Category Archives: Railroad Current

Google Maps will soon tell you when it’s time to get off your train or bus

Google is about to launch a small but useful update to Google Maps that will give you live guidance and interactive real-time notifications during your journey.

The idea here is to give you real-time updates while you are on your transit journey. These updates will appear in the Google Maps app and, maybe most importantly, on your Android lock screen.

To get started, you search for your transit directions in Google Maps as usual. So far, so good. What’s new here is that you’ll soon be able to tap a “start” button at the bottom the screen with the details about your transit journey and then get live updates as you walk or ride on your local buses and trains.

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Freight train derails in New Jersey, causing commuter delays

WTNH Channel 8

A freight train en route to upstate New York derailed in northern New Jersey on Friday afternoon, leaving rail cars strewn across the tracks and snarling the evening commute for thousands of people leaving New York.

Fire officials in Union Township, southwest of Newark, said the roughly 140-car train operated by CSX Transportation derailed about 1:30 p.m. on its way to Selkirk, New York, a suburb of Albany.

Fire Chief Michael Scanio said the tracks suffered “severe damage” but that the train cars were empty according to the engineer’s manifest, and there were no injuries.

Overhead images showed at least a dozen rail cars off the tracks or lying on their sides.

People were evacuated from nearby homes and businesses, Scanio said, but were being allowed to return to their homes by late afternoon after hazmat teams cleared the accident scene.

The tracks affected by the derailment are owned by Conrail and are also used by commuter railroad New Jersey Transit, which suspended service on its Raritan Valley Line in both directions in the area of the derailment.

There was no immediate indication about what caused the derailment or how long it would take to restore rail service in the area.

Thoughts On Connecticut Freight Railroads

In a great attempt to bring back the capabilities of the old New Haven Railroad, the State of Connecticut has developed a STATE RAIL PLAN:
http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dplansprojectsstudies/plans/state_rail_plan/State_Rail_Plan_Final_Draft_8-24-12.pdf

The Providence & Worster (former NY and New Haven Railroad) and the New England Central(Central Vermont/Canadian National) are owned by the same company, Genesee and Wyoming. The P & W , successor to the New Haven Railroad , is alive and appears to be doing very well.

Most of the smaller Connecticut Railroads are doing as well as expected. The Housatonic Railroad (coming from New York State) needs help once they enter Connecticut. A plan is developing to bring that about:
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/a-new-hudson-bridge-revived-beacon-line-hyperloop-and-more/

Aside from all of this, there are several comments recently on CSX.

Maybe CSX needs to sell out in Western Connecticut? Put ownership with P&W or Housatonic?

What are your thoughts?

What is wrong with the railroads? The Lehigh Valley!

As you may know, our company promotes RAILROADs. We also cover the “supply chain”. Recently I read a story in “Supply Chain Dive” about “How to become the next big logistics hub”.

I thought longingly about the old Lehigh Valley Railroad

Now it is long gone, but all the stories in the article and all pictures of fullfillment centers DID NOT INCLUDE RAILROADS.

Think I found my answer:
A warehouse in Allentown can offer same-day delivery to five cities
City Estimated travel time by Truck
Baltimore 2 hours and 40 minutes
Philadelphia 1 hour and 15 minutes
Pittsburgh 4 hours and 30 minutes
New York City Between 2 and 2.5 hours
Washington 3 hours and 30 minutes

The area served by the companies in the Lehigh Valley is very short transit. But it is ALL SERVED BY HUGE TRUCKS. Guzzeling all kinds of diesel fuel. Making roads IMPOSSIBLE.

Would think that a “short line” capable of running 5 trains a day could cover all this turf without without fouling the environment forever.

Part of the problem is the five receiving rail yards in the five cities mentioned are not geared for TODAY. They cannot even handle what they could 50 years ago! Sidings are gone! Access tracks have been ripped up. The whole infrastructure has been fouled up and handed over to the evil “18-wheelers”.

Most of what is shipped out of the Lehigh Valley comes out of “industrial parks”. Easy to lay new track! Most everything shipped is in CONTAINERS anyway.

How to get these five old and tired cities to handle incoming rail traffic??? Build new terminals! Yes, New York is a problem. Cross-harbor car ferries never were the “idea of the century” anyway.

Getting There: 700-mph Hyperloop, third-rail ban, billion-dollar bridge and other transportation updates

Ct Post By Jim Cameron

In July, I wrote about tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s idea to build a 700-mph tube system to whisk passengers from Washington to New York in 29 minutes. Using a combination of a near-vacuum and linear induction motors, I noted that Musk has yet to build a working full-scale prototype, and called him “the PT Barnum of technology,” offering “more hype than hope.”

At the time, Musk had just gone public after a meeting at the White House, saying he’d been given “approval” to start boring giant tunnels for his project. I scoffed at the notion, but have been proven wrong.

Sure enough, a reader recently informed me that Maryland’s governor has given Musk permission to start digging 10 miles of tunnels under the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to eventually link the two cities. Boring will cost up to $1 billion a mile. So, though I remain skeptical of Hyperloop’s future, I stand corrected.

