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Old 06-16-2019, 08:47 PM   #1701
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Originally Posted by Riverside View Post
Good points, I hadn't considered the impact that the uncertainty of whether seats would be filled would have.

Makes sense about the Springfield corridor, but hasn't the Shore Line East arrangement been much more long-standing?
The SLE arrangement is legacy cruft dating to 2003 when 4 New London SLE trains had to be cut back to Old Saybrook in order to add 4 AMTK Regionals to the schedule, because of limitations on the number of allowable bridge openings of the Connecticut River Bridge. The cross-tix program was expanded somewhat in 2008, but is asterisked to only certain trains.

They're able to execute it because Amtrak is the contracted operator for SLE (much like they were for the T from 1988-2004), and so all onboard conductors are Amtrak employees. They have since found other means to increase service by begging and pleading for more individual bridge openings, so the cross-honoring is on tenuous ground long-term. A new Connecticut River Bridge was in final stages of design towards the end of the Obama Administration, but has seen no action on federal funding shares since so is not close to starting. The new basclule span would operate fast enough to dramatically expand the New London schedule and end the need to truncate runs at Old Saybrook. Most likely that's when they'll pull the plug on the cross-tix arrangement with Amtrak, since it is first and foremost a kludge to get bodies past that bridge traffic restriction and not any sort of 'natural' perk of the corridor.
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:28 AM   #1702
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

FCMB item:

https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/f...accessible.pdf

T has committed to an accelerated deployment of cab signals (Automatic Train Control, or ATC) on the entire northside commuter rail, to match their usage on the southside. Cab signals work with the train-detecting track circuits that are already there to provide speed and stop enforcement. Positive Train Control (PTC) of the Amtrak variety that the T is deploying--called "ACSES"--then works on top of the cab signal layer providing the added safety features and traffic management flex that PTC offers.

Cab signals were previously banned from the northside because of legacy cruft from the big 1976 Boston & Maine line sale to the T, in which B&M (and successor Pan Am) reserved the perpetual rights to continue operating their freight fleets without that equipment. The PTC mandate grants the T a temporary exemption to install a variant of ACSES PTC that can run without cabs, but it's a cumbersome arrangement that will leave a lot of padding flab in the schedules because the PTC overlay has to default to a higher state of caution. It's also not certain the FRA will agree to extending the northside's exemption (though they had indicated they were willing), possibly leaving the T in a lurch if they didn't have a design plan for the new signal system in place. Last year the FCMB quietly granted a design contract for the system, without explaining anything about next steps for installation. Now apparently they're feeling confident enough about clearing the hurdles to go full speed ahead.

Pan Am has recently purchased dozens of cheap-beater secondhand GE locomotives from CSX that already do have cab signal units, and is either retiring scores of its ancient locos or banishing them to the woods of Maine. While they were still resisting dropping the cabs ban as little as a year ago, apparently they've reached enough critical mass on fleet turnover (and gotten enough MassDOT payola) to let it fall.

p. 5 of the presentation bullets out the main advantages of the system in layman's terms. The "shorter headways" bullet is an absolutely necessary one for implementing RER, so that's good news. Cabs also help simplify the amount of radio bandwidth the northside's PTC would otherwise have to suck up in overcompensation, and it allows for retirement of all intermediate wayside signals to trim the amount of field hardware. The cabbed lines down south (right now all but Franklin, Needham, and inner half of Worcester...which are each having it installed in time for next year's PTC deadline) only have lighted signals at junctions and interlockings (powered switches like crossovers), while the northside will have them every 1-2 miles to mark a block. It also unites north and south signaling under the same rulebook, cutting out a lot of training overhead for employees and opening up the potential for uniting northside and southside dispatch under one roof instead of being forever-separate. Unified signaling is a very big deal if you envision NSRL not only being built, but also working well in practice.

On the timetable, the Western and Eastern routes lag the other two because the double-track portions of the inner Western from Wyoming Hill-Reading and Rockport Branch Beverly-Gloucester still use a very obsolete form of Automatic Block Signalling (ABS) with no direct train detection via track circuits...with signals fed through ancient telephone wire. All of that needs to be ripped out and replaced for fiber and track circuits in order to support the new system.

