it also serves those long commutes. It's a proven concept connecting Stockton with the Bay Area and would likely also work here.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
ACE, San Joaquins, Capitol Corridors, and HSR will eventually tie together to make a very robust rail system in northern California. Good mix of "local," regional, and long-distance connectivity.

I put local in quotations because the distances are huge. ACE hosts many super-commuters who are getting on the train at 4:30am for their 2 hour journey to work.
For Cali quotes-"local" is pretty much real-local, so I have no doubt those ACE trains will be packed if they're running half-hourly at peak and start debuting their first-ever (because right now it's only a rush service) off-peak service. And, yeah...first ACE train of the day is 4:20am so that is spot-on. I have friends out in Oakland who tell me about their 2-hour car commutes--"Oh, it's great! Better than my last job"--like it's nothing more than mildly labored breathing, and I'm like "WAT?!?! I don't even visit my own family in CT more than a few times a year because it takes me 2:15." On the other hand...when they come visit here they're the worst backseat drivers imaginable and can barely hold their bowels at all the lane-weaving and left-exits us Massholes can do 20 MPH above the speed limit in our sleep." Coastal difference between being trained for marathons vs. sprints.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
152
Reaction score
29
So, if just the first phase(approved by the FMCB) is implemented in ten years, approximately fifteen consists would be freed up for other use. EMUing Worcester would bring us up to nearly 25 consists. Not to say that E/W rail, SCR and/or service to NH might use up some or all of this equipment.
Those of us leading the effort to implement Regional Rail would consider it a failure if phase one, Worcester, Franklin, Lowell/Haverhill and Fitchburg to Weston are not electrified within fifteen years.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
So, if just the first phase(approved by the FMCB) is implemented in ten years, approximately fifteen consists would be freed up for other use. EMUing Worcester would bring us up to nearly 25 consists. Not to say that E/W rail, SCR and/or service to NH might use up some or all of this equipment.
Those of us leading the effort to implement Regional Rail would consider it a failure if phase one, Worcester, Franklin, Lowell/Haverhill and Fitchburg to Weston are not electrified within fifteen years.
Way too early to be making those predictions.

How many cars makes a consist under RUR? We don't know that at first FCMB vote; it hasn't been defined in the slightest. We don't know what recommended lengths are for clock-facing service when it comes to 'flat' off-peak consist sizes vs. peak surges...other than there will have to be some degree of car length increases at peak that may not be as dramatic as today, but will definitely have to be more substantial on some lines than others. And because we don't know that we also don't know how shift changes will work staging upshift/downshift consist lengths from the layover yards. The Rail Vision hasn't even been final-ratified into an Implementation Plan from its remaining service Alternatives, so we don't so much as have a locked target on what the default frequencies are even going to be. We can place bets where momentum is pushing that final vote...but it hasn't been final-voted yet.

We also don't know what EMU configuration they're ultimately buying. Are they're going to be conventional married pairs together 2 x 2 x 2, run in wholly separate fleet mgt. universe from the push-pull fleet? Or are they consideraing a parasitic order of NJT's and SEPTA's Bombardier MLV EMU's? We don't know because so much of those EMU decisions first depend on who ends up bidding on the 200-coach single-level to bi-level replacement order that's soonest on the docket. Rotem is instantly out of the running for the additional 200-unit contract because no "Buy America" capability, and if the T is leaving that much larger contract up for any possibility of fed grants (note: possibility just increased greatly of large post- COVID-19 transpo grant windfall) then CRRC is immediately disqualified via fed funding ban of Chinese Gov't-invested contractors. If world coach market leader Bombardier wins it because the two habitual tactical-lowball bidders are disqualified, we already have the unpowered nearly two-thirds of the MLV EMU cars incoming as a 'universal' push-pull + EMU pool fleet and only need to slush for the specific MLV power cars (either from NJT's 500+ options or on our hometown RFP) to furnish the electric fleet. For MLV EMU's the minimum consist is 3 cars--2 'universal' cabs + 1 power car--and the maximum T-platformable 9-car consist is 2 'universal' cabs + 3 power cars + 4 'universal' coach trailers. Purple Line-wide procurement turns on its head if 'universal' unpowered cars is the new world order while they slog it out on system electrification progress, because then they'll probably pivot in a torrid hurry to expedite retirement of the oldest Kawasaki bi-levels to buy more 'universal' Bombardiers. Which way will it go? We don't know...coach RFP responses aren't due for months, EMU is only out at RFI stage.

