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Old 07-21-2019, 10:50 AM   #3621
guitarguynboston
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Without cost being the factor. Could we build express tracks for red, orange, and blue in tunnels directly under each line. Obviously this would only really be needed if the lines got their extensions.
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Old 07-21-2019, 10:58 AM   #3622
DominusNovus
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
We wouldn't be running it under the Purple Line flag. There's already a strong proposal and completed study about doing New Haven-Springfield-Boston as a permanent reassignment of the Amtrak Springfield Shuttles. At those distances and travel times, commuter rail accommodations just become unwieldy. You need bigger seats, better cushion, more legroom to be sitting that long. You need more charging ports for gadgets. You need bigger luggage racks because that's going to be a longer day. You need easier restroom access. You need more intensive staff assistance. On the ops side you need efficiencies in crew rotations that are segmented fundamentally different from the 1:00-1:25 system-average of trip increments. And it even helps to be running locomotives ordered in the larger intercity-configuration fuel tank size to keep the number of duty cycles before refueling par.

The T doesn't have those; to customize a subset of its equipment and organize a subset of its crews apart from the rest would make the route a steep loss leader. Amtrak does have the right capabilities and right organization today, up to and including the existing staff base in Springfield and (if MassDOT stops ducking its funding responsibilities) a bigger maintenance base to come at the planned combo- ConnDOT Hartford Line + Amtrak layover yard in Springfield. With the Shuttles being a state-sponsored train still subsidized to commuter fares by CT until the Hartford Line's north-of-Hartford schedule fills out more, it's also easy to make fares commuter-friendly. At Zone Umpteen or whatever Springfield would otherwise be from Boston, you pretty much are already in Shuttles price range...and certainly have justification for paying a little extra for the less ass-hurty interior livery at those differences. Therefore, MassDOT taking up its subsidy share of what ConnDOT has long been doing with Amtrak ends up a much easier reach to begin with and a much better bet for building ridership.


We could be advancing this right now since the NNEIRI study concluded this was the slam-dunkiest of slam dunks. But for whatever reason MassDOT is flooding the zone with more studies like that Albany-Pittsfield train and--worse--that "Berkshire Flyer" Boston-North Adams via Fitchburg extreme longshot. Instead of just pulling the trigger already, Baker/Pollack have some nervous tic about really really wanting to do it but forever hesitating.
Excellent info, thanks! Follow up if you don’t mind, since I definitely phrased my question not exactly as I meant to (but I still got some good info): What other projects would have higher priority than improving the Boston-Springfield route (regardless of who runs it)? More or less, at what point would we reach “well, we’ve built out everything else?”
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:17 PM   #3623
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by guitarguynboston View Post
Without cost being the factor. Could we build express tracks for red, orange, and blue in tunnels directly under each line. Obviously this would only really be needed if the lines got their extensions.
No.

(1) It's probably not needed. Boston's subways are as congested as they are because of unbuilt relievers like Red-Blue and Silver Line Phase III, and because of constipated egresses at major transfer stations like Park and DTX. The congestion isn't because we're at real New York levels of ridership requiring separate local and express patterns to manage it all. Boston's still a far cry from that. Our issues are fixable by catching up on stuff that should've been done decades ago.

(2) It's probably physically impossible to stack express tracks anyway because of all the upper/lower stations downtown, number of water crossings we have, and the landfilling on large parts of the subway network. You wouldn't net more than insignificant, non-useful lengths of express track. And widening is just as big a pain under our narrow streets. Take a look at Summer St. between Park St. and Dewey Square, for instance; there's no way the Red Line tunnel is getting any bigger under a street that narrow.
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:52 PM   #3624
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by DominusNovus View Post
Excellent info, thanks! Follow up if you don’t mind, since I definitely phrased my question not exactly as I meant to (but I still got some good info): What other projects would have higher priority than improving the Boston-Springfield route (regardless of who runs it)? More or less, at what point would we reach “well, we’ve built out everything else?”
That's an unanswerable question, because we have to walk and chew gum at the same time to solve all the region's transit needs. Many projects need to advance simultaneously covering a wide spread of audiences.

