• 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: CRail, sery2831

  by mbrproductions
 
Most of the MBTA rail system, except for the Old Colony lines can and should be true regional rail, not just commuter service like it's 1985. It could serve a lot more people's needs with frequent and fast electrified service.
But by how much would ridership increase? And would it justify the massive upfront cost of putting up Catenary and the following annual costs of maintaining it? The "Build It and They Will Come" wishful thinking philosophy is a risky way of justifying expensive infrastructure projects.
That's not at all what you said
Actually, it is what I said, though I could have worded it better, but regardless, let's look at what I said again...
Providence/Stoughton Line Electrification only makes sense if it will cut down on costs of operation, so if Amtrak charges the MBTA an arm and a leg to use their electrification (which they probably would because the MBTA would be utilizing it more than Amtrak by virtue of running more trains, hence using up more power), then it would not be a good move for the MBTA to make.
BUT if Amtrak is jacking up the price of electricity by a factor of several times, then that problem needs to be dealt with
And I agree, but that's not something the Commonwealth or the MBTA have any power or say over as Amtrak is directly owned by the Federal Government.
Have you looked at the price of diesel lately? It's not $0.89 anymore. Accounting for the efficiency of diesel engines, diesel costs several times more than electricity on a per unit basis. I don't know what the per kwh cost of electricity is in bulk, and how that compares to retail pricing after the infrastructure is accounted for, but it's certainly a fraction of what diesel costs.
Diesel may be expensive at the moment, but prices are dropping, granted its not as fast as the prices of Gasoline, but they still aren't nearly what they were a few months ago, and the government certainly won't allow such a key resource that powers essential industries in the country (trucking, freight trains, ships etc.) to remain expensive in the long term.
Providence-Stoughton and Worcester have a lot of density.
Looking at satellite imagery, most of the stations on the Providence Line seem to be surrounded by single family housing, which isn't known for its high density, the only stops outside of Boston that seem to be high density are Attleboro, the future Pawtucket/Central Falls, and of course Providence.
As for the Worcester Line, stops before Framingham outside of Boston appear to have subpar housing density around them at best, with all the stops beyond Framingham (excluding Worcester) having nothing more than a few single family houses around them, and their own park-and-ride lots.
  by scratchyX1
 
https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News ... he-US.html
Fyi, don't be so hopeful of diesel prices dropping. According those I know in the industry,
the light crude that's in most oil fields in north america, is good for gasoline, but not refining into diesel. The best for that, is from the middle east. And, those are starting to deplete.
So, long term, electrification is a good idea.
And also, brightlines decision to run their locomotives on biodiesel makes alot more sense.
Expect more trains to smell of french fries, in the near future.
And now, back to the scheduled program about MBATA.
  by CRail
 
ElectricTraction wrote: Sun Oct 23, 2022 7:40 pm Most of the MBTA rail system, except for the Old Colony lines can and should be true regional rail, not just commuter service like it's 1985. It could serve a lot more people's needs with frequent and fast electrified service.
What is so different between 1985 and 2022? That most people travel at the beginning of the day and early evening isn't some obsolete mentality clung to by out of touch traditionalists just as one number being lower than another number doesn't serve as evidence of that.
I don't know what the per kwh cost of electricity is in bulk, and how that compares to retail pricing after the infrastructure is accounted for, but it's certainly a fraction of what diesel costs.
If you don't know what one thing costs you can't say with any certainty how it compares to another thing, especially when the costs of one of those things encompasses more than just the commodity itself, but the expensive to build and maintain distribution system as well. If operating electric service was that much cheaper than the cost of diesel, Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge wouldn't be traversed by diesel powered buses all day, every day.
  by hxa
 
mbrproductions wrote: Wed Oct 26, 2022 9:35 am But by how much would ridership increase? And would it justify the massive upfront cost of putting up Catenary and the following annual costs of maintaining it? The "Build It and They Will Come" wishful thinking philosophy is a risky way of justifying expensive infrastructure projects.
The cost of putting up / maintaining wayside electrification is marginal compared with right-of-way construction / maintenance. Amtrak's entire New Haven to Boston Main Line was electrified at a cost of $600 million, or $4 million per route mile, almost an order of magntitude lower than new ROW / trackage constructions. For comparison, LIRR's second main line track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma costs $387.2 million. That's $20 million per route mile.

And of course, wayside electrification works well with US railroads' shitty "deferring maintenance until something goes wrong" philosophy: The rusted ex-PRR catenary poles and obsolete motor-generators still support today's high-frequency electric operation on NEC south.
  by rethcir
 
Mbr, come to Newton’s north side sometime. You might be surprised by the density in Newton Corner, Nonantum, West Newton etc on the north side of the pike. Plenty of multi families and rentals. Maybe more than a cursory glance at Google maps plus preconceived notions of the leafier parts of Newton would convey.
  by rethcir
 
What I’m saying is, regional rail on the Worcester line out to 128 makes at least as much sense as (maybe even more sense than) the rapid transit service on the Riverside Line.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Also recall MARC decided to favor diesels given Amtrak's high tariff rates on other carriers for catenary use.
  by west point
 
There was an article couple days ago. Stasted possible diesel shorage especially in the SE US. As well the Mississippi river approaching record low levels may inrease the demad for diesel for trucks and RRs. Those and more diesel per tows that are reduced.
  by BandA
 