Procurement clock doesn't stand still around these question marks, either. 25 Geep locos are going to need up/down replacement decision in 2+ years if they only have a half-dozen years of reliable projected parts supply left. They'll be on their way to the scrapyard by the time electrification hits the 4-year CIP and starts bidding out for design-build contractors. Do they go spelunking for more F40PH's to rebuild in the interim ^^as in previous post^^? Do they make a much bigger buy of Amtrak-refuse Genesis P42's in 4 years to rebuild for 15-20 more years? Do they buy some all-new Siemens Chargers while they're hot-selling and the price point is good? What about coaches? They can set aside the 50 good-condition Pullman single-level trailers for continued service after these next bi-level orders and shuffle them around not-yet-electrified territory as Urban Rail starter fleet, then either hold their noses and rehab 10 or 12 least-shitty Bombardier cab cars or hope somebody else (MARC? Metro North if they hurry up with their bi-level RFP?) has some spare cabs to sell. But that's only going to net the Pullmans another 12-15 years at most before they're shot and something TBD has to replace.


And so on and so on. It's not projectable today with any ballpark numeric accuracy what an RUR consist is made of and made from, or how they will get cycled. What is projectable today is roughly how many more schedules will need to be backfilled on our largely anemic Purple Lines to meet any of the target service Altermatives still in-play for the non-final Rail Vision...calculated against known attrition for fleet replacement and certainty that some very big procurement decisions will have to be made before RUR lands locked/loaded on a complete CIP budget. Plus the known industry factors that could shift those procurement decisions wiiiiildly in certain directions. We will need way more overall equipment for damn sure. But no one has any idea where that equipment surge is going to crest, and how. Given that those things will take time to flesh out...and attrition still marches on with the existing fleet...it is reasonable to conclude that we do not have any coming surplus of equipment that will carry us through the RUR transition. Projected coach strength looking less worrisome than projected power...which as noted will need a LARGE infusion of new/borrowed/blue locomotives way sooner than the Rail Vision pencil-sketches out its first CIP budget term.
 
Last edited:

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
152
Reaction score
29
So, right now, there are 89 locos on active passenger service. Not counting the Jeeps, when the rebuild program is done there will be.....89 locos. (Data from NETransit)
Even the snails pace the MBTA procurement system seems to move at should be able to at least get the Providence Line electrified within six years and expecting Fairmount done in that same time frame is not unreasonable. There will be riots on the State House floors if the North Shore delegation is held off much longer that that.
And last I knew, each consist requires ONE loco. Not sure what coach needs have to do with loco needs.
But lets go there. The 80 car order would allow scrapping the entire Bombardier fleet and retain capacity. The expected 200 coach order would increase capacity significantly, even if half of them were used to EMU Providence.
But back to the locos. Most of the increase in service proposed by Regional Rail is NOT during peak, but keeping the trains moving during the day instead of sitting unused.
This is not to say that NO additional equipment will be necessary. For example, Worcester would go from nine trainsets to sixteen, but only after electrification. Providence would require the same.
Also, we should not assume that the GPs will just all disappear in six years. If they are still needed, then cannibalizing should keep some of them rolling for a few years.
I would rather see the money spend on EMUs than additional locos.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
152
Reaction score
29
And fifteen minute service out to 128/495, Providence and Worcester, 30 min service to outer ER, Franklin and Fitchburg will require about 18 additional trainsets. (OC service increases will require a buttload of DTing) Providence and Fairmount EMUing would free most of that. Throw in the Nprt/Rkprt, and you have more than enough locos to go around. Maybe enough for E/W rail.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
So, right now, there are 89 locos on active passenger service. Not counting the Jeeps, when the rebuild program is done there will be.....89 locos. (Data from NETransit)
You're not reading NETransit correctly. 89 locos are rostered for active revenue service. On any given day far fewer than 89 are available: 92-day inspections, awaiting parts, shop time, off "on assignment" for work. NETransit doesn't count those, only the ones de-rostered long-term. The real availability log is only circulated internally on the Keolis daily employee bulletin; it isn't public info NETransit is allowed to publish. As one example: HSP-46 #2002 is listed duly "active" southside right this second...only it's sitting hundreds of miles away in Erie, PA getting MPI warranty repairs. NETransit footnotes this only because it showed up on a freight manifest. See also: units that haven't carried passengers in months because they're assigned to the PTC test train(s).

