New York-Area Governments to Form a Coordinated Transportation Planning Agency

Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) announced that they would cooperate to form a Lower Hudson Transportation Association, or LHTA, to supersede what they described as antiquated 20th-century thinking and bring the region’s transportation into the 21st century. LHTA would absorb the transportation functions of Port Authority, which senior New York state officials speaking on condition of anonymity called “irredeemably corrupt,” and coordinate planning across the region. Negotiations with the state of Connecticut are ongoing; according to planners in New Jersey, the timing for the announcement was intended to reassure people that despite the lack of federal funding for Gateway, a lower-cost modified version of the project would go forward.

But the first order of business for LHTA is not Gateway. The governors’ announcement mentioned that LHTA would begin by integrating the schedules and fares throughout the region. By 2019, passengers will be able to transfer between the New York City Subway and PATH for free, and connect from the subway to the AirTrain JFK paying only incremental fare. Engineering studies for removing the false walls between PATH and F and M subway platforms are about to begin.

Commuter rail fare integration is also on the table. Currently, the fare on the subway is a flat $2.75. On commuter rail, it is higher even within New York City: a trip between Jamaica Station and New York Penn Station, both served by the E line of the subway, is $10.25 peak or $7.50 off-peak on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The governors announced that they would follow the lead of European transportation associations, such as Ile-de-France Mobilités in Paris, and eliminate this discrepancy under LHTA governance, which also includes revenue sharing across agencies. Detailed studies are ongoing, but in 2019, LHTA will cut commuter rail fares within New York City and several inner cities within New Jersey, including Newark, to be the same as the subway fare, with free transfers.

Simultaneously, LHTA will develop a plan for schedule integration, coordinating New Jersey Transit, the LIRR, Metro-North, and suburban bus agencies. In order to make it easier for suburban passengers to reach commuter rail stations, the suburban buses will be timed to just meet the commuter trains, with a single ticket valid for the entire journey. Today most passengers in the suburbs drive to the commuter rail stations, but the most desirable park-and-rides are full. Moreover, the states would like to redevelop some of the park-and-rides as transit-oriented development, building dense housing and retail right next to the stations in order to encourage more ridership.

Moreover, the LIRR and New Jersey Transit’s commuter trains currently stub-end at Penn Station in opposite directions. LHTA is studying French and German models for through-running, in which trains from one suburb run through to the other instead of terminating at city center. Planners within several agencies explain that the systems on the Long Island and New Jersey side are currently incompatible – for example, LIRR trains are electrified with a third rail whereas New Jersey Transit trains are electrified with high-voltage catenary – but reorganizing these systems for compatibility can be done in a few years, well before the Gateway project opens.

In response to a question about the cost of this reorganization, one of the planners cited the Swiss slogan, “electronics before concrete.” Per the planner, electronics include systems, electrification, and software, all of which are quite cheap to install, whereas pouring concrete on new tunnels and viaducts is costly. The planner gave the example of resignaling on the subway: the New York Times pegged the cost of modernizing subway signals at $20 billion, and this could increase capacity on most lines by 25 to 50 percent. But the cost of building the entire subway from scratch at today’s costs in New York is likely to run up to $200 billion.

But while the immediate priorities involve fare and schedule integration, LHTA’s main focus is the Gateway project. There are only two commuter rail tracks between New Jersey and Penn Station, and they are full, running a train every 2.5 minutes at rush hour. The Gateway project would add two more tracks, doubling capacity. The currently projected cost for the tunnel is $13 billion, but sources within New York said that this number can be brought down significantly through better coordination between the agencies involved. This way, it could be funded entirely out of local and state contributions, which add up to $5.5 billion. When pressed on this matter, officials and planners refused to say outright whether they expect $5.5 billion to be enough to cover the tunnel, but some made remarks suggesting it would be plausible.

