Providence Line Electrification

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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:51 pm

EMU's are too different a car fleet to bring in and maintain as all-new. Other RR's like Metro North and LIRR do it because EMU's have been running on those tracks since the day electrification came in the early 20th century. Back when your only locomotives were steam or less-nimble electrics pulling coaches than there are today. Those RR's have way more EMU's than they have push-pull coaches. To introduce electrics on the T there's not going to be any way to justify the startup cost unless they have complete and full access to their existing entire fleet of coaches. Which means this is going to be an electric loco + standard coach system. Electric locos accelerate/decelerate far better than diesels, so it's not like there isn't a whole lot of dwell time improvement to be had with a standard push-pull configuration headed by an electric. The upside of EMU's over electric locos isn't so drastically higher that going for a total draw-down and replacement of the coach fleet would ever pay dividends. Also, the T doesn't have the kind of stop density and headways on CR that New York has. The New Haven Line is almost a quasi-subway with how incredibly dense it is. That maxes out the advantage of EMU dwell times vs. electric push-pull far more than the T ever would.

DMU's are a little different matter because the accel/decel difference is more dramatic on diesel lines, and in the case of the Budds the cars could seamlessly run in push-pull as unpowered coaches or as powered MU's for more flexibility. When their engines were kaput they simply got repurposed for years on end as coaches instead of getting scrapped. Unfortunately I don't think there's a modern build like Colorado Railcar that can do that so seamlessly, and on the EMU side doesn't look like there's much today that can do multipurpose as well either. That makes it difficult for the T to justify buying MU's for just the Fairmount. It would be a lot easier if there were more short-turn lines with denser station stops, like doing the Reading Line, 128 on the Fitchburg, Riverside or Framingham on the Worcester, Salem on the Eastern Route, Needham with an MU fleet and denser inner stops. Sort of an "Indigo Line" network for all the inside-128 centric service. And if somebody took the near-perfect Budd design and modernized it with new systems and engines...sort of a "PCC the Budd" effort to recycle the good stuff in the design and make an affordable modern standard built by lots of vendors. Maybe even with EMU flavors of the same design. But until something with that low a barrier to adoption comes along, diesel or electric push-pull is the only right-sized configuration at all realistic for the T. Our push-pull CR system is conventional enough and has capable enough equipment for "stretching" service density that it doesn't begin to approach the threshold for going MU on a wide scale.

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Re: m8s for providence

Post by digitalsciguy » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:37 pm

FP10 wrote: I think most people here would be ecstatic to see some EMUs operating within Boston. The problems are, as I understand them, that
A) only one line (the NEC) electrified, and only one other (Stoughton) that would be relatively simple to do. The Fairmount line would also make sense as it could be used as an alternate for Amtrak, and would be good for the rapid-transit style service the T wants to implement on it.
B) the T is broke, so unless the Feds fund it there's no money, even if the will was there.
C) as you mentioned, we have no electric shops. So a BET south would have to be constructed, probably at Readville. Even if MNCR would contract with the T to do work, there's over 100 miles of non-revenue track between Providence and New Haven for the equipment to cross to change hands.
Just a quick note on funding: everything being talked about here would fall under the capital program, which for most transit agencies is almost wholly funded by municipal, state, and federal grants and dedicated transit sources that are separate from operating funds, the part of the MBTA's financials that everyone's up in arms about. Even if the year-to-year funding problem were corrected, you'd still need to provision for these improvements as capital expenses and usually you go about stating your needs, seeing what funds you get, and funding the capital budget items based on outlined priority schemes.

I've made allusion before to the electrifcation CalTrain is having to resort to in California; they need to because of the opportunity California HSR presents in being able to electrify its corridors and also because diesel operations are scaling to unmanageable and unpredictable costs because of the cost of oil. I'm not sure what's going on with respect to funding their $1+ billion project lately, but no doubt the MBTA would be able to tap whatever federal grants or funding vehicles are being petitioned for a system-wide electrification or partial EMU trial project (if the Tea Party hasn't stripped it from the USDOT discretionary or dedicated funding budgets).

