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Old 04-10-2015, 02:28 PM   #21
Shepard
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Alon's DMU-gone-EMU-proposal-cum-NSRL-S-bahn would definitely improve many transit options across the urban area. It would be transformational along Fairmount, Worcester to Riverside, Fitchburg to 128, etc.

The problem to me, though, is that none of this would be GLX territory - different idea, different thread. Of the GLX destinations we've all basically agreed on - Dudley, the Seaport, even Watertown Square - the S-Bahn plan doesn't get close. Meanwhile, to places like Chelsea and the current planned Somerville GLX, these could be done S-Bahn style, but I really wonder whether doing so would be that much cheaper. In both cases the ROW is there, the tie-in to the GL system is (relatively) easy and painless - yes, some new construction required, but it doesn't involve introducing and accommodating an entirely new mode. Plus, major benefit, as Davem mentioned above, the GL takes riders where they want to go. Yes, an S-Bahn style system would have downtown and Back Bay stops - but few and far between. I'll also throw in one other aspect, which may or may not be all that important: the GLX Chelsea could loop around the Airport terminals (personally I'm not sure how useful or redundant exactly that would be... would love to hear thoughts. I know Alon would not approve!)
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Old 04-10-2015, 04:29 PM   #22
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
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?
The construction schedule is "as soon as money becomes available," same as for every other project. When there's money, it's possible to accelerate the construction schedule, and this includes even extremely expensive projects like ARC and ESA. The EIS schedule is also not relevant. There's an EIS for the entire Second Avenue Subway; the limiting factor there is not latency, but the budget.

There are no recent examples of large-scale electrification because the US doesn't electrify and the rest of the first world has already done its major electrification projects, so there's no perfect comparison for latency. But in the past, the PRR electrified its Philadelphia-area commuter lines and then its half of the NEC at a decent pace. Outside the US, there are examples of electrification of lines connected to new high-speed rail (as well as new HSR lines themselves). The latency is a few years, maximum, same as with a decent-size subway or light rail project.

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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?
Franklin has more ridership per unit of length than Worcester does, especially considering that the length should properly be measured starting at Readville.

The situation changes somewhat if Worcester opens infill stations, but do not expect those to get significant ridership without the modernization that I'm proposing that you're poo-poohing. A good indication of how uninterested riders are in traditional US commuter rail: the commuter rail ridership in Far Rockaway and Wakefield in New York, and shared subway-CR stations like Braintree in Boston, is close to zero. The entire Harlem Line has close to zero inbound boardings despite being in a relatively transit-deprived area. Without basic organizational fixes like high all-day frequency and mode-neutral fares, there's no hope of getting significant ridership out of these stations. Electrification would help, but I'd rather have 15-minute craptastic Colorado Railcars with mode-neutral fares than premium-fare hourly EMUs like the ones the LIRR runs.

Franklin, though, has a lot of closely-spaced stations located just outside Route 128, where people ride unmodernized commuter rail since they have no better alternatives. It's similar to the inner Harlem Line between Mount Vernon and White Plains that way, or the South Side LIRR.

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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.

(...)

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.
What you're missing is that every country that modernizes does so with local politicians. In the US, the main sell is costs and benefits. Massachusetts can throw about $6 billion on commuter rail modernization - full electrification, new rolling stock, and NSRL - and get very large reductions in commuter rail travel time as well as direct service from the North Side lines to the CBD and Back Bay.

It's especially useful because of the benefits to suburbanites. In New York State, the problem is that the suburbanites don't really need modernization, because they already have their peak-hour one-seat rides to Midtown, and the few who don't will get them after ESA opens. Modernization might actually hurt them: it means ending the LIRR Main Line's one-way peak service, which means ending peak express service until there's a third track; it means more local and fewer express runs; it means not being guaranteed a seat on outbound peak trains until all the city residents get off in Queens (on inbound peak trains Long Islanders would still get seats). As a result, middle-class Long Islanders and the Republican legislators they elect are hardline opponents of any modernization.

In Boston, the situation is completely different. The North Side gets no service to either the CBD or Back Bay. The rolling stock is so poor that even with infill stops and the elimination of express runs, travel times would go down substantially. There's not enough travel demand from places like Forest Hills and Chelsea to force suburban commuters to stand on outbound peak trips. For communities right next to lines, train noise would go down substantially, and diesel emissions would disappear, and for commuters heading toward Back Bay, the diesel emissions would go away.

The only inconvenience to suburban peak commuters: some park-and-rides would have to be zapped and replaced by stations in built-up areas. The only really critical one is Kingston, which really needs to go, with trains rerouted to Plymouth and extended south to the town's historic center. Elsewhere, such replacements are useful but not critical - how many people are going to reverse-commute to Westborough even if the station is moved to the town center? This contrasts with Long Island, where the second busiest station, Hicksville, needs to have most of its parking lots developed and replaced by buildings and streets with sidewalks. Kingston isn't Hicksville.

So there's your coalition of the willing. For this coalition, modern planning, with the infrastructure-timetable-rolling stock magic triangle, is a benefit and not a drag. You tell people "we'll electrify commuter rail," and they'll shrug. You show them a schedule in which trains do Lowell-North Station in 26 minutes flat and come every half an hour all day, or (with the NSRL) Lowell-South Station in 30 minutes, and they'll suddenly get interested. The reason Switzerland plans things the way it does is precisely the coalition of the willing concept: every big spending project has to be approved by referendum, so the planners make sure to design projects that the voters will agree to tax themselves for. Democracy works, when it's tried.

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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'.
Yes, and in 2012 they announced that they'd come up with changes to allow lighter trains. The flip side of continuing with the beatings until morale improves is that when morale actually shows signs of improvement, the beatings must stop.

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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.
Hey, in New York it's just the one! The real winners are in Illinois, where it's several governors.

But that aside, even in relatively corrupt countries, infrastructure doesn't always suck. Italy, where prime ministers go to jail (or at least would if they weren't exempt for being too old), has low subway construction costs in Milan and Naples. Even Rome, where the archeological findings have led to delays and cost escalations, Line C looks to be $170 million/km.

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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.
At least in the western half of the US, Class IIs are actually easier to deal with than BNSF and UP. Rearranging lines to be passenger-primary is easier when there's little freight, and usually the smaller players can't bully the states into buying their lines at inflated prices, the way CSX bullied Massachusetts with the Worcester Line and New York (or was it Amtrak?) with Empire South. The amounts of money relevant to various intercity rail restoration projects make small freight operators go "yippie!" and Class Is go all extortionary.

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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.
Yeah, so it seems pretty trivial to buy people out (or put in-cab signaling on their locos), especially since Pan Am isn't long for this world. If it's two daily freight trains, with no plans for increasing traffic, I'm tempted to say they should just kick the freight out, which would reduce maintenance costs (freight locos weigh 33 t/axle, FRA-compliant EMUs weigh 17, vanilla noncompliant EMUs weigh like 12) and make it easier to properly cant the track on various curves. I wish people involved in Triboro RX activism in New York understood this - there the traffic is 3 trains per day if I remember correctly, and yet people propose flights of fancy like widening the ROW where it is narrow rather than just kicking those 3 trains out.

