archBOSTON.org

Go Back   archBOSTON.org > Boston's Built Environment > Design a Better Boston

Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 08-27-2013, 01:12 PM   #1
stick n move
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dorchester
Posts: 5,991
North Station-South Station Rail Link

I know this has been a debate forever and there have been all kinda of options thrown around. I have never heard someone mention this one before though, and i was wondering if it would be possible. The tunnell would go diagonal under the plaza behind the federal reserve, so no need to worry about going over 93. Down the fort point channel into the harbor, the harbor could be dredged so it is flush with the sea floor. Wrap around the north end in the middle of the harbor, over or under the callahan or sumner tunnels (would probally have to go over), keep going around the north end and part way up the charles, under the charlestown bridge, and then end under north station. This would be easy for most of the construction because all it would involve is sinking the pieces like they did for the ted williams tunnell. The other parts would be built like a normal tunnell with a boring machine or by digging up the land and capping. The NS-SS link needs to be done it is a vital key to bringing Boston into the 21st century. The only real other option is to do light rail down the greenway, but its still complicated because of on ramps and it would mess up the greenway.


stick n move is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2013, 01:25 PM   #2
Matthew
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Cambridge, UK
Posts: 3,585
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

The point of the NSRL is to enable through-running commuter rail service, which is then modernized, electrified, and bolstered with multiple service patterns and higher frequencies. Combined with proper infill development around stations, it would form the backbone of an express rapid transit network loosely based on the RER in Paris.

If all you want is a shuttle between North and South stations, that can be accommodated with a simple bus route.
Matthew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2013, 01:32 PM   #3
stick n move
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dorchester
Posts: 5,991
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

A couple commuter line tracks could be buried and extended to the tunnell and it could be a through route. Also there could be a regular t track that could get people a link between instead of having to take multiple different modes of transportation to get there.
stick n move is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2013, 03:56 PM   #4
davem
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Assembly Square
Posts: 2,261
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Utilizing the provisioned slurry walls under the CA/T for a N/S link would be a million times cheaper than sinking ~2 miles of tubes around the harbor. It would probably even be cheaper to pay abutters off and rebuild the Atlantic Ave El for that matter.

The only tunnels I see ever being built in the harbor would be a dedicated third tube to logan for the silverline (2050?) and maybe, maybe a tunnel from south station to eastie for amtrak if high speed electric goes crazy and they want to get to Portland in under an hour (using the arrow straight eastern route). But that's 2100+, if ever.
__________________
FP10 on railroad.net
Flickr Photostream
Designs
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2013, 07:45 PM   #5
George_Apley
Senior Member
 
George_Apley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Union Sq, Somerville
Posts: 3,650
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by stick n move View Post
The NS-SS link needs to be done it is a vital key to bringing Boston into the 21st century. The only real other option is to do light rail down the greenway, but its still complicated because of on ramps and it would mess up the greenway.
Huh? There is a provisioned space below the CA/T for the N-S Link. That's the way to do it.
George_Apley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 11:19 AM   #6
F-Line to Dudley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,190
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by BussesAin'tTrains View Post
Huh? There is a provisioned space below the CA/T for the N-S Link. That's the way to do it.
Yes. When they sank the slurry walls to frame the CA/T tunnel those walls extend twice as deep as the highway tunnel to support it all through mushy landfill and waterfront silt. There's no bedrock to speak of so the walls had to go impossibly deep. But the space between the walls below the highway was excavated all the way to the bottom, then re-filled when they built the tunnel. So it is not an empty space per se, just fresh clean dirt 100% clear of utilities and other impacts that they can easily scoop back out. That wasn't intentionally done for the Link...it was simply a happy circumstance of the only way they could physically build the CA/T was using that novel slurry wall method and going hella deep with the walls.

To add the Link tunnel underneath all they would have to do is re-scoop the fill below 93 between those slurry walls, lay a new tunnel floor, and pour a new tunnel lining all around. The Link tunnel would not have the same waterproofing issues plaguing the CA/T tunnel because tracks are far narrower than highway lanes + shoulders and they would be able to do a regular-thickness tunnel lining. In the current tunnel the bare slurry walls are the tunnel walls and they have no double-thick lining, because that was the only way to fit a wider highway in the same footprint as the old surface artery. It's a 'feature', not a bug, that the walls leak. They're supposed to and are mitigated from it because there's no waterproofing lining. The thing they didn't anticipate was just how much it was going to leak.


Most of the project expense is tied up everywhere except the actual tunnel. On a minimum build they would need:

-- 2 tracks in the main tunnel under 93. The way that tunnel would be built is 1 bore per each 2 tracks. And if they build it 4 tracks there would be 2 bores with a thick wall between them to support I-93 above and add an extra waterproofing layer. Would cover the same space as the 93 tunnel but have much narrower ROW in up to 2 tunnel bores because of all the extra wall lining the 93 level doesn't have. At minimum they could just build 1 bore and leave the rest of the space empty, but they'd probably want to spring for both bores to get 4 tracks since they only have one shot at this. Even if the second bore remains vacant for several years until they get more money to lay the extra tracks.

