Ryanontherails wrote:Funny you should mention the CapeFlyer, as something similar is currently happening in Bourne. Tom Cahir of the CCRTA has been very open about his intentions. He has said that he has wanted to see a stop at the Bourne Bridge, that he hoped the CapeFlyer would get the state to seriously consider commuter rail service to Buzzards Bay, and that commuter rail should not cross the bridge (though I think it should be extended as far as the Bourne Bridge stop especially during the summer). Unfortunately, and while I admit there are things about it that make you go, "hmm", you still have a lot people thinking that the state is planning on extending commuter rail all the way to Hyannis.
Eventual goal. Not a current one. There are too many towns that would have to be voted into the MBTA district to go to Hyannis. For Buzzards Bay or a Sagamore stop across the bridge all you need is Bourne, and that town is actively preparing for such a vote.
Foxborough, on the other hand, has been different. I read both the MBTA's study and the Mirick-O'Connell study. Both show some Fairmount trains continuing on to Foxborough making stops along the Franklin line (though both option "C" of the former as well as the latter show it skipping Walpole), and now that Fairmount is going to be all DMUs, it makes sense that those trains will be the ones going to Foxborough. But if it is indeed their intention to stop along the Franklin Line, then why not say so? Better yet, if there is a reason they would be running express initially, why not tell us? Instead it's "We decided that commuter rail service to the stadium is a good idea, and that this is the best way to do it, now that we've signed a deal with Bob Kraft, it's coming, and there is nothing you can do about it!" and all we can ask is, why? If you are right, I'd be more open to it, but until someone up at 10 Park Plaza says so, I'm still opposed.
The "Option C" build was to balance the Foxboro schedules 1:1 with the Franklin schedules: 16 per day to/from each terminus, as locals. So for the mainline stops that means an outright x2 of service levels at Endicott, Dedham Corporate, Islington, Norwood Depot, Norwood Central, Windsor Gardens, and Walpole* (assuming they found a way to modify the platform setup for service to either direction, which the 2010 study did not take a gander at). The study also didn't speculate on what the Fairmount schedule would be...other than 16 trains per day to Foxboro would be making all Franklin main and all Fairmount stops. Anything "Indigo" filling in the headway gaps on the Fairmount was out-of-scope as far as F'boro service is concerned (plenty of capacity for it all).
It's just wretched, wretched messaging on MassDOT's part. That messaging was soooo bad I'm not sure it's even an accurate reflection of the real plans, which probably DON'T contradict the study as much as their statements would lead you to believe. But they stuck foot-in-mouth and made it look like an involuntary giveaway to Kraft, and you and everyone else is quite justified in being pissed about that and demanding answers. Like I said...they just have to take a complete do-over on the public outreach and start from scratch.
The state is also not clear on what the purchase of the Framingham Subdivision is for. David Mohler said it was strategic and could be used to send trains between three commuter rail lines. He cited Worcester-Ayer as being similar (though I can remember them using that for non-rev moves, unlike the Framingham Subdivision which I can only remember it being used once). If they are also trying to improve freight service on CSX, it begs the question of why CSX couldn't upgrade the tracks themselves.
They can send trains between all lines, although I wouldn't overstate that importance. The Framingham Sub and the Worcester Branch aren't used very often for that purpose.
CSX never spends money it doesn't have to. That's the whole story of the huge package of upgrades they got to relocate out of Beacon Park to Worcester, sell the Worcester Line to the state, and get double-stack clearances west of Worcester. In that case the public investment was justified; the increased freight revenue from all those moves is going to pay itself back to the state handsomely. What the Framingham Sub enables is better thru freight capacity to the ports the state wants to develop. The route to Readville is needed for Marine Terminal in Southie if that is to become a container-to-rail facility, and the Mansfield-Attleboro-Taunton route is where CSX would interchange with MassCoastal RR for goods out of ports of Fall River and New Bedford once the weight restrictions are lifted on those branches (with or without South Coast Rail) and the shipping channels dredged. It's less a slam-dunk case like the Worcester Line / Beacon Park transactions because the merits of the port upgrades themselves are debateable. But if the state is intent on developing rail business out of those 3 shipping ports, then the Framingham Sub is the common link to all 3 and will likewise pay for itself in the increased revenue coming out of those ports (albeit not as quickly as the CSX mainline investments will pay back).
