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Old 04-09-2015, 01:25 PM   #1
Alon
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Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
But these are dense, inner-core communities that include large immigrant populations that don't necessarily work the 9-6 office hours downtown that CR schedules tend to serve. Rapid transit is preferable. The ROW is wide enough for both CR and GL - albeit, and I agree with you here, it would require a new Mystic Bridge and some intensive engineering to bring the line down to Sullivan and on alignment to Lechmere.
The whole point of modernization and organization-before-electronics-before-concrete thinking is that commuter rail should run frequently at all times of day, since it's cheaper to implement the necessary changes than to build new bridges across rivers and railyards. Working-class immigrants don't care whether the train has a green stripe on its side and terminates in Chelsea, or has a purple stripe and continues into the outer suburbs; they care that the train comes frequently and doesn't require them to pay higher fares than buses. So do middle-class native-born office workers, which is why the D branch has so much more ridership than the parallel commuter lines.
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:19 PM   #2
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
I'm sort of skeptical about this, at least if the plan is to use commuter rail ROW. Commuter rail modernization is more useful here.

Now, you might ask, what's the difference between this and the GLX on the Lowell and Fitchburg Lines? My answers are,

1. First, it wasn't my decision to build the GLX instead of modernizing commuter rail, adding frequent infill stops, and coming up with a schedule that allows local and longer-range trains to share tracks if express service to Lowell is desired.
Hi, Alon.

I'd say this applies to the Eastern Route question as well. ex- Tracks 3 & 4 through Everett and Chelsea IS the Urban Ring Phase II ROW, so as far as where the planning oomph has been set into semi-motion that choice has already been made. With a debateable study preference for BRT over LRT since the study was done in an era where the T thought BRT magic pixie dust was the solution to everything. But any such build--as the current Silver Line Gateway plan does--would have compatibility for changeover to trolley tracks and a ready hook-in to the Green Line carhouse tracks in Somerville.

Couldas/shouldas in a perfect world re: commuter rail optimization...if they get serious about picking the UR plan back up off the floor the modal choices have already been made with CR not making the cut. So that's probably a more useful ground-zero starting point for this discussion than dialing back to ground zero-minus-1 and revisiting commuter rail options.

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2. The Fitchburg Line has longer-range demand than the Eastern Line, which has weak demand north of Beverly. The Lowell Line doesn't, but has a potential extension to Manchester that would make it long-range as well. This means that frequent stops in Cambridge and Somerville are more problematic for the Fitchburg and Lowell Lines than for the Eastern, making a GLX more useful.
Yes/no/sorta.

-- The main limiter on the Eastern Route besides the painful slow zone through those Chelsea grade crossings that should've been eliminated decades ago is Mystic Jct., the split near Sullivan Sq. with the Western Route that ceded a lot of its past capacity to the 1975 Orange Line extension. The commuter rail employees on the forums (GP40MC is your man for that) can speak to it way better than I could. But it's a lower ceiling than it used to be and there's legit limits to how much you can cram through there on the ER if you care about serving the WR to Reading with appropriately denser service. Full unfettered ER usage may have a project dependency on the canceled Reading extension of the Orange Line expunging the inner WR entirely from the commuter rail system. And that may not be your idea of a priority ranking on the pecking order.

-- The Peabody Branch is a probable #3 branch residing entirely inside Route 128 off Salem Jct. Recommended build in the 2004 North Shore Transit Improvements study (archived on the T website with schematics and ridership stats), Peabody wants it bad because they've got the walkup density and the bus routes in Peabody Sq. to float it, and it's an ideal route for Indigo Line service even if it terminated no further than the existing Peabody Sq. tracks. Relatively low-hanging fruit. That eats up some of your dream flexibility as well.

The last time the ER had >2 branches in 195(8?) it was supplemented by 2 alternate routes to backstop some of the short(er) locals: Wakefield-Salem via the pre-Orange Line Western Route, which skipped Chelsea, the moveable bridges, and Salem Tunnel; and Everett-Lynn via the Saugus Branch which skipped Chelsea and 1 of the movable bridges. Neither is available anymore, so there's a little bit extra additional uncharted waters there on top of the Mystic Jct. thing where ˇimprove ops! = ˇcapacity! isn't necessarily the gimme it may look on paper. At minimum there's a few more layers of variables and uncertainty that need to go into that modeling.

-- Portsmouth, NH is a viable long-range extension with bona fide advocacy on the NH Seacoast and a schedule (past and future-projected) that fits in at or a shade under Fitchburg and Worcester travel time despite the long crow-flies distance. Yes, NH is New England's Alabama in terms of progressive rail policy and that Wild West legislature of theirs has to get with the program...but Rockingham County gets a bona fide +1 for wanting this and recognizing what a dystopian future I-95 and US 1 consign them to.


Basically, the UR studies took into account these capacity questions Somerville-Everett and made their choice that sidestepping Mystic Jct. and not sharing modes was a lot cleaner starting point. The track 3 & 4 berths are there on the ROW; as are the old Mystic River drawbridge footings for semi-easily constructing a parallel bridge; and there's multi-directional trajectory to/from the Green Line at the E-W-N-S junction of the carhouse leads, Union Branch, Medford Branch, and subway mainline.

Don't necessarily have to agree, but it's defensible logic and the state's chosen starting point going forward.

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5. The Watertown branch favors a GLX, since a commuter rail setup with locals going via Watertown and expresses going via the existing line would be awkward. It would also require grade separations: new mainline rail lines are built grade-separated, even if in theory the electrification infrastructure is the same as that for light rail.
I assume you mean the Watertown Branch that forks off past Porter Sq. for this and not the old street-running A Line?

The only grade separation the H2O branch really needs is Fresh Pond Parkway, which was a 2-lane city street and not a parkway the last time Waltham commuter service ran on that line in the 30's. It's already got good grade separation the rest of the way to the ownership break at School St. 1 thoroughfare crossing (Arlington St. Watertown ) at an existing traffic light, and couple quiet non-thru residential streets and parking lot entrances. Eliminate the parkway crossing and the rest of the crossings are basically par with what the Mattapan Line has.

Last 4000 ft. from School St. to Mt. Auburn St. is a ROW stitch job because of the lapsed ownership, but it's all scuzzy industrial property and car chop shops the town wants to flip for redev and friendlier street-facing retail anyway. The only encroacher is the Lexus dealership at School St. Since car dealerships tend to be pretty transient tenants that change hands once every 15 years blowing that cookie-cutter sucker up is an opportunity they'll basically get once a decade every decade.

I know street-running is an icky prospect to be avoided, but if you got the grade separation to School St. and committed resolutely to completing the stitch job the rest of the way...weigh whether you could live with 20 years of it running in a transit lane on Arsenal St. through 3 traffic lights, and pros/cons therein. That 4-lane drag strip could use an induced-demand reducing road diet in the worst way. Remember...you are committed to finishing the ROW stitch job to the Square hell or high water, so this is not a retreat it's a route-priming interim move that buys you time to complete the property flips everyone in town very much wants.

As other people have mentioned, the Waltham half of the H2O Branch is a clownshow of bad-angle grade crossings on every block. So Watertown Sq. is the practical limit of this branch and anything deep-future and lower-priority to Waltham has to stay bolted to the ex- Tracks 3 & 4 berths of the Fitchburg Line.

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6. A GLX to Chelsea would require a new water crossing, adding to the cost. Mind you, I also think the existing GLX should have cost maybe 1/8 what it really did - it's an existing ROW, FFS - but when a water crossing is required, higher costs happen for legitimate reasons.
Look at Google Maps. The old Eastern Route drawbridge pilings and alignment are adjacent a couple hundred feet to the south, and there's a MOW spur on the Somerville side that's a remnant of the old ER mainline track. How this would work is you build a new fixed RR bridge on the old approaches, and put the UR on the existing bridge. The existing bridge has those steep grades and superelevated curve on it--mandatory slow zone because of the compromised sightlines, and murder on the locomotive engines (esp. the Everett Terminal freights) that wheeze over the top--because it had to be constructed that way to keep the old drawbridge in-service. The old alignment is WAY better for a non-curved and less speed-restricted bridge for RR service, even at much taller height than the old squat draw. A trolley or bus is much better at handling the grades of the current bridge (which is safely wide enough for buses if they install taller barriers). So...swap 'em. It matches up perfectly with the necessary track alignment for side-by-side RR and BRT/LRT, since the freight turnout to the terminal is on the south side of the ROW. No doubt it's expensive, but it's not totally the apocalypse with the recycled approaches shaving some not-inconsequential EIS pain and suffering off the top.

Quote:
Maybe a Blue Line branch, but I'd be wary: Maverick and Airport are the two busiest stops on the line, but Wonderland is a close third, and a Lynn extension would put further pressure on the existing line.
The bigger deep-future payoff (as in, 25-40 year, post- peak car, off-scale for the sake of current planning) is Blue past Lynn to Salem. The Eastern Route out there is 4-track width everywhere to the southern Salem tunnel portal except for a couple more modern-construction rail overpasses in Swampscott that shorted it by 2 track berths (no biggie...+2 them to their old width). It would have to terminate south of the portal next to the Salem police station because it's pushing luck too far on tunneling feasibility to keep plowing through, but that's arguably the better downtown stop to begin with than the current north-of-portal parking pit. The pain of getting over the Saugus River to Lynn in the first place is what enables it; the ready-serve railbed space, little-to-no bridge construction, and resulting environmental savings probably makes Lynn-Salem slightly less expensive in real dollars than Wonderland-Lynn.