-- South Station approach. Requires deep-bore tunneling under Dot Ave. and the Ft. Point Channel retaining wall from roughly the Pike ventilation building to Northern Ave. where it would join under 93 where the CA/T makes it due-north curve. That is tricky because there's a very locked and precise lateral trajectory they have to weave through to get between the levels of the Pike, Red Line, Silver Line, that cross it above/below. And they have to dance around the Independence Wharf building pilings by jutting a few feet out underneath the Channel. Most of this will be deep underground so the surface impacts aren't going to be major. Going on the other side under Atlantic Ave. is theoretically feasible but way too invasive to building pilings and has to dance around the 93 exit tunnels. So there's pretty much only one way they can build it.

-- SS lead tunnels. At bare minimum they have to build a mile-long, 2-track curving tunnel from the Pike vent building to the NEC spitting to the surface where the NEC and Worcester Line split. This is also locked into a precise trajectory because it must portal to the NEC by the Washington/Shawmut block to avoid the Orange Line tunnel that crosses and portals on the Shawmut/Tremont block. It must avoid the Pike tunnel and associated ramps of that interchange, and must avoid the pilings for the Pike vent building where it joins the SS/Dot Ave. segment. There is literally only one way they can build this. And they can never ever extend it to an expanded "Back Bay Under" because the Orange Line tunnel blocks further extension.

-- South Station Under and North Station Under. The SS underground station is offset from the main station underneath Dot Ave. Need 8 tracks worth of 1000 ft. platform space 100+ ft. underground, concourses interfacing with the surface, and to underpin the corner pilings of the office tower on Summer/Dot Ave. Plus I imagine they want this to look like an opulent downtown union station, so it'll be a lot more than a utilitarian bunker. NS Under would have the same track layout, but would be more or less underneath the current surface platforms so it's not as expensive building a cavern there.

-- NS approach. Deviates from 93 at about N. Washington St. where the CA/T starts inclining to the surface, slides along northeast-facing side of the Garden. Much cheaper and less invasive than the SS approach. Tunnel to surface goes more or less under the current tracks, spitting up on the surface where the NH Main/Lowell Line and Eastern/Western Route tracks diverge. Since this is all under barren T-owned land with nothing but tracks, minimally invasive and not real expensive. And it goes pretty deep under the Charles. At minimum the NH Main/Eastern/Western portal has to be built.



That's just the minimum build. And would probably cost $6-8B. They want to also do this:

-- Central Station. A 6-track cavern with 800 ft. platforms at Aquarium and Blue Line transfer that's going to be in the deepest part of the tunnel on a slight incline. This one is going to be so messy and constrained it probably shouldn't be built at all, and probably will be the first thing cut.

-- Old Colony portal. Another mile-long portal splitting from the NEC lead tunnel at the Pike vent building and going underneath Southampton Yard to a portal by Southampton St. Not real surface-invasive because it's also under nothing but T land and tracks, but the length of the tunnel is quite long and it won't be cheap.

-- Fairmount portal. Splits from the Old Colony portal under S. Boston Bypass road, spits on the surface on the other side of the Amtrak maint building right before the Fairmount bridges over 93. Not real long since it shares most of the Old Colony tunnel and cut-and-cover under barren T-owned RR track land since the OC tunnel is almost up to the surface at this point, but if they build this the OC tunnel is non-optional.

-- Fitchburg portal. Splits from the NS approach at about Austin St. and curves under the Fitchburg tracks to spit out on the south side of Boston Engine Terminal. Like Fairmount not real long and cut-and-cover because the approach tunnel is almost at the surface here.


This is like multiple $B in 'extras'. Central Station cavern a couple $B at least and the OC portal probably adding close to $1B. CS they really really need to cut because it's so compromised.

And I think the OC + Fairmount and Fitchburg portals are way surplus to a requirement for the initial build. You can reach Middleboro and the Cape via the NEC tunnel, Stoughton and Taunton...only Fairmount, Greenbush, Plymouth, and Braintree-Bridgewater on the Middleboro Line don't get a one-seat to NS and that's a pretty sharp minority of commuter rail ridership with no intercity destinations. Ayer-Wachusett is fully reachable via Lowell and the Stony Brook Branch to Ayer at about the same schedule if Lowell were upgraded >100 MPH on an express run and the Stony Brook Branch had its speed limit raised to 65 MPH or greater. Only Belmont Ctr.-Littleton are omitted, a very small % of commuter rail.

I would seriously just build tunnel cuts at the underground line splits to provision, and if they really need these go add them years later in separate funding commitments. They compromise nothing in a future tack-on to omit at the start to save cost on the heinously expensive base requirements.



