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

Arlington

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...the SLE-assigned sets have had their shoes temporarily removed while ConnDOT haggles with Amtrak for future structural mods to the offending bridge). But that plucky Shoreline operation is finally all-electric.
F-Line knows all that I'm about to say, but I thought I'd remind myself and others here what it means. To understand this correctly, I had to confirm that MNRR uses third rail (and third rail shoes) only for DC-mode service in Grand Central up through Pelham NY. From Pelham to Stamford to New Haven to New London to Westerly, any service running exclusively along the coast could be operated in AC mode from overhead wires--and that's what they've done for the dedicated SLE-assigned sets: Removed the DC-shoes and happy to be "isolated" to the AC-powered section of track for now.

SLE always had a limited schedule that continued between New Haven (NHV) and Stamford (STM) is there any chance that the M8s will enable more SLE operations to STM or is the real limiter just that CT doesn't want to "waste" slots on the CT NEC on a train that can't take people all the way to Grand Central (GCT)? And then when they solve the shoe problem, and M8s *can* go to GCT, do you think SLE actually *will* to to GCT?

Would an increase in acceleration allow SLE to add Mystic & Westerly RI (Stonington CT)?

The freed-up diesel equipment now goes to the Hartford Line, where they'll immediately be able to increase service levels. Speculation as well that ConnDOT will soon be ending their lease on spare MBTA MBB single-level coaches, since the SLE fleet of Mafersa single-levels can now satisfy all their needs.
Will the MBB's be scrapped? or are they worth keeping?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-Line knows all that I'm about to say, but I thought I'd remind myself and others here what it means. To understand this correctly, I had to confirm that MNRR uses third rail (and third rail shoes) only for DC-mode service in Grand Central up through Pelham NY. From Pelham to Stamford to New Haven to New London to Westerly, any service running exclusively along the coast could be operated in AC mode from overhead wires--and that's what they've done for the dedicated SLE-assigned sets: Removed the DC-shoes and happy to be "isolated" to the AC-powered section of track for now.

SLE always had a limited schedule that continued between New Haven (NHV) and Stamford (STM) is there any chance that the M8s will enable more SLE operations to STM or is the real limiter just that CT doesn't want to "waste" slots on the CT NEC on a train that can't take people all the way to Grand Central (GCT)? And then when they solve the shoe problem, and M8s *can* go to GCT, do you think SLE actually *will* to to GCT?

Would an increase in acceleration allow SLE to add Mystic & Westerly RI (Stonington CT)?
There's very little market for a New York direct. The schedule is just too excruciatingly long for making all stops. Anybody with sense would take a Northeast Regional instead. ConnDOT would eventually like to get more Stamford slots in so SLE acts more as an "entire CT Shoreline" service, but that gets ensnared with MNRR politics. And with the big Norwalk bridge replacement project about to start, not something they'd practically be able to mount for a few years.


Right now it's only 4 four-car sets that have had their third-rail shoes removed. M8's are usually maintained in New Haven and some of the MNRR fleet only does New Haven-Stamford short-turns anyway, so it's no major constraint. The shoes are easy to screw on/off at the shop if they need to swap cars with the MNRR pool. But kind of threadbare margins to only have 4 sets, so the schedule isn't going to increase any for the time being. Nor is it going to speed up any, since the diesels are still on-standby to fill in if a protect set is needed. The steel centerbeam of whichever over-road bridge is striking the shoes is a fundamental load-bearing structure on that span, so apparently the fix is uncertain. Eventually they'll work out a solution with Amtrak (probably notching the steel in some way), but they're in no particular hurry.

This is more a customer service victory, as SLE riders have been promised the M8's and their considerably swankier livery for years with much griping over how long it's taken. While Hartford Line badly needs the reinforcements so it can expand service (and customers hate the MBB's).


Mystic & Westerly isn't happening without considerable capital costs. Both stations are low-level platforms, while the M8's lack door traps and can only board at full-highs. Both stops would need rebuilds to full-highs, which will be pricey because both are on sharpish curves. The CT River Bridge is due for several years of disruption when Amtrak rebuilds it, so New London schedules can't increase until that's done. They need an infill stop at East Lyme to span the Old Saybrook-New London gap, which is similarly dependent on increasing NLN schedules. They need an outer layover yard. It's going to be quite a chunk of capital cost to get it all done on that extension.

