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Old 10-10-2015, 04:17 PM   #81
Digital_Islandboy
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

I find it odd Massachusetts has no plan to extend the Worcester line directly to the (almost totally unused) Worcester Airport and yet there's discussion to extend the CR to Manchester Airport, or- Massachusetts's past effort for pushing to extending to the T.F. Green airport in Rhode Island.
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Old 10-10-2015, 05:20 PM   #82
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

I don't begrudge them the use of the term "bullet", it isn't a defined term in the US, so I'd say they're free to claim it.

Meanwhile terms like "limited" and "super express" and "partial express" arent much better.
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Old 10-10-2015, 05:38 PM   #83
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

Someone called the non-stop between Cambridge and King's Cross the "Cambridge flyer" today. So that could work. 55 rail miles in 47 minutes.

Bullet somewhat implies high-speed. But Caltrain abuses that too with their 'baby bullet' schedule. Oh well.
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Old 10-10-2015, 06:41 PM   #84
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Digital_Islandboy View Post
I find it odd Massachusetts has no plan to extend the Worcester line directly to the (almost totally unused) Worcester Airport and yet there's discussion to extend the CR to Manchester Airport, or- Massachusetts's past effort for pushing to extending to the T.F. Green airport in Rhode Island.
I really don't find it that odd. Both Manchester and T.F. Green are on or very close to an existing ROW. Worcester Regional isn't and it would be quite difficult to plot one out.
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Old 10-11-2015, 04:18 AM   #85
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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I really don't find it that odd. Both Manchester and T.F. Green are on or very close to an existing ROW. Worcester Regional isn't and it would be quite difficult to plot one out.
Let alone deal with the grades.......it's a steep incline from the B & A to up there.

In all honesty, they don't even want to build an access road, let alone a rail line. I can only imagine the NIMBY's.....
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Old 10-12-2015, 05:36 AM   #86
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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I really don't find it that odd. Both Manchester and T.F. Green are on or very close to an existing ROW. Worcester Regional isn't and it would be quite difficult to plot one out.
Worcester Airport is way, way up on a plateau at 1000 ft. elevation. Switch to terrain view in Google and you can see the impossibility of climbing that from every side. The lowest-elevation means up there is from Route 9 along Reservoir St., hugging the banks of Lynde Brook Reservoir. Goddard Memorial Dr., the airport access road, pretty much takes the nearest environmentally acceptable trajectory for this route...and you can see on Street View it's got a pretty stiff grade on it as its 4 lanes climb through the industrial park.

To merely get from the B&A to the Route 9 injection point means scaling two 600' hills between Stafford St. and Route 9, which is why the ROW makes its sudden due-south divebomb towards Auburn right after James St. There's literally no geometric path between Worcester Union and Worcester Airport unless you were willing to blow up 25+ houses cutting a diagonal swath of destruction through that dense urban neighborhood bounded by Curtis Pkwy. and Ludlow St. And you're not doing that for Worcester Airport when a shuttle bus from Union Station is going to beat that meandering mountain-topper rail trip by several minutes.

The flat plateau that served up a nice ready-made airport parcel just happens to be physically incompatible with easy ground transportation for getting there. The access roads on Goddard and Airport Dr. are well-built and high-capacity; you're covered on three sides and Routes 9 & 122. But there's no direct route to highway or rail without going through the maximum density of downtown streets. The city and the ground transit filled in every nook and cranny where the mountains ain't; the airport went where it am.

There's nothing they can do about that except cater Worcester Regional to the niches where it'll thrive: air freight, and a very tight shortlist of homeless-man's frills direct flights that'll make their margins without overreach. It's not T.F. Green or Bradley or Manchester in the jack-of-all-trades dept. as regional alternatives to Logan. And politicians need to stop talking breathlessly like it is, because it just gunks and dilutes any/all planning momentum.
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:29 PM   #87
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Worcester Airport is way, way up on a plateau at 1000 ft. elevation. Switch to terrain view in Google and you can see the impossibility of climbing that from every side. The lowest-elevation means up there is from Route 9 along Reservoir St., hugging the banks of Lynde Brook Reservoir. Goddard Memorial Dr., the airport access road, pretty much takes the nearest environmentally acceptable trajectory for this route...and you can see on Street View it's got a pretty stiff grade on it as its 4 lanes climb through the industrial park.