So finding the money to actually electrify lines or buy EMUs/DMUs is all about being creative/lucky with finding and receiving grants (or heaven forbid asking taxpayers in the region to tax themselves a fraction of a percent for a fixed period to fund needed capital investment, as was done in Connecticut to afford the M8 procurement). Finding out how to pay for operating it has been the sad story of transit agencies over decades. Theoretically, the government invests in infrastructure that will have some return on investment, but it's not always a direct return to the agencies overseeing the new infrastructure. With volatile fuel prices and the $128 million increase in commuter rail expenses over 10 years[PDF] - a 74% increase over that period - it may be economical in the long term for that initial capital expense and whatever additional operating expenses that may be incurred from the diesel-to-electric changeover.

Let's also not forget that dedicated federal/state/muni funding would help procure even a small EMU/electric loco purchase for exclusive use on the NEC and could also fund construction of additional maintenance facilities would need to be constructed for the new stock.

Also - I know this is a third rail topic here, but it's worth reintroducing to the conversation while we're talking about stock - CalTrain has also submitted and received clearance from the FRA to waive certain stipulations that restrict the direct importing of many European EMUs so that they can reduce engineering costs of electrification and procuring new electric stock... *hint hint*


F-Line: You mention the Colorado Railcars - Florida's Tri-Rail is apparently testing a few Colorado Railcar DMUs. Do these not have that operational flexibility?

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Re: m8s for providence

Post by 161pw165 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:36 pm

FP10 wrote:
FRN9 wrote:Why does everyone hate EMUs?
I think most people here would be ecstatic to see some EMUs operating within Boston. The problems are, as I understand them, that
A) only one line (the NEC) electrified, and only one other (Stoughton) that would be relatively simple to do. The Fairmount line would also make sense as it could be used as an alternate for Amtrak, and would be good for the rapid-transit style service the T wants to implement on it.
B) the T is broke, so unless the Feds fund it there's no money, even if the will was there.
C) as you mentioned, we have no electric shops. So a BET south would have to be constructed, probably at Readville. Even if MNCR would contract with the T to do work, there's over 100 miles of non-revenue track between Providence and New Haven for the equipment to cross to change hands.
D) if I understand correctly, the FRA requires every MU (diesel or electric) to be treated as a locomotive. This adds considerable expense to the cost and frequency of maintenance.

I think the best chance for electric in the near future will be from Rhode Island. I believe they already own a few of the T's coaches, and are looking to expand their commuter rail system. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see a line to Westerly, Woonsocket, and perhaps even Coventry or Taunton come into being. It will likely be similar to how ConnDOT has their equipment run by Metro North. Since the NEC is Rhode Islands only currently active passenger line, it would make sense that if they made a large investment to purchase equipment and build their own shops it would be electric, not diesel. Part of me hopes that RI will jump on the HHP8s and the better AEM7DCs when they start to be retired by Amtrak since they still have a lot of life in them (and perhaps with an all-out rebuild the software glitches can finally be fixed on the HHP8s), but thats more of a dream than a practical reality.

If you think the 'T' is broke, you should read about RI's budget woes. They don't have the financial ability for a project of this magnitude. It is a nice dream, but ain't gonna happen.

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Re: m8s for providence

Post by digitalsciguy » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:34 am

161pw165 wrote:
FP10 wrote:
FRN9 wrote:Why does everyone hate EMUs?
I think most people here would be ecstatic to see some EMUs operating within Boston. The problems are, as I understand them, that
A) only one line (the NEC) electrified, and only one other (Stoughton) that would be relatively simple to do. The Fairmount line would also make sense as it could be used as an alternate for Amtrak, and would be good for the rapid-transit style service the T wants to implement on it.
B) the T is broke, so unless the Feds fund it there's no money, even if the will was there.
C) as you mentioned, we have no electric shops. So a BET south would have to be constructed, probably at Readville. Even if MNCR would contract with the T to do work, there's over 100 miles of non-revenue track between Providence and New Haven for the equipment to cross to change hands.
D) if I understand correctly, the FRA requires every MU (diesel or electric) to be treated as a locomotive. This adds considerable expense to the cost and frequency of maintenance.

