Page 22 of 23 FirstFirst ... 1220212223 LastLast
Results 631 to 660 of 685

Thread: Intercity Passenger Rail

  1. #631



  2. Remove this section of ads by registering.
  3. #632

  4. #633

    Default

    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 06-16-2017 at 07:37 PM.

  5. #634

  6. #635

    Default

    Former C&O 2-6-6-2 Baldwin compound, now WMSR 1309 is nearing completion of a full restoration effort with an expected operating lifespan of over 50 years.

    They look for it to be in service on 1 July 2017.

    Tickets can be purchased here: https://public.whistletix.com/WMSR/Events/293388

    It will be, once operational, the last surviving commercially built Baldwin locomotive for a US railroad and the largest operating steam locomotive in the world.

    https://www.facebook.com/Wmsrsteam/


  7. #636

    Default

    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 06-16-2017 at 09:15 PM.

  8. #637

    Default

    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 06-16-2017 at 09:17 PM.

  9. #638

    Default

    I miss talking trains with acptulsa...where did he go?

  10. #639

    Default

    From Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.


    We have come five hundred miles by rail through the heart of France.
    What a bewitching land it is! What a garden! Surely the leagues of
    bright green lawns are swept and brushed and watered every day and their
    grasses trimmed by the barber. Surely the hedges are shaped and measured
    and their symmetry preserved by the most architectural of gardeners.
    Surely the long straight rows of stately poplars that divide the
    beautiful landscape like the squares of a checker-board are set with line
    and plummet, and their uniform height determined with a spirit level.
    Surely the straight, smooth, pure white turnpikes are jack-planed and
    sandpapered every day. How else are these marvels of symmetry,
    cleanliness, and order attained? It is wonderful. There are no
    unsightly stone walls and never a fence of any kind. There is no dirt,
    no decay, no rubbish anywhere--nothing that even hints at untidiness
    --nothing that ever suggests neglect. All is orderly and beautiful--every
    thing is charming to the eye.

    We had such glimpses of the Rhone gliding along between its grassy banks;
    of cosy cottages buried in flowers and shrubbery; of quaint old red-tiled
    villages with mossy medieval cathedrals looming out of their midst; of
    wooded hills with ivy-grown towers and turrets of feudal castles
    projecting above the foliage; such glimpses of Paradise, it seemed to us,
    such visions of fabled fairyland!

    We knew then what the poet meant when he sang of: “--thy cornfields
    green, and sunny vines, O pleasant land of France!”

    And it is a pleasant land. No word describes it so felicitously as that
    one. They say there is no word for “home” in the French language. Well,
    considering that they have the article itself in such an attractive
    aspect, they ought to manage to get along without the word. Let us not
    waste too much pity on “homeless” France. I have observed that Frenchmen
    abroad seldom wholly give up the idea of going back to France some time
    or other. I am not surprised at it now.

    We are not infatuated with these French railway cars, though. We took
    first-class passage, not because we wished to attract attention by doing
    a thing which is uncommon in Europe but because we could make our journey
    quicker by so doing. It is hard to make railroading pleasant in any
    country. It is too tedious. Stagecoaching is infinitely more
    delightful. Once I crossed the plains and deserts and mountains of the
    West in a stagecoach, from the Missouri line to California, and since
    then all my pleasure trips must be measured to that rare holiday frolic.
    Two thousand miles of ceaseless rush and rattle and clatter, by night and
    by day, and never a weary moment, never a lapse of interest! The first
    seven hundred miles a level continent, its grassy carpet greener and
    softer and smoother than any sea and figured with designs fitted to its
    magnitude--the shadows of the clouds. Here were no scenes but summer
    scenes, and no disposition inspired by them but to lie at full length on
    the mail sacks in the grateful breeze and dreamily smoke the pipe of
    peace--what other, where all was repose and contentment? In cool
    mornings, before the sun was fairly up, it was worth a lifetime of city
    toiling and moiling to perch in the foretop with the driver and see the
    six mustangs scamper under the sharp snapping of the whip that never
    touched them; to scan the blue distances of a world that knew no lords
    but us; to cleave the wind with uncovered head and feel the sluggish
    pulses rousing to the spirit of a speed that pretended to the resistless
    rush of a typhoon! Then thirteen hundred miles of desert solitudes; of
    limitless panoramas of bewildering perspective; of mimic cities, of
    pinnacled cathedrals, of massive fortresses, counterfeited in the eternal
    rocks and splendid with the crimson and gold of the setting sun; of dizzy
    altitudes among fog-wreathed peaks and never-melting snows, where
    thunders and lightnings and tempests warred magnificently at our feet and
    the storm clouds above swung their shredded banners in our very faces!
    But I forgot. I am in elegant France now, and not scurrying through the
    great South Pass and the Wind River Mountains, among antelopes and
    buffaloes and painted Indians on the warpath. It is not meet that I
    should make too disparaging comparisons between humdrum travel on a
    railway and that royal summer flight across a continent in a stagecoach.
    I meant in the beginning to say that railway journeying is tedious and
    tiresome, and so it is--though at the time I was thinking particularly of
    a dismal fifty-hour pilgrimage between New York and St. Louis. Of course
    our trip through France was not really tedious because all its scenes and
    experiences were new and strange; but as Dan says, it had its
    “discrepancies.”

