Trains.com

NEC North river tunnel bores deteoriating

2068 views
26 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,250 posts
NEC North river tunnel bores deteoriating
Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, March 26, 2021 1:54 PM

Article that takes a video of temporary repairs on one of the bores. Note all the water.  That is very worrying.

In a leaky underwater rail tunnel, workers race against time (msn.com)

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 26, 2021 2:36 PM

blue streak 1
Article that takes a video of temporary repairs on one of the bores. Note all the water.  That is very worrying.

In a leaky underwater rail tunnel, workers race against time (msn.com)

Nothing new.  Suspect it will take catastrophic failure to get the politics moving.

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,250 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, March 26, 2021 5:27 PM

Balt:  IMHO you are correct.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 1,247 posts
Posted by NKP guy on Friday, March 26, 2021 7:51 PM

   Isn't this project included in the upcoming Infrastructure Bill?

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,062 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, March 27, 2021 12:18 PM

NKP guy
 Isn't this project included in the upcoming Infrastructure Bill?

It's funded for $12 Billion in HR1 which has not passed the Senate yet.    If it does not make it with HR1 it almost is a sure bet it will be in the infrastructure program.    Moving it to HR1 was Senator Shumers plan to shift the costs of the project entirely to the Federal Government and absolve NY and NJ from having to pay much of anything for the project.

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,250 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, March 27, 2021 1:33 PM

My hope is that the second Long Bridge and the B&P new tunnel bores are in HR1 as well.  Those three projects all need starting.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 27, 2021 2:40 PM

blue streak 1
My hope is that the second Long Bridge and the B&P new tunnel bores are in HR1 as well.  Those three projects all need starting.

Senator I object's realm.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,370 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, March 27, 2021 4:35 PM

BaltACD
 
My hope is that the second Long Bridge and the B&P new tunnel bores are in HR1 as well.  Those three projects all need starting.

Senator I object's realm.

So Harris won't have the same clout as Schumer in getting a free NEC improvement?

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 27, 2021 6:01 PM

Overmod
 
BaltACD 
My hope is that the second Long Bridge and the B&P new tunnel bores are in HR1 as well.  Those three projects all need starting.

Senator I object's realm. 

So Harris won't have the same clout as Schumer in getting a free NEC improvement?

If Schumer can kneecap the no - so that a no effort filibuster doesn't stop the force of progress.  The party of no would love to make the Dred Scott decision the law of the land again. 

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • 2,156 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, March 27, 2021 6:10 PM

BaltACD
 
blue streak 1
Article that takes a video of temporary repairs on one of the bores. Note all the water.  That is very worrying.

In a leaky underwater rail tunnel, workers race against time (msn.com) 

Nothing new.  Suspect it will take catastrophic failure to get the politics moving.

Just like an intersection that needs a traffic light. Someone has to die to get a traffic light installed. I just hope they can keep them from a catastrophe where a loaded commuter train is in the tube when a breach occurs and drowns many passengers. I think it is not an inprobable possibility. The days when these were built, people thought big. Today, they obstruct or nitpick too much. NIMBY's, etc.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,062 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 7:18 AM

OK now that we are near the end of this Bore-ish discussion.....

Has anyone figured out why the NEC is not self-sustaining with all those passenger trains running on it (Commutter, Corridor, and Long Distance).    I would think the money would be there to support the tracks and wire replacement along with replacements of the bored tunnels after 60-70 years if each train was paying it's fair share of track fees.     So what is going on here and who is falling short as far as financial contribution to keep NEC infrastructure up to date and operational?

I have a strong suspicion the Commuter trains with their high frequency are not paying their fair share or maybe the Amtrak cost allocations are too low?    Not exactly sure myself.     The NEC handles a LOT of trains, we shouldn't have to continue to inject taxpayer money to support the infrastructure unless the trains are not paying for it...........but that would be hard for me to grasp because again......a lot of trains are using those tracks.    So cost per train shouldn't be so astronomical as to not be fully assessed somehow.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,393 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 10:11 AM

Keep in mind that those trains have to cover their immediate operating costs (wages, equipment upkeep, power expenses, etc.) before contributing to the right-of-way expenses.  Fares would have to increase astronomically to cover all expenses.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 5,200 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 7:50 PM

CMStPnP

OK now that we are near the end of this Bore-ish discussion.....

Has anyone figured out why the NEC is not self-sustaining with all those passenger trains running on it (Commutter, Corridor, and Long Distance).    I would think the money would be there to support the tracks and wire replacement along with replacements of the bored tunnels after 60-70 years if each train was paying it's fair share of track fees.     So what is going on here and who is falling short as far as financial contribution to keep NEC infrastructure up to date and operational?

I have a strong suspicion the Commuter trains with their high frequency are not paying their fair share or maybe the Amtrak cost allocations are too low?    Not exactly sure myself.     The NEC handles a LOT of trains, we shouldn't have to continue to inject taxpayer money to support the infrastructure unless the trains are not paying for it...........but that would be hard for me to grasp because again......a lot of trains are using those tracks.    So cost per train shouldn't be so astronomical as to not be fully assessed somehow.

 

Recall how Amtrak says the NEC makes a slight profit "above the rails".  I would guess they should also add "below the wire".  Pretty neat trick to only count the expenses up to the break even point.  The last figure I remember to bring the NEC up to a state of good repair was $30 billion.  I think that might have been before the tunnel.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 8:35 PM

MidlandMike
Recall how Amtrak says the NEC makes a slight profit "above the rails".  I would guess they should also add "below the wire".  Pretty neat trick to only count the expenses up to the break even point.  The last figure I remember to bring the NEC up to a state of good repair was $30 billion.  I think that might have been before the tunnel.

At today's prices $30B would be for the tunnels alone most likely.

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,250 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 10:56 PM

Remember that the present North river tunnels are not bores.  They are cast iron tubes essentially bolted together.  They wer3 just laid in a trench across the Hudson.  Now it is a bore under Wehaukan and not sure wht it is in Manhatten They are reported to actually move with the tides but I have never been able to actually confirm that.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,370 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 12:54 AM

blue streak 1
 They are reported to actually move with the tides but I have never been able to actually confirm that.

Well-known from early in 1906; a capsule account is here:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/the-rise-and-fall-of-penn-station-shifting-tunnels/

The tubes are made of cast-iron segments, bolted both circumferentially and longitudinally.  The segments are covered in baked pitch for a waterproof coating.  Once a segment was laid and aligned, the bolts were backed out one by one and the heads sealed with red lead compound; all the joints being caulked essentially with synthetic rust (!) generated by reaction of sal ammonia and iron filings pounded into all joints and crevices.

The tube was designed to take 100% of the anticipated loads with factor of safety; the reinforced concrete lining was also designed to do so.  I thought it was notable that the concreting was done in 20' lengths, allowed to cure 48 hours before forms were struck -- you could estimate the time required to re-line an entire bore, once Gateway takes up the traffic load, from this as a minimum.  A near-contemporary account of the project is here:

https://archive.org/details/historyengineer00unkngoog

Incidentally, for those of you who don't know where and how Gateway is supposed to run:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qSz0I9_lAVU&feature=emb_imp_woyt

 

 

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,062 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 1:45 AM

BaltACD
At today's prices $30B would be for the tunnels alone most likely.

The price for Gateway increases approx  $100 million a year but it is estimated to cost $11.8 Billion just for the tunnel work.    So Congress used that estimate plus 2 years of delay or construction to come up with $12 Billion budget.     No idea what they budgeted for the bridge but it was in HR1 as well.

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 825 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:57 AM

Overmod
 The tube was designed to take 100% of the anticipated loads with factor of safety; the reinforced concrete lining was also designed to do so.  I thought it was notable that the concreting was done in 20' lengths, allowed to cure 48 hours before forms were struck -- you could estimate the time required to re-line an entire bore, once Gateway takes up the traffic load, from this as a minimum.  

Could the current North River tubes be brought up to standard?  If so, how much would it cost compared to building new tubes?  And would new tubes still be required?
 
One of the potential fallouts of COVID-19 is more people will work from home.  And home is more likely to be away from major cities like those along the NEC.  If this scenario plays out, as some early trends are indicting, it could have a significant impact on the number of people riding commuter trains into and out of New York City.  And the number of trains required to haul them!
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 1,247 posts
Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 11:31 AM

JPS1
Could the current North River tubes be brought up to standard?  If so, how much would it cost compared to building new tubes?  And would new tubes still be required?   One of the potential fallouts of COVID-19 is more people will work from home.  And home is more likely to be away from major cities like those along the NEC.  If this scenario plays out, as some early trends are indicting, it could have a significant impact on the number of people riding commuter trains into and out of New York City.  And the number of trains required to haul them!

 

   Isn't is true that no matter the cost to bring the present tubes up to some sort of standard, they'd still be over a century old?  And there would still be just two tracks in and out of a very busy station when more tracks have been needed for decades.  Penn Station has been operating at over twice its designed capacities for many years.

   It's past time to rebuild America's infrastructure.  Especially something that was never designed to last this long in the first place and which should have been replaced in the 1960's.  

