Interesting wrinkle on commuter rail in NYC

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/0...uter-trains-nyc.html

Not so sure if this will happen, given that the MTA itself faces all kinds of financial challenges (including a subway system with real issues to solve) and Amtrak faces an uncertain future, but this would make sense given the tracks are there. Also says how much the Bronx is changing as it is rapidly gentrifying, you proposed adding a rail station in Hunts Point not all that long ago, they would look at you like you were on serious drugs. I wonder where the Morris Park station would be, might allow be to grab a metro north train and go to my favorite restaurant in the Bronx after work without having to drive there. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Original Post

I think the MTA should FOCUS on the Projects at hand and complete them FIRST before engaging in another capital project venture. Items that come to mind are the Second Avenue Subway to 125 st and downtown and the LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal.

member:Golden Spike Club Charter Member

@prr-

Or fix the #(($(($! subway system.....the problem is that NYC is kind of bursting at the seams, and this project could help alleviate some of that, allow (hopefully) people to find affordable housing that is commutable. Not disagreeing with you, doing this and having a subway that to be kind has challenges, and other projects like the 2nd avenue subway, and the east side access (that would reduce some of the load on the subways). The real problem is that the State of NY government refuses to see something obvious, that the infrastructure of NYC is driving a lot of tax revenue the rest of the state depends on, that the redevelopment projects in places like Buffalo or economic incentive zones upstate depend on NYC tax revenue to happen....in a perfect world they would understand the ROI to the rest of the state, but what else is new?

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Subway fares are about to go up again. The governor loves to meddle with NYC, at the expense of the mayor and other local officials. Latest example - his bombshell proposal of changes to the long-planned L tunnel shutdown for repairs. It may work, but the timing - coming after all the planning for the changes - seems suspect.

As a daily subway rider (I should get back to riding a bicycle to work), I'd say the MTA should concentrate on fixing its current system, and finishing the projects it already has - which it doesn't have enough money to complete, anyway. Takes me about 70 minutes to get to work, door to door - maybe a few less if I'm lucky. Coming home late at night is crap-shoot. If all goes well, 75 minutes. That's rare. Missed connections (fewer trains at night), track work, stalled trains, etc. - usually ends up 85 to 90 minutes. Sometimes it's nearly two hours.

I was thinking about moving to New Jersey (I live near Coney Island now) - but a month or so it was announced that PATH service to World Trade Center, near where I work, will be shut down for repairs to Sandy damage on weekends for two years (would affect two days a week of my commute).

Oh, the East Side Access connection to GCT? That was supposed to be operational in 2009 for $4.3 billion. Now they're looking at December 2022, at around $11 billion.

Edit: Oh, I forgot they're working on a new fare-payment system, that's another half a billion, at least.

David

Just think, if the government was involved at the turn of the last century, you would not be talking about subways at all because they would not have been built yet.  Fortunate private enterprise build the subways and railways as well as the trolley lines and bus routes.  Of course they weren't environmentally friendly nor OSHA compliant but they got built and were completed on time.

Dan

I would be careful about that,the original subways were a public/private venture, they wouldn't have happened without both being involved. The IND was built by the city, and it was built in time as well, and was better run than either the BRT or IRT during that timefame, not to mention that the IRT and BMT ran their systems into the ground by the time the city took them over. Neither private industry nor government have a monopoly on virtue or on stupidity,if you look at mass transit they both have some amazing stuff, and more than a bit of failures, scandals and downright ugly things (there was more than a bit of corruption around the els and trolleys in NYC, Jay Gould and other types owned them at various times, and millions were stolen through graft and monopistic practices, when the IRT was built there were all kinds of bid rigging, real estate insider bribery for information on routes,you name it.

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

bigkid posted:

@prr-

Or fix the #(($(($! subway system.....the problem is that NYC is kind of bursting at the seams, and this project could help alleviate some of that, allow (hopefully) people to find affordable housing that is commutable. Not disagreeing with you, doing this and having a subway that to be kind has challenges, and other projects like the 2nd avenue subway, and the east side access (that would reduce some of the load on the subways). The real problem is that the State of NY government refuses to see something obvious, that the infrastructure of NYC is driving a lot of tax revenue the rest of the state depends on, that the redevelopment projects in places like Buffalo or economic incentive zones upstate depend on NYC tax revenue to happen....in a perfect world they would understand the ROI to the rest of the state, but what else is new?

 

The project makes a lot of sense.  I just looked at the plan.  It says nothing about when, so it's silly to be fussing about which project comes first.  It should be viewed in the context of a 10 or 20 year plan.