We only get rough availability snapshots in the FCMB Commuter Rail Performance Updates...which show it hovering in the low-70's since start of year, stitch ahead of the 65 + spares baseline that keeps mass cancellations from breaking out. So "89" rostered has meant "73-ish" available in official reporting...with God knows what % of 'official' actually carrying passengers on daily basis. If user GP40MC logs on maybe he can enlighten us about what the typical "availables" board looked like pre-COVID, since Dave is the only known aB user privvy to the daily bulletin.

Based on availability math, a final post-rebuild count of 105 rostered isn't going to allow mass service increases, while subtracting 25 Geeps from that in a half-decade puts them right back skirting disaster. Indeed, the only shortest-term increases talked up to the FCMB have been pushing schedule revisions to cram an extra slot here/there...most of it OTP-serving for taming dwells (Worcester) or fishing out Forge Park schedules tanked by the Foxboro trial via re-spacing to use the new double-track. There's good reason why outright expansion proposals like South Coast Rail bake in their above-and-beyond fleet needs into the project cap. cost; those incremental increases are not pre-factored into existing margins, so those projects must pay forward into future procurement windows.

Even the snails pace the MBTA procurement system seems to move at should be able to at least get the Providence Line electrified within six years and expecting Fairmount done in that same time frame is not unreasonable. There will be riots on the State House floors if the North Shore delegation is held off much longer that that.
Then I guess there are going to be riots. Because today you can't run a Providence rush hour slate on rented beater electrics without shorting out the whole juice South Station to Norton. Amtrak only built Sharon Substation with enough generation capacity for its own needs; half the site is empty awaiting the T to expand it for commuter capacity. That's a big funding+design+build to stick on a 4-year CIP, with design-build that must be coordinated with power system owner Amtrak. Throw in permitting plus design-build for Fairmount wires, reliance on RIDOT to budget Pawtucket layover wire-up, and *potential* reliance on RIDOT for T.F. Green buildout if the south-of-PRV stops have to be included because RI uses its Pilgrim Agreement fleet part-ownership as leverage.

Yes, with no CIP monies devoted yet and the balance of 2020 now a COVID salvage job you are indeed looking at FY2026 with absolute no give for slippage in-house or with our join-hands partners AMTK and RIDOT. So...molotov cocktails ahoy, I guess? Is what it is.

And last I knew, each consist requires ONE loco. Not sure what coach needs have to do with loco needs.
And ONE cab car. Which must be available for service at same time in ONE put-together set. They have 87 "active rostered" cabs, 3 off-roster for repair...way less than their top-line loco number. Daily availability unknown because cabs aren't broken out from coaches in the FCMB Performance reports. Cabs have 92-day inspection pauses just like locos, and the Bombardier and MBB single-levels are in deplorable shape. The ongoing Rotem order will have 40 cabs, all 40 drop-in replacements for retirements. The stored MBB 1500's currently being reactivated are having their (shot) cab controls deactivated to run as trailers-only, so they're no help. Unless they set aside some of the decrepit Bombers for reconditioning there's a numbers problem here that won't be solved until the later 200-coach order. Meaningful service increases are presently impossible within current margins.

But lets go there. The 80 car order would allow scrapping the entire Bombardier fleet and retain capacity. The expected 200 coach order would increase capacity significantly, even if half of them were used to EMU Providence.
But back to the locos. Most of the increase in service proposed by Regional Rail is NOT during peak, but keeping the trains moving during the day instead of sitting unused.
This is not to say that NO additional equipment will be necessary. For example, Worcester would go from nine trainsets to sixteen, but only after electrification. Providence would require the same.
Also, we should not assume that the GPs will just all disappear in six years. If they are still needed, then cannibalizing should keep some of them rolling for a few years.
I would rather see the money spend on EMUs than additional locos.
Retain capacity at literally the same not-good-enough cab car ratio. The 80-car order does nothing for expansion...just keeps 'em afloat by getting rid of old ruins and backfilling overcrowded trains with more seats @ same cars. (And that's all fine!). The 200-car order is the key one, correct. But we DON'T know how it'll be apportioned. If Rotem's out and no one else steps forward to bid more 3x2 seating clones, all remaining players--Bombardier, CRRC, etc.--pitch 2x2 seat designs that instantly change the seating cap. and coach-per-consist target math. Without knowing coach-per-consist targets we can't factor trailers vs. cab ratio out of the 200.