    The cars are built in compartments that hold eight persons each. Each
    compartment is partially subdivided, and so there are two tolerably
    distinct parties of four in it. Four face the other four. The seats and
    backs are thickly padded and cushioned and are very comfortable; you can
    smoke if you wish; there are no bothersome peddlers; you are saved the
    infliction of a multitude of disagreeable fellow passengers. So far, so
    well. But then the conductor locks you in when the train starts; there
    is no water to drink in the car; there is no heating apparatus for night
    travel; if a drunken rowdy should get in, you could not remove a matter
    of twenty seats from him or enter another car; but above all, if you are
    worn out and must sleep, you must sit up and do it in naps, with cramped
    legs and in a torturing misery that leaves you withered and lifeless the
    next day--for behold they have not that culmination of all charity and
    human kindness, a sleeping car, in all France. I prefer the American
    system. It has not so many grievous “discrepancies.”

    In France, all is clockwork, all is order. They make no mistakes. Every
    third man wears a uniform, and whether he be a marshal of the empire or a
    brakeman, he is ready and perfectly willing to answer all your questions
    with tireless politeness, ready to tell you which car to take, yea, and
    ready to go and put you into it to make sure that you shall not go
    astray. You cannot pass into the waiting room of the depot till you have
    secured your ticket, and you cannot pass from its only exit till the
    train is at its threshold to receive you. Once on board, the train will
    not start till your ticket has been examined--till every passenger’s
    ticket has been inspected. This is chiefly for your own good. If by any
    possibility you have managed to take the wrong train, you will be handed
    over to a polite official who will take you whither you belong and bestow
    you with many an affable bow. Your ticket will be inspected every now
    and then along the route, and when it is time to change cars you will
    know it. You are in the hands of officials who zealously study your
    welfare and your interest, instead of turning their talents to the
    invention of new methods of discommoding and snubbing you, as is very
    often the main employment of that exceedingly self-satisfied monarch, the
    railroad conductor of America.

  11. #640

  12. #641

    Default

    No reason we could not have something like that, here.

    Luxury trains, similar to luxury cruises.

    All that needs to happen is for the fedgov to get out of the railroad business and dissolve Anthrax.

    Luxury on the rails in train-mad Japan

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/...-japan-8955058

    TOKYO: Japan's latest super-deluxe train left the station Saturday (Jun 17) with a select group of passengers who paid thousands of dollars for a leisurely trip harking back to an era of Art Deco opulence and a slower pace of life.

    The Twilight Express Mizukaze departed Osaka on its maiden trip with around 30 well-heeled passengers on a journey to the far reaches of Japan's main island.

    A couple staying in the 10-car train's top room, The Suite, paid out a combined 2.4 million yen ($22,000) for a two-night, three-day return trip that rolls past emerald green rice paddies, craggy coastlines and ancient shrines.

    That eye-popping price tag gets you five-star hotel luxury including a marble-floored bathroom with claw-legged tub in the priciest suite, food prepared by gourmet chefs, and sumptuous lounges where you can sip cocktails as you take in the dramatic scenery through huge viewing windows.






  13. #642

    Default

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Fr...ble_car_system


    The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. An icon of San Francisco, the cable car system forms part of the intermodal urban transport network operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Of the 23 lines established between 1873 and 1890,[7] only three remain (one of which combines parts of two earlier lines): two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf, and a third route along California Street. While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, the vast majority of their 7 million annual passengers are tourists.[8] They are among the most significant tourist attractions in the city, along with Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman's Wharf. The cable cars are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

    The cable cars are not to be confused with San Francisco's heritage streetcars, which operate on Market Street and the Embarcadero.
    - SUPPORT FREE TRADE, SMUGGLE -

    2 + 2 = 5.