To merely get from the B&A to the Route 9 injection point means scaling two 600' hills between Stafford St. and Route 9, which is why the ROW makes its sudden due-south divebomb towards Auburn right after James St. There's literally no geometric path between Worcester Union and Worcester Airport unless you were willing to blow up 25+ houses cutting a diagonal swath of destruction through that dense urban neighborhood bounded by Curtis Pkwy. and Ludlow St. And you're not doing that for Worcester Airport when a shuttle bus from Union Station is going to beat that meandering mountain-topper rail trip by several minutes.

The flat plateau that served up a nice ready-made airport parcel just happens to be physically incompatible with easy ground transportation for getting there. The access roads on Goddard and Airport Dr. are well-built and high-capacity; you're covered on three sides and Routes 9 & 122. But there's no direct route to highway or rail without going through the maximum density of downtown streets. The city and the ground transit filled in every nook and cranny where the mountains ain't; the airport went where it am.

There's nothing they can do about that except cater Worcester Regional to the niches where it'll thrive: air freight, and a very tight shortlist of homeless-man's frills direct flights that'll make their margins without overreach. It's not T.F. Green or Bradley or Manchester in the jack-of-all-trades dept. as regional alternatives to Logan. And politicians need to stop talking breathlessly like it is, because it just gunks and dilutes any/all planning momentum.
This. I live down the hill from the airport. Quite honestly, as much as I'd love to see a major spike in air traffic up there, it won't happen. At least unless they build an access road from 290. However, the cost of that project alone will probably kill it before it gets started because the cost outweighs the benefit of it.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:11 PM   #88
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

Here's a slightly less destructive version of what F-line describes, snaking around Ludlow Street instead of cutting through that neighborhood. Still not pretty what else it takes out. 1000' minimum radius. 3.5-4% max grade. Tunneling under the main runway(maybe using the frozen soil method from the Big Dig, as it's going through fill there).



Is it worth a couple hundred million dollars to get a rail link to the airport? It just doesn't seem that likely.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:44 PM   #89
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Scalziand View Post
Here's a slightly less destructive version of what F-line describes, snaking around Ludlow Street instead of cutting through that neighborhood. Still not pretty what else it takes out. 1000' minimum radius. 3.5-4% max grade. Tunneling under the main runway(maybe using the frozen soil method from the Big Dig, as it's going through fill there).



Is it worth a couple hundred million dollars to get a rail link to the airport? It just doesn't seem that likely.
The short and long answers to that are NO.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:08 PM   #90
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Here's a slightly less destructive version of what F-line describes, snaking around Ludlow Street instead of cutting through that neighborhood. Still not pretty what else it takes out. 1000' minimum radius. 3.5-4% max grade. Tunneling under the main runway(maybe using the frozen soil method from the Big Dig, as it's going through fill there).



Is it worth a couple hundred million dollars to get a rail link to the airport? It just doesn't seem that likely.
Not even that would work. Ludlow is the start of a tall but slowish-rising hill, and the intersection of Ludlow & Route 9 is where the gradual hill turns into a great big cliff: https://goo.gl/maps/HhHPAS37VGM2. See Locust St. in relation to 9...Locust is way up on top of the cliff, 9 is on the bottom (but still beginning to climb it).

Nope...the only way off the B&A is to tear a diagonall gash through 6 blocks of the residential grid spanning Stafford and 9 and go east of Ludlow flanking the SB lanes of Godard Mem. Dr., then settle out along the shores of the reservoir when Godard starts getting steep. It would be like I-290 all over again at tearing whole neighborhoods to smithereens.



The most non-invasive direct rail trajectory is off the Gardner Branch at Route 122A right at the Holden town line. Spur off due south before the Big Y supermarket and take a meandering path at the bottom of the cliff framed by Tatnuck Brook, then stay bolted to Reservoir St. the whole way down Holden Reservoir, then splitting the tree buffer between homes on Cataract St. and Wildrose Ave., eminent domain 1 home on Mower St., go around the country club, and bolt to Airport Dr.