I think the best chance for electric in the near future will be from Rhode Island. I believe they already own a few of the T's coaches, and are looking to expand their commuter rail system. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see a line to Westerly, Woonsocket, and perhaps even Coventry or Taunton come into being. It will likely be similar to how ConnDOT has their equipment run by Metro North. Since the NEC is Rhode Islands only currently active passenger line, it would make sense that if they made a large investment to purchase equipment and build their own shops it would be electric, not diesel. Part of me hopes that RI will jump on the HHP8s and the better AEM7DCs when they start to be retired by Amtrak since they still have a lot of life in them (and perhaps with an all-out rebuild the software glitches can finally be fixed on the HHP8s), but thats more of a dream than a practical reality.

If you think the 'T' is broke, you should read about RI's budget woes. They don't have the financial ability for a project of this magnitude. It is a nice dream, but ain't gonna happen.
But such an infrastructure project is in the best interest of RI, especially if it can come out of already provisioned RIDOT funds that more appropriately reflects the spending balance and return on investment in transit versus roads. RIDOT and any MPO (metropolitan planning organisation), who normally sets the agenda for transportation network investments, can petition for any number of environmental mitigation or new starts federal grants and hobble together funds, even for a small expansion of the fleet. Our concern over finances shouldn't be so much over procurement and construction as it should be over maintenance - though it is still of great concern that the federal transportation bill that provisions money for grants that would be appropriate for a project like this keeps getting revised to have less money for transit/rail.

Arguing the viability of this is actually quite moot since no one has really collected/crunched the numbers on potential revenue increase, operating cost decrease, environmental mitigation, cost estimates, etc. Such a project proposal would go to the Rhode Island State Planning Council and Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, who would then hire/assign engineers to do feasibility studies so RIDOT and MassDOT could truly assess the viability and potentially move this forward by dedicating state funding and applying for federal grants.

Am I in the wrong forum to be talking about financial/political feasibility of rail projects? I'm a bit confused by the widely varying scope of this discussion.

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Re: m8s for providence

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:37 pm

digitalsciguy wrote:F-Line: You mention the Colorado Railcars - Florida's Tri-Rail is apparently testing a few Colorado Railcar DMUs. Do these not have that operational flexibility?
CR made powered and unpowered versions with the same carbody and largely common parts sans engine. Mainly because the engines are designed where 1 MU is rated to pull 2 unpowered coaches, and the mixing and matching options would benefit an agency buying a mix of the common-make powered and unpowered cars (say, for half-and-half powered/unpowered MU's in a consist). But I don't think they're literally as flexible as the Budds where you could throw it in neutral and use it as a control cab or coach or very easily downgrade it to permanent coach or control cab by pulling out or disabling the engine. Budds debuted in the last couple years steam was running and was basically a purchase option to nudge the last of them into retirement. So there was attractiveness in the modularity, both for push-pull when RR's retired their roundhouses and needed to get hands on control cabs for reversing direction and in drawing down operating costs on their declining routes with small (often single) MU's that replaced longer steam consists and could better handle wasted-away deferred maintenance track conditions.


Colorado Railcar drove itself to bankruptcy designing these things. While it may not have been a fundamentally sound company to begin with, that is sort of a warning flag about the viability of custom-designing an integrated MU offering vs. mature loco technology that can be mixed and matched with any freight or coach car and just about any control cab. This really is a situation where it would be good to have an "open source" baseline design like the PCC's were so multiple manufacturers could get into the game and build their frills around widely available parts and core systems they don't have to reinvent the wheel on. You can see what difference the PCC legacy makes on LRV's with the manufacturers who build off the proven tech (Kinki) vs. ones who over-customize (Breda). MU's really need an equivalent to this to significantly lower the barrier to entry for prospective commuter rail systems AND new vehicle manufacturers in this economic climate. This could be a much more cut-rate option for a starter system than it currently is.


