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Article from retired NH engineer

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:38 AM

daveklepper
Wikapedia is using the fastest timing, the near-non-stops, to describe all. I rode the trains and am giving you first-hand information.

I also have first hand information as I have operated trains on the NEC from the 60's onward.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:39 AM

Also, I think that Vokler and any experienced rider of European trains after WWII would agree that the original alignments for European main lines were more conducive to speed than those in the USA.  Grade crossings were far fewer, fencing was typical, not special, and all this was opposed to the USA practice of getting the track in place and in service as quicly and inexpensively as possible.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 11:07 AM

daveklepper
Also, I think that Vokler and any experienced rider of European trains after WWII would agree that the original alignments for European main lines were more conducive to speed than those in the USA.  Grade crossings were far fewer, fencing was typical, not special, and all this was opposed to the USA practice of getting the track in place and in service as quicly and inexpensively as possible.

In Europe when the railroads came into existance, the cities and towns were well established and whatever rail routes were laid out had to take that reality into account.

In the US, by way of contrast, in many cases railroads built into the wilderness and paid more attention to building climbable grades than to maximum radii curves.  Once the railroads were constructed, towns grew up around them and tended to 'hem in' the railroad on the alignments originally laid out.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 12:47 PM

daveklepper
I agree there has been no improvemet in speed, NY - Washington, since the original Metroliners.

Acela is a few minutes better. The original Metroliners never did better than 2-59 with five stops -- offhand guess, they never did better than 2-59 with four stops.

Timetable limit for original Metroliners was never more than 120 mph. If the engineer ran them at 150 or 200 mph then they'd keep up with Acela.

(Fastest train NY to Washington was the X2000-- no contest.)

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 1:07 PM

daveklepper
what track changes were made [betw NY-Washington] for the Acela operation?

Probably none for Acela, but there were a few earlier changes. Which saved a minute or two -- not much more than that.

The only substantial curve change was the one at MP 117 -- NECIP eliminated a 90 mph curve.

https://goo.gl/maps/axAjG3owWhH2

Circa 1973 Penn Central shifted the Elizabeth curve a few feet, but Metroliners were still limited to 55. One helpful NECIP change was at Holly, eliminating the Metroliner crossover at Hook.

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 1:58 PM

BaltACD
In the US, by way of contrast, in many cases railroads built into the wilderness

In the colonies(NEC) settlements came first.

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 2:33 PM

timz
Acela is a few minutes better. The original Metroliners never did better than 2-59 with five stops -- offhand guess, they never did better than 2-59 with four stops.

One minute is not a few. The 1969 Metroliners were scheduled to suit the businessman with early A.M. departures with two stops(2'40") and no stops (2'30"). The mid day or off-peak made as many as 5 intermediate stops(2'59"). The Acela Express of 2018 completes the journey in 2'58" giving credence to the notion that high-speed rail on the NEC is not feasibile.

timz
Timetable limit for original Metroliners was never more than 120 mph. If the engineer ran them at 150 or 200 mph then they'd keep up with Acela.

This I do not understand??? The Acela is only one minute faster.

timz
(Fastest train NY to Washington was the X2000-- no contest.)

 

The X-2000 designated top speed is 210 km/h (130 mph). It reached 276 km/h (171 mph) during a trial run with double locomotive units in 1993. The maximum speed allowed in regular traffic is 204 km/h (127 mph) for safety reasons – the signal system (and systems like the catenary) are not built for more, and it shares the track with conventional trains; also, most of the lines it uses were built in the mid to late 19th century.

It proved to be useless.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 2:48 PM

243129
he X-2000 designated top speed is 210 km/h (130 mph). It reached 276 km/h (171 mph) during a trial run with double locomotive units in 1993. The maximum speed allowed in regular traffic is 204 km/h (127 mph) for safety reasons – the signal system (and systems like the catenary) are not built for more, and it shares the track with conventional trains; also, most of the lines it uses were built in the mid to late 19th century.

