New York Central Song

“Twilight of American Rail Travel” means different things to different people. To me, it meant the period in the 1960’s until Amtrak when passenger service went downhill. More specifically, it was the “Empire Corridor” running along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers to New York City. Before the “twilight”, well maintained, well patronized New York Central trains ran this route.

My favorite song is

“City of New Orleans” written by Steve Goodman and sung by Arlo Guthrie. It talks about the same period, but on the Illinois Central Railroad. Lots of similarities!

“Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central Monday morning rail Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,”

Yes, rode on train like that too. Although lot of those cars were “head end equipment”.

“Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.”

Loss of that mail was what really did in rail passenger service. Always heard stories of how President Lyndon Johnson pulled the mail off trains to pay off his airline buddies for political favors. Imagine! Entrusting our mail to people who seem incapable of moving our luggage between two cities and not losing it!

“All along the southbound odyssey. The train pulls out at Kankakee. Rolls along past houses, farms and fields. Passin’ trains that have no names, Freight yards full of old black men And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.”

Yes, the Hudson Valley was in the process of change. Industry was gone and the “yuppies” (“millenials”) had not yet built their country homes. Lot of abandoned factories, rusted rail sidings.

“Good morning America how are you? Don’t you know me I’m your native son, I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Yes, the New York Central, was New York State’s Native Son. It was one of the biggest factors in making New York great.

“Dealin’ card games with the old men in the club car. Penny a point ain’t no one keepin’ score. Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle. Feel the wheels rumblin’ ‘neath the floor. And the sons of pullman porters And the sons of engineers Ride their father’s magic carpets made of steel. Mothers with their babes asleep, Are rockin’ to the gentle beat And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.”

Never any offense to the train crews. Railroad problems came instead from “greed run rampant” at railroad headquarters in Philadelphia. Passengers were only the ones who hadn’t or couldn’t get enamoured with America’s “Car Culture”.

“Nighttime on The City of New Orleans, Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee. Half way home, we’ll be there by morning.”

How about changing engines at Harmon?

The beautiful (ugly to many) P-Motor is waiting for an East-bound passenger train to go 33 miles right into the heart of New York City. Does not matter how many diesels pulled the train from Chicago. The single P-Motor can pull it! Thanks to Wayne Koch for great photo.

“Through the Mississippi darkness Rolling down to the sea. And all the towns and people seem To fade into a bad dream And the steel rails still ain’t heard the news. The conductor sings his song again, The passengers will please refrain This train’s got the disappearing railroad blues.”

Even the huge Chevrolet plant in North Tarrytown would be gone by the end of the 20th Century and turned into condos!

“Good night, America, how are you? Don’t you know me I’m your native son, I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Good night New York Central!

See Penney Vanderbilt’s Blog on Arlo Guthrie and Alice’s Restaurant

You will also be interested in our page on the 20th Century Limited

Why People Ride Trains: Its All About Service

ntbraymer

By Noel T. Braymer

People travel, by train or by other modes for many reasons. These include work, business, pleasure, to visit family, friends or for an once in a lifetime experience. Any mode of transportation that someone depends on a carrier is a service. People like good service and are unhappy when service is poor. Many factors make up good service with rail service. For a commuter going to work, a major factor is getting to work on time. For someone getting a sleeper on a long distance train, service includes a good meal, great scenery, working toilets and the chance to talk to interesting people on the train. For many people in between its being able to go where you want to go, when you want to be there with reasonable comfort, safety and price. This all sounds so basic, but is not always available.

Recently Metrolink started…

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Southern California Metrolink Trains Now Allow Surfboards

US News & World Report via California Rail News

Catch a wave — after you catch a train.

Surfers can now bring their boards along when taking Southern California’s Metrolink train service to the beach.

The railroad said Thursday it has added surfboard storage to cars that previously were designated for bicycles.

Metrolink says every train on all lines will have a bike-and-board car, each with room for five surfboards

Ft Worth Takes Steps On Rail Link To Dallas

Fort Worth Star-Telegram via California Rail News

As state lawmakers in Austin debate measures that could kill plans for high-speed trains between downtown Dallas and Houston, the Fort Worth City Council is moving forward with plans to create a rail link to Dallas.

Fort Worth and Dallas are in the process of preparing for a 30- to 40-mile high-speed rail line between the two cities called the DFW Core Express. A $15 million environmental impact study of the possible route is expected to be completed in 2018.

