• Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by jonnhrr
 
You have to wonder how trip time to say NYC via a Grand Jct. connection to the Springfield line then over to Springfield and down to New Haven compares with just taking a shuttle from BON to BOS (or Orange Line to BBY) and a Regional from there. I rode the "Inland Route" back in the day from Worcester to Philadelphia and that WOR - NHV part was excruciating. Might be slightly better SPG-NHV now with the improvements. Then when you consider the costs that shuttle bus is looking mighty good.
  by ExCon90
 
There's almost always more than one market to be served. A frequent business traveler with a briefcase might prefer the time saving with a crosstown transfer, but a first-time traveler with luggage and maybe a few kids would likely prefer a one-seat ride at the cost of some additional time. There could very well be demand for both.
  by gokeefe
 
The ideal scenario seems likely to be a cross platform transfer at North Station. No cross town transfer and also avoids any potential for delays in either direction. Boston is also a natural break in the route given the very high turnover a through train would likely experience. I say this with specific reference to the possibility of Northeast Regional service using the Inland Route or some other route via WOR.

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  by jonnhrr
 
ExCon90 wrote: Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:14 pm There's almost always more than one market to be served. A frequent business traveler with a briefcase might prefer the time saving with a crosstown transfer, but a first-time traveler with luggage and maybe a few kids would likely prefer a one-seat ride at the cost of some additional time. There could very well be demand for both.
Something like an airport to hotel/car rental shuttle with lots of luggage space and drivers that help load/unload might work even for people with luggage and kids. But I see your point. Would have to figure out the size of each market
  by MEC407
 
The article states they would have a BON/BOS shuttle bus in addition to rail service on the Grand Junction.
  by ExCon90
 
I'm thinking more of getting luggage and kids from the platform through the station to the bus and then from the bus through the other station to the platform, particularly in rush hour. Could be a hike depending on the layout.
  by charlesriverbranch
 
A bus between North and South Stations is going to be slower than the Orange Line between Back Bay and North Stations much of the time, I think. Traffic in Boston is so bad that you couldn't slow it down any more if you filled the streets with molasses.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:53 am Check out this proposal that has the Downeaster going to Springfield and beyond:

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/in ... aign=19471
Mr. Trainguy et al; this is an OPINION piece by an advocate that for some reason I know not, Railway Age is willing to "give him ink".

He has written other passenger train advocacy pieces that RA has chosen to print.

Railway Age is the industry's trade magazine, and as such is supposed to present the industry position on affairs affecting such. It should be evident that any passenger train operation over the Class I roads that does not pay its full opportunity cost is simply not in the industry's interests.

As more of the industry becomes disciples of "Saint Ewing", passenger trains will represent greater interference than they do today - and definitely more, much more, than they did on A-Day.

This author ought to ring up Mike Schafer or our Otto to see if his material could be included in Passenger Train Journal or Railfan and Railroad.
  by gokeefe
 
As noted upthread I was particularly galled at the thought of run through service which would wrap in the Downeaster or its theoretical successor.

A cross platform transfer at Boston North Station is *by far* the most advantageous choice to connect Maine service with the rest of the national network. The "break" in the route acts as a safety valve in both directions in the event of service disruptions or delays. A high frequency schedule gives passengers confidence in their ability to make a following train in the event they miss their connection.

I am in complete agreement with the idea that transfer via the Orange line is simply too difficult for most intercity travelers. They are a breed apart and not the same type of traveler as your daily commuter. "Buy a Charlie card and take the T" simply isn't a reasonable proposal to them.

Although a shuttle bus (or taxi) between BON and BOS is a long standing Boston tradition that doesn't mean it's a good one. The railroads built routes around this option very early on for a reason.

Cross platform gives you the best of all worlds. Routes that don't skip Boston, low risk of delays from service disruptions, connection to/from Maine, connection to T north side (which could help reduce crowding on Amtrak into BOS) and minimal requirements for new infrastructure.

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Last edited by gokeefe on Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by markhb
 
charlesriverbranch wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:45 am A bus between North and South Stations is going to be slower than the Orange Line between Back Bay and North Stations much of the time, I think. Traffic in Boston is so bad that you couldn't slow it down any more if you filled the streets with molasses.
I'm with ExCon90. The Orange Line transfer is probably best for a lone traveler with a briefcase; for several people with luggage, I would think that South Station with its nicer waiting area and redcaps might be a better choice. But really I think the biggest thing this idea (and I realize it's just someone's idea) brings is enhanced service Boston-Springfield; the Portland and NYC extensions are almost window-dressing.

If we're going to be bringing up wild-eyed POR_NYP pitches, I'll reiterate my own thoughts re: going the 495 route via Lowell and Worcester:
  • It sets a precedent for service between the satellite cities at the rim of the wheel, rather than insisting that all Mass. rail travel must be centered on Boston;
  • Once the train gets to the side platform at Worcester, it has three options for continuing: onto the CSX line to Springfield, south to New London, or the BERy-planned route to Providence. I believe that 2 of those don't require any CSX involvement at all since the P&W goes under their line.
I realize there are drawbacks to that route, including the state of repair of the Worcester Main and a backup move at Ayer (if the train stops there), plus the perception that rim-of-the-wheel services aren't worth running. But I think that if we're going to look at pie-in-the-sky plans it's as worthy as any.
  by Arborwayfan
 
A high frequency schedule gives passengers confidence in their ability to make a following train in the event they miss their connection.
Yes indeed. Only a high frequency can guarantee connections without risking holding up the trains that provide the guaranteed connection.
you couldn't slow it down any more if you filled the streets with molasses
Of course we know this is not literally true, because it has been tried, and it did slow the traffic down more. :wink: But your point is well taken.

On the idea of connecting POR and NYP via Worcester without Boston, conflicting thoughts: On the one hand, taking one or two of five or six daily trains away from the biggest city on their current successful route in order to get a more direct route to a city several hours away would be foolish even if the tracks were already there and already maintained and signaled for 90 mph. On the other hand, Lawrence-Lowell-etc.-Worcester-points beyond to Providence or Springfield would be a good route to have in a future in which a web of frequent trains and easy bus connections covered SE New England; in that future, a running a couple additional Portland trains around the circumference of Greater Boston, or having some Portland trains connect with circumferential trains at Lawrence, or some such, would kind of make sense.
  by gokeefe
 
Allow me to explain it this way ... People who have a real say in how this could be done have made it clear that skipping Boston is not an option. Anything proposing to use Grand Junction should in fact be taken seriously. It's the preferred approach ...

Rim of the wheel is an understandable attempt to simplify but according to the same parties referenced above you loose too much ridership. I would note that I strongly concur with the idea that you can avoid CSX at WOR if you take the PW. That technique has its own issues. GW apparently is quietly proud of the fact that they don't have Amtrak anywhere on their system.

Although CSX seemed impossible a few years ago I think post-EHH there may be a window of opportunity.

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  by David Benton
 
I know there is a preference for locomotive hauled trains , due to grade crossing danger, but DMU's with auto coupling would allow a split just before Boston. They would seem ideal for many of these short Eastern routes that don't have connecting services higher density routes would have.
  by gokeefe
 
The split could just as well take place at the platform in Boston. You are indeed very right that there is a preference for locomotive led trainsets with the NPCU cars being the alternative in the opposite direction. To date this approach has done such a good job protecting passenger and crew safety that I doubt it will ever be abandoned now. This is also another reason why the cross platform transfer is preferred. It avoids mixing pools of equipment for the routes.

Here's a scenario ... Imagine the Inland Route Regionals return. Why not send them all to North Station? Yes there may be drawbridge issues in CT but "who knows" what might happen in the future as those bridges are replaced with increased height clearance. The real question is what happens when the Acela increase services to/from Boston.

Questions such as this and the obvious attendant requirement to serve Boston along with terminal congestion at South Station are very significant reasons why Grand Junction proposals should be taken seriously. Connecting half of an entire regional commuter rail system with an inside the terminal transfer is no joke and a source of very significant potential growth.

In this scenario the Downeaster is just "along for the ride" and not the sole justification for the change. That's a really good position to be in on questions with so many other stakeholders.


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  by BandA
 
With BOS supposedly above capacity (not really; if you activated layover at Beacon Park you could run all Worcester Line trains using perhaps 2 1/2 platforms at BOS with no switching delays). Since BOS is above capacity any new trains such as Inland Regionals would *have* to go to BON, and besides they would be diesel powered.

As for subway transfer BBY-BON, MBTA is supposedly "upgrading" their Charlie Card contactless ticket system in a year or two, making through-ticketing theoretically possible. You could schedule extra orange line shuttle trains. An orange line express track through downtown would be amazing for regular commuters & transferring Amtrak passengers.

Speed on the Grand Junction would probably be slow, but faster than rush hour automobile traffic and should be competitive or better than subway transfer.
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