But unfortunately because of the engineering they have to dance through this is just about the only routing and the only station builds they can undertake. So there's not a lot of room for brainstorming alternates. None of them are feasible at all. And none would be even as close to (relatively) easy or cost-saving as going under 93...which can only be done with ONE (and one only) trajectory outlined above. That's it. It was planned this way with the CA/T to not block a Link add-on, and this precise routing was the literal only way they could build 93 without blocking a future Link add-on.
F-Line to Dudley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 11:41 AM   #7
Shepard
Senior Member
 
Shepard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,466
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

What's the real benefit to the urban core? The one that comes most to mind for me is the ability to throw rapid transit on the Grand Junction ROW through Cambridge, for whatever that's worth. Could a subway line share space in the N-S? Probably, although I can't really think of why it would be desirable.

What's the real benefit to the CR?

What's the real benefit for interurban service - does anyone really need a NYC-Portland service?
Shepard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 12:09 PM   #8
cozzyd
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: South Loop, Chicago, IL (formerly Cambridge)
Posts: 534
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

A few benefits I can think of:

-Through running trains, making additional service possible with fewer trains due to decreased dwell times (and the easier ability to share trains between north and south side, which simplifies maintenance and may allow additional service with the same fleet). Could do routings like Worcester <-> Newburyport/Rockport, Providence/Stoughton <-> Lowell and Needham <-> Haverhill which could simplify some circumferential commutes. Also, can provide better train service to sporting events (NS, Foxborough, Yawkey)

- More commonly. some people from the north side work near south station or would prefer to transfer directly to red line and vice versa. Hugely improved transit access to Seaport from northside.

- Downeaster could eventually become part of NEC, which could simplify train handling (won't need its own rolling stock), and yes, probably people from Portland would like to go to NYC. Could also have a potential NEC branch to Manchester.
cozzyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 12:18 PM   #9
davem
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Assembly Square
Posts: 2,261
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

In addition to the above, if a locomotive breaks down they can shove it through to BET instead of dragging it out and stashing it somewhere at southampton. The Grand Junction would now be redundant so things like converting it for rapid transit use could be looked at. It would massively decrease the burden on the green and orange lines for people transferring from the south to northside (sort of like why the LIRR is spending so much money to get to Grand Central, the subway can't handle it). At rush hour, there would also be near rapid transit frequencies between the two stations, further lightening the load on the subway.


The Central Station concept is stupid stupid stupid though and should not have ever even been proposed. Three "terminal" stations within less than two miles? It would be like going backwards in time.
__________________
FP10 on railroad.net
Flickr Photostream
Designs
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 12:46 PM   #10
Proposition Joe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 307
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
Could a subway line share space in the N-S? Probably, although I can't really think of why it would be desireable.
If they get rapid transit along the Indigo-Fairmount corridor, then they could send it through here, have a connection with the Blue Line, and then send it north somewhere like the Green Line branch to Tufts.
Proposition Joe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 12:59 PM   #11
F-Line to Dudley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,190
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
What's the real benefit to the urban core? The one that comes most to mind for me is the ability to throw rapid transit on the Grand Junction ROW through Cambridge, for whatever that's worth. Could a subway line share space in the N-S? Probably, although I can't really think of why it would be desirable.

What's the real benefit to the CR?

What's the real benefit for interurban service - does anyone really need a NYC-Portland service?
Thru-running significantly increases commuter rail capacity by having a normal BBY-style dwell at the terminal stops before proceeding to the next run. Instead of the trainset being out-of-service for up to a half hour before the next run. Allows for something approaching a bit more clock-facing schedule on the lines that need it most, and service resiliency where they can wave through trains linearly to backstop blown schedules instead of your day being ruined by Train #xxx running on the same schedule every single day getting FUBAR'ed. SEPTA did this in 1984 when it opened its Center City connection to unite its once-separate halves of its system, and thru-running brought every line a lot more capacity and frequency.

Amtrak would definitely institute NYC-Portland and NYC-Concord Regionals to unite the NEC and would thru-route a lot of Boston-terminating Regionals out to Anderson-Woburn to hit 128 on both halves. The NH/ME Regionals would tap ridership comparable to the Virginia Regionals if run on similar schedules. But it's also a capacity-booster for them to mix-and-match their service patterns so not every single thing is limited by SS dwells and Southampton Yard capacity. It's not the same motivation the T has for thru-running, but staggering their NYC-BOS terminus out between SS surface and Anderson via NS gets them more schedule capacity than any SS surface expansion would, and they're going to need that by 2040 with how ambitious their NEC expansion is. So you wouldn't be seeing Acela to Portland or Concord (the Western Route probably can't be electrified anyway because of freight clearances, so you'd have to run dual-modes electric to Wilmington and diesel beyond to get to Haverhill or Maine), but you would see a LOT more Amtrak density in Boston. And same with commuter rail, because it's not like the surface terminals are going to disappear or wither to a trace.



I do think their expectations of this being all things to all people are unreasonable. Unlike SEPTA which is a dense stop-spacing inturban-like system more oriented to our equivalent of 128-belt commutes in a 20-mile radius, the MBCR is a hybrid of 128-oriented lines (Fairmount, Needham, Reading, mixed service patterns and infill on others), 495-oriented lines, and regional intercity. It can't all run thru end-to-end on only 2-4 tracks of tunnel capacity, and only 6-8 underground platforms. And there are real questions about what destination pairs would actually generate some thru ridership. Yes, there's a capacity boost to be had by running thru. But it's a subset of the schedule because it doesn't outright replace the surface terminals, and that subset has to weight more to the pairs that actually are going to get some thru ridership...like NEC-Lowell, Worcester-Salem/North Shore, Fairmount-Reading or Fairmount-North Shore. Places where driving through the urban core or all the way around 128 is an exercise in sheer masochism, or where it takes too many transfers for neighborhood-to-neighborhood transit. But there's going to be nearly zero demand for Fitchburg-Greenbush, Needham-Rockport, and the like. And that highlights the attention on building out the rapid transit system. The 128 commutes don't co-mingle well with the 495/intercity commutes. And this thing doesn't work real efficiently mashing both types together with poor focus.

Hence, better to separate them out on as many corridors as rapid transit is possible. Like the 1945 expansion plan lines, or building Red out to Readville from Mattapan to cover Hyde Park (Dorchester along Fairmount can't be served by HRT, but a blanket of better east-west bus routes, Urban Ring, and clock-facing Fairmount covers the need better than northside thru-running). And I would even, as I've mentioned before, consider dedicating the second 2-track bore of the Link to rapid transit for a N-S subway link with a low-profile Aquarium station transfer to Blue instead of the Central CR station of suck. It would be very easy to do, especially via Red Line because the Cabot Yard lead tracks are only a couple blocks away from where the Link hits Dot Ave. Easiest to do by forking Red into an 2 x 2 branch "X" at Columbia Jct. where the total grade separation lets you run equal capacity Alewife-Ashmont, (wherever via Link)-Braintree, etc. with no track sharing or impacts to the existing Red. Go up the Cabot Yard leads, then dip into a tunnel with a Broadway intermediate stop (maybe on the upper level in the old trolley tunnel), and get on-alignment into the Link. HRT can descend deep on steeper grades than RR, so it's a lot less tunnel construction to get that far underground. Go to North Station above the Orange level essentially completing the superstation on both floors, and double the width of the Orange tunnel under the Charles to spit out at the same portal under the Leverett ramp. Maybe then cross over BET on the surface and connect to GLX relieving Green of the Medford branch. Then continuing to Woburn whenever they want to continue to Woburn.

Because the RR tracks in the Link would not handle anywhere near as many trains per day as the fragile 2 NEC tracks from NJ to Penn Station, and unlike Penn would still be in one unified bore with crossovers for resiliency against a track outage...2 tracks is not a big capacity or reliability crunch. Really...they've been doing this on zero margin at Penn for 100 years, and we will never see thru traffic the likes of which would require a Gateway Tunnel bolt-on. But that HRT proposal is just my opinion for maximum possible ridership and return on investment...4 RR tracks through the tunnel is plenty good too.


Basically, it is slam-dunk on so many fronts it is insane that they ducked the law-mandated Transit Commitment to complete their prelim EIS. Any way they build it is going to be a transformative thing for both 495-inbound commuter rail, regional intercity, and at tying Northern New England in with the East Coast megalopolis and the NEC.

But you can see why they need some clairity on its mission statement before building, why the implications are directly tied with the necessary rapid transit expansion they've been ducking for a half-century, and why they have to pick their spots more carefully than everywhere-to-everywhere...because everywhere isn't the same as everywhere. It is that total a reimagining of what transit is like in Boston. Every bit as transformative and all-encompassing as the Big Dig's role in fueling Boston's 1990's-00's commercial renaissance...which is why the pols have to get over their Big Dig hangover and be up to the task of acting big on all this can do and all the interrelated transit like the Urban Ring and rapid transit expansions. People are not kidding when they say Boston is going to choke itself to death on circulation problems if it doesn't step up and do HUGE investment in radial and thru transit starting now and building almost continuously for the next 3 decades. The Link is only one of those things it has to do, but it ups the priority of all the others that much more. And vice versa.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 08-28-2013 at 01:09 PM.
F-Line to Dudley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 02:57 PM   #12
Matthew
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Cambridge, UK
Posts: 3,585
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

A lot of good stuff said so far. I just want to bring up something that's only been lightly touched on: the ring of stations outside the CBD which are in secondary districts. Example: Back Bay, Yawkey, Ruggles, Porter, Newmarket, JFK/UMass, even Lynn, Forest Hills, and the new "Boston Landing" station.