Previous estimates for the costs of Gateway adding up to $30 billion include substantial extra scope that is not necessary. Sources on both sides of the Hudson report that the main impetus for the formation of LHTA was to coordinate schedules in a way that would make this extra scope no longer necessary. “With last decade’s ARC, there was a cavern under Penn Station to let trains reverse direction and go back to New Jersey,” explains one of the planners; ARC was a separate attempt to add tracks to the Hudson rail crossing to Penn Station, which Republican Governor Chris Christie canceled in 2010 shortly after his election. “With Gateway, there was the plan for Penn Station South, condemning an entire Manhattan block for the station for $7 billion. With the plans we’re developing with LHTA we don’t need either Penn South or a cavern to let trains run between stations.”

Moreover, some planners suggested reactivating plans to connect Penn Station and Grand Central as part of Gateway. They refused to name a cost estimate, but suggested that at the low end it could be funded out of already-committed state money. Under this plan, there would be through-running between not just New Jersey Transit and the LIRR but also Metro-North, serving the northern suburbs of New York and Connecticut. Sources at the Connecticut Department of Transportation said they are studying the plan and have reservations but are overall positive about it, matching the reports of sources within New York, who believe that Connecticut DOT will join LHTA within six months.

Officials are optimistic about the effects of LHTA on the region both privately and publicly. The joint press release referred to the metro area as “a single region, in which decisions made in far apart areas of New York nonetheless affect people in New Jersey and vice versa.” Planners in both states cited examples of friends and family in the other state who they would visit more often if transportation options were better. With better regional rail integration, they said, people would take more trips, improving regional connectivity, and take fewer trips by car, reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

37 comments

  1. SC

    This would have been a better April Fools joke if you had announced that the states of New York and New Jersey were merging.

  2. Jim Katzenberger

    Bravo, well done. We can dream can’t we?

    Kind Regards,

    Jim

    215.361.6669

    [image: small sweeps for outlook signature]

    *From:* Pedestrian Observations [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* Sunday, April 1, 2018 3:36 PM *To:* jkatzenberger@accelerxgroup.com *Subject:* [New post] New York-Area Governments to Form a Coordinated Transportation Planning Agency

    Alon Levy posted: “Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) announced that they would cooperate to form a Lower Hudson Transportation Association, or LHTA, to supersede what they described as antiquated 20th-century thinking and bring the region’s transportation”

  3. Olivier

    I was going to say that I am surprised by all these foreign references (french, german, swiss) given what you told us about non-anglo reference being the kiss of death in any US transit plan but now I realize it was an April 1 joke. Well done! For me that was the only thing that gave it away.

  4. Michael James

    I assume your recent trip to NYC was to accept the position of Director designate of the LHTA 🙂

    • Michael James

      Oh, and appointed by Governor Cynthia Nixon of course.
      Seriously, yesterday I was reading how Cuomo has it in for De Blasio. Is it over philosophy over how NYC should be run, or how best to improve its various problems? No, it is entirely about personal political ambition by Cuomo. if I was a New Yorker I’d vote for Cynthia. You should send her your plans.

      • Michael James

        Speaking of … (today’s NYT):

        Inside One of America’s Ugliest Political Feuds: Cuomo vs. de Blasio
        By SHANE GOLDMACHER and J. DAVID GOODMAN,
        23 April 2018.
        How did two Democrats, whose politics and goals often mesh, allow their onetime friendship to deteriorate to the point of pure contempt?

        Probably not any discussion over public transit … or public anything… except public office.

  5. Zack Rules

    Wow, incredible! One way to quickly integrate NJT and LIRR without major construction is to let NJT’s ALP-45 dual power locomotives run through to Long Island on diesel power. It is not the most efficient way but something to quickly demonstrate the benefits of through running. Eventually, a new locomotive would be able to do both LIRR 3rd rail and NJT catenary or the future M9A could do it too, just like Metro North EMUs do.

    • Eric

      Or else, install catenary on just one LIRR route, and have through running trains use that

      • Connor Harris

        Doesn’t the FRA prohibit putting two modes of electrification on the same track? I could swear that someone claimed this in comments here years ago, but I’ve never been able to confirm it.

          • Connor Harris

            Right, but I seem to remember that the person claiming that this regulation existed said that the Penn-to-Sunnyside segment was grandfathered in.

