NWP reconstruction for commuter rail

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NWP reconstruction for commuter rail
Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:59 PM

Somehow I missed the topic about the 'abandoned railroad' along Hwy 101 in northwest California. This is the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, and most of the original line was purchased by the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) from Southern Pacific in 1995.

North of Windsor the line is currently embargoed. Freight service might be restored to Willits eventually but there seems no economic justification (customers) to rebuild this section. In spite of the obvious, the hysterical greenies keep pounding the NCRA with lawsuits that threaten operations over the entire property. In their twisted brains 'someone' wants to pay for rebuilding the line through the Eel River canyon north of Willits.

South of Windsor the line is still active - the current private freight operator (NWP Inc.) is regaining customers and the taxpayer funded commuter agency 'Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit' (SMART) is upgrading the line to San Rafael and then to the Larkspur ferry (not yet funded). SMART's mission also includes extending service north to Cloverdale, home of the Lonely Train Station.

Now to 'the rest of the story'. I just came across this YouTube posters recent and excellent aerial videos of the railroad reconstruction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1dSve32uDI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t04TDTxIl8A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzFMQ_Fhcsk

If I find anymore relevant videos I will link them.

SMART web site with many project updates:

http://www.sonomamarintrain.org/

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Posted by Buslist on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 3:41 PM

There were some photos recently on Facebook of their DMUs in test at Pueblo (almost identical to the Toronto airport cars.

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Posted by narig01 on Thursday, March 26, 2015 1:42 AM

SMART is building a line from The Larkspur ferry terminal in the south to Cloverdale in the north. Most of the right of way still exists and they are putting in a new track for the distance. If it starts to get used it may outgrow the currently planned service in short order. 

         The US 101 corridor north from San Francisco to Santa Rosa is very heavily travelled and has needed this since before WWII. Originally much of the development in Marin county was on account of the NorthWestern Pacific RR commuter line that was discontinued in 1941.

Rgds IGN

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, March 26, 2015 1:22 PM

Buslist
There were some photos recently on Facebook of their DMUs in test at Pueblo (almost identical to the Toronto airport cars.

Thanks for the heads up since I avoid FB like the Plague, the link is here.

narig01
... The US 101 corridor north from San Francisco to Santa Rosa is very heavily travelled ...

A classic understatement! Hmm Having grown up across the bay and passed through many times to visit relatives, I have few nice thoughts about the over-the-top ecoNIMBYs who have obstructed completion of the freeway between Novato and Petaluma.

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Posted by Buslist on Thursday, March 26, 2015 3:57 PM

Of course they got the photo captions wrong as it's been the Transportation TECHNOLOGY Center for 19 years now. Oh well.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, March 26, 2015 5:20 PM

A video of the existing Haystack Bridge which will be replaced in a few months:

The replacement is a bridge previously used by the BNSF at Galveston, TX and is being modified and refurbished. It will be placed on piers eight feet taller and further apart to allow passage of smaller boats.

In 2013 the Cinnabar trestle just north of Petaluma was replaced:

A NWP test train run in 2011; the video is a cab ride showing what SMART riders will see in the near future:

Link to my Google map with some NWP/SMART points of interest:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zfWCoGpokp7Y.kbMmbf2ykHjA

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, March 26, 2015 5:49 PM

This video shows the existing Haystack Bridge swinging closed for the train.

Due to the planned SMART headway of 30 minutes, the 'new' bridge will be closed far more often soon.

More details on the existing and replacement bridges:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2306104-181/smart-to-buy-a-drawbridge?page=0

 

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, March 27, 2015 11:02 AM

A classic understatement! Hmm Having grown up across the bay and passed through many times to visit relatives, I have few nice thoughts about the over-the-top ecoNIMBYs who have obstructed completion of the freeway between Novato and Petaluma.


Looks like those NIMBYs were finally and deservedly defeated, although I have no idea how long the battle raged (my guess would be decades) or how heated it got..

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, April 04, 2015 6:20 PM

chutton01
Looks like those NIMBYs were finally and deservedly defeated, although I have no idea how long the battle raged (my guess would be decades) or how heated it got..

When the construction is complete, I'll believe it. Confused

Someone caught the arrival of the first DMU's onto the property a few days ago:

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Posted by 081552 on Monday, April 06, 2015 7:11 AM

MikeF90

 

 
chutton01
Looks like those NIMBYs were finally and deservedly defeated, although I have no idea how long the battle raged (my guess would be decades) or how heated it got..

 

When the construction is complete, I'll believe it. Confused

 

Someone caught the arrival of the first DMU's onto the property a few days ago:

 

Great to see the first DMU heading toward the Bay Area!