I know that Yawkey, Ruggles and Back Bay already see heavy usage. But they are only efficiently served by a fraction of the lines. I don't think anyone connects via the commuter rail currently. But a through-running, clockface-scheduled, cross-platform-transfer service would make it reasonable to do so. That would substantially boost ridership to those inner urban stations and draw people out of their cars. I know people who would use the commuter rail but for the fact that they don't work downtown and they don't live near the line which serves their workplace.

Actually, the biggest winner from this effect would be northside commuters going to the CBD near South Station. The poor location of North Station puts a damper on northside ridership. But you knew that already.
Matthew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 09:35 PM   #13
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,692
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
-- Central Station. A 6-track cavern with 800 ft. platforms at Aquarium and Blue Line transfer that's going to be in the deepest part of the tunnel on a slight incline. This one is going to be so messy and constrained it probably shouldn't be built at all, and probably will be the first thing cut.
I see that Central Station isn't strictly needed, and that its $2b could probably a deliver similar-or-better network if spent outside the core on a CR-Blue connection at Lynn or Silver Lines from Haymarket & Chelsea to the Airport. Fitchburg can get to the Airport via Porter and Silver. Rockport should be getting their via Silver (at Chelsea) or Blue (at Lynn). That leaves Lowell and Haverhill as the lines that really need a single set ride through (an even then can catch the Silver at South Station, not Central)

So I vote for a 1-tube 2-track option serving just NEC-to-Lowell with NO Central station (sure, leave space for a 100-years-from now second tube of 2 and Central Station).

And certainly I've never seen why Central Station had to be an "all lines / all stop" kind of thing. Philadelphia's Market East station, which is near-perfectly analogous (as the "Central" station between the former terminals at Pennsy's Suburban Station and Reading Terminal) is only 4 tracks with two island platforms.

And through commuting has been a bust in Philly. Philly's Market East opened in 1984...you'd think 30 years would be long enough for through-commuting to catch on, but last I heard they were thinking of stripping the through-route designations because they confused all "core" riders (who are the vast majority) and never elicited the suburb-to-suburb trips. (Trains would continue to run through, but their designations will terminate/change at Market East).

In Philly, the real win has been limited to just distributing riders a stop or two "deeper" or "across" the core--but not through it. To me, that argues for a 2-track NS Link entirely focused on connecting North and South stations by connecting the NEC to an electrified Lowell/Anderson/Wildcat/Haverhill (so Melrose can remain unsullied by wires) if you really pushed me, Central would be two side platforms on the 2-track tube.

Market East Station (Philadelphia's "Central" Station")

Last edited by Arlington; 08-28-2013 at 10:06 PM.
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 10:37 PM   #14
Nexis4jersey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 711
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

SEPTA shrunk the network and key lines that would have boosted the through running and overall Regional Rail ridership so thats why its bust. Also Septa does not run things frequently , most lines including Urban lines run once an hr. They were designed and used to carry 4-6x an hr before Septa took over...if they ran 4-6 per hr then usage would be higher and through running would be a success. But I think if the T and Amtrak built a North-South Tunnel the usage and Frequency would be higher warranting 4 tracks. 2 for the T and 2 for Amtrak.
Nexis4jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 10:47 PM   #15
stick n move
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dorchester
Posts: 5,991
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Wow when I made this thread I had no idea people like F-line to dudly had thaaaaaat much information on this subject, Iv learned a lot from this thread.
stick n move is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2013, 11:47 PM   #16
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,692
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Amtrak would definitely institute NYC-Portland and NYC-Concord Regionals to unite the NEC and would thru-route a lot of Boston-terminating Regionals out to Anderson-Woburn to hit 128 on both halves. The NH/ME Regionals would tap ridership comparable to the Virginia Regionals if run on similar schedules. ...
[...]
Because the RR tracks in the Link would not handle anywhere near as many trains per day as the fragile 2 NEC tracks from NJ to Penn Station, and unlike Penn would still be in one unified bore with crossovers for resiliency against a track outage...2 tracks is not a big capacity or reliability crunch. Really...they've been doing this on zero margin at Penn for 100 years, and we will never see thru traffic the likes of which would require a Gateway Tunnel bolt-on.
Also DC's Long Bridge /1st Ave Tunnel are 2-track and like the Penn tunnels are just now--also about 100 years later--just maxing out.

So it is really worth underscoring the point that 2 tracks make a perfectly-fine train tunnel that needn't max out for 110 years. And meanwhile, we have some pretty compelling examples of 4-track tunnels that are underused after 30 years (SEPTA) because we couldn't afford dense service or stranded for 17 to 47 years (NY MTA's 63rd Street) because we couldn't afford the approach tunnels

So I also should have said I prefer the idea of using the "other" tube for Subway service and an Aquarium connection (in part because the "feed" is already electrified and for the other reasons F-line cites)--and see no synergies in building all 4 tracks now because we can't afford all the other stuff to make use of them.

