• Commuter Rail Electrification

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

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

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  by eolesen
 
Sure, it can be done, but that's a design change which would require new testing by FRA. Not impossible but also not a quick and easy / plug & play procurement process.

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  by ElectricTraction
 
bmvguye39 wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 2:45 pmThe only reason I mentioned third rail is because I know its used in the NYC area but also because you cant see it so its a less intrusive solution...
It's more dangerous, requires more substations that require more footprint, it's more expensive, less efficient, need I go on? Third rail makes no sense for FRA heavy rail, it was obsolete by 1914, but GCT and the LIRR already had it installed, so they have kept it. It is unlikely to ever be used again on any FRA heavy rail system except for expansions to the existing LIRR system. The standard for all new electrification, like the Shore Line, Denver RTD, and CalTrain is 25kV overhead wire.
For the amount of people volume on the north shore, I think full electrification is silly and a waste of money. I think you could run 4-6 car DMUs back and forth to Beverly from Nbpt and Rkpt all day long like shuttle trains and have other trains in Beverly go into the city....
North-South Rail Link is going to require electrification of all lines except Greenbush/Old Colony, which don't go through it.
Or consider a more euro style cantenary that is less hardware and less cumbersome in design.
One criticism of the Amtrak Shore Line electrification is that it is over-engineered, but I don't know how much it has to be for the harsher conditions here compared to Europe, or how much could be saved by not over-engineering it, so it's something that should be looked into, although if the $2.4M/mi number can't be hit, I'd suspect overruns, corruption, inefficient work practices, etc, before over-engineering.
CRail wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:16 pmThese on-board power plant streetcars on steroids that current DMU manufacturers are putting out lack the operational flexibility to make sense for any existing commuter service. They're fine for a start up service trying to establish ridership but that's about it.
Those are for non-FRA applications, but they are actually pretty stupid, as anything that is going to get light rail frequency should just be electrified. If they are temporally separated, they can shut the power off before the freight operator gets on the line if the clearance is needed.

FRA compliant DMUs or HMUs are what should be running on the Waterbury Branch, Springfield Line (if not electrified), Ronkonkoma to Greenport, Patchogue to Montauk, Southeast to Wassaic, and other similar low-volume outer branch lines.
Just stringing up wire everywhere is outrageously cost prohibitive. I don't see any reason to do so on any north side lines, especially with low hanging fruits like the Dorchester branch, Needham (as it would set up for potential Orange Line conversion), and Stoughton (which has to be done anyways) still waiting to happen. Step number 0 is to bring the Corridor up to capacity to handle our trains and even that isn't happening at this point. Until that happens, even considering north side electrification is nonsensical (my personal opinion; not intended to imply such discussion is unwelcome here).
You're not wrong in that the North Side isn't the first priority, but the whole system except for Greenbush and Old Colony/Buzzards Bay/Hyannis should be electrified, including South Coast Rail and New Hampshire services, along with the North South Rail Link built. The Old Colony and Greenbush Lines are very marginal for electrification because of the lack of ability to add more frequency due to the single track bottleneck going into South Station and lack of necessity due to being the only lines not part of North-South. Due to low frequency and thus relatively high per-train ridership, they are likely one of the narrow use cases where diesel push-pull equipment actually makes sense, and where operations have to stay as traditional commuter rail and not higher-frequency regional rail like most of the other lines.

Stringing up wire is not "outrageously cost prohibitive" at $2.4M/mi when you factor in the deep decarbonization, energy recovery, much faster acceleration and thus overall commute times, lower maintenance costs for locomotives, lower noise, lower marginal operational costs to add more service, and more fuel cost stability. There just aren't really any more efficient ways to move more people around, and combined with station and track improvements and the North-South link, could significantly increase train ridership, leading to economic growth, and fewer issues pahkin yah cah in Bahstahn.
  by CRail
 
I'm going to pretend that last line isn't there. North side electrification is required for a North/South Rail Link but that already didn't happen. We study it ad nauseam because people like it enough to allow dumping more and more funds into the pockets of these oh so studious firms, but it should've been put in when its corridor was an open wound 20 years ago. At this point, I could be riding a train through this fairy tale and would still not believe it's ever going to happen. I also abhor the governor's tactic of using these studies to pretend terminal expansion isn't necessary. It is. Sort mail somewhere else, and raze the medical facility that should never have been built and is already replaced.
  by ElectricTraction
 
