METRO NORTH NEW HAVEN RAIL COMMUTER COUNCIL
(Established in 1985 under Connecticut Public Act 85-239, now Sections 13b-212b and
13b -212c of the Connecticut General Statutes)
NOVEMBER 15, 2006 MEETING
BUSINESS COUNCIL OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY
(SACIA) Offices, Stamford, CT
Present were: Jim Cameron, Chairman, Bob Jelley, Stan Trybulski, Joe McGee, Ed Zimmerman, Jeff Steele and Terri Cronin, Members; Gene Colonese and Peter Richter, CDOT; Joe Kanell, Jeff Watson, and Donald Staska, Metro North; Sue Prosi, SWERPA; Larry Uydess, member of the Public.
The meeting began at 7:00 pm.
The Minutes of the meeting of October 18, 2006 were approved.
There was a brief discussion of the October Operations Report.
Jim Cameron said that Rodney Chabot had reported that at a meeting of the New York Metro North Rail Council, Peter Cannito, President of Metro North, said that Metro North and CDOT were considering pulling back from the CSR Program (the rehabilitation of the M-2 cars) because of the order for and expected delivery of new M-8 cars beginning in 2009. Gene Colonese said that there had been some discussion of pulling back and using the money saved for purchase of new cars. Mr. Cameron stated his view that it was a mistake not to continue “full speed ahead” on the CSR Program, and pointed out the need for as many cars as possible for expanding ridership.
Bob Jelley inquired about an M-7 train that he had seen at Union Station in New Haven on his way to the meeting. Joe Kanell said the M-7 train was at New Haven to have flat wheels reground. He went on to say that the Hudson and Harlem divisions were having a particularly difficult season of slippery wheels and that the Harmon Yard was unable to keep up with the job of regrinding wheels. He said that the slippery rail problem was particularly hard on the M-7s because of their brakes. Bob Jelley pointed out that what may be a design problem on the M-7s is another good reason to continue with the CSR Program and not count on the M-8s until they are actually delivered and have been debugged. Peter Richter said that CDOT agrees that the CSR Program should continue as planned.
SHORE LINE EAST
Mr. Jelley spoke at some length about problems and defects at Shore Line stations, including lights out at Clinton, trash at Madison, incorrect times on the train approaching signs at Guilford, lights out at State Street and design and maintenance problems involving rain gutters at State Street and Guilford.
Mr. Kanell reported that the catenary had been completed at Devon, so that the Waterbury branch was back in operation.
In answer to a question from Mr. Cameron, Mr. Richter reported that the proposed signal system was being partly redesigned because of the new 345KV transmission lines that will cross the Danbury branch.
Mr. Kanell reported that Metro North was experiencing record on-time performance.
A question was raised about conductors not collecting tickets when they failed to use seat checks and therefore were unable to tell whose ticket had not been collected. Sue Prosi spoke about the subject. Mr. Jelley reminded the Council that Harry Harris had told the Council that the use of seat checks was time consuming, and that there was a trade-off on crowded trains between not using seat checks and missing some tickets, and requiring additional conductors in order to use seat checks and collect all tickets.
In response to a previous report by Jeff Maron of being on a crowded nine car train with only seven cars open, Jeff Watson reported that that particular train was only supposed to be seven cars long, and that is why the conductor had not opened the other two cars. He went on to say that, nevertheless, conductors should always open additional cars when there were on average more than 50 passengers in each of the open cars. The figure of 50 is a reduction from the previous 60.
In view of the reported proposal by Bombardier that CDOT should purchase for potential New Haven to Penn Station service the same double-decker trains as New Jersey Transit is purchasing, a question was raised as to whether CDOT has any interest in double-decker cars. Mr. Colonese reported that CDOT is always looking at all options. Mr. Jelley reported once again on the luggage problems on double-decker trains on Long Island Railroad, because the luggage racks are too low to permit anything bigger than an attaché case, and as a result, passengers put their luggage in the aisles. Mr. Colonese said there no plans for double-decker trains on the New Haven, Hartford, Springfield line.
Mr. Colonese reported that the railroad has a temporary certificate of occupancy for the New Haven railroad “running repair” shop. He said the railroad will move in and the shop will be in operation for this winter.
With respect to replacement of the catenary, Mr. Colonese reported that the A section from the New York State line to Stamford is complete, the B section from Stamford to South Norwalk is beginning, the C section from South Norwalk to Devon is going out to bid next year, and the D section from Devon to New Haven is done. He said that the time table for final completion of the catenary replacement and rehabilitation of all the old bridges is 2012-13.
Mr. Colonese reported that CDOT was now doing a study of the signal system on the main line. The present system was installed in 1980. An improved signal system would permit trains to run closer together. Joe McGee spoke of the need for more frequent and faster train service in order to help business development in Connecticut. Mr. Colonese said that CDOT recognizes the need for faster service, such as 30 minute service from Stamford to GCT and 60 minute service from Bridgeport to GCT.
Jeff Steele raised the question of a person recently struck by a train and killed in Fairfield, following a similar incident a short time earlier. Mr. Kanell seemed to indicate that at least two and possibly three recent deaths were suicides.
STAMFORD STATION AND GARAGE
Mr. Steele asked again about the escalators at Stamford station and questioned why escalators were going down in the evening when most passengers wanted to take an escalator up to the garage. Mr. Richter said he would bring the escalator direction chart to the next meeting.
Mr. Colonese said that there were no new developments in connection with the replacement of the old Stamford garage since the matter was reported at the October meeting. He said that he did not know how long it would take to design and build a new garage.
TOILETS AT GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
Mr. Jelley said that the November Mileposts reported that the toilets at the east end of the lower concourse at GCT would close in January for rehabilitation. He said that both the east and west toilets were frequently crowded, and asked how long the rehabilitation would take and what would be done to deal with the shortage during construction. Mr. Watson said he would report at the next meeting and would ask MTA Police for information on reports of vagrants and “street people” loitering in the restrooms.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at The Bridgeport Railroad Station, Bridgeport, CT.