Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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BandA
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by BandA » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:26 pm

1)MBTA is probably not motivated to provide better service for RI commuters
2)Does RI presently pick up the full subsidy for those passengers riding from PVD to BOS? (i.e. provide subsidy from Attleboro-BOS for the percentage of passengers who boarded in RI). Or just cover the operating costs to the state line? Running express, will there be enough passengers to fill the train? RI will have to cover the full subsidy PVD to BOS.
3)How many platform tracks at BOS does the PVD line require? If you increase the frequency to PVD, doesn't that reduce the idle time at the BOS platform?
4)You could divert some Worcester Line trains over the Grand Junction :-D .

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:22 pm

I don't know how the Pilgrim Agreement would handle an express that skip-stops the heavy-use intermediates in MA. RIDOT chucks in 1:1 compensation for all costs associated with running miles past the state line...and includes a % ownership stake in the Purple Line fleet that is auto-adjusted to schedules and ridership so the T gains buying and maintenance power the more butts RI directly puts in the seats on more trips. That's all very cut-and-dried when the schedules are all locals that have already accrued all their intrastate gate receipts into the MBTA's coffers. The T doesn't care how far afield RIDOT asks them to go once they cross the border from South Attleboro, because they already got paid all they were gonna get paid by their own in-district commuters and the rest is just mercenary revenue. It's a different calculus when you start passing up MA intermediate stops. I'm sure the Pilgrim Agreement has a mechanism to handle that, since it's been a very robustly flexible multi-decade partnership that certainly would've anticipated future needs for express service. But even if those clauses exist. . .

1) Does Rhode Island want to pay the going rate for it? It would be a hefty step-up in their fees because of the necessary compensation owed to the T for the in-district revenue trade-offs. I'm not entirely convinced that Gov. Raimondo has dead-serious conviction about this and isn't just sampling some early red meat for her 2018 reelection campaign, because otherwise she'd be posing the same question equally to Amtrak to maximize the odds of getting a favorable response. She didn't posit this to Amtrak...just the T. And that shouldn't go unnoticed now that proposals are getting hashed out by RI's neighbors CT & MA about how to repurpose the subsidy-discounted Springfield Shuttle fares in a post-Hartford Line era (extension to Greenfield, catering it as an express service while the Hartford Line rollout is in its minimalist infancy, etc). Rhode Island can't claim ignorance about subsidized quasi-commuter fares on Amtrak when it's been done for eons in other very targeted applications...including routes-within-a-route like applying the Springfield Shuttle discount to the New Haven-Springfield portion of a D.C-Springfield Regional or D.C-St. Albans Vermonter. Whether Amtrak is game for taking RI commuter subsidies between Providence and Boston on a NE Regional is another story...but nobody asked the question in the first place. Let's see what the options look like when they've talked turkey with BOTH the T and AMTK first. All speculation is premature until Raimondo's people have done that much in initial outreach.

2) South Station Expansion is a real constraint to outright adding Providence schedules, so pretty much the only option today is a trade-off of local stops omitted on some schedules and not a substantial above-and-beyond expansion. The T has legitimate reasons to be wary of that trade-off when all eyes are on the SSX prize. It's one thing if they clinch all the necessary SSX deals and get the major funding thrust secured that makes it a real thing. Then the two states can talk about granting RIDOT's wish as one of the first-priority recipients of all-new schedule expansion. It's very different if terminal-district capacity forces that conversation to be about restructuring the existing schedules and revenue trade-offs. The T is fully within its rights to want a king's ransom of fee hikes for that privilege...and political bluster or no I think RI officials clearly understand where they're coming from there.


For these reasons it's actually easier and less complicated for the T to run wholly intra-RI service like Providence-Westerly or Woonsocket-Wickford than it is to skip-stop the Providence Line. That's pure, unadulterated mercenary subsidy wholly paid for by RIDOT, with the added benefit that RIDOT's % share of fleet ownership gets auto-increased by every consist based out-of-state. So in an odd way the T is likely to say "Hell yeah, give me some more of that!" to a RIDOT request to extend the Providence/Wickford locals linearly to Kingston or run the intrastate service that doesn't touch any MA soil...but feel fully justified in drawing a red line in the sand at skipping Canton Junction on more schedules. And it would make complete sense both ways, because that's how the Pilgrim Agreement rolls and that's how much southside terminal district capacity looms over all decision-making.

