Manhattan has the High Line.
Poughkeepsie has The Walkway Over the Hudson.
The City of Beacon has the Beacon
The Beacon Line Project is a long term advocacy group centered on finding ways to
use this relic of Beacon's industrial past. Whether light rail, trolley, hiking,
biking, alone or in combination, the Beacon Line Project aims to draw attention
to the line and potential plans for its use and to keep the drum beat alive until
one vision or another is realized.
Click on the tabs below, each one a link to an outline of an idea for the Beacon
Line's potential use. Which vision should dominate?
Contact us at the Beacon Line Project to submit your own ideas or to contribute
in other ways to the worthy cause. The only vision that is not acceptable is the
current status quo: that a potent transportation alternative, owned by the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority no less, should run right through
our city, and simply lie fallow.
It is absurd to build a transit line in a city as small as Beacon.
But what if the line is just sitting there already?
Then it is absurd not to use it.
picture source: Kingly Heirs
The M.T.A. is broke. Even with fare increases and an onerous payroll tax, they have
serious problems with revenues and their operating budget. Suggesting to them an
extension of service, at this time, to the M.T.A. brass, is simply a nonstarter,
a joke, even though the M.T.A. eventually does want extension of service on the
Beacon Line, similar in size and projected ridership levels as
The New Canaan Branch. Consider
the M.T.A.'s own words when they purchased the line in 1995 (note that
the Maybrook Line is another name for the Beacon Line):
The purchase of the new line, called the Maybrook, is Metro-North's first acquisition since the railroad was established in 1983. While there are no immediate plans to develop the property, Donald N. Nelson, president of Metro-North, said that it would eventually become an important part of Metro-North's service. "This is a rare opportunity to preserve for the public the possibility of east-west train travel in New York's outer suburbs," Mr. Nelson said. "This right of way was established more than a century ago and, if lost, would be impossible to re-create." Mr. Nelson said it was not certain how soon the railroad could develop the new passenger service, though it might be within 10 years. But he said that had Metro-North not bought the Maybrook Line now, it would have almost certainly been sold off in small parts, a pattern seen with aging freight lines nationwide. "We are hedging against the future, knowing that if we had not secured this line, it would have ended up totally gone as a rail corridor for this region," Mr. Nelson said.Kevin has an answer for the M.T.A.: turn a line they currently maintain and don't see any revenue from, into a revenue generator, by outsourcing operations:
As far as 'just' getting MNCRR to run revenue passenger trains on the BD line I don't think that will happen. However the total take over is kind of what I had thought SHOULD be done. But even if a big pile of ARRA funded cash is offered - the MTA MNRR 'politburo' will most likely say 'nyet.' However as perhaps a more feasible option - if enticed with the agreement that a seperate transit entity were to do most of the work (except for the ROW upgrade, MNCRR could be 'hired' to do this) and provide the ARRA (and other available special FRA RR funding) funded big bucks to fix and ultimately upgrade the track, buy the new DMUs, etc. AND pay them to operate and maybe maintain (or maybe not) said rail vehicles on the rehabilitated and upgraded track - much in the same way the LOOP and the Westchester Bee line buses are operated - the county of Dutchess or Westchester gets the funding for and purchases the vehicles, sets the fares and Liberty Lines manages, maintains, and operates the Bee Line buses - the county pays them a flat fee to do this. And so maybe? This could be done for the Southern Dutchess section of the BD line - Beacon-Fishkill transit or South County Transit District or whatever they would be named, would get the big bucks funding to do all immediate repairs on the track, make some simple stations, set the fare, work out the scheduling, etc. Of course a good chunk of the money would go to the MTA MNCRR for use of their track and to operate the trains. One would THINK this would be an offer they could not refuse - the financialy troubled MTA would be, get this... actually making money from this line - a steady pre agreed upon yearly fee.
Can this really work?
picture source: Kingly Heirs
Yes, the big curve on the Beacon Line will make the train slow, but if you reduce
the number of hops and the time driving and the stress of parking, people will take
the train from Fishkill. And in fact, considering the hassle of getting into and
out of Beacon to park and walk to the train, it will even be faster than driving.
We can even reduce the parking at Beacon Station, and increase it at stops on the
Beacon Line. Especially by putting a new Park-and-Ride on the West side of 9D, parallel
with Dutchess Stadium (and replace the barely used current Park-and-Ride at Dutchess
stadium that relies on buses). There is an old unused industrial property situated
at the terminus of the third track that you see looking North on the Hudson Line
from the Beacon Station. The existence of this third track means you can run our
proposed local Beacon Line transit without interfering with MetroNorth, Amtrak,
or C.S.X. (except where the line crosses the two main Hudson Line tracks to get
to Beacon Station, of course):
Otherwise, maybe we can guerrilla D.I.Y. (I'm joking).
In 2002, 2004, and other years, the M.T.A. ran a diesel engine powered excursion trip on the line: The Beacon Line Rail Fan Trip (note that the Maybrook Line is another name for the Beacon Line):
They can run freight trains on the line: The line is 100% solid and sound. There is degradation in Brewster on this line, with some of the bridges there. DutchRailnut on railroad.net is informative on the physical status of the line. But Brewster has nothing to do with this plan. All they would need to do is put in some signals at road crossings. At Fishkill, they could turn the cement plan at Route 9 into a parking lot. Since that is an extensive effort, there are other places in Fishkill where the train can stop (see Kevin's report above). No need for a platform, at first: people can use stairs like they do on the Danbury Line, the Long Branch Line, etc.