About 6.5 miles of new ROW to the terminal after going 7 miles up the Gardner Branch. Which you can't access from Boston without a reverse move at Worcester Union. Literally...that's the only way you can do it without EIS'ing a massive-scale re-grading of a cliffside or displacing 300 people from their homes and severing the street grid. And that's assuming airport rail links are a to-die-for amenity and not vastly overrated as most cost/benefit analysis shows them to be (none moreso than when it's a single-purpose spur line off of mainline rail). You would get there faster stringing a giant 10-story gondola ride from Worcester Union up 3 miles of Route 122 to the terminal.


Erm, no. There will never be a "Worcester International Airport" until the next ice age knocks 200+ feet off those cliffs. "Hanscom International Airport" with a Red Line train every 5 minutes looks shovel-ready x1000 compared to the feasibility of commuter rail-ifying Worcester Regional.
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:45 PM   #91
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Not even that would work. Ludlow is the start of a tall but slowish-rising hill, and the intersection of Ludlow & Route 9 is where the gradual hill turns into a great big cliff: https://goo.gl/maps/HhHPAS37VGM2. See Locust St. in relation to 9...Locust is way up on top of the cliff, 9 is on the bottom (but still beginning to climb it).
That's why the track would have to turn once it meets rt9 to go along the side of the hill instead of straight up it. Still results in the 4% grade I mentioned, and Goddard's not going to be any better. Feels weird to be arguing over which alignment is the least absurd.

Quote:
he most non-invasive direct rail trajectory is off the Gardner Branch at Route 122A right at the Holden town line. Spur off due south before the Big Y supermarket and take a meandering path at the bottom of the cliff framed by Tatnuck Brook, then stay bolted to Reservoir St. the whole way down Holden Reservoir, then splitting the tree buffer between homes on Cataract St. and Wildrose Ave., eminent domain 1 home on Mower St., go around the country club, and bolt to Airport Dr.
That is nice and flat, at least until the 10% slope of Airport Dr. Never thought about coming at it from that direction. Although if that much new track is getting laid it would probably be easier to build a new airport in a more accessible location.

Quote:
You would get there faster stringing a giant 10-story gondola ride from Worcester Union up 3 miles of Route 122 to the terminal.
Don't let the pols hear that one. They might actually try to build it.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:12 PM   #92
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

Well, I think the point of no return on what's physically possible is that we've already violated many times over every "first-world" transpo blogger's golden rule that airport spurs as a whole are a shitty value that almost never do what they're supposed to despite the superficial allure that tickles the politicians who over-value them. It works when the airport is near enough to a mainline for an on-mainline intermediate stop where the mainline continues on spanning typical mainline-ish destinations. The Blue Line is an example of an acceptable one; Logan's just a stopover between the heart of Eastie and Revere, and the shuttle bus is fast/straightforward enough to cover the last mile. The SL1 and Urban Ring fingers reaching around from both sides to Logan is another. It gets stinky when you start talking stuff like "let's do a short-turning Blue branch around the terminals"...that's a classic trap. It gets even worse when it's mainline rail and not rapid transit, or some mongrel half-and-half like eBART. Worse still as a deviation/spur off of mainline rail...those "let's do a cross-Harbor tunnel forking off the N-S Link" Crazy Pitches are doubleplusbad valuations. Worse still as a mainline rail dinky requiring a transfer then a trip on slow track.

With the Worcester Line a +1'ing of normally Worcester-terminating trains comes with still penalties of the amount of time the mountain-topper run adds to the schedule and how much more cumbersome it makes turning trains. That lowers the ceiling somewhat on headway growth when the slow trip up the spur becomes the limiting factor for everything South Station to Worcester Union. The off-main deviation limits it further, in that if you had any notions of a few of those newfangled Worcester nonstop super-expresses being extended to Springfield on conventional commuter rail equipment in a future 90 MPH end-to-end era where it can plausibly make that trip in 1:30...the airport spur vultures too many off-main slots to plausibly make that a reality. And it's a flat-out terrible application for DMU shuttles because the city bus will beat the slow track every single time, leaving those dinkies empty nearly all the time. Those are loss-leader applications of a DMU that always seem like a good idea on a map, but end up lead weights on a farebox recovery ledger.


