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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 327
J3a-614 wrote:

This is exactly what the Adirondack Scenic has been doing for years.

The tracks have been maintained as passable. Equipment had been operated over the whole line.

Now not all of the line is serviceable. Before this whole thing blew up, the railroad had been operating on two segments, one of about 50 or so miles from Utica to Thendara, and the other, about six miles, south out of Lake Placid. There was and remains a gap of some 60 miles in the center. This is exempted track--and while it's not practical or permissible to run trains over it with passengers, it has seen regular movements of maintenance equipment, and also revenue equipment being ferried between Lake Placid and the maintenance facility in Utica.

If there is one thing I've seen over the years--and I bet a lot of people here have seen it, too--you can do a thousand things the way they should be for a century, and people still won't know what you're doing and why.

For just one example, think of standard and required use horns or whistles at grade crossings and the complaints you get about the noise!!


That's true, I recently had someone ask me why trains don't slow down to 35 when going into a city the way cars do on a highway, I explained that the distance required to slow and then accelerate trains and the extra fuel used made that impractical and watched their eyes glaze over.

Is the issue on the out of service 60 miles ties mainly? That would probably mean every third tie replaced for class I track, which is a lot of ties, but nonetheless it may have been prudent to put it into service even if you don't run the entire line all the time. Has ASRR actually been adding miles to operation since their startup?


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:16 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
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Location: S.F. Bay Area
Bartman-TN wrote:
I do want to correct one thing. There is no such thing as exempt track, it is excepted track. Somehow the term exempt track has come into use by some people, although excepted track is the legal term found in 49 CFR Part 213. Exempt applies to grade crossings where buses and haz-mats aren't required to stop, and in a few other places, but not when discussing railroad track.


There certainly is exempt track, and it is discussed in 49 CFR 213.3 Applicaton. The section nobody reads coz it seems like procedural fluff. It is procedural fluff. It defines the applicability of 213. 213 does not apply to the Adirondack, except on those sections where they've been moving revenue freight for third parties for pay.

Examples of thusly exempt track are:

  • Fox River Line
  • Cass Scenic
  • The north half of the French Lick line
  • Tipton via Noblesville to Indianapolis (the day freight stopped)
  • Western Railway Museum's preserved Sacramento Northern from Montezuma to Cannon

How does inspection work, then, if they are exempt? FRA bypasses the chapter-and-verse requirements of 213 and simply maintains a general sense of track condition and the probability of injury to the public. They use their Emergency Order authority where needed (or to be more precise, threaten to, which suffices in 99% of cases, which is why so few E.O.'s are actually issued).

Excepted track is something else. Exempt crossings are also something else.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:24 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:42 am
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As a former general manager of the operation, Adirondack Scenic is in fact under Part 213 and the track traditionally out of service between the southern operating end and the Saranac to Lake Placid operation was by timetable designation excepted track.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:43 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
If you look at 49 CFR Part 213.3 Application, you will find that the term "EXEMPT" is never used. The term "exempt track" is also not used in the regulation or the FRA enforcement manual (at least the most recent one I have) as a legal term. The regulation simply says that these tracks are not covered by the 49 CFR Part 213 regulations, or exempt from certain regulations as many people say.

49 CFR Part 209 (and the FRA enforcement policy) defines the general railroad system of transportation, and 213.3 defines which tracks are not part of the "general railroad system of transportation", and thus not covered by the track safety standards found in 49 CFR Part 213. It lists three groups - [1] what it eventually calls a "plant railroad" with great detail, [2] those that are "exclusively tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations", and [3] those that are "exclusively rapid transit operations." Additional detail about each of these three groups is also included.

It is somewhat interesting that the FRA has been somewhat hesitant to fully use 213.3, especially the part where a plant railroad is part of the general railroad system of transportation if it is switched by a common carrier railroad, or the plant railroad switches a second shipper. Inspections by FRA employees are pretty rare on these tracks. The FRA has generally stated that these cases are not a significant issue and the regs will generally only be enforced if a situation (accident, death, safety request made by someone in Congress, etc.) exists. For all of these tracks, the FRA still has the Emergency Order authority that allows the FRA to require repairs before operation, or the full discontinuance of use of the track, when track conditions are unsafe for the operations.

For the Adirondack Scenic, category [2] could apply (but doesn't as shown by several other statements), although as I remind people all the time, any operation had better comply with rules that are at least equal to the FRA standards as a good attorney will easily win a case against a railroad without their own rules, even if they are not part of the general railroad system of transportation and fall under 213.3(b). Ownership and operation carries with it the obligation to conduct a safe operation using standards that are appropriate. Since the FRA regs are the national standard for the general railroad system of transportation, that essentially becomes the minimum standard for any operation in the court of law.

For the Adirondack Scenic, the reason that trains don't operate over the middle of the railroad is that they don't meet the 49 CFR Part 213 requirements - it is excepted track - or at least as I've been told when they have had employees in my track classes and during my visits to the railroad. That tells me they are using the track safety standards as their minimum standards, a very good idea.

For the Adirondack Scenic, it would probably be better if the railroad did not fall under [2], as this means that it would be a part of the general railroad system with freight, intercity passenger, or commuter passenger service. This would give the railroad more authority in any abandonment filing, although several railroads have still been abandoned through force and against their will so that trails could be built.

I teach a large number of 49 CFR Part 213 (TSS) workshops each year, and have for 30 years both as a railroad employee and as a consultant, and also handle legal cases on the matter. I have been on panels with many FRA officials, including the administrator, and often cover the technical terms that are used. For example, I did a presentation at NRC a number of years ago where I explained the use of such terms in training and reporting. The administrator was next to me and confirmed the importance of the terms and their proper use. Before we were done with the presentation, several companies had gone to the back of the room and threw out their materials where terms were used incorrectly. Another common term often incorrectly used is "certified track inspector" - no such thing unless you work for the FRA or a state with an agreement to do inspections, the term is "designated" or "designated qualified person."

Using specific terms can make or break a legal case, so where it is not clearly used and defined, it should not be used. I know that "exempt track" seems easy to use, but stating that the track "is not part of the general railroad system of transportation" is the proper term to use. The legal case of the Adirondack Scenic is one of these examples where the entire ruling was based upon legal terms and definitions, small things that add up quickly.

While it can be said that the track is exempt from the regs under 213.3, and you can use the term exempt track informally, "Exempt Track" doesn't carry a legal term when you are covering the types of track in the United States. This is because there is no legal definition of the term "exempt track" in the regulations, instead the regs simply state that:

213.3 Application
(a) "Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, this part applies to all standard gauge track that is part of the general railroad system of transportation."

(b) "This part does not apply to track:" followed by long descriptions of the three types of track listed above.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Well, some more recent material on the ASR:

Pro-trail letter.

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.co ... nto-trail/

Pro-rail letter:

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.co ... execution/

And an article, which to me seems as much a space filler in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise as anything else. . .we still have to find out if the state will file an appeal, and we have to find out what the funding issue will be before any other actions can be taken.

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.co ... -or-trail/

One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:33 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2091
Location: Northern Illinois
J3a-614 wrote:
...One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


Ah've been a sayin' they should outlaw those damned jitneys!

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
"When it rains it pours"

Sometimes things just pop up, bang, bang, bang, bang--Saranac Lake decided it didn't want to join three other towns in urging the state to pursue an appeal:

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.co ... anac-lake/


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2072
Dennis Storzek wrote:
J3a-614 wrote:
...One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


Ah've been a sayin' they should outlaw those damned jitneys!


nnnnoooo, talk to Portland who have been adding to their transit system. I recently read a letter somewhere that people dont want to keep spending and spending on cars and rather dump them and ride transit. Cars have been forced on the public in some ways just like the North Shore abandonment and CA&E. South Shore expansion and Chicago all are looking at transit for economic improvement, and we have Milwaukee now with an experimetalish streetcar system. Again I comment Norfolk Virginia revamped the former Norfolk Southern electric line and were surprised with the ridership. If I could add this comment to the above message I would but I can't.

Lake Placid line for now is more a tourist line but maintains the same transit practicality, as for ridership, see how the Catskill line keeps "Bringin' them out"


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:35 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 895
Dennis, would you seriously consider an analysis that purports to reach the conclusion it does without once using, or even invoking, the concept of the jitney?

In any case, most of the modern transit proposals I've seen either represent 'mass transit' that couldn't possibly be replaced by individual road vehicles at any price (the New Haven has exemplified this almost time out of mind for many areas in Connecticut) or for cohorts that cannot afford Uber pricing and are willing to utilize a lower-cost option that follows nominally inconvenient routing or timing. Neither of those appears to be a concern even though I see them prominently related in actual transit planning.

Interesting for a different reason is the long-term prognosis for either the ubiquity or profitability of an Uber service when the 'millennial' trend toward decreased private-vehicle ownership begins to bite strongly at vehicle availability in a couple of decades. Jitneys work well when everyone with a flivver is happy to pick up or let off passengers for a nickel, or a dollar from each of five people standing at Bridge Plaza when you're already paying the toll to get yourself across. They don't work so well when most of the people have only the nickels and the urge.

Just for grins ... has anyone in the Tri-Cities area actually priced out what an Uber representative would charge for transport between, say, Utica and Lake Placid, and compared that with the rail fare for ultimate service on the Adirondack?

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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:34 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 327
J3a-614 wrote:
One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


LOL, don't want to get political here, but the Cato Institute is an Austrian School of economics think tank, what is called in the US "libertarian". Do a search using (Nobel in economics) "Paul Krugman" and "Austrian School" if you want to see some strident criticism. Essentially they are against all government spending on almost anything, so this government-financed trail Ms. Frenette wants wouldn't even be popular with the easily-mocked Cato Institute.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 973
Location: Back in NE Ohio
PMC wrote:
J3a-614 wrote:
One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


LOL, don't want to get political here, but the Cato Institute is an Austrian School of economics think tank, what is called in the US "libertarian". Do a search using (Nobel in economics) "Paul Krugman" and "Austrian School" if you want to see some strident criticism. Essentially they are against all government spending on almost anything, so this government-financed trail Ms. Frenette wants wouldn't even be popular with the easily-mocked Cato Institute.


Thanks for being the first to point that out here. Cato, AEI and Heritage are all funded and mostly co-founded by the hated Koch brothers. I disregard pretty much anything that comes out of any of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
PaulWWoodring wrote:
Thanks for being the first to point that out here. Cato, AEI and Heritage are all funded and mostly co-founded by the hated Koch brothers. I disregard pretty much anything that comes out of any of them.


Disagree and disregard all you want, but that doesn't make what they say untrue--which we can't say about Paul Krugman anymore, BTW.

The real author to pay attention to is Randall O'Toole, who, like it or not, has done a quite commendable and scholarly job of demonstrating that major-infrastructure transit projects in the United States of late, including most light-rail and commuter rail projects, have failed miserably at meeting repeatedly overly-rosy projections of total costs, revenues, utilization and ridership.

And the ONLY way that this is at all relevant to the discussion is that the same problem also affects rail-to-trail project proposals--such as the one around which this thread revolves--and even "rail banking" and rail corridor acquisition and preservation. This eventually devolves into debate of faith-based orthodoxies, as any attempt at rational analysis of anything close to "return on investment" is subject to data cherry-picking and "massaging". (See also: Sports teams and stadium underwriting, convention centers, seashore stabilization, etc.)


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:28 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Dennis Storzek wrote:
J3a-614 wrote:
...One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse


Ah've been a sayin' they should outlaw those damned jitneys!


Overmod wrote:
Dennis, would you seriously consider an analysis that purports to reach the conclusion it does without once using, or even invoking, the concept of the jitney?

In any case, most of the modern transit proposals I've seen either represent 'mass transit' that couldn't possibly be replaced by individual road vehicles at any price (the New Haven has exemplified this almost time out of mind for many areas in Connecticut) or for cohorts that cannot afford Uber pricing and are willing to utilize a lower-cost option that follows nominally inconvenient routing or timing. Neither of those appears to be a concern even though I see them prominently related in actual transit planning.

Interesting for a different reason is the long-term prognosis for either the ubiquity or profitability of an Uber service when the 'millennial' trend toward decreased private-vehicle ownership begins to bite strongly at vehicle availability in a couple of decades. Jitneys work well when everyone with a flivver is happy to pick up or let off passengers for a nickel, or a dollar from each of five people standing at Bridge Plaza when you're already paying the toll to get yourself across. They don't work so well when most of the people have only the nickels and the urge.

Just for grins ... has anyone in the Tri-Cities area actually priced out what an Uber representative would charge for transport between, say, Utica and Lake Placid, and compared that with the rail fare for ultimate service on the Adirondack?


PMC wrote:
LOL, don't want to get political here, but the Cato Institute is an Austrian School of economics think tank, what is called in the US "libertarian". Do a search using (Nobel in economics) "Paul Krugman" and "Austrian School" if you want to see some strident criticism. Essentially they are against all government spending on almost anything, so this government-financed trail Ms. Frenette wants wouldn't even be popular with the easily-mocked Cato Institute.


PaulWWoodring wrote:
Thanks for being the first to point that out here. Cato, AEI and Heritage are all funded and mostly co-founded by the hated Koch brothers. I disregard pretty much anything that comes out of any of them.


Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Disagree and disregard all you want, but that doesn't make what they say untrue--which we can't say about Paul Krugman anymore, BTW.

The real author to pay attention to is Randall O'Toole, who, like it or not, has done a quite commendable and scholarly job of demonstrating that major-infrastructure transit projects in the United States of late, including most light-rail and commuter rail projects, have failed miserably at meeting repeatedly overly-rosy projections of total costs, revenues, utilization and ridership.

And the ONLY way that this is at all relevant to the discussion is that the same problem also affects rail-to-trail project proposals--such as the one around which this thread revolves--and even "rail banking" and rail corridor acquisition and preservation. This eventually devolves into debate of faith-based orthodoxies, as any attempt at rational analysis of anything close to "return on investment" is subject to data cherry-picking and "massaging". (See also: Sports teams and stadium underwriting, convention centers, seashore stabilization, etc.)


While I did post the bit about Hope Frenette as something of a curiosity, I do think Mr. Storzek's comment was intended as a joke!

I wonder if we are sometimes too serious here, or have trouble spotting humor!

Having said all that, Mr. Mitchell sums things up well--we have to watch things ourselves--though truthfully, you wonder if anything would pay off well enough to justify the positions of Mr. O'Toole.

As I recall, at one point Mr. O'Toole even admitted that the normal economic criteria he uses do not apply to roads. A road will be there no matter what else happens in his view. That amounts to the double standard and unlevel playing field railroaders of all types, including the freight roads and us, have had to live with and which has proven so destructive.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:28 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 457
J3a-614 wrote:
One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse

I am hesitant to criticize that Cato author since he also runs Streamlinermemories.info.


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 Post subject: Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:48 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Chris Webster wrote:
J3a-614 wrote:
One interesting detail--In the comments following the article, trail supporter Hope Frenette is citing this as a justification for getting rid of the railroad.

https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... apocalypse

I am hesitant to criticize that Cato author since he also runs Streamlinermemories.info.


I won't be too critical--but I did say this in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

Quote:
I still have to read the full Cato report by O'Toole, but from the summary and a couple of quick glances, I can say I think he's overoptimistic on the application of self driving vehicles.

The big thing is I don't think they will be, or can be, fully implemented. You're still going to have to deal with human driven vehicles which may show up at any time.

Some of these will be vehicles that just don't lend themselves to automation. They would include older cars, including antiques, motorcycles, and anything with a manual transmission. That would include my own five-speed auto that I just purchased less than a year ago.

You would have to outlaw antique cars, motorcycles, and manual gearboxes. Do you want to do that? Do you think you could do that? Do you want to take on the antique and hot rod groups?

The other thing is the performance from a self driven car we are supposed to get just won't be there. I've seen claims that self driving cars, combined with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability, could boost highway capacity by up to 300%. That's with full implementation, which would have to include outlawing those other vehicles I mentioned above.

I don't think we'd get that, based on railroad experience. The counterparts to self driving are centralized traffic control combined with cab signals and automatic train stop. Centralized traffic control (CTC) is remotely controlling signals and switches from a central location; cab signals repeat wayside signals continuously, rather than having an engineer actually get close enough to see if a signal may have gone from a "restricted speed" indication to "clear," in one example; and automatic train stop (ATS) does just that, stops the train if an engineer overruns a stop or restricted speed signal.

All of that can give you a capacity increase on the order of 80% of double track on a single track railroad. It's nothing to sneeze at, but it's a far cry from the 300% the self driving advocates claim.

And of course, we still haven't gotten around things like roads where lane markings are obscured by snow or worn away, or driving down a dirt road with no markings at all!

This doesn't necessarily mean self driving vehicles are a bad idea, just that like anything else, they aren't a silver bullet.

Oh, that CTC and ATS stuff has been around as far back as the 1920s, though it was expensive enough that only the Pennsylvania Railroad really did much with it. It's notable that a modernized version of it is still in use on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor today, and in a few other places, including the CSX line that connects with Amtrak in Washington and runs to Richmond, Va. (inherited from predecessor company Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac). You can see it demonstrated in this 1950s Pennsylvania Railroad film starting around 3:50:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6rWOrL9sGY


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