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, April 08, 2015 1:33 PM

The DMU cars were available for public view yesterday in Cotati:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/3762218-181/first-smart-cars-roll-into

http://patch.com/california/rohnertpark-cotati/marin-sonoma-smart-pilot-train-debuts

An aerial video of the first cars arriving on the property was posted:

Another video shows the DMU at Cotati station. Notice the gantlet track on the northbound main: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF37KODXu3s

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, June 06, 2015 5:43 PM

Just came across some new photos of track laying near Puerto Suello Tunnel on another forum:

http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,118572

Very little track laying left to do in this phase, estimated start of service is still 'late 2016'.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, June 20, 2015 6:26 PM

A video of the NWP route south of San Rafael to TIburon has been posted on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Sw5uR4MwI

In the next phase, passenger service will be extended south to the Larkspur ferry just south of the dual use Cal Park Hill tunnel. Further south, the ROW is partially used for hiking and bike paths.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, July 09, 2015 4:26 PM

More photos of a SMART train exhibition run to San Rafael have been posted:

 http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,119907

The first photo shows the 'new' Haystack bridge (photo right) being readied for emplacement and use this year.

Returning from a trip to Mendocino county last week, it is more apparent why this service should achieve good ridership figures. For historic state and county bureaucratic reasons, the Hwy 101 freeway between Petaluma and north Novato is still a total CF. Bang Head Currently several upgrades / widenings are underway but appear to be non-contiguous, very strange and superbly dumb. By contrast, the freeway north of Petaluma is six lane to north Santa Rosa and has been upgraded to modern standards. No improvements seem to be started south of the Marin County line.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Sunday, July 19, 2015 3:29 PM

Of historical interest only, another video of the NWP from the Detour wye in Corte Madera to the south end at Sausalito has been published:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAMJnmkW-tM

As these ROW segments have built on extensively, no railroad service can be restored.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 1:55 PM

The replacement bridge over the Petaluma River has been assembled and will be lowered and tested shortly:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4325941-181/smart-rail-bridge-put-in?page=0

The old 'Haystack' bridge did not receive any bidders and will be scrapped.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2:51 PM

Schimmick Construction has begun to cut over the new Petaluma River bridge.

http://www.petaluma360.com/news/4494765-181/new-rail-bridge-spans-petaluma

Assembly of the bridge will be completed, track laid and everything tested to the Coast Guard's and other agencies satisfaction. The contractor is allowed up to 18 days for this task during which NWP freight operations are isolated on either side.

They are also putting up new signals in downtown San Rafael, the current south end of SMART commuter service.

http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,123296

 

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, January 29, 2016 8:44 PM

SMART recently held 'a media tour' of the new Rail Operations Center. Of note is that it will be one of the first railroads to fully deploy PTC when it opens late this year.

http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/northbay/sonomacounty/5141391-181/smart-rail-operations-center

http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20160127/NEWS/160129810

The SMART website also posted a bimonthly General Managers report that has some status details (see link at page bottom).

http://www2.sonomamarintrain.org/

The report doesn't mention the recent (locally controversial) efforts by the Novato City Council to partially fund and build a downtown station:

http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20160127/novato-approves-partial-construction-of-downtown-smart-station

Per existing agreements SMART has no obligation to stop there, so get out the popcorn - this should be interesting .... Stick out tongue

 

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Posted by 081552 on Sunday, January 31, 2016 3:34 PM

I will be interesting to see how the DMUs work out. SMART didn't want the Caltrain system of locomotive-hauled passenger cars for a few reasons. As long as ridership doesn't skyrocket, they should be o.k.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Monday, February 01, 2016 5:38 PM

081552
I will be interesting to see how the DMUs work out. SMART didn't want the Caltrain system of locomotive-hauled passenger cars for a few reasons. As long as ridership doesn't skyrocket, they should be o.k.

Unfortunately, the locals didn't prevent the Marin bike nazis from wasting a huge amount of taxpayer money on the new commuter hostile ped/bike bridge in Larkspur; an extremely long walk to the ferry and not covered to boot. This will bite SMART in the rear big time ridership-wise. If I'm proven wrong, it looks like a non-cab car could be inserted into the existing consist. Hopefully riders can walk between cars to reach a platform adjacent door.