This, by the way, contrasts with local service in the Providence area: the P&W runs 8 daily freight trains per direction and plans to increase this to 16.

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There you go: EU regulations. Since when do EU regulations apply to the United States, Alon?
They don't. But they don't apply to South Korea, Russia, or South Africa. They also only partially apply to Switzerland and Norway. And yet, Russia harmonizes its mainline rail practices along EU/UIC lines, with modifications for track and loading gauge: for example, it builds railway platforms of the same height as most of Europe. South Korea, South Africa, and other non-European countries building new signal systems for their trains use ETCS, while China uses a clone called CTCS, with E for European replaced with C for Chinese. China's as chauvinistic and insular as the US, but it's more pragmatic that way. Only Japan keeps developing a different set of systems, and it gets away with that only because it has a vast internal market, outputting thousands of EMU cars per year.

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Van...and a whole bunch of other people...are having a fun time with this right now. I wouldn't sweat it.
You know this forum better than me .
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:21 PM   #23
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
I'll also throw in one other aspect, which may or may not be all that important: the GLX Chelsea could loop around the Airport terminals (personally I'm not sure how useful or redundant exactly that would be... would love to hear thoughts. I know Alon would not approve!)
Indeed, I would not. But not just because it's an airport line! It would also look really awkward on a map. Is it a radial? A circumferential? Or what? There's something to be said for comprehensible service patterns.

The fantasy map I have on my computer has the Urban Ring subway running only from Sullivan to Harvard to JFK-UMass, but there are two possible ways to complete the circle. Both go from Sullivan to Charlestown and from JFK to Southie and the Seaport. In between, one goes downtown, with stops at the North End and Aquarium, so it briefly becomes another radial for Charlestown and Southie. The other remains circumferential, and goes through East Boston instead of the CBD, with stops at Central Square, the existing Airport station, and two of the terminals, curving under the taxiway. Neither is depicted on the map because there's a limit to the crazy, but I do mention them as possibilities.

The problem: both options are awkward, again. The Aquarium option is useful for Charlestown, but that's about it; it also serves the CBD at a less than optimal location. The East Boston option creates a situation in which the Seaport and Southie have better service to East Boston than to the CBD. Water crossings make circumferentials work worse.
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:44 PM   #24
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alon View Post
The construction schedule is "as soon as money becomes available," same as for every other project. When there's money, it's possible to accelerate the construction schedule, and this includes even extremely expensive projects like ARC and ESA. The EIS schedule is also not relevant. There's an EIS for the entire Second Avenue Subway; the limiting factor there is not latency, but the budget.
That's...vague. Comparative numbers? Do they exist for the pace you are suggesting. Is there a number in your head for the pace you are suggesting?

Quote:
There are no recent examples of large-scale electrification because the US doesn't electrify and the rest of the first world has already done its major electrification projects, so there's no perfect comparison for latency. But in the past, the PRR electrified its Philadelphia-area commuter lines and then its half of the NEC at a decent pace. Outside the US, there are examples of electrification of lines connected to new high-speed rail (as well as new HSR lines themselves). The latency is a few years, maximum, same as with a decent-size subway or light rail project.
So...there is no comparable precedent. Because the last time it was attempted was 100 years ago.

That's not useful for informing a conclusion about what time commitment Ħall at once! involves.


Quote:
Franklin has more ridership per unit of length than Worcester does, especially considering that the length should properly be measured starting at Readville.

The situation changes somewhat if Worcester opens infill stations, but do not expect those to get significant ridership without the modernization that I'm proposing that you're poo-poohing. A good indication of how uninterested riders are in traditional US commuter rail: the commuter rail ridership in Far Rockaway and Wakefield in New York, and shared subway-CR stations like Braintree in Boston, is close to zero. The entire Harlem Line has close to zero inbound boardings despite being in a relatively transit-deprived area. Without basic organizational fixes like high all-day frequency and mode-neutral fares, there's no hope of getting significant ridership out of these stations. Electrification would help, but I'd rather have 15-minute craptastic Colorado Railcars with mode-neutral fares than premium-fare hourly EMUs like the ones the LIRR runs.
That's kind of what the Indigo proposal is. 15 min. headways, neutral fares.

Account for the deficiency between that proposal and what improvements you see as the bare minimum. We were dealing in hard numbers a page ago. Why's my quote screen all of a sudden gone to such fuzzier generalities about this stuff? Spell it out for us so I can see what pooh-pooh I shouldn't step in here.


Quote:
Franklin, though, has a lot of closely-spaced stations located just outside Route 128, where people ride unmodernized commuter rail since they have no better alternatives. It's similar to the inner Harlem Line between Mount Vernon and White Plains that way, or the South Side LIRR.
Now we're talking outside 128. A starting spot at Readville and not downtown at a place where there's transfers. Whereas a page ago. . .

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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?
But now we care about Dedham, Westwood, Norwood, and Walpole and not Allston-Brighton and Newton.

Do you see why those of us who live here are having a little trouble following the shifting logic?

Quote:
What you're missing is that every country that modernizes does so with local politicians. In the US, the main sell is costs and benefits. Massachusetts can throw about $6 billion on commuter rail modernization - full electrification, new rolling stock, and NSRL - and get very large reductions in commuter rail travel time as well as direct service from the North Side lines to the CBD and Back Bay.
All at once? For $6B total?

Quote:
It's especially useful because of the benefits to suburbanites. In New York State, the problem is that the suburbanites don't really need modernization, because they already have their peak-hour one-seat rides to Midtown, and the few who don't will get them after ESA opens. Modernization might actually hurt them: it means ending the LIRR Main Line's one-way peak service, which means ending peak express service until there's a third track; it means more local and fewer express runs; it means not being guaranteed a seat on outbound peak trains until all the city residents get off in Queens (on inbound peak trains Long Islanders would still get seats). As a result, middle-class Long Islanders and the Republican legislators they elect are hardline opponents of any modernization.

In Boston, the situation is completely different. The North Side gets no service to either the CBD or Back Bay. The rolling stock is so poor that even with infill stops and the elimination of express runs, travel times would go down substantially. There's not enough travel demand from places like Forest Hills and Chelsea to force suburban commuters to stand on outbound peak trips. For communities right next to lines, train noise would go down substantially, and diesel emissions would disappear, and for commuters heading toward Back Bay, the diesel emissions would go away.
You haven't boarded the Orange Line at Forest Hills lately, have you?

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The only inconvenience to suburban peak commuters: some park-and-rides would have to be zapped and replaced by stations in built-up areas. The only really critical one is Kingston, which really needs to go, with trains rerouted to Plymouth and extended south to the town's historic center. Elsewhere, such replacements are useful but not critical - how many people are going to reverse-commute to Westborough even if the station is moved to the town center? This contrasts with Long Island, where the second busiest station, Hicksville, needs to have most of its parking lots developed and replaced by buildings and streets with sidewalks. Kingston isn't Hicksville.
And now we're talking outside I-495.

