Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inland

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Kilo Echo
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Kilo Echo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:40 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:The only two river crossings that point the right direction are the Alexander Hamilton (which carries I-95 over the Harlem River to the Cross Bronx Expressway) and the Triboro Bridge.

There's a reason there's little-to-no commuter bus service into Manhattan from Long Island, Westchester or Connecticut.
Some bus lines use the Macombs Dam Bridge and the Madison Avenue Bridge. The Bee-Line, for example, uses the latter to transport passengers between Westchester County and Manhattan.
Mind the gap

johnpbarlow
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by johnpbarlow » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:24 pm

Arlington, very eloquently put rebuttal. I agree 100% with your analysis and conclusion!

BTW, I don't know how many of you thread participants read any of Fred Frailey's blogs on Trains Magazine on-line but last November he wrote about a very provocative interview he had with Randal O’Toole, self-described passenger train lover, a senior fellow of the Cato Institute (Transportation Analyst) , and author of Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need.

A couple of excerpts relevant to this discussion:
[Frailey] You seem almost as uncharitable towards the short-distance passenger trains. [O'Toole] Amtrak does its best to deceive people about how well these trains do, for example, counting state subsidies as “passenger revenues,” in order to make itself eligible for more subsidies. I wouldn't mind short-distance trains if they worked, but the Cascades, the California service, those trains aren't really doing anything. A lot of money is spent carrying not that many people.
[Frailey] Should the Northeast Corridor be paved over? [O'Toole] No. But be aware that the next technological revolution is not going to be high-speed rail, but driverless cars. Driverless cars are going to do a lot to relieve congestion, in the early stages by 25 percent or more. Eventually, they may double, triple or quadruple highway capacities.
[Frailey] That raises the question, does true high-speed rail have a role anywhere else in the United States? [O'Toole] I don't think it has a role anywhere in the world. High-speed rail has made an inroad into low-speed rail and into buses, but not really affected how much people drive or fly.
[Frailey] One last question. Pretend you’ve just become president of Amtrak. What do you do? [O'Toole] I would first try to contract out operations to private operators. When public transit contracts out bus service, they typically save almost 50 percent on operating costs. I would go after corporate sponsorships, to replace cars and locomotives that are worn out. Let’s have the Amazon Empire Builder, the Microsoft Coast Starlight, the JP Morgan Chase Acela, so that train riders pay only the operating costs.

Then there’s the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak has a $51 billion infrastructure backlog. Most trains on the corridor are commuter trains, and I would insist that the commuter railroads and Amtrak, together, share those infrastructure costs amongst their passengers. The only taxes that I think ought to go to support those trains would be taxes from property owners who benefit from the density that the trains support.
Here's the link to the entire blog: http://cs.trains.com/trn/b/fred-frailey ... rinch.aspx

Ridgefielder
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:30 pm

Kilo Echo wrote:
Ridgefielder wrote:The only two river crossings that point the right direction are the Alexander Hamilton (which carries I-95 over the Harlem River to the Cross Bronx Expressway) and the Triboro Bridge.

There's a reason there's little-to-no commuter bus service into Manhattan from Long Island, Westchester or Connecticut.
Some bus lines use the Macombs Dam Bridge and the Madison Avenue Bridge. The Bee-Line, for example, uses the latter to transport passengers between Westchester County and Manhattan.
The Bee Line operates one commuter route all the way into Manhattan, the BxM4C. That runs down NY 100 from White Plains to the Cross County Parkway, then I-87 through the Bronx; inbounds cross the Macombs Dam Bridge, outbounds the Madison Ave. bridge. It basically replaces the NYC Putnam Division, whose trains used to terminate right by Macombs Dam. It uses the Madison Ave and Macombs Dam bridges but, importantly, it does not run into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Southbound trips go down Fifth Ave and terminate at 26th St.; northbounds originate at 23rd Street and head up Madison to the bridge.

The broader point here is that, from a speed and timekeeping standpoint, a bus is not a great substitute for a train on a Worcester-NYC route. Lower Westchester and the Bronx are a funnel- broad at the top, narrow at the bottom- where Manhattan is. Traffic gets jammed up, and the train gets you around that.