In October, I wrote about our state’s complex electric system to power Metro-North. In Connecticut, those trains rely on overhead catenary to get power, but in Westchester County and into Grand Central, the trains convert to third rail.

Given the perennial problems with the overhead wires, both old and new, I explained why converting to a third-rail system in Connecticut didn’t make sense: the trains would accelerate slower and we would still need catenary for Amtrak.

What I didn’t know was that third-rail power was banned by the state Supreme Court in 1906 after a center-track third rail power system installed by the New Haven Railroad resulted in several electrocutions near Hartford.

Clearly, the third-rail power system in use today is much safer than the one experimented with a century ago, but in this land of steady habits, overturning that ban might be a challenge.

In October, I wrote about our state’s complex electric system to power Metro-North. In Connecticut, those trains rely on overhead catenary to get power, but in Westchester County and into Grand Central, the trains convert to third rail.

Given the perennial problems with the overhead wires, both old and new, I explained why converting to a third-rail system in Connecticut didn’t make sense: the trains would accelerate slower and we would still need catenary for Amtrak.

What I didn’t know was that third-rail power was banned by the state Supreme Court in 1906 after a center-track third rail power system installed by the New Haven Railroad resulted in several electrocutions near Hartford.

Clearly, the third-rail power system in use today is much safer than the one experimented with a century ago, but in this land of steady habits, overturning that ban might be a challenge.

Preliminary work to replace the 121-year-old Walk Bridge in South Norwalk continues apace, even as local elections have turned the project into a political hot-potato. Some oppose the cost and disruption of replacing the swing bridge with a two-section lift bridge while others, more nostalgic, want the new bridge to resemble the old. Those proposing a fixed bridge, effectively closing the Norwalk River to commercial boat traffic, are keeping their hopes alive even though the state DOT has rejected that idea.

Rumors that construction of the new bridge might require demolition of the Norwalk Aquarium’s IMAX theater seem to have been confirmed. But the real heavy construction won’t begin until 2019, so there’s plenty of time to catch a movie.

Armed man from St. Charles arrested after stopping Amtrak train in Nebraska

St Louis Today

OXFORD, Neb. • An armed man got into a locomotive on an Amtrak train passing through southwest Nebraska early Saturday and pulled the emergency brake while about 175 passengers were on board, authorities say.

Deputies from Furnas and Harlan counties responded to the incident in Oxford around 1:54 a.m. after being alerted that the eastbound California Zephyr was in emergency response mode, Furnas County Sheriff Kurt Kapperman said in a news release.

Amtrak staff detained Taylor M. Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Mo., and turned him over to the Furnas County Sheriff’s Department, the release said.

Kapperman’s deputies found a loaded Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolver on Wilson’s waistband and a speed loader for the weapon in his pocket. They also seized two bags containing three more speed loaders, a box of ammo for the revolver, a knife, tin snips, scissors and a ventilation mask, Kapperman said.

Wilson was traveling from Sacramento, Calif., to St. Louis, and somehow got into the second locomotive and stopped the train using the emergency brake, the release said.

It’s believed Amtrak engineers in control of the train were in the first locomotive, which was at the front of the train and can’t be accessed from the second locomotive directly behind it.

Deputies arrested Wilson on suspicion of felony criminal mischief and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

He was being held at the Furnas County jail on $25,000 bond.

Kapperman didn’t say how Wilson got the gun on board — whether he carried it on himself or retrieved it from a checked bag.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said that detail was unclear and that the exact circumstances are under investigation.
Amtrak only allows firearms in checked baggage, and only if they are unloaded. However, train passengers aren’t required to undergo the level of screening required of airline passengers. The difference reflects the vastness of Amtrak’s rail system and the “‘open’ and therefore porous transportation environment” it operates within, the company says on its website.

Wilson had a Missouri-issued conceal-carry permit in his wallet, a Furnas County deputy wrote in court documents.

Saturday’s incident delayed the train by a little more than an hour, Magliari said.

The eastbound train departed the Sacramento area Thursday morning, with its expected arrival in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. From Chicago, Amtrak trains connect to the St. Louis area.

New England Gateway, The New “Alphabet Route”

Guest article by Ken Kinlock

Over the years we covered the historic “ALPHABET ROUTES”

More recently there has been a lot of activity in creating a “New England Gateway”. Because it involves several railroads, we will call it an “alphabet route”.

Before then, rail freight into and out of New England had been mostly Conrail (now CSX) or Guilford. Another route exists that avoids these carriers.

A test train has run to Johnson City, New York (January 2006). This coal train moved via the New England Gateway Route (P&W-NECR-VRS-D&H-NS)

“P&W” Providence & Worcester Railroad (the Providence and Worcester Railroad has joined the Genesee & Wyoming family of railroads)

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“NECR” New England Central Railroad

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“VRS” Vermont Rail System

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“D&H” Canadian Pacific Railway (was Delaware & Hudson once)

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“NS” Norfolk Southern

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A coal ship arrived at Providence, Rhode Island and was unloaded to a 50-car train.

The train travels to Worcester, Massachusetts, then to New London, Connecticut on the P&W.