          • F-Line to Dudley

            There’s going to be a half-mile extension of DC third rail north of Sunnyside on the Hell Gate coming for MNRR Penn Station Access so M8’s can get into Penn, because those cars cannot cross the 60 Hz/25 Hz phase break in AC mode due to lack of a 25 Hz transformer (omitted due to weight concerns). PSA’s original scoping studies for Harlem/Hudson service via a reactivated Port Morris Branch (shelved because that routing missed all of the new Bronx intermediate stop ridership) also would’ve entailed an additional 4 miles of co-installed third rail under the Hell Gate wire so M7/M9’s could thru-route. If there’s some 1930’s paper ban on co-installations of cat + third rail still technically sitting there on the books, it certainly isn’t toothy enough to prevent being waivered-at-will. PAS itself is hardly what you’d call a megaproject-caliber effort (only in terms of NYC cost bloat!) since it recycles existing infrastructure in-total and–save for the quickly-rejected Port Morris option–gloms entirely onto existing routes…so if they got all the necessary electrification waivers up-front for a service- + stations-only proposal pretty much any service-centric proposal could gain the same waivers.

            As for run-thru, one thing that’s important to keep in mind is that if moribund NYHSR to Albany ever gets a serious push the Hudson Line will be going all- 25 kV AC, in all likelihood displacing the entirety of the DC electrification from Spuyten Duyvil to Croton-Harmon because the whole of NYP-ALB can be run on approx. four 25 KV substations total while DC requires one every 6 miles. It’ll literally be cheaper for them to just rip-out/replace the whole works to AC and replace rather than rebuild the M7’s at their 25-year mark with a copycat order of M10’s (or whatever evengeneration of AC/DC stock the New Haven Line is using at that point) to change from third rail to overhead at the Empire Connection merge. Only the Harlem Line will still be third-rail only, but unless the RPA builds its improbable megatunnel or revives the cheaper Port Morris option from PSA, the Harlem is still captive to GCT’s MNRR levels only and doesn’t have a shot at interlining with NJT or LIRR at all. Two-thirds of MNRR’s mainlines running identical AC/DC-agile fleets in the future means a lot more fleet scale and routing flex for LI and Jersey run-thrus. Don’t forget entirely about NYHSR’s role as a potential catalyst for aiding NYC-centric run-thrus because of that…even though NYHSR is not in and of itself an NYC-centric project.

            Long Island electrification is a different economic calculus. There is so much pre-existing DC transmission infrastructure blanketing the whole west half of the island N-S-E-W that displacement to AC for the sheer sake of hegemony is going to be a really crappy cost proposition. The interconnections are so thick and robust that you’re almost better off parlaying that Hudson Line order of New Haven Line M8/10/etc. clones into a supplemental order assigned to LIRR territory for the run-thru schedules rather than reinventing the wheel for perfectionist’s sake. That thick net of pre-existing DC transmission lines and substation distribution to glom off of is what gets Port Jefferson, the Central Branch, and Babylon-Patchogue electrification completed in under 15 years at reasonable cost so ESA can cook at full-blast and the only diesels left are in true Scoot territory on the far east end + Oyster Bay. Plus, ESA’s dimensions physically cannot hold catenary of any voltage without self-defeating $B’s in tunnel clearance modification, so seeking vehicle-side paths of much lesser resistance is the only truly practical way to look at it without going off the deep end into OCD-run-amok.

            I suppose LI would be a problem for the NJT bi-level EMU’s that have to carry both 60 & 25 Hz transformers and will lack the undercarriage space for DC guts. But that’s a problem more easily and cheaply solved by piecemeal-converting the NEC from Sunnyside to Trenton & Philly to 60 Hz at same 12.5 kV frequency to purge 25 Hz (which only requires replacing circuit breakers and retiring the frequency converter stations). Then you can outright delete the extremely bulky onboard 25 Hz transformers from subsequent MLV EMU orders and gauge whether further design advances in regenerative braking vs. radiator shrinkage squares the difference for installing DC electronics in that MLV carbody. Both NJT and SEPTA will have 100% frequency-agile fleets when the equally ancient Arrows and Silverliner IV’s are replaced, a process that will complete (belatedly in SEPTA’s case) within 10 years…so eliminating 25 Hz is a design process that could kick off today if Amtrak vs. state political fiefdoms could put aside their turf wars.

