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Old 03-03-2014, 10:01 PM   #41
cbrett
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
The ability to move trains back and forth goes a long way towards normalizing the relative capacity imbalances in the system today where Maintenance World HQ and all the heavyweight lines are on the "wrong" side of the divide relative to each other. That's definitely worth something because we talk about adding maintenance capacity to Readville and we regularly talk about the capacity crush as the layup platforms at South Station turn into short-term storage because short-term storage turned into long-term storage because long-term storage is effectively unusable by southside trains during the peak. In fact, I'd wager it's worth the entire cost of South Station Expansion plus maybe half of the cost of a Readville Maintenance Facility (only half because it's a long term need anyway) and now we're already at least $1 billion of the way towards justifying that price tag with exactly 0 projected passengers - remember, the current figure du jour for SS Expansion is $850 million.

It doesn't get us all the way there but it gets us well on the way towards justifying the expense.

So, no, running empty trains alone doesn't justify the Link but neither does any service pattern for through-running that we can dream up alone justify the Link. Both are important, and talking about the "unsexy" things like the operational advantages (which still exist even at zero ridership) is important.
Yeah... no. You're playing up this whole "unsexy" improvement angle saying that spending a billion on necessary maitence buildings is in the same vein to 5 billion + on an unnecessary (current rail ops/maitence wise) rail link.

The projects you're talking about arent generating 0 passengers either, the whole freaking point of expanding SS and Readville is for more trains/equipment and in turn the addition of more passengers.

Get off the soapbox and down to reality, the rail link will only be built if it is part of a region wide rethinking of transit in the vein Matthew is referring to. The NSRL isnt the end all be all of "un sexy" improvements, it is just another piece of the puzzle (albeit a major one). Without the expanded SS and Readville maitence facilities you can kiss any expansion goodbye, especially the NSRL which you claim accomplishes the exact same task.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:17 AM   #42
Deetroyt
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Its the larger economic growth to the region that will get this done, not "unsexy improvements" or moving people more efficiently. What I mean by that is, our government leaders have to sell this to the public as a major benefit to the regional economy. Thats the only way this project will move forward. Sure, unsexy improvements and moving people are a part of that, but gov't needs to package it all as an engine for economic growth if there is to be any movement forward on this project. Short of being able to tie this to economic growth, there is no justification that would realistically get this done. I'm not accusing any of you of disagreeing with this point, I'm just making it as I haven't really seen it be part of the conversation on this thread.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:42 AM   #43
bobthebuilder
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

What's the likelihood that the NSRL could be built with some kind of subway component? My ideal "sexy" vision would involve the red line hooking up with the orange line somewhere around haymarket, following the same line through north station, then breaking off and heading north through Everett.

Sidenote: Does anybody have any good resources they could point me towards that I could use to find out the layout of subway system? Particularly looking for depth/orientation of subway tunnels as they make their way through Boston.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:52 AM   #44
Commuting Boston Student
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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Get off the soapbox and down to reality, the rail link will only be built if it is part of a region wide rethinking of transit in the vein Matthew is referring to. The NSRL isnt the end all be all of "un sexy" improvements, it is just another piece of the puzzle (albeit a major one). Without the expanded SS and Readville maitence facilities you can kiss any expansion goodbye, especially the NSRL which you claim accomplishes the exact same task.
Readville, sure, but South Station expansion is absolutely unnecessary in the context of the Link.

We're only "running out of capacity" at South Station because we're routinely pulling trains out of service and just leaving them there because they've got nowhere else to go. We're going to build another seven or eight tracks onto South Station not because we actually need them, but because it "solves the problem" we're about to be having with the NEC and Worcester Line users crowding the Old Colony Lines (including Fairmount) out.

But wait! If there was some kind of tunnel that we could use to instead remove 100% of the existing Worcester Line, Providence Line, and Amtrak services from South Station's crowded upper-level tracks by shifting them into the tunnel instead - well, now we've opened up just about the same amount of spare capacity that another eight terminal tracks would have bought us.
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Old 03-04-2014, 02:18 PM   #45
Matthew
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

I agree that the NSRL should obviate the SS expansion. But the SS expansion is probably politically necessary before the NSRL. Besides the fact that it's at the plate right now, rather than in the unforeseeable future, it could also lead to the increase in service that is necessary to demonstrate to the public why it's important to have such a thing as the NSRL.
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:02 PM   #46
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Is it possible that the SS expansion could actually do some of the prep work for the NSRL so that area doesn't have to get dug up again?-ie do part of the portals or something.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:53 AM   #47
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

So there is a provision in the transportation bond bill currently being considered by the legislature that would rename South Station the Michael Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station, but the Duke has said he only wants them to do that if they build NSRL.

I wish to some day be in a position where I can make such awesomely crazy and fantastic demands.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:45 AM   #48
Deetroyt
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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Originally Posted by Scalziand View Post
Is it possible that the SS expansion could actually do some of the prep work for the NSRL so that area doesn't have to get dug up again?-ie do part of the portals or something.
I asked about this a few pages back. I think F-line responded and said it would be a waste of money to do part of it without digging the whole tunnel, as the portals are among the most expensive piece.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:46 AM   #49
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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it could also lead to the increase in service that is necessary to demonstrate to the public why it's important to have such a thing as the NSRL.
I've never understood why it is such an important thing. If in fact the South Station expansion is going to solve much of the foreseeable capacity issues that NSRL was to have solved (at a fraction of the cost) then NSRL should only be pursued if the other benefits are worth the added $5B or so in capital costs.