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So there's your coalition of the willing. For this coalition, modern planning, with the infrastructure-timetable-rolling stock magic triangle, is a benefit and not a drag. You tell people "we'll electrify commuter rail," and they'll shrug. You show them a schedule in which trains do Lowell-North Station in 26 minutes flat and come every half an hour all day, or (with the NSRL) Lowell-South Station in 30 minutes, and they'll suddenly get interested. The reason Switzerland plans things the way it does is precisely the coalition of the willing concept: every big spending project has to be approved by referendum, so the planners make sure to design projects that the voters will agree to tax themselves for. Democracy works, when it's tried.
I am more confused than ever on who this coalition is because we've jumped about 12 times across the map here CBD, outer neighborhood, 128, trans-128 burbs, I-495, and back again. And still have not gotten to Dave's question..."But the Green Line goes where I need to go and commuter rail doesn't?"


Is there a coalition here, Alon?



Quote:
At least in the western half of the US, Class IIs are actually easier to deal with than BNSF and UP.
Well...God Bless Penn Central. Because when the biggest Class I of 'em all fell the states feasted on every line grab they could get when the corpse was dismembered. Hence, in New England at least, the Class II is the biggest P.I.T.A. left.

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Yeah, so it seems pretty trivial to buy people out (or put in-cab signaling on their locos), especially since Pan Am isn't long for this world. If it's two daily freight trains, with no plans for increasing traffic, I'm tempted to say they should just kick the freight out, which would reduce maintenance costs (freight locos weigh 33 t/axle, FRA-compliant EMUs weigh 17, vanilla noncompliant EMUs weigh like 12) and make it easier to properly cant the track on various curves.
No. Can't. Interstate commerce preemption. When the freight rights are perpetual, it's federal law backed by the STB and reaffirmed by reams of caselaw. Off-limits to kick the buggers out because you want to. You WILL have to nuke something in Washington D.C. from orbit to make that happen, because that's not a state jurisdiction.

You can hand Pan Am a blank check and say "What will it take to make you go away?" And if they don't name a price in return, that's it. The end. U.S. Supreme Court's the only one who can make that so.

Quote:
I wish people involved in Triboro RX activism in New York understood this - there the traffic is 3 trains per day if I remember correctly, and yet people propose flights of fancy like widening the ROW where it is narrow rather than just kicking those 3 trains out.
That's why they say it. Because it's illegal at the federal level. You don't have to like that. But it is...illlegal...at the federal level...to evict a common carrier like that.

Anyway...this is Massachusetts freight. Not the Alameda Corridor. Sure, it kicks in its share for the economy. But...like, "adorably" so. If you're worried about freight conflicts...um, why would you ever be worried about freight conflicts here? Except for that problematic Andover-Lawrence stretch of Haverhill Line that's a little bit tougher nut to crack than the rest because of increasing Portland intermodal, there's so few potential conflicts it just doesn't matter. The only freights that show their faces during the daytime inside I-495 are the tiny handful of short-distance locals that have to serve (and make a profit serving) businesses that aren't open for a graveyard shift. Nearly all of them are pre-existing night-crawlers.

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This, by the way, contrasts with local service in the Providence area: the P&W runs 8 daily freight trains per direction and plans to increase this to 16.
Like I said...root for P&W. Because they staff their trains like they mean it and get in and out of those sidings quick. They have 8 guys hustling cars on a customer's siding where Pan Am can only be arsed to send 2. If they even run at all on that day because they were too short-staffed to be able to find 2 people.

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They don't. But they don't apply to South Korea, Russia, or South Africa. They also only partially apply to Switzerland and Norway. And yet, Russia harmonizes its mainline rail practices along EU/UIC lines, with modifications for track and loading gauge: for example, it builds railway platforms of the same height as most of Europe. South Korea, South Africa, and other non-European countries building new signal systems for their trains use ETCS, while China uses a clone called CTCS, with E for European replaced with C for Chinese. China's as chauvinistic and insular as the US, but it's more pragmatic that way. Only Japan keeps developing a different set of systems, and it gets away with that only because it has a vast internal market, outputting thousands of EMU cars per year.
Of these examples you've cited, only the PTC inanity is non-standardized. We have 1 track gauge. There are exactly 2 platform types: 48 in. level and 8 in. low. And..."BAH GAWD! THAT'S THE FRA'S MUSIC!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!"

This is vague, Alon. There is a lot more vagueness in what's being tossed out here than the specificity of the several posts before.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:54 PM   #25
Nexis4jersey
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Well a few things struck a cord with me Mr Alon...
1. Electrification when done on a large scale overseas is done in Phases.... Busy to lighter lines , its rare for a system to do everything at once. Ive spent enough time on SSC to know that for a fact. Even in the Rich countries things are phased...either over a 5 year period or 10 years... Even if MA or New England had all the money from the get it would style be phased. It would most likely be easier and busier lines vs more complex lines...

2. Your forgetting that with Far Rockaway & Wakefield along with a large chunk of the Suburban network that there's mutiple modes of Transit. Within a 20min walking distance from my House I have 4 Bus Routes and 1 Train line. All Feed into NY , 2 are express and 2 are local...the train is the slowest and service isn't that good offpeak. So I take the Bus along with thousands of others.. Its the same with Far Rockaway which is serviced by the A-Train and a few Express / Local routes which cut the journey in half as opposed to the train. The Buses and Subways are also have that and less then the Rail...and Service is better. With Wakefield and the other Bronx stations, you have an Express Subway service which is only 20mins longer then the train , but more frequent and cheaper. White Plains has a huge Reversing pull on the line hence the higher outbound ridership.

3. 6 Billion? Hahahaha...This is Massachusetts Man...things start at 10 billion and them some...
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:33 PM   #26
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Quote:
Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
That's...vague. Comparative numbers? Do they exist for the pace you are suggesting. Is there a number in your head for the pace you are suggesting?

So...there is no comparable precedent. Because the last time it was attempted was 100 years ago.
Because the US stopped electrifying in the 1930s, yeah. Other countries didn't, and there you do see several hundred km of electrification done within a few years. Hell, you see entire HSR lines built in a few years when they're fully funded. The first phase of the KTX took 7 years, and included 224 km of new HSR track and 418 km of electrification of legacy lines.

Quote:
That's kind of what the Indigo proposal is. 15 min. headways, neutral fares.

Account for the deficiency between that proposal and what improvements you see as the bare minimum. We were dealing in hard numbers a page ago. Why's my quote screen all of a sudden gone to such fuzzier generalities about this stuff? Spell it out for us so I can see what pooh-pooh I shouldn't step in here.
First, just because craptastic equipment every 15 minutes is better than decent equipment every hour doesn't mean the equipment stops being craptastic.

Second, do the Worcester Line plans involve high platforms? Back Bay has low platforms on the Worcester Line, and so do the Newton stations. The gains from high platforms in reduced dwell times are substantial, about half as high as the gains from going from craptastic DMUs to EMUs or from diesel locos to craptastic DMUs. (My understanding is that new platforms will be high but old low ones will not be raised. This is stupid.)

