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Old 07-17-2014, 09:42 PM   #9
F-Line to Dudley
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4,590
Re: Berkshire Rail Service Restoration

Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
So it sounds like the best route would be shaped like a crozier (shepherd's hook) NYP-ALB-Pittsfield-(turn south)-Berkshires?

If the Berkshires can never do any better than "leisurely" from NYC, no matter the routing, and CT won't ever help, it sounds like the best solution avoids CT and Grand Central all together.
Yeah. And also consider that should Metro North be up for another Harlem Line de-landbanking as follow-up to the 2001 Wassaic restoration, they can legally by their agency charter go as far as the Dutchess County border in Millerton. Millerton station is a 12-mile drive down US 44 from North Caanan station on the Housatonic, the northernmost CT stop.

Harlem Line schedule:

Right now it's about 1:55 from Wassaic to Grand Central, hourly peak service and 2 hours off-peak (pretty much the league-average frequency if that were an MBTA CR line). Not bad at all for a stop 82 miles from Grand Central. The last Penn Central commuter rail schedule on the Upper Harlem from 1972 before service was abandoned past Dover Plains was 2-1/2 hours Millerton-GCT, but took 15 minutes longer to get to Wassaic from GCT because the track was much crappier back then. So, figure 2:15 if they bring it back +2 stops to Millerton.

Don't hold your breath on that happening soon. Penn Station access is the be-all/end-all of Metro North expansion dreams occupying the MTA's brainspace right now, and a Poughkeepsie-Rhinecliff extension to the Hudson Line trumps Millerton by wide margin. But it's realistic to happen sometime because the Wassaic extension won't satiate exploding Dutchess County demand forever.

Why would CTDOT want anything to do with commuter service on the Housatonic north of New Milford when a trip from North Canaan takes 3-1/2 hours direct on the Housatonic...or takes a 15-minute drive/bus down Route 44 to Millerton and 2.5 hours on a train that runs every hour. 45 minutes faster and they get double or more the trains to schedule around than they ever would going into cramped Danbury. And mind you, North Canaan is the MA border town. Go a dozen miles down Route 7 and they are already driving to Wassaic and other existing Harlem Line stations for a faster trip than the Housy would ever net them at the "local" stop. Commuters in Kent probably aren't even paying attention to this story. They're driving to Dover Plains every day to catch the train and occasionally watching the New Milford extension feasibility study with interest. They don't give a crap about this proposal.

New Milford is the dividing line where Route 7 gets too congested, Danbury station becomes closer than Pawling or Valley-Wingdale on the Harlem, and local relief is badly needed. That's why CTDOT's got the official study page up: They have nothing whatsoever to gain going north. And that's why Malloy won't return Patrick's phone calls and every CTDOT spokesflak gives the neutral-most answer like "Yeah, sure, it" whenever some town alderman gets whipped into a froth about how awesome it would be to have an Acela-on-the-Housy. Totally redundant, totally counterproductive for CT. And they'll be paying for more of it than MA will.

This isn't South Coast Rail where the myth-making and political favors can carry it. It's D.O.A. on Inauguration Day without Patrick's bizarre fixation pushing it any longer. If Berkshire County and Rep. Neal are smart, they'll seize on the momentum and immediately pivot to the Empire +1 idea to keep it on anyone's radar with realism, and start recasting the Housatonic in terms of growing Berkshire Scenic as an added attraction you ride once you step off in Pittsfield after a quick trip on well-worn Amtrak trackage.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 07-17-2014 at 09:58 PM.
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