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Old 07-17-2017, 06:04 PM   #21
Arlington
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Re: Berkshire Rail Service Restoration

As noted in the General Infrastructure thread, rail service to Pittsfield (likely an extension of NY/Amtrak service at Albany) is back in the news.

Apparently the idea of a CapeFlyer style *seasonal* service is still on

http://wnpr.org/post/state-senator-n...d-state-budget
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Old 11-03-2018, 01:26 PM   #22
Arlington
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Re: Berkshire Rail Service Restoration

They've apparently gotten funding for a "Summer 2020" test of a Cape Flyer clone, proposed as the Berkshire Flyer.

As with the Cape Flyer, the genius of these operations is that they use equipment at the ends/margins of their "weekday commuter" service day, squeezing extra revenue-hours out of equipment that is both "free" in the schedule sense and therefore "nearly free" in the economic sense.

Before later switching to a dedicated trainset operating semi-express, The Cape Flyer started as a pure extension of an MBTA train that would have just gone to the yards at its "outer" end, and the Berkshire Flyer cloned this concept for its Option 1A in the Study such that it doesn't actually require new equipment, so much as it just runs Albany trains for a few extra hours:
Quote:
2.2.1 Option 1A- Empire Corridor Extension
The contemplated service would function as an extension of existing
Amtrak Empire Service between New York Penn Station and
Albany/Rensselaer using equipment that would be headed to storage at
the end of the day
to provide the trip to Pittsfield for the Berkshire
Flyer service. This service would use the existing tracks between
Pittsfield and New York Penn Station via Albany/ Rensselaer.

2.2.1.1 Operational Route Description
On Friday, northbound passengers would board train #255, departing
from New York Penn Station at approximately 2:20 PM; arriving at
Albany/Rensselaer at 4:50 PM. Passengers would then continue on to
Pittsfield aboard the same train, arriving at about 6:10 PM.
On Sunday, southbound passengers would board a train in Pittsfield at
approximately 2:45 PM for the trip to Albany/Rensselaer and then
would continue on to New York Penn Station as train #244 departing
Albany/Rensselaer at 4:10 PM and arriving at New York Penn Station
at 6:45 PM.

Train Layover
It is assumed that the contemplated service would be based out of Albany/Rensselaer and would
be operated by providing either deadhead or revenue trips between Pittsfield and
Albany/Rensselaer to position trains appropriately. It is assumed that the service would not
require any additional capital infrastructure in Albany/Rensselaer or Pittsfield for train layover or
crew accommodations.
2.2.1.4 Rolling Stock Assumptions
Because the service is an extension of existing Amtrak services during non-peak periods, it is
assumed that the service could be provided by Amtrak using the existing fleet.
It is understood
that modifications to train consists providing the service would require an additional locomotive
to operate along the segment between Albany/Rensselaer and Pittsfield to compensate for the
lack of train-turning capabilities in the Pittsfield area
(see Appendix B for a wye-track concept
that could be considered in the future to improve operations). If the service sells out on a regular
basis an additional coach could be added to the train set to accommodate the demand.
(bolding mine)

Option 1B proposed a "Long(er) Weekend" semi-express (stopping at Croton-Harmon, Hudson, Albany & Pit only) that left NYP at 12:30pm and got to Pittfield at 4:20pm (Fridays) and then a Sunday return at 5:40pm into Penn at 9:30pm. Equipment availability was said to be there, but it had several strikes against it:
1) NYSDOT would not support a new train that failed to make all stops
2) (In my view) the Friday Outbound was too early.

Option 2 contemplated a new connecting track and the use of CSX's Schodack Subdivision. But because this physically-shorter route would be slow (40mph) it only saved 4 minutes vs being able to go via ALB at 110mph.

So I think the pilot is going to be an Option 1A (I'm not sure why they don't propose a Sat-Sat r/t such as the Cape Flyer has)
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Old 11-04-2018, 04:28 PM   #23
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: Berkshire Rail Service Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Option 1B proposed a "Long(er) Weekend" semi-express (stopping at Croton-Harmon, Hudson, Albany & Pit only) that left NYP at 12:30pm and got to Pittfield at 4:20pm (Fridays) and then a Sunday return at 5:40pm into Penn at 9:30pm. Equipment availability was said to be there, but it had several strikes against it:
1) NYSDOT would not support a new train that failed to make all stops
2) (In my view) the Friday Outbound was too early.
The bottom of the 27th page of the PDF, which has page number ``19 of 51'' printed in the bottom right corner of the page number image, says the express would save 10 to 12 minutes by skipping stops. For a trip that takes about 4 hours, I think 10 to 12 minutes is a rounding error that isn't necessarily worth putting effort into. The top of that page shows a schedule departing New York Penn Station on Friday at 2:20 PM, arriving Pittsfield at 6:10 PM (perhaps that will have a Pittsfield departure around 6:30 PM arriving in Albany an hour later?), and Sunday's Pittsfield departure proposed for 2:45 PM, arriving at New York Penn Station 6:45 PM. (Perhaps the Albany departure to Pittsfield will be around 1:15 or 1:30 PM?)

The 35th page labeled ``27 of 51'' says this is expected to cost the state a bit less than a quarter million dollars for 20 weeks of service.

Quote:
Option 2 contemplated a new connecting track and the use of CSX's Schodack Subdivision. But because this physically-shorter route would be slow (40mph) it only saved 4 minutes vs being able to go via ALB at 110mph.
If you find the intersection of 9J and Knickerbocker Rd in Schodack Landing, NY on a map, immediately to the west is the north-south passenger track, and roughly half a mile east is the freight track. Option 2 assumed a connection to the slow freight track instead of the fast passenger track. It does look like a connection to the western track would have some potentially complicated interactions with some small houses, power lines (which probably could be moved higher) and the connector that turns a northbound train on the freight track west to go across the Hudson into Selkirk Yard.

If it were practical to build a new track headed due west from Chatham, NY, it would take less than 10 miles for it to reach the passenger track.

I assume in the long run, upgrading the freight track for better speeds might also be possible, although the cost may be difficult to justify.

Quote:
So I think the pilot is going to be an Option 1A (I'm not sure why they don't propose a Sat-Sat r/t such as the Cape Flyer has)
Presumably they're starting with the simplest, cheapest thing that might work?

The 33rd page (``25 of 51'') mentions the possibility of building a Chatham, NY platform. It makes lots of sense to start the service without that platform to get some data from actual experience on how popular the service is, but building that platform is likely to both reduce the operating subsidy, since it will increase ticket revenue with almost no increase in operating cost, and it also has potential to make New York be more supportive of the service, since a Chatham platform would mean that the Pittsfield branch would serve a station in New York state.

The 41st page (``33 of 51'') says they expect 2600 passengers over the 40 one way trips per year, which works out to an average of 65 passengers per trip.
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