As state lawmakers in Austin debate measures that could kill plans for high-speed trains between downtown Dallas and Houston, the Fort Worth City Council is moving forward with plans to create a rail link to Dallas.

Fort Worth and Dallas are in the process of preparing for a 30- to 40-mile high-speed rail line between the two cities called the DFW Core Express. A $15 million environmental impact study of the possible route is expected to be completed in 2018.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth city council considered creating a local government corporation with Dallas, an entity that would govern inter-city passenger rail service. Discussions are also focusing on including a stop in Arlington and adding that city to the corporation.

Could this ‘visionary’ plan solve the area’s transit woes? (VIDEO)

NJ.com via California Rail News

With Penn Station’s failing infrastructure at capacity, a plan to merge the area’s train and bus service into one regional system is the cornerstone of an idea floated by a New York design firm as a solution to the region’s commuting problems.

Called ReThink NYC Plan 2050, the centerpiece of the idea is a unified commuter rail that connects NJ Transit, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road lines through a revamped Penn Station…

Some funding for the plan, estimated to cost $48 billion, would come from scaling back plans to replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal with a smaller structure. It would eliminate plans to build an annex south of Penn Station, which Rick called “a $7 billion to $8 billion mistake.”
The main criticism of Penn South annex is the extra tracks would dead end, limiting their usefulness.

“No other city is building a terminal in its core,” Rick said.
Instead, all platforms under Penn Station would be extended beneath the Moynihan Station, which will be the new name of the converted Farley postal facility.

GOVERNORS CHRISTIE AND CUOMO CALL FOR PRIVATIZING PENN STATION

WABC via California Rail News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a joint letter declaring they have lost all faith in Amtrak. “A professional, qualified, private station operator must be brought in to take over the repairs and manage this entire process going,” the letter read.

Many of the infrastructure problems in the New York Metro Area can be blamed on the Governors of New York and New Jersey. Both States have power over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority controls most of transportation in the Metro New York area. It is funded from revenue from bridge and tunnel tolls which allow it to issue bonds to build major projects without approval from legislatures or a vote from the people. The problem is many people consider the Port Authority a piggy bank for both state’s governors for money without the need need of dealing with the legislature. At the same time the Authority is not keeping up with maintaining infrastructure they already control. One example is the Port Authority’s Bus Terminal in Manhattan which is literally falling apart and needs replacing. The other is LaGuardia Airport which the Port Authority owns with the other regional airports. It was built in the 1930s and is a favorite butt of jokes. In New York the state has a major role in funding the Subway system. The state hasn’t been willing to fund the Subway which leaves much of the signalling and infrastructure predating the 1950’s. As for New Jersey it was Christie who cut money of the Gateway Project he now has to support and to New Jersey Transit. The result of the NJT cut backs has been in increase of accidents and breakdowns on NJT.

Music, Food and WHISKEY – oh my! This New Event featuring Dan Auerbach is Taking over Brooklyn in June

Have to check travel schedule!!!!!!!

Mary in Manhattan

Dan Auerbach is coming? Say no more. He’s the genius musician who I’ve seen in concert with BOTH of his bands: The Black Keys and The Arcs. But wait…Dan is going to be paired with some serious whiskey brands for this event in Brooklyn called The WhiskyX Spirit Experience.

whiskybrooklyn

On June 8th at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, there is going to be a completely different kind of event experience – 1 part whiskey, 1 part food and 1 part music. This is exactly the kind of cocktail of an event I want to go to. So I am. (Full disclosure, I’ve been invited on a complimentary media pass).

What/who promises to be there?

  • Dan Auerbach – LIVE! He’ll be debuting music from his new album.
  • Shuttle busses from certain subway stations! AMAZING, DUDE. I haven’t heard about this kind of service from many events. I hope it’s awesome. Will definitely…

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2nd Ave. Subway gets a boost: Two Q Trains

From CURBED NY

The MTA will increase Q service during the morning and even rush hours.

the MTA will make a small increase to the number of Q trains along the Second Avenue Subway line during morning and afternoon rush hours. But don’t get too excited, because the service change won’t be huge: It will add one southbound train during the morning rush hour, and one northbound train during the evening rush hour. But according to the MTA, this small measure will help keep trains from overcrowding as ridership along the line increases.