The 2003 Boston MPO's Program for Mass Transportation did a pencil-sketch projection of +15,000 daily Blue riders and +8900 all-new transit riders past Lynn if this were built and fed with something resembling current Blue headways. I don't know if those numbers are going to hold up to scrutiny because that was a spitball not a formal study. But +30 years in the future and after peak car? That's probably the future Blue extension possibility you at least want to keep ajar for future considerations since the construction price is definitely right if the demand ever checks out.
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Old 04-09-2015, 06:29 PM   #3
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Day self-employment job is riding my ass into the ground this winter and AB came up "tails" this time on interwebs time-waster vices that needed to be set aside for the good of the roof over my head. I don't have a whole lot to add here that hasn't already been said.


Basically...dear god yes does the Transitway need to be hooked into Green. Silver Line Phase III's existence as a transit service has been justified beyond a reasonable doubt to the nines. The need for radial relief of the Red Line has been justified to the nines, and it has to come in plural form because neither Red-Blue nor Transitway-Green nor the best CBTC signaling a competent engineer can design are individually in isolation going to be the killshots that lick Red's congestion issues forever. Doing one but not the others just buys valuable time to plan out the others before growth re-erodes the margins. Alternative maths are always instructive as to whether there's something different that should go first on the pecking order, but up-on-a-pedestal on the pecking order was never in doubt here. The feasibility or lackthereof of attempting the build on the BRT mode is where all the ultimately fatal doubts were.

All that other "reimagining Green" stuff is valid. The E relocation, GLX, fluidity with an LRT Urban Ring...that's all a great reimagining, because it strings together a thick net of transit and gets the Green Line out of the business of trying to mimic the Red Line as a linear trunk. Something it was never designed to do.

In terms of which one post-GLX is first on the list...other than low-hanging fruit like Union-Porter that can justify their ROI on short money, Transitway connection dwarfs it all. The rest is just debate over details like which Boylston-to-Transitway trajectory interfaces best or how you want the Bay Village station or track junctions configured. Detail debates are pretty firmly indicative that there's very very broad consensus on what this thing's mission statement is, how urgent the need is, what places it needs to join together and for what reasons, and why it would be a really bad thing if we never did this at all. No great mystery there, so details are really all there is to hash out. I could cherry- pick my particular preferences, but it's all been said before.
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:15 PM   #4
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Hi, Alon.

Couldas/shouldas in a perfect world re: commuter rail optimization...if they get serious about picking the UR plan back up off the floor the modal choices have already been made with CR not making the cut. So that's probably a more useful ground-zero starting point for this discussion than dialing back to ground zero-minus-1 and revisiting commuter rail options.
Sorry, but no. It's not an urban ring question. It shouldn't be an urban ring question. Trying to modernize a small segment of commuter rail is insane. It basically sandbags any sort of commuter rail modernization, because you cannot have modern EMUs sharing tracks with decades-obsolete rolling stock that falls behind schedule every time an above average number of people try boarding through the low platforms.

(It's actually easier to share track with freight trains - they go at approximately local frequent-stop commuter rail speed and don't need to stop for stations. Peter Brassard's proposed Providence commuter rail shuttle turns out to do Pawtucket-Warwick in maybe 1 minute more than P&W trains.)

Same is true of flights of fancy like extending the Blue Line past Lynn. There are perfectly good tracks north of Lynn. With systems, rolling stock, and schedules that wouldn't embarrass European cities half the size of Boston, those tracks would be far faster than the Blue Line could be, and would get to Aquarium faster despite the Chelsea and Everett detour.

That's the sort of organization-before-electronics-before-concrete thinking that's direly lacking in the Boston area as soon as commuter rail is involved. A new bridge across the Mystic: expensive. A few dozen kilometers of catenary and enough EMUs to run service every 15 minutes on each branch: cheap.

Now, when you multiply everything by 530 of unelectrified commuter rail km (soon to surpass 600 thanks to South Coast), it gets more expensive. But what the MBTA is spending money on now is also expensive. It's setting $2.2 billion on fire to bring trains to New Bedford that go at the same average speed as a bus, and planning to procure $3 million/car DMUs for various inner lines, and spending $1.3 billion on widening the inner Lowell and Fitchburg ROWs so that the GLX can run alongside mainline rail without track sharing. Not modernizing commuter rail is more expensive than modernizing it. Send all the managers to early retirement, replace them with people who have heard of expressions like Taktfahrplan and Verkehrsverbund, and stop duplicating infrastructure.

Quote:
Portsmouth, NH is a viable long-range extension with bona fide advocacy on the NH Seacoast and a schedule (past and future-projected) that fits in at or a shade under Fitchburg and Worcester travel time despite the long crow-flies distance. Yes, NH is New England's Alabama in terms of progressive rail policy and that Wild West legislature of theirs has to get with the program...but Rockingham County gets a bona fide +1 for wanting this and recognizing what a dystopian future I-95 and US 1 consign them to.
Look at commute patterns. Manchester and Nashua have reasonable volumes of commuters into Boston and Cambridge. Portsmouth does not. Manchester and Nashua are also collectively not much smaller than Worcester, while Portsmouth is. On the Eastern Line, the bulk of the ridership will forever come from inner suburbs, because that's where people live. Under the current fuck-the-urbanites paradigm, this is Salem and Beverly. Under first-world operating practices, it's Lynn and Chelsea. There simply isn't enough north of Salem for the same long-distance ridership that typifies the Providence Line.

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Don't necessarily have to agree, but it's defensible logic and the state's chosen starting point going forward.
No, it isn't. It's the logic of people who, when someone brings up the fact that S-Bahns exist, look for excuses why it's impossible to do the same in Boston.

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I assume you mean the Watertown Branch that forks off past Porter Sq. for this and not the old street-running A Line?
Indeed.

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As other people have mentioned, the Waltham half of the H2O Branch is a clownshow of bad-angle grade crossings on every block. So Watertown Sq. is the practical limit of this branch and anything deep-future and lower-priority to Waltham has to stay bolted to the ex- Tracks 3 & 4 berths of the Fitchburg Line.
Okay, so in Waltham the route has grade crossings, like Comm Ave.

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The existing bridge has those steep grades and superelevated curve on it--mandatory slow zone because of the compromised sightlines, and murder on the locomotive engines (esp. the Everett Terminal freights) that wheeze over the top--because it had to be constructed that way to keep the old drawbridge in-service.
Sightlines.

On a railroad.

In an advanced country.

In 2015.

Okay.

This is what I mean by organization, electronics, and concrete, by the way. Putting signals in locations where drivers can read them will forever be cheaper than building a new bridge from scratch.

Quote:
The 2003 Boston MPO's Program for Mass Transportation did a pencil-sketch projection of +15,000 daily Blue riders and +8900 all-new transit riders past Lynn if this were built and fed with something resembling current Blue headways. I don't know if those numbers are going to hold up to scrutiny because that was a spitball not a formal study. But +30 years in the future and after peak car? That's probably the future Blue extension possibility you at least want to keep ajar for future considerations since the construction price is definitely right if the demand ever checks out.
Would that be the same projection that sandbagged the F line by saying it would only add 130 new transit riders? If so, can we please ignore whatever crap the studies make up to justify extensions deep into suburbia while Roxbury gets mixed-traffic pretend-BRT?

Last edited by Alon; 04-12-2015 at 04:04 PM. Reason: Corrected "should" to "shouldn't" in the first line of my first paragraph response. I think everyone got the intended meaning, but I'm not sure, hence the correction.
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Old 04-09-2015, 10:16 PM   #5
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
Sorry, but no. It's not an urban ring question. It should be an urban ring question. Trying to modernize a small segment of commuter rail is insane. It basically sandbags any sort of commuter rail modernization, because you cannot have modern EMUs sharing tracks with decades-obsolete rolling stock that falls behind schedule every time an above average number of people try boarding through the low platforms.

(It's actually easier to share track with freight trains - they go at approximately local frequent-stop commuter rail speed and don't need to stop for stations. Peter Brassard's proposed Providence commuter rail shuttle turns out to do Pawtucket-Warwick in maybe 1 minute more than P&W trains.)

Same is true of flights of fancy like extending the Blue Line past Lynn. There are perfectly good tracks north of Lynn. With systems, rolling stock, and schedules that wouldn't embarrass European cities half the size of Boston, those tracks would be far faster than the Blue Line could be, and would get to Aquarium faster despite the Chelsea and Everett detour.
That's not a Boston question, Alon. We're getting into "Burn down the FRA!" nationwide existential questions here. That's a bit beyond scope of the Green Line Reconfiguration thread and related projects therein, when all that demand needs to be addressed in meaningful ways to keep the region flowing, and what Boston can and can't wait for before it starts self-initiating the solutions. Greater Boston can't pin a calendar date on when a Euro rolling stock free-for-all and RR signaling of our dreams is going to be allowed by the feds. Greater Boston alone can't muster the forces of nature necessary to make that happen on Greater Boston's timetables; it's but one link in the chain of every local interest that has to push at that immovable object. So Greater Boston has to work with what it can work with.

