Archive for the ‘commuter rail’ Category
amNY has an article about how Penn Station New York is still a terrible transportation hub for riders/pedestrians to navigate. While there’s no new information in the article, it is good that this topic is still being brought up by the media.
Despite some half a billion dollars in improvements over the years, Penn Station is still one of the most difficult transit hubs to figure out, the perennial ugly sister to a majestic Grand Central Terminal.
With its low ceilings, cramped signs, huge crowds, and maze of hallways, travelers say they often find themselves getting lost in the underground labyrinth.
Many media outlets are reporting this morning that Metro-North Commuter Railroad (MNCR) is seriously considering purchasing double decker rail cars for its Hudson and Harlem commuter lines, which terminate at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.
One interesting aspect of this idea is that MNCR’s Park Avenue tunnel, which leads to Grand Central Terminal, has more restrictive clearances than even the Hudson (North) and East River tunnels used by NJ Transit and LIRR’s multilevel/bilevel cars.
While multilevel trains are typically taller than regular trains, officials in the region have found ways to deal with the narrow clearance of underwater and underground tunnels that provide access into Manhattan. At New Jersey Transit, the bilevel cars feature a sharply beveled roof, which curves at a roughly 45-degree angle to ensure the trains do not scrape against walls.
Metro-North engineers believe their trains would require an even steeper bevel to avoid the walls of the Park Avenue tunnel. And low-hanging wires and underground protrusions might have to be trimmed back.
Other problems/issues to be considered/resolved may or may not include gapping-out when crossing the switches at Grand Central Terminal, HEP ratings, and locomotive availability. However, as usual, some of these issues, as reported by the media, are either much more or much less complicated than they are making them out to be.
Read here what some railfans and railroad employees have to say about all this.
Finally, after three years, the Henry Hudson Bridge pedestrian walkway has reopened to pedestrians and cyclists! What a great connection! And what great views! Here are some quick cell phone pics I took as I walked my bike across the bridge this afternoon.
A Metro-North/CDOT electric M.U. set derailed near the Stamford Yard this morning blocking some tracks and slowing the departure of trains from the yard. As a result service is delayed and conditions on-board are reported to be quite crowded.
Photo is from 1010 WINS. Story via MNCR, SubChat, and 1010 WINS.
MTA New York City Transit has provided some good advice on how to best travel to the ticker tape parade celebrating the New York Yankees victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 baseball World Series:
Although the Lexington Avenue line serves the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, Fulton Street-Broadway/Nassau, Wall Street, and Bowling Green stations, Yankees’ fans should be aware that the 4 5 6 lines are usually crowded during normal weekday rush hour along the corridor.
Instead, fans are encouraged to use the 1 line or the R or W lines to Rector Street, or the E to World Trade Center. Fans should also consider taking the 2 or 3 lines to Chambers Street or Wall Street, and the J to the Broad Street station.
Crowding conditions at the City Hall R and W station, Park Place 2 and 3 station and nearby 4 5 6 Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station may force trains to bypass those stations during the parade and ceremony at City Hall. All lines affected will be monitored by supervision to ensure smooth operation.
Read the entire press release for this November 6, 2009 event, here. I’ve also provided an image of the Special Event poster for the parade, as well as an image of the revised World Series poster from earlier in the week:
The Long Island Rail Road recently made two notable improvements to its “Take the Train to the Game” Meadowlands Rail program. First, it changed its joint LIRR/NJT ticketing policy. Second, it added excellent schedule information to its website.
The original joint LIRR/NJT ticketing policy was that such tickets could only be used on football game days, and not on days for which rail service was running to the Meadowlands for any other event or reason. That policy has now been changed to allow the LIRR/NJT joint tickets to also be used for a limited number of non-football events. This is likely a result of the the huge lines seen at the NJT ticket machines in Penn Station before the U2 concerts, and should help to reduce those lines in the future.
Since NJT must adequately staff the Secaucus turnstiles to manually process the joint ticket holders (the joint tickets, printed on LIRR ticket stock, do not have the correct magnetic stripe and encoding to work in the turnstiles), this policy change could not have come about without NJT’s input/permission. So if NJT ok’ed it, it is curious that Metro-North has not yet updated their policy about the use of MNCR/NJT joint tickets to the Meadowlands. As of now, MNCR’s website text and detailed brochure (PDF) both continue to state that “[the MNCR/NJT joint] tickets are only good for travel to football games and not for any other event at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.”
The LIRR has also done what NJT should have done from the beginning – publish a simple one-page schedule of all the trains to and from the Meadowlands. The LIRR now allows you to click on the game time of the football game you are traveling to, and then they present you with a table of trains times for traveling between Penn Station and the Meadowlands Sports Complex station.
This is a huge help for people trying to understand how often the trains run, how long the rides and transfers take, and what their options are for getting home from the game. Bravo LIRR!
Click the links below to see the game time timetables, or look at the screen shots below them.
Metro-North has announced that they are FINALLY reviving their Penn Station Access Study. The first part of study, formally called the Metro-North Penn Station Access Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/DEIS), was carried out from 1999 to 2002. Since then, it seems it has been dormant. Railfans and transit planners used to speak about it in hushed tones and with tears in their eyes. The “DEIS” part of the study never came to fruition, even though it was promised for “Fall 2003″.
Now the study is back in a big way, with an Environmental Assessment (EA) scheduled for completion in 2011. Thankfully “analyses performed to date on [the proposed "Build"] alternative reveal no significant impacts that cannot be mitigated. Therefore, Metro-North has decided to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), rather than an EIS.” That should save some time and money.
Click here for the press release: MTA Metro-North Railroad Renews Study of Access to Pennsylvania Station
The proposed “Build” alternative consists of Hudson Line service to Penn Station via Amtrak’s West Side line + Empire Connection, and New Haven Line service to Penn Station via the Hell Gate line. There would be five new stations built:
Hudson Line trains
- West 125th Street
- Upper West Side
New Haven Line trains
- Co-op City
- Hunts Point
I say that this service can’t come soon enough. For people who work near Penn Station or along the 8th Avenue IND or 7th Avenue IRT subway lines, this service could possibly significantly reduce their commuting times.
For a lot more information about the work done so far on this project (1999-2002), check out the Penn Station Access Study website on MTA.info. The site appears to have been updated to reflect that the EA will be done in 2011, and with a proposed “Build” alternative graphic that shows the station formerly called “West 59th Street” to now be called “Upper West Side”.
Bonus: a graphic from a past version of the Penn Station Access Study website.
NJ Transit finally opened yesterday its new entrance to Penn Station.
Summary info from the website:
The new entrance is located at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 31st Street at street level and is adjacent to the NJ TRANSIT Customer Service Office inside the station.
The new entrance will provide customers with direct access to and from our 7th Avenue Concourse for the first time.
The new entrance is fully accessible with ADA-compliant elevators, as well as escalators and stairs that connect the NJ TRANSIT concourse with the street at 7th Avenue.
The 31st Street entrance also includes lighting, signage and electronic train information displays for customer convenience.
I’ll have to go check it out soon. In the meantime, here’s an interior photo from NJT’s website, and some exterior photos I took back in July: