Amtrak is finally coming to Scranton!

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jis

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There was a friendly crew on the train and on the way home they invited me into the cab to ride. my only RR cab ride so far. Loved those old MU's, they reminded me of the old slam door Southern Region EMUs I used to ride in the UK, made al the same sounds.
That is quite true, in letter and in spirit - minus the slam doors of course :)

I regularly rode Slamdoors on the Waterloo - Reading service in the '90s. When I visited UK for work, the work location was Winnersh Triangle, and I insisted on staying in London, and surprisingly the company was happy to indulge me, instead of forcing me to stay in some odd hotel in Bracknell or something like that. There were many days when I left work late when I took the Slamdoor the other way to Reading and then took an HST to Paddington. Surprisingly, the heavily discounted ticket worked after certain hours on this alternate routing.
 

NEPATrainTraveler

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Exciting news! If Amtrak is only doing three round trips a day that isn't a lot, but if these trips ran at times when there are no busses running, I think that would make the train rather appealing. If the train gets more frequencies, it will be competitive with Martz Trailways. It will be interesting to see how the competition plays out between the two.

I myself live much closer to Wilkes-Barre than to Scranton, so I probably won't be able to ride this train as much as I would like. I wish Wilkes-Barre would get Amtrak service too, but at least some parts of Northeast PA will get passenger train service again and that's better than nothing.
 

Mailliw

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I'm sorry about the link; a friend posted it on Facebook and it let's me view it without subscribing. I think thrice daily is a good place to start; an early morning train allowing a full day of activity in NYC, an evening train departing after the working day, and a bonus afternoon train. Martz can run more busses, but trains carry more passengers in much greater comfort while bypassing traffic. Amtrak and Martz will directly compete, but Martz is still going to be the goto for for Truway Motorcoach services (which Amtrak could offer from Southern Tier cities to Scranton). Of all of Amtrak's new routes this probably has the least obstacles.
 

jis

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Reading the article, this is still not guaranteed, but Amtrak (A) has the funding, (B) has Scranton on its desired list, (C) has no obstacles, and (D) has accepted money from the PNRRA to finish the federal paperwork, so it *does* seem *really* likely.

Would make a huge difference for me.
It may be time now for ESPA to start working on NYSDOT to start pushing for extension beyond Scranton to Bingo.
 

neroden

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It may be time now for ESPA to start working on NYSDOT to start pushing for extension beyond Scranton to Bingo.
Yeah, the change in governor makes it *infinitely* more likely. We have support from Schumer and Gillibrand and the (relatively new) chairs of the Transpo committees in both State Senate and Assembly, and Cuomo's DOT was the main obstruction point for rail service improvements. I'm quite distracted right now but you're probably right.
 

GoAmtrak

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So what are the chances of passenger rail north of Scranton into southern NY (Phoebe Snow route or otherwise)?
Important question. I think Neroden responded well to it, but I try to add some of my thoughts about it.

Perhaps I would add from my readings that Amtrak made calculations about Public Operating Funding per New Passenger which seems to be relatively low for New York - Scranton (half of the line ist served already nonetheless) and rider potential is estimated to be among the highest of all potential new Amtrak routes: https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp.../Amtrak-2021-Corridor-Vision-May27_2021-1.pdf, page 61

From those estimates and from that Neroden concluded, it seems to be highly likely Scranton is going to be served by passenger rail again :)

Yeah, the change in governor makes it *infinitely* more likely. We have support from Schumer and Gillibrand and the (relatively new) chairs of the Transpo committees in both State Senate and Assembly, and Cuomo's DOT was the main obstruction point for rail service improvements. I'm quite distracted right now but you're probably right.
I indeed heard of a group of students studying in Binghampton, NY and wishing Amtrak service coming back to Binghampton. This wish probably lies far in the future, but I would of course welcome it!

Or perhaps bring passenger railway could be brought to your hometown, Ithaca ;) Or is Ithaca completely off? I know its off topic, but that would be pleasant for you.
 

danasgoodstuff

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Important question. I think Neroden responded well to it, but I try to add some of my thoughts about it.