  14. #643

    Default

    Boo hoo.

    About damn time...if we get the FedGov out of long distance train travel, we might be able to re-invigorate the service by offering "land cruises".

    Nobody travels by ship to "get somewhere" and travel by train to "get somewhere" at least in the US, is just as impractical.

    But a luxury "land cruise" by train, that could be a viable business model.


    If Trump has his way, Amtrak’s long-run trains will roll into history

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/a...=articlerecirc

    Americans may have a short time left to take a long train ride.

    The Amtrak trains that roll daily from the Bay Area to Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles — as well as into the imaginations of the traveling public — might soon be rolling to the scrapyard instead.

    Federal budget cutters once again have their eyes on long-distance Amtrak trains — the ones with bud vases in the dining car and picture windows in the lounge. If the Trump administration has its way, Amtrak will lose about half of its $1.4 billion budget and be forced next year to bump off all its long-distance runs, eliminating service to 23 states, primarily in the West and the South. Short-haul commuter lines such as the Capitol Corridor trains to Sacramento would be all that’s left.

    Although Amtrak patronage was higher than ever last year, with 31.3 million passengers carried, President Trump’s budget cutters say long-distance trains carried only 15 percent of those riders.

    The administration said its proposed budget for 2018 would redirect federal subsidies so Amtrak could “focus resources on the parts of the passenger rail system that provide meaningful transportation options within regions.” It said long-distance trains “have long been inefficient and incur the vast majority of Amtrak’s operating losses.”

    Those operating losses totaled $227 million in fiscal 2016, Amtrak says.

    Eliminating long-distance trains “would allow Amtrak to focus on better managing its state-supported and Northeast corridor train services,” the administration said. State-supported trains include California’s Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner lines, which are funded largely by Caltrans.

    The proposed Amtrak cuts would end funding for 15 trains serving 220 cities. Gone would be the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles to New Orleans), the Lake Shore Limited (New York to Chicago) and the Empire Builder (Seattle to Chicago). Saying “Good night, America” for the last time would be the City of New Orleans, of Arlo Guthrie hit fame.

    California would lose the Coast Starlight, which runs through the Bay Area twice daily on its way between Seattle and Los Angeles, and the California Zephyr, which departs every morning from Emeryville over the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies and on to Chicago.

    At the Emeryville depot, passengers awaiting the departure of the diesel-powered leviathans were wailing like locomotive whistles at a grade crossing.

    Trump “cuts everything people need, especially poor people,” said Walter McCain of Oakland, hunkered down in the waiting room the other morning. “Trains are a viable alternative to flying, as long as you’re not in a hurry. And there’s no need to be in a hurry. For what?”

    Also not in a hurry were Mike and Marjean O’Neill of Cotati, which was a good thing because it would take them 51 hours to get to Chicago if their train left on time, which, being Amtrak, it didn’t. (The California Zephyr departed 23 minutes late, to allow the dining car crew to finish loading some chickens and the porters to take on bags of linens.)

  15. #644

    Default

    This is the former Santa Fe number 1316, as operated by the Texas State Railroad years ago:



    This is her today:



    So, how did this happen? The sad tale is told here:

    http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read....468#msg-267468


    The Texas government decided that the way to preserve the engine was not to preserve it, but to completely replace the boiler. And the way to replace the boiler was not to replace it with an equivalent, according to the same design, the way a restorer would do, or even to get in touch with anyone who knows anything about steam locomotives. Instead, the way to preserve this engine was to get a stationary boiler company (and political contributor, perhaps?) to build a boiler according to their own notions, made of thicker steel which cannot and will not expand and contract the same way, and tears itself apart every time it heats up or cools down.

    And when throwing money at it hand over fist doesn't work out so well, to just leave the chassis rotting in the weather for a decade, because some taxpayers might get mad if they throw even more money at it. Besides, the Texas legislators already got their kickbacks from the boilermaker; who cares what happens to it now?

    This is government. This is your irreplaceable heritage in the hands of a government. Any questions?
    Last edited by acptulsa; 07-28-2017 at 02:45 PM.
    'It ain't what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we "know" that ain't so.'--Will Rogers

    'I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.'--Molly Ivins

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...

