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ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 01:12:51 2009

As I have not been around to follow the whole discussion and as Subchat's search feature is a bit useless, can someone explain to me why the plan for new tunnels for NJ Transit is not to connect to Grand Central, which, in my mind, is the seemingly cheapest and most logical option, as seen here:

http://www.newpennstation.org/site/connection


Why was this option taken off the table, if it in fact was?

(879686)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 01:44:56 2009, in response to ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 01:12:51 2009.

Because it wasn't a plan to begin with. It was nothing but a handwavingly vague outline of a plan which would place a number of obstacles in the way of fully utilizing the terminal. They did not address the technical, political, bureaucratic, or economic concerns related to through running NJT's AC powered equipment on the Metro North's DC system. They also did not explain how exactly NJT would be accommodated on Metro North's platforms. NJT's study claimed it'd be 'through running', yet we can't even get that off the ground on our existing end-to-end connection between commuter rail systems at Penn Station. NJT needs to work on gaining through running with the LIRR before they make it a critical component of any multibillion dollar project.

Of course thanks to the useless 7 train extension's insanely long tail tracks and NJT's desire for dual fail locomotives any shallow ARC option is now dead. The Penn Station connector tracks died about the time the MTA decided 1200 foot long tail tracks were required for the 7 train. The nail in the coffin was the prospect of the ALP45DPs being unable to pull a train up the steeper grade on the eastern side of the Hudson. Finally, there is little or no prospect for building anything east of Penn Station while the DEP's first water tunnel is in service. That tunnel is of indeterminate structural integrity and the DEP has rightly forbidden any major tunnelling efforts in and around their earliest project. Any connector between NYP and GCT will require a steep grade to reach bedrock to duck below the supports of the buildings above. That means it'd come much too close to the first water tunnel for the DEP to sign off on it.

With any luck the first water tunnel will finally be closed for structural inspections when the third water tunnel is opened. But that won't be until after 2020 or so. That's a very long time to wait to begin construction of the final phase of the project which will finally allow it to be fully utilized. However, if we do the 6 track 34th St Station now then we can get somewhere between 15 and 24tph by 2016. After that we can get the TBMs going again once the first water tunnel is squared away and get started on a project which would eliminate the need for terminals in Manhattan. IMHO it should be a solution that would enable a total of 60tph to enter the city from NJ while enabling an easy cross platform transfer to GCT, and avoid any problem created by through running.

(879688)

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Re: ARC to GCT (Alternative G)

Posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 01:58:47 2009, in response to ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 01:12:51 2009.

Why was this option taken off the table, if it in fact was?

Because the MTA for reasons yet to be explained backed out of the project. That doesn't explain the retrenching out of Alternative P or looking for ways to expand the first level of NYP. (Both prior alternatives gave access to NYP from the new tunnels. The current mess does not.)

There's also a few potential problems having to do with electrification. While there's enough overhead room to install overhead wire in GCT's lower level, the tunnels under Park Avenue might present a clearance problem (details unresolved).

Why did you call Alternative G "the option of choice"? Who was choosing it?

(879706)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Dutchrailnut on Tue Dec 29 06:01:07 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 01:44:56 2009.

The first water tunnel will not close, it will be fixed and reopened so a second way to keep water flowing to NYC will be retained.


(879707)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Dutchrailnut on Tue Dec 29 06:07:00 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Dutchrailnut on Tue Dec 29 06:01:07 2009.

here is info:

Water tunnels

New York City Water Tunnel No. 1 was completed in 1917. It runs from the Hillview Reservoir under the central Bronx, Harlem River, West Side, Midtown and Lower East Side of Manhattan, and under the East River to Brooklyn where it connects to Tunnel 2. It is expected to undergo extensive repairs upon completion of Tunnel No. 3 in 2012

New York City Water Tunnel No. 2 was completed in 1935. It runs from Hillview Reservoir under the central Bronx, East River, and western Queens to Brooklyn where it connects to Tunnel 1 and the Richmond Tunnel to Staten Island.

New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 is the largest capital construction project in New York City's history.[citation needed] It is intended to provide the city with a critical third connection to its Upstate New York water supply system. The tunnel will eventually be more than 60 miles (97 km) long. Construction on the tunnel began in 1970 and is expected to be completed in 2012

(879713)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Terrapin Station on Tue Dec 29 06:56:26 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Dutchrailnut on Tue Dec 29 06:01:07 2009.