And third, the Worcester plans involve too few infill stations: Allston and Brighton, at not-great locations (but TOD! we swear we'll get right this time even though we haven't even done that at existing underdeveloped stations!), but nothing at BU, or at the location Allston should be (i.e. Harvard Avenue). A Hynes stop would also be nice, but eh.

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Now we're talking outside 128. A starting spot at Readville and not downtown at a place where there's transfers. Whereas a page ago. . .
Huh? The starting spot is downtown. But the starting spot of hanging wires is Readville, because between downtown and Readville, wires preexist.

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But now we care about Dedham, Westwood, Norwood, and Walpole and not Allston-Brighton and Newton.

Do you see why those of us who live here are having a little trouble following the shifting logic?
No, I actually don't. Norwood and Dedham are not New Bedford.

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You haven't boarded the Orange Line at Forest Hills lately, have you?
No, but I've boarded at intermediate points. It's not that crowded.

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And now we're talking outside I-495.

I am more confused than ever on who this coalition is because we've jumped about 12 times across the map here CBD, outer neighborhood, 128, trans-128 burbs, I-495, and back again. And still have not gotten to Dave's question..."But the Green Line goes where I need to go and commuter rail doesn't?"

Is there a coalition here, Alon?
Regional rail is about the entire metro area, which includes all of the above. That's the point of a coalition.

As for Dave's question, well, I lived in Providence, and the Providence Line took me to the CBD and Back Bay just fine. It was very useful for getting to a conference at Hynes, or the bookstore at Prudential, or my bank at Downtown Crossing. Too infrequent and not always reliable, but the problem in the CBD wasn't station spacing. (Please keep track: the station spacing in urban neighborhoods and some inner suburbs is too wide; the Back Bay and South Station coverage is fine.) When my destination was Cambridge I'd need to transfer to the Red Line, but, well, I lived in Providence and not on the Old Colony Lines.

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You can hand Pan Am a blank check and say "What will it take to make you go away?" And if they don't name a price in return, that's it. The end. U.S. Supreme Court's the only one who can make that so.
At least in the Western US, usually the Class IIs do in fact name a price, and the price is reasonable. These are profit-making corporations, not NIMBYs worried that the cows will run dry. (Yes, Pan Am seems to be an exception, but Pan Am won't last forever.)

For Triboro, there's a formal abandonment process. It's not inconceivable - SEPTA seriously considered severing its Reading side from the national network, which suggests to me the MTA could buy CSX's half of Hell Gate Bridge in exchange for trackage rights on Amtrak's half (which requires Amtrak cooperation, but the MTA has something Amtrak wants - namely, the New Haven Line), and then abandon. When I say "there are so few freight trains they can be kicked out" I'm sliding in something: "and this is why the freight operator will be willing to be bought out for a reasonable price."

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Anyway...this is Massachusetts freight. Not the Alameda Corridor. Sure, it kicks in its share for the economy. But...like, "adorably" so. If you're worried about freight conflicts...um, why would you ever be worried about freight conflicts here?
I'm not tooooo worried about freight conflicts, to be honest. But a lot of time, people justify various "we can't do that" responses on "but freight" grounds. It happens on the Caltrain line, even though there there is a guillotine clause allowing Caltrain to kick out UP if it upgrades the corridor (which was intended for BART conversion but could also be used for grade separations using 3% grades to reduce viaduct lengths).

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Of these examples you've cited, only the PTC inanity is non-standardized. We have 1 track gauge. There are exactly 2 platform types: 48 in. level and 8 in. low. And..."BAH GAWD! THAT'S THE FRA'S MUSIC!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!"

This is vague, Alon. There is a lot more vagueness in what's being tossed out here than the specificity of the several posts before.
First, it's not just about systems; it's actually mainly about operating practices. Western European practices are the engineering equivalent of persuasive authority to most of the world. Japan is an exception, but its domestic practices are quite good. The US is also an exception, but it's two generations behind the times. This includes stuff like engineering standards (Europe allows curves turnouts, but AREMA standards don't, leading to a suboptimal station throat design at Transbay Terminal that severely restricts capacity), and operating practices (clockface schedules, short turnarounds at congested terminals, etc.).

Second, re systems, this is about signaling and rolling stock, really. Because the US doesn't use lightly-modified European trains, only large orders, like the M7, are affordable; small ones, like DMUs, result in high-cost and usually low-quality trains.

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Originally Posted by Nexis4jersey View Post
Well a few things struck a cord with me Mr Alon...
If you want to use a title, I have a last name, you know.

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Electrification when done on a large scale overseas is done in Phases.... Busy to lighter lines , its rare for a system to do everything at once. Ive spent enough time on SSC to know that for a fact.
What's SSC?

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Even in the Rich countries things are phased...either over a 5 year period or 10 years... Even if MA or New England had all the money from the get it would style be phased. It would most likely be easier and busier lines vs more complex lines...
I'm all for doing this in 10 years! This is in fact the timeframe I'm thinking of. The reason I think it should be a single project is that it covers the entirety of the regional rail system. This is unlike national electrification projects, which (with the exception of Switzerland) have less than 100% national coverage; going from 65% electrification to 75% can be broken into phases more easily than going from 10% to 100%. Of course 65% -> 75% is a smaller change than 10% -> 100%, but remember that 65% -> 75% is relative to a much larger whole, measured in thousands or tens of thousands of route-km rather than hundreds as on the MBTA. Unfortunately, the only good example of a possible 100% nationwide electrification project for a small country, where it is feasible and desirable to do so in one go, is in Israel, where the transportation minister hates public transit.

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Your forgetting that with Far Rockaway & Wakefield along with a large chunk of the Suburban network that there's mutiple modes of Transit.
I'm not forgetting this at all. The point of my comparison is that Far Rockaway and Wakefield have faster connections to Midtown via commuter rail than via the subway. And yet, commuter rail ridership at both stations is very low. It's especially jarring at Wakefield, since the Mount Vernon stations are all heavily-trafficked.

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6 Billion? Hahahaha...This is Massachusetts Man...things start at 10 billion and them some...
Why not? The quantities in question are about 600 km of electrification, a few km of double track, around 600 cars, high platforms at all stations, and around 4 km of twin large bores through already-cleared soil. Rolling stock shouldn't cost more than comparable New York and Philly orders, stations including high platforms and more were $6 million apiece for Fairmount, and electrification shouldn't cost more than late-1990s NEC electrification (which was 250 km done in one go). The NSRL is the big question mark, but because it'd be right under the Big Dig, there are not going to be any geological surprises.
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Old 04-11-2015, 12:11 AM   #27
Scalziand
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

SSC is Skyscraper City. Here's the infrastructure board:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/forumdisplay.php?f=3631

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Second, do the Worcester Line plans involve high platforms? Back Bay has low platforms on the Worcester Line, and so do the Newton stations.
That's the idea now that CSX is out of Beacon Park yards. The new Yawkee station has high platforms, and the New Balance/West Alston station(s) should have high platforms too when built in a couple years.
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Old 04-11-2015, 09:04 AM   #28
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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That's the idea now that CSX is out of Beacon Park yards. The new Yawkee station has high platforms, and the New Balance/West Alston station(s) should have high platforms too when built in a couple years.
Oh, nice.