Just discovered that many YouTube videos have been posted recently about the SMART train testing / driver 'conditioning' now underway. Here is a sample:

Crossing the new bascule lift bridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llYp_PaEVdI

Testing brakes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-aDMSdgJEA

More speed testing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5S7jbJ5_9A

Grade crossing tests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4FNRJFMTUI

And what is it with new rail transit agencies that approve the most obnoxious sounding horns? SMART horns sound like a badly built and tuned harmonica to me. Ick!

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, February 02, 2016 6:41 AM

Those horns do get your attention, which is part of their function.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 06, 2016 9:44 AM

A grade crossing incident waiting to happen.  The stop light does not change to allow autos to clear the track(s)  And if a TT does not clear a full DMU ?  OMG

Grade crossing tests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4FNRJFMTUI

 

 

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Thursday, February 11, 2016 11:53 AM

blue streak 1

A grade crossing incident waiting to happen.  The stop light does not change to allow autos to clear the track(s)  And if a TT does not clear a full DMU ?  OMG

Grade crossing tests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4FNRJFMTUI

 

 

 

Unfortunately, that's only necessary in those places where most people are to stupid to read road signage and not follow directions by NOT stopping on the railroad tracks.  Since most Americans don't use common sense we have problems like this...a majority of drivers will ignore the sign that says "Do Not Stop on Tracks", as well as th most likely not visible markings on the street that state "Keep Clear"(though there will be more that will actually pay attention to this since it's actually on the road way).  Otherwise, there's no need to allow vehicles to clear a crossing they shouldn't be in...after a few dozen cars get totalled and the owners have to pay replacement costs out of pocket(insurance won't cover negligence) people will learn.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, March 05, 2016 5:19 PM

The first SMART 'preview' train ran into downtown San Rafael yesterday:

http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20160304/commuter-train-rolls-into-san-rafael-for-the-first-time-in-50-years

Apparently the station platforms are substantially complete or close to it. IIRC dispatching of the line was turned over from CFNR to the new SMART operations center recently.

UPDATE - some other photos taken of downtown SR and nearby ROW.

http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,130227

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, June 03, 2016 4:03 PM

The SMART directors have just decided on the 'introductory' fares for the system. A one way trip from Santa Rosa to San Rafael will cost $9.50. Various discounts are also available.

http://main.sonomamarintrain.org/

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5685486-181/santa-rosa-to-san-rafael

For comparison, a similar distance on SoCal Metrolink (35 miles, LAUS to Tustin) costs $10.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 3:34 PM

To bring this thread more up to date, here is the newspaper link regarding the required replacement of the DMU Cummins engines: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6193635-181/engine-failure-on-toronto-rail

SMART is also trying to find a fix for unreliable crossing gates. Apparently the DMU wheels aren't cleaning off the rust fast enough, so some fancy Brillo pads or some such may be required. What does the NCTD Sprinter do?

At the relative last moment, the City of Novato is trying to implement a new downtown station. As to why this location wasn't considered before, consider that this is Marin County where Bat S**t Crazy can be elevated to a whole new level.

Petaluma (and possibly other cities) are coming to realize that they want Quiet Zones. Big Duh. Weren't they paying attention during the EIR process?

From another thread, perhaps Mr. Mudchicken can elaborate on better workarounds for the platform gantlet tracks. TIA!

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 5:19 PM

Budd RDC's could run allbeit at reduced speed with one engine OOS. Are the Sumitomo cars one engine per car (two engines on a two car train) and can they not operate with just one engine? Western Pacific ran its single RDC from Oakland to Salt Lake City routinely. It seems today that we can't reinvent the wheel. 

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 7:25 PM

Each car has only one engine (19 liter 6-cylinder 760hp) and 'hydraulic' transmission - someone here will have the specs that indicate how much of that output is traction power vs. lighting and HVAC, and what the speeds for two- and three-car consist with one engine not running would be.

This is a different problem; it's not that an engine isn't running, it's that the engine put a rod through the block after a crankshaft-related failure!  Do you really think the train will just continue to finish its run 'at reduced speed' after that happens?

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 9:03 PM

MikeF90

...

North of Windsor the line is currently embargoed. Freight service might be restored to Willits eventually but there seems no economic justification (customers) to rebuild this section...

 

At one time the California Western wanted the Willits interchange restored for their lumber traffic.  Is this no longer the case?

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, October 27, 2016 3:46 PM

I don't think there are enough timber related loads near Willits to justify rebuilding that far north. Healdsburg may be the next stage after the critical one from San Rafael to the Larkspur ferry stop. Mother Nature has wreaked havoc with the tunnels and ROW north of Healdsburg.

On top of that cost, NWP has to win the court battle with the eco-luddites in SMART who've just decided to not issue track warrants for hazmat trains. Angry

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