Shore Line East M8 EMU service to New London CT

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jis

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jis

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Is there a possibility of thru MN/SLE service between GCT and New London?
Technically quite feasible, but not operating that way at this time AFAICT. I understand that the M8s operating to New London have some special tweak to make them compatible with 25kV, which the run of the mill MNRR M8s do not have. So any through service will require one of the 25kV capable M8s of which there may not be enough to go around at present.

Edit: Since posting this @Dutchrailbut has posted that the voltage is not the issue but it is the presence or lack thereof of third rail, shoes. So I stand corrected. Through service using these EMUs will never be possible.

If anyone ever wants through service that can of course be arranged using MNRR push-pull sets, but that at present seems quite unlikely too.
 
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west point

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Is there a possibility of thru MN/SLE service between GCT and New London?
NO! The SLE trains have to have the third rail pickups removed. There appears to be something along the tracks that knocks off the shoes. One report says it is a bridge column too close maybe only at the shoe height. Amtrak has no reason to pay to fix the problem. MNRR does not really show interest to make it thru service so they would not pay. Until there is enough demand for the GCT service by SLE customers to the Ct DOT, they will not see the need to pay to fix the problem(s).

One thought=== = if I remember testing going east suddenly quit for a long time. It may have taken Amtrak a long time to pin-point the obstruction(s). I have noticed, not on Amtrak, some kind of signal posts sticking up from the ballast outside of rails. Could Amtrak have the same items on the route?
 

daybeers

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Inaugural M8 SLE #1600 5-24-22.jpg
I was on the first run of the day, eastbound #1600 at 4:50 AM o_O this is a huge leap forward for SLE and I'm very disappointed CTDOT didn't make a much bigger deal about it. They've had more PR about the electric bus rollout, which while great and useful, the inside is still the same. This is completely new rolling stock. IMO they should've done free rides like they did with the opening of the Hartford Line.

The M8s run much, much better on the Shore Line than on the New Haven Line. No rattling, squeaking, or jolting, especially at the coupling of married pairs. The windows are larger and clearer, bringing in tons more natural light, and the bathrooms are a world apart, even if the M8 bathrooms aren't the best. High speed was 90, though I've heard it may be raised to 100. #1600 is an express that arrived 13 minutes early! The schedule allows for leaving up to 5 minutes early at each intermediate stop eastbound. I really hope they tighten up the schedules soon. I imagine gains of 10-15 minutes on each run!

I know Amtrak has summer track work going on and the third track (track 6) in New London isn't electrified so two runs in the schedule just from Old Saybrook (penultimate stop) to New London are bustituted for the time being. Unsure why they didn't do this work after 20 years of the line being electrified and 10 years with rolling stock capable of the voltage and frequency on the Shore Line. Nonetheless, the M8s can only service high-level platforms as they don't have traps, so there is no longer confusion of where to board a certain track, just which track as there are no displays. At least it's staffed by Amtrak with a waiting room and small cafe and they make announcements for both carriers. High-level platforms are also a big step for accessibility, though due to the curved platforms there is a larger gap than usual. At least the M8s have a permanent gap "helper" (doesn't close the gap but makes it more manageable).

It is very nice to see the wildlife hang out closer to the ROW and not fly away due to the noise of the diesel engine. The rolling stock change has made it IMO the most scenic and pleasant line in CT. The Waterbury Branch runs along the Naugatuck River which is also nice, but it's slow and diesel. The Shore Line runs through mostly wetlands, so less noise and air pollution in those areas is very welcome. The M8s are also incredibly good at regenerative braking, meaning brake dust pollution isn't nearly as much of a factor as well. The control cab just has one lever. Center is neutral, up is power, down is brake. The computer does the rest, including determining how much braking should be done by reversing the electric motors (much smoother, quieter, and sends energy back to the grid) or traditional brake shoes.

Just an interesting note: it seems it takes a little longer (just a few seconds more) for the propulsion and HEP to come back after a dead spot than it does on the New Haven Line. I heard the pantograph may have to be lowered and raised at each dead spot, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or dealing with a different voltage & frequency. Either way, the batteries onboard work just as well as on the New Haven Line, so propulsion levels are kept the same through the dead section.

All in all, a great step for rail in Connecticut. IMO it's currently the quiet leader in electrified rail in the United States, and for decently-run (though expensive) frequent commuter rail/regional rail. This may change with Caltrain's electrification with their newer rolling stock, but it's only one line. There are only a few low-level platforms left in the state: on the Danbury Branch, Waterbury Branch, Windsor Locks on the Hartford Line, and certain platforms in Springfield, which is huge! A study to electrify the rest of the lines in CT will be underway soon.
 

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daybeers

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Speaking of leader in electrification, although most of the electrification predates its existence, SEPTA is a fully electrified system.
but the service levels and customer service as well as accessibility and cleanliness make it pretty far down the list 🤣

It's also only in southeastern PA, as in the name.
 
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Is it just me or is there something Japanese or cartoonish - like intentionally cute - in sort of a retro vibe way - about the M8's? Both in the paint scheme and the round penthouse with the headlight.
 

jis

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Is it just me or is there something Japanese or cartoonish - like intentionally cute - in sort of a retro vibe way - about the M8's? Both in the paint scheme and the round penthouse with the headlight.
Yes. Japanese cartoonish. Many have commented about that through the years since day one that they appeared ;)
 
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Even without the third-rail pickup problem, the short four-car length makes them unlikely candidates for GCT through service. That SLE and Metro-North are separate operations would’t help. This is good to see though! Are the electric sets now on all SLE trains? Or are any diesels still running?
 

daybeers

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Even without the third-rail pickup problem, the short four-car length makes them unlikely candidates for GCT through service. That SLE and Metro-North are separate operations would’t help. This is good to see though! Are the electric sets now on all SLE trains? Or are any diesels still running?
All sets are electric! I agree four cars is too short to handle the loads to GCT. New Haven Line off-peak and weekend ridership is sometimes higher than it was pre-pandemic.
 

Fenway

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Ironically this happened on Saturday


The Connecticut Rail East Shoreline had to stop services after a tree fell down on wires near Shaw's Cove in New London during Saturday's storm, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Crews responded to Ocean Avenue by the train's overpass for fallen trees on the catenary wires, which are responsible for getting the train moving, officials said. Services have been stooped since 5:30 p.m.

According to the CT DOT, people who were on the train were relocated by bus.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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I know they been working on this for a long-ish time, but with diesel fuel hit 6.50 a gallon. Excellent timing on replacing this train with a electric MU.

Additional bonus newer cleaner equipment for those who are tired of paying 4.50 a gallon for gasoline.
 
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