I wonder if enough of the Budd RDC's patents are expired for that design to be more or less public domain. ThyssenKrupp Budd is the nth-generation German conglomerate that owns the dismembered pieces of Budd Co. They shed all their rail and auto mfg. holdings to concentrate on the steel raw materials supply chain. The only finished products they do now are elevators and shipbuilding; they concentrate on the lucrative steel pressing and distribution business, such as supplying aerospace contractors with their materials and highly-custom parts. So who knows what intellectual property they still control or how interested they are in protecting it.

The RDC carbody is extremely well-designed with superior suspension, crashworthiness, comfortable ride, and low noise/vibration levels (an inherent problem on DMU's with 1-2 engines in every car). And as noted, they run well on pretty crappy track. An "open source" design would do well to start from this baseline carbody. They'd have to do all-new engines since the Budds were diesel-hydraulic (basically miniature WWII tank engines, which helped make them cheap in the postwar economy), while diesel-electric is the universal standard now. They were also real gas-guzzlers and polluters, and with both tank engines per unit simultaneously chugging and power got progressively more overkill the longer the consist got. Beyond singles and deuces they performed progressively less efficient vs. loco push-pull, which is one reason why they got ditched and converted to unpowered coaches when systems abandoned their light-use lines and consolidated to the core. The twin engines also got hard to keep running when deferred maintenance pushed them way far past expiration date.

Put much more fuel-efficient modern engines in those carbodies, and let the onboard computer automatically throttle them down as-needed in MU configuration, and they'd be a lot better performers. Could maybe even do a hybrid "Prius" make with a friction-charged battery that can shut all or most of the engines off at cruising speed and re-power them back up for acceleration, hills, station starts, etc. Or, a standard dual-mode that can switch between diesel or panto/third rail; that didn't work so well on Budd's last attempt because of the diesel-mechanical guts, but would work a lot better on modern diesel-electric or the "Prius" hybrid. And then use the same exact unmodified carbody for the EMU model. Budd adapted the RDC body for its EMU's, which it ended up selling for decades longer in larger numbers than DMU's. But I'm talking exactly the same carbody with an engine compartment that you could literally pull out the diesel and modularly swap with an electric + panto/third-rail during a midlife overhaul-level servicing. To inexpensively repurpose your fleet when you electrify your lines.

These are the sorts of things some sort of PCC-like baseline design would enable. Doesn't necessarily have to be the Budd either, although that's the most proven starting point to raid for ideas and "timeless" components. Any PCC-like pooling mentality to significantly lower the entry barriers for both buyer and manufacturer will significantly lower costs and increase flexibility/modularity. Something that applies the Colorado Railcar experience with a lot less induced risk.

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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by octr202 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:11 pm

If we're straying into (D)MU territory here, what bears watching is the Sumitomo DMU's that SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) has signed an agreement to purchase. They are supposedly to be FRA compliant, and look like high-floor models which would be compatible with eastern high level platforms. GO Transit is also looking into them. IF (always a big if, before someone criticizes this for being too pie-in-the-sky) they are successful, something like that would be the most likely MU the MBTA in the short to medium-term.
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Re: m8s for providence

Post by MBTA3247 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:01 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:I wonder if enough of the Budd RDC's patents are expired for that design to be more or less public domain.
Patents are only valid for 20 years in the US, so even Budd's most recent rail-related patents are now in the public domain.
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by madcrow » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:13 pm

Of the various Northeastern regional rail operators, the MBTA has the lowest stop density, therefore making it the most suitable for locomotive-hauled diesel service. Before decades of deferred maintenance took their toll, the F40PH fleet served the MBTA quite well, after all. While electric service would be nice to see, I suspect that DMUs (and MUCH higher service frequencies) for the Needham and Fairmount branches would be a MUCH better expenditure of funds.