No, he clearly wrote "with any luck the first water tunnel will finally be closed for structural inspections when the third water tunnel is opened."

For structural inspections! That's the whole point of the new tunnels! Build an alternate tunnel so the original can be closed, inspected, and repaired. That's what he's talking about. I don't know why in the world you would think WillD doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to the water tunnels. They are practically his specialty.

(879804)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 10:24:28 2009, in response to ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 01:12:51 2009.

Forget connecting to Grand Central, they should connect it to the existing Penn Station first. By rail.

(879806)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 10:30:26 2009, in response to ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 01:12:51 2009.

Added cost, additional infrastructure issues.

If I had designed ARC, I'd put the new station under the PABT.

(879815)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 10:51:40 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 10:30:26 2009.

Why there?

(879819)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Fred G on Tue Dec 29 10:57:52 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 10:30:26 2009.

Because there wouldn't be infrastructure issues there?

your pal,
Fred

(879821)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 11:01:25 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Terrapin Station on Tue Dec 29 06:56:26 2009.

I don't know why in the world you would think WillD doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to the water tunnels. They are practically his specialty

Oh yeah right. Countenancing pork is a "specialty"? because he sure doesn't bother to find a way to make the tunnels cost as little as they ought to be . . .

(879822)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 11:02:48 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 10:30:26 2009.

Meh. Just make the center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel for buses and light rail only, right? like the South Busway in Pittsburgh. Problems solved . . . what a miracle . . .

(879829)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 11:15:51 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Fred G on Tue Dec 29 10:57:52 2009.

Because it provides choice at a lesser expense. GCT would be a simple shuttle ride away. The deep bore would not affect the shallow subway tunnels around the area.

(879834)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Fred G on Tue Dec 29 11:22:19 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 11:15:51 2009.

If only that subway tunnels were the only infrastructural concerns, maybe.

your pal,
Fred

(879852)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Chris R16/R2730 on Tue Dec 29 11:55:26 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Fred G on Tue Dec 29 11:22:19 2009.

In that area, there's less, although the new #7 extension might necessitate a station north of 42nd.

(879877)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 12:59:02 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 11:01:25 2009.

Oh yeah right. Countenancing pork is a "specialty"?

What exactly have I said that is incorrect? The 7 train tail tracks don't provide an impediment to the NYP connector track? The ALP45DPs will be capable of pulling trains up from the lowest point of the Hudson tunnel? The first water tunnel does not create an effective barrier to any attempt to build anything between 5th and 6th Avenues?

because he sure doesn't bother to find a way to make the tunnels cost as little as they ought to be.

And what do you mean by that? Do you want to reduce the tunnel diameter and in doing so constrain future rolling stock additions? Perhaps you'd prefer a project which squanders billions of dollars extending the subway into NJ, yet still requires everyone to change trains and thus is never as fully utilized as a project such as I describe would be.

(879880)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 13:04:24 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 10:24:28 2009.

You wanna convince the MTA that four 600 foot long tail tracks are a superior alternative for their now fairly useless 7 train extension? Oh wait, it's "done", and now there's virtually nothing we can do to properly add capacity to Penn Station itself.

(879883)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 13:11:05 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 13:04:24 2009.

Why can't they build two new tunnels directly adjacent to the two existing tunnels?

(879888)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by geoffc on Tue Dec 29 13:24:09 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 11:02:48 2009.

I recall reading that the Lincoln Tunnel is too steep for trains.

I have biked the north tube, and run the south tube, and they are pretty darn steep in places!

North tube is virtually all downhill, then all uphill, with no major flat area.

Whereas the south tunnel does have a longish flat section.

I am still trying to find an excuse to get through the center tube under human power!

Also run the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Now I need to find a way to do that in Queens Midtown and Holland to complete the set!



(879897)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 13:44:46 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by geoffc on Tue Dec 29 13:24:09 2009.

I recall reading that the Lincoln Tunnel is too steep for trains

I didn't suggest (TIC mind you) running trains through there, but light rail. The ruling grade in the Lincoln Tunnel is, apparently, 8.5 percent; trolleys have operated on steeper than that IINM.

(879909)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 14:33:31 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 13:11:05 2009.

How does that add to the capacity of NYP. Where will the additional platforms be?

ROAR

(879928)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 15:56:16 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 14:33:31 2009.

There are two separate issues, with related solutions. Penn needs more capacity, and the tunnels from NJ are at capacity. But the chosen solution only solves one problem.