According to Wynton Habersham, the MTA’s head of subways, daily ridership on the Second Avenue line has surged from 124,000 riders during opening week to about 176,000 riders every day during the week. Meanwhile, ridership on the 4/5/6 lines has dipped 40 percent during morning rush hour, and 26 percent overall.

And the agency says that wait times have decreased along the Lexington Avenue line now that many commuters have switched over to the Second Avenue Subway.

Premier Wynne announces plans for high-speed rail in Ontario

From CBC.ca via Californa Rail News

A high-speed rail corridor in southern Ontario is “exactly what our economy needs,” Premier Kathleen Wynne says.

Wynne officially announced plans for a high-speed rail line from Toronto to Windsor Friday morning, with stops in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, by 2025.

“This is an idea that has been around for a very long time,” Wynne said during the announcement in London. “We decided it was time to take a serious look at an idea that’s been around for decades.”

Wynne said seven million people live along the corridor between Toronto and Windsor and the current transportation options just aren’t good enough.

“This is where our economy thrives, is along that corridor,” she said. “It’s exactly what our economy needs.”

The project would use a combination of existing track and new rail lines dedicated to the high-speed train, officials told CBC News. It would include stops in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Chatham, and connect to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The End Of The Troy Union Railroad

The only reason for retaining the Troy passenger station at the bitter end was the remnant of B&M service from Boston with one or two Budd RDC’s. The NYC and D&H had the alternative of using Albany as their passenger interchange, and actually it switched back and forth between Albany and Troy for individual trains over the years. The B&M had nothing but Troy.

The D&H preferred Troy over Albany, because the distance from Colonie Shops (the Capital District locomotive service point and crew HQ) was shorter to Troy, and then they didn’t have to run the North Albany Yard Engine to Albany to handle the occasional passenger switching. The Troy Station Switcher (NYCRR crew) was in the station anyway. I don’t think the individual railroads paid for it per move, just a on a fixed percentage.

NYC preferred Albany, because it avoided running light engines the longer distance between Troy and Rensselaer, their locomotive service point, if they didn’t come back with a train.

The D&H paid NYC to use the upper level at Albany on a pro-rata basis, but, all three railroads that owned the Troy Union RR paid a fixed percent of the operating expenses. NYC paid 50%, D&H and B&M 25% each, because NYC took over the ownership of two predecssor RR’s – the Troy and Greenbush and the Troy and Schenectady. The Rutland had no ownership – they operated as B&M trains between White Creek and Troy.

The passenger station was demolished as soon as the last B&M train left town, mostly to avoid the high property taxes levied on railroad property in New York State. The Troy Union RR employees once said, only half in jest, that they knew the end was near when they put a new roof on the station. That was usually the kiss of death for any railroad building.

A serious problem that always plagued Troy was the number of highway grade crossings in the city. Every switching move blocked Fulton Street or Broadway, and the TURR needed about ten crossing watchmen per trick, or a total of more than 40 for the 24/7 passenger operation.

As for the demolition of Troy Union Station, the last passenger service left town in January of 1958 and it was demolished by the end of the summer that same year. So, no, there was never a post-classic- era shack.

Probably the reason Troy lost its direct passenger service relativley early is because it wasn’t far from more-than-adequate remaining service in Albany (7 miles, and with good local transit connections) . The cost saving from shutting down TUS was probably enormous.

Around 1959 D&H and NYC had brought running B&M to Albany, but they couldn’t make an agreement with the operating brotherhoods to allow B&M crews to run to Albany. It wouldn’t work out if a D&H crew had to take the train over that distance. The B&M wasn’t about to put any more money into maintaining that service west of Fitchburg, and this was another good reason for them to dump it.

Either way, the B&M would have had to either run via TURR to the NYC at Madison Street or to the D&H via the Green Island Bridge, and they would have still needed most of the TURR with all of its crossings, and the Green Island Bridge. A route via Mechanicville would not have worked, either. All three railroads wanted to be shed of the entire TURR, not only the station, and the best way to get regulatory approval was to let the expenses pile up and then dump the whole thing. The only fly in the ointment was the Rutland operation, and when that went away in 1961 the fate of the TURR was sealed.

Read more about the Troy Union Railroad

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/troy-schenectady-railroad/

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