I think there's a ripe conversation-starter here...but it's premature until SSX gets nailed-down. It is MUCH easier to make everyone happy when the conversation can move to parceling out the first spoils of post-SSX schedule expansion after the terminal capacity fix has had all its land and funding deals inked, rather than trying to thread the needle to make everyone happy. Because it's the T's sworn duty to put its dues-paying district members first, even if that sweet RIDOT cash does have its obvious upsides for doing mercenary work across the border.

Ryanontherails
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by Ryanontherails » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:17 pm

I've been meaning to get around to posting this, but I happened to be in the area on a Friday evening back in November so I decided to count how many passengers took the 7:09pm train to Boston from T.F. Green Airport. I figured this train would be perfect as it's the first train after the two Norwegian flights get in and I always thought those were the ones most likely to take the train. As I found out, there is an Allegiant flight from Cincinatti arriving around then as well. There were only eleven passengers, which was disappointing to me.
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:The T doesn't care how far afield RIDOT asks them to go once they cross the border from South Attleboro, because they already got paid all they were gonna get paid by their own in-district commuters and the rest is just mercenary revenue.
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:For these reasons it's actually easier and less complicated for the T to run wholly intra-RI service like Providence-Westerly or Woonsocket-Wickford than it is to skip-stop the Providence Line. That's pure, unadulterated mercenary subsidy wholly paid for by RIDOT, with the added benefit that RIDOT's % share of fleet ownership gets auto-increased by every consist based out-of-state. So in an odd way the T is likely to say "Hell yeah, give me some more of that!" to a RIDOT request to extend the Providence/Wickford locals linearly to Kingston or run the intrastate service that doesn't touch any MA soil...but feel fully justified in drawing a red line in the sand at skipping Canton Junction on more schedules. And it would make complete sense both ways, because that's how the Pilgrim Agreement rolls and that's how much southside terminal district capacity looms over all decision-making.
Well, if RIDOT decides they want service as far as the airport, that's all the more reason it will happen!

artman
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by artman » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:14 pm

Ryanontherails wrote:I've been meaning to get around to posting this, but I happened to be in the area on a Friday evening back in November so I decided to count how many passengers took the 7:09pm train to Boston from T.F. Green Airport. I figured this train would be perfect as it's the first train after the two Norwegian flights get in and I always thought those were the ones most likely to take the train. As I found out, there is an Allegiant flight from Cincinatti arriving around then as well. There were only eleven passengers, which was disappointing to me.

Well, if RIDOT decides they want service as far as the airport, that's all the more reason it will happen!
What is the cost for parking at T.F. Green? I imagine if it were $35+ like at Logan, far more would train it

Ryanontherails
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by Ryanontherails » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:15 pm

artman wrote:What is the cost for parking at T.F. Green? I imagine if it were $35+ like at Logan, far more would train it
It's $45/week, but if you live close to public transportation, it may be cheaper and easier to just leave the car in the driveway at home.

eubnesby
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by eubnesby » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:53 pm

Anyone know anything about track three in Kingston? It's there, and so are the wires...but no sign of any trains using it.

johnpbarlow
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by johnpbarlow » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:36 am

Cross post re: FRA Grant for engineering study to enable TF Green station to accommodate Amtrak Regional trains - I'm guessing there may be some benefit to MBTA service as well:
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=78728&start=15#p1511189

daybeers
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by daybeers » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:11 am

Sounds great but it appears the link isn't working.

blackcap
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by blackcap » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:56 am

The most recent change to the board involved moving the forum from the "/forums" directory to the main directory, so removing "/forums" from the URL will correct the problem with broken forum links.

https://www.railroad.net//viewtopic.php ... 5#p1511189

daybeers
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by daybeers » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:01 pm

Just came back to write this after learning. Thanks!