(879949)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 17:06:49 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Hank Eisenstein on Tue Dec 29 15:56:16 2009.

No the solution answers both issues, after a fashion.

There will be two new tunnel tracks, three new platforms and six new platform tracks. Figure six trains per track per hour, or 36 additional trains each hour.

Clearly there is an issue of flexibility. Trains that are scheduled to use the new station will have to use the new station, as mayhem would ensue following a change from track 26 to track 4.

Still this is about 72 new rush hour slots for NJT, and the LION is certain that they will make good use of them.

ROAR

(879964)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 17:48:53 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 17:06:49 2009.

Still this is about 72 new rush hour slots for NJT

Nope. Count again.

(879987)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 18:50:02 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 17:48:53 2009.

One sharp claw
Two sharp claws
Three sharp claws
Four sharp claws
Five sharp claws

One huge paw
Two huge paws
Three huge paws
Four sharp paws

TWENTY sharp claws....

Yawn... Stretch....

Sorry. LION can only count to twenty.

ROAR

(879988)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 18:51:13 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Olog-hai on Tue Dec 29 17:48:53 2009.

One sharp claw
Two sharp claws
Three sharp claws
Four sharp claws
Five sharp claws

One huge paw
Two huge paws
Three huge paws
Four sharp paws

TWENTY sharp claws....

Yawn... Stretch....

Sorry. LION can only count to twenty.

ROAR

(880100)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 23:12:44 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 01:44:56 2009.

Well this spurred a bigger discussion than I expected! That's good. So from what I gather from everyone, it seems the major issue, aside from compatibility at the ends, is the water tunnel. Hard to get around that. But the depth that is needed for the new tunnels seems to be a problem for NJ if their diesels can't make the climb out, no matter what alignment they use.

How about connecting the NJ tunnels to the LIRR level of GCT? Aside again from the water tunnel(?), what are the issues there?

(880102)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 23:14:33 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 17:06:49 2009.

It's highly debatable whether they could pull a train into this terminal, discharge, swap ends, load, run the brake test, and depart the station in anything less than 15 minutes. I have yet to see them do that with NYP, the operation is simpler on the crew there. If they manage to pull off anything more than 4tph per track then my hat is off to them, but I strongly suspect they will need to schedule at least 20 minutes between trains on each track. An increase of 18TPH isn't anything to sniff at, but unfortunately it will probably fall short of 'doubling' NYP's capacity by adding 24TPH. And of course any project which merely constructed tunnels and used tracks 1-5 of NYP would be unlikely to add anything more than 10tph to the station. Sure, with a new 6-8 track cavern station and a connector to NYP as the late, lamented plans proposed we might get better utilization of tracks 1-4 and thus might hit 24tph. But again, the 7 train's half billion dollar one station extension rules that out.

If you want 36tph we'll need to keep the train going, either on to Sunnyside, or back through a tunnel to Jersey City and a yard in the Meadowlands.

(880107)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 23:32:47 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 23:12:44 2009.

NJT trains will not fit through the 63rd Street Tunnel.
Not even LIRR's own diesels and C-3s will fit in there.

ROAR

(880109)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 23:35:20 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by WillD on Tue Dec 29 23:14:33 2009.

They will be push pull trains. Can't be anything else.
Train comes in, dumps. A new crew boards, charges up and goes.

LIRR brings in DH/ and out in 10 min or less, NJT could do it too.

ROAR

(880113)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Wed Dec 30 00:03:15 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by JayMan on Tue Dec 29 23:12:44 2009.

But the depth that is needed for the new tunnels seems to be a problem for NJ if their diesels can't make the climb out, no matter what alignment they use.

The simplest alternative to that problem would simply be to scrap the dual fails, spend the $350 million we're blowing on them on around 100 route miles of electrification and 20 or so electric locomotives. That'd likely get us the WORM gap on the M&E to Mt Arlington, the southern NJCL, and the RVL to Raritan. The commuters on the Erie lines can continue to change at Secaucus and Hoboken and the loop really doesn't have to be built. At the very least they'd have nearly twice as many trains to choose from at Secaucus. I really like the prospect of a yard in the Meadowlands on the former Boonton line accessible to both the NEC and a Jersey City tunnel to downtown, but it's not absolutely necessary at this point. Maybe when the Erie lines are electrified to Suffern we can talk about constructing the loop.

