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ESPA 2017 Notes


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#1 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:31 PM

New service: Canada Toronto GO will be expanded to just outside of Buffalo. (Just across the border.)

New station Buffalo, NY is in finding mode. Long meeting on U-Tube. If you have trouble falling asleep. Very early in the process.

Completion of the Empire Corridor Tier One Environmental Impact Statement. No action reported. Plan is due in September if not done the State will give the Feds back 4 millions. A report of a meeting in which NYSDOT yelled at CSXT, and CSXT got up and left.

Lobbyists Patricia Lynch Associates was just happy not having NY to cut the rail budget. NY state general had a 10% cut in most areas.

CAF more cars this month, a bunch of dinners. Don't hold your breath type of discussion.

Ramp up talk of the idea of rail service from Bingham NY via Scranton to NYP. One thinks Buffalo to Bingham to Albany would be good. But the talk is Bingham to Scranton then onto New York City. Very early chatter.

NARP is pushing talk to your congress critters staff in person or on the phone. Push Transportation to the staff.

Almost 50% of CSX Mow budget in rail and tie work is in New York. This might result in a train each way, getting cancelled again this year during the shorter construction period. Shorter than last years train off.

.

Edited by Just-Thinking-51, 04 March 2017 - 04:35 PM.


#2 Eric S

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:42 PM

GO Transit already runs seasonal service from Toronto to Niagara Falls, ON - does "new service" mean that GO Transit will be running year-round service to Niagara Falls, ON?



#3 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 05:56 PM

That would be my understanding. The speaker when on about a housing boom, and how the Amtrak new station in Niagra Falls, NY was make crossing easier and would increase the number of people using the train to NYC.

It should be noted the first full month of that station was January and the train clear customs in one hour, and two hours were allocated. "One hour sitting still was worse than 5 hours moving." Number of passengers crossing has heavy dropped, but the number of cars with Canada tags at the Buffalo area station is growing. So with the housing boom and the faster crossing due to the new station. Amtrak see a big increase in traffic.

Edited by Just-Thinking-51, 04 March 2017 - 05:57 PM.


#4 jis

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 10:12 AM

New York - Scranton - Binghamton is anything but early chatter. This has already been discussed for at least five to seven years. Glad to see renewed interest. NYSDOT did a study a while back in which the Lackawanna routing (via Lackawanna Cutoff, Scranton, Nicholson Viaduct) was selected and the Erie routing (via Port Jervis) was rejected due to its inherent inferior ROW making any semblance of higher speed operation ever quite impossible.

I recall being at the ESPA meeting at least seven years back where these results were presented and discussed. This was before NJT started working on the construction for restoring service on part of the Lackawanna Cutoff in NJ.

Frankly, while the Buffalo - Bingo - Albany seems interesting, there really isn't enough of a ridership there to sustain such without it depending almost exclusively on subsidy. And being even remotely competitive with driving times there will take a lot of work.

#5 Eric S

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:15 AM

Am I way off-base in thinking that a Buffalo - Binghamton - Scranton - New York route makes more sense than a Buffalo - Binghamton - Albany route?



#6 jis

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:20 AM

Am I way off-base in thinking that a Buffalo - Binghamton - Scranton - New York route makes more sense than a Buffalo - Binghamton - Albany route?

The Buffalo - Bingo portion will have to be sustained by Scranton - Bingo - Buffalo traffic, since no one in their right mind traveling from New York to Buffalo would take this route, unless they are on it just for the scenery.

 

Frankly, if we in the US had a healthy setup for running DMUs, I think Buffalo - Bingo - Albany could be sustained with a one or two car DMU, maybe two services a day. But the way trackage charges are computed and the way trains are handled in this country are so anti-passenger and primitive that it would probably not work.