As for the article: good progress, but ugh, U.S. infrastructure...why does a study cost $2.8 million?! I know I shouldn't be surprised, but still. Also, I hope this includes researching feasibility of full electrification of the Providence Line. It's just like the Shore Line East in CT: makes no sense to be running diesel trains with catenary directly overhead in the 21st century. Amtrak management just wants to be a PITA.

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BandA
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by BandA » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:28 pm

Electrification of the Boston & Providence Line has been discussed pretty thoroughly...highlights of the obstacles: Not enough substation capacity for the more frequent trains; Sharon substation was built with a pad to add additional transformer later. No MBTA service facilities on the south side - you would have to tow an electric locomotive using a diesel over the Grand Junction to Boston Engine Terminal. Have to have a segregated train fleet for electrics, requiring more storage space. Adding additional locomotive type makes maintenance more complicated. Only the tracks used by Amtrak are wired - there are station tracks, yard tracks, etc that would need to be wired for MBTA use. Amtrak allegedly overcharges for the electricity. Due to lack of economy of scale, electric locomotives cost more than diesel-electric locomotives even though they are simpler. Common sense solutions like having Amtrak pool & service MBTA electric locomotives & in exchange have Keolis provide & service Downeaster locomotives are not even being talked about.

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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:36 pm

No such thing as a stupid question, so I'm going to ask it. Isn't this line the NEC so it's already electrified? Not sure what I"m missing, so I appreciate someone bringing me up to speed.

Thanks,

el Jefe :wink:
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daybeers
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by daybeers » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:15 pm

Yes, NEC North is all electrified. Amtrak did New Haven-Boston in the 90s in preparation for the Acela. The problem is there are lots of yard and some station siding tracks that aren't electrified.

Oh believe me, I know all the "obstacles" to the MBTA using the overhead catenary on NEC North, but they're all BS. It's just money and willpower, and Amtrak has been a PITA for years. Have you been to Back Bay recently? The MBTA is spending tens of millions on a new ventilation system expected to be complete in 2022 when they should just switch to electrics (slowly, over time of course). They've even done studies about the dangerous air quality as far back as 2006! The 18,000 commuters using that station every day are quite literally, slowly but surely, getting lung cancer. Electrics aren't really that much more expensive than diesels, and the more of them you have to maintain, the less it costs. Not to mention how much positive press the MBTA could get for electrification, which is surely needs.

The yard tracks and sidings needing to be electrified is the same excuse used for Shore Line East in CT. Some of the sidings that serve the platforms aren't electrified, and Amtrak is dragging their feet about finishing the work for what? nobody knows. Yes, they do overcharge for electricity quite a bit, but just get Congress involved and it'll be fine. The electrification would allow one-seat rides using the M8 trainsets from Grand Central Terminal all the way to New London, CT, about 123 miles! The problem is Amtrak has delayed on qualifying the trainsets to run east of New Haven and some siding electrification hasn't been completed.

South Coast Rail electrification doesn't count, as that project is a complete boondoggle and isn't needed nearly as much as NSRL. Same with South Station Expansion.

Here's a funny sticker about Back Bay's black lung problem :-D

Sorry I'm so pessimistic: I just find it very frustrating we are still using diesel trains in 2019 when the world is pretty much on fire and perfectly good catenary is 80% set up.

charlesriverbranch
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by charlesriverbranch » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:15 pm

Any electrification of the Providence Line MBTA service would be contingent on electrifying the entire MBTA CR system, I think, and that's unrealistic.

I still wonder if battery-electric trains might be the answer.

Backshophoss
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Re: Commuter Rail to Rhode Island Discussion

Post by Backshophoss » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:31 pm

MBTA has this. "everything has to be used everywhere" mentality for equipment,they WONT consider Motors or EMU's. :( :( :(
The Land of Enchantment is not Flyover country!

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