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Old 04-23-2018, 01:52 PM   #41
bakgwailo
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

There is no way the MBTA is going to go completely custom and buy (non-existing) Tesla semi-trucks and do frankenstein builds to convert rolling stock to use batteries, even if it was feasible, which I doubt it would be. It would also be way, way more expensive than that figure - I would expect the labor, research, testing, and design work needed to do something like this would greatly dwarf the actual costs of materials.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:11 PM   #42
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

Progress update:

We're working through the Line by Line appendices as well as capacity & cost ones now and should be able to start rolling out the Line-by-Line & capacity ones through May starting with Newburyport/Rockport as we are presenting to their energy committee on Thursday. Cost is further out still because pricing this thing is very difficult to do without the proper resources, as we're all volunteer.
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:22 PM   #43
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

You people rock. What kind of help/ work do you need? Can we crowdsource it?
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:41 PM   #44
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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You people rock. What kind of help/ work do you need? Can we crowdsource it?
They're all crowd-sourced within the TM Regional Rail subcommittee on Slack. If you want to get involved, send me a PM and what you think you could help with. We particularly need help with the Old Colony Lines, capacity & costs. All the others are nearing completion.
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:21 PM   #45
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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There is no way the MBTA is going to go completely custom and buy (non-existing) Tesla semi-trucks and do frankenstein builds to convert rolling stock to use batteries, even if it was feasible, which I doubt it would be. It would also be way, way more expensive than that figure - I would expect the labor, research, testing, and design work needed to do something like this would greatly dwarf the actual costs of materials.
There are two working prototypes of the Tesla Semi. https://electrek.co/2018/03/07/tesla...ory-elon-musk/

Even if we were to go full speed ahead with an environmental study of 25kv power lines across the whole MBTA Commuter Rail system starting tomorrow, it's likely that there will be many Tesla Semis regularly operating on Massachusetts highways before we would get the first new overhead wire installed. While the Roadster, S, X, and 3 haven't been built as fast as had initially been hoped, they all have eventually materialized, and there's no reason to think there won't also be Tesla Semi production in 2020.

And the idea isn't to actually buy the semi truck body to convert to commuter rail use; it would be pointless to manufacture that highway truck body to throw it away. However, understanding the costs and capabilities is useful for estimating what the parts that are needed for battery powered commuter rail would cost and be capable of. I believe that the batteries and motors could likely be used as is in a commuter train, though the gear ratio from the motors to the wheels would probably need to be different for the train, and at least for the Model S the gearbox and motor are integrated into the drive unit which gets installed as a single piece. (I haven't seen a detailed description of the Model 3 / Semi motor's gearbox arrangement, but apparently Tesla is planning to simply use four copies of the Model 3 motor in the Semi. Also, since the Semi parts that would be relevant to a train are largely common to Model 3, those are parts that are already in production these days.)

(And if you want a Tesla battery to three phase 480V converter to handle the HEP loads in a commuter rail car, Tesla's commercial Powerpack stationary storage system has an inverter that does that, so that's another part which already exists.)

If the MBTA would never contemplate something custom, can you explain how the Mattapan Line snowplows came to exist? The Mattapan Line snowplow needed what is essentially a custom suspension. The major thing that is probably required for a Tesla battery EMU railroad truck that doesn't exist yet is a different suspension. Has anyone other than the MBTA ever ordered a snowplow like that? If not, that custom suspension was designed because the MBTA wanted fewer than 10 copies. Yet the snowplows actually exist; the T actually bought them.

If the batteries are mounted in the EMU trucks, it should be possible to develop standardized battery EMU railroad trucks that will work on any standard gauge commuter rail train and may also work for trains like the Downeaster if it turns out to have enough range. It will probably also work on North American intermodal freight cars: for the 5 car articulated deep well double stack sets that have 6 trucks and carry 10 containers (either 40' or 53' depending on the version), it should be possible to install the battery EMU trucks as the two end trucks and keep the middle four trucks unpowered to meet the weight requirements, and the trailer on flatcar arrangement should be lightweight enough that every truck could be replaced with a battery EMU truck within the weight requirement.

I don't see how custom engineering for every single bridge that currently is too low for 25kv power lines could be less effort than working out the battery EMU railroad truck design, especially when amortizing that battery EMU railroad truck design across all of the diesel commuter rail systems and the North American intermodal rail system.

Can you explain what you think is going to be more expensive than Tesla Semi + Mattapan snowplow about battery powered commuter rail?
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:48 AM   #46
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

The Mattapan snowplow was literally custom fab'd up for fun by one of the welders at the workshop to fill a very custom niche (and then later the MBTA partnered with an actual manufacturer to produce them). No customers ride it, and it is needed for only specific circumstances (winter and snow). This is on a completely different level than attempting to custom build battery powered EMUs by retrofitting/shoehorning Tesla semi-truck motors/etc into existing CR rolling stock (in house?!). Until a major producer creates battery powered EMUs (they might exist?), there is no way the MBTA is going that route. It isn't "custom engineering" to undercut a bridge to string wires up - its pretty standard.
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Old 04-24-2018, 11:14 AM   #47
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

Another comparison would be the unique 24 Type 9 Green Line cars with their unique truck design which might never get used anywhere else. If we can get even the low volume Type 9s, battery EMUs will have vastly more reasonable economies of scale on the design work.

