Gateway and Portal
This was a joint presentation from NJTransit and Amtrak. First presentation was by Drew Galloway of Amtrak:
* Portal Bridge and Hudson River Tunnels have the highest mainline train density in the Western Hemisphere.
* Train miles in the Newark - New York segment have doubled since 1976 when Amtrak took over operations.
* Growth over next 40 years is projected to be between 45% and 70% depending on what baseline and growth scenario is used.
* The Sawtooth Bridge where the High Line crosses the M&E near Hudson Tower carries over 400 trains per day and is 105 years old is being held together at present by toothpicks and bailing wire. He showed pictures of patched up fatigue cracks. This bridge needs to be replaced and will be a major project involving shoe-flies during reconstruction. Proposal is to replace with 4 track bridge.
* $15 million this year is being used for completing final design of Portal North Bridge - a 50 feet high fixed span for two tracks consisting of three main linked arch spans and approach viaducts. Design will be completed by the end of the year and it will be ready to be constructed. There is a $60million TIGER request for next year to begin construction. Portal North Plans leaves the current Portal Bridge in place pending the construction of Portal South.
* Once Gateway gets going it will require funding at the level of about $3 billion per year for 4 or so years.
* So far no technical flaws or regulatory showstoppers have been found in Gateway Plans.
* There is an issue about the ability to build east from the Block 780 station. If the station is at the same level as the current station then it is not possible to dive down fast enough to get under the 6th Ave IND Express tracks. Possible configuration of a two level station where the upper level has connectivity with the present station but cannot be extended eastwards, and a lower level that does not have connectivity with the current station but can be built out eastwards is being considered. There are a dozen or so alternative configurations being studied and no final determination has been made yet.
* Tier 1 PEIS (Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement) for all of NEC is in progress and is expected to be completed in 3 to 3.5 years.
Next speaker was Tom Schulze of NJ Transit:
* Trans Hudson all modes ridership growing again.
* Trans Hudson 2/3rd of the ridership is by bus, 1/3rd by train.
* We have enough capacity to handle expected growth for the next 10 or so years, but beyond that we will need additional capacity to be in place.
* Acknowledged that realistically something like 7 to Secaucus will probably be necessary in addition to tunnels to Penn Station for the long haul.
* NJT is redoing forecasts with NYMTC and NJTPA to take into account the downturn to make sure that too much capacity is not being projected based on out of date projections and baselines.
* Bus and Ferry are integral part of the mix.
* FTA grant of $4.5 million is being used to build a bus terminal at Secaucus Jct. to offload some buses from PABT. The GWB Bus Terminal is being revived by PANYNJ to enable diversion of some buses from PABT to relieve congestion at PABT and Lincoln Tunnel. The XBL in the morning carries 700 buses per hour. No XBL in the afternoon due to logistical reasons.
* Considering terminating more trains at Newark recognizing the fact that Newark has significant O/D connecting to PATH and local buses.This to relieve congestion at NYP while reducing overcrowding west of Newark.
* Gateway is projected to be in the 2025 timeframe in current capacity planning.
$450 million NEC HSR
This was another joint session between Amtrak and NJT. The lead presenter was Al Fazio of Amtrak, who used to work for the RiverLine during its construction. Now he is Chief Engineer of NEC HSR. NJT was represented by Steve Santoro who is in charge of Capital Programs and Planning at NJT. He incidentally was also the Chief Guest at the NJ-ARP Patron's Lunch on Saturday, where we got to pick his brain some more. He discussed some stuff that he specifically asked not to publicize at present, so I will stay clear of those.
* Brief discussion about Acela replacement, Tier 3 standards and modifications thereof to allow mixed operation of Tier 3 and Tier 2 at speeds higher than 125mph under specific high speed PTC system like ACSES. Apparently Amtrak has entered into such a discussion with FRA and Volpe Center with Al and his staff leading. The concept of Short Interval Temporal Separation (SITS) developed on the RiverLINE is being used as one of the foundational pieces in this work.
* NJT will be re-certifying the MLVs at 125mph, as will MARC for operation on the NEC. The Outer Zone Expresses of NJT will use the center track at this speed upto County (Jersey Avenue) and then move over to the outer tracks clearing the way for 160mph Amtrak trains on the center tracks. This will effectively increase the capacity of the center tracks since NJT expresses will require less time on them than at present.
* The outer tracks between County and Ham (Trenton) will be upped to 125mph.
* The infrastructure is being designed to meet the proposed operations plan.
* A new turning loop including a flyover across the NEC will be constructed just west of Adams using the Delco Lead from jersey Avenue Yard to get to it westbound. It will join track 1 just west of Adams. Room will be left for future North Brunswick station at the old J&J site. This will eliminate all conflicting crossovers at County interlocking for the mid-zone trains O/D at Jersey Avenue. Jersey Avenue will get a full fledged high platform station on the main line. This is an NJTransit Capital Project. Amtrak is just putting the connection points in place.
* The old PRR signaling system with ACSES overlay will be completely replaced by a new integrated ACSES system while keeping all interfaces to trains unchanged. Block lengths will be variable and will be determined by operational needs typically with shorter block lengths approaching interlocking while longer block lengths are used away from interlockings. All trackside signals will be removed and this segment will become purely cab signal based Rule 562 territory. Additional blocks will be included on the outer tracks to improve following train performance.
* Catenary will be completely replaced by Constant Tension Catenary using completely new fixtures. Some of the existing poles may be reused. The final design is yet to be completed.
* Metuchen Converter gets 80MW boost to its capacity. Two new substations will be built at Hamilton and an YTBD location. In general the power system for the segment will be completely revamped.
* Midway Interlocking will be entirely rebuilt with #20 higher speed moving frog crossovers. Midway will also cease to be the point where outer zone NJT expresses cross over from/to inner tracks to/from outer tracks. For that two purpose built 80mph crossovers (#32.7) will be put in at new interlockings at Adams and Delco.
* Concrete ties will be renewed on 1 and 4. Entire ROW will be excavated and subgrade renewed at Midway. Track 2 and 3 centers will be spread wherever feasible. Curves 275 and 276 will be realigned to allow higher speed, i.e. better helical curve alignment.
* Al Fazio specifically said that this project is viewed as a "Model Home" Project with the intention of developing standards that will be deployed in a cooky cutter fashion on other segments of the NEC. First targeted add on segments are - New Brunswick to Metuchen and Trenton to Holmesburg. Other segments to follow include Ragan to Prince between Wilmington and Perryville. Additional work needs to be done for anything west of Perryville because freight traffic is much much heavier between Perry and Bayview. Also the procedures, protocols and standards developed here will help raise the speeds in New England from 150 to 160mph.
* NJT will be ordering new higher speed EMUs for use on stopping trains on the NEC.
* Time saving on Trenton Express trains of NJT will be much much more than for an Acela as a result of all this work and upgrades of infrastructure and equipment. An Acela will save somewhere between 2 and 2.5 minutes. NJT saving will be somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, and even more if they get rid of some of the gratuitous padding. And on the whole we will have a more fluid free flowing system in place in 2017.
* The I Ladder to be put in place at Penn A interlocking will at present allow Empire Corridor trains to use any of the higher numbered platforms upto 19 if necessary. In the future it will provide connectivity from the Gateway tunnel leads to the higher number tracks.
I have the new track diagrams with me on paper.
Edited by jis, 15 April 2012 - 11:55 AM.