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Old 07-30-2014, 03:40 PM   #19
F-Line to Dudley
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4,581
Re: Berkshire Rail Service Restoration

Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Aw, come on. Little bit of dynamite and you've got your wye, and a little bit of running parallel to the Thruway and you can solve any remaining grade problems.
1) Just try getting CSX to agree to that at the junction that handles all NYC, Long Island, CT, and MA freight traffic to/from its single largest yard. No f'n way do they put up with the disruption at a relatively vulnerable system linchpin when the passenger trains have other options on track Amtrak already owns (the B&A mainline between the Selkirk Branch where all the freights turn out and A-R station) or leases-to-own (the Hudson main). They're accommodating of passenger investment on the mainlines when the states show them the money and buy them a better freight RR for their troubles, but their for-profit flexibility has limits. And Selkirk Yard access is one of those limits that outslugs even the most generous state-sponsored passenger charity (especially for service as marginal as this one).

2) Just try EIS'ing and gaining community approval for a blast-a-thon in richie rich Castleton. You'll be starting service 12 years later at twice the cost than if you never bothered.

3) Remember how long we've been bitching about freight dispatching hampering speeds on the Worcester Line? This 'shortcut' is unexpandable single track under ironclad freight dispatching control. That's likely going to be 11 miles of forever 40 MPH speed limit, lower at the junction, with pauses for passing freights just like the interminable Palmer delays on the Vermonter today which Amtrak can't relocate away from fast enough. The Hudson is going to 110 MPH on its Amtrak-dispatched 15 miles to A-R, and the 10 miles of Amtrak ownership and dispatching on the B&A past the Selkirk Branch is a mostly curve-free 80 MPH default. Maybe pushable to 85-90 MPH if service levels merit. Twice the mileage, but at worst a wash on time with more reliable OTP because of all the freight dispatching it sidesteps.

This is textbook Transit OCD, mapmakers' perfectionism run amok, and "perfect is the enemy of good".

This service doesn't exist at all without the ridership and equipment anchor of Albany, so speculating about (much less favoring to point of insistence) the most map-attractive straight-line bypass like it's some sort of blocker ends up killing an already flimsy project dead. There's no Pittsfield-Chatham-Hudson-Rhinecliff-Poughkeepsie ridership to be had without an Albany anchoring the middle. There's no Amtrak equipment supply to be had without Albany Yard anchoring the middle. And there is no time-savings or OTP advantage to be had bypassing all the high-speed territory for a well-known freight chokepoint. Lighting more money on fire trying to force-fit something that looks more self-satisfying on a map doesn't buy a single advantage. It's blasting a shitload of rock and overpaying an uncooperative billion-dollar corporation to say you can.

Much like there's no rational point or discernible advantage to the Housatonic route except saying you can if money and raw might were no object.
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