There's all that...and then there's the rest of the regional airport rail universe.

  • Bradley Airport is getting a new Windsor Locks station closer to downtown when next Springfield Line funding shot starts covering the north-of-Hartford infrastructure. They're planning a real station facility with waiting room, airport-catered info kiosks and (if demand merits) perhaps some onsite Bradley customer service staff. And it'll be configured with shuttle bus storage for the luggage rack-equipped shuttle buses Bradley is going to run coordinated with every train schedule. While ConnDOT has studied a Bradley Branch dinky to the terminal, they'll never find reason to do it when the mainline stop at halfway point between Hartford and Springfield serves every need and the shuttle buses can make door-to-door in 7 minutes. Get the Inland Service fully scaled up without trimming or deferring too many B&A speed upgrades, and 90 MPH track probably makes that a 2:00 trip from Boston.
Take into account that Bradley doesn't require nearly the extreme (and lengthening) check-in + security times of a trip to Logan, the across-the-board cheaper fares, and the lower-stress ordeal of getting to a less-crowded airport...then that's within the margin of error where the savings more than make up for the slightly longer lead time. Do you need a Worcester when someone from Worcester can do Bradley in an hour off an Inland and outright beat the pain and frustration of what hell Logan's going to be in 2020 or '25? Especially when the "International" gets put back in Bradley's name with a selection of discount overseas routes starting very soon.
  • Then...Manchester. If NH's dysfunctional state gov't can ever get their act together on the Capitol Corridor, North Station to Manchester and that curbside shuttle bus pickup takes 1:10 or 1:15 on one of the NHDOT-subsidized Lowell Line trains that'll be running super-express in MA (Anderson + Lowell + the local stops across the state line). Upgrade the most sluggish segment of the Lowell Line--the Downeaster-shared portion out to Wilmington--to 90 MPH and one of the expresses may clock in at an even hour. Almost a match for what Logan will be after another decade of ballooning check-in lead time.
  • Then...T.F. Green. Once RIDOT gets intrastate commuter rail up and running the Providence Line can pull back from the nether regions of Wickford & Kingston and probably draw the line at Green, running its full schedule out there. Throw in electric vehicles to knock travel time down under 1:15 and keep ratcheting up the baseline Providence headways and that's now also in Logan's range when the check-in bloat is stripped out. And a NE Regional platform there served by a limited number of Amtraks is a near fait-accompli to be a real thing in 5 years.
Worcester access?...RIDOT's already committed to studying full Providence-Worcester commuter rail in its recently revised State Rail Plan filed with the federal gov't. The study is next step after construction gets funded/scheduled on Providence-Woonsocket CR in approx. 7 years.
I don't see where the need is going to be for another big MA passenger airport when 3 full-service Logan alternatives are all going to have robust rail service--2 of them direct from Worcester--that clocks in at 2 hours or less. All of them non-speculative builds that should all be open and fully-formed within 5 to 15 years...right when Logan starts getting intolerably congested. Plus Portland backstopping them all as last resort (via a hopefully ever- speed-increasing Downeaster) during weather FUBARs where all the Southern New England airports are knocked out of commission and above the snow-ice line or below the rain-ice line become the only options for getting a flight in/out now. Worcester, Hanscom, a second inside-128 airport...I think they all become unnecessary if public transit to all the pre-existing satellites with room left to grow can feasibly maneuver total travel time into the Logan check-in time margin of error with the lower fares and lower hassle making up the rest of the difference.