This is a "perfect is the enemy of good" rabbit hole that leads nowhere productive. We aren't starting with S-Bahn -like options. We're starting with a canvas that has an American railroad--a stupid old American railroad in all its crapulence--on 2 track berths, and 2 empty track berths that can be hooked to any mode without being shackled to any one. Those are the parameters. What can you do with that starting canvas in 20 years' time on a state-initiated project that doesn't have to wish for a revolution in federal rail policy? Ready, set, put on one's thinking caps and go.

And I'm not disagreeing with you on the existential stuff, either. Your blog bullseyes it about as square as can be. But I want to live to see meaningfully better circumferential transit around this city without needing to make reservations in the cryo-freeze chamber in wait for Washington to pull its head out of its ass. Beacon Hill is the nearest head in the nearest ass. What's in their scope of influence to help?

It's probably not going to be an S-Bahn setup. But I guarantee no one in Everett or Chelsea will care that it ain't if what it am substantially solves their mobility problems. I don't see the defeatism in that.


Quote:
That's the sort of organization-before-electronics-before-concrete thinking that's direly lacking in the Boston area as soon as commuter rail is involved. A new bridge across the Mystic: expensive. A few dozen kilometers of catenary and enough EMUs to run service every 15 minutes on each branch: cheap.
I'll let the ops guys comment on that.

Keep in mind re: the switcheroo of bridges I wrote about: the old drawbridge alignment involves a bridge build half the length of the current 1988 fixed span: 620 ft. over open water on the old alignment vs. 1200 ft. on the new one. The construction and EIS'ing on terra firma requires grading new inclines on top of what is already old railbed to square the height. Bridge construction sucks, no doubt. But this is not the 1988 span x2 on a never-before alignment. There are savings. And given what we can't pin to a timeframe on re: dream CR rolling stock, and a pity party about U.S. commuter rail being bound-and-gagged by policy from achieving world standards doesn't help Boston initiate change sooner...weigh the pros/cons on those known-knowns and make the value judgment from there.

Hell...it could flunk the value judgment and put us back at square one. Determining that much is still a more productive use of time than having an existential debate about why isn't our starting canvas the same starting canvas other countries have to work with. What can the Commonwealth of Massachusetts do for your transit today?...that's a whole lot more useful an existential question.

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Now, when you multiply everything by 530 of unelectrified commuter rail km (soon to surpass 600 thanks to South Coast), it gets more expensive. But what the MBTA is spending money on now is also expensive. It's setting $2.2 billion on fire to bring trains to New Bedford that go at the same average speed as a bus, and planning to procure $3 million/car DMUs for various inner lines, and spending $1.3 billion on widening the inner Lowell and Fitchburg ROWs so that the GLX can run alongside mainline rail without track sharing. Not modernizing commuter rail is more expensive than modernizing it. Send all the managers to early retirement, replace them with people who have heard of expressions like Taktfahrplan and Verkehrsverbund, and stop duplicating infrastructure.
And in a perfect world we would do that. This isn't a perfect world. We can't mix rail modes. The FRA does exist. "Nuke the FRA from orbit!" isn't a promise the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can deliver.

This is the Green Line Reconfiguration thread, not the "Why can't we have X Euro country's commuter rail with a dash of Y country's and a pinch of Z country's."


Quote:
Look at commute patterns. Manchester and Nashua have reasonable volumes of commuters into Boston and Cambridge. Portsmouth does not. Manchester and Nashua are also collectively not much smaller than Worcester, while Portsmouth is. On the Eastern Line, the bulk of the ridership will forever come from inner suburbs, because that's where people live. Under the current fuck-the-urbanites paradigm, this is Salem and Beverly. Under first-world operating practices, it's Lynn and Chelsea. There simply isn't enough north of Salem for the same long-distance ridership that typifies the Providence Line.
I'm not sure why we're equating the North Shore and NH Seacoast to the Providence Line to begin with, but fair enough: outside 128's out-of-scope for purposes of this discussion. And Blue past Lynn completely out-of-scope because there's no reason to waste one brain cell on Blue past Lynn if there's no Blue AT Lynn locked-and-loaded in the first place.

"First-world operating practices"...well, again, if a rolling stock on mainline rail free-for-all is the requirement for beginning this discussion that problem is not gonna get addressed at the state level. Or on a timetable we can count on. I'd rather work with the canvas we've got and live to see it painted with something people will actually use to live their daily lives than die holding out for a perfection that's outside local control.


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No, it isn't. It's the logic of people who, when someone brings up the fact that S-Bahns exist, look for excuses why it's impossible to do the same in Boston.
So what's your solution for Boston INITIATING the possible? Practical. What is practical? And if a commuter rail ops person responds on this thread saying "Mystic Jct. can handle X and Y, but not Z...and maybe A with B upgrades but not C unless the whole regulatory world went topsy-turvy"...what then is the practical starting point?

Airlifting the S-Bahn to Boston as the only allowable answer doesn't get us any closer to a practical starting point that MassDOT can initiate whole-cloth.


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Okay, so in Waltham the route has grade crossings, like Comm Ave.
Not quite. More like a staggering drunk walk trying to do its best GPS imitation of a sine wave:

http://goo.gl/maps/4EfPa <-- diagonal angle, away from intersection
http://goo.gl/maps/tavAf <-- ditto
http://goo.gl/maps/kS1Wr <--- splice a 3-way intersection 30 ft. from a traffic light? Sure, why not.
http://goo.gl/maps/uqumj <-- bad angle, off-center
http://goo.gl/maps/rNXCC <--- at least this is splitting a residential 3-way intersection instead
http://goo.gl/maps/MVr1f <-- bad angle and no sightlines from Elm St. because of that corner building

You get the picture. Saugus Branch through the densest part of Malden is exactly the same way.



Quote:
Sightlines.

On a railroad.

In an advanced country.

In 2015.

Okay.

This is what I mean by organization, electronics, and concrete, by the way. Putting signals in locations where drivers can read them will forever be cheaper than building a new bridge from scratch.
PTC will help a little bit. But the bridge is still steep on a curve at elevated engine stall and backslide risk, so the rules dictate extra caution. The rules nobody at the MBTA can change even if they wanted to.

This is what they bargained in 1988 when they built that bridge: eliminate the frequently-opened drawbridge because it increases traffic, put up with the fact that unless you're willing to take the whole mainline out-of-service for 2 years the new alignment's going to have some compromise quirks. Overall effect: still better than what they had before.

The old alignment's still there. And it's still the more-optimal one for RR ops. For what that's worth to the conversation. . .

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Would that be the same projection that sandbagged the F line by saying it would only add 130 new transit riders? If so, can we please ignore whatever crap the studies make up to justify extensions deep into suburbia while Roxbury gets mixed-traffic pretend-BRT?
Did I not say that was a Boston MPO document and a guesstimate not substantiated enough to be trusted without further digging? MBTA didn't come up with those numbers. I believe the context of the question was Blue Line branching and what/if-anything way way out of 20-year planning range was worth an FYI re: what future considerations could've been impacted by burning mainline capacity on a branch.

Anyway, we're getting way far afield from Green Line Reconfig in Chelsea by color-matching our Blues and Purples in Salem. . .
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Old 04-09-2015, 10:55 PM   #6
Deetroyt
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

F-line! Glad to see you back on the forum. I always look forward to reading your insights on these discussions.
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:35 AM   #7
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
That's not a Boston question, Alon. We're getting into "Burn down the FRA!" nationwide existential questions here...
Caltrain asked for a waiver, and got one. The MBTA hasn't ever thought to do so. The FRA's rewriting its rules as we speak; my understanding is that new rules are forthcoming this year. One key obstacle to good intercity rail, the 3" cant deficiency limit (4" with a waiver, 5" with a special waiver), has already been removed.

But what's even stupider is that, while good FRA-compliant DMUs don't exist, good EMUs do. The Silverliner V is a decent piece of equipment. It weighs 50% more than it has to, but he performance is very good at low speed and still pretty good at medium speed. FRA-compliant DMUs deliver just under half the acceleration time penalty gains of EMUs relative to current rolling stock, at a top speed of 100 km/h. They are more expensive to procure and maintain. (Noncompliant ones deliver two thirds of the gains at low speed and less at medium speed, and cost about the same to operate.)

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This is a "perfect is the enemy of good" rabbit hole that leads nowhere productive.
No, it's a "the terrible is the enemy of the good" situation. And, as I keep noting to other people, you guys are seriously proposing new tunnels under Back Bay and deep multilevel caverns. The Silver Lie Phase 3 estimate is $2 billion, i.e. the upper end for what normal countries would spend on full MBTA electrification, ex-rolling stock. Talking about the art of the possible and what not is a discussion I'd be up for if you were talking about $250 million extensions and not multibillion ones.

Quote:
This is the Green Line Reconfiguration thread, not the "Why can't we have X Euro country's commuter rail with a dash of Y country's and a pinch of Z country's."
This is what I said farther up, about systemwide thinking. Just because the thread's about the Green Line doesn't mean that a desired extension that works better as part of another line should be discussed only as part of the Green Line. Circumferential transit is part of it: radial-circumferential mixes suck (see e.g. the G in New York before they cut it to Court Square, or Line 3 in Shanghai), so the Urban Ring should be built as a new line, and not as a tie-in to any existing line.

For an analogy, consider Arlington. I think a majority of people here would agree there needs to be transit on the Lexington trail (or maybe Mass Ave, failing that), replacing the 77. I also think a majority of people would agree it's a natural Red Line tie-in. So despite the fact that it's a good extension, there's no point in debating it as a GLX via Porter.

Pointing out that there are far more cost-effective ways to provide a certain area with rail connection than the Green Line is well within topic: it delineates the limits of how far it's useful to extend the Green Line.

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"First-world operating practices"...well, again, if a rolling stock on mainline rail free-for-all is the requirement for beginning this discussion that problem is not gonna get addressed at the state level. Or on a timetable we can count on. I'd rather work with the canvas we've got and live to see it painted with something people will actually use to live their daily lives than die holding out for a perfection that's outside local control.
I'd rather not deal with $2.2 billion for the South Coast rail, $1.3 billion for the GLX, $2 billion for a bus to the Seaport and the airport (hey, it runs in Roxbury - in mixed traffic - so the honchos can even say it serves a poor neighborhood, hooray!), and however many billions for rebuilding a water crossing. The reason I keep harping on the organization before electronics before concrete mantra is that it saves money. Stringing catenary over 600-odd km of rail is $1.5 billion-ish. Procuring enough EMUs to replace the entire fleet is around $2 billion if every line gets 4 tph at the peak; you can probably get it down to $1.5 billion if some lines only get 6-car trains (I'm assuming everything's 8 cars) and some (hi, Greenbush) get 2 tph. What you're proposing in concrete pouring is more expensive. Hell, what the MBTA's building as we speak is collectively more expensive.

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PTC will help a little bit. But the bridge is still steep on a curve at elevated engine stall and backslide risk, so the rules dictate extra caution. The rules nobody at the MBTA can change even if they wanted to.
Engine stall? Backslide? Again with the shitty rolling stock...

It's not even a PTC matter; PTC's actually completely irrelevant here - it protects against human error, not mechanical failure. If visibility is a problem, then a) figure out what's done on subways, which have worse visibility issues, and b) if that doesn't work, ETCS has in-cab signaling. If that's not the issue and the problem is curve and grade resistance, get EMUs; they're capable of dealing with the grades. Organization first. Then electronics. Then, if all else fails, concrete.

(That, by the way, is why I don't fully trust ops guys. Ops guys think "train" = "antediluvian freight engine pulling a bunch of unpowered cars." They don't usually think "train" = "16 kW/t continuous power at wheel, and enough initial acceleration to climb 7% grades in regular service." Not that anyone builds 7% lines normally, but the Bernina Railway manages 7% grades in adhesion mode, because that's what modern rolling stock's capable of.)
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Old 04-10-2015, 04:00 AM   #8
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
Caltrain asked for a waiver, and got one. The MBTA hasn't ever thought to do so. The FRA's rewriting its rules as we speak; my understanding is that new rules are forthcoming this year. One key obstacle to good intercity rail, the 3" cant deficiency limit (4" with a waiver, 5" with a special waiver), has already been removed.
Caltrain hasn't bought its rolling stock yet. They're still punching themselves in the face with circuitous debates over platform height. When they plunk down the cash for their new order, then we'll know if they used the waiver to the waiver's worth. That hasn't happened yet.

If they end up buying the same non-waivered bi-level EMU's that NJ Transit has committed to buying in its latest fleet plan because they get a lower unit cost buying something that another U.S. commuter rail is actively rolling off a Bombardier assembly line in a 200+ size order, will they have failed at life because they didn't take advantage of the waiver? I don't know. Because Caltrain hasn't stopped arguing about platform heights long enough to go shopping yet.

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But what's even stupider is that, while good FRA-compliant DMUs don't exist, good EMUs do. The Silverliner V is a decent piece of equipment. It weighs 50% more than it has to, but he performance is very good at low speed and still pretty good at medium speed. FRA-compliant DMUs deliver just under half the acceleration time penalty gains of EMUs relative to current rolling stock, at a top speed of 100 km/h. They are more expensive to procure and maintain. (Noncompliant ones deliver two thirds of the gains at low speed and less at medium speed, and cost about the same to operate.)
The northside doesn't have an electrification home-base to string off of like the southside. In the priority queue is it going to be easier to start a northside installation from scratch? Or add Fairmount and Worcester wires that together with Providence and RIDOT's intrastate startup to sling together an EMU pool fleet that floats an outright majority of southside ridership and equipment needs. I want all of the above too but that stuff takes time to triage, so...easiest grab for scale is going to be southside-first. You are going to have to put up with something diesel-burning on the northside for however many days >1 it takes to build Rome.

Will they have failed at life because "electrify all the things!" didn't churn through the to-do list fast enough to time with when Chelsea needs its radial circulation done now? I don't know. Because future failures of prioritization vs. resources haven't happened yet.


I'm staring at a canvas and a clock. I have a goal to get some good radial circulation going in Chelsea in 20 years. I more or less have an idea of where it needs to go, and am staring at the building blocks of ROW's, connectable modes, and an understanding of what assumptions I can reliably project forward about operations on those modes and what I can't assume because it's way above MassDOT's pay grade. I need to assemble a plan, an order of priority that gets it done, and make sure it's sympatico with when the people alive today who are gonna use it need it open for use. Why am I wasting my time crying about spilt milk and getting mad that Euro mainline rail left U.S. mainline rail in the dust between the years 1945 and 2015? I know what I can count on in my toolbox in the 20-year goal I set for myself to get this thing built. What can I do from this day forward, from a planning perch in Boston Metro in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to get something done that usefully serves the need.


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No, it's a "the terrible is the enemy of the good" situation. And, as I keep noting to other people, you guys are seriously proposing new tunnels under Back Bay and deep multilevel caverns. The Silver Lie Phase 3 estimate is $2 billion, i.e. the upper end for what normal countries would spend on full MBTA electrification, ex-rolling stock. Talking about the art of the possible and what not is a discussion I'd be up for if you were talking about $250 million extensions and not multibillion ones.
Getting electrification feeders planted on the northside is a $B project. Raising the Lowell Line underclearances +2'7" around that many bridges to maintain the Plate F freight clearances under 25 kV wires is a several 3-digits $M proposition. I'm not even sure raising the 20'6"-to-be clearances on the outer Fitchburg and Haverhill Lines +2'7" is physically possible with how many times previously they've gone to the well squeezing more clearance out of all those bridges. Wiring the Western Route to Oak Grove at 25 kV AC is an unavoidable duplication of 5 miles of 650V DC Orange Line electrification that needs its own feeders.

And then you tackle what constraints are of capacity under the wires. Not on a spreadsheet, but what ops tells you the tippy-top capacity is for Mystic Jct. and the like until the feds takes the straightjacket off the whole works and burns the NORAC rulebook in celebration. Which is not a result MassDOT can serve up by its own initiation. And not a result firing the head of ops and replacing him/her with a German import whose resume lists experience with all the 'good' worldwide train systems is going to serve up.

The northside only. It's a megaproject. If you want to start checking off consequential $250M projects to avoid the $2B jobs, you'll be plenty busy wiring the southside to full completion before the first EMU sets foot at North Station on its own power.


Meanwhile, here's Chelsea. Here's a canvas. Here's some choices to sort through. Here's 20 years where I need to get something worthwhile done here. Here's a 650 ft. water crossing on old approaches, but mercifully no tunnels. What's a good use of my planning time?




As an aside...I assume the "you" in the discussion was the MBTA and not the archBOSTON forums writ-large. This is, after all, a Boston architecture forum first and foremost, not a transit forum. Steel! Concrete! Aesthetics! Zoning laws! Excitement! Understand that the posters here spend about 70% of their time on the Development forum talking about vertical edifices so that's going to inform what's on the brain the 20% of the time it goes to trains, trams, tires, and horizontal underground edifices. Most of that in the Crazy Pitches thread. And that's not a bad thing. This is but one of many Net microcultures. If I had to rely on Railroad.net as my only outlet I'd probably start to self-medicate with head applied firmly to rock-hard wall. And pretty much did before I found quite very enjoyable company here on AB. I don't think there's one singular forum that's going to scratch every individual's discussion itch to complete satisfaction. Viva variety.



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This is what I said farther up, about systemwide thinking. Just because the thread's about the Green Line doesn't mean that a desired extension that works better as part of another line should be discussed only as part of the Green Line. Circumferential transit is part of it: radial-circumferential mixes suck (see e.g. the G in New York before they cut it to Court Square, or Line 3 in Shanghai), so the Urban Ring should be built as a new line, and not as a tie-in to any existing line.
You can run it any way you want. If LRT it passes through a 4-way grade separated junction at Brickbottom and could keep sailing along circumferentially on the Grand Junction to Allston and wherever you want to take it after that. Or tie it in as a GL branch. Or do a little of both. Not real sure what the optimal BRT configurations would end up being, but it's not for lack of comprehensive options.

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For an analogy, consider Arlington. I think a majority of people here would agree there needs to be transit on the Lexington trail (or maybe Mass Ave, failing that), replacing the 77. I also think a majority of people would agree it's a natural Red Line tie-in. So despite the fact that it's a good extension, there's no point in debating it as a GLX via Porter.
???

Not sure what you're referring to. That route's never ever been pegged for a Greenie, unless somebody threw that one out there in the Crazy Transit Pitches thread on a larf. The Red tunnel angles that direction...that's the only place Red can go. Fitchburg Line/Green-Porter doesn't hit Alewife directly, just grazes the general vicinity a 1000 ft. walk from the station entrance. Green-Porter's only 2 outbound trajectories are: fork on the H2O Branch to Watertown Sq., and/or straight ahead on the Fitchburg Line to Waltham. You couldn't even have Red and Green trade places on those potential routings without blowing up the Pfizer building behind Alewife to re-angle tunnels and crap.