Perhaps I would add from my readings that Amtrak made calculations about Public Operating Funding per New Passenger which seems to be relatively low for New York - Scranton (half of the line ist served already nonetheless) and rider potential is estimated to be among the highest of all potential new Amtrak routes: https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp.../Amtrak-2021-Corridor-Vision-May27_2021-1.pdf, page 61

From those estimates and from that Neroden concluded, it seems to be highly likely Scranton is going to be served by passenger rail again :)


I indeed heard of a group of students studying in Binghampton, NY and wishing Amtrak service coming back to Binghampton. This wish probably lies far in the future, but I would of course welcome it!

Or perhaps bring passenger railway could be brought to your hometown, Ithaca ;) Or is Ithaca completely off? I know its off topic, but that would be pleasant for you.
Of course, if they ran all the way to Buffalo, it would be natural to call it the Phoebe Snow. And like that old train it could be a daytime alternative to the Lake Shore and Empire Service, although you'd probably want to dbl up on service from at least Scranton to the city so that would have reasonable hours for that segment too. Lots of hard choices re exactly what and when.
 

Mailliw

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Ironically I always assumed that Scranton wouldn't get service unless NYS decided to open a Southern Tier Empire Service.
 

neroden

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Important question. I think Neroden responded well to it, but I try to add some of my thoughts about it.

Perhaps I would add from my readings that Amtrak made calculations about Public Operating Funding per New Passenger which seems to be relatively low for New York - Scranton (half of the line ist served already nonetheless) and rider potential is estimated to be among the highest of all potential new Amtrak routes: https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp.../Amtrak-2021-Corridor-Vision-May27_2021-1.pdf, page 61

From those estimates and from that Neroden concluded, it seems to be highly likely Scranton is going to be served by passenger rail again :)


I indeed heard of a group of students studying in Binghampton, NY and wishing Amtrak service coming back to Binghampton. This wish probably lies far in the future, but I would of course welcome it!

Or perhaps bring passenger railway could be brought to your hometown, Ithaca ;) Or is Ithaca completely off? I know its off topic, but that would be pleasant for you.

Super hard to get service into Ithaca.
* The best route, Ithaca to Cortland, is mostly preserved (no housing on the ROW) but still requires a lot of land acquisition and a complete rebuild, displacing a trail in places and farmland in others. I'd love to get it up and running but advocacy hardly has any traction.
* The best route from the south, Ithaca to Owego, is worse, as it requires acquiring a lot of people's backyards and a few people's houses as well as a complete rebuild
* The only route with existing tracks is horrendously indirect, going via Sayre PA (they head *southwest*, pretty much the worst possible direction for traffic flow from Ithaca) and probably do not make for a reasonable-speed route to anywhere
* The topography around Ithaca is a nightmare for any route.

Frankly, Cortland service would be a godsend. Cortland is a half-hour drive from Ithaca. (And has commuter bus service to Ithaca -- at this point it's full of people who commute to work in Ithaca.) That's probably more practical than trying to get Ithaca service directly since Binghamton to Cortland to Syracuse tracks are in fine condition, they're straight enough, and they're owned by a shortline (albeit one now controlled by Class Is). If we got service from Binghamton to Scranton to NYC, I think Cortland to Binghamton to Scranton to NYC wouldn't be a huge lift. Ithaca would.

Schumer actually spoke positively about Syracuse-Cortland-Binghamton-Scranton-NYC proposals a few years ago, so it's on the radar of elected officials. It has a chance.
 
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I rode the Syracuse Branch numerous times in the 1990's on NYS&W excursions. It is a 30 - 40 MPH railroad competing against a 65 MPH I-81. It takes about 3 hours. It was never very fast. Regular passenger service ended in 1959, around when the last portion of I-81 was completed between Marathon and Cortland. I have read several local history books about all the railroads through Cortland County. Trains would also have to reverse in Binghamton go north. Thruway buses radiating from Binghamton to Cortland, Ithaca, and Corning I think are the best options.

As for the Lehigh Valley branch from Cortland to Ithaca, it is no way to get to Ithaca from points south. There is an apartment house sitting right on or right next to the junction with the old Auburn Branch in Freeville. Wooden trestles are falling apart. Trails are a-building. This railroad is not recoverable. It currently ends in Cortlandville. There is rush hour Cortland County bus service to Ithaca, but most of it ends at TC3 Community College in Dryden. There are many Tompkins County TCAT buses from Dryden to Ithaca.

Trailways was a Thruway bus operator for Amtrak between Syracuse, Cortland, and Ithaca until the pandemic. Now it is some internet bus company, forgot the name, with no affiliation with Amtrak.
 

neroden

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I rode the Syracuse Branch numerous times in the 1990's on NYS&W excursions. It is a 30 - 40 MPH railroad competing against a 65 MPH I-81. It takes about 3 hours. It was never very fast.

