Minuteman Corridor Transit Possibilities

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Bramdeisroberts
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by Bramdeisroberts » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:44 pm

Build the isolated Light Rail line/GLX up the existing Bikeway ROE and replace the Bikeway with a dedicated, curb-separated bike lane running up Mass Ave from Lexington Center to Arlington Center, and have the light rail run down a Comm Ave-style median ROW from Arlington Center to Alewife Brook Parkway where it would hang a right and follow the Brook to Alewife like the D Line uses the arborway from Fenway to Brookline Village.

That, or build it like the Hunt Valley extension of the Baltimore Light Rail and run the the light rail service on a single-tracked ROW with passing loops in the places where the Minuteman parcel can't accommodate two tracks and a bike lane, prioritizing traffic in the direction of commuter flow during rush hour.

Arlington
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by Arlington » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:54 pm

If surface transit is ever going to return to the bike paths on former Rail ROWs radiating outward from today's rail termini (Fitchburg Cutoff, Minuteman) I think it is much more likely to be a light, narrow, autonomous shuttle carrying 8 to 11 passengers

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Its the ultimate in "Last mile" transit, and unless there's a plan to up-zone and super-densify residential in Arlington or Belmont, it is appropriate to the commuter volumes that you can expect. It'd also be a great technology for running alongside parkways (eg. Mass Ave to Alewife along ABP)
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ceo
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by ceo » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:09 pm

OK, people. Talk of eliminating the Minuteman Bikeway in order to build a light- or heavy-rail transit line is a complete non-starter. The railroad was single-tracked all the way through and I'm far from convinced there's room for two tracks, never mind two tracks and a trail, for any significant part of the distance. So we're talking serious billions of dollars in tunneling and land taking, for a route that doesn't remotely have the population density to support it.

Oh, and if you think the good people of Lexington are going to go for an elevated rail line in their backyards and over their pretty bikeway, I have some news for you.

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BandA
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by BandA » Thu May 02, 2019 1:42 am

Lexington doesn't have the density, but think of the volume of cars on RT 128 and RT 3 that want to go to Cambridge or Boston. And all the cars on RT 2 that hit the brick wall at Alewife. There is enough demand for a transit line, but will people pay $20+/day for parking and transportation?

l008com
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by l008com » Thu May 02, 2019 2:34 am

I feel like 'going out to 128' is sort of it's own topic. All the lines should go out to 128, with big, spacious, never full parking garages. Some lines would be easy to extend, like the GLX up to anderson. Some harder, like the orange line up to reading. Others, like the red line, are essentially impossible. That bike route is simply too valuable to remove. People will want the bike route more than subway, even if there was no cost in converting it.

But think about how much less traffic there would be if all subway lines had big easy to use stations along 128. Stations where the mbta didn't outsource parking management, and instead just started a small division to run their own parking lots.

You know on the subject of the minuteman, another plausible route for the red line extension could be hopping on the CR ROW in Belmont, running in the huge mass central space on the side of the ROW (plenty of room), then veering off on the mass central through waltham and getting to 128 at the rt 20 rotary. That's not going to put you in nearly as good a spot as going up the minuteman. But they'll never get rid of the minuteman. And hopping on the mass central from alewife would actually be very easy to do. Except we'd have surface level third rail street crossings which aren't a thing around these parts. But that would be a great way to get in to the city for people in a large part of the state. Plus I'm sure waltham would be psyched to have it, unlike lexington.
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watervapr
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by watervapr » Thu May 02, 2019 6:15 am

Would't extending HRT out to 128 kind of beg for either express tracks or more widely spaced station stops? It's already almost 30 mins from SS to alewife during rush hour, not sure if I want to stand on a train for 50 minutes. New rolling stock and tighter signal blocks will help a bit, but you're still hampered by the harvard curve for travel times. Some of the track speeds on the red line have been piss poor lately - even without the bunching at rush hour, a couple signal blocks between Kendall and Central are 10mph. The MBTA really needs to place more priority on track maintenance if they want to continued growing ridership.
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l008com
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by l008com » Thu May 02, 2019 6:23 am

I'm no red line expert. In fact I've only ridden it maybe twice in my life. My "expertise" ends with google maps. Regarding travel time, you probably would have fewer stops per mile out in the burbs vs in cambridge. And while it would be slow goings getting all the way from 128 to downtown, its also very slow goings doing that in your car at rush hour.
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octr202
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by octr202 » Thu May 02, 2019 11:19 am

You get high frequency transit service at the 128 belt by converting commuter rail to regional rail - EMUs on high frequencies, sharing the railroad with longer distance trains. Add in the rail link downtown, and you'll probably end up spending something that's not radically different that rapid transit extensions out to 128 plus doing the massive South Station expansion that will be required, AND doing the massive capacity improvements needed on the core of the rapid transit system to handle the added trains and ridership at those stations.