Quote:
Pointing out that there are far more cost-effective ways to provide a certain area with rail connection than the Green Line is well within topic: it delineates the limits of how far it's useful to extend the Green Line.
OK. And pointing out Euro mainline rolling stock and signaling practices MassDOT has limited (or, close to zero) control over the ops regulations on an American mainline rail network is neither here nor there when looking at the canvas and assessing "What do I have to work with to solve a problem within X timeframe?" Germany can't return the favor and reverse-airlift us their mainline ops over the FRA Wall. And planting the electrification seed northside is a megaproject that's got some tough prioritization slotting to figure out vs. extending electrification on the southside. Rome not being built in a day and all.

What's the prioritization over time? Lamenting over and over that U.S. mainline practices suck doesn't shuffle that deck any faster. Maybe it should. But in reality it doesn't.


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I'd rather not deal with $2.2 billion for the South Coast rail, $1.3 billion for the GLX, $2 billion for a bus to the Seaport and the airport (hey, it runs in Roxbury - in mixed traffic - so the honchos can even say it serves a poor neighborhood, hooray!), and however many billions for rebuilding a water crossing.
1. You may be in luck given the quotes circulating from the Gov. tonight about halting expansion for non- fed-funded projects.

2. Cat's out of the bag.

3. Cat left that bag in 1995.

4. The going rate for a 650 ft. double-track water crossing on pre-existing approaches, if that narrows down the comparison search parameters. I'm not saying it ends up worth it, but billionS...no, that's hyperbole. And doesn't belong lumped in the same universe as downtown tunneling costs. Port Authority NY/NJ's jurisdictional boundaries fall mercifully short of the Mystic River watershed for MassDOT to be getting price quotes like that for a river bridge.


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Engine stall? Backslide? Again with the shitty rolling stock...

It's not even a PTC matter; PTC's actually completely irrelevant here - it protects against human error, not mechanical failure. If visibility is a problem, then a) figure out what's done on subways, which have worse visibility issues, and b) if that doesn't work, ETCS has in-cab signaling. If that's not the issue and the problem is curve and grade resistance, get EMUs; they're capable of dealing with the grades. Organization first. Then electronics. Then, if all else fails, concrete.
You're really, really not gonna like this bureaucratic fine print, unfortunately. . .

MBTA northside has a cab signal prohibition on all freight routes Pan Am Railways operates in their territory. Which is every northside line except for the 2 Eastern Route branches north of Beverly Draw-only where there they long ago expunged themselves of any legacy rights. The T bought northside commuter rail and all the material assets for the lines it owns from bankrupt Boston & Maine in 1976 for a song. But B&M didn't run in any cab signal territory like Conrail did on the southside, so in the surrender terms (that's pretty much what it was given the assets B&M handed over) they got right of first refusal to keep the northside wayside signal-only. Rights now conferred to PAR.

Now...it's almost a given PAR is going to get swallowed and dismembered within 2 years. Norfolk Southern taking the west half of the system (they run on cabs), somebody else TBD taking the east half. If that somebody else is an outfit like Providence & Worcester (cabs)...then that issue is moot and this prohibition can probably be put to rest. But short of paying PAR some ransom to voluntarily go away, they have the right of first refusal and all the legal precedent with the STB to enforce it. And as of 4/10/2015, they refuse.

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(That, by the way, is why I don't fully trust ops guys. Ops guys think "train" = "antediluvian freight engine pulling a bunch of unpowered cars." They don't usually think "train" = "16 kW/t continuous power at wheel, and enough initial acceleration to climb 7% grades in regular service." Not that anyone builds 7% lines normally, but the Bernina Railway manages 7% grades in adhesion mode, because that's what modern rolling stock's capable of.)
You should talk to more ops guys before painting with broad brushes. They're not all like that. A lot of them?...oh hells yeah, a lot of them are like that. I can point to a couple infamously potty-mouthed ones on the RR.net post count leaderboard who'll reinforce that stereotype.

And then there are many others who will take the time to describe in surgical detail why things are done the way they're done, what sucks about it and sticks in their craw as much as it does yours, what many people misinterpret as bad but is actually kinda good, and how managing chaos on a more or less living beast of a network sometimes can't be explained all that well by mathematics alone. And they'll like digging into your numbers, because there's info even they can't get and other perspectives help keep oneself grounded and rounded. Sort of like how baseball SABR-heads and pro scouts ended up assimilating each other's moves after enough years of bashing heads. I can tell you the one Boston Engine Terminal ops guy who posts here on AB is a lot more like that than he is the walking-dinosaur stereotypes.

What's gained by approaching them from a position of bunkered-in mistrust? Conversations never had. Information never exchanged. The same laments over and over again, when really we're just looking at a canvas here and trying to solve some problems.


Alon...you'd be owning this transit advocacy revolution with seven dimensions of zen instead of your usual four or five if this palpable anger and mistrust about the U.S. mainline rail network not being some highlight reel of all-the-best/none-of-the-worst practices from 4 or 5 divergently different countries didn't hang over your writing like a black cloud. I mean that sincerely...as a big fan of your work. This is America. In which Americans are going to have to take an American rail network and--in whatever fits and starts it takes--make it a better American rail network. Not a European rail network, an American rail network. Nobody else is going to do that for us by proxy. The Americans in this, including their clownshoes bueaucracies, are a non-optional engagement. They can...and some should...be slapped around to get with the program. But they can't just be replaced wholesale by superior German imports or cheaper Mexican imports. Or get handed their retirement checks en masse and be told "Go away. Your experience is invalid and I don't trust your kind." The better American rail network in America for Americans is going to require a lot more re-conditioned behavior of incumbent American rail stakeholders than that. Hypnosis, repetition, smacking them with a newspaper when they piss on the carpet, giving them a cookie when they do something good instead of pissing on the carpet. Whatever. It's still a non-optional engagement with people and institutions who have some sort of roots in the present-day shitty U.S. rail network. Can't choose them any more than you can choose family.



OK? We're staring at a canvas, at tools in a tool box. We got shit we want to do before Chelsea starts stagnating from overcongestion. What's MassDOT's next step forward from the starting line?. . .
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:35 AM   #9
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration



Quote:
Originally Posted by Alon
For an analogy, consider Arlington. I think a majority of people here would agree there needs to be transit on the Lexington trail (or maybe Mass Ave, failing that), replacing the 77. I also think a majority of people would agree it's a natural Red Line tie-in. So despite the fact that it's a good extension, there's no point in debating it as a GLX via Porter.
A majority of people HERE. A majority of people in Arlington and Lexington who want to rip up a very popular commuter bike path? Not so much. Keep in mind the Red Line was only going to be underground until right after Arlington Center when it would then run at grade. There is no space for the Red Line and a bike path.

Also you will never replace the 77, ever. Mass Ave as a street relies too much on it as it fills in between Red Line stops. Just look at the 79 which was designed to replace the 77; today the 77 is still one of the busiest routes in the system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley
Not sure what you're referring to. That route's never ever been pegged for a Greenie, unless somebody threw that one out there in the Crazy Transit Pitches thread on a larf. The Red tunnel angles that direction...that's the only place Red can go. Fitchburg Line/Green-Porter doesn't hit Alewife directly, just grazes the general vicinity a 1000 ft. walk from the station entrance. Green-Porter's only 2 outbound trajectories are: fork on the H2O Branch to Watertown Sq., and/or straight ahead on the Fitchburg Line to Waltham. You couldn't even have Red and Green trade places on those potential routings without blowing up the Pfizer building behind Alewife to re-angle tunnels and crap.
The old Bedford Branch (B&M?) split off the Fitchburg right under Alewife Brook Parkway bridge and even the Cambridge Park Pl road on the west flank of Alewife station follows the ROW.

And for the record a high speed trolley was an alternative proposed back in the day for the Arlington extension... however it was one of those not really serious proposals that all those studies have. But before anyone gets ahead of themselves, you think ripping up the bike path for a subway will be unpopular wait until you propose erasing the whole thing by plopping light rail on top.

So getting back to the Green Line...
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:43 AM   #10
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration


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Old 04-10-2015, 06:47 AM   #11
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Hahahahah....
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Old 04-10-2015, 07:29 AM   #12
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Is that orange glow in the distance their server room on fire, or the afterglow of the latest LIRR or NJT forum denizen to be shot out of a cannon into bannination land?
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:08 AM   #13
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Commuter Rail Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Caltrain hasn't bought its rolling stock yet. They're still punching themselves in the face with circuitous debates over platform height.
So? It's an argument they couldn't even begin to have if they needed globally unique orders (or, okay, a piggyback on notoriously high-cost NJ Transit). With a waiver, they can piggyback on a European order, the way Ottawa's O-Train, which has a waiver with time separation, piggybacked on a Deutsche Bahn order to get low-cost Talent DMUs.