Since this change has reverberations throughout the northside, see if NNEPRA starts making noises soon about needing this on the Downeaster to pack and speed the schedule through NH and ME. There are some significant toilet clogs outside of MBTA territory where this could potentially help.
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Old 06-20-2019, 11:56 AM   #1703
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

Could this mean a Haverhill Line extension to Plaistow?

https://www.eagletribune.com/news/br...bb5e272b1.html

Would be cheap to do because the track out that way is already upgraded for the Downeaster.
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Old 06-20-2019, 01:30 PM   #1704
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

https://www.railwayage.com/mw/massdo...-capital-plan/

18B Capital Plan from 2020-2024:

Quote:
$1 billion for the South Coast Rail Project. This project will provide rail service to accommodate the existing and future demand for public transportation between Fall River/New Bedford and Boston, enhance regional mobility and support smart growth planning and development strategies in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Probably the most frustrating part of SCR for me is the increased costs down the road.. the MBTA's budget deficit is already upside down and the expansion will increase labor costs, and add more track, stations, rolling stock, and signals to the $10B backlog of stuff that can break. All of this... for 4 trains per day from Fall river? Neither the old colony pinch nor South Station has enough capacity to run more than that, neither of which will be cheap or quick to fix. As a result, we get more single-tracked sparse service that runs at useless frequencies with pathetic ridership (i.e. Greenbush). Too slow, too noisy, too infrequent to get any significant amount of people out of cars.

$1 billion isn't going to get NSRL done or get the whole system electrified, but it is enough to electrify worcester out to riverside, or maybe build out the Sharon Substation so we can run EMU's on providence. It can also be used to raise a ton of low platforms across the system, consolidate 2 low-level stops into one new full-high (i.e. winchester, Riverworks, Mishawum, etc), which will have immediate material impacts on travel times which can quickly boost ridership, clear congestion, and most importantly generate more revenue. Faster trips means fewer trains needed to provide service, more frequent service, all of which means more $$ for the mbta to recycle back into the system.
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Old 06-20-2019, 01:52 PM   #1705
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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All of this... for 4 trains per day from Fall river?
6 trains inbound from fall river each day and 6 trains outbound to fall river each day. Same 6 trains each way for New Bedford. Middleboro gets a nice 12 each way per day. That is assuming the MBTA has the coach capacity available by the launch time from the new procurement, if not then service might start reduced. Regardless how you see it, most of the $1 of work is work that would have to be done for Phase 2 as well. All the stations and all the track work on the NBML and FRS has to be done regardless of Phase 1 or Phase 2. Only a small amount is being spent on the ultimately unnecessary section linking to middleboro. And it accomplishes the states goal of better linking some struggling municipalities to Boston.
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Old 06-20-2019, 02:04 PM   #1706
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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6 trains inbound from fall river each day and 6 trains outbound to fall river each day. Same 6 trains each way for New Bedford. Middleboro gets a nice 12 each way per day. That is assuming the MBTA has the coach capacity available by the launch time from the new procurement, if not then service might start reduced. Regardless how you see it, most of the $1 of work is work that would have to be done for Phase 2 as well. All the stations and all the track work on the NBML and FRS has to be done regardless of Phase 1 or Phase 2. Only a small amount is being spent on the ultimately unnecessary section linking to middleboro. And it accomplishes the states goal of better linking some struggling municipalities to Boston.
Good points, but I just don't see how infrequent, slow, diesel rail will ever get the commuting masses to get out of their cars and use the park-and-ride. That means even if they get 500 boardings during weekday rush, the expansion will have a massive subsidy per rider, much more so than inner core sub-128 stops which are profitable and sorely need high-levels. More subsidies means the MBTA's balance sheet going even further off kilter.
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:18 PM   #1707
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Originally Posted by HelloBostonHi View Post
6 trains inbound from fall river each day and 6 trains outbound to fall river each day. Same 6 trains each way for New Bedford. Middleboro gets a nice 12 each way per day. That is assuming the MBTA has the coach capacity available by the launch time from the new procurement, if not then service might start reduced. Regardless how you see it, most of the $1 of work is work that would have to be done for Phase 2 as well. All the stations and all the track work on the NBML and FRS has to be done regardless of Phase 1 or Phase 2. Only a small amount is being spent on the ultimately unnecessary section linking to middleboro. And it accomplishes the states goal of better linking some struggling municipalities to Boston.
I know you're trying to argue otherwise here, but those are beyond-horrible frequencies. The Amtrak Springfield Shuttle runs more frequently than that...and is going to Greenfield soon with debut frequencies better than two much larger MA cities. By the time SCR opens the Downeaster will be running 145 miles to/from Brunswick as frequently as a train at Weir Jct. turns towards Fall River. Such apocryphally bad frequencies, run at horrible travel times on this ugly hack of a routing, will encourage virtually no one to ditch their cars and few to ditch the express commuter buses. The ridership projections for these stops kept getting adjusted down, down, down each step of the way between the DEIR and FEIR. Now with the even more defective project phasing I don't even see how the stops will generate enough trips to not be at risk of service being cut in some future unusually severe budget emergency. It's already hard to picture Phase II ever coming to pass with how enormous a subsidy such extreme-but-inevitable ridership underperformance is going to require.

