• Haverhill Line Upgrades (Western Route)

  • 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 jbvb
 
It's been a while since I looked closely, but pier work was ongoing during the winter.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
I just took a look at the 2020-2024 MBTA CIP document, and could find no reference to itemized capacity improvements. Anyone know if the "Ballardvale Bottleneck" will get double-tracked, ever?
  by Lincoln78
 
In lieu of answering the question, on the south side the second track has made it all the way to just south of the station- it was only at Lowell Junction when winter ender. The switch is still at Lowell Junction.
  by gokeefe
 
When winter ended? I thought that track had been stub ended south of Ballardvale for the past four or more years ...
  by Lincoln78
 
I just discovered Lowell Junction last fall. I am pretty sure that the track ended just north of the switch when I first saw it.

Last visit I noticed that now it is just south of the road at the south end of the station.

Hope they go furthur soon..
  by jbvb
 
Maybe 6-7 years ago in this decade-old thread, it was noted that given the crossover locations the T and Pan Am chose, they couldn't use two platforms at Ballardvale until circumstances allowed building two platforms at Andover. And that apparently depends on Andover moving their DPW out of its yard opposite the current station. There was some hope that the voters would do this (2013? - I don't have time to browse the whole thread) but the measure didn't pass, and apparently the Town Fathers have had other fish to fry since.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
They could use two platforms at Ballardvale if they made the crossover universal, couldn't they? Of course, lay the second main through the station, as well. I don't see what the problem is.

In this day and age, I imagine a platform between tracks is a big no-no, for safety reasons, but IIRC, that's exactly what Ballardvale had as their second platform. At the curve east of the station, there was a Pennsy-style station signal that let a westbound train know that an eastbound was in the station. That may not be good enough in today's world.
  by jbvb
 
They could use two platforms at Ballardvale if the crossover to the east was universal. Otherwise, If they build the easterly main track through Ballardvale, trains stopping at Andover (which have to be on the westerly track) couldn't use the mini-high platform on the east side.

Ballardvale's 'station signal' was removed between 1964 and 1966, probably after Portland service ended in 1965 and service to Dover was just one weekday round trip.
  by gokeefe
 
What exactly did the "station signal" look like? Searched online for PRR station signal and came up with NYP signals.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
On the PRR, they were know as position light signals. The lights themselves were bright amber bulbs, and each head was able to display a horizontal, diagonal, or vertical aspect. In our instance, though, I think only the horizontal or vertical aspects were displayed, horizontal corresponding to a stop indication, meaning an eastbound train was in the station, and a vertical indication meaning there was no train in the station.

You can still see them on Amtrak's Harrisburg Line between PHL and Harrisburg.

And there were other locations of this type of signal on the B&M, but I can't remember where.
  by octr202
 
A friend sent photos last night of the former Medford branch duck-under - the rail's been removed from the former main track going through the tunnel. Should be a very different look over there now with the vertical curves replaced by a horizontal ones.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I am going to be in Boston in a few weeks and one of the days that I am there, I am considering using MBTA to get up to visit the Merrimack Valley for the day. I would visit both Lawrence and Haverhill. I don't know too much about the ridership figures of the Haverhill Line, especially for those people who are heading between towns in the Merrimack River Valley to Boston. I am rather surprised that on weekends, MBTA service to Haverhill is awfully sparse-trains running every three hours. Even during the week, MBTA service to Haverhill isn't that great either. Many of the reverse peak trains don't go all the way up to the Merrimack River Valley. Even the peak direction rush hour service can be better. If you live in the Valley and work a 9 to 5 job in Boston, you have very few options.
  by octr202
 
Haverhill service ended completely back during the dark days of the commuter rail system. In a nutshell, once the MBTA began supporting commuter rail service, it was largely cut back to the MBTA service district (inside Route 128). The B&M continued one single commuter trip (via Woburn/Wilmington on the Lowell Line) until 1976, when all service beyond Reading ended. It wasn't until about 1979 that service was restored, this time operating via Reading.

For a long time, weekday service was really set up so that only every other train ran to Haverhill - alternate trains short turned at Reading. I don't recall if there was ever a similar set up for weekends, but keep in mind that all MBTA weekend commuter rail service is pretty sparse. Haverhill is certainly the worst of the north side lines in weekend frequencies, but it's not far behind the Fitchburg Line. Every 2-3 hours is about the norm - it's just not like NYC, NJ, Philadelphia in that regard.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I live in New Jersey very close to NYC and having ridden the three area commuter railroads over and over, the frequencies are very good. In Metro North land, if you are traveling from GCT to Poughkeepsie on weekends , you often don’t have to wait for more than an hour between trains and during certain times of days, only 30 minutes. That’s not bad for a route that serves rural areas. Many of the NJT commuter rail routes are hourly on weekends and that’s if everything is running on time or if there aren’t any cancellations of trains.

Back to MBTA, I have ridden their commuter rail system many times too. I have even ridden Amtrak’s Downeaster a few times. I’m sure that even if weekend service were to ever to be every two hours throughout the day, that would help. As for improving stations, it would probably be good to add a 2nd platform at Lawrence. I remember the original station used to be a center island platform. One advantage of living in and around Haverhill is also having the Downeaster as an option to Boston.
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