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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by MBTA1052 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:34 pm

I believe the MBTA/CR should go with DMU or EMU which ever are cost efficient to them because DMU and EMUs are basically the same as our Siemens BL cars Bombardier RL cars the only real difference is running them at a higher speeds than the OL which has a max. of 40 mph in the tunnels and 30 to 35 mph outside the tunnels. I mean AEM-7s or even HHP-8s would be nice for Transit on the NEC,Fairmount and even the Needham but I would prefer them to save on time to train engineers to train engines. Plus we would need a place to maintain the units which could go down in Readville but as we know is a dead end road cause of Menino. But we should start with a small fleet from maybe NJT to gain some electric experience!!!But who knows. ;)
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by digitalsciguy » Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:17 pm

I chatted with some of the MBCR managers on Wednesday at Back Bay and they all expressed their regrets at not being able to operate EMUs on the Providence Line and upgrade all stations with high-level platforms for significantly decreased station dwell times and increased safety. The clear issue is funding, but who knows what'll happen with transport funds and these proposals for public-private infrastructure investment partnerships. Again, diesel costs are more volatile than electricity and are a big part of the nearly 75% increase in MBCR operating costs over the past 10 years.

Gillian Wood, MBCR Chief Customer Service Officer, who has worked for Veolia running various rail services in and around London, seemed convinced that diesel power, more specifically our current diesel ops, is necessary for the severe New England winters that plague the area. In the UK, they primarily use EMUs and DMUs to run very frequent commuter rail service and don't usually have problems, but also don't encounter as much snow as we get here. Does available modern electric or diesel equipment pose any problems with providing the power necessary to operate in (reasonably) heavy snow conditions?

When she mentioned this, I noted that this winter was unusually heavy and that blizzards are a winter condition under which riders should reasonably expect less service. What's the engineering best practice here? At what point do you say you have enough motive power for poor winter conditions without overengineering and spec-ing for the worst conditions?

With the more recent mentions of stop density, increased stop density would enable more practical application of fast electric service and also promote more dense growth within the Route 128 ring and along the Providence Line, which means more ridership and more revenue.

I also mentioned to the managers the idea of requesting federal grants (through something like future grants toward the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail [HSIPR] Programme that was funded through ARRA) for test trains to prove viability of EMU and/or DMU ops on the Providence Line and possibly DMU ops on the other lines, but they didn't seem to understand what I was proposing...we're all talking about how a full and immediate implementation and going back and forth about the financial feasibility of such implementation, but what about a tiered implementation?

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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by 3rdrail » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:27 pm

digitalsciguy wrote:Gillian Wood, MBCR Chief Customer Service Officer, who has worked for Veolia running various rail services in and around London, seemed convinced that diesel power, more specifically our current diesel ops, is necessary for the severe New England winters that plague the area. In the UK, they primarily use EMUs and DMUs to run very frequent commuter rail service and don't usually have problems, but also don't encounter as much snow as we get here. Does available modern electric or diesel equipment pose any problems with providing the power necessary to operate in (reasonably) heavy snow conditions?
I think that the answer to your question is no. In my opinion, diesel/electric does not have an advantage over electric. The only strong point that diesels may have is the fact that they have a self-contained power supply (hopefully), and do not depend upon either pan or third rail, which as we all know, are subject to overhead/rail/pan/shoe ice and sleet. Having said that however, the electric motor is by far a more efficient, powerful, and dependable method of propulsion. (The answer, I believe, is to do what London has already found out- run frequently and have a conscientiously followed protocol. I have a 1948 17-page book put out by London Transport of regulations regarding the operation of their trains in snow and ice. What works in Summer may not work during a snowstorm.) This has the effect of killing two birds with one stone: You get an alternate means of transportation available to persons who might otherwise not use it (and have the extra carrying capacity to do this), you relieve the line of ice which is 95 % of the problem in snow (the other being electrical connections- especially when workers remove protective covers), and you relieve congestion on the roadways, allowing for the general public to be safer and for the roads to be more meticulously maintained (God forbid, shall I say it, with snow removal). Now, this last point I find to be particularly worthy of attention as this should convert into moneys earmarked towards highways to be diverted to the railway industry for providing this highway service. ka-ching !
digitalsciguy wrote:When she mentioned this, I noted that this winter was unusually heavy and that blizzards are a winter condition under which riders should reasonably expect less service. What's the engineering best practice here? At what point do you say you have enough motive power for poor winter conditions without overengineering and spec-ing for the worst conditions?