Everyone who thought "arse-end up" was just a fine and dandy way to manage this project because I/me/my hometown and screw you...is about to find out very bitterly what happens to their future utopia after the pile of money has already been lit on fire.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 06-20-2019 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:27 PM   #1708
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

Does the MBTA produce reliability numbers for the commuter rail lines?
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:32 PM   #1709
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Does the MBTA produce reliability numbers for the commuter rail lines?
https://www.mbtabackontrack.com/performance/#/home

^^Performance dashboard.^^ Very useful searchable data dump from them.
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:32 PM   #1710
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

https://www.mbtabackontrack.com/perf...uter%20Rail///
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:07 AM   #1711
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
I know you're trying to argue otherwise here, but those are beyond-horrible frequencies. The Amtrak Springfield Shuttle runs more frequently than that...and is going to Greenfield soon with debut frequencies better than two much larger MA cities. By the time SCR opens the Downeaster will be running 145 miles to/from Brunswick as frequently as a train at Weir Jct. turns towards Fall River. Such apocryphally bad frequencies, run at horrible travel times on this ugly hack of a routing, will encourage virtually no one to ditch their cars and few to ditch the express commuter buses. The ridership projections for these stops kept getting adjusted down, down, down each step of the way between the DEIR and FEIR. Now with the even more defective project phasing I don't even see how the stops will generate enough trips to not be at risk of service being cut in some future unusually severe budget emergency. It's already hard to picture Phase II ever coming to pass with how enormous a subsidy such extreme-but-inevitable ridership underperformance is going to require.

Everyone who thought "arse-end up" was just a fine and dandy way to manage this project because I/me/my hometown and screw you...is about to find out very bitterly what happens to their future utopia after the pile of money has already been lit on fire.
And if you think THAT'S all dumb, get a load of this:
https://www.tauntongazette.com/news/...r-rail-station
a center platform station for those handful of trains. That requires elevators, buildings, etc. This should absolutely, positively be a single side platform. Other lines handle more with less.
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:30 AM   #1712
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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And if you think THAT'S all dumb, get a load of this:
https://www.tauntongazette.com/news/...r-rail-station
a center platform station for those handful of trains. That requires elevators, buildings, etc. This should absolutely, positively be a single side platform. Other lines handle more with less.

You can do provisioned islands with single track. Rowley is an example. The single platform is 12 ft. wide, island width. But because it's single track one side is just a simple ramp-down egress. If the Newburyport Branch needs double-track they just build an up-and-over, demolish the ramp, and lay Track 2. If double isn't an imminent follow-up add, there's no reason to build the up-and-over.


And East Taunton is a sad, sad downgrade location-wise from the Taunton Depot stop it replaces due to this useless routing. Ridership's going to be painfully lower.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:07 AM   #1713
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

Politically speaking, what is Charlie's hard-on for this project about?
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Old 06-21-2019, 02:08 PM   #1714
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Politically speaking, what is Charlie's hard-on for this project about?
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Originally Posted by Coyote137 View Post
Politically speaking, what is Deval's hard-on for this project about?
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Originally Posted by Coyote137 View Post
Politically speaking, what is Mitt's hard-on for this project about?
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Originally Posted by Coyote137 View Post
Politically speaking, what is Jane's hard-on for this project about?
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Originally Posted by Coyote137 View Post
Politically speaking, what is Paul's hard-on for this project about?
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Politically speaking, what is Bill's hard-on for this project about?

