Amtrak service proposed for NYC to western Massachusetts

2236 views
28 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,306 posts
Amtrak service proposed for NYC to western Massachusetts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, April 05, 2018 1:48 AM

Amtrak service proposed for NYC to western Massachusetts

 


The corridor would include track segments owned by Amtrak and CSX. Photo – Berkshire Flyer feasibility study

The Berkshire Flyer Working Group last week released a report examining the feasibility of Amtrak-operated rail service from New York City to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The initial service could run for 20 weeks of the year, or from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The corridor includes track segments owned by Amtrak and CSX. 

The service would begin as a pilot program, The Berkshire Edge reported. The pilot would include one round trip each weekend during summer and fall weekends between New York City and Pittsfield, according to the newspaper.

The service's capital cost is $17 million to $36 million, according to the feasibility study. Included in the cost is track upgrades, engineering and permitting, building connections to existing track, and earthwork and drainage.

The service's gross operating cost would be more than $420,000 a year. However, with revenue generated from the service, the operating cost would drop to around $240,000 annually.

The goal is to establish the service by summer 2019 or 2020.

My comment is that it should continue on to Boston, where there are Amtrak facilities.  None curently a Pittsfield.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Thursday, April 05, 2018 7:03 PM

They should continue the line to Worcester if not Boston, then they should build tracks on a more straightened right of way which is mostly at a separated grade and on high-speed grade tracks with speed limits up to 186 MPH in areas, this route will be electrified as well. I also believe that they should consider bringing the service into the slightly less congested Grand Central Terminal. Lastly, they should consider using the Housatonic Railroad Tracks which go down to the Northeast Corridor and pass through Danbury and New Milford.

Here is a map that I have put together of how the line should go in my opinion.

https://bit.ly/2H1NIoA

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 05, 2018 8:25 PM

Going thru Albant/Rensselaer would be an extension of an existing Empire Service train, so they would probably want it back immediately to Albany.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 05, 2018 8:55 PM

Back when the Harlem Division went all the way to Chatham, there were trains that continued on to Pittsfield and North Adams.

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 705 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, April 06, 2018 9:56 PM

daveklepper

 

The service's gross operating cost would be more than $420,000 a year. However, with revenue generated from the service, the operating cost would drop to around $240,000 annually.

The goal is to establish the service by summer 2019 or 2020.

My comment is that it should continue on to Boston, where there are Amtrak facilities.  None curently a Pittsfield.

 

You quoted the cost only for Option A, which is just running a train from Albany.  The other options were not priced by Amtrak.

  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 291 posts
Posted by runnerdude48 on Saturday, April 07, 2018 1:29 PM

Not going to happen.  There was service once to Pittsfield via the NY, NH, & H. RR and it was discontinued for lack of use.  All of Amtrak's seasonal, parttime service has been a failure.  Cape Cod, Atlantic City, Brunswick, Maine.  Why should this one be any different.  Ben is just another "crayonista" with unreasonable dreams of returning to the bad old days of yesteryear.  Why would anyone take the time to travel to Pittsfield via Albany or Norwalk, CT when you could drive in half the time.  There are reasons why people don't take the train at times.  If Massachusetts wants to throw more money to passenger trains then they should increase the frequency of Springfield to Boston trips first.  At least there is some sort of a market there.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,306 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, April 09, 2018 10:24 AM

Decent, multiple-trains each way each day, service between Springfield and Boston is long overdue.   And if half the trains continued on to Albany, stopping at Pittsfield, and connecting both ways at Albany with Empire service, say two trains each day in addiiton to the existing Lake Shore, the ridership would probably be typical for most state-supported trains.

I don't hold my breath on this, but someday it may arrive.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Monday, April 09, 2018 5:54 PM

runnerdude48

Not going to happen.  There was service once to Pittsfield via the NY, NH, & H. RR and it was discontinued for lack of use.  All of Amtrak's seasonal, parttime service has been a failure.  Cape Cod, Atlantic City, Brunswick, Maine.  Why should this one be any different.  Ben is just another "crayonista" with unreasonable dreams of returning to the bad old days of yesteryear.  Why would anyone take the time to travel to Pittsfield via Albany or Norwalk, CT when you could drive in half the time.  There are reasons why people don't take the train at times.  If Massachusetts wants to throw more money to passenger trains then they should increase the frequency of Springfield to Boston trips first.  At least there is some sort of a market there.