#7 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:36 AM

Buffalo - Bingo - Albany was my personal thoughts. It was a Empire State meeting. My two cents as it follow the interstate highway from Albany to Bingo. If you had a DMU or engine haul train you would be add a big swap of area and towns to the passenger rail network here in NY. Yes it has big chunks of rural area, but a few cities too. Coverage even one train a day in each direction.

My thought is the amount of states involved to get a Bingo to NYC service. Would be a hair pulling task.

#8 Eric S

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:49 AM

 

Am I way off-base in thinking that a Buffalo - Binghamton - Scranton - New York route makes more sense than a Buffalo - Binghamton - Albany route?

The Buffalo - Bingo portion will have to be sustained by Scranton - Bingo - Buffalo traffic, since no one in their right mind traveling from New York to Buffalo would take this route, unless they are on it just for the scenery.

 

Frankly, if we in the US had a healthy setup for running DMUs, I think Buffalo - Bingo - Albany could be sustained with a one or two car DMU, maybe two services a day. But the way trackage charges are computed and the way trains are handled in this country are so anti-passenger and primitive that it would probably not work.

 

Yeah, definitely wasn't thinking of it as an endpoint-to-endpoint route (going after Buffalo - New York traffic), but rather midpoint-to-endpoint route - just as Buffalo - Albany traffic wouldn't travel via Binghamton instead of Syracuse either if there was a Buffalo - Binghamton - Albany route.

 

I was just wondering if there is more traffic from Binghamton, Corning, Elmira, etc to Buffalo and New York than Buffalo and Albany.


Edited by Eric S, 06 March 2017 - 10:49 AM.


#9 jis

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:21 AM

My suspicion is that Buffalo - Bingo - Scranton - Dover - New York would be more sustainable than say Buffalo - Bingo - Albany - New York. But I could be wrong. Apparently NYSDOT so far things so too.

 

Again, if we had the infrastructure to effectively operate low cost DMU service the whole picture does change a bit I think.



#10 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 04:16 PM

The general conversation was NYSDOT was pretty much a incompetent organization when it comes to railroads. So don't plan on them to do much. See the four million getting return to the Feds in October for failure to finish the "Empire Corridor Tier One Environmental Impact Statement"

The incompetence statement was used with "Look how Virginia is handling the host railroads. The freight railroads can and will play ball." So the statement was should be taken in how the NYSDOT is dealing with CSXT.

Also it seem the last Class One railroader experience person at the NYSDOT has retired. There is a few with some rail experience, just not a Class One Railroad.

DMU are available. http://www.nipponsha...ages/smart.html

#11 jis

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:03 PM

NYSDOT at its best of times had at most three people managing its interactions with Amtrak on the Empire Corridor.and its dealing regarding PRIIA 209 with FRA and Amtrak. NY State is really not set up to run a credible passenger system beyond what it has upstate. All their passenger rail ener4gy is consumed by overwhelming issues downstate. MTA is just one giant vacuum cleaner, and ESPA has no connection with it or clue about it at all. There are three or four advocacy groups jousting in that confusing pile of stuff downstate.

 

The decision about choosing the Scranton route was actually at one brilliant moment of competence out of NYSDOT as such things go. We have studied this issue at length at NJ-ARP since the Lackawanna Cutoff is part of that deal, and indeed that is the best route with shortest running time to Bingo from NY. I have my own analysis spreadsheet stashed somewhere in one of the boxes that remains to be unpacked from my move to Florida. but the differences among the three alternatives were stark.

 

Yeah, of course freight railroads will play ball. But for that you have to bring money to the table. In NY State all the money is completely consumed by downstate issues.

 

I have been a member of ESPA for over a dozen years and attended at least 8 or 9 of their annual meetings and several working meetings. One of their continuing themes has been that NYSDOT is incompetent. My question to them has been, so what is your plan to fix or mitigate that. And each time all that I heard back is crickets chirping and nothing else. So I have little confidence in ESPA actually being able to do anything substantive at this point about anything. Frankly I would be delighted if they can do simpler things like get food service back on Albany service and get another west of Albany train, and fixi the border processing situation for the Adirondack and the Maple Leaf. Really doing anything about Bingo or Southern Tier is well beyond their capability, though raising awareness about it is an useful exercise. And they also seem to be completely uninvolved and clueless about downstate rail issues of any sort whatsoever.