  16. #645

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by acptulsa View Post
    This is the former Santa Fe number 1316, as operated by the Texas State Railroad years ago:



    This is her today:



    So, how did this happen? The sad tale is told here:

    http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read....468#msg-267468


    The Texas government decided that the way to preserve the engine was not to preserve it, but to completely replace the boiler. And the way to replace the boiler was not to replace it with an equivalent, according to the same design, the way a restorer would do, or even to get in touch with anyone who knows anything about steam locomotives. Instead, the way to preserve this engine was to get a stationary boiler company (and political contributor, perhaps?) to build a boiler according to their own notions, made of thicker steel which cannot and will not expand and contract the same way, and tears itself apart every time it heats up or cools down.

    And when throwing money at it hand over fist doesn't work out so well, to just leave the chassis rotting in the weather for a decade, because some taxpayers might get mad if they throw even more money at it. Besides, they already got their kickbacks from the boilermaker; who cares what happens to it now?

    This is government. This is your irreplaceable heritage in the hands of a government. Any questions?
    So that's what happened to the Hootervile Canonball?
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankindÖitís people I canít stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  17. #646

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by acptulsa View Post
    The Texas government decided that the way to preserve the engine was not to preserve it, but to completely replace the boiler. And the way to replace the boiler was not to replace it with an equivalent, according to the same design, the way a restorer would do, or even to get in touch with anyone who knows anything about steam locomotives. Instead, the way to preserve this engine was to get a stationary boiler company (and political contributor, perhaps?) to build a boiler according to their own notions, made of thicker steel which cannot and will not expand and contract the same way, and tears itself apart every time it heats up or cools down.

    And when throwing money at it hand over fist doesn't work out so well, to just leave the chassis rotting in the weather for a decade, because some taxpayers might get mad if they throw even more money at it. Besides, the Texas legislators already got their kickbacks from the boilermaker; who cares what happens to it now?

    This is government. This is your irreplaceable heritage in the hands of a government. Any questions?
    Ugh, assenholes.

    Here's how an all volunteer force, with donations only, are building two new boilers from scratch for pennies on the dollar of what gov. spent and in months rather than years.

    https://www.facebook.com/wwandf21cam...MELINE&fref=nf



    That's a home built cold flanging machine by the way.



    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 07-28-2017 at 04:12 PM.

  18. #647

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    So that's what happened to the Hootervile Canonball?
    No, the Prescott & Arizona Central/Sierra #3 fared much better--thanks to Clint Eastwood taking her restoration out of state government hands and making it a private, voluntary effort.

    Most of this stuff is unnecessary, and is happening because of overly stringent federal boiler regulations. A locomotive could stay active despite an old boiler with no more modification than a safety valve which pops off at lower pressure, with perfect safety. Their firemen could actually (gasp) be trusted to operate them at that lower pressure, and they could remain completely original, were it not for one-size-fits-none, idiot-proofing-for-all federal regulations. They wouldn't be as capable as they were when new, but excursion locomotives are seldom pushed to full capacity anyway.
    Last edited by acptulsa; 07-28-2017 at 05:30 PM.
    'It ain't what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we "know" that ain't so.'--Will Rogers

    'I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.'--Molly Ivins

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...

  19. #648

    Default

    On the same property of the WW & F is Maine Locomotive Works.

    They did the FRA overhaul on Monson #3 and are currently building the boiler for Bridgton and Saco River number 7.

    https://www.facebook.com/BridgtonSac...ngine7Rebuild/



    They also are working on a 2 ft Henschel.

  20. #649

    Default

    For those who don't know, here's what acptulsa is talking about:

    This is the inside of Santa Fe Steam Railroad locomotive #2926's boiler just completing restoration and inspection.

    This void area is full of water, rapidly boiling and creating pressure. All those rods are "staybolts" that hold the inner firebox together, keeping it's shape from distorting due to the intense heat and pressure. This is a "fire tube" boiler, as the fire from the firebox is drafted through the tube causing more water to boil, and steam, which collects at the top of the entire vessel to be drawn off and sent to the drive cylinders.

    There must be an allowance for expansion and contraction throughout the structure, due to the wildly variable load conditions.

    That is what was engineered out of the state bought boilers.





    https://www.facebook.com/NMSX2926/ph...type=3&theater

  21. #650

    Default

    Meanwhile back in Maine, on the full size front:

    https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandSteam

    Restoration of MEC 470 continues.

  22. #651

    Default

    'It ain't what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we "know" that ain't so.'--Will Rogers

    'I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.'--Molly Ivins

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...

  23. #652

    Default

    'It ain't what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we "know" that ain't so.'--Will Rogers

    'I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.'--Molly Ivins

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...