Will the MBB's be scrapped? or are they worth keeping?
They were cosmetically rehabbed at some considerable (over-)expense by ConnDOT, so they'd be in better condition than some of the flats the T is currently running. That's not saying much, though. CTrail riders have widely derided the MBB's as being rough-riding junk in the 3 years they've been there. But the T has so many single-levels in mothball storage now that all of the Kawasaki bi-levels are back in-service after rebuild and while ridership is still shy of pre-COVID levels that it's fair to question whether they would even bother to "de-CTrail" the leasers back into T livery. It's only 16 cars that were leased out. They've got some 40 other Pullmans and MBB's currently "stored operable", with the first new cars in the Rotem bi-level expansion order starting to arrive. They really don't need them back with any urgency. It's more that CTrail can't wait to be rid of them now that their own fleet reassignments have flushed out the reserves.
 
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Stlin

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They were cosmetically rehabbed at some considerable (over-)expense by ConnDOT, so they'd be in better condition than some of the flats the T is currently running. That's not saying much, though. CTrail riders have widely derided the MBB's as being rough-riding junk in the 3 years they've been there. But the T has so many single-levels in mothball storage now that all of the Kawasaki bi-levels are back in-service after rebuild and while ridership is still shy of pre-COVID levels that it's fair to question whether they would even bother to "de-CTrail" the leasers back into T livery. It's only 16 cars that were leased out. They've got some 40 other Pullmans and MBB's currently "stored operable", with the first new cars in the Rotem bi-level expansion order starting to arrive. They really don't need them back with any urgency. It's more that CTrail can't wait to be rid of them now that their own fleet reassignments have flushed out the reserves.
Do you think they're worth mothballing in the medium run for potential service expansions (NH Capitol or RI Intrastate?) or should the T sell/ scrap them promptly as the Rotem expansions arrive?
 

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Do you think they're worth mothballing in the medium run for potential service expansions (NH Capitol or RI Intrastate?) or should the T sell/ scrap them promptly as the Rotem expansions arrive?
They've got a legit glut. The Kawasaki bi-level rebuild program started right after the end of the last Rotem order and took 5 years to complete, so all those years in the 2010's when there was a car shortage the shortage was a somewhat artificial circumstance. The bi fleet has only been back to full strength for less than 6 months now, which coupled with COVID is why they have such an incredible glut now. Now 83 more bi's are coming. Each bi-level seats 1.3-1.5x as many as a single-level, so in actual capacity they can retire 105-110 flats and come up par on capacity, even assuming that ridership comes 100.00% back to pre-COVID levels. They net nearly a couple dozen spares for service expansion by basically only making it a 1:1 retirement. And that's only what they need to retire in the next 2 years. Place the next bi-level order (or combination of bi-level coach order and bi-level EMU order) to replace the remainder and even at a 1:1 replacement quantity they net luxurious spare ratios for expansion.

The Rotem order is scheduled to displace all of the remaining single-level cab cars, so all remaining 1500-series MBB's and the 1600-series Bombardiers are going to immediate retirement. It remains to be seen what the 40 trailers are going to replace. Some combination of MBB's not recently rehabbed, 300-series (1986) Bombardiers, and/or the half of the 1600-series Bombardiers that were long-ago deactivated as cab cars and now run only as trailers. Which would leave the 200-series Pullmans (remanufactured 1996), 600-series Bombardiers (1989), and assorted recent-rehab MBB + remainder 300's/1600's BBD's left.


Honestly, we don't need to get too precious about rainy-day considerations for our rolling ruins. The aftermarket for flats is going to be absolutely flooded in a few years, because NJ Transit is retiring a bunch of Comet coaches with its ongoing Bombardier/Alstom MLV order, and Metro North/ConnDOT is gearing up to replace its entire 200-car East-of-Hudson flats fleet in favor of bi-levels. Both the NJT Comets and MNRR Shoreliners are near-identical Bombardier product to our Pullman/BBD/MBB coaches. And MNRR's Shoreliner III & IV classes are newer than anything we've got, and have extra center doors making them ideal for dense-stop services like Fairmount. So there's going to be a glut of superior stuff on the aftermarket available for peanuts by the time we need any (even diesel) Regional Rail service expansion.
 
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