 

runnerdude48

Not going to happen.  There was service once to Pittsfield via the NY, NH, & H. RR and it was discontinued for lack of use.  All of Amtrak's seasonal, parttime service has been a failure.  Cape Cod, Atlantic City, Brunswick, Maine.  Why should this one be any different.  Ben is just another "crayonista" with unreasonable dreams of returning to the bad old days of yesteryear.  Why would anyone take the time to travel to Pittsfield via Albany or Norwalk, CT when you could drive in half the time.  There are reasons why people don't take the train at times.  If Massachusetts wants to throw more money to passenger trains then they should increase the frequency of Springfield to Boston trips first.  At least there is some sort of a market there.

 

 

I think that slowly they can strive for such a system to be used. I think this because if they slowly upgrade the tracks, and lay their own tracks from Worcester to Albany they can achieve higher speeds, and run more frequent service. More frequent service is what leads to higher ridership and higher ridership is what leads to higher revenue. So, if there was more frequent service between these cities they will get more revenue to create the track upgrades from Worcester to Albany. In the next 10-15 years they could electrify the line, and run high speed service in the next 20 years. If they introduced light rail in Springfield, and Worcester they can have easier access to the train station, also increased accessibility to transit increases the likelihood for somebody to escape poverty. There is no reason that these cities shouldn't have access to rail let alone high speed rail since they are comparable in size to many cities in France that have frequent rail access, and TGV access.

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 10,864 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:47 AM

I wonder what he proposes to use for money to pay for his proposals.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 11,229 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 8:31 AM

I have questions...

1.  What's in Pittsfield?  It's a pretty ride on the B&A from Albany, but...

2.  Has CSX been talked to?  I wouldn't think they'd want another Amtrak train on the west end of the Boston Line.

3.  I would think you'd be better off hauling folk up to Williams to see the summer shows than a weekend train to Pittsfield.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 705 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 10:06 AM

oltmannd
1.  What's in Pittsfield?  It's a pretty ride on the B&A from Albany, but...

Population of Pittsfield is 44,737. The MSA, which is Berkshire County, is 131,219 and declining since 1970 census.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:20 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

I wonder what he proposes to use for money to pay for his proposals.

 

 

Revenue from the train service

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:23 PM

oltmannd

I have questions...

1.  What's in Pittsfield?  It's a pretty ride on the B&A from Albany, but...

2.  Has CSX been talked to?  I wouldn't think they'd want another Amtrak train on the west end of the Boston Line.

3.  I would think you'd be better off hauling folk up to Williams to see the summer shows than a weekend train to Pittsfield.

 

 

1. Not a whole lot, this is why I think they should extend service to Boston.

2. I don't think so, so that is why I propose the creation of new tracks on a straighter alignment.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 9:03 PM

oltmannd

I have questions...

1.  What's in Pittsfield?  It's a pretty ride on the B&A from Albany, but...

 

I think this is a proposed summer service.  I would guess Tanglewood and other Berkshire Mountain recreation would be a goal.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 9:10 PM

ben

 

 
oltmannd

I have questions...

1.  What's in Pittsfield?  It's a pretty ride on the B&A from Albany, but...

2.  Has CSX been talked to?  I wouldn't think they'd want another Amtrak train on the west end of the Boston Line.

3.  I would think you'd be better off hauling folk up to Williams to see the summer shows than a weekend train to Pittsfield.

 

 

 

 

1. Not a whole lot, this is why I think they should extend service to Boston.

2. I don't think so, so that is why I propose the creation of new tracks on a straighter alignment.

 

If Pittsfield or other intermediate points are not important, then why would you route a NY-BOS train thru Albany?