Why should riders expect less service ? I think that they should expect more scheduled service, with the occasional electrical or mechanical breakdown due to the weather taken in stride and understood since we have seasons. (And let's be honest here, folks. There comes a point during a ferocious storm when no man nor beast is going to function no-how. Then, it's time to stay home, grab a hot cocoa, and take RR.Net's ingenious weekly "Quiz" challenge !)The engineering best practice here is to not purchase contracts based upon low bid, and to apply tested and proven hardware available to decrease the incidence of malfunction. If they can do it in the Swiss Alps, we can do it in the Blue Hills. Enough motive power is when you have a spare unit or two available during a particularly hot or cold week after units have been swapped out for ones that are in the shop.
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by octr202 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:38 pm

Without going on too long, there are too many countries to list here that would dispute the notion that electric railways do not work in winter climates, and just in Europe alone.
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 30, 2011 8:05 am

It's too limiting to just think of Fairmount and Needham for MU's. What they need to do is look at the 1945 rapid-transit expansion map: http://media.photobucket.com/image/rece ... CMap-1.jpg (sorry...the larger version of the image seems to have totally disappeared online).

These are the service configurations that should be getting MU's. It's route-priming. If we want the impetus to get the rapid-transit lines eventually extended out to 128 in all directions and commuter rail reorganized around the 128-to-495 belt and the nearest-node regional cities (Worcester, Providence, FR/NB, Concord), then the state transit planners have to start the momentum in that direction somewhere. Otherwise inertia's always going to stay at rest. So buy your fleet, expand SS/NS, and christen a slew of local short-turn services as "Indigo Lines" (plural) with their own spider map and fare structure that carves out a fairly affordable and flexible middle ground on the Charlie system between rapid-transit and CR.

These are the possibilities, in roughly this priority order:
-- Fairmount -- Extend to Westwood/128 with triple-tracked NEC from Readville. Eventually do a 2nd branch to Dedham Ctr. via restored Dedham Branch.
-- Needham Line -- Plus 1-stop extension to Needham Highlands/128 to ease the horrible congestion on Highland Ave. and offer park-and-ride relief of Riverside. Double-track Forest Hills-Needham Jct.
-- Reading Line -- Take all but couple Haverhill trains off the Reading line in favor of DMU short-turns and move Haverhill permanently back to pre-1979 routing via NH Main + Wildcat to speed it up and make navigating the congestion north of Lowell Jct. lots easier. Replacement stop on Wildcat for abandoned North Wilmington at reactivated Salem St. stop. Infill station on Reading Line at Quannapowitt/128 for DMU's. Do planned passing siding Wellington--Malden for higher frequencies.
-- Riverside via Worcester Line -- Grand Junction upgrade allowing dual NS/SS routes, w/station at MIT/Cambridge Ctr. New mainline infill stations at Allston, Brighton, Newton Corner, cross-platform Riverside transfer to Green Line per the '45 map. High platforms on all existing stations. Worcester trains express through. Use the BET yard leads (i.e. former mainline tracks 3 & 4) as a triple-track passing siding to ease congestion. Divert the CSX Everett freights over the Worcester Branch to Ayer and Fitchburg Line to get remaining freight traffic off mainline and Grand Junction. Reconfigure 71 bus to loop at Newton Corner, divert Watertown express buses onto train to get buses permanently away from Pike delays.
-- Fitchburg Line to 128 -- Not on the '45 map, but necessary with no rapid-transit ever likely out here, Waltham being a huge bus terminal, and Brandeis. Complete stop consolidation of Hastings + Kendal Green to new large park-and-ride at Exit 26. 3-track station here for DMU turnbacks. Complete double-tracking through Waltham and upgrade any remaining non-ADA inbound stations. Reinstate former stations at Beaver Brook and Clematis Brook, add Alewife for connections to Arlington, Burlington, Route 2 express buses. Upgrade West Cambridge freight siding to triple-track passing siding for Fitchburg trains + freight congestion mitigation. Maybe eliminate Park St. Somerville and Sherman St. Cambridge grade crossings if congestion mitigation merits.
-- Danvers/Peabody via Eastern Route -- Do the mini-stub to North Shore/128 (I think the proposed 2-prong line with Liberty Tree Mall branch is surplus to a requirement). Infill station at South Salem/Salem State U; re-christen Riverworks as West Lynn and get some TOD going. Eliminate as many Everett/Chelsea grade crossings as possible. Fast-track the Salem Tunnel upgrade (2nd one or widening current one, which some of the engineering reports seemed to think was possible instead of building whole new one). Much more parking en route.
-- Anderson RTC shuttle -- Infill stations at Cross St. Woburn and either Salem St. or Montvale Ave. (Salem St. might be better because it's got a bus line). This one optional if congestion on the combined Lowell/NH and Haverhill lines makes it a bit much to swing and gets adequate service to Anderson regardless. Express through more Lowell + Haverhill trains skipping the intermediate stops.