But they're not planning to raise the preexisting low platforms in Newton and such, are they? (If they do raise them, they should of course move them to the center, to allow effective double-tracking.)
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Old 04-11-2015, 11:32 AM   #29
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
Second, do the Worcester Line plans involve high platforms? Back Bay has low platforms on the Worcester Line, and so do the Newton stations. The gains from high platforms in reduced dwell times are substantial, about half as high as the gains from going from craptastic DMUs to EMUs or from diesel locos to craptastic DMUs. (My understanding is that new platforms will be high but old low ones will not be raised. This is stupid.)
So far the "plans" are some pretty lines on a map. The whole ROW has to get reconfigured at some point to allow platforming from both tracks (either by building a second side platform or moving the tracks around to support an island configuration), so I can't imagine they aren't going to get raised at some point.

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And third, the Worcester plans involve too few infill stations: Allston and Brighton, at not-great locations (but TOD! we swear we'll get right this time even though we haven't even done that at existing underdeveloped stations!), but nothing at BU, or at the location Allston should be (i.e. Harvard Avenue). A Hynes stop would also be nice, but eh.

Besides that (and reopening Faneuil, which would be really nice in the future), the Allston location has debatable utility. It's not well positioned to serve the Harvard Ave retail district, but it does serve Lower Allston and the Ashford/Pratt/Gardner neighborhoods VERY well, as well as BU West. The fact that it's in the middle of a TOD planners dream is just a benefit. A BU stop by the bridge has been a "plan" for decades, it will happen eventually. Hynes is just impossible because there is literally no room, but it's served well by Back Bay since you can walk indoors all the way to the convention center from there.

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No, but I've boarded at intermediate points. It's not that crowded.
At rush? The OL is pretty close to crush load already most of the day, and with development upon development coming...

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
As for Dave's question, well, I lived in Providence, and the Providence Line took me to the CBD and Back Bay just fine. It was very useful for getting to a conference at Hynes, or the bookstore at Prudential, or my bank at Downtown Crossing. Too infrequent and not always reliable, but the problem in the CBD wasn't station spacing. (Please keep track: the station spacing in urban neighborhoods and some inner suburbs is too wide; the Back Bay and South Station coverage is fine.) When my destination was Cambridge I'd need to transfer to the Red Line, but, well, I lived in Providence and not on the Old Colony Lines.
I never said the CR wasn't good for out-of-towners coming to the city for a specific event. I'm just going to run though my day yesterday:
Walked to get my local Dunkies fix at Barry's Corner. Hopped on the sexy-six to Harvard to pick up my check, then to Central to pick up some graphite before heading to my GF's place at the Harbor Towers. Left and headed to Hynes to do some work. Later I went to Otto on Comm Ave to meet up with my friend, and started to head to the North End. After a few texts we instead headed to Harvard to meet coworkers for drinks. Then... I don't know I think I wound up in a cab. Honestly, when I leave the house, that's a pretty average amount of trips. In the summer the Seaport would be my nighttime destination, and I find myself going out to eat in the South End a lot lately too.

So, Bus (future GL branch) > IB Red > IB Red > OB Blue > IB Blue > OB Orange > OB Green > IB Green > OB Red > Cab(?)
The only real duplicity there is when I was shuttling back and forth roughly paralleling the Worcester Line. But even then, I probably never would have met my friend at Otto because the GL dumps me in front of their door, while a hypothetical Worcester Line stop would require a decent walk. I probably couldn't have done as much either, with all the walking to and from stations, as well as the longer headways even an awesome euro-CR would have. Seaport and South End? Forget about it.

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The NSRL is the big question mark, but because it'd be right under the Big Dig, there are not going to be any geological surprises.
You know what's not a question mark? What lies right next to the Pike retaining wall from Back Bay to the South Bay interchange, because it was all urban-renewal cleared land. Where the GL tunnel that spawned this whole discussion would go.
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Old 04-11-2015, 02:25 PM   #30
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Besides that (and reopening Faneuil, which would be really nice in the future), the Allston location has debatable utility. It's not well positioned to serve the Harvard Ave retail district, but it does serve Lower Allston and the Ashford/Pratt/Gardner neighborhoods VERY well, as well as BU West. The fact that it's in the middle of a TOD planners dream is just a benefit. A BU stop by the bridge has been a "plan" for decades, it will happen eventually. Hynes is just impossible because there is literally no room, but it's served well by Back Bay since you can walk indoors all the way to the convention center from there.
Yeah, the West Station location always looked like a compromise to me - halfway between BU and Harvard Avenue. The problem with relying on TOD there is that BU and Harvard Avenue have development now, whereas the West Station area is planned to have development later, so it's better to build Harvard Avenue first and West Station later. Harvard Avenue is also where the connection to the 66 bus is.

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At rush? The OL is pretty close to crush load already most of the day, and with development upon development coming...
I don't remember. I remember a trip at the shoulders of rush. I never found the Orange Line as crowded as the Red Line. (The Green Line I try to suppress from memory.)

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I never said the CR wasn't good for out-of-towners coming to the city for a specific event. I'm just going to run though my day yesterday...
Most of the region - even most of the population within 128 - is out-of-towners. Take, for example, my trips. I'm about to visit Boston, with the following sequence of locations: airport-(possibly a stop in Cambridge)-Brandeis-Providence. Oh, and my crash space during those Brandeis and Providence visits is in Cambridge or Somerville. Now, Providence is a different city, but Waltham is part of the same built-up area; if the Fitchburg Line didn't suck, I'd be able to easily go between Porter and Brandeis, but instead, we're carpooling.

The point about that coalition of the willing I made to F-Line is precisely this: those commuter rail upgrades aren't just about Boston and Cambridge, but also about Chelsea, Norwood, Waltham, etc. By extension, they're also about people in Boston and Cambridge who visit those suburbs. We're not talking the Wachusett boondoggle here: pretty much nobody from outside Wachusett visits Wachusett, but people from the rest of the inner built-up area do visit Waltham.

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You know what's not a question mark? What lies right next to the Pike retaining wall from Back Bay to the South Bay interchange, because it was all urban-renewal cleared land. Where the GL tunnel that spawned this whole discussion would go.
It's exactly the same kind of question mark as the NSRL: it's a tunnel through well-understood geology. The difference is that the Seaport light rail plan involves a reverse branching operation that reduces capacity into downtown relative to vanilla F-to-Dudley (or F-to-Dudley and vanilla E-Tremont, without the Seaport).
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Old 04-11-2015, 04:30 PM   #31
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Oh, nice.

But they're not planning to raise the preexisting low platforms in Newton and such, are they? (If they do raise them, they should of course move them to the center, to allow effective double-tracking.)
Yes. When CSX moved out to Worcester they voluntarily waived their wide-clearance exemption for all stations east of Framingham in that flurry of dealmaking. All those stops are fair game for full level boarding. And it is the plan to do over those awful Newton stops with first preference for center islands, though none of them have been funded for prelim design.