  24. #653

    Default

    Chinese steam putting on a "spark show" for the photographers.


  25. #654

  26. #655

    Default

    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankindÖitís people I canít stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  27. #656

    Default

    The Most Awful Transit Center in America Could Get Unimaginably Worse

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/featu...aginably-worse

    Think Penn Station is bad? Let’s go into the crumbling, disaster-prone tunnels that lie beneath.

    By Devin Leonard January 10, 2018, 5:00 AM EST

    To get to New York’s Penn Station, every northbound Amtrak passenger makes the last leg of their journey, through tunnels beneath the Hudson River, in the dark. Trust me: They should be glad. One day this autumn, an Acela pulls into Newark, N.J., and a railway spokesman escorts me onto the rear engine car, where we stand and take in the view facing backward. As we descend into one of the Hudson tunnels—there are two, both 107 years old, finished in the same year the Wright brothers built their first airplane factory—a supervisor flips on the rear headlights, illuminating the ghastly tubes.

    Our train (unsurprisingly) is operating at reduced speed because of an electrical glitch, which just gives us more time to gawk at the damage. There are eerie, nearly fluorescent white stains on the tunnel walls that look like they were painted by a giant with a roller brush. The pale swaths are remnants of the salt water that inundated the passages five years ago, during Hurricane Sandy. Sulfates and chlorides have been eating away at the concrete ever since, exposing reinforcement bars underneath. “Keep your eyes peeled,” says Craig Schulz, the affable Amtrak spokesman, “and you’ll see some of these areas where there is literally just crumbling concrete.”

    As we emerge into the bowels of Penn Station, Schulz points to wooden flood doors above the tunnel entrances. They were installed during World War II to hold back the river if the tubes were torpedoed by a Nazi submarine. In the gloom, the doors look a full century older than their vintage. They seem more suited for a dungeon than a modern rail system like this one—the Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston to Washington, D.C., serving an area that generates a fifth of U.S. gross domestic product. Before we step off the train, Schulz repeats Amtrak’s mantra: The storm-ravaged tunnels are safe, for now, but the railroad doesn’t know how long it will be able to keep them in service.

    I’d been assigned to write a story about Pennsylvania Station, but I wanted to get a caboose-eye view of the decaying tunnels leading up to it, because the only imaginable way the station could be any worse is if it were underwater. Penn, the Western Hemisphere’s busiest train station, serves 430,000 travelers every weekday—more than LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports combined. More than 200,000 people also use the subway stops that connect to Penn through harshly lit, low-ceilinged subterranean corridors. Locals race through the place; out-of-towners proceed more anxiously, baffled by the layout of what is truly not one station but three: Amtrak shares the space with the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. All who schlep through the complex are united by a powerful urge to leave. “Everybody just wants to get the hell out of there,” says Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University.

    There are too many people in Penn Station because there are too many trains—more than 1,300 arrivals and departures every weekday, twice the number from four decades ago. With so much traffic, small problems routinely compound into big ones; a 10-minute delay for one train backs up dozens more, and then tens of thousands of people are kept from their destinations. Every late train bleeds the economy: Executives miss board meetings, tourists don’t spend, hourly workers get a smaller paycheck.

    In the last year, Penn Station’s troubles have ripened into gruesome new forms. In April, a rumor spread through the commuter crowds that shots had been fired. People dropped briefcases, phones, and heels in the pandemonium, which spread in part because the station has no coordinated public address system. Alexander Hardy, a Bronx-based writer who was headed to Washington, D.C., watched the stampede, which left 16 people injured, from behind the counter of a Dunkin’ Donuts, where he hid with half a dozen others. “I’m texting my friends to ask what the hell’s happening,” he says. Finally, Amtrak gave the all-clear; there hadn’t been a shooting after all. Hardy stepped out of the doughnut shop. A woman, separated from her child, was screaming. Hardy took a bus to the capital. A few weeks later, a sewage pipe spewed waste onto a heavily trafficked concourse—an honest-to-God $#@!storm. “I’m like, ‘Literally, it’s raining in Penn Station,’ ” recalls Marigo Mihalos, a booking agent from
    New Jersey who witnessed the fecal deluge on her way to work.