So maybe the 200-car RFP will lick it if they can save the 50-car Pullman flats for Urban Rail starts and come up with other flats cab remainders. Or maybe it won't...because we need more trailers per train and maybe the Pullman parts supply doesn't look so rosy for 2030. We don't know, because several big questions are waiting for one root answer before they can be asked in the first place.

But let's remind about the other big thing we don't fully know: WE HAVE NOT RATIFIED REGIONAL RAIL YET. There is no Final Implementation Plan voted on for the Rail Vision. It is not a reliable assumption to claim that "keeping the trains moving during the day instead of sitting unused" is precisely the pulsing scheme they will choose. Some of the extant Alts. pulse the schedules in bigger step-ups/step-downs than that. You cannot rest on an unvetted assumption of which Alt. gets the final vote in order to pre-count would be RUR trainsets against a current roster and current procurement clock filled with as many unanswered questions as the ^^paragraphs above^^ detail. It's all dueling moving targets until a Final Alt. gets locked into a CIP and bunch of loose-end RFP's get settled. The only number given here that is firmer than guesstimate is the projected dates the T gave to its FCMB bosses--after scouring the market for rebuild options--for when a major parts supply runs out requiring slotting a loco buy on the procurement calendar.

I have trouble seeing the scruples in having SO much mathematical confidence in self-counts so heavily invested in a final vote that has not taken place yet nor has narrowed all service options into calculable ranges. Then calculates that against fleet management needs unknowable without 2...3...4 Procurement Dept. dominoes sequentially falling first to reveal the next answers. And yet pooh-poohs the firmest official number given by the T to its own overlords as a fleet "assumption" we don't need to worry about, because a personal procurement preference should be pursued instead (not even in parallel) because reasons. There is way too much assuming going on here.


You know what I'd rather see good money get spent on? Options...options big enough to cover the spread of everything we haven't yet nailed down to nitty-gritty final decision. Options that take stress off of timetables, spread the love on service increasers regardless of them, and don't leave us up shit's creek if one single thing upsets the absolute best-case scenario. I guarantee far more people are going to riot at the statehouse if we boomerang right back into another "old shit of declining availability = mass cancellations!" vicious cycle by playing it too cutesy. And TransitMatters will join them throwing molotovs too, because when push comes to shove expansion projects get back-burnered in a heartbeat when crashing OTP puts somebody's reelection prospects in jeopardy.

What else do options do? Give us resale value if we have well taken-care of rolling stock when things change. Heaven forbid we electrify *just too darn fast* and get to sell some K-car or F40 rebuilds with 15 years of parts left to someone else. Isn't that how this thread managed to fly completely off-topic in only 6 posts?:unsure:
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
152
Reaction score
29
The mother of all infrastructure programs will be spewing out of DC soon enough. The 25B already passed is chicken feed compared with what will follow. If we pass up the opportunity, then we deserve crappy transit for the next fifty years.
And, yes I know the Providence Line needs upgrades for MBTA electrification. Any one who reads aB knows that Stoughton needs upgrades. But hey, act like that is some trump card to throw down to win the hand. Again six years should be sufficient. There was the political will to get it done before Coronavirus. Will this hold it back? Sure,but it will also provide us with funding to do it.
So, yes IF funding for Regional Rail is not forthcoming in the next 18-24 months, THEN we should look for some diesel loco options. But all purchases should be made with electrification in mind.
And I understand that not every piece of equipment is not available 24/7. But a dozen F40s are away for refurbishment. Once they return, the situation should ease, until the GPs need replacement.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
The mother of all infrastructure programs will be spewing out of DC soon enough. The 25B already passed is chicken feed compared with what will follow. If we pass up the opportunity, then we deserve crappy transit for the next fifty years.
And, yes I know the Providence Line needs upgrades for MBTA electrification. Any one who reads aB knows that Stoughton needs upgrades. But hey, act like that is some trump card to throw down to win the hand. Again six years should be sufficient. There was the political will to get it done before Coronavirus. Will this hold it back? Sure,but it will also provide us with funding to do it.
So, yes IF funding for Regional Rail is not forthcoming in the next 18-24 months, THEN we should look for some diesel loco options. But all purchases should be made with electrification in mind.
And I understand that not every piece of equipment is not available 24/7. But a dozen F40s are away for refurbishment. Once they return, the situation should ease, until the GPs need replacement.
Nobody's throwing down cards to "win" here. You put forth a set of timetables--things that must be lest they be riot-producing, as it were--that do not line up with real-world schedules for voting, funding, or bid cycles. Then you did a bunch of fleet management math that is not real-world calculable today because nearly all of prerequisite decisions informing those quotes have NOT yet been made, WON'T be made for some time, and CAN'T be made right this second with multiple Rail Vision service flavors still open for debate. Assumptions were then cherry-picked based on own personal belief over what will and won't happen in spite of the numerous conflicting timetables. I counterpointed all the reasons the timetables don't match for making such exacting assumptions, then showed where it was going to sequentially line up based on current trajectories. And, as capper, showed where schedules as they are DON'T throw any major blockers to getting your cake and eating it too in the end all the same...happy-happy, joy-joy.