Back Bay's Worcester platform is only low because when they built the new station in 1987 Conrail was still regularly serving the Southie waterfront with wide-load freight out of Beacon Park, and the Boston Herald's plant with big reels of newsprint. There hasn't been a freight move east of BP in close to 20 years, and Readville Yard via the Franklin Line is now CSX's preferred freight route into Boston so that wide exemption was all voluntarily dropped.


FWIW...the new Worcester Line intermediate stops Framingham-west constructed 2000-02 are each pre-built with ability to go level-boarding by moving one or both of the side platforms back a few feet to plop down a center freight passing track (or, in Framingham's case, dropping the passing track on the grass behind the station). Southborough needs an adjacent bridge widening, but the others are set up for relatively painless mods. It didn't get done right upon build because that was in the bad old days when landlord Conrail was a spiteful beast that didn't bargain in good faith. But 100% level boarding to Worcester on all current and proposed stations is straightforward. They've just got a big ADA backlog east of Framingham to churn through first.



The only other places on the system with a wide-load freight exemption in perpetuity (i.e. one-car mini-highs with retractable platform edge necessary everywhere where passing tracks unavailable) are:

-- Fitchburg Line, Ayer-west (Pan Am/Norfolk Southern mainline with the crush-load intermodal traffic). And that only affects North Leominster, Shirley, and Ayer since Fitchburg station and under-construction Wachusett are already on passenger-only turnouts. All 3 affecteds have plausible workarounds.

-- Haverhill Line north of Wilmington (Pan Am main to Portland). Lawrence already a full-high on a passenger-only turnout. Bradford has plausible turnout options. Ballardvale, Andover, and Haverhill tougher nuts to crack because width is limited, but probably not impossible with a little creativity.

-- Lowell Line (all of it, Somerville to Concord, NH). Lowell and Anderson RTC already level w/passing tracks. Those very profitable daily BS&G sand trains and Everett Terminal freights need it, daily gravel trains go to Nashua, and coal trains go to Bow, NH power plant. Logical reconfig options of varying price tags available at nearly every stop (incl. the vaporware New Hampshire ones). Winchester Ctr. up above town center on a viaduct is the toughest case. Maybe the toughest case on all of these wide-load routes.

-- Franklin Line. Primarily the Walpole-Readville stretch where Readville Yard takes daily wide-loads. Readville station -proper n/a because the freights have turned before hitting the platforms, and the crappy Fairmount-side one is due to be redone as a center island a few hundred feet north before Indigo/DMU service initiates. CSX may be voluntarily waving the exemption on the Franklin south of Walpole because it's outsourcing its microscopic Franklin-area biz onto a tiny shortline RR that runs N-S between Grafton and Franklin only clipping about a mile's worth of T territory (all part of the Worcester/CSX dealmaking flurry).

-- Pu-pu platter of: Framingham Secondary (N-S from Framingham to Mansfield), NEC Mansfield Jct.-Attleboro Jct., and Middleboro Secondary (E-W Attleboro to Middleboro, route of the former Amtrak Cape Codder). n/a for any stations: Foxboro gets a passing track if/when that CR extension happens, Mansfield gets a center Amtrak passing track before its platforms gets raised, Attleboro already has 2 passing tracks, Taunton Depot on South Coast Rail gets a passing track, and there's no other plausible stops current or future because the rest is all unpopulated swamp.

-- Eastern Route to Everett Terminal turnout on east side of Mystic bridge. Too short to impact any stations.


Compared to, say, NJ Transit, the T is in excellent shape for systemwide level boarding at price tag that doesn't much exceed the eat-your-peas of pulling themselves out of a large station maint and handicapped accessibility backlog. It's basically a < 10 list of individual stations that need a little creative brainstorming.
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Old 04-11-2015, 06:00 PM   #32
Alon
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

If the one-car mini-highs have retractable platform edges, why can't they install retractable edges on full-length platforms?

Also, Mansfield shouldn't get any Amtrak passing tracks for decades on end; it's too close to four-track Attleboro to be of any use as an overtake. But this assumes Amtrak engages in integrated planning of infrastructure, rolling stock, and schedule, which it of course does not because of severe Not Invented Here syndrome.

Last edited by Alon; 04-11-2015 at 06:03 PM. Reason: Forgot an important word ("retractable").
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:26 PM   #33
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
If the one-car mini-highs have retractable platform edges, why can't they install retractable edges on full-length platforms?
It's a lot easier to work with the smaller edge on the mini highs, a full length retractable platform could fail much easier and will take considerably longer to retract. Not sure how big of a problem it is, but you also would have to account for clearance issues at curved stations.

Ex: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/01/2...-in-billerica/
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:49 PM   #34
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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If the one-car mini-highs have retractable platform edges, why can't they install retractable edges on full-length platforms?
1. Lateral movement on the freight cars. "Wide" cars aren't really wide...they're longer and/or taller. Bigger-capacity boxcars count as "wide" even though there's not one millimeter of width difference from a small-size boxcar. Wider turning radius makes it verboten if the platform area isn't completely tangent and has any curvature. And the longer/taller stuff obviously has truck suspension designed with wider allowances for lateral sway. Which is going to vary by car-to-car with some cars in the consist swaying more than others by load and center of gravity. Theoretically you could inch an autorack through a tangent, fixed-edge full-high at a slow enough speed that it'll clear. But that's like 2 MPH, so what's the point. At 10 MPH or better there's enough lateral movement to tear out giant chunks of platform edging or induce a derailment. The only over-wide moves you will ever see through a full-high are rare one-off moves like transporting a giant electrical transformer that's too big to fit on a truck (transformer moves have been done before on 100% full-high lines like Plymouth). But those are once-a-decade events that get special escorts and every precaution in the book just like when somebody moves a house across town on the back of a flatbed truck.

2. The mini-high edges are maintenance-intensive and do get smacked around real good even in the retracted position, needing frequent repair and replacement. Moreso on the heavy-traffic intermodal lines; the one at North Leominster on the Fitchburg Line gets the everloving snot kicked out of it by Norfolk Southern and gets a daily inspection for nicks and bruises. There was a recent incident at North Billerica on the Lowell Line (which doesn't get one iota as much wide freight) where the edge--in the down position--collapsed from wear with startled passengers jumping back and narrowly escaping injury. But having them at one car's length means it's only dealing with one car's sway at a time and not the whole consist's. Again, Massachusetts is sitting pretty in that there's only a tiny few that take that level of punishment. As alluded, NJ Transit has so many more intermodal-overlap lines their prospects for systemwide level boarding are orders of magnitude more daunting to implement. This is small-potatoes.