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The northside doesn't have an electrification home-base to string off of like the southside. In the priority queue is it going to be easier to start a northside installation from scratch? Or add Fairmount and Worcester wires that together with Providence and RIDOT's intrastate startup to sling together an EMU pool fleet that floats an outright majority of southside ridership and equipment needs. I want all of the above too but that stuff takes time to triage, so...easiest grab for scale is going to be southside-first. You are going to have to put up with something diesel-burning on the northside for however many days >1 it takes to build Rome.
First, it's possible to electrify all at once. In fact, I'd recommend it, since this would allow common maintenance of all rolling stock. The stated reason for running diesels under the Providence Line catenary is that the MBTA would like to be able to substitute any line's trains for any other line's trains. Partial electrification is problematic for that. Also, when nearly everything is electrified, the cost of running the remaining diesels becomes extreme, as on the LIRR - the trains have very low utilization.

Second, I don't know why people think Worcester is the biggest priority. Electrification is most useful for frequent-stop lines. After Fairmount, the biggest South Side priority is actually Franklin. Without counting the benefits of NEC schedule integration, I'd rather have EMUs run on Franklin than on Providence if I could only have one. Once infill becomes a thing, Worcester and the Eastern are both the next priorities, for service to Allston, or Chelsea/Everett.

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Will they have failed at life because "electrify all the things!" didn't churn through the to-do list fast enough to time with when Chelsea needs its radial circulation done now? I don't know. Because future failures of prioritization vs. resources haven't happened yet.
Yes, they will have. Sometimes, rejecting bad plans is necessary to lead to good plans. Zurich got its S-Bahn after rejecting a subway in two separate referenda. And I don't even think it would've been a bad plan - it just would've been more expensive than the city was willing to spend, while the combination of S-Bahn and trams provides the same frequent service with much less concrete pouring.

And Massachusetts, as we all know, will not spend money on transit. It won't even pay for Big Dig mitigation debt itself - it makes the MBTA pay for it.

Sometimes, you have to think outside the commuter rail != urban transit box to get the results you want.

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Getting electrification feeders planted on the northside is a $B project. Raising the Lowell Line underclearances...
Sorry, but it's an excuse. They have overpasses in other countries, too.

M
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eanwhile, here's Chelsea. Here's a canvas. Here's some choices to sort through. Here's 20 years where I need to get something worthwhile done here. Here's a 650 ft. water crossing on old approaches, but mercifully no tunnels. What's a good use of my planning time?
The more-than-$1.3-billion GLX duplication, of course.

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Not sure what you're referring to.
A hypothetical. Something that's not actually proposed, because people who want to see rail in Arlington understand that only the Red Line can provide it.

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OK. And pointing out Euro mainline rolling stock and signaling practices MassDOT has limited (or, close to zero) control over the ops regulations on an American mainline rail network...
...practices that are already changing, and that the FRA has shown willingness to bend given a waiver request. But that can be ignored because... why exactly? Because Caltrain's screwing the platform height compatibility with HSR? That's not relevant to the question of "will the FRA relent if the MBTA asks nicely?" And it's doubly irrelevant to the question of "can the MBTA buy Silverliner Vs?".

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What's the prioritization over time? Lamenting over and over that U.S. mainline practices suck doesn't shuffle that deck any faster. Maybe it should. But in reality it doesn't.
Germany did a major reform in 1994, which led to its recent rail revival.

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The going rate for a 650 ft. double-track water crossing on pre-existing approaches, if that narrows down the comparison search parameters. I'm not saying it ends up worth it, but billionS...no, that's hyperbole. And doesn't belong lumped in the same universe as downtown tunneling costs. Port Authority NY/NJ's jurisdictional boundaries fall mercifully short of the Mystic River watershed for MassDOT to be getting price quotes like that for a river bridge.
I would have thought that more than $200 million for 7 km of light rail on an existing commuter rail ROW, with space for 2 extra tracks (though not for stations), would be hyperbole. And that more than $200 million for reactivating 80 km of unelectrified track without any difficult water crossing, would also be hyperbole. And yet, here Boston is, at $1.3 and $2.2 billion respectively. In one of the recent articles that have been going up about high US construction costs - the one coauthored by David Schleicher on RealClearPolicy - the authors point to both New York and Boston as outliers.

Now, granted, the same problems would hit the NSRL, which is the last piece of commuter rail modernization. But the NSRL has that easy reserved piece of tunnel under the Central Artery, which means costs would be reduced.

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Now...it's almost a given PAR is going to get swallowed and dismembered within 2 years. Norfolk Southern taking the west half of the system (they run on cabs), somebody else TBD taking the east half. If that somebody else is an outfit like Providence & Worcester (cabs)...then that issue is moot and this prohibition can probably be put to rest. But short of paying PAR some ransom to voluntarily go away, they have the right of first refusal and all the legal precedent with the STB to enforce it. And as of 4/10/2015, they refuse.
a) How much does it cost to buy them out and make them go away?

b) Same question, but during dismemberment procedures.

By the way, Caltrain has that same "but we must reserve freight" attitude, on a 3-trains-a-day line that UP would love to abandon. How much freight is there on the Eastern, anyway? The main line's the Western.

Quote:
Alon...you'd be owning this transit advocacy revolution with seven dimensions of zen instead of your usual four or five if this palpable anger and mistrust about the U.S. mainline rail network not being some highlight reel of all-the-best/none-of-the-worst practices from 4 or 5 divergently different countries didn't hang over your writing like a black cloud. I mean that sincerely...as a big fan of your work. This is America. In which Americans are going to have to take an American rail network and--in whatever fits and starts it takes--make it a better American rail network. Not a European rail network, an American rail network. Nobody else is going to do that for us by proxy. The Americans in this, including their clownshoes bueaucracies, are a non-optional engagement. They can...and some should...be slapped around to get with the program. But they can't just be replaced wholesale by superior German imports or cheaper Mexican imports. Or get handed their retirement checks en masse and be told "Go away. Your experience is invalid and I don't trust your kind." The better American rail network in America for Americans is going to require a lot more re-conditioned behavior of incumbent American rail stakeholders than that. Hypnosis, repetition, smacking them with a newspaper when they piss on the carpet, giving them a cookie when they do something good instead of pissing on the carpet. Whatever. It's still a non-optional engagement with people and institutions who have some sort of roots in the present-day shitty U.S. rail network. Can't choose them any more than you can choose family.
That's the problem. When a European country is behind - like, say, all of Eastern Europe - it's not going to say "this is Poland, we can't be like the Germans." UIC and EU regulations and current practices in Western Europe exercise a normative force. There's also enough information exchange - by which I mean Polish engineers going to study in Germany and participating in conferences with German and French engineers, not people arguing on the Internets - that there's a pool of railroad engineers who know both the local situation and the best industry practices in detail.

In the US? nope. Engineers learn basic engineering at school and then they learn on the job at US freight operators, or two-generations-behind-the-times passenger rail operators. Meiji Japan sent people over to the West to learn Western scientific knowledge and apply it in Japan. The US is far too proud to do the same today in areas where it is behind.

The worst, by the way, is not the engineers, but the New York sandhogs, who might just need to be fully replaced with imports. They make extraordinary amounts of money but aren't at all familiar with NATM techniques, and there's circumstantial evidence that they're a big reason New York's so out of whack even by US standards. (Other US cities don't have legacy sandhogs, but New York does because of Water Tunnel 3.)

The engineers are going to have to be retrained, but most people don't need to be replaced, otherwise. Americans aren't stupid. They're capable of doing things right, given the training of how to do it; for two examples, Denver's actually building modern commuter rail, and Northern Virginia is doing TOD right. What Americans are is too insular to want to learn right now.

By the way, Van, I'll stop and I suspect so will F-Line if you want us to take this to another thread.
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:33 AM   #14
Nexis4jersey
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Is that orange glow in the distance their server room on fire, or the afterglow of the latest LIRR or NJT forum denizen to be shot out of a cannon into bannination land?
The site is slowly dying...it needs to sped up though...
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:15 AM   #15
davem
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

All right, stop.

So we electrify every inch of CR, buy euro rolling stock, rebuild the entire signal system so 10 minute headways are achievable, somehow get the produce train to run under wires in the midst of all these passenger ops (because the produse train is really damn important), expand north and south stations to their prewar size, build the n-s link, expand storage and maintence capacity for all these new emus, and put charlie card gates on every platform.


I still don't want to ride the cr. You know why? It doesn't get me where I want to go.


The GLX, and hypothetical BLX, RLX, OLX, and future colors we haven't come up with go into the legacy subway system. They get me into the basements of the buildings I'm going to. They have the potential to have me wait on a short platform for no more than 5 minutes for a train.

Even after all the investment to get our CR system to euro standards (kneecapping freight in the meantime I'm sure, which we do way better over here), it still doesn't take me to where I want to go, and requires a transfer to the still crowded subway system, which now that it hasn't been expanded ALSO doesn't get me where I want to go.

Not to mention your organization before electronics before concrete argument flys out the window with the insane amount of concrete you'd need to get our CR system to euro standards. I'd much rather spend a bit more "duplicating" service over the next century and have noticeable transit improvements within a decade, then spend a bit less overall for an awesome euro CR system that wisks me downtown at lightning speed, only to have to transfer to the shitty subway system tonget to where I need to go, that we have no money to fix because Awesome EMUs!!!




Oh, and the genesis of this conversation was about using existing infrastructure (abandoned tunnels and recently cleared land) to very cheaply tie the SL transitway into the Huntington and Tremont subways, plus get trolleys to Dudley. Its not the 2 billion SL phase 3, and has far more benefits, which was the entire fucking point.
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:45 PM   #16
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by davem View Post
All right, stop.