And why should the interests of riders on 2nd Ave. take precedence over the East Bronx.  Improving Bronx service would make housing there more attractive and relieve the pressure on Manhattan.

Some day they're going to have to use taxes and tolls to make driving more expensive and fund public transit across the state.

 

bigkid posted:

I would be careful about that,the original subways were a public/private venture, they wouldn't have happened without both being involved. The IND was built by the city, and it was built in time as well, and was better run than either the BRT or IRT during that timefame, not to mention that the IRT and BMT ran their systems into the ground by the time the city took them over. Neither private industry nor government have a monopoly on virtue or on stupidity,if you look at mass transit they both have some amazing stuff, and more than a bit of failures, scandals and downright ugly things (there was more than a bit of corruption around the els and trolleys in NYC, Jay Gould and other types owned them at various times, and millions were stolen through graft and monopistic practices, when the IRT was built there were all kinds of bid rigging, real estate insider bribery for information on routes,you name it.

You're overlooking a key point in saying that IRT and BMT ran their systems into the ground.  That has always been the results when governments refused to allow private companies to raise their rates to cover the cost of the service.  

But the problem with that is that rates that cover the cost of the service woudl be so high that the average user couldn't afford to use the services.  For that reason, there is nowhere in the world that a major urban transit system is funded as a private enterprise.

 

mlaughlinnyc posted:
bigkid posted:

@prr-

Or fix the #(($(($! subway system.....the problem is that NYC is kind of bursting at the seams, and this project could help alleviate some of that, allow (hopefully) people to find affordable housing that is commutable. Not disagreeing with you, doing this and having a subway that to be kind has challenges, and other projects like the 2nd avenue subway, and the east side access (that would reduce some of the load on the subways). The real problem is that the State of NY government refuses to see something obvious, that the infrastructure of NYC is driving a lot of tax revenue the rest of the state depends on, that the redevelopment projects in places like Buffalo or economic incentive zones upstate depend on NYC tax revenue to happen....in a perfect world they would understand the ROI to the rest of the state, but what else is new?

 

The project makes a lot of sense.  I just looked at the plan.  It says nothing about when, so it's silly to be fussing about which project comes first.  It should be viewed in the context of a 10 or 20 year plan.

And why should the interests of riders on 2nd Ave. take precedence over the East Bronx.  Improving Bronx service would make housing there more attractive and relieve the pressure on Manhattan.

Some day they're going to have to use taxes and tolls to make driving more expensive and fund public transit across the state.

 

Can't disagree,given how congested many places are. The article talked about the possibility of new stations opening in like 2023, but I doubt that sincerely,lot of things to be worked out.

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

I was under the impression all of the projects needed above was going to be part of the country's infrastructure bill. But they need to take care of that wall thing first.

I know where I have been, I know where I am at, I am hopeful I know where I am going.(The devil and God are talking it over).

New York City and its suburbs are one of the most transportation-intensive areas in the United States. As population and commerce grow within the region (Amazon in Queens) everything possible to increase capacity will have to be considered and the incentives to rely on private automobiles will have to be reduced. This will require Amtrak and local government to accept the realities of the 21st Century and work together to modernize the transportation system. It's also about time to finance and begin construction of new railroad tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan - before transportation and commerce in the Northeast Corridor are seriously impacted by failure of the Century-old tunnels.

MELGAR

Before retiring, I "commuted" monthly on Acela Express between Washington & Boston.  The worst part of the trip was over Metro North between New Rochelle and New Haven, where we'd often crawl among the commuter trains.  If this project were to go forward, special care would have to be taken so that the Amtrak service between Penn Station & New Rochelle did not also go down the tubes.  Except for the Hell Gate Bridge (which is now only 3 tracks vice the 4 it used to be) and a few other bridges, the right-of-way might be wide enough to accommodate additional tracks dedicated to commuter service.

Melgar is also correct in referring to the need for more trans-Hudson tunnels.  One track in each direction is not adequate for safety and reliability.  Nearest other crossing is many miles north, so there are no alternatives, save for car ferrying passenger trains across the Hudson, which is not feasible.

John Pignatelli JR. posted:

I was under the impression all of the projects needed above was going to be part of the country's infrastructure bill. But they need to take care of that wall thing first.

What's this about a wall?

Know I'd like lower taxes and less giving my money away for projects I'll never use or benefit from!

BobbyD posted:
John Pignatelli JR. posted:

I was under the impression all of the projects needed above was going to be part of the country's infrastructure bill. But they need to take care of that wall thing first.

What's this about a wall?

Know I'd like lower taxes and less giving my money away for projects I'll never use or benefit from!

Like anyone who tells me that kind of thing, I would be glad to oblige as long as they would be willing to forgo the things they are getting that I pay for and get no benefit from *shrug*. The other thing is, be careful of no benefit. A rail project on nyc, farm subsidies in Iowa, a road project in Texas, seem to have no effect to someone in Florida. That rail project however could increase tax receipts from the NYC region which frees up federal funds for a new school in Jacksonville,farm subsidies in Iowa might mean cheaper corn for restaurants in Miami, that road project in Texas might mean easier transport of gasoline and fuel oil from Texas to Florida,especially after a hurricane where water based terminals for barges and ships have been destroyed.

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

John Pignatelli JR. posted:

I was under the impression all of the projects needed above was going to be part of the country's infrastructure bill. But they need to take care of that wall thing first.

There seems to be a big disconnect between what were seen as urgent infrastructure needs and bills in congress.

What is urgent is keeping what we already have in good repair.  Bridge needs alone are in the billions and breaking bridges kill people.

New projects should come later.

It reminds me of my travels in several developing countries which had received huge world bank loans to buy new cars and locomotive.  A large percentage of them were out of services because to loans for buying didn't include spare parts and there was no money for future maintenance.  That is what is now happening with our existing transportation network - both rail and road - falling apart while congress debates what new things to build.

mlaughlinnyc posted:
John Pignatelli JR. posted:

I was under the impression all of the projects needed above was going to be part of the country's infrastructure bill. But they need to take care of that wall thing first.

There seems to be a big disconnect between what were seen as urgent infrastructure needs and bills in congress.

What is urgent is keeping what we already have in good repair.  Bridge needs alone are in the billions and breaking bridges kill people.

New projects should come later.

It reminds me of my travels in several developing countries which had received huge world bank loans to buy new cars and locomotive.  A large percentage of them were out of services because to loans for buying didn't include spare parts and there was no money for future maintenance.  That is what is now happening with our existing transportation network - both rail and road - falling apart while congress debates what new things to build.

There is a lot of truth to that, we have highways to nowhere built because of political pressure (there was a feeder highway built through a mountain full of toxic metal that  made building the road a nightmare) that basically to this day has no traffic on it, for example, and they expand existing roads (hoping to alleviate traffic) while the existing road is a mess....

However, there are times when building new infrastructure paves the way to fix the old. For example, with the hudson rail tunnels, the existing tunnels are 110 years old and are crumbling from age and the lasting effects of Sandy.New Tunnels would 1)allow rehabbing the existing tunnels on weekends and nights without impacting Amtrak and NJ transit traffic and 2)end up with expanded capacity, and also flexibility, in case a tube is out of service. In NYC they are trying to finish the water tunnel #3 (supposedly next year), that will allow them to finally shut down and inspect and repair the original water tunnels, built in 1917, and in the end will leave NYC with a much more safe and repairable water system.  Personally I just wish infrastructure wasn't a zero sum game but everyone would realize its importance, that a highway bridge rehab in Georgia for a critical bridge is as important as better rail service or water service or whatever. 

 

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Actually, new tunnels under the Hudson River should permit complete shutdown of the existing tubes for rebuilding without reducing service.  Upon completion, with four tracks under the river, you would see substantially improved service, including direct NYC service on all the diesel lines.

I'm inclined to think that having many diesels idling in Penn Station would create too many fumes. Right now, there are few (Hudson River line heading north).

I recall many years ago, when diners used charcoal, that the concourse smelled of burning charcoal.

I agree on the diesels - I formerly worked in a building directly above the tracks (450 West 33rd). There were times that the building engineers had to close the vents because of the odor, though I can't say for sure if it was idling locomotives, or some work going on at track level.

The locomotives that run on the Empire connection are on electric power leaving Penn until they reach the ventilated tunnel, when they switch to diesel (maybe at CP Empire). And the reverse heading to Penn.

David

EAB posted:

Actually, new tunnels under the Hudson River should permit complete shutdown of the existing tubes for rebuilding without reducing service.  Upon completion, with four tracks under the river, you would see substantially improved service, including direct NYC service on all the diesel lines.

I don't think the two new tunnels will allow closing the other two.  My recollection of the plan is that they are deep tunnels that will go into a new station below the north side of Penn Station.   They would not be accessible to the existing Penn Station tracks.

I don't believe the new station plan has much space for storage.  Many NJT rush hour trains would  have to use the old station to get to the daytime layover tracks in Sunnyside Yard.

Wehn the new station opens, they could run many of the currently scheduled trains into it,, reducing traffic in the old tunnels and allowing much longer down time on teh old tunnels.  After that is done, then the total number of tains could be increased.

That sounds like the original ARC proposal - to build a new station underneath Macy's.  That proposal has been dead for many years.  My understanding of the current plan is that they would expand Penn Station to the south with additional tracks that would give most or all of the station access to and from both sets of tubes.

Re:  Diesel line service into Pennsylvania Station:  this would use the dual mode engines that have been (until recently) providing direct service from Raritan into NYC.  One would assume NJ transit would order many more to provide the additional direct service.  These engines operate on both diesel and electric power.

EAB posted:

That sounds like the original ARC proposal - to build a new station underneath Macy's.  That proposal has been dead for many years.  My understanding of the current plan is that they would expand Penn Station to the south with additional tracks that would give most or all of the station access to and from both sets of tubes.

It seems to me that any new tunnels would have to provide direct access to existing tracks in Penn Station so that trains could continue into the East River Tunnels and onto the New York Connecting Railroad (Hellgate Bridge) and the Northeast Corridor into New England and Boston.

MELGAR

I'll see if I can find the document with that plan.

Looking at it from a civil engineering perspective, I think that connecting deep tunnels to the existing station tracks would be an engineer's nightmare.  Given that the new station is going to be beneath the level of the existing station, there would have to be a switch way out under the river and a parallel tunnel just to go up that addition 20-30 feet or more.  You're talking about at least a third of a mile for that change in elevation, which means six tracks under the river at the west shoreline of Manhattan.

I don't think the new tracks could be beneath the level of the existing station. I suspect that new Hudson River tunnels would be alongside the existing ones. If that were not the case, how would trains continue under the East River and into New England? I have not heard that additional tunnels would also be built under the East River. New tunnels under the Hudson River would have to join the existing tracks so that trains could proceed northbound beyond New York Penn. Enough discussion for me on this.

MELGAR

From everythingI;ve read, there will not be a new station beneath the existing one - they're supposed to be adding tracks to the south of the existing tracks.  Why are the new tunnels supposed to be deeper?  I believe that was part of the now-defunct ARC proposal.

The trench to the left of the LIRR storage tracks in the pic is supposed to be the approach to Penn for the new tunnels, if and when they get built. This pic was in April 2014. I believe the new tracks at Penn are supposed to be south of 31st Street. Not on a lower level.

David

hudsonyards

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I was debating yesterday as far as chiming in, but thought this topic might disappear because of "politics" being involved. However, you can't weed out politics when politics are in fact involved in these projects. 

As a railfan, I would love to see new tunnels and other projects.

As a taxpayer who lives in the New York Metropolitan area, I cringe every time I hear of some politician's great new plan.

One great example is the $4 Billion station at Ground Zero/Freedom Tower called the Oculus. Yes, $4 Billion. Personally, I think it looks beautiful, but $4 Billion is a lot of pizza! 

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/1...ld-trade-center.html

This just in...On a related note... https://www.bizjournals.com/ne...idents-to-other.html 

Tom 

 

NKP Muncie posted:

The trench to the left of the LIRR storage tracks in the pic is supposed to be the approach to Penn for the new tunnels, if and when they get built. This pic was in April 2014. I believe the new tracks at Penn are supposed to be south of 31st Street. Not on a lower level.

David

hudsonyards

It seems that the plan has changed a lot since the one that I saw some years ago, don't remember when.

Here's a good link for more detail  -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_Program_(Northeast_Corridor), -

-  - also  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_River_Tunnels

For a track map showing the new station area and the tunnels - 

http://secondavenuesagas.com/tag/gateway-tunnel/.    This shows the whole layout between 12th and 7th avenues frome about 35th st to 30th st.

I don't disagree regarding the Fulton Street project (which was largely driven by Sheldon Silver who controlled the NY State Assembly at the time).  However, there is no question that the new Hudson River tunnels are critically needed, not only to allow the existing ones to be rebuilt, but to allow for expansion of service that will bring billions of dollars in benefits to the region over the ensuing years.  The same can be said for ESA (LIRR into GCT) whose financial benefits over the long run will far outweigh the $10B or so cost overrun or whatever you want to call it.  (And that will in turn allow Metro North to run New Haven division trains into Penna. Station with the new stations in The Bronx, as well as Hudson Division trains.)  The question of politics and money will always be there but that needs to be solved independent of moving ahead on investing for the region's future.  (And Fulton Street could have been done to a smaller scale, no doubt.)  I wonder if there were complaints 100 years ago about how much taxpayer money NYC was spending on building the IND subway.  I'm sure there was some degree of corruption in those contracts.  But the benefits were enormous.

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