3. They move the edge by just having one guy unlock, flip a manual lever, and re-lock in the upright position. Then the reverse when the train clears. And when it's time to replace the edge, a few guys in a hi-rail truck lifting it quickly in/out of place and using hand tools. Doing that on an 800' full-high platform requires many retracting segments across that length and hope that none of it gets stuck when moving, and either way more human labor or complex and way more maint-intensive automated machinery. And it'll have a much shorter lifespan than the mini-high edges because strikes are so much more frequent across the length of a multi-car platform vs. a one-car. And overall a lot iffier for passenger safety. At those economics it just gets way less expensive to install the passing track all places where a passing track isn't physically impossible from lack of room. You will almost never hit a convergence in the calculations where this starts to look like a good deal vs. carving out the space for a passer.


The other alternative is gauntlet tracks. However, those have their own set of compromises. Maintenance-intensive, higher derailment risk for both freights and passenger, speed penalty (which matters on places like the Lowell Line where the Downeaster and some super-express Haverhill trains are blowing past). NJ Transit has a few of them around full-highs where all other mitigation is impossible. However, it only does them around island full-highs. That way if there's a total "shit happens" derailment through a switch the cars either fall harmlessly away from the platform into the dirt or tear out a chunk of platform overhang and come to a rest propped up against the platform where passengers can jump back 1-2 ft. to safety. On facing plaforms a derailment could tip completely over and strike the opposite platform with a lot of force and injury. Again, these are mainly "shit happens" odds that can never be zeroed-out even with first-world railroad practices (especially when you're talking ultra-high frequencies), so it's a sliding scale of risk. And also how many stations in a row you would need to install a gauntlet. It's obviously more attractive on just that one last stubborn outlier than as a blanket solution or something you have to go to the well on several times.

Gauntlets might be an option on some of the toughest cases (Ballardvale, Andover, for instance). Winchester Center is higher end of the risk scale because it's up on a viaduct above a busy town center and has side platforms that aren't structurally convertible into a center (though, derailed cars falling away from a center means they plunge 30 feet onto a state highway rotary below). Haverhill similar for the viaduct, but not quite as risky as Winchester.

I would say if you get every Lowell station squared through conventional passing tracks and shifting some station locations (it needs it...the station spacing is a little loopy)...and Winchester's that last one you can't solve any other way, that's the time to consider pros/cons of a gauntlet. Just keep in mind the compromises and sliding scale of discomfort level. And that these are the same compromises and discomfort levels first-world rail systems deal with on their gauntlets when factoring liability at "shit happens" probabilities.

Quote:
Also, Mansfield shouldn't get any Amtrak passing tracks for decades on end; it's too close to four-track Attleboro to be of any use as an overtake. But this assumes Amtrak engages in integrated planning of infrastructure, rolling stock, and schedule, which it of course does not because of severe Not Invented Here syndrome.
Meh. It's in the NEC Infrastructure Improvements Master Plan, with T co-signing on the rec. And Amtrak's the party paying for the track work with the T handling the platforms so that was their bag. While it hasn't happened yet, that qualifies as a spilt-milk detail. And not one with a big enough price tag to stick in one's craw for more than a fleeting moment.

But, regardless, if you want to raise those platforms the center track's non-optional for the freights so it's neither here nor there re: Amtrak playing N.I.H. CSX has some lucrative individual customers on a short swath of Mansfield-Attleboro its locals cover, and on the stuff it zigzags east of Attleboro. They're not giving that exemption up, and theoretical payola for the self-satisfaction of making them go away isn't justifiable vs. the trivial expense of building a few hundred feet of passing track in Mansfield. Those locals are a zero on passenger schedule impacts to begin with because CSX does its thing and gets off the mainline quickly.
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:55 PM   #35
Nexis4jersey
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

The Newer EMUs and DMUs can have retractable gangways to bridge the gap between the train and platform. They have them in France and in Korea they have automatic high to low transitioning doors...
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Old 04-11-2015, 08:12 PM   #36
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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Also, Mansfield shouldn't get any Amtrak passing tracks for decades on end; it's too close to four-track Attleboro to be of any use as an overtake.
A moving overtake, of the kind that you can only do with a contiguous extra track, has superior utility to holding trains for 4+ minutes in the comparative middle of nowhere.

There's also no actual drawback to adding the third track - as far as I can tell it's not blocking anything of value we might want to keep and it wouldn't inhibit going back to add a fourth track later, with the possible exception of having to move the station headhouse the only casualties of a third (or fourth) track are grass and parking spaces, and the cost is marginal compared to anything you might want to spend the money on instead.

Unless you can come up with some way that adding more capacity actively harms the ROW, I'm honestly struggling to understand what your problem with the third track is.
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Old 04-11-2015, 08:33 PM   #37
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
A moving overtake, of the kind that you can only do with a contiguous extra track, has superior utility to holding trains for 4+ minutes in the comparative middle of nowhere.

There's also no actual drawback to adding the third track - as far as I can tell it's not blocking anything of value we might want to keep and it wouldn't inhibit going back to add a fourth track later, with the possible exception of having to move the station headhouse the only casualties of a third (or fourth) track are grass and parking spaces, and the cost is marginal compared to anything you might want to spend the money on instead.

Unless you can come up with some way that adding more capacity actively harms the ROW, I'm honestly struggling to understand what your problem with the third track is.
See last post...it's moot because of the freights. Want high platforms at Mansfield, must have the passing track because Mansfield Jct.-Attleboro Jct. is a clearance route for the Framingham-Middleboro freight jog. And it's about 9 figures cheaper to do that than whatever theoretical hush money makes CSX waive its exemption and go away.


Sharon to South Station, south of Attleboro station to Pawtucket...those are non-clearance segments and you can argue till the cows come home about track layouts.
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Old 04-11-2015, 09:31 PM   #38
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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1. Lateral movement on the freight cars...
If the freight operators hit the platforms and foul up the tracks, the MBTA can sue them for damages over maintenance costs and lost revenue. If the schedule's not robust to derailments - which it shouldn't be, because first-world railroads shouldn't plan around frequent derailments - then also for higher operating costs of the commuter rail equivalent of direct-as-needed. Unless there's an agreement somewhere that says it's the MBTA's fault if a freight train derails because it hit an obstacle that's like a foot away from the dynamical envelope, the MBTA has a clear-cut case.

Hell, the reason the Class Is demand unreasonable track separation for intercity rail (UP with California HSR, CSX for Empire West pretend-HSR) is precisely that they don't want to pay damages in case their trains derail and kill passengers. It's part of a railroad culture that will do anything, anything, to avoid proper maintenance. See for examples this and this from the last years of the Milwaukee Road.

The reason I'm pushing this is that the Wachusett station is $23 million, and total project cost is $63 million. It's several times what it cost to build Fairmount Line stations, converting the cost of raising all the platforms from a second-order term (around $400 million at $6 million a pop) to a more significant one, on a par with electrification or new rolling stock.

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Meh. It's in the NEC Infrastructure Improvements Master Plan, with T co-signing on the rec. And Amtrak's the party paying for the track work with the T handling the platforms so that was their bag. While it hasn't happened yet, that qualifies as a spilt-milk detail.
The Master Plan was what made me realize Amtrak was irredeemable; that unwillingness to use smart scheduling to reduce the amount of concrete pouring is a big part of it.