I'm probably missing some, but the reasons for doing NSRL that I most often hear are:

Interconnect Downeaster to NEC service - I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks one of these things don't belong when we talk about a DC/Philly/NYC/Boston/Portland, Me rail corridor.

Facilitate suburb to suburb travel - Why on earth would we want to do such a thing? Wouldn't suburban depopulation be a better goal, at least until we've densified all of the underutilized areas surrounding our rapid transit stations (Sullivan, Maverick, Andrew, Forest Hills, etc, etc)

Better distribution for commuter rail customers - If this becomes the main argument in favor, it gets pretty hard to defend. If the current "bad" situation is getting off at North Station and having to take a 12 minute rapid transit ride at 4 minute headways to get to Back Bay, or walk 15 minutes to the Financial District, what will the delta be for the "good" situation afforded by NSRL? And how many of the trips to be served by NSRL have already been siphoned off by Hubway?

Anyway, if these are already answered earlier in the thread, my apologies.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:45 PM   #50
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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Facilitate suburb to suburb travel - Why on earth would we want to do such a thing? Wouldn't suburban depopulation be a better goal, at least until we've densified all of the underutilized areas surrounding our rapid transit stations (Sullivan, Maverick, Andrew, Forest Hills, etc, etc)
That angle is less about spots like Ashland and Scituate and more about places like Salem, Gloucester, Lowell, Worcester, etc. AKA, spots that either currently dense employment centers or spots that could be dense employment centers if they had better transit connection.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:56 PM   #51
fattony
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

^ What about load spreading? NSRL enables CR to function as express service within the urban area. Porter to Fenway (or god forbid Brighton) is a bear on the T or bus. That is hardly a suburb to suburb trip. I would wager NRSL generates a lot of new trips that people are completely unwilling to make by T today. Commuting patterns are what they are today because the network is the way it is. If the network changes to be more interconnected with simpler and shorter connections between points, more people will use the network.

Anything that relieves the downtown transfer stations is a boon to everyone.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:28 PM   #52
Matthew
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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Originally Posted by belmont square View Post
I've never understood why it is such an important thing. If in fact the South Station expansion is going to solve much of the foreseeable capacity issues that NSRL was to have solved (at a fraction of the cost) then NSRL should only be pursued if the other benefits are worth the added $5B or so in capital costs.
I think it's right to have a healthy skepticism of the NSRL. That's why I think its cost will only be justified if it results in a major transformation to the region's transportation.

Now, SSX will partially solve one problem, which is the capacity limitation at SS. That will enable increased levels of service on the south side lines and Amtrak. That will enable doing more of the same, plus DMU service, as planned. But while the DMU service will be an improvement, it's still probably going to be 30 minute frequencies at best on most lines. Maybe inconsistent 15-20 minute frequencies on the Fairmount line, it's been speculated, but that's it. That's not a revolutionary difference, it's an incremental improvement. And that's fine for what it is. It won't do anything for the north side, and it probably won't draw that many new riders.

Quote:
Facilitate suburb to suburb travel - Why on earth would we want to do such a thing? Wouldn't suburban depopulation be a better goal, at least until we've densified all of the underutilized areas surrounding our rapid transit stations (Sullivan, Maverick, Andrew, Forest Hills, etc, etc)
I totally agree with you that, in the near future, we need to grow the neighborhoods around those squares (Sullivan is particularly egregious in its current form). There's much existing transit investment which is not being utilized. However, two things: eventually the cost/benefit of redeveloping near existing stations rises too much, and, eventually the cost/benefit of increasing the capacity of the rapid transit lines also gets too high. Not to mention, there's seemingly intractable bottlenecks at core transfer stations such as Park or DTX which will only get worse over time.

At some point we need to address these issues. Transit expansion is one option. We could build all-new lines to relieve crowding on existing lines and open up development options in different places. That's a very difficult proposition however, because this is Boston, and most places are built up enough to resist change and the kind of disruption that the construction of a new line would bring.

But we already have many rail corridors, dating back to the 1830s, running through the city. And they even have existing passenger service. So, another option is to increase that service until it approaches rapid transit-like service. This is not a new idea, it's quite common in history. The Dorchester branch of the Red Line is one example. The Revere extension of the Blue Line is another. The "D" branch of the Green Line. The SW corridor and the GLX are somewhat similar, except those corridors are big enough to support both rapid transit and traditional American commuter rail.

So, when we say suburb-to-suburb travel, we mostly mean the inner-suburban neighborhoods which in many cases have been incorporated into the city of Boston. Or the surrounding urban, or semi-suburban towns and cities.