That's mostly due to track condition. There is no particular reason it couldn't be running at 65 mph for most of its distance; it merely requires investing in it. The geometry's OK and the worst curves have enough ROW around them to speed them up. (Exception being a bit right near Syracuse.)

I don't want to be rude, but perhaps you don't understand how rebuilding railway lines for passenger service works?

Currently the Lackawanna Cutoff, which will be used from Scranton to NYC, is a combination of sections which need bridges rebuilt, sections which need tunnels rebuilt, sections which need earthworks rebuilt, and sections with 30 mph speed limits. This does not reflect its potential for passenger service.

Regular passenger service ended in 1959, around when the last portion of I-81 was completed between Marathon and Cortland. I have read several local history books about all the railroads through Cortland County. Trains would also have to reverse in Binghamton go north.

Depends where the new Binghamton station actually ends up being placed, but not an issue regardless (pretty much any new service is going to have cab cars and be operated bidirectionally).

Thruway buses radiating from Binghamton to Cortland, Ithaca, and Corning I think are the best options.

Buses are junk. We have buses. We have LOTS of buses. We have enough buses per day to NYC to easily fill a train from Ithaca to NYC, if we could find a route (as I pointed out, the routes to the south are even more obstructed than the route to Cortland which is essentially unobstructed).

There are also plenty of junk buses from Syracuse to Binghamton via Cortland. A train service from Syracuse-Cortland-Binghamton-Scranton-Ithaca would be popular and successful, and those tracks just require upgrading, not land acquisition (which would really be necessary on any route into Ithaca proper).

As for the Lehigh Valley branch from Cortland to Ithaca, it is no way to get to Ithaca from points south. There is an apartment house sitting right on or right next to the junction with the old Auburn Branch in Freeville.
I believe it doesn't block the ROW. It's cheap if it does.

Wooden trestles are falling apart.
Obviously, you'd replace all the bridges.

Trails are a-building. This railroad is not recoverable.
It's the easiest option for actual Ithaca service. Which is, as I said, very difficult. It's essentially a rebuild-from-scratch, but try to find another ROW which doesn't require massive amounts of home demolition or running through the backyards of rich people's homes; it's still easier than rebuilding the Ithaca & Owego, which is probably the most direct route to the south.

Again, I don't want to be rude, but perhaps you don't understand how rebuilding railway lines for passenger service works?

It currently ends in Cortlandville.
Correct.
There is rush hour Cortland County bus service to Ithaca, but most of it ends at TC3 Community College in Dryden. There are many Tompkins County TCAT buses from Dryden to Ithaca.
Yeah. And there's a rush-hour traffic jam. Long-term I have thought we need rail to relieve the commuter pressure on Ithaca, but nobody in power is thinking that way...

Trailways was a Thruway bus operator for Amtrak between Syracuse, Cortland, and Ithaca until the pandemic. Now it is some internet bus company, forgot the name, with no affiliation with Amtrak.
Yes, Trailways is very mismanaged. They failed to publish timetables for the Ithaca service for a decade, and then used the pandemic as an excuse to drop it. One of the fly-by-night Internet bus companies filled the void, temporarily. Who knows how long that will last.
 

jis

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Here is another relatively well written article...


and here is an article with more info about the NJ part of the line:

 
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jis

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I am surprised with the stopping pattern in NJ. It is well known that a predominant commute corridor is Scranton to Morristown/Summit, and actually has had more projected ridership than Scranton to New York in all previous studies. And yet there is only one of three trains that takes the Morristown route, and the others stop only at Montclair Bay Street, which is not exactly a hot transit location coming in from the west (I used to live four blocks from that station for many years). Even MSU would make more sense on that line IMHO. An additional stop at Wayne Rt. 23 would provide an excellent connection point to buses to many locations in North Jersey.

I guess time to go and start working with NJ-ARP to get some of this feedback to Amtrak.

BTW, there is a lot of new track laying and track replacement akin to new track laying and a totally new signal system installation involved. There are only four new stations to be built. Dover, Bay St. Montclair and Newark Broad St. are high level platform stations. Morristown is low level platform with a mini-high at one end. Still 2028 seems feasible if there are no hiccups on the way.
 
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Summit isn't even a proposed stop.