    After two trains derailed in Penn Station last spring, the railway said it would reduce service by 20 percent during peak hours for eight weeks to do repairs, forcing many commuters to take buses and ferries. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told his constituents to brace for the “summer of hell.” As the station festers, civic groups and preservationists are renewing their call for elected officials to move Madison Square Garden (non-New Yorkers may not be aware that a 21,000-seat stadium is located directly above Penn Station) and build a new space, cavernous and sunlit. But nothing in the station’s political history or the present-day debate suggests cause for hope.
    “The summer of hell? To me, that would be a warm day at the beach compared to the hellfire we would be in if one of those tunnels had to be taken out of service”

    As the gateway to America’s largest city, Penn Station should inspire awe, as train stations do in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other competently managed metropolises. Instead, it embodies a particular kind of American failure—the inability to maintain roads, rails, ports, and other necessary conduits. For generations, the officials connected to Penn Station have been blind to, or unable to deliver on, the idea that improving the station would more than pay for itself. (One estimate, from the Business Roundtable, says that a dollar invested in infrastructure yields as much as $3 in economic growth.) In the final days of 2017, the situation reached perhaps its bleakest point yet, when the Trump administration signaled its disinterest in coming to the rescue: The president will not honor an Obama-era commitment to New York and New Jersey to foot half the cost of a new tunnel, dumping planners back at square one.

    Penn Station is a debacle reaching across time. Its past is a slow-motion disaster of inaction and canceled reforms, its present an ongoing disgrace. And its future could be truly catastrophic, in the form of a tunnel failure that pinches shut one of the most vital economic arteries in America.

    On a hot Saturday in June, Penn is lousy with people trying to exit the city. Outside a McDonald’s that has never known sunlight or fresh air, the sweaty throngs give strange looks to a bearded man in shorts who appears to be remaining in the station voluntarily. His name is Justin Rivers, and he leads $35 tours called Remnants of Penn Station. A dozen or so takers appear for this, his second tour of the day. The first one, Rivers tells the group, ran 20 minutes long because guests couldn’t stop asking questions about the summer of hell. “People are just really interested,” Rivers says. “Penn Station has been in the press almost daily because it’s falling apart.”
    His tourgoers are among the many New Yorkers—and others with an interest in urban planning—who know that today’s decrepit facility sits beneath what used to be a gorgeous hall, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla. It was demolished in the 1960s, to the dismay of preservationists. Rivers leads his flock through modern-day Penn, pointing out vestiges of the old place: an original staircase leading down to the tracks; a Long Island Rail Road waiting room; a ghostly, red-lettered sign for the long-gone Pennsylvania Railroad.

    As he dodges homeless people and glassy-eyed tallboy vendors, Rivers, who’s also written an off-Broadway play about the original station’s demise, tells the story of Alexander Cassatt, the visionary railroad president who began construction on both Penn and the Hudson tunnels at the turn of the last century. He died before the building opened in 1910, to a crowd of 100,000. In its early days, Penn was the kind of place you might go without a ticket to glimpse stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford boarding the Orange Blossom Special to Florida or the Chicago-bound Broadway Limited.

    But after World War II, the once-powerful rail companies withered as the government built the interstate highways and subsidized air travel. In 1970 the successor to Pennsylvania Railroad declared bankruptcy, and soon the station and its tunnels became the property of Amtrak, the new federal railroad. Perennially underfunded, Amtrak didn’t—and still doesn’t—have much cash to spend on either Penn Station or the tunnels. Instead, says Daniel Baer, senior vice president of the engineering and consulting firm WSP USA, the railroad tends to fix things only when they’re already broken. “Amtrak is in a situation where they’re constantly chasing their tail,” he says.

    The addition of New Jersey Transit trains in the 1990s was both an economic boon to the region—I bought a house in Maplewood, N.J., in 1996 so I could ride the new Midtown Direct to work—and the beginning of Penn Station’s transformation from mere malodorous eyesore to Hieronymus Bosch-grade hellhole. With Jersey commuters swarming the place, farsighted politicians presented grand visions for upgrading it. They all failed.

    Vision 1: In the late 1990s, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan raised $350 million to replace Penn with a new station in the building right next to it, an historic post office. (“My dad always said, ‘Only in New York could you knock down a magnificent Beaux Arts masterpiece only to find another one by the same architect across the street,’ ” remembers Maura Moynihan, his daughter.) The effort fell apart after Sept. 11.

    Vision 2: In 2008, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was on the verge of pushing through a multibillion-dollar plan to relocate MSG and renovate Penn into a cathedral-like space. It collapsed with the rest of Spitzer’s political career when he was caught patronizing prostitutes and resigned.

    Vision 3: In 2009, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine put together a fully funded $8.7 billion project for new tunnels—Access to the Region’s Core, or the biblical-sounding ARC. But in a case of extreme political myopia, Corzine’s successor, the White House-eyeing Chris Christie, canceled the plan to keep gasoline taxes low.