For this kind of increase in service to work, to become rapid transit-like, and to be utilized as such, it needs both frequency and connections. That's where the NSRL comes in. SSX can buy you frequency to an extent. But not as much as thru-running. And SSX doesn't solve the problem that all the increased service terminates at SS. We can already see how the Silver Line-Waterfront is dampened by its lack of connections, an issue that was supposed to be addressed by SL Phase III, but that plan is too costly. The same problem afflicts Fairmount-Indigo. And it will afflict any service which just terminates at South or North station.

Certainly, you can hop on the subway at those stations. But that puts us right back at the burgeoning capacity problems on the core subway and the core transfer stations.

The NSRL may also be the only feasible option for major transit expansion that passes through the heart of Boston. So if we are going to focus development around transit stations, and enhance the MBTA, this may be our best shot at doing so around corridors with lots of room to grow. I suspect that, other than the NSRL (and Red/Blue), most transit expansion will be surface-based.


Quote:
Better distribution for commuter rail customers - If this becomes the main argument in favor, it gets pretty hard to defend. If the current "bad" situation is getting off at North Station and having to take a 12 minute rapid transit ride at 4 minute headways to get to Back Bay, or walk 15 minutes to the Financial District, what will the delta be for the "good" situation afforded by NSRL? And how many of the trips to be served by NSRL have already been siphoned off by Hubway?
The trips I am thinking about are more like: connecting across the platform to get to places like Ruggles, Yawkey, Boston Landing, Newmarket, Porter, UMass, Lynn, Malden, Readville, etc. Either places that aren't covered well by the existing subway network, or places for which the number of transfers is excessive, or involves adding too much crowding to the already-busy transfer stations.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:28 PM   #53
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

My other fear about SSX is that it will take budget and political will away from NSRL. I understand that it won't physically/structurally prevent NSRL from happening, but I'm concerned it would take it even further off the radar. I've seen in this thread someone mention that we should move forward with SSX because it has a realistic chance to get done, and to some extent I agree (we all know how hard it is to get transportation projects approved), but I'm also afraid that if accomplished it would push NSRL even further away and give the opposition the argument "NSRL isn't needed now that we've expanded SS". I'm torn. Part of me feels like SSX should get pushed through because its needed and may actually happen, the other part of me feels like it impedes a better project.
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:42 AM   #54
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

An earmark in the new transportation bill sets aside $5MM for the environmental impact study of the Link: Nashoba Publishing story.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:27 AM   #55
Deetroyt
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Glad to see that, even if all it does it keep this in the conversation. The more marketing this project can get the better, as i'm willing to bet most people aren't even familiar with it.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:30 PM   #56
BussesAin'tTrains
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Getting EIS funding for this is important.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:57 AM   #57
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Regional Transit Game Changer -- Alternative North-South Link via Logan Airport

If we really want to change the game in regional transit alignment, I would propose evaluating an alternative routing for a north-south rail link that puts Central Station at Logan Airport.

Expensive -- yes. But, it completely changes the level of multi-modal connectivity in the region.

NEC trains through run from the south to Maine, via Logan.

Commuter Rail can become Regional Rail, with many trains running through connecting to Logan. These become viable alternatives to the regional buses, and all the cars at Logan.

I have no idea how to so this, and you probably need more than two tracks of heavy rail to get enough through running to make a regional difference. But it would provide a true alternative to all those cars parked at Central Parking, Terminal B and all the maxed out over flow lots. This would be a true alternative transportation Big Dig. It could also make Logan a more attractive international gateway (easy access to the Northeast by train).

Major cities in Europe have pulled this off (you can take the TGV directly from Charles de Gaulle; the ICE directly from Frankfort). Why not Boston?
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:34 AM   #58
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

How do you get from Logan back on alignment to the NHM (Lowell Line), which carries Amtrak trains to Maine?
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:26 AM   #59
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

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How do you get from Logan back on alignment to the NHM (Lowell Line), which carries Amtrak trains to Maine?
Well, in theory a reconnected Eastern Route is going to be a better high-speed passenger route to Maine than the freight-congested, much slower, and probably non-electrifiable Western Route. But that's beside the point because you get shut out of everywhere else: NH, Montreal, a well-positioned Route 128 park-and-ride, Fitchburg, and the 3 largest cities accessible from the northside: Manchester, Lowell, and Nashua (yes...all larger than City of Portland, which is about Haverhill-sized with slightly larger abutting density). That's fatal right there.

The only way to do it is self-defeatingly backtrack all the way to BET in literal eyesight of the North Station platforms and go around the horn. On track through Chelsea that's slow, and too capacity-pinched to feed a route as high capacity as Lowell. You certainly aren't running out there on a de-landbanked Danvers Branch or anciently abandoned Salem & Lowell RR on single track with a bazillion grade crossings.



See my longer reply to that simulpost in the Crazy Pitches thread for more about why this doesn't work and why airport superstations are severely overrated.
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Old 08-09-2014, 04:09 PM   #60
Matthew
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Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Logan is not "on the way" to anything, except perhaps the Eastern route. You do not want to ride that far out on your daily commute to work. That sinks a thru route, along with the cost.

Only thing I can think of is a branch off from the proposed NSRL that tunnels under the harbor, allowing some trains to serve south station, and then terminate at Logan. Still sounds too costly to be built.
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