One of the existing rail car makers should probably work with Tesla to build replacement battery EMU trucks. The T could probably make good use of roughly a thousand trucks (maybe eventually more if we get massive commuter rail expansion); when other commuter rail agencies and intermodal freight are added in, there should be demand for tens of thousands of these trucks, which any rail car manufacturer looking for more orders ought to be interested in.

I believe Tesla is planning to have each part of the Model 3 production line capable of 6,000 vehicles a week and to actually produce 5,000 vehicles a week in the near future; if they were able to run the motor and battery sections of the line a bit faster than the rest of the Model 3 line to make train parts, and if the parts for four copies of the Model 3 make one truck, Tesla might be able to build parts for 250 railroad trucks a week out of potentially spare capacity that they might have in the next few months. I doubt the railroad folks would be able to ramp up that fast, though.

I'd love to see the T just get a three car retrofitted battery EMU set operating as a demonstration. If the basic parts cost $1 million, there's no way you could argue that that's too expensive in the grand scheme of the MBTA budget; http://amateurplanner.blogspot.com/2...3-million.html claims the end of evening service shutdown inefficiency the T used to have wasted $2-3 million/yr.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:33 PM   #48
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

Not sure I understand why you're keen for this to happen as a hybrid thing with Tesla parts when a search for "battery EMU" yields a number of examples of their testing and (limited) use as a technology already.

Also gotta agree with Bakgwailo here; electrification of the CR would be far from reinvention of the wheel. It's not like there aren't any tunnels or difficult conditions in other systems. They make it work.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:51 PM   #49
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

Looking at existing battery EMU trains to figure out what battery EMU trains are actually capable of might be a lot like looking up the specs of a Nissan Leaf and going to a Tesla showroom and insisting to the Tesla salespeople that Tesla's cars can't possibly go further than a Leaf on a single charge.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:56 PM   #50
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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Also gotta agree with Bakgwailo here; electrification of the CR would be far from reinvention of the wheel. It's not like there aren't any tunnels or difficult conditions in other systems. They make it work.
There are countries that never had significant land line telephone infrastructure. There's no reason why land line telephone technology couldn't have worked, but they ended up skipping straight to cell phones, because of some combination of not getting around to it until cell phones were a viable technology and/or not ever having the money for a more expensive approach.

I'm pretty sure that figuring out how to use Tesla batteries in trains will save at least half a billion dollars compared to overhead wire and get the job done several years faster. Why wouldn't we want to save half a billion or more and get cleaner air and better acceleration sooner?
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Old 04-24-2018, 04:00 PM   #51
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

While we at TM appreciate the love and platitudes, could a mod change the title of this thread to something more descriptive please like TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan: A Bold and Practical Vision for Commuter Rail?
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Old 04-24-2018, 06:56 PM   #52
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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Originally Posted by bakgwailo View Post
It isn't "custom engineering" to undercut a bridge to string wires up - its pretty standard.
Pan Am and Norfolk Southern wish the Hoosac Tunnel had vertical clearance for double stack high cube containers, but haven't spent the money to make that happen. The Baltimore tunnels are in a similar situation. This sort of thing makes me skeptical that the hundreds of miles of commuter rail ROW aren't going to have similar difficulty with getting adequate clearance for overhead lines.

(In the case of the Hoosac Tunnel, the sensible thing to do would be to persuade CSX to share the taxpayers' investment in double stack clearance on the Boston and Albany with NS.)
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Old 04-24-2018, 08:28 PM   #53
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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Pan Am and Norfolk Southern wish the Hoosac Tunnel had vertical clearance for double stack high cube containers, but haven't spent the money to make that happen. The Baltimore tunnels are in a similar situation. This sort of thing makes me skeptical that the hundreds of miles of commuter rail ROW aren't going to have similar difficulty with getting adequate clearance for overhead lines.
Is there a reason why you believe that electrifying the CR system via catenary would be so difficult?
And what about third rail power like Metro North?
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:40 PM   #54
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Re: 2/28/18: Thank You TransitMatters for a Bold and Practical Vision

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Is there a reason why you believe that electrifying the CR system via catenary would be so difficult?
And what about third rail power like Metro North?

Toronto is completely electrifying its commuter rail system: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/electrif.../electric.aspx


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Old 04-24-2018, 10:55 PM   #55
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

Whatever it cost in Toronto, double that and that's what it'll cost in Boston.
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Old 04-25-2018, 11:35 AM   #56
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

Data, I saw that tidbit about SCR alignment that Jim Aloisi tossed out in Commonwealth over the weekend: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opi...l-phased-plan/. Have to admit it blew my mind. I don't recall this approach ever having been considered even by our most ardent Internet draw-ers of lines on maps. (Summary for those who don't click through: use the partially abandoned Taunton Branch from a downtown Taunton station north to 495, and then use the 495 and 140 medians, elevated in parts, to connect to the Providence line.)