   The same thesis and argument that after Covid-19 the major cities along the NEC will see fewer people living there and needing to get to New York City may just as well be used to argue that therefore there is no sense in replacing any of the Interstate or federal highway bridges either.  From now on, just patch 'em up.  If they fail, caveat emptor.  

   One more thing:  The American traveling public whether on Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, or whatever, deserves modern, safe transportation facilities, especially since they have indicated over and over that they are willing to pay for it. 

       * * * * *

"Make no little plans...."

      ---Daniel H. Burnham

   

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,370 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 11:57 AM

This keeps going on and on as if not well-settled long, long ago.

There is little problem with the technical integrity of the 'iron' tunnel structure or the connections; there is little technical concern with methods for 'remediating' even the portion of reinforced concrete 'doubling up' the structural strength of the metal structure if that is not removed.

The SOLE issue is the continued necessity of both bores in traffic.  Removal of the totality of the internal structure can be conducted, in part with high-pressure water jet equipment, at no less than the rate at which the internal structure was placed as the tunnel was built; replacement (likely in considerable part with modular precast elements) is not only rapidly achieved, work on it can be started without particular difficulty or expense after only a small length has been removed, and then progressively executed along with the removal, the actual critical path for both thereby being perhaps only a few hours longer than removal alone.

There was in the past some discussion about required remediation, specifically whether it is "necessary" to have the duplicated-strength part of the concrete liner fully installed and cured before restoring trackwork and traffic carrying the general public.  If it is  not (and of course it represents a wholly redundant basis for a factor of safety as designed) both re-installation of the structural lining and modular replacement of temporary lining and benchwork can take place in the same kind of scheduled windows now used for post-Sandy 'stabilization' work.  But that need not be a consideration with Gateway complete.

In practice it might be fashionable to presume the usual 'New York' feather bedding, delays, sweetheart performance guarantees, etc.  But I do remember what New York contractors were capable of in emergency elevated-highway remediation in Brooklyn a couple of decades ago, and that was on a far greater scale than the North River Tunnels constitute.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 24 posts
Posted by josephr33 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 1:18 PM

Overmod

 

The SOLE issue is the continued necessity of both bores in traffic.  Removal of the totality of the internal structure can be conducted, in part with high-pressure water jet equipment, at no less than the rate at which the internal structure was placed as the tunnel was built; replacement (likely in considerable part with modular precast elements) is not only rapidly achieved, work on it can be started without particular difficulty or expense after only a small length has been removed, and then progressively executed along with the removal, the actual critical path for both thereby being perhaps only a few hours longer than removal alone.

If this is true the real tragedy is that the whole project could have been completed last summer.  Coronavirus gave a beautiful window where running the corridor at less than 50% capacity wouldn't have been a big deal. 

Part of me also wonders if some creative scheduling could allow such a repair.  Everyone goes out of the station on the same trains to cut the number needed and is then forced to transfer elsewhere.  I don't know the situation entirely, but 11B dollars is a lot of money to spend to avoid service cancellations during construction.

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 825 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 3:09 PM

Overmod
 There is little problem with the technical integrity of the 'iron' tunnel structure or the connections; there is little technical concern with methods for 'remediating' even the portion of reinforced concrete 'doubling up' the structural strength of the metal structure if that is not removed.

The SOLE issue is the continued necessity of both bores in traffic.  Removal of the totality of the internal structure can be conducted, in part with high-pressure water jet equipment, at no less than the rate at which the internal structure was placed as the tunnel was built; replacement (likely in considerable part with modular precast elements) is not only rapidly achieved, work on it can be started without particular difficulty or expense after only a small length has been removed, and then progressively executed along with the removal, the actual critical path for both thereby being perhaps only a few hours longer than removal alone.

There was in the past some discussion about required remediation, specifically whether it is "necessary" to have the duplicated-strength part of the concrete liner fully installed and cured before restoring trackwork and traffic carrying the general public.  If it is  not (and of course it represents a wholly redundant basis for a factor of safety as designed) both re-installation of the structural lining and modular replacement of temporary lining and benchwork can take place in the same kind of scheduled windows now used for post-Sandy 'stabilization' work.  But that need not be a consideration with Gateway complete.

In practice it might be fashionable to presume the usual 'New York' feather bedding, delays, sweetheart performance guarantees, etc.  But I do remember what New York contractors were capable of in emergency elevated-highway remediation in Brooklyn a couple of decades ago, and that was on a far greater scale than the North River Tunnels constitute. 

Thank your for your insights into remediation from an engineer's point of view!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,370 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 5:26 PM

What I'm hoping (and, I confess, doing a little agitating for) is allocating enough for "Gateway" to include rapid removal and reline of first one, then the other tunnel once the new bores are complete.  When that is done the Hudson crossing can be worked as effectively as a four-track main of the old PRR style: two tracks fast, two slow.  Not very much more improvement west of Allied Junction to give the four tracks to Newark... now might be the time to expand Portal just a smidge while funding it, for example...

