• Pittsfield/Springfield/Boston East-West Passenger Rail

  • 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

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  by Train60
 
diburning wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:28 am The B&A runs through a lot of nothing. If they decided to stop at any towns along the way, this is what I would think would be up for consideration:

Rochdale
East Brookfield
Brookfield
West Brookfield
Warren
West Warren
Palmer - The Steaming Tender is campaigning hard to bring a train station back to the town, they think it would bring tourist money in.
Wilbraham/Ludlow
The only stop, from your list, that is being considered as part of the current study is Palmer.

Of course nothing prevents them from adding additional stops, someday.
  by The EGE
 
My bet would be East Brookfield, West Brookfield, and Palmer. Palmer is obvious - the single largest population between WOR and SPG, and close to the Pike. The Brookfields and Warrens are tricky because you have five distinct villages (four separate municipalities) on the line, plus three off the line. West Brookfield plus East Brookfield puts all eight villages within a 10-minute drive of a station, and both sites have ample room for parking. But how many stops in Warren and the Brookfield, and where, probably depends more on local politics than what's theoretically ideal.

By point of comparison, by 1959 (just before all local stops were discontinued), most Springfield and Albany trains stopped only at Palmer between Worcester and Springfield. One daily round trip (timed for day trips to Boston) also stopped at Warren, West Brookfield, East Brookfield, and Charlton.

The main intercity stops at that time were South Station, Huntington Avenue/Trinity Place (Back Bay), Newtonville, Framingham, Worcester, Palmer, Springfield, Pittsfield, Chatham, Albany. I would probably swap Newtonville for Wellesley Square, and add Westfield with its state university.
  by BandA
 
The EGE wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:45 pm .....stops ..... probably depends more on local politics than what's theoretically ideal.

.....The main intercity stops at that time [by 1959] were South Station, Huntington Avenue/Trinity Place (Back Bay), Newtonville, Framingham, Worcester, Palmer, Springfield, Pittsfield, Chatham, Albany. I would probably swap Newtonville for Wellesley Square, and add Westfield with its state university.
Getting to Wellesley Square is a disaster at any traffic time. I would choose West Newton as the train station seems to have a large parking lot (Newton just "gave away" their parking lot in Newtonville to greedy developers), and is ~~8 minutes or less by car from 128/I-95. Newtonville was a long distance stop because it was located on the county road which became 128 (prior to 128 moving to it's current alignment about 1953). Auburndale would be even better but there is no likelihood of a parking garage there and too much NIMBY.
  by diburning
 
Train60 wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:03 am
diburning wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:28 am The B&A runs through a lot of nothing. If they decided to stop at any towns along the way, this is what I would think would be up for consideration:

Rochdale
East Brookfield
Brookfield
West Brookfield
Warren
West Warren
Palmer - The Steaming Tender is campaigning hard to bring a train station back to the town, they think it would bring tourist money in.
Wilbraham/Ludlow
The only stop, from your list, that is being considered as part of the current study is Palmer.

Of course nothing prevents them from adding additional stops, someday.
I'm not surprised. I just pretty much listed all of the towns on the line that appeared to have a significant populaton.

However, most if not all of these towns along the line do not have public transportation to begin with, so any ridership originating from those towns are going to be people who decide not to drive. Unless the service has any sort of advantage over driving, or the town has a destination that many people from out of town would like to visit, I highly doubt that any of the residents of these towns would want a stop in their town, let alone ride the train.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Wellesley Sq could have significant local ridership ie walkup or dropoff no parking needed. If there are ever many trains running past there to Springfield and esp. if the Inland Route ever comes back, it would make sense at least to have a to stop in Wellesley Sq at the beginnings and ends of Wellesley College semesters and on weekends -- get the college students on board.
  by BandA
 
Since this would be an MBTA or MassDOT service, you would hope they would be interested in serving commuters, not just running "express service". As for how you would fund the operating deficit, who knows? Assuming the Mass Pike returns to crowded conditions from 495 east, Springfield - Boston service should gather a respectable number of passengers.

So what new stations to service?

1) Oxford RT 56 "Huntoon Parkway" at the Leicester line. Presently home to two transfer stations & on the other side a trucking & heavy trucking company, none of which appear to have track connections and should be able to relocate to nearby empty properties. Other side of rt 56 appears to be residential, people would probably resist eminent domain. Convenient to Auburn area / Mass Pike / RT12 / RT20, with potential future I-90 / 56 interchange. Much better than the fairly sleepy mill village of Rochdale.

Cannot figure out where the historic Charlton station was. Tying in with the RT20 "suicide alley" and I-90 is a head scratcher, and a station in Charlton would be too close to a station in Oxford + a station in Spencer / E. Brookfield.

2) RT49 South Spencer / East Brookfield. Just off of RT9, convenient to the Sturbridge interchange of I-87 / I-90 / RT20. RT49 is a 55MPH connector highway between Sturbridge & Spencer just west of the historic South Spencer. Problem is there is a lot of wetland, and the auto carrier unloading operation. Historic South Spencer area is quite bucolic. If space can be found this would be an EXCELLENT location for a train station, especially next to the auto yard on the west side of rt49. A couple miles west just off RT9, the historic E. Brookfield granite station was destroyed by arson in the 2000s and CSX wanted it removed not restored. But the site is still there and would be low-ish cost but not as attractive as a new station on RT49.

Brookfield, West Brookfield and Warren (and a second station for West Warren) are cute but smaller towns served by RT9 & RT67. Seems like fairly low density, and I imagine even rush hour isn't very intense. Someday the Mass Pike may add a new interchange, that would be a good time for an infill station. Warren has a nice downtown granite station. The slate roof was recently replaced with what looks like fake slate, unfortunately. Probably not much parking.potential

3) Palmer - As mentioned by others, good candidate, with intact station building. As a railroad junction, might someday become a union station once again.

4) Wilbraham/Ludlow - I don't know much about these two, (other than Friendly's Ice Cream is still made in Wilbraham, at least for now), but population density & highway access looks like it would support a commuter station in the Ludlow or East Springfield area.

So, if it was up to me I'd add 4 intermediate stations for normal Commuter Rail trains, but just Palmer for Amtrak Service and "express" MBTA/MassDOT.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Something BandA said made me wonder: Is the idea for this to be a commuter service mostly, or is the idea for it to be a state-sponsored intercity service that MassDot and the T would operate because the already exist and would be more under state control than Amtrak?

Either way, I'm all for more stops (within reason, anyway). Boston-Springfield is a short enough distance that even half a dozen stops wouldn't make it take too long. I'd kind of say any town west of Worcester that wants to build a platform gets a stop. Any little town center with quaint streets of houses is ready-made TOD, and a town might also choose to zone the old derelict mill/scrap yard/warehouse/supermarket/etc. next to the tracks for low-rise apartments and a barebones station. On the other hand, at least at peak periods I'd stop just once or twice or not at all between Worcester and Boston, but I'd set up the eastbound trains to leave Worcester right before a local: passengers for intermediates x platform transfer, the train from Springfield becomes an express and the local follows it. Westbounds would be a little harder to work out, but maybe one could time the Spg train to run express to Worcester and catch up with a local westbound just in time to take on the passengers headed from intermediates to points west of Worcester. Midday I'd make a lot more stops because there are many fewer trains and because I suspect midday pax would be more likely to be travelling between intermediates rather than commuting downtown.
  by MBTA3247
 
BandA wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:10 amCannot figure out where the historic Charlton station was. Tying in with the RT20 "suicide alley" and I-90 is a head scratcher, and a station in Charlton would be too close to a station in Oxford + a station in Spencer / E. Brookfield.
The old station, if there was one (my atlas doesn't show a former station there, but that could be an error), was likely immediately west of the Rt 31 bridge, in the area Google refers to as "Charlton Depot". Several street names there are railroad-related.
  by jaymac
 
BandA wrote: ↑
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:10 am
Cannot figure out where the historic Charlton station was. Tying in with the RT20 "suicide alley" and I-90 is a head scratcher, and a station in Charlton would be too close to a station in Oxford + a station in Spencer / E. Brookfield.
The old station, if there was one (my atlas doesn't show a former station there, but that could be an error), was likely immediately west of the Rt 31 bridge, in the area Google refers to as "Charlton Depot". Several street names there are railroad-related.
http://nashuacitystation.org/station/ma ... /charlton/ should provide some help.
As for intermediate stations east -- or even possibly west -- of Springfield, given the yet-to-be-resolved issues of the costs of double-tracking and costs and complications of universal access/ high-level platforms, regional shuttles to a few intermediate stations might be the better way to go.
  by Safetee
 
Historically csx has not wanted or encouraged passenger service east of springfield. of course if the commonwealth agrees to buy that piece between worcester and springfield for 250 mill or so and csx retrenches to west springfield and selkirk everybody will be feeling good for a few minutes.
  by Hudson2640
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:23 am Something BandA said made me wonder: Is the idea for this to be a commuter service mostly, or is the idea for it to be a state-sponsored intercity service that MassDot and the T would operate because the already exist and would be more under state control than Amtrak?
Best bet would probably be a mixture of both. Have the T run commuter service to Springfield then contract Amtrak to run the rest of the way to Albany. I can see CSX playing ball with Massachusetts for commuter service to Springfield if the state will pay for a second track.

If the goal is to get to Pittsfield, you might as well go all the way to Albany. Amtrak crews in Albany are already qualified on the whole B&A, and Amtrak will have the equipment with the new coaches arriving in Chicago. West of Springfield the speeds are lower and the towns are farther apart. Not ideal for commuter service. Plus choosing Amtrak would force CSX to work with the state.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Here's the latest on Alternatives 4 & 5 from the MBTA website:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/east-west-stud ... 5/download

It would be nice to go all the way to Albany, but asking Amtrak to do so would be a lot simpler. A 3X / day schedule going to Niagara Falls might entice New York to get involved in upgrading through Chatham and the Post Road Branch. Using Amtrak means no need to dicker with New York, they already have quallified crews, and certainly better equipment than what the T has to offer. CSX still is a very possible fly in the ointment for any expansion of service.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I agree about once getting to Pittsfield, you might as well just go to Albany. Again, as I mentioned many times, it might be tough time competitivewise to have frequent passenger trains continue west of Springfield given the fact that there are too many curves along the Boston Line. I think MassDot will probably have to look into running some sort of Thruway Bus from Springfield to Rensellaer and this would be as fast as you can get. It's basically like saying how in California, a person who is traveling from Fresno to San Diego by Amtrak must take that Amcal bus from Bakersfield to LA and then get the Pacific Surfliner there.
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