 

This BTW is not an unusual malady. It seems to affect most state ARPs and the national one too to some extent though things have improved a bit of late at the national level.



#12 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 06:41 PM

MTA is just one giant vacuum cleaner, and ESPA has no connection with it or clue about it at all. There are three or four advocacy groups jousting in that confusing pile of stuff downstate.

The down state folks are push a tunnel from the Hoboken Terminal to Penn Station up to Grand Central.
http://www.irum.org/

Of course the Metra-Hub Central Fare Zone. 15 miles radius from Penn Station is another item there pushing.

At least there was a presentation from one downstate group. At the end of the meeting, not quite part of it, and not on the program... ( Correction he was listed as the ESPA Manhattan Coordinator, and was on the program.)


Frankly I would be delighted if they can do simpler things like get food service back on Albany service and get another west of Albany train, and fix the border processing situation for the Adirondack and the Maple Leaf.


Amtrak gave NYSDOT a price for food service, but it ended there.

Maple Leaf with the new station at Nigara Falls, is cutting down the delays. It the best it can be. The train becomes a VIA train once it leaves the station.

Adirondack is waiting for the Canada to agree to the treaty. It's done on our side. Getting close on the Canada side, just not there.


And they also seem to be completely uninvolved and clueless about downstate rail issues of any sort whatsoever.

Not very clued in on UpState issues. Question was ask about the Tupper Lake lawsuit. Blank look. Saved by the a guy from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. (The judge is waiting for the state to reply. Adirondack Scenic Railroad 1200 pages vs State of New York 200 pages. Underlining issue the ROW is only for a railroad, and if the tracks are pulled the land go back to the original owners. [not all but most of the section is written that way])

Edited by Just-Thinking-51, 06 March 2017 - 07:33 PM.


#13 jis

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

That's not downstate folks. That is one or two downstate persons. IRUM consists of one person - George Haikalis who has a panache for coming up with impractical ideas and then giving it a veneer of broad support. This whole Hoboken - Penn Station - GCT is his hobby horse which almost no one and certainly not any credible advocacy group in NYC-NJ area supports. And yet ESPA thinks that is the main action downstate. That is how disconnected they are.

#14 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:18 PM

Not sure they think it the main action downstate, but only person who was there, and only person who talked at ESPA. Even talking is giving it too much credit. More like here a handout at the end. But he did get stage time with the microphone. Correction he was listed on the program as ESPA Manhattan Coordinator.

Thanks for the update on his "group" was thinking myself that his idea is a bit out there.

Fact check error.

Edited by Just-Thinking-51, 21 March 2017 - 08:39 PM.


#15 neroden

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 07:35 PM

Thanks for the update. I wasn't able to make it this year.
 

New service: Canada Toronto GO will be expanded to just outside of Buffalo. (Just across the border.)

New station Buffalo, NY is in finding mode. Long meeting on U-Tube. If you have trouble falling asleep. Very early in the process.

Completion of the Empire Corridor Tier One Environmental Impact Statement. No action reported. Plan is due in September if not done the State will give the Feds back 4 millions. A report of a meeting in which NYSDOT yelled at CSXT, and CSXT got up and left.

CSX, which has been *notoriously* mismanaged for *decades*, just had a mostly-hostile management takeover.

Even in Virginia, which has thrown wads of money at CSX, they've been uncooperative; NS has behaved way better.

CSX's attitude has been hostile. 50 foot separation! Concrete crash barriers! Utter nonsense. Offensive nonsense, in fact -- sufficiently nonsense that NYSDOT can quite rightly believe that CSX is not negotiating in good faith.