And thankfully, it's not even funded. Amtrak seems to mostly care about Gateway nowadays, anyway. So no, it's not spilled milk. It's a wishlist on a par with the New York Second System.

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
A moving overtake, of the kind that you can only do with a contiguous extra track, has superior utility to holding trains for 4+ minutes in the comparative middle of nowhere.

Unless you can come up with some way that adding more capacity actively harms the ROW, I'm honestly struggling to understand what your problem with the third track is.
It costs money. Amtrak wants to budget $300 million for Providence Line improvements. These unnecessary $300 million projects add up.

In-motion overtakes between Attleboro and Mansfield are useful in only one situation: if intercity trains divert to the Fairmount Line, the second overtake is no longer required. All this assumes 4 tph.

But if intercity trains remain on the Southwest Corridor, it's actually a drag. The issue is that the speed difference between high-speed intercity and regional trains makes Mansfield really awkward for an overtake. The farthest south you can put an overtake location without needing a second overtake in the north is Sharon. If it's at Attleboro, an additional overtake is required around Route 128, and there the stop spacing makes a moving overtake easier. But it the overtake is at Mansfield, there has to be an additional overtake around Hyde Park or Forest Hills, a more constrained location.

Now, if 6 tph are required, then the overtake situation changes completely. Then, in principle it's possible to do three overtakes, at Attleboro, Sharon, and Route 128-Readville. But a three-overtake schedule is too fragile, so there should be complete four-tracking between two of the overtake points; it's also no longer possible to slot South Coast trains in without overtakes. This forces four-tracking from Route 128 north (until just outside Back Bay) and from Attleboro to Sharon, leaving just the Canton viaduct and the Rhode Island trackage two-tracked.

So the issue here is that under some schedules Mansfield should be two-tracked and under others it should be four-tracked, but under none should it be three-tracked. Amtrak wants something that costs money and will have to be redone in the future anyway.
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Old 04-11-2015, 10:28 PM   #39
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
It costs money. Amtrak wants to budget $300 million for Providence Line improvements. These unnecessary $300 million projects add up.
$300 million across a number of disparate projects is absolutely a marginal amount of money when the things that you could be spending money on instead all have high-10 or 11 figure price tags (NSRL, Gateway, plus a bunch of other useless projects with 10 figure price tags like South Coast).

How much is this particular stretch of third track going to cost in a vaccuum? My educated guess is $25 million. Maybe not spending that money gets you $25 million closer to one of the tunnels you need! Where's the other $1.975 billion going to come from, even assuming that you've gotten tunneling costs down to the point that the Link is $2B again and not $6B? And if you can't come up with the rest of the cost of one of these big projects, the alternative is "spend the marginal money or do nothing and lose the money."

Doing nothing isn't an attractive option for me.

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
In-motion overtakes between Attleboro and Mansfield are useful in only one situation: if intercity trains divert to the Fairmount Line, the second overtake is no longer required. All this assumes 4 tph.

But if intercity trains remain on the Southwest Corridor, it's actually a drag. The issue is that the speed difference between high-speed intercity and regional trains makes Mansfield really awkward for an overtake.
I can't tell if 4 tph is referring to medium-speed intercity, HSR, commuter trains, or 4 of each.

But the demand is there to support 6 commuter tph right now. The corridor might even be able to support 8 commuter tph right now, I have no idea how badly the numbers are being deflated by the Providence Line's current abysmal schedule.

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
The farthest south you can put an overtake location without needing a second overtake in the north is Sharon.
As bad as Attleboro and Mansfield are for locations to hold trains, Sharon is orders of magnitude worse.

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
If it's at Attleboro, an additional overtake is required around Route 128, and there the stop spacing makes a moving overtake easier. But it the overtake is at Mansfield, there has to be an additional overtake around Hyde Park or Forest Hills, a more constrained location.
A "more constrained" location that's planned to get four contiguous tracks in the very same document that plans for the third at Mansfield and if I understand the order that Amtrak wants to do these projects in, is going to get its fourth track ahead of the third track further south.

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
Now, if 6 tph are required, then the overtake situation changes completely. Then, in principle it's possible to do three overtakes, at Attleboro, Sharon, and Route 128-Readville. But a three-overtake schedule is too fragile, so there should be complete four-tracking between two of the overtake points; it's also no longer possible to slot South Coast trains in without overtakes. This forces four-tracking from Route 128 north (until just outside Back Bay) and from Attleboro to Sharon, leaving just the Canton viaduct and the Rhode Island trackage two-tracked.

So the issue here is that under some schedules Mansfield should be two-tracked and under others it should be four-tracked, but under none should it be three-tracked. Amtrak wants something that costs money and will have to be redone in the future anyway.
Which brings us back to my original point in that it isn't going to "have to be redone." The design of the third track likely isn't going to (and absolutely shouldn't) preclude a fourth track. Four tracking is going to require that a single track be installed on either side of the existing track pair, and there's no scenario I can imagine that will create a situation where installing the fourth track later is going to require undoing whatever work goes into installing a third track right now.

Honestly, my biggest complaint is that they aren't moving to install four tracks right now. I'll take three and sleep easy knowing that there won't be any problems installing a fourth a later, but would I much prefer to see them four-track right now? Absolutely.
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Old 04-11-2015, 11:26 PM   #40
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Re: Green Line eRconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
$300 million across a number of disparate projects is absolutely a marginal amount of money when the things that you could be spending money on instead all have high-10 or 11 figure price tags (NSRL, Gateway, plus a bunch of other useless projects with 10 figure price tags like South Coast).
Gateway is exhibit A of Amtrak's profligacy and insanity, but that's neither here nor there. NSRL... sure. But in the context of what I think is about a $6 billion project (regionwide around Boston) or a $12 billion project (Boston-Washington HSR, including generous budget contingency), $300 million isn't nothing. It's second-order, but it's not nothing.

Quote:
I can't tell if 4 tph is referring to medium-speed intercity, HSR, commuter trains, or 4 of each.
Each. More specifically, 4 tph HSR, 4 tph Providence trains, 4 tph South Coast trains.

Quote:
But the demand is there to support 6 commuter tph right now. The corridor might even be able to support 8 commuter tph right now, I have no idea how badly the numbers are being deflated by the Providence Line's current abysmal schedule.
About two thirds of people who live in the Providence Line's commute shed and work in Boston already take the Providence Line. The schedule's not so terrible if you're a peak commuter; it's terrible for reverse-peak and off-peak commuters, but they definitionally don't cause capacity crunches. The Providence Line is in many ways one of the least sensitive lines to modernization, because of the wide station spacing; modernization there is about intercity rail as much as about regional rail.

Quote:
A "more constrained" location that's planned to get four contiguous tracks in the very same document that plans for the third at Mansfield and if I understand the order that Amtrak wants to do these projects in, is going to get its fourth track ahead of the third track further south.
That works south of Forest Hills, but along the Southwest Corridor proper, it's not the easiest location, and is best left for later. The point of integrated planning is that it tells you what the priorities are and what's less important.
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