If a test train could run at 171 mph in the NEC,then that is HSR.  Perhaps with new FRA regs, the operation could become less conservative and run at 140-155 mph. These days, the newest ICE 4 trains on DB have a top speed of 230 kmh for the 7 car model or 260 kmh for the 12 car model.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 2:50 PM

243129
The Acela is only one minute faster.

Yeah, I should have said Acela used to be a few minutes faster. Its five-stop schedule used to be maybe 10 minutes faster than the best original-Metroliner five-stop. As you'd expect -- higher top speed, and higher curve speeds.

In July 1971 one Metroliner took 2-55 to Washington with four stops -- all the rest were 3-00 with five stops.

http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19710712&item=0010

I'll check when the one-stop Metroliners ended -- probably 1970?

243129
It [the X2000] proved to be useless.

Maybe so. Faster, tho -- higher curve speeds than Acela, and the ride was smooth and quiet. When it was new, anyway.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 3:13 PM

What were the details and stops of the "Metroliner" service trains advertised as "2 hours and 49 civilized minutes" (down from 2:59 civilized in the mid-'70s) in the middle 1980s?

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 3:27 PM

charlie hebdo
If a test train could run at 171 mph in the NEC,then that is HSR

That speed cannot be sustained for any length of time due to geographical constrictions as also would be the case with the140-155 mph speeds you cite.

 

 

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 3:32 PM

Overmod

What were the details and stops of the "Metroliner" service trains advertised as "2 hours and 49 civilized minutes" (down from 2:59 civilized in the mid-'70s) in the middle 1980s?

 

October 31, 1982
Express Metroliner(less stops) running time reduced to 2 hours, 49 minutes, and remaining Metroliners all scheduled for under 3 hours, for the first time in several years.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 5:59 PM

Three stops in 1982

http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19821031&item=0010

Weekday Metroliner schedules NY to Washington:

16 Jan 1969 -- one 5-stop schedule 2 hr 59 min

10 Feb 1969 -- two 5-stop, 2-59

2 Apr, 2 June -- one nonstop in 2-30, two 5-stop in 2-59

14 July 69 -- one 1-stop 2-30, two 5-stop 2-59

26 Oct 69 -- one nonstop 2-30, one 3-stop 2-40, four 5-stop 2-59

16 March 70 -- one 2-stop 2-50, one 3-stop 2-50, four 5-stop 2-59

17 May 70 -- one 3-stop 2-50, one 4-stop 2-55, four 5-stop 2-59

24 Aug 70 -- same exc add another 5-stop

25 Oct 70 -- two 4-stop 2-55, five 5-stop 2-59

24 Jan 71 -- two 4-stop 2-55, five 5-stop 3-00

 

Weekday Acela schedules 29 Apr 2002:

one 4-stop 2-39

one 5-stop 2-41

two 6-stop 2-42

seven 6-stop 2-43

four 7-stop 2-46

one 8-stop 2-55

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 7:07 PM

timz

Three stops in 1982

http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19821031&item=0010

Weekday Metroliner schedules NY to Washington:

16 Jan 1969 -- one 5-stop schedule 2 hr 59 min

10 Feb 1969 -- two 5-stop, 2-59

2 Apr, 2 June -- one nonstop in 2-30, two 5-stop in 2-59

14 July 69 -- one 1-stop 2-30, two 5-stop 2-59

26 Oct 69 -- one nonstop 2-30, one 3-stop 2-40, four 5-stop 2-59

16 March 70 -- one 2-stop 2-50, one 3-stop 2-50, four 5-stop 2-59

17 May 70 -- one 3-stop 2-50, one 4-stop 2-55, four 5-stop 2-59

24 Aug 70 -- same exc add another 5-stop

25 Oct 70 -- two 4-stop 2-55, five 5-stop 2-59

24 Jan 71 -- two 4-stop 2-55, five 5-stop 3-00

 

Weekday Acela schedules 29 Apr 2002:

one 4-stop 2-39

one 5-stop 2-41

two 6-stop 2-42

seven 6-stop 2-43

four 7-stop 2-46

one 8-stop 2-55

 

What happened 2018 Acela 2'58" ????