            Yes, it’s a kludge less elegant than 1000% perfect AC electrification hegemony everywhere…but it’s a kludge that can get you from Point A in Jersey to Point B on the Island on an all-electric vehicle many decades sooner and tens of billions cheaper than rebooting the whole of LI’s electric traction transmission infrastructure from scratch. In the meantime, there’s nothing preventing an ALP-45DP from Jersey from going into diesel mode to run a Jamaica-et-al schedule, as they certainly have a large enough fleet of dual-modes to spread around with each subsequent in-state line they electrify (e.g. finish the NJCL to Bay Head first, then the M&E to the line re-merge at Denville + Port Morris Yard, then start plugging away at Raritan Valley). Run-thru will, after all, be a constantly evolving gradual push rather than one big-bang of a systemic reset. In the meantime just fatten up that initial MLV EMU order with full draining of the option units and an immediate follow-on so they can displace every all-electric ALP-46 push-pull into Penn with EMU’s to isolate the P-P performance penalty to only the routes requiring true dual running on the LI side and/or Jersey diesel side. That simple re-balancing will help create the schedule and equipment flex for initiating run-thrus to LI without unduly clogging Penn, since ESA is also going to be simultaneously redrawing the LI schedules at Penn for more flex.

          • adirondacker12800

            These new fangled AC trains all have DC “guts” in them. The high voltage AC is converted to DC and then converted to variable frequency three phase. Design it so the three phase inverter can run on 750 volts.

          • F-Line to Dudley

            Instead of posting more irrelevant non-sequiturs like that as you’re so wont to do over these blog comment sections, why don’t you explain for us how you’re going to actually make target weight by waving the magic wand on those “newfangled” guts? It’s taken until 2018 to even get an RFP…much less an actual shipping product…on an NEC-capable AC EMU that fits inside of a FRA-compliant bi-level carbody. Because it’s taken until 2018 to net enough component shrinkage to cram the 12.5 kV/25 kV voltage taps and 60 Hz + 25 Hz transformer cores in there without a loss of seating in a bi-level frame or without completely blowing out the weight profile of the source carbody design. If that wiggle room within weight has only been recently found within the FRA straightjacket, how exactly does throwing the 750V DC inputs on top of it all become an easy task? Explain for a change, please.

            The M8’s couldn’t even take on a 25 Hz core to become every-flavor electric vehicles because that would’ve pushed their already overshot weight profile to the brink of design limits at additional mitigation cost that was flat-out not worth it. And the additional 2 tons the 25 Hz core adds to every Silverliner V car is one reason why the SEPTA fleet’s wheel issues were so severe and will require so much ongoing mitigation throughout life-of-vehicle while the 60 Hz-only Denver SL5’s so far have not been pegged at quite the same “Orange Alert”-level risk for the same malady. The Bombardier MLV starts off as absolutely no one’s idea of a svelte performer for its weight class, but the whole point for NJT (for better or worse) choosing that coach body as the template for a self-propelled car is that the frame starts off with a very good existing service reputation for ride quality and MTBF, and shouldn’t require much structural redesign to equip with Bombardier Talent-derived propulsion and the requisite multiple AC cores for the NEC. The same assembly lines pumping out hundreds more new MLV push-pull replacement coaches for NJT, MNRR, MARC, etc. on upcoming orders would be able to simultaneously rip out the EMU carbodies for optimal ordering scale. Whether the project stays within cost or the propulsion can push that weight worth a damn vs. other nimbler EMU makes of course remains to be seen. And of course we are looking at this within the confines of the FRA straightjacket vs. importable carbodies. But LTK’s prelim engineering work gave NJT a robust thumbs-up on the technical capability of that frame for self-propelled adaptation, and since they already have such a massive and ongoing investment in that MLV carbody for the push-pull fleet’s next 30+ years it was the agency’s prerogative to go for it on the design hegemony.