Nexis4NewJersey blames SEPTA's link's failures on SEPTA, not on the tunnel, and perhaps so. But my point would be: it doesn't matter how these things ultimately fall short, they still have a nasty problem of costing too much, taking too long, and returning too little.

The right answer is to make 2-tracks and just NEC+Lowell work...that gets you all the Amtrak (which will be hugely profitable) and a good chunk of the 128-to-128 benefits too. (High frequency Anderson-to-Norwood would finally get you Transit-oriented development on both ends and be worth a park-and-ride from either) {Haverhill/Lowell to Attleboro/PVD is a nice "495 to 495" too}

Meanwhile, consider our other 4-track failure: the "2-Subway / 2-Commuter" 63rd Street Tunnel.

Completed: 1972 (cost a then-scandalous $650m)
First V-Train: 1989 ("dead end" service to Queens)
First F-Train: 2001 ("real" service after Subway approach tunnels built)
First LIRR: 2019 ?

Its pretty clear at this point that having $650m (about $3 Billion in 2013 dollars*) sit in the ground unused for 17 or 29 or 47 years because you couldn't afford to build the approach tunnels is a pretty bad idea--and that if you've got a TBM building the approaches, you probably could have it actually build the tunnel for the real "package deal" savings. Not: build all 4 and come back later with approaches.

And 40 years later, is NY's East Side access in the right place, or just where the 2-track white elephant happens to be? NYC is 50 years (or more) from the "demand forecasting" that put the 63rd st tunnel where it is. It might have been nice in 2001 to have had the freedom to tunnel someplace else.

So let's get on with the 2-track NEC+Lowell NS Rail link and leave it to the planners of 2060 to determine what the other tunnel needs to be then.

{EDIT} *$650m in 1972 turns into $3B in 2013 if you use the Producer Price Index from 1972 to 2013

Last edited by Arlington; 08-29-2013 at 12:23 AM.
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2013, 07:24 AM   #17
F-Line to Dudley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,190
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
I see that Central Station isn't strictly needed, and that its $2b could probably a deliver similar-or-better network if spent outside the core on a CR-Blue connection at Lynn or Silver Lines from Haymarket & Chelsea to the Airport. Fitchburg can get to the Airport via Porter and Silver. Rockport should be getting their via Silver (at Chelsea) or Blue (at Lynn). That leaves Lowell and Haverhill as the lines that really need a single set ride through (an even then can catch the Silver at South Station, not Central)

So I vote for a 1-tube 2-track option serving just NEC-to-Lowell with NO Central station (sure, leave space for a 100-years-from now second tube of 2 and Central Station).

And certainly I've never seen why Central Station had to be an "all lines / all stop" kind of thing. Philadelphia's Market East station, which is near-perfectly analogous (as the "Central" station between the former terminals at Pennsy's Suburban Station and Reading Terminal) is only 4 tracks with two island platforms.

And through commuting has been a bust in Philly. Philly's Market East opened in 1984...you'd think 30 years would be long enough for through-commuting to catch on, but last I heard they were thinking of stripping the through-route designations because they confused all "core" riders (who are the vast majority) and never elicited the suburb-to-suburb trips. (Trains would continue to run through, but their designations will terminate/change at Market East).

In Philly, the real win has been limited to just distributing riders a stop or two "deeper" or "across" the core--but not through it. To me, that argues for a 2-track NS Link entirely focused on connecting North and South stations by connecting the NEC to an electrified Lowell/Anderson/Wildcat/Haverhill (so Melrose can remain unsullied by wires) if you really pushed me, Central would be two side platforms on the 2-track tube.

Market East Station (Philadelphia's "Central" Station")

The problem with Central Station is less the track capacity than the fact it is badly constrained by the point in the tunnel it's supposed to be located:

-- 100 feet below the already 100 ft. below ground Aquarium at the deepest part of the tunnel, which is an excruciating 5-7 minute escalator ride to the surface with not much room to build escalators. Just picture a bad day at Porter when the up escalator is out of service, double the length of it, and add more out-of-towners carrying bags. Yep...I see resiliency problems with that setup.
-- The cavern is going to be somewhat narrow, claustrophobic, and bunker-like. Not a very pleasant place to dwell.
-- The tracks sit at the very bottom grade of the tunnel and incline slightly in one direction, meaning the platforms will tilt ever-so-slightly uphill and be really disorienting to stand on.
-- Because the trains stop at the very bottom there's an big acceleration penalty in each direction to get from a dead stop up a 2% grade. This is going to be a very slow trip, and that will crimp capacity slightly on the trains passing through without stopping when they get stuck behind one starting up the grade at 10 MPH. EMU's should handle it OK, but on the diesel branches that run in push-pull with clumsy dual mode locomotives this is going to be a real schedule penalty.
-- The platforms are capped at max 800 ft. length by the space constraints. That will just fit the longest Providence and Worcester consists today. 2030...they're probably going to be longer than this station can handle, and that means doors on the rear cars won't be able to open. Large dwell penalty when all those people have to enter/exit single-file through the front cars. And Amtrak can't stop here at all even if it wanted to because the Regionals are already 10 cars.


