• Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

  • 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 MACTRAXX
 
Everyone:

I remember the Ashmont-Mattapan Line well from past travels to Boston and liked the way that
the MBTA ran the service using PCC cars as a "heritage" type service but with newer cars from the
Green Lines becoming readily available this could be the time to modernize the MHSL car fleet.
I am in full agreement in keeping the MHSL a rail service over conversion to a busway.

What will be the fate of the six operational PCC cars?
Will the MBTA retain them or will they go elsewhere in New England for preservation?
MACTRAXX
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
It's good that when the PCC cars retire, the Mattapan-Ashmont Line will continue to be used as a light rail line which it should. It has always been set up for one, enabling a faster option from many of the southernmost parts of Boston to connect to the Red Line at Ashmont Station for travel to Downtown Boston.

As for the sake of railfanning, when those PCC cars retire, I will miss seeing them but nostalgia doesn't last forever. It's possible that this September, I may be up in Boston and plan to do a few hours worth of railfanning on the line. I know that I have time. Hopefully, the PCC cars can continue to hold out well for the next 8 to 10 years on the Mattapan-Ashmont Line.
  by RFP
 
Hello all, I rarely post but enjoy "everything trolleys" and truly miss the education that Gerry and Sery provided.

How about this thought from left field? As I am selfish and want the PCC's to last forever here goes. A'la the 50's/60's why can't trackless trolleys run on weekdays and PCC's run on weekends? I know that paving would be required but I'm only guessing that the power requirement is not an issue. The Weekend has lighter traffic and the reduced workload on the PCC's may further extend their life. To further my pipedream it would be nice to add a mini-museum in Mattapan to house and occasionally run 5734 and 3295.

I was in SF this summer and truly enjoyed the PCC's along with the general population and many other visitors. I didn't hear any complaints. Thanks for letting me add my two cents.
  by typesix
 
To those wanting to ride the line, after the PCCs go through this latest and likely last round of rebuilding, they will be no longer air-electric cars. They will become basically all-electrics and will not have the distinctive air sounds.
  by diburning
 
RFP wrote:Hello all, I rarely post but enjoy "everything trolleys" and truly miss the education that Gerry and Sery provided.

How about this thought from left field? As I am selfish and want the PCC's to last forever here goes. A'la the 50's/60's why can't trackless trolleys run on weekdays and PCC's run on weekends? I know that paving would be required but I'm only guessing that the power requirement is not an issue. The Weekend has lighter traffic and the reduced workload on the PCC's may further extend their life. To further my pipedream it would be nice to add a mini-museum in Mattapan to house and occasionally run 5734 and 3295.

I was in SF this summer and truly enjoyed the PCC's along with the general population and many other visitors. I didn't hear any complaints. Thanks for letting me add my two cents.
Trackless run on two poles while trolleys run on one. I don't know if it's feasible to have a dual use trolley wire. The whole reason (and saving grace) for the line remaining a rail line is that the bridges and underpasses are too narrow to comfortably fit rubber tired vehicles. It would cost more to modify the infrastructure for rubber tired vehicles to run in both directions without bottlenecks than it would be to simply either refurbish the PCCs, and in the current proposal, to give the line hand-me-down vehicles from the Green Line once they're replaced by newer cars.
  by jwhite07
 
diburning wrote:I don't know if it's feasible to have a dual use trolley wire.
It is quite feasible. Among other places, the F Line streetcars along a portion of Market Street in San Francisco share the positive wire with trackless trolleys.
  by Disney Guy
 
Wasn't someone saying that the rail bridges of the Mattapan line would need rebuilding before (the heavier) current Green Line cars could run there?

Then, the future of rail service on the Mattapan line could be threatened more because rebuilding the bridges could mean rebuilding them for rubber tired vehicles.
  by RFP
 
Thanks for the response. I tend to remember PCC's and TT's running on a dual wire between Harvard /North Cambridge/Watertown/Arlington although I may be imagining this. Also and probably crazy, could TT's be retrofitted with track wheels which would eliminate paving? Surely, the "green folks" would be pleased with this. Thanks again, Ron
  by Arborwayfan
 
This would go against the T's habits of the past few decades BUT just thinking about it from our railfan perspective, wouldn't it be fun if the T would let someone keep a couple of the PCCs, put pantographs on them, and run then on stated routes on weekends/special days? Oslo Sporveis allows volunteers to run a trolley from about 1915 on weekends; it makes a loop to and from the stop closest to a trolley museum, but it makes all stops on the route and anyone can ride it for free. Stockholm has something similar. So did Portland. Would a PCC stay operation if it were stored indoors or in a tunnel (Boylston platform seems logical) and run one or two days a month? And would that make use all happy? Much simpler than a heritage line, no real problem if the car wouldn't start one day, could run only with good weather/only underground in bad weather (Kenmore to Park or Govt Ctr).

Again, the T probably wouldn't like it, but if we are dreaming...
  by train2
 
Not an overly huge trolley expert, cab some give some detail on what makes a car air vs. all electric?
  by Patrick Boylan
 
Early PCC's, generally before 1945, like virtually all other trolleys, had air compressors to operate brakes, doors and windshield wipers. After World War 2 they did away with the air operated components and had electric brakes, doors and windshield wipers.
So too did the North America resurgence light rail cars in Edmonton and Calgary, but I had read and it makes sense that they did so because of freezing water in compressed air systems.
Time marches sideways however and many modern light rail vehicles have reverted to air compressors.
  by dieciduej
 
train2 wrote:Not an overly huge trolley expert, cab some give some detail on what makes a car air vs. all electric?
Ah, one is propelled by electricity and one by air! :P

But seriously an electric-air car uses air pressure for braking (air-brakes), doors and windshield wipers, were an all-electric car uses electric actuators and motors for those functions.

On the overall PCC car design level the air car design was the original, in the quest for improvement the all-electric design became the post-war standard design.

Air cars have air reservoirs, air valves, sealed piping and compressors and the resulting maintenance. Any moisture in the system could freeze in the extremely cold weather we have had. All-electrics would eliminate those headaches. No plumbing, air compressor maintenance just slap in a new motor or actuator. The bulk of Boston's PCC cars 3002-3196, 3222-3346 were electric-air type (320 PCC cars) and 3197-3221 were of the all-electric design (25 PCC cars).

I hope that explains it.
  by BandA
 
I thought they kept the trolleys because the LRV's were too heavy for the existing old bridges, which have since been replaced.
  by typesix
 
Many have gone back to air compressors because of the necessity of supplying air to air spring suspensions. The latest PCC rebuild will retain mechanical coil spring suspension, allowing the conversion to all electric.
  by dieciduej
 
BandA wrote:I thought they kept the trolleys because the LRV's were too heavy for the existing old bridges, which have since been replaced.
I believe weight was one issue also there was a question of the amount of power an LRV would draw. Not sure how much current a Type 9 would draw on start-up or at speed, my guess less than a Boeing LRV when the first thoughts were floated. If they go LRV I think they would stub end Ashmont station. Mitigates noise issues, chance of derailment or mechanical issues on an elevated loop.
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