Seals will clap at the possibility of fish.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:50 PM   #1715
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

Had an idea for an NSRL ad: Two maps of Boston, side by side.
On the left: ‘Boston by car’ which looks pretty much normal, the highways where they are, crossing the Charles River, connecting North and South.
On the right: ‘Boston by train’ which has stretched the width of the Charles into a gigantic bay, with the area around North Station a little island of the coast of Cambridge.
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:02 PM   #1716
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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You may recall that a few years ago the MBTA came out with plans to rebuild the Newton commuter rail stations for accessibility as single side platforms. To successfully achieve RER like frequencies, this needs to be a two-track stretch. It was walked back by Sec. Pollack.

Here we have a public meeting on the stations. I wonder what the recommendation will be? As these three go, so goes urban rail as it will telegraph the T's seriousness. .

https://mbta.com/events/2019-07-25/n...public-meeting
Reposting from the Amtrak thread. Hopefully with the RailVision chatter going on they will propose an island or double side platforms.. Is there a cost-benefit to each option?
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:46 PM   #1717
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Reposting from the Amtrak thread. Hopefully with the RailVision chatter going on they will propose an island or double side platforms.. Is there a cost-benefit to each option?
Totally situational. Side platforms are easier around grade crossings and where ground-level egress is available on all sides. Islands are easier when the station is down in a cut where up-and-over access is required, or on elevated stations where doing ramps for 2 platforms ends up a budget blowout.

For the Newton stops, Newtonville and West Newton are much preferable to do as islands. Auburndale, because it's on a curve, might need to be done as 2 sides because curves don't agree with islands that well. Unless they move the whole works a block east onto tangent track, which would be somewhat controversial.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:01 PM   #1718
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

Last I heard with Newtons, the preferred alternative was a single platform at each but designed to not preclude a future second platform at each station, basically plans for two platforms but only designing and constructing one at each. Unless there has been significant pressure on the MBTA since then I don't expect the directives from the MBTA have changed since I last spoke with the designer of the preliminary design for those stations...
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:47 AM   #1719
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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Last I heard with Newtons, the preferred alternative was a single platform at each but designed to not preclude a future second platform at each station, basically plans for two platforms but only designing and constructing one at each. Unless there has been significant pressure on the MBTA since then I don't expect the directives from the MBTA have changed since I last spoke with the designer of the preliminary design for those stations...
After the Auburndale debacle, I would suspect they're not going to show their face in public on designs for any of the 3 without them being double-track platforms off the bat. Barest ADA compliance is 'a' goal, not 'the' only goal. Unclogging the writ-large Worcester Line and increasing service to these stations is what constituents loudly want...as well as no-excuses for backpedalling on Urban Rail because of this contrived 1-platform-now/1-platform-??? inanity.

As is, they'd need to revisit the wisdom of doing separate projects for each platform because that's likely to inflate costs overall for needing to do completely separate touches to MassHighway structures like the overpasses, Pike retaining wall and/or breakdown lane width, plus all the associated overhead with lane closures. For that reason, floating redesigns that attempt an island design when applicable (even if potentially legit reasons make that a non-preferred Alternative) would be necessary fact-finding for seeing what one-and-done consolidated single-egress touches to the overpasses and construction zones further set back from the Pike can do for project costs.

Rider-wise, islands would be MUCH preferable at N'ville + WN because of the additional set-back from Pike noise and road spray that make today's Pike-side platforms a hellish waiting experience. And the Pike can re-gain full breakdown lane width through those stations by moving the platforms to center. Auburndale's far less a concern for those factors because it has more separation from the Pike to begin with.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:15 AM   #1720
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Re: Regional Rail (including North-South Rail Link)

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After the Auburndale debacle, I would suspect they're not going to show their face in public on designs for any of the 3 without them being double-track platforms off the bat. Barest ADA compliance is 'a' goal, not 'the' only goal. Unclogging the writ-large Worcester Line and increasing service to these stations is what constituents loudly want...as well as no-excuses for backpedalling on Urban Rail because of this contrived 1-platform-now/1-platform-??? inanity.
I would have expected the issue to be that (at least at Auburndale) the streetside platform can be ADA-accessible without an elevator. Once you do an island or highway-side platform you need one...

The T can make a public case that they don't want to be building more elevators when a more reliable and maintenance-light solution exists.
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