They should run all 3 one way or the other, or else not a useful service for either. There are two schedule scenarios, each splitting the service. Montclair means Bay Street, not MSU.

They should run it all via Morristown and also have a stop in Summit. More population. People from the Gladstone Branch can get to Summit easy enough, as can Bay Street to Newark-Broad. Morristown without Summit means they have to drive up I-287 and park to catch it.

Blairstown is a potential NIMBY hotspot. If that is the case, stop at Andover and blast though Blairstown at 110 MPH.

Prohibited overnight parking at Dover is another issue, unless it has since been corrected from the last time I heard. NJT station and parking infor, even if you tell the customer service about it, can be years out of date.
 

jis

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Summit isn't even a proposed stop.

They should run all 3 one way or the other, or else not a useful service for either. There are two schedule scenarios, each splitting the service. Montclair means Bay Street, not MSU.

They should run it all via Morristown and also have a stop in Summit. More population. People from the Gladstone Branch can get to Summit easy enough, as can Bay Street to Newark-Broad. Morristown without Summit means they have to drive up I-287 and park to catch it.

Blairstown is a potential NIMBY hotspot. If that is the case, stop at Andover and blast though Blairstown at 110 MPH.

Prohibited overnight parking at Dover is another issue, unless it has since been corrected from the last time I heard. NJT station and parking infor, even if you tell the customer service about it, can be years out of date.
Parking is a major issue all along the M&E AFAIR. Even managing to actually get a parking spot in Summit has forever been a challenge. But I do agree that service should not be split between M&E and Monty-Boonty.

I think they should focus on the Morristown and Summit branch and forget about the Boonton Line which is at best unreliable if any hiccup happens at all due to its extensive single track segment. Of course NJT probably prefers to shove them onto the M-B line to keep them out of their hair I suppose. ;)

I think both Blairstown and Andover should be left to NJT to serve. Is there significant potential ridership from PA to those two places anyway?
 
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The Morristown route has much more capacity than the Montclair route. For the Morristown route there is double track between Denville and Millburn and then triple track from there to Newark. The Montclair route has single track from Denville to Montclair (with passing sidings), double track from there to Roseville Avenue (Newark) and then triple track from there to Newark.

For the Montclair route they are obviously worried about having to run against the flow of the commuter rush hour. It's not that much of an issue for the Morristown route.

jb
 

jis

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The Morristown route has much more capacity than the Montclair route. For the Morristown route there is double track between Denville and Millburn and then triple track from there to Newark. The Montclair route has single track from Denville to Montclair (with passing sidings), double track from there to Roseville Avenue (Newark) and then triple track from there to Newark.

For the Montclair route they are obviously worried about having to run against the flow of the commuter rush hour. It's not that much of an issue for the Morristown route.

jb
I agree. Morristown Line is actually easy to expand to double track all the way from Port Morris to Swift/Kearny. East of Dover it is already double track and as you mentioned, actually it is triple track from Millburn to Kearny, except for the Passiac River Bridge, which is double track. West of Dover the track is in place but not used too often. At various points NJT has made noises about extending triple track to Summit, which is actually surprisingly feasible in spite of it involving the Short Hills ramp up the Watchung Range.
 

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As I read the document, they were assigning schedules assuming that existing NJT schedules cannot be adjusted, and no capacity increases can be made between Port Morris and NYC. "To minimize interference with commuter trains, peak-direction Amtrak trains would use the Montclair Branch with a stop at Bay Street in downtown Montclair while reverse peak trains use the Morristown Line with a stop in Morristown".
 
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Amtrak likely feels they have to do something for a rural north Jersey county beyond NJT territory. NJT will never go west of Andover, has been dragging their feet for 15 years on the child's play of that. But Martz has never done much business at Hackettstown or Panther Valley, so Amtrak is over-estimating what Blairstown will do for them.

Amtrak does not seem to know the line east of Millburn has a 3rd EXPRESS track and NJT expresses from there to Newark are timed to overtake locals, and Amtrak would likely do the speed limit flowing in with NJT Expresses, just like NJT Trenton/Princeton Jct expresses do on the NEC east of the Brunswicks. I don't see the use of the Boonton line and getting caught behind pokey MSU originating trains.

Amtrak also forgets the M&E line is a job location attraction for Pennsylvania commuters, even if they are on a hybrid work schedule. Downtown Montclair is not.
 
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