Now I really wish there were some form of regional coordination amongst the various infrastructure creation efforts in the NY Metro area. We probably could have preserved the NYP track 1-5 connection to the ARC tunnel if the MTA had just pushed the 7 train's tail tracks a bit to the west. Instead they sit in the top of the bedrock exactly where any reasonable connector to the ARC tunnels would pass.

How about connecting the NJ tunnels to the LIRR level of GCT?

That's a possibility, and one I argued for in the past. But the 63rd St tunnel is much too small to accommodate the AC wire NJT needs to power their trains. Indeed it is possible it is too small to accomodate even the physical profile of their Multilevel trains, or perhaps even the single level Comet cars. So we'd have to change NJT's rolling stock to work with the third rail and fit within the 63rd St tunnel's loading gauge. That is an expensive prospect given that their equipment is amongst the youngest in the Northeast.

And of course running NJT's trains through the 63rd St tunnel would require the LIRR to do the same, passing through the ARC terminal and on a yard in the NJ Meadowlands. With 3 tracks at NYP, and 4 at GCT dedicated to each agency depending on peak flow, and agressive fumigation (which in theory could be done at Sunnyside or Secaucus) it is possible 8 trains per hour per track could be squeezed through the two stations. The ESA terminal may actually turn 24tph, so this really isn't an improvement, but for NJT, if my guess is correct and they end up at 18tph then they'd have a net gain. It's possible a through-running agreement could be developed out of this project. But as with NYP that would require an enormous number of technical, political, and bureaucratic hurdles to be jumped before it could come about. It's also possible we could dig NJT a second 8 track cavern next to the ESA terminal, but the M42 substation is down there somewhere to get in the way, as are the escalator passages for the LIRR terminal. Finally with us already spending a very large amount of money on the Hudson tunnel and the ARC cavern station we'd be hard pressed to fund another, larger cavern and connecting tunnel to GCT.

Given these constraints I think it is best to simply keep the LIRR in the 63rd, keep NJT in the ARC tunnel, and give them their own ways out of the city. But of course we can't have them entirely separated, because the NY Metro area's inner urban subcenters are becoming bigger players in the region's job market and we cannot expect all commuters to travel solely to a job center within easy access of NYP or GCT. Thus it makes sense to distribute the Manhattan stations along a north-south axis, and include Brooklyn and Jersey City into the system. And because of the variety of destinations for the city's commuters it'd be helpful to allow for easy transfers between the eastern and western commuter rail systems without entering into all the garbage surrounding through running. Finally we may as well shoot for the sort of capacity a through running agreement seeks to provide without delving into the many issues surrounding it. If I do say so myself my commuter tunnel running the length of Manhattan is the best compromise between capacity, compatibility, convenience, and the political reality of getting something built. IMHO it's a hell of a lot easier to scrape together 20 billion dollars than to try to convince NJ they won't be taken advantage of by the MTA.



(880115)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by WillD on Wed Dec 30 00:18:38 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 23:35:20 2009.

You need to allow at least 10 minutes to load a train, that much NYP has taught us. With any luck NJT will set up the station such that there is no single entry point to the platforms, but I strongly suspect that they will do so. In fact I'm inclined to believe the platform access at ARC will actually be worse than NYP. Beyond the time to load passengers the crew is going to need at least 5 minutes without the passengers around to get the train turned around, or to swap crews. After all, you don't want passengers sitting on an unattended train, right? Then you need to allow at least 5 minutes for schedule padding so you don't have perpetually late trains for something as inconsequential as loading and unloading a wheelchair at enroute stations. You *might* be able to cut out the 5 minutes of crew time, and you could really hurry the boarding process along to reduce it to an 8 or 9 minute period, but people will likely be left behind, and in theory you're making the operation less safe.

LIRR brings in DH/ and out in 10 min or less, NJT could do it too.

These aren't exactly deadheads, are they? Sure, some NJT trains will enter the terminal and relay as deadheads, and you may be able to get them fumigated and the platform mostly cleared in less than 10 minutes. But many trains will return to NJ as revenue trips, and then you'll need to either develop a robust passenger handling infrastructure within the station to allow for bidirectional flows, or you'll need to hold the train there until the flow of alighting passengers weakens and allows the boarding passengers down the stairs and onto the platform.

(880202)

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Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?

Posted by Olog-hai on Wed Dec 30 09:06:03 2009, in response to Re: ARC to GCT - Why Not the Option of Choice?, posted by Broadway Lion on Tue Dec 29 18:51:13 2009.

Don't worry. NJT can't even count in that order . . . they skip numbers . . .


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