Are all those compromises worth the $2B it's going to take to bore out that cavern at the deepest point in Boston anyone has ever tried to civil engineer something? Hell no. It's defective by design.


This would be a good place to plunk a rapid transit station with a narrow Broadway-like single island platform. If a good third of the ridership is just using it to transfer to/from Blue that's not going to be a huge crush of people taking a 5-minute escalator ride all the way to the surface. You don't need much space for that...at least half of it would fit just by thinning out the center dividing wall between the 2 tunnel bores in that one 400 ft. spot. With no need for a sloping platform because subway cars can climb much steeper grades than RR trains from a level spot at the bottom. May only cost a few hundred mil instead of $2B+...consistent with the going rate for an infill subway stop a la Charles MGH Under on Red-Blue.
F-Line to Dudley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2013, 08:08 AM   #18
F-Line to Dudley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,190
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Also DC's Long Bridge /1st Ave Tunnel are 2-track and like the Penn tunnels are just now--also about 100 years later--just maxing out.

So it is really worth underscoring the point that 2 tracks make a perfectly-fine train tunnel that needn't max out for 110 years. And meanwhile, we have some pretty compelling examples of 4-track tunnels that are underused after 30 years (SEPTA) because we couldn't afford dense service or stranded for 17 to 47 years (NY MTA's 63rd Street) because we couldn't afford the approach tunnels

So I also should have said I prefer the idea of using the "other" tube for Subway service and an Aquarium connection (in part because the "feed" is already electrified and for the other reasons F-line cites)--and see no synergies in building all 4 tracks now because we can't afford all the other stuff to make use of them.

Nexis4NewJersey blames SEPTA's link's failures on SEPTA, not on the tunnel, and perhaps so. But my point would be: it doesn't matter how these things ultimately fall short, they still have a nasty problem of costing too much, taking too long, and returning too little.

The right answer is to make 2-tracks and just NEC+Lowell work...that gets you all the Amtrak (which will be hugely profitable) and a good chunk of the 128-to-128 benefits too. (High frequency Anderson-to-Norwood would finally get you Transit-oriented development on both ends and be worth a park-and-ride from either) {Haverhill/Lowell to Attleboro/PVD is a nice "495 to 495" too}

Meanwhile, consider our other 4-track failure: the "2-Subway / 2-Commuter" 63rd Street Tunnel.

Completed: 1972 (cost a then-scandalous $650m)
First V-Train: 1989 ("dead end" service to Queens)
First F-Train: 2001 ("real" service after Subway approach tunnels built)
First LIRR: 2019 ?

Its pretty clear at this point that having $650m (about $3 Billion in 2013 dollars*) sit in the ground unused for 17 or 29 or 47 years because you couldn't afford to build the approach tunnels is a pretty bad idea--and that if you've got a TBM building the approaches, you probably could have it actually build the tunnel for the real "package deal" savings. Not: build all 4 and come back later with approaches.

And 40 years later, is NY's East Side access in the right place, or just where the 2-track white elephant happens to be? NYC is 50 years (or more) from the "demand forecasting" that put the 63rd st tunnel where it is. It might have been nice in 2001 to have had the freedom to tunnel someplace else.

So let's get on with the 2-track NEC+Lowell NS Rail link and leave it to the planners of 2060 to determine what the other tunnel needs to be then.

{EDIT} *$650m in 1972 turns into $3B in 2013 if you use the Producer Price Index from 1972 to 2013
Nexis is right about SEPTA Regional Rail. Their decision to shrink the network is widely regarded as the single worst and most destructive blunder in the U.S. history of public-ownership passenger rail. It halved the system's ridership within 2 years, and it took 28 years for it to recover to 1979 levels. 1979...when passenger rail in this country was at its nadir. They are still one of the most hopeless causes in the land and a textbook example of the CR mission confusion the T needs to avoid with its 128- and 495-oriented services. SEPTA tries to be a quasi-rapid transit system with too-dense stop spacing and not dense enough headways. Everything's built like a Fairmount, but it totally fails at that mission with the handicapped schedules. And they willingly chose to abdicate service to the outer "495-equivalent" suburbs, either completely omitting them through service cuts or sacking them with too-tedious trip times and scattershot schedules through the inner stop density to usefully access the city. That huge population swath is still completely car-dependent to some of the most congested highways in the country.