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:04 PM

To give access to a one-seat ride to NYC from Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, and to allow for more saturated Albany-NYC coverage, also the route wouldn't involve as many curves as the Shoreline Route through CT this would allow for much higher top speeds. The tracks could be straightened because the density surrounding the tracks isn't nearly as high as along the Shoreline in CT.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 6,367 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:47 PM

Here's a useful exercise.

Since you have access to a mapping application, find and download a detailed topo map covering both the current and anticipated ("186mph") routes.

Get copies of AREMA and SNCF track geometry and subgrade construction, so you know the required spiraling and minimum horizontal and vertical curvature the route will require.

Lay out the route over the topo contours, making note of any general drainage issues, and adjust it net of fixed obstructions you think should be avoided.  I think you will find some very interesting characteristics of New England geography that affect how you can route the high-speed line.

You will have two basic choices: run the line in a combination of cut and fill, or berm it up similar to an Interstate to keep noise and drainage issues controlled (and use viaduct construction similar to what the Chinese have been using).  Neither of these is particularly suited to building something price-competitive for one-seat rides through Pittsfield.  The good news is that by doing the actual topo you can calculate for yourself exactly how much the improved line will cost, and by dividing by the expected number of passengers and a reasonable rate of return you can figure out how much each passenger would be charged for the privilege.

Then go and look at the various proposals for the 'second spine' -- including the anticipated timeframe for commencement -- and compare them to what you are proposing as an incremental revenue-driven solution...

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:07 PM

ben

To give access to a one-seat ride to NYC from Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, and to allow for more saturated Albany-NYC coverage, also the route wouldn't involve as many curves as the Shoreline Route through CT this would allow for much higher top speeds. The tracks could be straightened because the density surrounding the tracks isn't nearly as high as along the Shoreline in CT.

 

The proposed train gives a one-seat ride to Pittsfield.  Sprngfield and Worcester used to have one-seat rides from NY when there was the "Inland Route", but Amtrak discontinued them.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:31 PM

Overmod

Here's a useful exercise.

Since you have access to a mapping application, find and download a detailed topo map covering both the current and anticipated ("186mph") routes.

Get copies of AREMA and SNCF track geometry and subgrade construction, so you know the required spiraling and minimum horizontal and vertical curvature the route will require.

Lay out the route over the topo contours, making note of any general drainage issues, and adjust it net of fixed obstructions you think should be avoided.  I think you will find some very interesting characteristics of New England geography that affect how you can route the high-speed line.

You will have two basic choices: run the line in a combination of cut and fill, or berm it up similar to an Interstate to keep noise and drainage issues controlled (and use viaduct construction similar to what the Chinese have been using).  Neither of these is particularly suited to building something price-competitive for one-seat rides through Pittsfield.  The good news is that by doing the actual topo you can calculate for yourself exactly how much the improved line will cost, and by dividing by the expected number of passengers and a reasonable rate of return you can figure out how much each passenger would be charged for the privilege.

Then go and look at the various proposals for the 'second spine' -- including the anticipated timeframe for commencement -- and compare them to what you are proposing as an incremental revenue-driven solution...

 

 

I'll take a look at all of these. Thanks.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:32 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
ben

To give access to a one-seat ride to NYC from Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, and to allow for more saturated Albany-NYC coverage, also the route wouldn't involve as many curves as the Shoreline Route through CT this would allow for much higher top speeds. The tracks could be straightened because the density surrounding the tracks isn't nearly as high as along the Shoreline in CT.

 

 

 

The proposed train gives a one-seat ride to Pittsfield.  Sprngfield and Worcester used to have one-seat rides from NY when there was the "Inland Route", but Amtrak discontinued them.