So what is the deal here??? We get the EMU's you want without the final Rail Vision needing to be voted on last year to make that so. Is that apparently not good enough that we need to start shorting other portions of the fleet immediately to...prove something? Mark one's territory? "Win?" That's senseless mentality. All it takes to get everything the Rail Vision has to offer is due-course time for thrashing through CIP budgets, procurement windows, and the actual prerequisite finish-up of Rail Vision study work so some final Alt. can be voted on at all. If the options are maneuverable enough to make it all work even with natural uncertainty in the timetable, why are we denying that uncertainty in the timetable actually real-world exists and doubling-down on personal bias that would weaken the options and create fleet tiers of service-shorted "losers" so somebody else can "win?" I am baffled as to how this ever mutated into a zero-sum contest to begin with. There was no fodder in the starting conditions to make it go that way. Don't accuse others of "trump-carding for wins" or whatever that means; somebody had to be the first to cast this as some W-L competition where none existed in the first place.


And we're cosmically off-topic...since this the "NON-" New England rail thread and most of the 24 hours this thread has existed we've been down this wormhole for some reason.
 

DBM

Active Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2012
Messages
781
Reaction score
92
happy-happy, joy-joy.
It would be funny if Ren & Stimpy were commissioned by the MBTA/Amtrak/Keolis to deliver public presentations--how soon would Ren stroke-out from his habitual apoplectic rage?
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
3,958
Reaction score
154
Some sort of good news I guess sort of. In LA, they are expediting the extension of the Purple Line, taking advantage at the lower impact on traffic while traffic is light during the pandemic.

 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
Some sort of good news I guess sort of. In LA, they are expediting the extension of the Purple Line, taking advantage at the lower impact on traffic while traffic is light during the pandemic.

That was a unique case. Because the pile-driving on that street was so controversial their work windows were pinned into just a couple hours daily to keep from ruining the ears of everyone who worked nearby. Metro and City of Bevely Hills were at loggerheads on how to mitigate that, because compressed windows each day meant the work was going to agonizingly stretch for months. Now that the mostly biz district is deserted for a month they're widening the work windows to pile drive away all day long and chop the calendar duration way down.

This was one of those rare construction cases we talked about in the COVID threads where the project was already "shovel-ready" and on a set crew schedule with all crews & logistics queued-up prior, so they only needed to play with work windows to net the "opportunity". In 99% of other cases nobody's able to seal that deal right now because there's one or more pieces of the project actively hampered by a COVID-related slowdown (including at the top if a reciprocal budgeting change is required) that inhibits reshuffling the deck at all.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
Bunch of CTrail news dumpage. . .



