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Passenger Trains > Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure


Date: 11/26/07 10:54
Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: PaxtonCabin

According to Amtrak, in May 2008, all bets are off for NEC through passengers between New Haven, CT and Boston, MA.

Unless CT Gov. Rell comes through with Shore Line East, there won't be any service to New London and certainly no "bus bridge" around the Thames River Bridge during a planned four day closing to replace the lift span.

Planned.

Four Days.

Your tax dollars at work.

Last TO discussion: http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,1525465

Current New London Day Article: http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=e53b0366-bc83-4ce9-b6cc-a0b520daee8e

******

Amtrak trains from New Haven will make their normal runs to Springfield, Mass., to the north, and Rhode Island commuter trains will still operate from Boston to Kingston, R.I., said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole, but there will be no Amtrak trains along the Boston-New London-New Haven route during the four-day period.

Though Union Station in New London is south of the bridge, Amtrak trains cannot go from New Haven to New London, then return to New Haven during the outage, said Cole, responding to questions via e-mail, because that would require an engine on each end of the train to reverse direction, which is not feasible.

Thirty-six trains pass through New London each day, each train with hundreds of passengers. However, Amtrak has said it does not plan to shuttle passengers around the bridge construction due to the sheer number of passengers involved.

******

Unbelievable but read the whole article. There are some good heads working on the issues.

So how did the New Haven or anyone else fair under similar circumstances?

It will be very interesting indeed.

-Richard
HG Tower



Date: 11/26/07 11:27
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: rresor

Well, on one level I do understand. A couple of decades ago, I was responsible for (among other things) planning and scheduling a track rehab program on the New York subway system. We didn't use buses in substitution because we simply had too many riders. However, we also tried to the maximum extent possible to maintain service. If we really *had* to close a line for a weekend (for replacing a double crossover on a two-track line, for example) we would spend several weeks making riders aware of alternate routes.

In this case, Amtrak really doesn't have any alternative to total closure of the line. There is no alternate route that could reasonably be used (the "inland route" via Springfield would require diesels that Amtrak probably doesn't have, as well as a large pool of qualified engineers). I don't know the area well enough to know how hard it would be to arrange a bus bridge, but I'd think somebody would want to try to arrange something.



Date: 11/26/07 13:51
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: DavidP

A curious decision...I have no doubt that Amtrak could provide alternate service if they wanted to.

The number of buses required is related to the length of the bus bridge. If trains operated to New London and Mystic stations - the closest facilities with passengers platforms - bus transit time would be no more than 20 minutes for the ten mile gap. With loading and unloading times, a single group of buses ought to be able to make a round trip every 90 minutes or so. A fleet of ten to twelve buses could handle the capacity of a standard regional train consist.

Would it be unreasonable for Amtrak to issue a special timetable for the four day period offering basic service on ninety minute headways? Yes, turning is a logistical problem as described in the original post, but there are simple enough ways to handle it, such as using the Acela sets displaced by the service interruption. Even if Amfleet is used locomotives aren't required on each end of every train. As an example, a normal eastbound consist could operate to New London station. A second locomotive, waiting west of the station on the other track passes through the crossovers, connects to the rear of the consist, and the first locomotive is cut off the east end. Once the train departs westbound behind the second locomotive, the first one moves west of the station through the crossovers and is ready to power the next westbound train. A similar process could be employed at Mystic.

There's something unsettling about a company that claims to provide a vital transportation service simply closing shop for a few days. Sure, the world won't end, and travelers will take to the skies, buses, or their cars, but its hardly a good PR move for Amtrak.

Dave



Date: 11/26/07 14:45
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: tmurray

The amount of work and cost involved would seemingly be rather prohibitive. It's a serious pain in the (you know) for anyone traveling between BOS and NYP. If an Amfleet I coach holds 80 people, a fleet of twelve coach buses would be needed to transport a six car trainload of people off one train with baggage, onto a bus, then onto another train... not fun. Once or twice in a day, maybe, but with the frequency or trains on the shoreline, it would be a nightmare. After all, this is only for four days, two of which are probably over a weekend.

I do seem to remember when the electrification project was going on, service was suspended for a day here or a day there for the entire shoreline. As a stopgap, they sent two trains through here (the inland route via Hartford and Springfield) non stop from New Haven to Back Bay and South Station. For those familiar with it, it's not a short trip. Add that to CSX dispatching west of Springfield and you've got another potential Pandora's box. Running a train or two that way might be a good PR measure to get people to and from Boston, but it eliminates the remainder of the route.

Metro-North built a temporary bridge in Bridgeport, but that was for a project that took about a year (or more?) to complete. We shall see, I suppose.