The Inland Route is definitely the most important intercity project in New England. The reason for that is it's the main capital expense enabling an array of route combos anchored around Springfield Hub. The NNEIRI study details more of this, but you can piece a very robust array of route configurations together like tinker toys.
  • "Standard" Inland Shuttle: New Haven-Springfield + Springfield-Boston. One-seat.
  • "Standard" Vermonter/future-Montrealer: Washington-New Haven-Springfield + Springfield-St. Albans/Montreal. One-seat.
  • "Standard" Springfield NE Regional: Washington-New Haven-Springfield.
  • Boston-Montreal (new) route: Boston-Springfield piece of standard Inland + Springfield-Montreal piece of standard Montrealer. One-seat.
  • standard Montrealer meets opposite-direction standard Inland: an Inland slot to/from Boston gets timed to meet the daily Montrealer round-trip, allowing gain of additional BOS-MTL slot via two-seat w/cross-ticketing. Schedule for this second two-seater slot would be ideally spaced near-opposite end of the day from the direct train to offer up beneficial schedule flex for riders.
  • Boston-Montreal meets Springfield Regional: the daily BOS-MTL round-trip hits a timed transfer with either an Inland or a full-blown Regional offering Vermonter/Montrealer patrons a second daily round-trip via two-seat w/cross ticketing. Likewise, spaced near-opposite end of day from the regular direct train to max the schedule flex.
  • New York-Portland: otherwise regular Inland slot originates in NY, diverts over Grand Junction Branch to North Station, reverses direction to follow standard Downeaster route. Tiny margins for NY-POR patronage are supported by the passengers riding it as a more-or-less standard Inland or more-or-less standard Downeaster.


The "tinker toys" routes are all very low-cost to operate because their margins are hidden inside of the much bigger mainline Inland patronage, but that's how we end up getting more Vermonter/Montrealer (de facto) slots and Boston-Montreal slots out of it. As well as things on NNEPRA's bucket list like that NY-POR train that wouldn't be able to exist without having its margins well-embedded inside other routes. Everything ends up greater than sum of its parts.



You can branch off from there once things get better-established, such as engaging the B&A westbound to the Berkshires and Albany or seeing if there's more to tap in VT or CT. Real Boston-Albany service would no-doubt see itself getting established by doing these matchups of somebody's one-seater vs. somebody's timed transfer in order to give its starter schedule at least a couple decent options each direction on opposite ends of the day. Ditto if MassDOT has aims of tying in the Berkshires. And, yes, the commuter rail coattails are major if Springfield becomes a large Amtrak transfer hub. That's a big stimulus for Hartford Line growth and could influence the makeup (independent ops vs. run-thru w/ Hartford Line) of the eventual Knowledge Corridor CR service.
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Old Yesterday, 05:58 AM   #3625
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
No.

(1) It's probably not needed. Boston's subways are as congested as they are because of unbuilt relievers like Red-Blue and Silver Line Phase III, and because of constipated egresses at major transfer stations like Park and DTX. The congestion isn't because we're at real New York levels of ridership requiring separate local and express patterns to manage it all. Boston's still a far cry from that. Our issues are fixable by catching up on stuff that should've been done decades ago.

(2) It's probably physically impossible to stack express tracks anyway because of all the upper/lower stations downtown, number of water crossings we have, and the landfilling on large parts of the subway network. You wouldn't net more than insignificant, non-useful lengths of express track. And widening is just as big a pain under our narrow streets. Take a look at Summer St. between Park St. and Dewey Square, for instance; there's no way the Red Line tunnel is getting any bigger under a street that narrow.
Right.. just look at the amount of people that the Central/Northern/Picadilly lines move in London with two local tracks. We are no where near that, even on the Red Line trunk.
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Old Yesterday, 07:51 AM   #3626
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Re: Crazy Transit Pitches

Yeah, Boston's crowding problems will be solved by better connective and radial service, no express tracks needed. F-Line mentioned Red-Blue and SLIII, but I'll add GLX to Porter and UR on the Grand Junction that would provide a lot of relief to Red between Harvard and Park, and transfer relief at Park Street itself.

Honestly I can't imagine what stops would be axed from the existing HRT lines for express service. Maybe if we ever have a dream expansion world with Orange to Reading, Red to Lexington, and Blue to Salem there would be problems with packed trains before even they even hit Wellington, Davis, and Maverick respectively, but even that wouldn't justify trying to build express tracks, better to just have some layover tracks built into each line, or use existing tracks at Wellington, Alewife, and Orient Heights to schedule empty trains into the urban core at the rush.
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