-- ConnDOT earmarking $300M for replacement of entire self-operated and MNRR branch shuttle push-pull coach fleets, with financing for 72-coach base order believed to involve +60 back-end options based on a prior longer-range estimate. MNRR will be RFP'ing for bi-level replacements of all 160 of its East-of-Hudson Shoreliner I/II/III/IV and Comet II coaches, including the ConnDOT-ownership pool for all thru Grand Central runs from diesel territory. Unclear how this intrastate award of $300M dovetails with the coming MNRR procurement, because this latest funding action by Gov. Lamont actually beats the MTA to the punch on allotting monies for the base procurement. And also unclear whether the purely shuttle MNRR services are, with this move, going to be divorced from the MNRR pool fleet and get stocked specifically by this CTrail procurement. It's already confusing because the Waterbury Branch and Shore Line East, both being based out of Bridgeport layover, have long liberally raided each other's equipment even though there is technically supposed to be some separation in MNRR vs. CTrail ops. And, red-paint ConnDOT vs. blue-paint MTA Shoreliners show up daily on each others' trains with no consideration to ownership separation so the actual fleet ownership split is very fluidly managed in the field.

Two likely scenarios: MTA and ConnDOT zero in on one single make for both MNRR pool and CTrail procurements...bi-levels with Grand Central/Penn-compatible clearances, either best-seller Bombardier MLV or somebody else peddling an upstart GCT/Penn-compatible bi like CRRC's new bi-levels for SEPTA. Or ConnDOT hews closer to its longstanding "buy n' rehab" playbook, and shoots for single-levels it can acquire and put through a major midlife overhaul with 20-year parts supply. Either scenario can be mutually serving, as if MNRR--which is very explicitly trading up single- to bi-level--makes available the moderately worn Shoreliner III (1991/2002-rebuild, 68 units) and Shoreliner IV (1996/2002-refresh to S3 parity, 11 units) fleets for ConnDOT to buy up for a major overhaul and purely intrastate reassignment. The Shoreliners III's & IV's are perhaps the only "classic Comet-class" aluminum-body coaches on the market worthy of spending on another rebuild, because they feature extra center doors not found on other clones like the NJT/MNRR Comet II's and MBTA Pullman/Bombardier/MBB flats and aren't nearly as beat-to-piss as NJ Transit's center-door Comet IV's. The 16 Hartford Line MBB rentals from the T are in on short-term lease only (and in terrible condition), and the 32 Mafersa flats for Shore Line East have undercarriages that won't clear third rail into Grand Central.

The article is unclear about what happens with Shore Line East, lumping it in with the diesel replacements. That is NOT supposed to be the case. The supplemental order of 60 M8 EMU's (with +34 remaining options) slated to begin delivery later this year (whenever Kawasaki gets caught up on LIRR M9 deliveries post-COVID) is supposed to assign 24 cars to SLE, ending all diesel ops and allowing immediate transfer of all SLE cars to the Hartford Line so they can end their stopgap coach lease with the T. Timetables may be fluid as to when that happens, as the MTA prefers to have the New Haven Line get all its extras in-place first so it can borrow M8's to substitute on temp Hudson/Harlem Line duty while it yanks some aging M3's from service for 'last' component refresh.


-- $17.4M state funding approved for the new relocated Windsor Locks Station on the Hartford Line + Amtrak. This relocates the sad little open-air air platform south of I-91 back to the historic downtown depot location with park-and-ride, TOD, downtown streetscaping, and frequent Bradley Airport shuttle buses from a much more direct route to the terminals. Current station site and parking lot will be turned into a mid-line Maintenance of Way yard. New station site will incorporate the historic depot building. Town has permit in-hand to begin demolition of an adjacent abandoned building, so site prep is now fully shovel-ready even if some final-design details are still closing out before the main build.

Windsor Locks is currently on the most anemic-schedule north extent of the Hartford Line still heavily backstopped by the commuter subsidy of the Amtrak Shuttles (Windsor Depot to the south is slow-walking its shovels-in-ground upgrades to ADA because the schedules aren't there yet, and the Enfield/Thompsonville infill station to the north is still in final design). Completion of the new stop should coincide with Shore Line East equipment coming available for reassignment so the state can finally surge service on the Springfield end. This is a very important station to have funded for shovel-ready because of the worlds-better airport connection it makes vs. the current sad asphalt strip. This will be a key one not only for commuter rail but also the Inland Route.