In this case it's a Massport initiative to get that business jump-started, not a CSX one. They're happy to take the loads if the loads are there, but this is not their
cause. Therefore the Framingham Sub isn't really their cause to upgrade. But still...it carries a fair number of carloads per week, and that $29M purchase is forever. The cost will amortize itself over time...there's little doubt about that. It was a fair asking price for the asset's value.
With regards to Walpole-Mansfield, I disagree. I work next to the tracks in Foxborough and there are only two trains between 7:30am and 8:00pm: one or two locomotives going south in the morning and those same locomotives pulling a train going north in the afternoon. I think with careful planning a conflict can be avoided with those trains. Besides, won't CSX have the same problem should commuter rail be extended to Foxborough? And who says it has to be the MBTA that owns and operates it or that the maintenance facility has to be in Boston?
That's not how the FRA rules work. The line has to be totally clear of freight trains buffered by a couple hours at the end of the service day to qualify for the time separation exemption. 7:30am freight and 8:00pm freight means you do not get passenger service AT ALL for the A.M. rush, and have a uselessly truncated P.M. rush. Them's the rules. There is not enough time separation to be had to qualify for a RiverLINE-like exemption, and these are not CSX slots that can be rescheduled.
And this is way too low-density a line to purchase equipment that cannot be used ANYWHERE ELSE on the system. Total, ridiculous waste of money. As is a remote maintenance facility serving only that line. Only push-pull and FRA-compliant DMU's with roaming capability across the system can go here...because co-mingled freight is a fact of life. Foxboro will have a layover yard...but a maint facility? Despite that being whispered for this stupid DMU express service that's highly unlikely because it's 25 miles away from where the rest of the DMU's would roam. That's another mangled thinking-out-loud bad messaging that's really hurt them here.
There will be NO freight conflicts on Option C. The study spells that out. Headways are fully adequate, Gillete will have a freight passing track (only way they can upgrade the current platform to a full-high, because it's a wide-clearance freight route), and freight will be able to do 40 MPH from Walpole Jct. to Foxboro on the ~5 mile overlap with passenger service and 25 MPH from Foxboro to Mansfield Jct. under the Option C build. Much faster than the 10 MPH they do today. It's zero potential for conflict.
I did read that about Foxborough-Mansfield. And yeah, RIDOT is doing some interesting stuff down there, including building an intermodal hub like the WRTA did in Worcester. I'd love to see Providence Commuter Rail. However, I used to count passengers on the train for a living and while there are only two trains a day serving Providence during the morning rush-hour (6-9am) and three leaving during the afternoon rush-hour (3pm-6pm), it was only about 80 people taking the commuter rail to Providence with about 50 of them originating from Route 128 on down. I've long speculated that the main reason the Neponset Valley Area doesn't have public transportation links to Providence outside of the Providence Line is lack of demand, which is one reason I back the trolley idea or Foxborough commuter rail lines serving Mansfield: it's a side-effect of something being used for another purpose.
In due time. The RiverLINE idea--amongst other impossibilities with that plan--is not going to make Providence grow any faster as an intermodal hub. That has to happen on its own pace...with intrastate commuter rail to Westerly and Woonsocket, the new Pawtucket station, ever-increasing Providence Line frequencies, the studies RIDOT has committed to pursuing about Providence-Worcester and Woonsocket-Franklin-Boston after Providence-Woonsocket service is well-established. And so on. Those are the biggies for them, as is building out the RIPTA bus transfers from their intrastate stops. If Westerly is a 5-7 year target and Woonsocket is an 8-10 year target...then, really, a Foxboro flank is going to slot behind a big 15-year capstone target like Providence-Worcester. That's when you start getting a critical-mass hub to think about other local trips in easy reach. But not sooner.
Rest assured, if/when the demand is there RIDOT will consider it. I don't think there's any question about that...especially since there'd be little to no infrastructure upgrades required and the T has free reign through both states.