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 7:12 PM

243129
What happened 2018 Acela 2'58" ?

Why is Acela slower than it used to be? Dunno. A million broken concrete ties?

 

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 7:25 PM

timz

 

 
243129
What happened 2018 Acela 2'58" ?

 

Why is Acela slower than it used to be? Dunno. A million broken concrete ties?

 

 

 

So what are your thoughts on the feasibility of true high-speed rail on the NEC?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 8:10 PM

Question - How many trains are operating on the NEC (NY-WAS) these days as compared to the Metroliner days - not just Amtrak but all the commuter agencies that use the NEC.  I tend to think there were many fewer commuter trains 40-50 years ago.  I understand that before Amtrak obtained ownership of the NEC through freight was was being operated on the trackage.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 8:15 PM

timz
I'll check when the one-stop Metroliners ended -- probably 1970?

See if you can flesh out Bruce Goldberg's Metroliner timeline from the June 2006 Trains:

http://trn.trains.com/railroads/2006/06/metroliners-amazing-career

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 8:20 PM

BaltACD

Question - How many trains are operating on the NEC (NY-WAS) these days as compared to the Metroliner days - not just Amtrak but all the commuter agencies that use the NEC.  I tend to think there were many fewer commuter trains 40-50 years ago.  I understand that before Amtrak obtained ownership of the NEC through freight was was being operated on the trackage.

 

The NEC is Boston to Washington. Commuter service was not much less than it is today( I speak of BOS-NYP, my home division) and yes through freight and local freight was in the mix. The operation ran more smoothly then because there were knowledgeable railroad operations personnel in charge unlike the present day 'supervision'.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:45 PM

243129
 

 

BaltACD

Question - How many trains are operating on the NEC (NY-WAS) these days as compared to the Metroliner days - not just Amtrak but all the commuter agencies that use the NEC.  I tend to think there were many fewer commuter trains 40-50 years ago.  I understand that before Amtrak obtained ownership of the NEC through freight was was being operated on the trackage. 

 

The NEC is Boston to Washington. Commuter service was not much less than it is today( I speak of BOS-NYP, my home division) and yes through freight and local freight was in the mix. The operation ran more smoothly then because there were knowledgeable railroad operations personnel in charge unlike the present day 'supervision'.

The commuter services provided by MARC, SEPTA and NJT between NY-WAS seem much more frequent than they were in prior decades (I don't have facts & figures - just personal observations).  I am aware that MARC has added run frequency as well as lenghtened the runs over the past two decades.  I don't know what additional service has been provided by SEPTA and NJT over the recent decades - the metro areas of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York are not getting less densly populated as the years go by so I expect both those agencies have added service.

While not a part of the NEC, VRE did not exist prior to 1990.  Now they operate about 24 trains a day both into and out of Washington Union Station.

Each year we are retired the better we were and the worse things are today.  Been hearing it my entire working life and now my retirement.  Age has selective memory.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:48 PM

BaltACD
Each year we are retired the better we were and the worse things are today.  Been hearing it my entire working life and now my retirement.  Age has selective memory.

Very true of some members of every generation in their view of the future.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 11:09 PM

Our group here wishes that Newark - Frankford would be the first to get 160MPH Acela service on the inner tracks.  That would require the elimination of the Elizabeth  "S" curve restrictions.  At the same time start eliminating the slow sections along the entire route Frankford - PHL - WASH. That would of course involve the eliminated  sections being designed for eventual 160 MPH. That is the least expensive way to decrease the running time NYP <> WASH for all trains. 