-- MNRR Waterbury Branch is bustituted until further notice. While this was inevitable for MNRR's lightest-ridership outpost in the COVID crisis, it's also being done to lengthen work windows for the PTC installation...which includes installing cab signals on the formerly unsignaled line and laying down passing sidings on some ROW segments pre-graded for such a couple years ago. Nothing gee-whiz as COVID construction-packing goes, as signal installation was already shovel-in-ground for months now and was slated to be on-time to go live for the 12/31 PTC deadline. This means the same Signal Dept. day shift can work without flaggers from the absence of any live trains--more social distancing--while they might be able to pack some testing slots.

As much as the Naugatuck Valley is the most perennially shit-upon commuter rail corridor in New England at always being first for cancellations, worst for equipment assignments, and worst overall for station amenities...this actually nets them a higher-capacity railroad when the work is done with incumbent PTC-ified track that can immediately accept additional shuttle slots. Part of the reason why the state is so generously increasing its coach fleet well beyond simply the Hartford Line's appetite. At hourly Waterbury-Bridgeport frequencies and stations somewhat better than fourth-world (so far only Naugatuck is in design for a thorough ADA'ing), it's a corridor with enough natural pent-up demand to make you remark "Who knew?" from the ridership bump if they would just run the damn trains.
 
Last edited:

KCasiglio

New member
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
46
Reaction score
46
Grew up in the Naugatuck Valley, worked as a district executive there for a while with the Boy Scouts as well, so while this is anecdata I feel pretty confident in saying there is a lot of pent up demand both among the local movers and shakers as well as the 'everyman' for the corridor in both directions if service was just more frequent/reliable. The valley has such great bones in terms of walkable downtowns with stations right in the heart, it's really a tragic waste getting the service it presently does.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,446
Reaction score
1,310
Grew up in the Naugatuck Valley, worked as a district executive there for a while with the Boy Scouts as well, so while this is anecdata I feel pretty confident in saying there is a lot of pent up demand both among the local movers and shakers as well as the 'everyman' for the corridor in both directions if service was just more frequent/reliable. The valley has such great bones in terms of walkable downtowns with stations right in the heart, it's really a tragic waste getting the service it presently does.
Bristol native here, and I completely agree. I'm waiting to see if Lamont has any inklings of revisiting Hartford-Waturbury thru service on the Highland Line, which his predecessor Malloy egregiously sandbagged with smelly cost overruns in the Central CT CR study in his term-long feud with the local Legislative delegation who vehemently opposed his pet busway. There's no way that costs north of a half-billion dollars and only attracts a paltry 800 daily riders. The ridership metrics they used are pants-on-fire bad, even for a sanguine-but-neutral observer. FFS, half of ESPN would commute to work on that thing if the company ran on-demand shuttles to the Forestville stop the traffic is getting so bad on Route 229 between I-84 and their studios (thank corrupt-as-fuck Southington for rubber-stamping all the 21st century sprawl they can possibly cram on West St.).

I hope some fresh unbiased eyes in this Administration are taking a look, because that would really tie the room together. Have your triple-flavor Hartford Line of overlapping Springfield-New Haven, Hartford-Bridgeport, and Hartford-Greenfield service patterns linchpinning off Hartford...then bring the Waterbury Branch into Hartford as the Valley-flavor Hartford-Bridgeport circuit. Keep only the MNRR GCT run-thrus originating out of Waterbury, and realign the shuttle schedules to all thru-route to Hartford. Probably enough to support hourly all-day service with both halves of the corridor united, the busway node in New Britain providing lots of connectivity (hey, at least the feeder routes have gotten some love in the buildout which makes it less of a sick waste), and some big secondary-shift employers like ESPN anchoring the ridership mix. Much like the Valley all the would-be stops (excepting the off-center skirting of heavily rural Plymouth...but the way they suffer under 2-lane US 6 traffic to get anywhere they'll probably overperform boardings too) have location!-location!-location! going for them all smack in traditional dense downtowns ripe for TOD retrenchment if only the transit frequencies existed at all. I mean...it's basically Bristol's salvation 40 years after Route 72 got canceled consigning them to status of largest-population city in all of New England without direct highway access. The crater in the ground that used to be the Centre Mall--that cruel 1960's urban renewal mistake that bulldozed half of historic downtown--has been vacant for nearly all of the 24 years since I got the hell out of there and moved to Boston...moving from one thwarted mixed-use redev proposal to another. The downtown train station site would literally overlook the crater. No wonder the Nicastro Bros. in the Legislature (elder brother Frank once Bristol's longtime mayor) fought Malloy so hard on the Busway when they saw that (mostly-correctly) as 'the' existential threat to this corridor ever being developed.