            Nowhere, however, has anyone pitched feasibility of doing an AC/DC input every-vehicle MLV EMU. Not Bombardier or any other RFI bidder on the NJT proposal, not any commuter agency, and not the engineering subcontractors who finalized the design specs. Metro North evaluated a third rail -only batch of MLV EMU’s early on in the specs development as a possible bi-level alternative to their M9 option orders for addressing Hudson/Harlem capacity, but ended up (correctly) siding with the superior ordering scale of the much larger common order with LIRR. And Bombardier is banking on a successful MLV EMU design allowing them to immediately serve up the same exact propulsion package inside their ubiquitous 8-inch boarding BLV carbody to have an instant frontrunner for GO Transit’s 60 Hz/25 kV rolling stock order. As well as be able to dual-market the 48-inch MLV and 8-inch BLV self-propelleds to any commuter agency on the continent…including either make or BOTH makes trainlined in the same sets to Caltrain if their multi- platform-height Stadler order implodes and a salvage job becomes necessary. ConnDOT’s inquiries into the matter, however, still leave them bound to single-level vehicles for the foreseeable next full procurement cycle because a four-input NEC vehicle that fits inside a 14’6″ MLV dimension without loss of too many seats or blowout-cost frame modification is still far too big a reach to be near-term reality.

            Either component shrinkage has a lot further to go, or you find a way to jettison something big and bulky off that frame in order to fit 750V DC on the same carbody you’ve committed to for 1000+ units in the Tri-State Area. That something big can definitely be 2 tons worth of 25 Hz AC transformer core if the Sunnyside-Trenton NEC started getting gradually chopped up to 60 Hz/12.5 kV upon completion of the Arrow+SL4 replacement orders for full frequency-agile vehicles. But “Blah blah phase inverter blah blah newfangled [/voice trails off]” sure as hell ain’t the half of it (and I suspect you knew that full well before @#$%posting).

          • adirondacker12800

            Since you know so much what is the DC voltage between the single phase side of the inverter package and the polyphase side?

          • F-Line to Dudley

            A literal “NO U!” sentence fragment two degrees off-topic to your own original question is pretty much the definition of @#$%posting, ad12800.

            Now tell us, please, how dangling an extension cord in front of a Bombardier design team and making “DURR-HURR!” noises at them single-handedly solves yesterday for an overweight condition no actual vehicle designer has yet to solve for today within FRA packaging. That would be an example of an actual on-topic reply to the issue at-hand.

          • adirondacker12800

            You are the one saying there’s no place to put DC guts in them. If they are gonna be something modern there’s a DC stage in the single phase to polyphase magic. Connecting that to an external source of DC needs a wire. Well a cable, it would be kinda thick. Some sort of switch would probably be nice, so the shoes aren’t “live” when it’s not in third rail territory.

          • orulz

            “Harlem is still captive to GCT’s MNRR levels only and doesn’t have a shot at interlining with NJT or LIRR at all.”
            So are you of the opinion that the “ARC Alternative G” connection, from the lower tracks at Penn Station, along 31st street, and then up to the lower level of Grand Central, is not feasible (or perhaps not desirable?) This is “Line 2” of Alon’s Regional Rail Plan, and basically the linchpin of the entire regional rail proposal.

            It might be difficult to get these trains running under wire through the Park Avenue tunnel, so without the 3rd Avenue Tunnel, you’re stuck with third rail. And to through-run into NJT territory, you hit the same issue with heavy 25hz transformers. As you state, it would be best to simply make 25 hz go away, but I thought the major roadblock for that is the dedicated 25hz turbines at Safe Harbor Dam which presumably aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

          • Alon Levy

            There is space for wire in the two middle tracks of Park Avenue. The outer tracks might be dicey – might be.

          • adirondacker12800

            According to Wikipedia the 25Hz generators at Safe Harbor are equipped with converters, they can supply 60Hz. It’s not as efficient as supplying 25Hz but I’m going to assume that the inefficiency at Safe Harbor would be more than made up by eliminating conversion inefficiencies at all the other supply points.
            If there isn’t room in the tunnels for high voltage catenary the trains can run on third rail. Like they have been doing for over a century.