    Christie’s folly became clear in October 2012. Hurricane Sandy struck the region with 80-mile-an-hour winds, and the water off New York rose higher than at any time in the city’s recorded history. The Hudson River surged over the banks of Manhattan, poured into a submerged railyard, and flooded Penn Station’s venerable tunnels. A few days later, Amtrak pumped out 13 million gallons of seawater from those tubes and two that run beneath the East River. But chemicals had penetrated the walls and begun gnawing away at concrete and power systems that dated to the time of the Orange Blossom Special.

    Even after Sandy, a post-ARC construction effort called the Gateway Program languished. At a hearing in Trenton in 2015, Stephen Gardner, an Amtrak vice president, tried to stoke some urgency among legislators by brandishing a fearsome-looking hunk of wire from the tunnels’ malfunctioning electrical system. “Mr. Chairman, this is a portion of the feeder cable that failed,” he said. “These are 1930s-vintage, lead-lined, oil-filled, paper-insulated copper cables, and they do a pretty amazing job. As you can see here, they are quite an antique, and we rely on them every day.” Tom Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association, a local urban policy group, attended the hearing. He was stunned: “I mentioned to Steve afterwards, ‘Jesus, that looks like a set piece from the old Bride of Frankenstein movie.’ He kind of laughed and said, ‘Actually, I think it’s older than that.’ ”

    The same month, one of New Jersey’s Democratic senators, Cory Booker, rode through one of the tunnels in a special Amtrak observation car, equipped with floodlights. Booker was shocked to see cracks in the walls. “It was incredibly eye-opening,” he says in an interview, adding that Amtrak officials told him if there were another storm as strong as Sandy, the tunnels might not survive.

    “We don’t need a transit temple. We need to focus on the tunnels and getting more tracks into Manhattan”

    In the era of climate change, hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent. Sandy, as bad as it was, only flooded the Hudson tunnels halfway. A storm that completely inundated the chambers could cause them to crack up from the inside, taking out lighting, radio, and ventilation systems. If the walls were weakened enough, the worst-case scenario could occur: total collapse. In some areas, the tunnels sit just below the riverbed, and William Ryan, a special research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says there is less sediment there than there used to be. Ryan spent years, starting in the late 1980s, mapping the bottom of the Hudson using echo sounding and reflection profiling. His team found that the 1960s creation of Battery Park City—an expansion of Manhattan island into the Hudson, using landfill from the excavation of the World Trade Center site—altered the way the river flows. As a result, a good part of the silt protecting the train tunnels has been carried off.

    The most likely tunnel-disaster scenario, however, requires no storms at all. Amtrak says that within seven years, one of them is likely to have been so weakened by Sandy’s aftereffects that it will have to be taken out of service for at least 18 months’ worth of repairs. “There will come a time when the reliability of the tunnels starts to decay,” says Charles “Wick” Moorman, the co-CEO of Amtrak until the end of 2017. “The curve, once it starts, may be fairly sharp. We’ll just have to see. Nobody knows. This is a great science experiment. Kids playing with chemicals.”

    If Amtrak and New Jersey Transit have to rely on a single Hudson tunnel, they could operate just six trains an hour, rather than the current 24. It’s hard to overstate the economic impact that would have on New York City. “The summer of hell?” Booker asks. “To me, that would be a warm day at the beach compared to the hellfire we would be in if one of those tunnels had to be taken out of service.” According to the Partnership for New York City, a group that represents its business community, some 30 percent of Manhattan’s workforce lives west of the Hudson. These commuters could try to cram onto the Port Authority’s PATH trains, which carry 292,000 commuters a day through different Hudson tunnels, but they’re already near capacity. There are always ferries. But does a region that has prided itself on being ahead of the rest of the world truly want to see the large-scale return of a mode of transportation from the 19th century?

    Others could drive to work, but the trans-Hudson bridges and tunnels available to cars already have punishing rush-hour delays. Imagine the backups, road rage, and pollution if tens of thousands of additional commuters had to use them. Common Good, a bipartisan government-reform organization, estimates that 50,000 more automobiles crossing the Hudson each day would sap productivity by $2.3 billion per year. And that’s nothing compared with the biggest number of them all. The Northeast Corridor Commission, a panel created by Congress in 2008, projects that the U.S. economy would lose $100 million per day—$36.5 billion a year—if the entire train route from Boston to Washington ever shut down.