-Tom



DavidP Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A curious decision...I have no doubt that Amtrak
> could provide alternate service if they wanted
> to.
>
> The number of buses required is related to the
> length of the bus bridge. If trains operated to
> New London and Mystic stations - the closest
> facilities with passengers platforms - bus transit
> time would be no more than 20 minutes for the ten
> mile gap. With loading and unloading times, a
> single group of buses ought to be able to make a
> round trip every 90 minutes or so. A fleet of ten
> to twelve buses could handle the capacity of a
> standard regional train consist.
>
> Would it be unreasonable for Amtrak to issue a
> special timetable for the four day period offering
> basic service on ninety minute headways? Yes,
> turning is a logistical problem as described in
> the original post, but there are simple enough
> ways to handle it, such as using the Acela sets
> displaced by the service interruption. Even if
> Amfleet is used locomotives aren't required on
> each end of every train. As an example, a normal
> eastbound consist could operate to New London
> station. A second locomotive, waiting west of the
> station on the other track passes through the
> crossovers, connects to the rear of the consist,
> and the first locomotive is cut off the east end.
> Once the train departs westbound behind the second
> locomotive, the first one moves west of the
> station through the crossovers and is ready to
> power the next westbound train. A similar process
> could be employed at Mystic.
>
> There's something unsettling about a company that
> claims to provide a vital transportation service
> simply closing shop for a few days. Sure, the
> world won't end, and travelers will take to the
> skies, buses, or their cars, but its hardly a good
> PR move for Amtrak.
>
> Dave



Date: 11/26/07 17:20
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: Ray_Murphy

HG-Tower Wrote:
> So how did the New Haven or anyone else fair under
> similar circumstances?

Before its final years, the New Haven had sufficient redundancy in its network that an outage on a section of the Shoreline could be bypassed. I once got some rare milage, Providence-Plainfield-New London because of a derailment at Westerly. The branch lines were generally unsignalled and single tracked, and you would see New Haven officials with their automobiles at strategic places handing out written orders. You would also see kids at grade crossings watching the action - the New Haven's trains were easily twice as long as ones you find today, and looked very sharp, a real treat for an otherwise local freight-only rural branch.

Ray



Date: 11/26/07 18:55
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: DavidP

Ray_Murphy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> HG-Tower Wrote:
> > So how did the New Haven or anyone else fair
> under
> > similar circumstances?
>
> Before its final years, the New Haven had
> sufficient redundancy in its network that an
> outage on a section of the Shoreline could be
> bypassed. I once got some rare milage,
> Providence-Plainfield-New London because of a
> derailment at Westerly. The branch lines were
> generally unsignalled and single tracked, and you
> would see New Haven officials with their
> automobiles at strategic places handing out
> written orders. You would also see kids at grade
> crossings watching the action - the New Haven's
> trains were easily twice as long as ones you find
> today, and looked very sharp, a real treat for an
> otherwise local freight-only rural branch.
>
> Ray

Once when the Norwalk River Bridge was knocked out of alignment by a barge in 1973 or 74 the PC detoured some Amtrak runs up the Danbury Branch and back down the Maybrook line. The TurboTrain was one of the detours, but even more interesting were the conventional trains which kept their GG1s tucked in behind back-to-back E8s between New Haven and South Norwalk. I'm sure those long GG1 trucks screeched at being pulled through the curve at Danbury station. That was when railroads (and Amtrak) still had a "can do" attitude about dealing with adversity - today everything from weather to track work to congestion is a reason to cancel passenger trains.

Dave



Date: 11/26/07 18:57
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: TheOssman

Neither the Inland Route on CSX nor the New Haven line have the capacity to handle more than at best 2 trips in each direction, never mind finding crews qualified Springfield-Worcester-Boston. They could extend the lengths on New Haven-Springfield, but no crews east of it. I would say they could run an extra-long Boston section of the Lake Shore both ways (only four cars now) and pick up and drop cars at Springfield to go down on the next shuttle, but that would only be two trips, and would take a whole lot longer than flying certainly. Scary to think they'll have to do this again with all the other bridges. Too bad the feds can't step in and make something of an express route a little further from the coast, not just for this but to speed up service.



Date: 11/26/07 21:06
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: PaxtonCabin

I'm open to comments before I send this.

To Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole (referring to your statement published in the New London Day on November 26th, 2008):

"Though Union Station in New London is south of the bridge, Amtrak trains cannot go from New Haven to New London, then return to New Haven during the outage, said Cole, responding to questions via e-mail, because that would require an engine on each end of the train to reverse direction, which is not feasible."

Dear Sir,

1. Acela trainsets have locomotives at both ends.
2. The Springfield Line trains out of New Haven operate bidirectionally with Cab Cars.

My two logistic cents:

On the south (west) end -
1. Keep all the Acelas south of the gap and turn at New Haven.
2. Express bus all Acela passengers between New Haven and Boston.
3. Keep all the Regionals south of the gap and turn at New Haven.
4. Take up the offer from CDOT to use Shore Line East equipment from New Haven to New London.
5. Amtrak Regional passengers for Old Saybrook, New London and points north of the gap change trains at New Haven.

On the north (east) end -
1. Place Regional equipment with Cab Cars on the north end of the gap and run these trains to Groton terminating at the wye at MP 124.4 (P&W Norwich Branch). The wye probably can't be used since the west switch is right on the end of the Thames River Bridge.
2. Ask MBCR if they will run extra trains into Providence or Kingston.