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:56 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:The broader point here is that, from a speed and timekeeping standpoint, a bus is not a great substitute for a train on a Worcester-NYC route.
Speed: A page back I estimated that a re-instated WOR-NYP Inland would take:
4h50 (LSL's 1h15 WOR-SPG + Vermonters' 3h35 SPG-NYP) (if you can find a thru slot)
5h00 for a timed connection to an Acela
5h20 for a timed connection to an NER

Timekeeping: The bus,in not having to make intermediate stops, has some flex in its routing (I-90-84-684/87 vs I-90-91-95/87)

Speed & Timekeeping
So if you padded the bus schedule to achieve 90% On Time, might the 3:15 grow to be 4hrs or 4:15? (still about 20% less time than the train). Bus is *better* than a train WOR-NYC.

Capital Cost
CSX probably wants $50m "just because" before we'd even get to any speed or timekeeping improvements, and I've seen numbers like $350m for what giving Inlands timekeeping priority would cost.

I also addressed that a $350m add-a-lane on the MassPike between Sturbridge (I-84) and Auburn (I-395/290) has (a) a friendly landlord (b) Class 4 speeds (c) toll financing (at least partial) already in place, whereas spending that with CSX has none of these.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be Inlands, but I am saying that WOR-NYC is better by bus now, and under any value-for-money scenario. Rubber tires climb steeper grades and allow straighter running. 55 seat coaches offer labor efficiency and high, convenient frequency. If Mass is throwing money at in-state infrastructure to boost its economy and mobility, widening the MassPike offers a better payback.

Inlands may end up being better for things like WOR-NRO, and probably should have an infill at Palmer to save the Worcester 'burbs the trouble of a drive into the center.
Last edited by Arlington on Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:43 pm

Arlington wrote:^ Which committee? Which study? Link/URL?
https://www.mass.gov/east-west-passenger-rail-study" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I went to the first advisory committee meeting. First Public comment meeting is on March 12 in Springfield.

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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by The EGE » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:56 pm

That bus is only useful for one origin/destination pair: WOR and NYP. It doesn't serve Boston to/from Worcester, Palmer, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, and intermediate stops. It doesn't serve Framingham to/from Palmer, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, and intermediate stops. It doesn't serve Worcester to/from Palmer, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, and intermediate stops. It doesn't serve Palmer to/from Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, and intermediate stops. Etc, etc, etc.

If the bus did try to serve all those points, it would get stuck in traffic in every city center, and it would take far longer than the train. That's the value of the Inland Regional: it can efficiently serve many well-located stations on a single trip, which an intercity bus cannot. It can do so with a reasonably high degree of schedule reliability, and reasonably similar travel times at all hours, which an intercity bus cannot.

In order to have intercity buses match the usefulness of a single Inland Regional train, you'd have to run a fleet of buses with different stopping patterns - and you'd almost certainly have forced transfers with long waits for late connecting buses for many O/D pairs.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:44 am

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is conducting a study to examine the costs, benefits, and investments necessary to implement passenger rail service from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield, with the speed, frequency, and reliability necessary to be a competitive option for travel along this corridor. The study will assess up to six alternatives, which will feature a range of approaches including high speed rail and potential infill stations.

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:46 am

Thing is: while NY & CT and Pioneer valley have population pearls strung along their rail, what is there along CSX between WOR & SPG?

WOR-eastward is probably better served via rail to BOS connections.

WOR-westward seems best served by a mix of Express buses connecting at downtown rail in PVD, SPG, HFD, STM and NYC.

Same for PIT: a natural bus hub.
Last edited by Arlington on Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:48 am

The stops being looked at are Pittsfield, Springfield, Palmer, and the current LSL stops. This is a study with no concrete plans for any operator or any other thing decided. It could be anything from an Amtrak state corridor to an MBTA operated route. The Amtrak rep on the committee strongly recommended considering a Boston-Albany corridor connecting to Empire Service if the intention is for the corridor to extend to Pittsfield. This could provide another pathway for service to Montreal if the Vermonter extension ever fell through.