Stoughton EMU shuttle and others of course possibilities outside the 128-focused purview of the "Indigo Lines", but those would be more like the old Budd MU's practice to the shorter/non-495 lines just with a little higher density.


The route-priming for future rapid-transit on these lines goes as follows:
-- Fairmount --> possible heavy-rail thru N-S Link.
-- Needham --> Green Line to Needham Jct. via D. Orange Line from Forest Hills to West Roxbury.
-- Reading --> Orange Line from Oak Grove to Reading.
-- Riverside via Worcester --> None...not enough space anymore. EMU when line eventually electrified and running thru N-S Link. Grand Junction becomes a Green Line Urban Ring route BU--Lechmere.
-- Fitchburg --> Very unlikely any...Red Line extension still preferred for Lexington. Keep DMU or go EMU if Fitchburg connected to N-S Link. Make thru Fitchburg trains dual-modes with power switch to diesel at Waltham Highlands.
-- Eastern Route --> Blue Line Lynn, eventual extension to Salem. Peabody/Danvers stub can stay express DMU.
-- Anderson shuttle --> Green Line Medford extended to Woburn per '45 map (Anderson instead of Woburn Ctr. since Woburn Branch long gone). If N-S Link built this can be heavy-rail converted and become the north side of the Fairmount Line as 128-to-128 true rapid transit. Intermediate stops all go to rapid-transit to ease congestion on new HSR joining with the NEC and ensure 125+ MPH speeds straight from NS to Anderson.


Mind you, the odds of EVERYTHING on this wishlist ever getting built or even most of them are pretty slim. But the whole idea here is to leverage MU's on the routes that were earmarked 7 decades ago for rapid-transit expansion to get the service density significantly up. It's merit-based transit planning, doing an easy and largely cosmetic retrofit (MU fleet + infill stations + CR expresses + just enough track upgrades to not choke things) gradually and then letting the cream rise to the top. Use this to drive priorities for expanding out the real rapid-transit system. The T has never ever engaged in this from Day 1, and has always proposed things as monolithic expansions that can't ever get built on-time, on-budget, or--the vast majority of the time--at all because they're too big to swallow at once. They're stuck in stationary inertia because of it. If they were smart they'd do these low-risk baby step projects to the same goal to get some forward momentum going at low risk and low threshold for entry. Let the ridership demand on these short-turn services drive future priorities. If one of them goes through the roof then you know where your next subway extension needs to be. If it doesn't then don't do anything more, direct resources elsewhere, and be satisfied that you did some sustainable good to that line without overleveraging yourself.

3rdrail
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by 3rdrail » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:43 am

I believe that commuter rail within a roughly 20 mile (as the crow flies) circle of Downtown Boston is a wasteful and duplicious operation, that the MTA founders wanted to eliminate as clearly evidenced by this map. Particularly in these austere times, you can't have your cake and eat it to, so, I'm in favor of eliminating the commuter stops within this area and expanding rapid transit. Establish a system of scheduled limited operation on express tracks, as well. A faster, more convenient, more efficient network would then be achieved.
~Paul Joyce~
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Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.

sery2831
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Re: Providence Line Electrification

Post by sery2831 » Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:38 am

Wandering off topic here?
Moderator: MBTA Rail Operations

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