It switches to the NECR for travel, back through Norwich, Connecticut then Palmer, Massachusetts, to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

At Bellows Falls, it is picked up by VRS and heads to Whitehall, Vermont.

From Whitehall, D&H takes it thru Saratoga, Schenectady and Oneonta to Binghampton.

NS carries it the last leg to Johnson City.

The route has varied, the owners have varied; but this is the basic “sketch” of the route.

Rail Freight Thru Connecticut

A few years ago Jon Melnick, a transportation planner with the New York City Transit Authority, published an article about travel from Delaware to Connecticut not using AMTRAK. He took two days and 22 buses to travel from Newark, Delaware to Old Saybrook, Connecticut. We discussed how to continue on towards Boston.

2017 Update: Still no connection between Shore Line East and Providence, Rhode Island!

news article: “Feds drop Old Saybrook-to-Rhode Island bypass from final rail plan”

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Then we began to expand on our plans for: (1) bridge across Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Beacon; (2) revival of Beacon Line” from Beacon to Harlem Division, Danbury and Connecticut. So where do we go in Connecticut? The “Maybrook Line” which preceeded the “Beacon Line” before the Great Bridge at Poughkeepsie burned.

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We put together a WebSite on the freight railroads of Connecticut

Then we got copy of the Connecticut State Rail Plan.

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Amtrak owns the corridor that runs between Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut. This segment is one of the federally designated high-speed rail corridors.

The Boston and Albany route through Springfield toward Boston is a heavily congested freight route operated by CSX. It experiences between sixteen and eighteen freight trains per day.

Amtrak owns the 70 – mile segment along the Connecticut shoreline between
New Haven and the Rhode Island state line . The segment is primarily 2 – tracks with passing sidings near Guilford, Old Saybrook, and Groton
Connecticut, like other states, struggles with the mounting costs of maintaining its highway infrastructure. A single intermodal freight train can carry the same load as 500 trucks . Nationally,
freight shippers would have to add 50 million additional trucks on the roadways.

Encouraging and supporting approaches that maximize the amount of freight that moves by rail while minimizing tonnage moving over state highways will help reduce wear and maintenance costs on the state’s road system.
Railroads are the most fuel – efficient means of surface transportation, and are becoming more efficient and “green” at a much faster rate than long – haul trucking. Moving freight by rail
reduces the consumption of diesel fuel, reduces heavy truck traffic, and reduces carbon emissions.

The railroad track structure allows for the passage of wildlife and only experiences traffic a few times per day, as opposed to roads and highways, which see nearly constant movement of vehicles.

Unlike public transit and the public highway network, the rail freight industry is operated by the private sector for profit. There are ten privately owned freight railroad companies operating in Connecticut
These companies own most of the rail freight infrastructure in the state
and all of the rail freight equipment operating within the state.

Housatonic Railroad Company (HRRC) is a regional short line that operates in the western part of Connecticut along the Berkshire Line (50.0 miles), and to Derby/Shelton via its Maybrook Line (33.5 miles)
and in western Massachusetts. HRRC owns the southern 13.6 miles of the Berkshire Line between Boardman’s Bridge and Brookfield, as well as the Maybrook Line to Derby.HRRC interchanges with CSX in
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has the potential to interchange with CSX in Beacon, New York.

The HRRC has an opportunity to interchange with Pan Am Southern Railway in Derby, should the potential for this particular routing present itself.
HRRC operates trains between Pittsfield and Canaan on Monday through Friday, and between Canaan and New Milford on Sunday through Thursday.
It operates a local switching operation in the New Milford -Danbury
– Newtown area on Monday through Friday. There are switching yards
in N. Canaan, New Milford, Danbury, and Hawleyville/Newtown, along with
and an engine and railcar maintenance facility in Canaan.

P&W provides local freight service from Milford to Derby

In Connecticut, CSX operates nearly 70 miles of railroad and maintains 11 public and private grade crossings. In 2009, CSX handled more than 9,500 carloads of freight and employed
seven people in Connecticut. Products shipped include lumber, municipal and construction waste, plywood, limestone, and wood
pulp. CSX has a TRANSFLO terminal in North Haven that provides transloading (transfers of freight between railcars and trucks),
materials management, and logistics services
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European Champion In The Rail Industry

The engineering giants Alstom and Siemens are to tie up their rail operations. Alstom of France and Germany’s Siemens say that the merger will create a new “European champion in the rail industry”. The new group,which will be led by Alstom’s chief executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge will be called Siemens Alstom and is expected to compete against China’s state-backed operator CRRC. Alstom makes TGV trains in France while Siemens makes the equivalent ICE inter-city trains that run on German long-distance routes. The French government,which owns around 20 percent of Alstom will shed its stake as part of the deal.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

Fall time is the perfect time to take a ride on the Essex Steam Train.

The Essex Steam Train commenced operation in 1971 with only one steam engine and three coaches. Today they operate fifteen coaches with two steam trains, a Dinner Train, and professionally host and cater private and corporate events in our River Valley Junction.

Some of their upcoming events include Haddam Swing Bridge Fall Special, North Pole Express, and Santa Special.

For more information http://essexsteamtrain.com

Read even more about the Essex Steam Train
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/essex-steam-train/