Lastly, Worcester Regional's location has other downsides. Way up high on that plateau it becomes the first airport in New England to fog over. They lose early morning slots several times a month because of the pea soup that parks itself on top of that plateau in the pre-dawn and doesn't move until the sun is sufficiently high. Ditto when a cool/clammy weather system is dumping gloomy rain on Eastern MA. It doesn't hurt them because their schedules aren't dense enough, but regular sunrise flights are almost futile to try there. It's also the first to ice over in a cold front when freezing temps are aloft (though conversely it's also the first to heat up in a warm front where it's icy on the ground but warm air is aloft...albeit at downside of more fog). Meh...you can't exactly find a lot of flat low-elevation land big enough in Central MA to put a full-size airport that can handle jets. The plateau is by far the best it gets...but it comes with many strings attached.



I think Worcester's got growth in it for cargo. All the flourishing freight rail intermodal right down the street at CSX and P&W and all the MassDOT dealmaking therein has hugely increased the local presence of trucking companies who are setting up shop within a day shift's distance of those huge freight yards by Worcester Union and up north on I-190 in Fitchburg and Ayer. Where most trans-New England trucking used to originate in Albany it's now relocating to Greater Worcester HQ as shipping hub of New England. That massively lowers the cost of truck transloading by virtue of those trucks originating purely local with purely local drivers, enough so that air freight @ Worcester Regional can schlep off the rail transload profit centers downtown and get way better trucking rates than they were ever able to before. Enough so to make sustainable increases in air freight a viable--if modest--growth strategy instead of just some lowish-margin niche. All that's missing is the local Amazon warehouse or anchor customer of that ilk that does large quantity of package freight.

Bank on that and an extremely judicious selection of a few of those "homeless man's" discount passenger routes and it's got its place at the table as a regional transportation asset. Just resist the urge to mistake it for Bradley, Green, Manchester, and their 'first-worlder's golden rule' obeying mainline rail access. It's not in that category at all, never will be, and really isn't begging for any troubleshooting to force-fit it into the same role as the others.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:42 PM   #93
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

Not sure if this is the right place for this:

Quote:
WORCESTER - Boston Surface Railroad, the company aiming to connect Worcester and Providence by commuter rail, has moved into new offices in Woonsocket, R.I.

Situated almost halfway between Providence and Worcester, Woonsocket will likely be the commuter rail's only stop. According to Boston Surface's website, the company hopes to start trips in early 2018 and is exploring the option of beginning service from Woonsocket to Providence earlier than that.


Boston Surface's plan to connect these cities has been in the works since late 2014, with the company negotiating use of existing tracks owned by The Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. No material agreements have been reached yet, according to Charles D. Rennick, secretary and general counsel for P&W.
Full story: http://www.telegram.com/news/2016062...-to-woonsocket

I don't know anything about this project. Early 2018 seems like it's extremely optimistic. "Woonsocket-Providence even earlier than that" seems even more unrealistic. Anyone know anything about this?
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Old 01-10-2017, 05:04 PM   #94
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

I and others are convinced the whole thing is either a folly or a scam. They've been claiming order-of-magnitude too-low start-up costs - merely adding an interlocking to be able to use Providence station would cost twice their claimed cost - and a very quick schedule, without any details on how they're going to do it. Their claimed travel times are lower than are actually possible, their claimed fares won't provide break-even farebox recovery, and they've been completely silent on how they're going to have a station in Providence.
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Old 01-10-2017, 05:58 PM   #95
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

It is, as the article notes, in the works for a couple years. That article, is also 6 months old, not exactly breaking news. Furthermore, P&W, which owns the tracks between Worcester and almost-Providence, was bought last summer after that article was published, and it does not seem that BSR has addressed the new owners.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:10 PM   #96
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Re: Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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It is, as the article notes, in the works for a couple years. That article, is also 6 months old, not exactly breaking news. Furthermore, P&W, which owns the tracks between Worcester and almost-Providence, was bought last summer after that article was published, and it does not seem that BSR has addressed the new owners.
Correct, in fact, there was a statement submitted to the STB for the P&W purchase that the new owners of the P&W had even attempted to get in touch with the "private commuter system *cough*cough*scam*cough*cough."

It is interesting to note that the City of Worcester was supporting Boston Surface Rail Co. enough to submit their own testimony in another filing. (I'm not going to get into city politics in this thread, but just making a note of it.)
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