The Commonwealth had a plan in the 1960s-1970s to extend all of the rapid transit lines to 128, but that was back when they also thought that the commuter rail system would go away - not enough commuters past 128 to need service, just let 'em all drive to the 128 park and rides.
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Bramdeisroberts
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by Bramdeisroberts » Thu May 02, 2019 12:32 pm

Exactly. You still build your massive park and rides at 128, but you run DMUs along the CR ROWs into the link tunnels and out the other end of the system, so that when you hop on in Waltham to go downtown, you have only 5 or so stops (Waverly, Belmont, Porter, Union?, North Station) on your Riverside/Dedham/Needham/Westwood-bound train until you're at South Station, with 60+ mph running in between, as opposed to the 12+ stop crawl that you'd have making the same trip via the Red Line.

To keep costs low, electrify only out to 128 or close to it, and run dual-mode hauled traditional passenger consists out to the CR line termini, while they run express/major stations only inside 128 to and from the surface terminals, so that park-and-ride passenger at Route 20/Reading/Andover/Salem now can either hop on the clock-facer to South Station via the Link or take the incoming CR train straight to North Station with only one or two stops in between, with the hope being that segregating inside/outside 128 passenger traffic allows you to optimize your hardware for the types of passenger densities and transit times expected of the different services (think: rapid transit-style seating on the EMUs, traditional 3/2 CR seating on the outer passenger coaches), so as to minimize crowding and maximize capacity.

You're still leaving the Minuteman corridor unserved, but Lexington's loss will be Waltham and Woburn's gain as rapid transit-tier CR service inevitably gentrifies them into Brookline territory. Furthermore, you make further extension of the Green Line into a moot point now that thanks to the link, you have a cheaper option for service expansion that can push passenger volumes that are miles beyond the GL's capacity, at speeds that Rapid Transit can only dream of.

bgl
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by bgl » Fri May 03, 2019 1:08 am

That was the plan at least on the northern side of the Orange - the third express track is now finally being put to use for testing the new rolling stock. I believe the original Red Line plans were always two tracks on the north and the Braintree branches (no room in the ROW for a third?). Google Maps is also saying Alewife to SS as 23 minutes, I would think with the doubling of headway capacity, reduction of dwell times, signal system upgrades, and better acceleration/braking, the new rolling stock will improve that a bit. A 40-50 minute subway ride isn't really that bad. Orange on the South side really doesn't need three tracks, its a pretty short distance to 128 and even out to Needham if it ever goes that far past Westie/VFW. The Blue to Lynn (or Salem) also probably isn't distance enough to really need a third track, no idea if one was ever planned as part of that. Not that a third (or forth) track wouldn't be great everywhere. Also agree that EMU/RER service is probably the best way forward for 128/495 service.

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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by newpylong » Fri May 03, 2019 10:17 am

The Arlington/Lexington/Burlington area (IE everything between the Fitchburg and Lowell lines north of Alewife) is a commuter black hole if you work in Boston. There is plenty of density there to support it, but the infrastructure is gone, it will never happen.

bostontrainguy
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by bostontrainguy » Fri May 03, 2019 10:42 am

octr202 wrote:You get high frequency transit service at the 128 belt by converting commuter rail to regional rail - EMUs on high frequencies, sharing the railroad with longer distance trains.
First real test of this could be the Fairmount Line. Just got to stretch it a little further to 128 or Dedham Corporate.

rethcir
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by rethcir » Fri May 03, 2019 5:24 pm

newpylong wrote:The Arlington/Lexington/Burlington area (IE everything between the Fitchburg and Lowell lines north of Alewife) is a commuter black hole if you work in Boston. There is plenty of density there to support it, but the infrastructure is gone, it will never happen.
Heavy rail El from Riverside to Reading, new EMU CR megastations at Waltham, Woburn and Reading along 128 with intermediate collector garages at Route 2, Route 3/Burlington Mall

RenegadeMonster
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by RenegadeMonster » Sat May 04, 2019 7:20 am

I wouldn't say never. Just not very likely at all at the moment.

A year ago it looked like the south coast commuter rail project would never happen.

It maybe something they want 20 to 40 years from now. Who knows.

neman2
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Post by neman2 » Sat May 04, 2019 12:49 pm

jbvb wrote:The Red line should probably go to Hanscom (more or less) in the Rt. 2 median strip (there's little sense to the current multiple lanes funneling down to 2 at Alewife) and then up 128. Use the existing rest area as the park-n-ride.
That hill going through the rock cut between the retaining walls up to Park Ave is much too steep and narrow for any rail line.

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