Now that new management is coming, it might be reasonable if NYS went over and said "Hunter, the CSX guys under the previous management have been really uncooperative with us. Can we have a fresh start here? We want to keep and expand your freight capacity, get the passenger trains on their own tracks, and we want to pay for it, but we can't have this nonsense about 50-foot separations and concrete barriers."
 

Ramp up talk of the idea of rail service from Bingham NY via Scranton to NYP. One thinks Buffalo to Bingham to Albany would be good. But the talk is Bingham to Scranton then onto New York City. Very early chatter.


I certainly hope we can make progress on Scranton-NY, and then on Binghamton-Scranton. NS really is cooperative most of the time.

If we extended past Binghamton, we'd want to extend along a line with actual population centers. The route from Binghamton to Albany is worthless and so is the route to Buffalo. The route west to Owego, Corning, Elmira is OK. The route straight north from Binghamton to Syracuse stops at Cortland (30 minutes from Ithaca) on the way, and Schumer has entertained the idea in the past. That is the *correct* route beyond Binghamton, as Binghamton-Cortland/Ithaca-Syracuse traffic is already substantial.

What I'd give to catch a train at Cortland and go all the way to NYC, or go north and change trains at Syracuse to go west.

The big holdup, of course, is in New Jersey. The counties already own the line from Scranton to the Delaware Water Gap, and PA state law was actually changed to make it easier to fund the NYC-Scranton line, but the part in New Jersey still has to be rebuilt.

The big news there is that Andover has finally gotten annoyed and started using eminent domain to get the Andover extension done. But after that, they still have to build the section from Andover to the Delaware Water Gap, and it seems likely to attract just as much crazy red tape and obstructionism as the section to Andover attracted.

Edited by neroden, 11 March 2017 - 07:40 PM.

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#16 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 11:09 PM

NARP had a bit in the news letter about funds getting raised for a study of the Bingo to NYC route. Economic impact study I believe.

#17 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 09:39 AM

George is a nice guy, with good intentions. And he has enough charisma that people without sense take him seriously. He's also bonkers.

The reality is that any project that will get built needs to first kill all the NIMBYs. The whole system is tilted in their favor, such that they have the Deluxe Craftsman HeMan toolbox of tools to disrupt, delay, halt, and kill projects.

Once you get over that hurdle, it has to be done on a shoestring with reasonable and rational ideas that minimize expenses. and once we get close to such a project, every advocacy group has to accept it and rally behind it, instead of fighting it over small differences in technicalities.

But none of that ever happens. Take George's Hoboken proposal, or a rational proposal several people have been pushing for involving merging and standardizing MN, LIRRs and NJTs electric pools and running them through. Both ideas are technically great, make a lot of sense, and should be implemented.

But they won't, because the concepts of spending serious money or working together are insurmountable stumbling blocks politically. See PANYNJ. So while I like the ideas, and will support them wholely if they ever get bandied about seriously, I operate on the assumption they are operable impossible.

I spent years trying to get a NJ organization to support the idea of two new north river tunnels first, extra Manhattan side capacity appreciated but not required. We went on record saying that, and doing so was a hard won battle for me.

Then the powers that be proposed just that albeit with a slightly different alignment. I prepared a press release applauding the sensible and reasonable approach, and thanking them for largely following the guidance of our advocacy organization. Our chair released a response before I could blasting them for the technical inferiority of the alignment, the high price tag (those are what they are, seriously), and the claim of no additional capacity until all parts of the project were finished (which was hogwash, and should have been ignored until after the tunnels were built and we could argue they were wrong).

The resulting internal battle ended in me leaving the organization. We all support rail at this group, and several other groups we have bitter rivalries with (I never understood those, either). Unfortunately, we all support our big egos and beliefs in our 98%+ IQs far more than we support rail.

And yeah, I own up to me own big inflated ego and self over confidence in my IQ being part of the problem.
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