N-S is only infrastructurally and operationally analogous to SEPTA's connecting tunnel. We would 100%-guaranteed use ours better because no 495-belt or regional intercity lines would be going away, the surface terminals would remain as busy as ever, and schedules would only increase up and up and up. They just have to get real about this Central Station nonsense and start to prioritize the destination pairs because some routes (the Greenbush-Fitchburgs and Fairmount-Rockports of the world that draw last straw on pairings) are not going to have any demand whatsoever for thru ridership at any point during the day. It'll be a wholesale ridership turnover by the last terminal stop, which is a waste of a tunnel slot an extra Providence-NH or Worcester-North Shore would make better use of. Those routes really need to keep permanently terminating on the surface, which calls to mind the wisdom of building 3 extra niche portals. Right now the 4 tracks are somewhat predicated on lots of trains on those nonstarter pairs simply terminating in the tunnel at NS or SS instead of continuing. But short-turns chew up a lot of platform slots than trains going through in one direction only, require some degree of on-platform layover to calibrate schedule for the next run...which is exactly what running thru was supposed to avoid vs. the surface terminals. And it chews up capacity on the mainline tracks by overweighting traffic in some directions (southbound getting hit heavier than northbound because it'll have more lines short-turning at NS). That is exactly the kind of muddled, impact-blunting lack of focus they have to avoid in planning this. Downtown terminating trains need to use the surface terminals. Thru trains need to use the Link. The Link can't try to be both at the same time...it doesn't have the platform capacity to reverse and keep running in equal numbers. Use the surface terminals for what they're designed for and build the N-S subway if reaching the other terminal easily is that important for everyone.


I just think an extra 150,000 riders per day passing through the tunnel with HRT instead of RR tracks 3 & 4 is such fantastically better return on investment--which they must show convincingly to get backing for another Big Dig-level funding commitment--that I don't see how cold feet about "maybe we'll need those 2 tracks in 20 years" on dubious grounds of running everything through there in any way trumps the raw farebox recovery advantage of a half-and-half Link. Not when they actually study out what pairs will own 85% of the thru ridership and what pairs are a waste or a traffic clog for in-tunnel short-turns. And not when comparing traffic loads to similar tunnels elsewhere.

If you build a "Red X" from Columbia Jct. to Medford or Woburn and rotate branch pairs through the X so both subways have similar headways and the 2 existing branches get double headways...there's your high-frequency northside connection from the Old Colony corridor. Or Hyde Park on the Fairmount corridor if the Ashmont branch got extended from Mattapan to Readville. Or the Dorchester stops if the Urban Ring got full-built with high E-W frequencies into Broadway and Ruggles. Fitchburg Line would get a better ride to SS from NS--2 stops only--instead of needing to slog it in from Porter. And as noted...the only commuter rail destinations shut out from N-S are Greenbush, Plymouth, Fairmount (and potentially only the northern 4 stops if Red can come in from Mattapan/Blue Hill Ave.), Holbrook/Randolph to Bridgewater, and Belmont Ctr. to Littleton. The latter busted down to just Lincoln-Littleton if the Belmont NIMBY's would ever allow parallel Green Line to come out from Union-Porter to Waltham/128. Middleboro-Cape and Ayer-Fitchburg have easy Link-serving re-routes via Stoughton and Lowell that can be done on expresses making the same schedule time as the normal routings.


So...like I said, these politicians have to be up to task and over their Big Dig hangover on the whole focus and vision thing, and commit to something buildable around the core need without insane waste. If they do that we probably get a windfall of regional rail, rapid transit, and radial transit buildouts comparable to how the Big Dig remade everything inside 128.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 08-29-2013 at 08:35 AM.
F-Line to Dudley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2014, 02:09 PM   #19
Deetroyt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 360
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

Just watched this short interview with Dukakis about NSRL. He doesn't really say anything mindblowing, but its interesting for fans of the link idea.

Deetroyt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2014, 07:20 PM   #20
Charlie_mta
Senior Member
 
Charlie_mta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,394
Re: North Station-South Station Rail Link

How about a two-track NS Rail Link under the Central Artery that runs both heavy rail AND Amtrak and freight cars. The freight cars would need to be restricted to 1:30 am to 5 am.

With no Central Station (at Atlantic Avenue), I think its physically feasible. It would be cool to run Red Line cars through this, plus Amtrak. They could have separate platforms at North and South Stations. I suppose there are probably Federal restrictions on this, but it sure would save $$$ compared to a four-track tunnel. The Feds would have to think outside the box on this one.
Charlie_mta is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link) quadratdackel Transit and Infrastructure 1796 08-12-2019 09:03 AM
Avalon North Station | Nashua Street Residences | West End castevens Development Projects 1479 11-25-2018 03:58 PM
North Station Area, Nashua St, Merrimack St, etc BostonUrbEx Design a Better Boston 6 10-18-2012 02:56 PM
North Station 1970's Fenway Mike Boston Architecture & Urbanism 0 11-17-2009 02:17 PM
North Station Expansion Project Ron Newman Transit and Infrastructure 40 08-25-2008 08:01 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:05 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.