          • Joey

            The Park AVE tunnels have ballasted track. If you need a bit more vertical clearance it should be possible to replace it with thinner slab.

          • Alon Levy

            Yeah, but I don’t even think you need that on the two inner tracks. As far as I remember, the track-to-ceiling clearance minus the maximum clearance of 25 kV catenary to fixed objects (which is 27 cm in German standards) gives you catenary height within the New Haven Line’s existing range of catenary heights.

          • F-Line to Dudley

            The pinch points in the Park Ave. tunnel are where it passes over Water Tunnel 1 and the subways under E. 63rd, E. 60th, and E. 53rd. At those places the tunnel has already been scraped to its physical limit for enlargements over the years: first by New York Central so they could get oversize intercity lounge cars into GCT and more recently by MNRR in the ~12 years to future-proof the system for any future bi-level coach or third-rail EMU procurements. Such as the formally planned mass procurement of MultiLevel coaches coming in a couple years to replace all 200 Shoreliner push-pull coaches. MNRR borrowed a trainset of NJT MLV’s when they were first ordered to do the non-revenue clearance testing of their tunnel enlargement work. Other than a couple signal heads on the GCT loop tracks that have to be relocated out of the way, MNRR is all cleared for 14’6″ MultiLevels right this second.

            You do have ample space in most of the tunnel to enlarge further, and could straightforwardly carve out the clearance space for 12.5 kV or even 25 kV AC wire by lowering the trackbed or changing the trackbed surface from ballast w/ ties to floating slab w/ anchors that whittles down the floor profile to its absolute minimum. For example, the North River Tunnels when they finally get a chance to be taken offline one by one for top-to-bottom renovation, are supposed to trade in their ballasted trackbeds for floating slab simply so modern active-pumped drainage channels can be installed and easily accessed below the tracks as increased flood prevention. The byproduct of that (it’ll be razor-close, but feasible) is that the changeover from ballasted track may eke out just enough extra headroom to finally make converting Penn + tunnels from 12.5 kV to 25 kV a fully thing.

            However, for Park Ave. solving the pinches at at least 2 of the 3 subway crossings + Water Tunnel 1 end up being blowout-cost propositions because the lower tunnels have to be physically modified to ‘dip’ more in order to create the extra under-floor clearance. They’ve completely run out of room to reach the next clearance threshold by playing more floor/ceiling scraping games at those points. It’ll be hard enough to non-disruptively do the tunnel mods well enough at those crossings to eke out room for 12.5 kV AC. 25 kV, with its 1.5 ft. of required electrical clearance between wire and car roof, is going to be an even bigger bear. This is why converting GCT to AC power is very much the last resort that won’t be seriously looked at until each and every plausible vehicle-side interoperability solution has been exhausted. Unfortunately in the tightest points of Park Ave. we’re not looking at original tunnel construction tolerances. Current and past regimes have already gone to the well multiple times over the century to scrape every nook and cranny they could scrape for the sake of fitting domes and bi-levels through there, and more or less emptied the entire bag of tricks at those crucial points. Now it’s only the very hard partial multi-level tunnel reconstructions that’ll do the job any further.

          • adirondacker12800

            If there isn’t clearance for 25kV run at 12.5 or even 6.25. It’s not like the trains are going to be going very fast. Not ideal but not difficult to implement on the trains. Or 750 DC… like they do now…

          • F-Line to Dudley

            Right now they can’t even do 12.5 kV at the Park Ave. pinches, so it’s a moot point. The subway and water tunnels passing below have to get partially reconstructed in order to mod the floor for ANY overhead AC electrification at any voltage.

            They would’ve done exactly those tunnel mods–and proofed it for 25 kV–had Penn and GCT ever been direct-connected for all trains to run thru like the original grandiose studies called for, because that kind of service alignment would’ve more than justified the cost in concrete and construction disruption. But so long as terminals are separate and Amtrak has no compelling reason to use GCT it’s cost-prohibitive to do the tunnel mods until all vehicle-side solutions for MNRR/LIRR/NJT interoperability have been exhausted first.