I assume Norton's implacability will be the main reason this plan wouldn't get off the ground, with the required grade crossing creativity being a close second. But will there be more forthcoming from your group on this? Please feel free to pick this up in an SCR thread if you think it makes more sense to do so.
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Old 04-25-2018, 11:49 AM   #57
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

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Originally Posted by Charlie_mta View Post
Toronto is completely electrifying its commuter rail system: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/electrif.../electric.aspx


Quote:
Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Whatever it cost in Toronto, double that and that's what it'll cost in Boston.
We actually talk about Toronto in Appendix A: Case Studies. I just realized that the web version of the appendix is missing that section though (along with Melbourne)! The PDF version has always had it. Since this was published, Toronto continues to have ABSURD cost overruns for their project.

Quote:
Toronto: Moving Beyond Rush Hour, Planning for the Future

Until 2012, Go Transit in Toronto was a rush hour operation. Only two lines provided any midday service, and the
vast majority of service was geared towards peak ridership. In the past decade, the agency has shifted towards
providing more comprehensive service. A new spur was built to the airport using DMUs, with plans to electrify
this service and the busiest main lines, within the decade. The agency has bought 80 percent of the lines over
which it operates in recent years and is planning upgrades to allow more bidirectional service on otherwise
single-track lines, with the end goal of a Paris-style system with frequent service between Toronto, its inner
suburbs, and regional cities further afield.

Trains in Toronto serve Union Station, which has run-through tracks, meaning that the city does not have the
stub-terminal capacity issues which developed in many other cities and require tunneling projects. Most service
today begins or ends at Union Station, but through-running service is possible without major infrastructure
changes. The challenges for Toronto extend beyond Union Station: taking control of track, managing freight
railroad interactions, and adding electrification to allow faster, more efficient service. The costs—$10.5 billion
over 10 years—are high, but include electrification and significant new track construction to allow bidirectional
operation, and Metrolinx, the regional government, makes the case that the service improvements, reduced
operating costs and regional benefits will pay their way.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErnieAdams View Post
Data, I saw that tidbit about SCR alignment that Jim Aloisi tossed out in Commonwealth over the weekend: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opi...l-phased-plan/. Have to admit it blew my mind. I don't recall this approach ever having been considered even by our most ardent Internet draw-ers of lines on maps. (Summary for those who don't click through: use the partially abandoned Taunton Branch from a downtown Taunton station north to 495, and then use the 495 and 140 medians, elevated in parts, to connect to the Providence line.)

I assume Norton's implacability will be the main reason this plan wouldn't get off the ground, with the required grade crossing creativity being a close second. But will there be more forthcoming from your group on this? Please feel free to pick this up in an SCR thread if you think it makes more sense to do so.
Yes, the response we received to Jim's piece was (quite surprisingly) overwhelmingly positive including from some officials. Rethinking SCR is very much in the dialogue right now and we absolutely will be keeping the pressure up on this including some technical analysis.
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Old 04-25-2018, 12:00 PM   #58
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

What about rethinking the requirement for a miles long trestle through the Hockomock when there's an existing embankment?
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Old 04-25-2018, 12:26 PM   #59
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErnieAdams View Post
Data, I saw that tidbit about SCR alignment that Jim Aloisi tossed out in Commonwealth over the weekend: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opi...l-phased-plan/. Have to admit it blew my mind. I don't recall this approach ever having been considered even by our most ardent Internet draw-ers of lines on maps. (Summary for those who don't click through: use the partially abandoned Taunton Branch from a downtown Taunton station north to 495, and then use the 495 and 140 medians, elevated in parts, to connect to the Providence line.)
That's an interesting idea; I think the big challenge is that it increases the number of branches, thus exacerbating capacity concerns at South Station. But converting Stoughton service to a Princeton Dinky style arrangement or only running it as an extension of Fairmount service might be a way to address that.

It seemed like the article went into limited detail about the exact alignment, but it looks like the likely routing would be to build the track just to the northeast of Commercial St, possibly putting the track on a bridge over School St; keep the track to the northeast of the I-495 westbound to Commercial St ramp, and then have the track cross over into the I-495 median on a bridge somewhere between that ramp to Commercial St and the ramp from S Main. Then roughly 1000' west of Norton's N Washington St, have another bridge carry the track over I-495's eastbound lanes to turn into the traditional rail ROW.
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Old 04-25-2018, 08:19 PM   #60
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Re: TransitMatters Regional Rail Plan

Yes, based on a conversation I just had with Ari, that's exactly the idea. And honestly, I love it.
  • It avoids the massive swamp trestle that the Army Corps of Engineers used to rack up the cost
  • It doesn't screw up the Old Colony Lines
  • It gets you a downtown Taunton station - right next to the existing bus terminal
  • Minimal amount of ROW to reactivate, much of which is well-preserved ROW and town property.
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