The CAT of course needs upgrading to Constant tension along the Newark - Frankford section.   If the Newark - Frankford section reduces times then that will  have the effect of saving the most passenger minutes NYP <> PHL for Acela passengers since that section has the highest passenger density of Amtrak traffic on the NEC.   However speeding up south of Frankford will end up saving even more passenger minutes for Regional and LD passengers.  Acelas will also benefit.

We would like to see Amtral's figures for the costs of reducing slow sections.  As well the passenger minutes saved.  Where commuter trains are involved the commuter savings also need inclusion.  Since NJ Transit seems to run max speeds of 100 MPH only the Eliabeth curve would save what 1 - 2  minute for slowing and speeding up ?  Now if NJT is able to speed up their Newark - Trenton expresses to 125 ?

Upgrading the Frakford - North PHL would save what ??

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 4:25 AM

Regarding Europe, governments often put the railroad line just outside the built-up towns, whicih then expanded to enclose a relatively straight and level railway alignment.  For cities like Paris and London, the railways did not even attempt to penetrate the center, resulting th profusion of stations, and the construction of linking tunnels in the 20th Century and on-going in this one.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 4:59 AM

Retired PRR engineer.  Easy to confuse the nonstops and the multistops, and I have been caught with similar errors on the Forums.

The "200 mph" Acelas were an adaption of an existing European design, and redesigning them for a lower top speed may not have saved much if anything.

I hope we can agree that not much was improved in the NEC, either for the Metroliners or Acela, and that the money spent to put the line in decent shape was appropriate and necessary.  And that there was no real improvement in times between Metroliners and Acela.

In the second month of Metroliner operation, southbound between Newark DE and Baltimore, I saw 136 on the numerical digital speedometer.  Did you ever run the MUs faster than 125?

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Posted by timz on Thursday, December 13, 2018 4:11 PM

BaltACD
How many trains are operating on the NEC (NY-WAS) these days as compared to the Metroliner days

In May 1967, 101 trains each weekday west from NY Penn, including three mail/express. Add 32 CNJ trains at Newark, 25 of which split off to the LV/CNJ after two miles. 33 trains split off or terminate at Rahway, and 25 terminate at Jersey Avenue, just west of New Brunswick.

20 locals Trenton to Philadelphia; 21 locals Philadelphia to Wilmington; 2 locals Baltimore to Washington.

In December 2018, 51 Amtrak each weekday west from NY Penn, plus the triweekly Cardinal. 160 NJT out of NY, 59 of which split off to the Lackawanna after seven miles.

Add 28 trains at Newark, 26 of which split off to LV/CNJ after two miles. 38 trains split off at Rahway to South Amboy and beyond; 14 trains terminate at Jersey Avenue.

30 SEPTA locals Trenton to Philadelphia, 28 Philadelphia to Marcus Hook or beyond. 27 MARC to Washington from Baltimore or beyond.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, December 14, 2018 4:45 PM

That comes to 1967, 135 trains per track, in 2018, 211/track. But it is not evenly divided by hour. My understanding is that min time between trains in a tube is four minutes or 15 trains/hr. If rush hr is 6:00 AM to 9:30 AM, and 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM or a total of 7 hrs, that would account for 105 trains. In the 6 hrs between rush hours and the 11 hrs overnight, the density is lower. Of course after midnight there are few trains but to do any maintenance requires taking a tunnel OOS. Not much room for any abnormalities or failures. As has been happening. Another thing is the commuter trains today are much more heavily loaded thanks to population growth and higher capacity equipment (multilevel and longer trains). New tubes are needed ASAP. 

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Posted by timz on Friday, December 14, 2018 6:01 PM

101 total departures west from NY Penn in 1967. Add the CNJ diesel trains at Newark.

In December 2018, 19 NJ Transit departures west from NY Penn between 5:00 and 5:55 PM, plus three Amtrak.

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, March 8, 2020 9:19 AM

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