Whichever of the two old bores is not being worked on would be operated in counterflow depending upon daypart with CBTC active, so even at slow speed the throughput would remain effectively high.

It would be sorely tempting to consider using better 'modern materials' in the re-concreting to increase the vertical clearance in the bores, to facilitate use of 50kV in them... or improve potential equipment clearance.  I have certain things in mind... Wink

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 6:06 PM

Overmod
What I'm hoping (and, I confess, doing a little agitating for) is allocating enough for "Gateway" to include rapid removal and reline of first one, then the other tunnel once the new bores are complete.  When that is done the Hudson crossing can be worked as effectively as a four-track main of the old PRR style: two tracks fast, two slow.  Not very much more improvement west of Allied Junction to give the four tracks to Newark... now might be the time to expand Portal just a smidge while funding it, for example...

Whichever of the two old bores is not being worked on would be operated in counterflow depending upon daypart with CBTC active, so even at slow speed the throughput would remain effectively high.

It would be sorely tempting to consider using better 'modern materials' in the re-concreting to increase the vertical clearance in the bores, to facilitate use of 50kV in them... or improve potential equipment clearance.  I have certain things in mind... Wink

I am not so trusting of 'better, modern materials' as in too many cases that only means cheaper.  Cheaper is not necessarily better.

In years gone by engineers didn't know the finite strength of the materials being used - what they did know was that they didn't want their creation to fail because they didn't construct it strong enough.  To accomplish that, they overbuilt their structures by a factor that would be unthinkable to a 21st Century engineer.

21st Century engineers build to price, not have their creation LAST beyond their designed number of years.  Thus we have many of the Interstate System bridges starting to get to the end of the 'designed 50 year' lifetime.  When you are 25 or 30, 50 years SOUNDS like a long time - when you are 75 that is only 2/3's of you time on Earth, so far - not a long time at all. 

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,250 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, April 18, 2021 9:34 PM

Here is a very long link to the aero  dynamics of rail tunnels.  I had not even thought about that helping the dereoriation of the present tunnels.  This article also brings the though of the new gateway tunnel bores since they will be of a smaller diameter than the present new ones in Europe.  As well the newer tunnels being built for HSR will need thought. 

The question is how has China , Japan, and France solved these problems ?  Maybe that is reason for those very long noses ?

Aerodynamics of railway train/tunnel system: A review of recent research - ScienceDirect

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,559 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 18, 2021 10:03 PM

blue streak 1
Here is a very long link to the aero  dynamics of rail tunnels.  I had not even thought about that helping the dereoriation of the present tunnels.  This article also brings the though of the new gateway tunnel bores since they will be of a smaller diameter than the present new ones in Europe.  As well the newer tunnels being built for HSR will need thought. 

The question is how has China , Japan, and France solved these problems ?  Maybe that is reason for those very long noses ?

Aerodynamics of railway train/tunnel system: A review of recent research - ScienceDirect

The aerodynamics of trains and tunnels not only put stresses against the tunnel structure but also on the occupants/passengers of trains operating through tunnels.  The higher the speed the higher the pressures generated.

Think of the pressures generated by the 'aerodynamics' of a piston in the cylinder of a engine - either internal combustion or steam.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,370 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 18, 2021 10:18 PM

BaltACD
The aerodynamics of trains and tunnels not only put stresses against the tunnel structure but also on the occupants/passengers of trains operating through tunnels.  The higher the speed the higher the pressures generated.

The displaced air from train passage was very marked at the west portal of the tunnels, before the headlight became visible after the internal 'dip'.  The effect was exactly as if a piston moving at train speed were ejecting air from the open end, and the motion was clearly detectable many feet from the bore.

On the other hand, this was scarcely high-speed air, and I don't remember hearing particular high turbulence or buffeting when riding Silverliners or Metroliners through.  There was much more of that effect in the subways where the far end of the air column wasn't relieved...

As I recall, there was a very detailed study of aerodynamics and methods to mitigate resistance in connection with the Channel Tunnel project.  The long noses are in part a way to deal with the issue when 'forward ejection' is no longer a practical way to lower compression effects at high speed -- see the Japanese maglev train for an exaggerated approach to the concern, as that train runs extensively, and necessarily, in comparatively small-bore tunnel.

I'd expect that by the time there is high speed in the North River tunnels, the lining will have been extensively rebuilt and updated, possibly polymer-coated.  I confess I'd expected Gateway to support far higher speeds than it appears to now be designed for...

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