Besides the high tarriffs to use the catenary in Amtrak-owned MARC territory that R36 Combine mentioned, I've previously mentioned that I believe electric passenger locomotives are more expensive than diesel locomotives, or at least not cheaper, which you would expect since they should be simpler. Also the MBTA has no electric locomotive facilities, has no agreements with Amtrak to maintain MBTA electric equipment, Boston Engine Terminal is has no catenary nor has the Grand Junction nor would likely clear trains under the bridges east of the Grand Junction. Others have said that EMU units require greater inspection as individual locomotives instead of coaches, and leading EMUs have more high speed issues at grade crossing collisions with cement trucks vs. locomotives do.
  by Rbts Stn
 
west point wrote: Mon Oct 31, 2022 12:18 am There was an article couple days ago. Stasted possible diesel shorage especially in the SE US. As well the Mississippi river approaching record low levels may inrease the demad for diesel for trucks and RRs. Those and more diesel per tows that are reduced.
I have seen a couple reports of this diesel shortage. Something about a 29 day supply or so. Considering the historical supply is around 31 days I'm not sure if these reports are accurate or fear-mongering. My bet is on the latter considering the sources of the "news"
  by mbrproductions
 
We definitely are having an unfortunate problem with Diesel supply at the moment, but the notion that we are going to be completely out of Diesel by Thanksgiving is totally fear-mongering: https://www.verifythis.com/article/news ... 258bbacc55
  by Arborwayfan
 
Ah, the benefits of having someone explain the meaning of a statistic. Thanks!
  by BandA
 
When the cost of diesel doubles, and the truckers park their rigs and water pipes start bursting and the elderly freeze, then there will be plenty of diesel available.
  by ElectricTraction
 
mbrproductions wrote: Wed Oct 26, 2022 9:35 amBut by how much would ridership increase? And would it justify the massive upfront cost of putting up Catenary and the following annual costs of maintaining it? The "Build It and They Will Come" wishful thinking philosophy is a risky way of justifying expensive infrastructure projects.
If done smartly, infrastructure first allows for both a modal shift as well as further growth. It's sorely lacking in this country, and should be used to create sustainable growth and development. The idea that transit is only added when the demand is already there is asinine, as a lot of demand can't grow until the transit is there, so the chicken-and-egg needs to be broken.
Actually, it is what I said, though I could have worded it better, but regardless, let's look at what I said again...
You said two different things.
And I agree, but that's not something the Commonwealth or the MBTA have any power or say over as Amtrak is directly owned by the Federal Government.
Then they need to exert pressure on Amtrak to stop ripping them off. They also own some of the trackage, so they must have some sort of leverage.
Diesel may be expensive at the moment, but prices are dropping, granted its not as fast as the prices of Gasoline, but they still aren't nearly what they were a few months ago, and the government certainly won't allow such a key resource that powers essential industries in the country (trucking, freight trains, ships etc.) to remain expensive in the long term.
HAH! Because the government controls the price of diesel fuel LOL. Also, that post didn't age well in the past couple of weeks, it's back up again.
Looking at satellite imagery, most of the stations on the Providence Line seem to be surrounded by single family housing, which isn't known for its high density, the only stops outside of Boston that seem to be high density are Attleboro, the future Pawtucket/Central Falls, and of course Providence.
As for the Worcester Line, stops before Framingham outside of Boston appear to have subpar housing density around them at best, with all the stops beyond Framingham (excluding Worcester) having nothing more than a few single family houses around them, and their own park-and-ride lots.
There's plenty of multi-family, relatively dense single family, some downtowns, as well as many opportunities to upzone and redevelop at much higher density.
  by ElectricTraction
 
CRail wrote: Wed Oct 26, 2022 9:38 pmWhat is so different between 1985 and 2022? That most people travel at the beginning of the day and early evening isn't some obsolete mentality clung to by out of touch traditionalists just as one number being lower than another number doesn't serve as evidence of that.
More reverse commutation, suburb to suburb travel, off-peak usage, and now hybrid work that has people riding 1-3 days a week and/or commuting from farther distances. There's still a peak, but it's nowhere near as peaky as it was decades ago.
If you don't know what one thing costs you can't say with any certainty how it compares to another thing, especially when the costs of one of those things encompasses more than just the commodity itself, but the expensive to build and maintain distribution system as well. If operating electric service was that much cheaper than the cost of diesel, Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge wouldn't be traversed by diesel powered buses all day, every day.
If you look at the base price of the fuels at the consumer level and account for the drastic difference in efficiency, it's pretty clear that electric is a fraction the cost of diesel. The decision to get rid of the trolley buses was both terrible, and not based on the fuel costs, which surely are multiple times higher on diesel, but the overall cost of maintaining a bespoke and captive fleet.
BandA wrote: Tue Nov 01, 2022 12:33 amBesides the high tarriffs to use the catenary in Amtrak-owned MARC territory that R36 Combine mentioned, I've previously mentioned that I believe electric passenger locomotives are more expensive than diesel locomotives, or at least not cheaper, which you would expect since they should be simpler.
Electrics are unquestionably cheaper over their lifecycle when comparing apples to apples. The problem is that electrics in the US are basically all bespoke designs used by one or two agencies in small numbers, versus semi-standardized designs like the P40/P42 and now the SC-44/ALC-42, so it's an apples to oranges comparison. If the fleet size is large enough, electrics will regain their price competitiveness. The only large fleets today are in NYC, which both has astronomical costs for everything, as well as third rail DC traction which requires truly bespoke designs that drive up costs further.

I'm not sure how much MARC's terrible decision to abandon high-speed electric traction was due to electricity tariffs, and how much it was due to operational laziness of wanting to have everything work on every line combined with the analogous laziness on maintenance programs.
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