----------

EDIT: Slides from yesterday's ConnDOT conference call: https://www.cthousegop.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/WBL-Action-Conference_01-13-2020.pdf

Holy shit, this is great. 30-min. peak, 60-min. off-peak Waterbury service within 5 years. Service plan to include construction of permanent Devon Jct. transfer station w/ New Haven Line in Milford for maximal transfer meets, widest-open cap for RUR-level shuttle service without needing to slot co-running to Bridgeport. Plans to finally ADA up all stations. Full layover yard inside the Waterbury freight yard. Reasonable cost projections vs. ridership increases.

And NEW feasibility studies for the Waterbury-Hartford (tacit acknowledgement that the last one was sandbagged?) + linear extension to Torrington to be conducted in tandem. I don't think the Torrington extension will have much juice since the CT 8 expressway is way too uncongested north of Waterbury; better express bus connections meeting the RUR frequencies probably fills the need for upper Litchfield County for next 20 years. But it makes sense to study Torrington as an option cog in the pan-corridor plan to at least hang some firm numbers on it, since that can inform the easier-to-implement bus options. But this is a much faster turnaround than I expected from the Lamont Admin. on the bad odor wafting out of the "half-billion for 800 riders" tank job his predecessor did on the Central CT study. The costs were over-inflated by a few hundred $M, but it was disappearing of all top-line ridership in the last study that made less-than zero sense. If RUR-like pulsing is the incumbent service scheme from Day 1 for the Valley, I don't know how the Highland east to Hartford can not possibly not look a winner on second look.
 
Last edited:

AusdaciousfromNYC

New member
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
The 16 Hartford Line MBB rentals from the T are in on short-term lease only (and in terrible condition), and the 32 Mafersa flats for Shore Line East have undercarriages that won't clear third rail into Grand Central.

The article is unclear about what happens with Shore Line East, lumping it in with the diesel replacements. That is NOT supposed to be the case. The supplemental order of 60 M8 EMU's (with +34 remaining options) slated to begin delivery later this year (whenever Kawasaki gets caught up on LIRR M9 deliveries post-COVID) is supposed to assign 24 cars to SLE, ending all diesel ops and allowing immediate transfer of all SLE cars to the Hartford Line so they can end their stopgap coach lease with the T. Timetables may be fluid as to when that happens, as the MTA prefers to have the New Haven Line get all its extras in-place first so it can borrow M8's to substitute on temp Hudson/Harlem Line duty while it yanks some aging M3's from service for 'last' component refresh.
Is M8s on Shore Line East still a thing? Aside from those pictures/videos of M8s testing on Shore Line East territory which date back three/four years ago(!) has there been any real movement on this? While we are of course still waiting on the additional M8s, is it true that one of the tracks at Guilford still needs catenary, and the side platform at New London might not be able to handle M8s, right? And what about the power system between New Haven and Old Saybrook/New London? Will that need upgrading for SLE? While these are relatively small items, what makes me ask is that as far as I know CTDOT has been fairly silent on this in contrast to their openness about their work on the Hartford Line and procuring new railcars for the diesel branches (where they lump in SLE to boot). I haven't been following CTDOT's statements too religiously, but it seems to me they're still pointing fingers at Amtrak and they seem fine with the "New Haven Line is growing so much there are regrettably no M8s left for SLE" narrative. I know the option for 34 more cars hasn't been exercised yet, but how do we know those won't just fall prey to the New Haven Line as well? Also, if SLE uses 32 coaches now, would 24 M8s cars still be enough to replace all diesel service?
 
Last edited:

Scalziand

Active Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2012
Messages
486
Reaction score
16
Wow, 30min headways on the WTBY line would be AMAZING indeed. The plans I've seen for the Naugatuck Station upgrades involve moving it south to Maple st, and the massive redevelopment potential of Parcel B. That should allow them to use the existing Maple st underpass for access ti the second track. I agree that a Torrington extension seems uncalled for, but I think that an extension to Watertown/Frost Bridge and/or Thomaston is warranted.
 

Top