CRail wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 12:36 amI'm going to pretend that last line isn't there.
:-D :-D :-D
North side electrification is required for a North/South Rail Link but that already didn't happen. We study it ad nauseam because people like it enough to allow dumping more and more funds into the pockets of these oh so studious firms, but it should've been put in when its corridor was an open wound 20 years ago. At this point, I could be riding a train through this fairy tale and would still not believe it's ever going to happen. I also abhor the governor's tactic of using these studies to pretend terminal expansion isn't necessary. It is. Sort mail somewhere else, and raze the medical facility that should never have been built and is already replaced.
There are a lot of projects that are decades backlogged, and the few that end up getting built are either ridiculously over their already bloated budgets, or really screwed up, or both. Terminal expansion shouldn't be necessary, but that would require actually building the North/South Rail Link, which would allow for through-running, and frees up capacity at South Station for Amtrak and the Old Colony/Greenbush operations, none of which are that big compared to what's there now. I'm assuming some NEC trains would through-run to Rockland like they do to Richmond, Newport News, and Virginia Beach, but many would still terminate at South Station.
  by BandA
 
Terminal expansion in Boston is needed because that is where many people commute to during the day, and they travel home at night. And there is insufficient yard storage capacity near the terminals. If dwell time at North and South Station is the concern, it can be reduced at much lower cost than building the North-South Rail Link. If you don't build the N-S Rail Link you don't need to electrify the northside, saving more billions. Use the money to expand the Commuter Rail terminals, create coach yards, launch service on the Grand Junction line, build express tracks for the subway lines, and introduce high-platforms at the busiest Express Bus and Silver Line stations.
  by ElectricTraction
 
BandA wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 1:38 amTerminal expansion in Boston is needed because that is where many people commute to during the day, and they travel home at night. And there is insufficient yard storage capacity near the terminals. If dwell time at North and South Station is the concern, it can be reduced at much lower cost than building the North-South Rail Link. If you don't build the N-S Rail Link you don't need to electrify the northside, saving more billions. Use the money to expand the Commuter Rail terminals, create coach yards, launch service on the Grand Junction line, build express tracks for the subway lines, and introduce high-platforms at the busiest Express Bus and Silver Line stations.
Terminal expansion is a waste of money, as NSRL will fix the terminal capacity problem via through-running. Just expanding the terminals alone doesn't make the system work as it needs to, the NRSL and electrification are key components to linking the system together and making it much more useful. The terminal capacity issue is only one small component of NSRL, not even a main selling point, and electrification stands on it's own merits without NRSL anyway, so that's an argument for NRSL, not against, as NRSL would force the issue and get the electrification done, providing significant benefits beyond just the access to NRSL. To look at NRSL only as a terminal capacity project is completely missing virtually the entire purpose of the project, as the capacity enhancements from through-running are just a small side benefit.

If you look at Philly, Boston, and NYC, all have benefitted (Philly), or will benefit from significant through-running. Philly needs to fix the rest of the system, increase service frequency, and restore service on previously abandoned branches, NYC has a laundry list of things it needs to do, and only a small but still significant proportion of service (MN Penn Access to NJT) is actually capable of through running given the proper equipment, and NYP still needs a major capacity improvement, while Boston needs to build the physical infrastructure to be able to do it in electrification and NSRL.
  by CRail
 
North/South Big Dig sequel is a waste of money. The time to put that in passed. We need restored capacity for service expansion and increased frequencies, not billions in spending to reduce the footprint of the status quo.
  by Red Wing
 
I disagree. Look at how revolutionary it was when Philly joined the PRR and Reading sides of their systems. Run through and new city pairs many of which are Gateway Cities . It helps reduce traffic for the subway, less people on the core downtown system. Rail, you don't have to wait for a train to turn around and open up a platform at North or South Station. Cars offering more 1 seat rides and or easier transfers is enough to push more people from cars to public transit.

And to the Old Colony. That whole part of the South Shore have huge populations it will be electrified like everything else (hopefully in my lifetime) if trains move faster you can add more and MASSDOT is already cracking that nut about adding tracks. https://www.ctps.org/data/pdf/studies/h ... oncept.pdf
  by ElectricTraction
 
I love how they mention the triple decker, which we need a lot more of in order to make affordable housing, but that's another discussion for another place.

There is huge potential for NSRL, I think the original concept was that the areas on the north side wouldn't have to transfer to a subway to get to the downtown core that's near South Station, but there is so much more in terms of station combination that open up with zero or one transfers, as well as an entirely new central station.

The Old Colony and Greenbush lines aren't part of the NSRL project, they just end at South Station, but if the single track bottleneck could be double-tracked, that would add a MASSIVE amount of new capacity on that line, and possibly justify electrifying it. Although I don't think capacity is actually an issue, they have 800' platforms on the line, and can run double-decker cars, but more frequency would probably actually attract more riders to the lines, as they currently are limited to an old school commuter rail model by that single track bottleneck shared by the three lines. They seem to have eliminated service to Plymouth, which is a step in the right direction, but they've still got 3 lines sharing a single track bottleneck.
Last edited by CRail on Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed
  by pbj123
 
I have always believed that the N S Rail Link got it fundamentally wrong. A city of 600,000. really doesn't need 4 commuter/ inter-city stations ( North, Central, South Stations and Back Bay), Close North and South Station. Build a true Central Station and a Back Bay type station across the Charles. The T could connect very well with this build.
  by ElectricTraction
 
NSRL replaces North Station, and builds a new South Station under the existing one (which would still be the terminus for most Amtrak traffic). Boston has a fairly limited subway/light rail system, which could be geographically expanded, but NRSL would take a lot of pressure off the core of the system and allow that capacity to be used within the urban area of Boston/Cambridge/etc, with suburban traffic mostly getting where it needs to go on the commuter rail. Further, Boston needs a lot of rail infrastructure to serve as the terminus of the NEC (even with a few trains running through to Rockland), as it's handling the equipment for a lot passengers who get on at points farther south.
Last edited by CRail on Sun Aug 01, 2021 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed
  by octr202
 
Once you have a continuous through-route via the NSRL tunnel, you don't have as huge a penalty for having multiple stations, as the trains just make station stops and keep going.

The benefit to doing an NSRL with multiple stations is that you take a LOT of pressure off the subway system to act as the last mile distribution. Think of anyone who rides a north side line, but is going to a destination near South Station or Back Bay. Getting them a one-seat ride close to their destination reduces the number of passengers crowding the subway system in the central core. Nice added benefit of a faster trip for the commuter with no transfer needed.

Beyond that, there's even near-distance interlining and cross-platform transfer opportunities. The Haverhill line probably wouldn't be through-routed with the Providence Line, but it might be just as easy for someone going to the LMA to just wait at a downtown station for a Providence or Needham or Franklin train stopping at Ruggles, versus transfer to the Orange Line. These very short distance "through-routing" options are where the NSRL delivers the most potential to transform travel in the city.
  by bmvguye39
 
Hopefully the North South Rail Link will continue to die a 'quick' death. Money better spent should be to re-expand North and South Stations back to near their original capacities. The Big Dig was supposed to be the answer to everything as well but it just took the same traffic flow problems and shoved them underground except for a few improvements so another big project is just imagery and politics. Besides, other than Amtrak there isnt really a need for 'thru' service and that could be done through Worcester and Grand Junction into North Station and then up the coast if truly needed. Most living on the North go into the city and back but have no need for the South Shore and vice versa so thru Commuter routes wouldnt be a big draw worthy of tearing up Boston's entire rail infrastructure just to accomodate the NSRL. just my opinion.
  by BandA
 
pbj123 wrote: Sun Aug 01, 2021 7:11 pm I have always believed that the N S Rail Link got it fundamentally wrong. A city of 600,000. really doesn't need 4 commuter/ inter-city stations ( North, Central, South Stations and Back Bay), Close North and South Station. Build a true Central Station and a Back Bay type station across the Charles. The T could connect very well with this build.
BON, BOS, and BBY are pretty busy stations, with BOS pre-pandemic approaching it's wartime traffic levels. Replacing three busy stations with one station would cost billions and would reduce the number of people using public transportation. Would save a few minutes dwell time!

Central is the replacement for the Rowes' Wharf EL station. Heck this NSRL is the replacement for the Atlantic Avenue EL. All that space above the Big Dig, we could build an EL. With a bike path next to it. It would be awesome. Central Station is not important for Commuter Rail or Intercity Rail, but is needed for local "Rapid Transit". Will the subways run through the NSRL? The subway lines are already electrified, albeit DC 600V, so extending a few subway tunnels is easier than wiring the entire Commuter Rail system.
  by ElectricTraction
 
bmvguye39 wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 1:46 pmThe Big Dig was supposed to be the answer to everything as well but it just took the same traffic flow problems and shoved them underground except for a few improvements so another big project is just imagery and politics.
Have you actually ever been there? The Big Dig is a MASSIVE improvement over the ugly, dirty, depressing mess that was there before, and is a beautiful example of how to revitalize part of a city that was mowed over for a highway. The NSRL would be a massive improvement to the entire transportation system in the Boston metro area. NSRL is for the T, Amtrak run-through from Richmond or DC to Rockland is just a positive side effect.
BandA wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 3:51 pmCentral Station is not important for Commuter Rail or Intercity Rail, but is needed for local "Rapid Transit". Will the subways run through the NSRL? The subway lines are already electrified, albeit DC 600V, so extending a few subway tunnels is easier than wiring the entire Commuter Rail system.
NRSL solves North Station not being near where most people want to go, and create a lot of new station pairs, as well as one-seat rides, which would get more people to ride it.
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