    In 2015 the governors of New York and New Jersey agreed to a deal on Gateway: The states would pay half the cost of building new tunnels to Penn, and the Obama administration pledged that the federal government would cover the other half. That year and the next, Donald Trump campaigned as the guy who would rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, promising a $1 trillion plan to repair roads, bridges, tunnels, the electrical grid, and more. It was possible to think that Penn Station might be saved.

    But after Trump was elected, the New York City native dashed those hopes. He eliminated billions in funding for Gateway-related projects in his 2018 budget. And in the waning days of 2017, Trump made it official: His administration would not abide by the Obama-era commitment to pay for half of the new tunnels. K. Jane Williams, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, sent a curtly worded letter to New York and New Jersey officials that snidely made the deal sound made-up. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” she wrote. In the Trump administration’s view, Penn Station’s issues are a distinctly local concern. It’s true that in the Trump era, nothing is ever certain, and the Gateway corpse could reawaken. But it seems unlikely that the current political cast will succeed where so many of their predecessors have failed.
    Meanwhile, across the street from the station, work has begun on the renovation of the James A. Farley Post Office building—the Beaux Arts masterpiece Senator Moynihan eyed in the 1990s. Separate from the Gateway project, it’s being converted into a new entrance hall for Amtrak and LIRR trains (and a glassy shopping center) and is scheduled to open in 2020. In August, Cuomo, who’s widely seen as considering a bid for the presidency, held a triumphant press conference at the site that had the feel of a political rally. “At a time when there is confusion in this country, and there is anger in this country, and there’s anxiety and despair, New York is headed in the only direction we know, which is going forward!” he said, slicing the air with his right hand.

    But the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall, as it will be known, isn’t likely to significantly reduce congestion, according to NYU’s Moss. Amtrak and LIRR passengers will still be able to access the train complex from the existing Penn Station, which is a block closer to the center of Manhattan. (The Cuomo administration says the impact will be greater.) Moss is among those who scoff at the idea of prettying the upper-level train station experience when what lies beneath is a such mess. “We don’t need a transit temple,” he says. “We need to focus on the tunnels and getting more tracks into Manhattan.”

    I don’t frequent Penn Station as much as I used to. My wife and I sold our house in New Jersey in 2016 and moved into Manhattan, just before the commute got infernal. Of course, now we have to deal with the subways. Have you heard? They’re falling apart, too. —With Elise Young
    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 01-10-2018 at 12:32 PM.

  28. #657

  29. #658

  30. #659

    Default

    The whole concept of the government trying to keep Amtrak alive as a cross country form of transportation is a failure.
    Cross country train travel is not a comparable alternative to jet travel.
    People are not going to prefer train for a four day trip from Phoenix to Atlanta and another four days for the return, when they can purchase airline tickets for the same or lower price that does the same trip in only hours.
    People will however take the train in lieu of driving intercity travel.
    An Amtrak focus on neighboring intercity travel would be far more popular. Taking an afternoon or morning train from Phoenix to Tucson, or Vegas, or L.A. would be very popular and cost effective.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing." - Dr. Ron Paul. "Stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone." - Sophie Magdalena Scholl
    "War is the health of the State." - Randolph Bourne "Freedom is the answer. ... Now, what's the question?" - Ernie Hancock.

  31. #660

    Default

    More interesting news on the restoration front.

    Former USSC/FEC #148 was rescued from it's grave in Colorado where it had been rusting away by US Sugar in Florida, where she started her career.

    The CEO of USSC decided he wanted to restore one of the original engines of the line, since USSC is the only sugar company that used both standard gauge and still uses trains.

    With big corporate money behind it, progress has been quick, productive and promising.




Page 22 of 23 FirstFirst ... 1220212223 LastLast





Similar Threads

  1. Tax dollars to quell intercity tensions
    By tod evans in forum U.S. Political News
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05-20-2015, 02:21 PM
  2. Rail Freight Market Share Increase
    By juliusaugustus in forum U.S. Political News
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-23-2012, 12:28 PM
  3. Replies: 67
    Last Post: 11-06-2011, 08:00 PM
  4. UBL Planned to Attack US Rail System on 9-11-11
    By Johnnymac in forum U.S. Political News
    Replies: 41
    Last Post: 05-08-2011, 01:55 PM
  5. Peter Schiff: Unemployment Compensation is the new 3rd rail in politics
    By TheBlackPeterSchiff in forum U.S. Political News
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-14-2010, 04:23 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •