• Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

  • 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

  • 224 posts
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 15
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
5 trips is about the most they can get away with under the PTC exemption for dark territory. The only other commuter line in the Northeast (besides the Princeton Dinky, which is a special case) that gets the exemption is the LIRR Greenport Scoot with a similarly light daily schedule. So it's probably going to be track first, lifting the express-only restriction second to add the local Franklin mainline stops after speeds in dark territory get near 60 MPH, then signal system third to uncap the schedule, then layover yard fourth to scale up to the 16 round trips per day specced by the max-build option on the Foxboro feasibility study. And somewhere in the middle there the mini-high at Foxboro gets traded in for a full-high and permanent amenities.

It's almost 1-for-1 the same sequence Cape Flyer is going between Year 1 (slow track), Year 2 (less-slow track, +1 intermediate, and better platform accessibility), and going forward to the point where the remaining intermediates can open and Buzzards Bay gets signalized for a real-deal full commuter schedule. Ultimately it gets Foxboro that approx. $84M price tag for the full-build from the feasibility study much sooner to break it into bite-size bits.

If this goes as smoothly as it has in Bourne...if I'm town of Peabody--who desperately wants commuter rail--I'm following this exact same template to crack the door open to Peabody Square runs on the existing track. Make it as bite-size and non-scary as possible and even a reluctant state can be talked into taking the low-hanging fruit.
  by Komarovsky
I know that these are all extensions on existing lines, but how many more of these low hanging fruit extensions and service increases can be implemented before the T run out of equipment to run? The HSPs and the Rotems don't add any real capacity to the system and as we've seen, fleet reliability and the K-car rebuilds are causing equipment shortages with the current schedule.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Minimal. According to the Foxboro Feasibility Study the full-build with 32 daily trains would require +1 new locomotives and no new coaches. Mainly because it's an extension of Fairmount service and re-use of the existing Fairmount fleet, plus a likely redistribution of train lengths Franklin vs. Foxboro as present overcrowding Walpole-Dedham abates on Franklin letting those long rush hour trains donate a coach here and there to the Foxboro pool. Now, if you're assuming that regular Readville-turning service on Fairmount gets backstopped by DMU's on an Indigo schedule and the Foxboro push-pulls just substitute for a DMU when a F'boro train occupies the slot of one of those 15-minute headways Readville-in...there's no shortages to the rest of the system. In fact...we hope this happens, because if it doesn't that means the T has reneged on its promise to do Indigo headways and Foxboro's 16 round trips per day is all Fairmount's ever gonna get.

The last Buzzards Bay study also projected no coach increases for the full Middleboro schedule extending to terminate in Bourne IF all 6 cars of the rush hour consist were assigned bi-levels (6 being the max for the Old Colony until South Station is expanded because they're stuck on the short platform berths).

If you figure that they (fingers-crossed) stay faithful to their own commuter rail fleet plan and replace all 200 remaining single-levels with bi-levels by 2020-22 that also keeps the coach fleets flat to absorb short extensions of existing lines. It's only really the F40PH-2C and F40PHM-2C loco replacement orders that are going to have to increase because of the additional layover yard trainset storage needs. You have to get to the really big all-new expansions like South Coast Rail and RIDOT buying in for a bigger piece of the pie to run T-contracted intrastate service before the baseline numbers have to move up more than a tick. But that's why we encourage, not discourage, RIDOT...they buy Massachusetts more fleet scale each time they up their share. Of course...it helps if the damn equipment works and isn't strewn in a yard for weeks on end not carrying passengers.
  by The EGE
The key is to pack the extensions with infrastructure upgrades that let them use the existing equipment more efficiently. Plaistow with an expanded layover yard, Wachusett with an expanded layover yard, Nashua with any sort of layover at all (and hopefully some speed increases on the NH Main). T.F. Green and Wickford Junction didn't come into play until Pawtucket layover opened in 2006.

+1 extensions also work pretty smoothly when rush hour service isn't turning there. When the AM departures only have to get to the station from a layover yard - and aren't outbound arrivals - then you just have to make the deadhead a few minutes earlier. Same if your evening rush hour outbounds don't immediately turn to become inbounds. Midday and weekend service is easier when there's more free sets around.

Rhode Island and Forge Park already work like that; Plaistow, Buzzards Bay, and Wachusett will/would as well. Nashua would probably involve actually rescheduling trains since it represents a major length addition to the line. I'm not sure where the proposed Foxboro trains will come from, nor how Peabody service would work.

If this works, maybe we'll see an end to the T only extending commuter rail for megabucks projects. Only two routes - South Coast Rail and Portsmouth - actually require a substantial investment to make possible (and even Taunton might be possible as a low-budget Middleborough fork). Testing out demand with low-budget extensions (that benefit freight work even if passenger service doesn't last) could be done in a lot of places. Kingston, RI is a likely terminus for a few trains once the stimulus work is finished; the only outlay would be reconnecting the Wickford siding to the main at its south end. Cut a deal with the Home Depot in Plaistow to expand their parking lot, and demonstrate to New Hampshire that there's real demand. Throw in a few dollars for culvert rebuilds or whatnot, and P&W would probably be more than happy to run a handful of Worcester trains continue down to Auburn.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
The only infrastructure upgrades the full-build plan would require on the Franklin main are extension of double-track from where it ends at Norwood Central to the foot of Windsor Gardens station (but not through WG), and installation of a universal crossover through the Franklin layover tracks so a rush hour train meet can be staged there during peak when the yard is empty. This is probably also an excuse to cab signal the line, since they have to fund that in order to do southside PTC. The rest is all station ADA, of which Endicott and Windsor Gardens need mini-highs, Islington needs mini-highs and considerably lengthened overall platforms, and Walpole just needs a lot of money and creativity to find some ADA solution that works with: the historic station building, the Foxboro platform on the southbound wye, the extremely short platform space around the junction, and the ability to go full-high around the wide-clearance freights turning in/out on the northbound wye and through the diamond.

It's a good and much-overdue package of upgrades to a mainline that's in decent shape but getting a little long-in-tooth especially at the stations. Very high ROI stuff. The biggest gains on this extension are ultimately not going to be Foxboro itself but the doubling of frequencies Readville-Walpole and the new ridership that attracts. Franklin's already pound-for-pound one of the system's highest per-station ridership generators relative to schedule. This would take Walpole and Norwood Central well into Providence Line--or even Salem/Beverly--territory on daily boardings and make Dedham Corporate blow convincingly past Westwood/128 as the southside's #1 highway park-and-ride. Because the Feasibility Study is pretty light on necessary mainline upgrades it tends to downplay the ridership bump at the mainline stops. Honestly, if this is a cinch to evolve in 8 years or less to the 32 local trains daily scoped in "Option C" of the feasibility study...buy property in downtown Norwood right now. It's going to be the next great transit-accessible 'tweener suburb at that halfway point between 128 and 495 where housing prices aren't yet ridiculous.
  by atlantis
As some of you had said, the NIMBYs are up in arms over the proposal. What was the state thinking? Using a rail line that's been there for over 100 years for its intended purpose! The rail company that originally owned the line should have contacted Nostradamus or Edgar Cayce to see into the future so that they would know when these NIMBY's were going to freely move into a house next to the RR line, and they could have given it up! :wink:
  by GP40MC1118
Fox News covering the town meeting on this tonight, Everyone is up in
arms and vowing to block it...

  by Cosmo
I hope it gets crammed down their throats with no cranberry sauce. :P
  by trainhq
Need to have a closer look at the abutters.
Some may have legitimate concerns. When I
looked at the Westminster layover station,
some issues were legitimate too. We'll see.
  by Cosmo
Ok, please help me to understand. What are the legitimate concerns? Is it more about traffic in/out of the station mentioned? Is there some taking of land involved? I can understand those and others, but it's all too easy to write off people with real concerns as "NIMBY's." (I know, I do it a lot. ;) )
Meanwhile, how many of the concerned are "legitimate and how many are NIMBY's who are jumping on the bandwagon?
  by Backshophoss
There are people that object to change at all,then there are people that Don't like what happens
when there's a home game,and the crowds that show up,fearing the same problems on a daily basis
with commuter service.
Then you have the enviromental types claiming the area is a "breeding ground" for some
kind of animal or fish.
Then you get the neighbors that were told the RR was "abandoned" or rarely used by real estate sales reps. :(
  by trainhq
In Westminster, the issue was locomotive idling. The T likes to crank 'em up early and let 'em warm up for a while for a half hour or an hour at like, 4 and 5 in the morning. The low frequency sound (gloong! gloong! gloong!) carries over a considerable distance, and is quite annoying. When there is no activity at that time of day to mask it, it's all you hear. It's even worse during the winter,when they leave the locomotives idling all night.
  by Backshophoss
At times and certain temps,heating elements in the crankcase and water tanks are useless,and
the only option is to idle,also bad batteries that need a constant charge on them,and the onboard
stand by charger is busted,will force the need to idle.
  by Ryanontherails
This is my first ever post on railroad.net, and what better thread than one that involves a line I've been watching for a long time!

I have lived in the Neponset Valley Area my entire life. Growing up, I looked at the Framingham Secondary and asked why Walpole and Norwood (and to a lesser extent Dedham) have public transportation links to Providence. I read all of the studies and I've been disappointed to see that none of them involve sending some Providence trains through Foxborough or even some trains going to Mansfield to allow a cross-platform transfer. More frequent train service to Walpole, Norwood Central, and Dedham Corportate Center/128 would be awesome, but under the current plan they won't even have that; trains will run express from Foxborough to Readville! I was at the town meeting and David Mohler from MassDOT literally said flat out that Walpole won't benefit. Look, I love trains as much as anyone but in my opinion this is exactly how not to do this project. There are so many flaws with this plan I don't even know where to start. There has to be a better way...

If you read the master plan for the Town of Foxborough, they suggest implementing a trolley similar to that of New Jersey Transit's River Line between Walpole and Mansfield, and in my opinion that is the way to go. The master plan suggests putting stops at Patriot Place, Chestnut Green, Downtown Foxborough, and the vicinity of Foxborough Boulevard. In Walpole, I could see a stop by the post office in South Walpole and then at the town owned land in the neighborhood off of Route 1A. Trolleys are smaller and quieter, so hopefully there would be less of a NIMBY issue. And the MBTA doesn't necessarily have to operate it, so it could save them some money, which they so desperately need. The biggest drawback would probably be that Foxborough riders will have to wait out in the cold in Walpole and Mansfield when switching trains. I like this idea personally.
  by charding
…as Yogi Berra once said, "'deja vu' all over again" - does anyone remember the Norfolk and Bristol Street Railway? Walpole to Foxboro to Mansfield…history, what a concept! Maybe we can get this done in time for the 100th anniversary of the railway's demise in 2019.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 15