So we electrify every inch of CR, buy euro rolling stock, rebuild the entire signal system so 10 minute headways are achievable, somehow get the produce train to run under wires in the midst of all these passenger ops (because the produse train is really damn important), expand north and south stations to their prewar size, build the n-s link, expand storage and maintence capacity for all these new emus, and put charlie card gates on every platform.
Actually, you don't expand North and South Stations, because you don't need to; the supposed capacity limit is an artifact of ridiculously long turnaround times. You add access points, like from the bus terminal to the South Station platforms, but you don't add new tracks, because that's pointless, especially if the NSRL exists.

Quote:
I still don't want to ride the cr. You know why? It doesn't get me where I want to go.
Where do you want to go, anyway? Cambridge is a problem, yeah, but that's a problem with anything other than the Red Line; honestly, the Grand Junction would work better as a commuter rail mini-ring than as anything else. But Back Bay and Downtown Boston are commuter rail-served.

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Even after all the investment to get our CR system to euro standards (kneecapping freight in the meantime I'm sure, which we do way better over here)
Better over where than where? The parts of the US where freight is dominant are not New England, but the transcontinental routes. The Eastern Line isn't the Southern Transcon. Conversely, in Sweden, freight rail mode share is actually quite high. Ditto Switzerland and China. Sweden is actually similar to the US in many ways - heavy freight trains carrying bulk goods, low population density, heavily-trafficked main lines in remote territory, a mostly single-track rail network. ETCS assumes that remote areas only have branch lines, and therefore, to keep installation costs down, a special version, called ERTMS Regional, was developed for Sweden's needs, and would be useful on Western American main lines.

That's the essential difference - peripheral and small European countries regard generic Western European practice as normative and obtain modifications tailored to their specific needs, whereas the US sees a single difference and concludes it has nothing to learn. (For example, I've heard multiple Americans tell me that Europe has no double-stacked freight, so it's impossible to use its electrification standards. Well, China runs double-stacked freight under 25 kV catenary, and India is experimenting with same.)

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Not to mention your organization before electronics before concrete argument flys out the window with the insane amount of concrete you'd need to get our CR system to euro standards.
What concrete are you talking about? The NSRL is concrete, but it's fairly simple as far as concrete goes. Duplicating the inner Old Colony Lines is concrete, but it's a few km of double track, hardly a second Big Dig. No new bridges are required, the ROW modifications for catenary are minimal (look to Auckland's electrification project for some guidance), the yards can be reused, and it's possible to use the schedule to avoid running into problems with single-tracking on branches, even at Brandeis. The Grand Junction is very much phase 2 of all of this, or even phase 3, putting the NSRL in phase 2. I guess high platforms involve concrete and need to be done yesterday, but they're cheap.

Quote:
Oh, and the genesis of this conversation was about using existing infrastructure (abandoned tunnels and recently cleared land) to very cheaply tie the SL transitway into the Huntington and Tremont subways, plus get trolleys to Dudley. Its not the 2 billion SL phase 3, and has far more benefits, which was the entire fucking point.
Tremont is an abandoned tunnel, yeah. But there's nothing abandoned that connects the Seaport to the existing Green Line, let alone to Huntington; all of that requires new tunnels, especially if that double-level everywhere-to-everywhere junction is built.
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Old 04-10-2015, 01:12 PM   #17
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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First, it's possible to electrify all at once. In fact, I'd recommend it, since this would allow common maintenance of all rolling stock. The stated reason for running diesels under the Providence Line catenary is that the MBTA would like to be able to substitute any line's trains for any other line's trains. Partial electrification is problematic for that. Also, when nearly everything is electrified, the cost of running the remaining diesels becomes extreme, as on the LIRR - the trains have very low utilization.
All at once? Can you speculate on an EIS + construction schedule for an all-at-once job on that many hundreds of miles of track? With the regulatory red tape that entails? Because the regulatory red tape just can't be waved away by saying "X country does this. You're being dense. Make it so." I want to know what gets us 100% wired the soonest with stopwatch starting on 4/10/2015 that doesn't involve overthrowing the government to make happen.

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Second, I don't know why people think Worcester is the biggest priority. Electrification is most useful for frequent-stop lines. After Fairmount, the biggest South Side priority is actually Franklin. Without counting the benefits of NEC schedule integration, I'd rather have EMUs run on Franklin than on Providence if I could only have one. Once infill becomes a thing, Worcester and the Eastern are both the next priorities, for service to Allston, or Chelsea/Everett.
Why Franklin? Worcester, if they follow through on that Indigo Plan, would have 9 stops inside Route 128: Back Bay, Yawkey, West/Allston, New Balance/Brighton, Newton Corner, Newtonville, West Newton, Auburndale, Riverside. Then the 6 more out to Framingham. Then the 5 more out to Worcester. 20 stops in 44 miles doesn't meet the threshold but 14 in 30 miles (most of the time...sometimes it's 13 when Ruggles is a skip) is?

OK...Franklin. Not sure a straw poll of Joe Local transit rider's going to peg that one nearly as high on the list from their view inside Eastern MA vs. the view outside-in, but I can be talked into that.


Quote:
Yes, they will have. Sometimes, rejecting bad plans is necessary to lead to good plans. Zurich got its S-Bahn after rejecting a subway in two separate referenda. And I don't even think it would've been a bad plan - it just would've been more expensive than the city was willing to spend, while the combination of S-Bahn and trams provides the same frequent service with much less concrete pouring.

And Massachusetts, as we all know, will not spend money on transit. It won't even pay for Big Dig mitigation debt itself - it makes the MBTA pay for it.

Sometimes, you have to think outside the commuter rail != urban transit box to get the results you want.
And this goes to the question of how's one is going to do full-tilt electrification all at once. I just pointed and said "Make it so!", and stuff's not happening as fast I want it to. I've clearly failed. What now?

The second point, about this being Massachusetts. How does one take the Massachusetts out of Massachusetts and make things so? I know you love these borderless comparisons, but all politics is local and that's the anvil we have to drag around. Now, somebody in these first-world countries who do the things you say we should do clearly conditioned the behavior of their local politicians well and probably put in their hard time dragging an anvil around to make it so. It didn't happen overnight. So short of replacing the Legislature with Folgers Crystals and seeing if anyone notices the difference (they would...the Legislature's popularity would be at all-time highs), there is a time component involved to torturing them to join the 21st century. Importing replacement Legislators from overseas is not an option.

I want to know what gets something done with the options we have to start with.

Quote:
...practices that are already changing, and that the FRA has shown willingness to bend given a waiver request. But that can be ignored because... why exactly? Because Caltrain's screwing the platform height compatibility with HSR? That's not relevant to the question of "will the FRA relent if the MBTA asks nicely?" And it's doubly irrelevant to the question of "can the MBTA buy Silverliner Vs?".
The MBTA cannot buy Silverliners without wires to run them on. It does not have an electric facility to maintain them at, nor are all the platforms on the Providence Line itself yet wired up.

All of that is relevant to the question, "Why is this not happening nownownownow." So is what's a waiver in 2015 it takes 4 years from an RFP to get that vehicle on the property, and the FRA is going to revise its regs in 6 months? Spilt milk is spilt. The next opportunity to do good: that's where I need to pounce.

Also...the FRA is changing? They've been asked politely and not-so-politely to do a whole lot of things by a whole lot of people for a whole lot of years. Let's see these new regs first before grading them on how much the times are a-changin'.

Quote:
Germany did a major reform in 1994, which led to its recent rail revival.
OK. And the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can will Washington, D.C. to change ______ to our every satisfaction?

We don't live in a borderless society when it comes to transplanting policy whole-cloth. And nobody's claiming that constriction is in any way a 'feature' of American exceptionalism. It just is what it is when we look around ourselves. And in every country on the globe, ______ is what it is and when things were dealt with somebody worked from a starting point of what local conditions is. Not from a perfect abstraction. It is not useful to say "do what they did there" when that doesn't answer the question of "how do I get the people here to do what they did there, knowing that I have to work with the people here and through people here's problems to get something done."

"Fire Massachusetts. Fire the U.S. rail system. Replace it with somebody else because it's too fucked." isn't an action. It's a riddle.


Quote:
I would have thought that more than $200 million for 7 km of light rail on an existing commuter rail ROW, with space for 2 extra tracks (though not for stations), would be hyperbole. And that more than $200 million for reactivating 80 km of unelectrified track without any difficult water crossing, would also be hyperbole. And yet, here Boston is, at $1.3 and $2.2 billion respectively. In one of the recent articles that have been going up about high US construction costs - the one coauthored by David Schleicher on RealClearPolicy - the authors point to both New York and Boston as outliers.
I wouldn't doubt that. You do realize we had 3 consecutive Speakers of the House leave office in a perp walk and have easy 60/40 odds of that streak going to four before the next statewide election? Corrupt as fuck. Still firmly ensconsed in New York/New Jersey's shadow, but...yeesh.

Now, there probably isn't enough Folgers Crystals to take care of that problem by sundown. So let's say people got mad as hell and changed something? How many election cycles would that take to complete a "fire everyone"? Minimum? And this squares with commuter rail instant-gratification-or-we've-failed timetables....how?


Quote:
a) How much does it cost to buy them out and make them go away?
Infinity doesn't make them go away if they don't want to go away. The rights are conveyed for perpetuity, reinforced by precedent, and subject to Surface Transportation Board adjudication. The feds...Massachusetts cannot trump the feds. No matter how hard it wishes.