 

 

I'm aware, but times are changing for Worcester in particular which is having an urban renaissance.

ben
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 68 posts
Posted by ben on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:00 PM

This route could have a high usage. If Amtrak re-routed half of the NEC Regional and Acela trains down the Inland Route with the upgraded track this would allow for faster travel speeds, and it would go to 3 more urban areas (Worcester, Springfield, and Hartford). If the high speed line to Montréal followed a similar right of way to the previous Montrealer with the exception of it being converted to HSR they would use this route as well. Now, the other train that would use this is the high speed Boston-Albany-NYC route. These three routes using the Boston-Springfield section of track would be very beneficial to the economies of the interior of New England. Lastly, once again the right of way will be straighter than any right of way could ever be built along the coastline of Connecticut because of the lack of waterways and the far sparser population between cities.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:37 PM

I don't have a problem with re-trying a few Inland Route trains, but it is unrealistic to think any significant number NEC trains will be diverted off the Shore Line.  And if you finally look at the topographic maps of the Berkshire Mountains, you will see how unrealistic a HSR line thru there would be, especially for a route with so little potential.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 9,617 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Friday, April 13, 2018 11:10 AM

My only experience with the Inshore Route came in 1997; we rode from Boston to New York on that line specifically to go that way--and there were very few passengers on board. Of course, in the 20 years from then, there may be many more people along the way who want to travel by train.

As to diverting some Shore Line trains, how many current passengers between Boston and New Haven would be happy to have less frequent service?

Johnny

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 705 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, April 13, 2018 2:56 PM

Crayola fantasies.

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,946 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, April 13, 2018 7:09 PM

The present shorre lines trains often sell out.  So no way they are going to be rerouted onto a slower route.  Additional trains by the inland route possible but MNRR is going to be reluctant due to the multi bridge replacements NewHaven - New Rochelle.

Each of those bridge replacements will often shut down 2 main tracks sometimes and always one track shut down.

Example is the Walk bridge replacement just started but will not shut down any tracks until 2019 at present schedule.  Completion date 2022 - 2023 ?.  Completion of all bridges 2035 at earliest subject to CT financials._

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, April 13, 2018 9:59 PM

The most efficent and practical operation of "Inland Route" trains would be diesel hauled trains over the route making close connections with ShoreLine trains at New Haven.  I don't have a single-seat-ride fetish.

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,946 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 12:28 PM

MidlandMike

The most efficent and practical operation of "Inland Route" trains would be diesel hauled trains over the route making close connections with ShoreLine trains at New Haven.  I don't have a single-seat-ride fetish.

 

 
How does that solve the capacity limitations on the Shoreline ?.  Do you block seats on the Shoreline sections for inland route ppassengers ?  That does not increase total Shoreline needed seats BOS <> NYP .   Now Amtrak could have drop / add cars from Inland at New Haven increasing the NYP - NHV train cars to a maximum of 12 .
 
Of course Amtrak would have to wait for Siemens to deliver California cars to free up displaced cars or Amtrak to get more cars.
 
We do recognize that the Acela-2s will increase some capacity on the Shoreline.  But that has no effect on the NE Regionals. 
  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,867 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, April 14, 2018 7:52 PM

blue streak 1

 

 
MidlandMike

The most efficent and practical operation of "Inland Route" trains would be diesel hauled trains over the route making close connections with ShoreLine trains at New Haven.  I don't have a single-seat-ride fetish.

 

 

 
How does that solve the capacity limitations on the Shoreline ?.  Do you block seats on the Shoreline sections for inland route ppassengers ?  That does not increase total Shoreline needed seats BOS <> NYP .   Now Amtrak could have drop / add cars from Inland at New Haven increasing the NYP - NHV train cars to a maximum of 12 .
 
Of course Amtrak would have to wait for Siemens to deliver California cars to free up displaced cars or Amtrak to get more cars.
 
We do recognize that the Acela-2s will increase some capacity on the Shoreline.  But that has no effect on the NE Regionals. 
 

Is Amtrak already dropping cars at Hew Haven for Springfield?  I am guessing not, so what would change.  An alternative would be for Conn. and Mass. to fund an Inland Route train NH-BOS as an extension of some of the expanded Springfield service.  They could connect with MetroNorth trains at NH.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,306 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, April 15, 2018 2:26 AM

The only justification for Inland Rout trains is business at Springfield and Worcester.  And the only justification for NY - Albany - Pittseflied or Boston service is business at Pittsfield.   There may be anough of the latter on summer weekends only.   Both NY - Pittsfield and Boston - Pittsfied.   But probably very poor investment compaired to Amtrak's real needs.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy