WHAT IS THROUGH-RUNNING?
Terminal stations, like Grand Central, are at the end of train lines. At these stations, trains come in from one direction, unload, are cleaned, and board new passengers before leaving back towards the direction from which they came in.
Through-running stations are all the stations between two terminals. At these stations, trains come in from one direction, unload and load passengers, and continue on in the same direction.
Terminal stations force all trains to share the limited track access in and out of the station. Because a train enters and leaves on the same set of tracks, trains cross paths as they back in or out, cutting off all traffic to the station as a single train enters or leaves. Through-running, on the other hand, eliminates this inefficiency by running trains through the station. Terminal services are better suited for stations that do not have high ridership and many transferring passengers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THROUGH-RUNNING?
FASTER TRAIN MOVEMENTS
A PROVEN SYSTEM…
1. Philadelphia Center City Tunnel
Before construction of the Philadelphia Center City Commuter Connection (CCCC) in 1983, the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads had separate terminals in Philadelphia, and served different parts of the core. The CCCC united the system, allowing trains from every branch to access every part of the CBD. This new service led to an immediate 20% increase in ridership2. Every skyscraper constructed in Philadelphia since the CCCC opened – including the city’s 10 tallest buildings – is within a five-to ten-minute walk of one of the three CBD stations that were part of the project.
Before the establishment of through-running in downtown Philadelphia, the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads both terminated at different stations in the city center (Left). Through-running in downtown Philadelphia unified the SEPTA regional rail network. (Right)
The skyline of Philly was transformed by the construction of the CCCC.
2. Paris RER
Before the construction of the RER, journeys between opposite sides of the Paris Metropolitan Region (known as the Ile-de-France) were not practical. The RER created new north-south and east-west lines through the core of Paris that connected to all parts of the Ile-de France at the new Chatelet- Les Halles station. By linking previously disconnected radial lines into the center of Paris, the new links dramatically cut travel time for hundreds of millions of trips every year. The RER is designed to serve simultaneously as both a relief line for overcrowded metro lines within the Paris core as well as a regional rail service. RUN follows this same principle.
Until the late 70’s Paris’ commuter rail lines terminated at eight different stations (left). With the RER system, commuter lines use through-running, with rail yards and terminals at the outskirts. Trains pass through the business district areas, where transfers are available between three commuter lines and six subway lines (right).
The RER allowed Paris to construct the largest purpose-built Central Business District in Europe – La Defense – around this new connection.
3. London Crossrail
Crossrail, which is expected to open in late 2018, unites a set of four radial branch lines into a new east-west line through the center of Greater London. The new route will dramatically speed and simplify travel across London and connect to both the London Underground and Overground networks. The opportunity to access far more of the region has sparked intensive development around some of the planned stations, including in Canary Wharf and the London Docklands. Even with a maximum capacity of more than 70,000 passengers per hour, Crossrail is expected to be at capacity from the moment it opens.
Crossrail will connect currently separated parts of Greater London and improve transit through the City’s core. Image Credit: Crossrail Ltd.
The Jubilee Line extension led to the success of Canary Wharf as a major business distrit, and the Crossrail station led to further planned expansion.
THROUGH-RUNNING AT PENN STATION
IMPLEMENTING THROUGH-RUNNING AT PENN
Phased Implementation of Through-running at Penn Station
ReThink Studio has studied the feasibility of phasing this project, and concluded that with the combined opportunities of the new Gateway tunnel and Moynihan Station, through-running is not just practical but critical to improving commuter service throughout the region.
The increased efficiency that through-running brings will raise Penn Station’s capacity. It would allow for track-level reconfigurations that would widen Penn’s platforms by extending each platform over one of the two tracks that abut it. This alteration provides two benefits: the procedure does not require re-laying tracks, which will expedite the construction process, and with a single track between each pair of platforms, passengers will be able to load and unload on both sides of the train, further increasing efficiency (similar to the 33rd St. PATH station). Furthermore, the expansion of Penn Station’s functions into Moynihan Station across 8th Ave, provides a rare opportunity to increase much-needed vertical circulation to the tracks. Penn’s new platforms will also be wide enough to bring four bi-directional escalators to the platform at each access point, alleviating the bottleneck to get on and off tracks that currently plagues the station.
PAIRED VS. UN-PAIRED THROUGH-RUNNING
Paired through-running requires phased implementation of a non-paired system. It eliminates the use of terminating tracks in the central business district, but the last stop on all transit lines remains the same. This requires a physical transition of agencies and train conductors at those final destination stations because disparate agencies are “paired” through the use of the same rolling stock.
Non-paired through-running allows agencies to keep their current rolling stock by continuing trains through the city center to new termini in the city’s outskirts. In New York, trains terminating at Penn Station would instead terminate at stations outside of Manhattan. In ReThinkNYC’s proposal, these new terminal stations would be Secaucus Junction and Port Morris, with a through-station at Sunnyside.
For example, LIRR’s Montauk Line would continue through Penn Station and terminate in Secaucus, New Jersey, just west of Manhattan. NJ Transit’s Bayhead Line would continue through Penn Station and terminate in Port Morris, Bronx. Neither agency would be pressed to overhaul its operations or rolling stock, and Penn would see more efficient service. In a non-paired system, it would be possible to make long term plans for implementing paired through-running and any future overhauls that the city’s system requires.
A train arriving from the east terminates on one platform, and a train arriving from the west terminates on another platform. Each train changes direction, returning to where it originated from.
Paired Through-Running: The same train serves all westbound passengers, and a second train serves all eastbound passengers.
Non-paired through-running: Westbound trains arrive, drop off and pick up passengers, and move on, still westbound. Eastbound trains do the same. The trains do not share service schedules, platforms, operations, but can stagger their service along the same tracks, and use the same railyards.
AREAS OF COMPATIBILITY
Five types of power, dividing a network
The differing power systems for rail across the New York City metropolitan region present a serious challenge to building a unified network. Trains run on five different types of power, detailed on the opposite page. What this means in practical terms is that the train cars used by Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road can’t run in New Jersey, and vice-versa. Additionally, while most stations in the region have platforms that allow for level boarding, not all do, making it even more difficult to develop a single regional network.
Standardize power and station design
To allow for the region’s three suburban networks to truly operate as an integrated whole, RUN would extend electrification further out on many lines. RUN would also upgrade the oldest catenary system – 12kV 25Hz AC – to the modern standard of 25kV 60 Hz. Additionally, we would work to transform low-level platforms to permit level boarding, with priority for the main RUN lines.
Today, the rail systems in our region have varying platform widths and heights.
Today, power standards between commuter rail lines vary in voltage, current, and contact system (Left). RUN proposes standarizing power standards and eliminating usage of the oldest catenary system (12kV 25 Hz), and extending electrification of LIRR and NJT rail lines (Right).