There are also representatives from Westfield on the committee and Westfield was listed on the map so Westfield may also be a stop being looked at which would make sense as it does have a university.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:52 am

Arlington wrote:Thing is: while NY & CT and Pioneer valley have population pearls strung along their rail, what is there along CSX between WOR & SPG?
The thought seems to be that Palmer would be the Northampton of this line. There is huge enthusiasm for a stop in Palmer and I think there is some thought that some of the same folks that use the Northampton stop (namely Amherst universities) would use the Palmer stop when doing travel to Boston. The Palmer exit is generally the most direct way to UMass and other Amherst schools from the eastern part of the state. You'd probably split the Northampton stop crowd between people driving to either Springfield (or connecting through Springfield from Northampton) and Palmer. (Springfield for Northampton itself and people living generally to the west and Palmer for Amherst area.) I think a base goal of the study is 8 round trips SPG-BOS. I was going to recommend at the public comment maybe splitting these between 4 inland route round trips and 4 BOS-ALB round trips (timed to maximize SPG-BOS round trips.)

Ridgefielder
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Ridgefielder » Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:51 am

Arlington wrote:Thing is: while NY & CT and Pioneer valley have population pearls strung along their rail, what is there along CSX between WOR & SPG?
It's only 40 miles from Worcester to Springfield. It's not like we're talking about crossing hundreds of miles of desert or something.

The gap between Wilmington, DE and Baltimore on the NEC is ~60mi.

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:23 am

Except Wilmington to Baltimore is owned by a friendly landlord and is mostly flat and high-speed running.

Worcester to Springfield is half hilly and curvy, has a private landlord who is looking to be bought off, and is how much single track?

And where I-95 between Baltimore and Wilmington is a traffic a mess, the Mass Pike is mostly open and can be expeditiously and toll-paid upgraded where it is not.

For the record, I am in favor of a Palmer in-fill stop, but not in favor of spending hundreds of millions of dollars just to get a network at parity with what the Mass Pike can do. My position on rail would be all or nothing: either get 110 mi an hour running, or spend the money on the Mass Pike where we know we can do 80 reliably.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Safetee
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Safetee » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:01 pm

The biggest infrastructure problem with increased passenger activity from Springfield to Boston is not the Springfield to Worcester section. That area is a very simple replacement of the second track that got pulled up 30? years ago.

It's Worcester to Boston that's the back breaker.

Worcester is a heavily congested freight and passenger operation already. Adding more passenger trains is not going to make things better. Moving all of CSX intermodal to Selkirk might work, but what is that going to cost?
Framingham is a 19th century village woven into a nasty railroad infrastructure. They've been looking for an economical solution for over a hundred years. A three mile tunnel is probably the best answer for the passenger side, but who wants to pay for it.
South Station Boston is at it's max capability with the south coast trains heading their way. Until they buy and tear down the post office building and build the new track structure required, there's no room left in the shoe. In the meantime, the current best thinking swag for the track work and related facility for the T post Post office take down is a billion dollars and heading upwards.

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:17 pm

A bit of news on Inland (far inland...in Natick)
New Natick Center stationwill be 2 high level side platforms with a central slot for a 3rd track and a new set of crossovers east of the platform.

From F-Line in another forum:
The only part of Worcester that needs tri-tracking is inside-128 where the Pike makes that width impossible. Service really doesn't project dense enough once the Urban Rail trains drop off at Riverside Jct. But they can get by in spite of the Pike by having overtake opportunities every 2 stations: the West Station-Boston Landing passer leftover from Beacon Park, crossovers between Newtonville and West Newton, and crossovers between Auburndale and Riverside Jct.

From there it's maybe a length of passer between Riverside Jct. and Wellesley Farms for traffic-sorting after the Urban Rail trains have turned out to Riverside, this Natick Station passer, re-adapting the Nevins Freight Yard lead track as a passer just west of Framingham Station, and re-adapting the Westborough Freight Yard lead track as a passer between Southborough and Westborough Stations. That'll pretty much do it for layering a full Amtrak schedule on top of Worcester Regional Rail, Framingham short-turns or Fitchburg Secondary locals to Northborough/Clinton, and Riverside Urban Rail.
Which is to say that WOR-BOS is tough and constrained, but solvable for dense, layered service.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by east point » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:03 pm

So WOR <> BOS?BON is going to take a lot of full cross overs and where possible a third track?

If MASS buy WOR - SPG maybe there can be a phased construction plan that will provide the best reduction in passenger minutes over each phase of ~ 10 miles?

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