            The only thing it’ll take to make the existing 405-unit (+ upcoming supplementals) M8 fleet total fair game for every length of wire and third rail in the Tri-State area excepting the LIRR ESA tunnel is to start purging 25 Hz from Sunnyside to Trenton. It’ll take longer than the rated lifespan of those vehicles to exhaust the new thru-routing possibilities of simply unbounding that one make from the 25 Hz barrier. So in a rational world no one would be looking at Park Ave. mods FIRST while the cost scalability of changing the NEC frequency and simply ordering more M[even#] stock projects orders of magnitude superior and can be implemented orders of magnitude sooner. Those vehicles will all be at or beyond replacement age and will be generationally replaced by some post-2040 state-of-the-art in EMU vehicle tech long before enough additional Tri-State electrification and enough new thru-running schedules have been strung up and maxed out to exhaust all available leverage. Or exhaust the leverage enough that biting bullet on Park Ave. mods becomes ‘the’ consensus next gear that has to be reached in order to take things to any higher level.

            Ditto scenario with the MLV EMU’s. While future portability is hazier to project since Bombardier has yet to produce the first prototype, based on what we know about how much onboard weight penalty the 25 Hz transformer core imposes it’s a par bet that dropping the 25 Hz core alone shaves enough tonnage to add 750V DC third-rail running while keeping it all within weight (because, remember, it’s WEIGHT being at-limit that prevents adding the DC inputs…not space/volume). That could be the difference-maker freeing up that fleet from all manner of non-ESA thru-running on Long Island, too. In which case it’ll likewise take you until the vehicles are at replacement age to leverage every worthwhile run-thru schedule before the next big quantum leap forward points square at any tunnel-dimension mods.

          • Alon Levy

            What do you mean, they can’t? There are standards for clearances from high-voltage catenary to fixed structures; I don’t know the US ones, but I know the German ones and the laws of physics are the same in both countries. Take the existing tunnel height, subtract the required clearance, and you get a catenary height within Metro-North’s range.

          • johndmuller

            Regarding the Park Ave. tunnel clearances, it would seem that raising the roof would not be completely out of the question. The two center tracks are underneath the median, which is in plants instead of asphalt, so the amount of roadway disruption should be no more than the two innermost lanes of Park.

            Of course, all the cross streets seemingly would need work, and you might or might not have to raise the ultimate surface level a little if you couldn’t scrounge enough savings using steel plates instead of whatever is there now,

            The most problematic stuff would be in the tunnel itself, as some of it likely have to be out of service at various times. 53rd St. is a complicated looking place in the tunnels, but I suppose doable; supposedly they have done the floor already in these places somehow, so they lived with that disruption.

            If this work was done along with adding two more tracks down there, it would seem like alternate paths would be available for trains – this project would get lost in the rounding errors of the wider renovations.

          • adirondacker12800

            It doesn’t have to be third rail. It can be 750 volts from the tightly spaced 750 volt rail overhead.

  6. adirondacker12800

    Engineering studies for removing the false walls between PATH and F and M subway platforms are about to begin.

    They are real walls, tiles and everything on them. Why? So PATH passengers get a better view of the IND’s local tracks? Along with the noise? There are tracks between the PATH platforms and the IND platforms.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23rd_Street_station_(PATH)

    • Jonathan English

      As your own link indicates, the PATH platforms at 23rd Street would directly face the IND local trains, if they weren’t separated by a wall. Not to mention that at 14th Street, it would be a standard four-track, two-island layout if the walls were removed.

  7. adirondacker12800

    Simultaneously, LHTA will develop a plan for schedule integration, coordinating New Jersey Transit, the LIRR, Metro-North, and suburban bus agencies.

    Go ahead and give us a sample of what gets coordinated with what. While you are at it some of the oggly goodness through running gives people. I’m see being able to change trains in Newark and Secaucus in addition to Penn Station. Whooooopeeee!

  8. Pingback: Report: NYC wants more city commuters on LIRR, Metro-North - Second Ave. Sagas :: Second Ave. Sagas

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