Sunday, June 14, 2009

Let's lower the floor?

Last year I argued that one of our priorities for transportation in the New York area should be to increase clearances in the Haverstraw tunnel so that the West Shore Line can be double-tracked again. In Bellows Falls, Vermont they had a similar issue: a single-track tunnel constructed in 1851 right under the village green.

The tunnel was too low to allow double-height trains to pass through, so in 2007 the engineers did what they had previously done back in 1897 and 1987: dig further down to lower the track bed. It cost them $2 million, and allowed 5,000 additional freight cars per year to pass through the tunnel. The Vermont AOT has a Word document with some cool photos. So why can't we do this in Haverstraw?


Linder178 said...

Why is gauntlet track not an option here? if the right-of-way is wide enough to hold two tracks, couldn't the installation of gauntlet track through the tunnel permit two-track operation for low-clearance trains while still permitting double-stackers to move?

Also, I'm not sure I believe that the tunnel is the greatest impediment to service. I think that's CSX. The bulk of regional ridership on a reactivated West Shore line would be from West Nyack and south. There's no logistical reason (at least that I'm aware of) that you couldn't put two tracks on the line south of West Nyack and create a new option for Rockland and Bergen travelers.

Cap'n Transit said...

Linder, from what I understand the tunnel is only wide enough for two tracks. Since they moved one track to the middle, there's not enough room on either side.

Actually, there's no reason you couldn't re-double-track the line both south and north of the tunnel. There are plenty of railroads that have short one-track bottlenecks in bridges and tunnels. It wouldn't be as good as having two tracks all the way, but it would allow passenger service to be resumed.

Cap'n Transit said...

Also, Linder, I'm all for reactivating commuter service, but I am also interested in re-establishing a redundant alternative to the Hudson Line, and reconnecting the defunct branch lines (O&W, Walkill, Catskill) to New York City.