At Groton MP 124.4 -
1. Install a temporary low level platform at Groton with lighting and a portable wheelchair lift.
2. Bus Regional passengers between New London Station MP122.7 and Groton "transfer" MP124.4. There is sufficient space on the track 2 side to turn buses. Interstate 95 access is within a mile of each station though the northbound trek is a bit shorter than southbound.

One issue (so far): While there is sufficient space on the track 2 side to turn buses, there is a short and stiff climb to Bridge Street. A sharp street level change has to be flattened as well.

I realize there are other scenarios but I believe this one will use the least number of personnel while getting the passengers on their way without an unreasonable delay.

Thank you for reading and considering this.

Have a Safe and Great Day,

-signed-

-Richard
HG Tower



Date: 11/26/07 22:02
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: nm2320

HG Tower-

Sounds like a great plan.

Earlier comment about 73-74 Norwalk detour shows same resourceful thinking.

The comment about cost does seem to hit home, though. I think the cost is substantial, in preparing for the detour and executing it. It only adds to the annual operating deficit. Having experienced bus bridges, they are a pain and certainly lengthen the trip. I am sure the passengers get upset too, and just get a negative opinion of Amtrak, in spite of the improvement by replacing bridge.

I am sure that when this plan to replace the bridge was studied was option was to build a replacement bridge alongside existing and then remove the existing. Cost and/or other considerations/constraints, caused it to be discarded.

I think the cost argument for a four day disruption won out over all the plans to serve customers.



Date: 11/27/07 00:06
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: retengr

I think it would be foolish to try to put any sort of a temporary facility at Groton but they
already have a facility at Mystic and another at Westerly both of which are a reasonable distance
from New London.
Solution in my opinion, use CDOT equipment in a push/pull fashion between New Haven and New London
passenger station. Use Amtrak equipment with an engine on each end, could be diesel or electric
and run between Boston and either Westerly or Mystic. Westerly might be a better bet with
crossovers just east of the station anyway and a good station facility as well. MBTA equipment
could be used if it was available but it would be slower because I believe it is restricted to 80
MPH over the territory.
If there is a will to do it, there is a way to do it.
So far as what the New Haven Railroad would have done, they had alternative routes via Willimantic
from both New Haven and Hartford for a long time, could go east on one line and west on the other,
from Willimantic to Plainfield they had one line and from Plainfield east they again had two lines
one via Putnam and Blackstone to Boston and the other to Providence.
I agree with the others, it is simply not practical today to try to run any kind of through train
service under the conditions. The date is still in the future and perhaps they will decide that
it is better to operate some kind of service than no service at all.
s



Date: 11/27/07 05:37
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: DavidP

nm2320 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> I think the cost argument for a four day
> disruption won out over all the plans to serve
> customers.


I wonder what the four day revenue loss is? True, a bus bridge will scare away some passengers, particularly from Acela services, but presumably those still travelling will purchase tickets.

The newspaper article cited has a rather wishy-washy quote from Ross Capon - I'm disappointed that NARP isn't more vocal on this issue. If advocates want rail to be taken seriously as an indespensible part of the nations transport infrastructure they need to prevail on Amtrak to begin acting that way.

Dave



Date: 11/27/07 10:08
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: mundo

Ross Capon of NARP is fighting the issue.

Remember, media does not always publish what is said by any one.



Date: 11/27/07 11:14
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: tmurray

Richard,

You're proposing passengers trying to use through service change modes and trains four times in a relatively short distance. That alone isn't practical (putting aside the great monetary expense). There's also not enough Amtrak diesel power left in New Haven or Boston to accommodate such a set of moves.

Since CDOT has offered to help between New Haven and New London, great. Let them. Outside of that, there won't be that huge a revenue loss for four days of service on one segment of the corridor. The loss would be greater if the bridge had collapsed from the sheer lack of maintenance. This isn't the first time a portion of the corridor has been without service, and it most likely won't be the last.

On a semi-related topic, with NAN being replaced, is CONN next on the list?

-Tom



Date: 11/27/07 14:15
Re: Amtrak: No bus bridge during Thames River closure
Author: PaxtonCabin

Tom,

Yes, my plan needs simplification and tweaking which is why I put it out for TO members to comment on. Thank You one and all, now and in advance.

Jim RePass was the inspiration because he's a friend and has been right on a great many things.

“It's a tremendously busy corridor, but I would hope that a logistical solution could be found,” said James RePass, president of the National Corridors Initiative, “especially if things take longer than expected, which seems to be the rule rather than the exception.”

So, we HOPE it is only four days.

You're right that a trip broken up into Train to Train to Bus to Train is an excruciating excursion. And stopping the Acela at New Haven doesn't take full advantage of its bidirectional capabilities.

Funny, I just got an e-mail offering 1000 bonus points if I sign up for Amtrak Guest Rewards. Too bad I'm already a member.

Back to the drawing board!

-Richard
HG Tower



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