Pan Am's privately owned with 2 guys (or 2 guys and one of the guys' sons) the sole shareholders. Closed-books operation. Notoriously frustrating to deal with and hard to predict (though not nearly the passenger-hostile ogre they used to be). No stock = no hostile takeover.

Practically? We won't have to wait. Because Norfolk Southern owns a 50% joint venture of the more valuable west half of the system already, just made a big buy to get itself contiguous in-house access to the Albany area where Pan Am territory starts. In no uncertain terms is going to buy those guys out for the other 50% in under 3 years, because they want a competing intermodal mainline vs. CSX into New England. And their joint venture agreement with Pan Am has performance clauses it can bully Pan Am with and force them to the ops sidelines. Which hurts PAR on the much poorer side of the system they completely control. The owners are aging...they let NS in on those terms knowing it was their retirement package they would be exercising in years not > the high single digits. If the Albany-Ayer, MA half of the system gets swallowed, the Ayer-Portland, scraps of what's left in Boston area, and the very depressed northern Maine lines can't stand on their own. And so both halves get swallowed at once in a tag team: Norfolk Southern + ____.

Now...if the carrier that buys them also doesn't run on cabs...they can keep the exemption for all perpetuity and Massachusetts can't do a thing about it. Root for P&W. They won't be the only one in the mix; someone can always swoop in out of left field and blow everyone away. But they'll be in the mix...and they're good, efficient, and very reasonable to deal with.

Quote:
b) Same question, but during dismemberment procedures.
Search the STB's website for the MassDOT purchase docket of the Conn River Line (Vermonter Route) from Pan Am ("Pan Am Southern" is the joint-PAR/Norfolk Southern business unit) in 2014. All the clauses about freight rights perpetuities are standard-issue for when a state buys a line from a freight carrier. That one would not say a peep about cab signals because that all gets tethered back to the 1976 B&M fire sale and the defunct Interstate Commerce Commission. But that docket is cookie-cutter for outlining the rights and responsibilities of the ex-owner/now-tenant and ex-tenant/now-owner. Minor variations of that template are what you see on most freight lines transacted to state control.

Basically, there's no "throw the bums out because reasons" nuclear clause. But shitheads can be dealt with in ways unattractive to one's bottom line. And even PAR with its checkered historical rep and closed-books ownership doesn't test those limits. CSX and NS for damn sure don't when they're tenants and not the owners.

Quote:
By the way, Caltrain has that same "but we must reserve freight" attitude, on a 3-trains-a-day line that UP would love to abandon. How much freight is there on the Eastern, anyway? The main line's the Western.
Eastern has 2 dailies to Everett Terminal, one by CSX and one by Pan Am (strange historical quirk...they both have rights). Mission-critical, but that peels out right on the other side of the bridge so the overlap is minimal. Salem and Peabody get a tiny local job once or twice a week...midday. It's stable biz, but it's a near-invisible zit re: schedule impact. And the East Boston Branch (junctions in Revere near MA Route 145) is a presently out-of-service stub that serves a big gas tanker terminal near Logan. Almost had a 60-car nightly ethanol start up a couple years ago until community opposition for the terminal's (not the RR's) site mods nixed it. They're holding it because that's not the only potential matchup, but in any permutation: overnight job.

The Mechanicville, NY to Portland, ME mainline is this map: http://www.panamrailways.com/include...arsystemap.jpg. Brown color is the 50/50 "Pan Am Southern" joint with Norfolk Southern. Blue is Pan Am solo. The MBTA overlaps of the mainline are:
-- Fitchburg to Willows Jct., Ayer
-- Lowell Station to Bleachery Jct., Lowell
-- Lowell Jct., Andover to Haverhill

Fitchburg-Ayer is the single busiest segment of freight/T overlap now that CSX is moved out to Worcester. Andover-Lawrence is the single most congested segment of freight/T overlap on the system now that CSX is out west. That's where the Downeaster has the most schedule problems right now. Part of the reason is because all of the Boston-area jobs originate out of Lawrence Yard, the sorting yard where all the Eastern MA locals get re-blocked so cars are arranged in the order of customer served. Same function Framingham serves on the southside.

Brown part of the mainline is where freight's going to explode when they finish their double-stack upgrades currently in engineering. Ayer-Portland also an exploder because that's next in the queue for double-stack and it gets a big surge from Ayer-west's upgrades.

There are currently NO freight customers on the Fitchburg Line east of Willows Jct., Western Route south of Wilmington Jct. (though that might change with GLX construction). Lowell's got moderate-by-Boston standards freight traffic, negligible by "will any passenger trains be meaningfully inconvenienced" real-world standards. Boston Sand & Gravel the biggie and sometimes intermingles with the rush/off-peak shift change...but since that runs nonstop to Dover, NH it's always a step ahead of the nearest passenger train.


This whole cab signal thing really isn't a "we must protect freight at all costs" move. In '76 the T got all of B&M's commuter rail assets/equipment/ops, 300 miles of track on 18 different lines and branches active and inactive. And paid damn near nothing for it because it was a bankruptcy reorg. One of the very few conditions was "please don't crush what little is left of us by making us have to re-equip all of our locomotives". With 39 years of hindsight that is now a trade they make 105 times out of 100 instead of 100 times out of 100. If they got that much haul and that much control and this is the *only* irritant they still live with (and even that might be gone soon enough), they did real good. There wouldn't be an Eastern Route today if that deal hadn't been struck.



Quote:
That's the problem. When a European country is behind - like, say, all of Eastern Europe - it's not going to say "this is Poland, we can't be like the Germans." UIC and EU regulations and current practices in Western Europe exercise a normative force. There's also enough information exchange - by which I mean Polish engineers going to study in Germany and participating in conferences with German and French engineers, not people arguing on the Internets - that there's a pool of railroad engineers who know both the local situation and the best industry practices in detail.
There you go: EU regulations. Since when do EU regulations apply to the United States, Alon?

We do not live in a borderless abstraction. Ideal or not, new regulations have to be forged with some coalition of the willing from within one's own ranks. Deus ex Machina doesn't magically install compulsory EU-like regs here.

How about something useful? Like how do we forge that coalition of the willing who can get the ball rolling in a productive direction. As opposed to the no-follow-thru farce that was the PTC legislation.


Quote:
In the US? nope. Engineers learn basic engineering at school and then they learn on the job at US freight operators, or two-generations-behind-the-times passenger rail operators. Meiji Japan sent people over to the West to learn Western scientific knowledge and apply it in Japan. The US is far too proud to do the same today in areas where it is behind.
There aren't enough bodies to go around to fire every backwards engineer and replace them industry-wide with their superior foreign counterparts. How do we find our coalition of the willing out of that workforce, and change something with them? "Burn it all to the ground and replace...yesterday" isn't an action until somebody amasses the power to make it so.

I'm standing in the middle of a herd of cats here. Shall I ask them who their Supreme Leader is, and if he could do me a solid and make this, this, this, and that so...yesterday, please? Or should I see which ones respond more attentively when I jiggle this strand of yarn around instead of grooming themselves and scheme, "You...you I can do business with."

Quote:
The worst, by the way, is not the engineers, but the New York sandhogs, who might just need to be fully replaced with imports. They make extraordinary amounts of money but aren't at all familiar with NATM techniques, and there's circumstantial evidence that they're a big reason New York's so out of whack even by US standards. (Other US cities don't have legacy sandhogs, but New York does because of Water Tunnel 3.)
This I have nothing but 100% agreement on. And I hope 2nd Ave. Sagas picking up your analysis and waving the bloody shirt of war with it on the front page helps it gain some traction. Full-stop.

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The engineers are going to have to be retrained, but most people don't need to be replaced, otherwise. Americans aren't stupid. They're capable of doing things right, given the training of how to do it; for two examples, Denver's actually building modern commuter rail, and Northern Virginia is doing TOD right. What Americans are is too insular to want to learn right now.
And back to that coalition-of-the-willing thing. . .

So isn't a more productive use of our time ID'ing who makes up that coalition of the willing, and building that coalition. This is what I meant by an American rail system. It's not an American Exceptionalism rail system. It's not the "We're America...our shit smells like unicorn farts" rail system. It's the "like it or not, the Americans are gonna have to do this themselves" rail system, and finishing school abroad isn't going to be automatic enough or available enough for nearly enough for that to be the only answer.

Quote:
By the way, Van, I'll stop and I suspect so will F-Line if you want us to take this to another thread.
Van...and a whole bunch of other people...are having a fun time with this right now. I wouldn't sweat it.
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Old 04-10-2015, 01:32 PM   #18
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
Van...and a whole bunch of other people...are having a fun time with this right now. I wouldn't sweat it.
+1
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Old 04-10-2015, 01:35 PM   #19
Nexis4jersey
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

No one has talked about costs which will likely top 10 billion in Massachusetts $$$..
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Old 04-10-2015, 02:15 PM   #20
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Nexis4jersey View Post
No one has talked about costs which will likely top 10 billion in Massachusetts $$$..
As much as seeing potential new green line extensions would be amazing for greater Boston - this, above all else has me scared. Because knowing the legislature, they'll throw in $10 billion in pork to go along with the spending on it. Not because of anything else.

Oh, and by the way, someone pass the popcorn please.
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