• Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (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 roberttosh
 
Is there any timeline set for closing the single track gap at Ballardvale? Seems crazy to let that one choke point linger for so long after all the time and effort spent on double tracking the rest of the line.
  by BostonUrbEx
 
There is no funding for the Ballardvale gap. I'd suggest raising the concern with any of your politicians that will listen. Andover, Lawrence, and Haverhill city Councillors who have connections and pull at state levels, or preferably state legislators who can directly secure the funding themselves.
  by roberttosh
 
BostonUrbEx wrote:There is no funding for the Ballardvale gap. I'd suggest raising the concern with any of your politicians that will listen. Andover, Lawrence, and Haverhill city Councillors who have connections and pull at state levels, or preferably state legislators who can directly secure the funding themselves.
Funny, they can come up with 2 billion to extend the green line 4 miles to Medford and close to 4 billion more to extend CR to Fall River and New Bedford (not to mention other questionable expenditures) yet they can't come up with the money to close a quarter mile single track gap in what is arguably the biggest rail transportation choke point in the state. Granted there's station and land concerns as well but the fact that this isn't at the top of the list of things to get done is absurd.
  by gokeefe
 
Tracks going back in on that bridge must have just happened. They weren't there three or so weeks ago.
  by Arlington
 
roberttosh wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:There is no funding for the Ballardvale gap. I'd suggest raising the concern with any of your politicians that will listen. Andover, Lawrence, and Haverhill city Councillors who have connections and pull at state levels, or preferably state legislators who can directly secure the funding themselves.
Funny, they can come up with 2 billion to extend the green line 4 miles to Medford and close to 4 billion more to extend CR to Fall River and New Bedford (not to mention other questionable expenditures) yet they can't come up with the money to close a quarter mile single track gap in what is arguably the biggest rail transportation choke point in the state. Granted there's station and land concerns as well but the fact that this isn't at the top of the list of things to get done is absurd.
There's no defending South Coast, but how much of Ballardville's problem is visual/psychological vs operational at this point?
AM Inbound boardings on the Newbury/Rockport line beyond the Salem tunnel is nearly 6,700 (out of 8,500 on both lines)*
AM Inbound boardings from Ballardville outwards are around 2,300. Throw in the Downeaster and you're still short of 3,000

So it is hard to say that Ballardville single track is the biggest choke point in the state when it is clearly less of a choke point than the Salem tunnel.

AM Inbound boardings on the GLX will be about 20,000.

* Corrected downwards; originally I said 8,000
Last edited by Arlington on Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by roberttosh
 
I guess my point is that they've already completed 99% of the project, so why not fund the remaining 1% when it will improve things so significantly? As far as the situation in Salem, is double tracking even feasible - and if so, at what cost? Also, I wasn't basing my point that Ballardvale is arguably the biggest choke point in the state on CR ridership numbers. Salem lies along a dead end CR route, while Ballardvale is on a combined CR and interstate Amtrak passenger corridor as well as on one of the regions most important freight routes. Overall, I would still say that it's the state's most critical choke point.
Last edited by CRail on Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary nesting quotes removed.
  by Arlington
 
Red Wing wrote:Arlington,
You are forgetting Pan Am freights.
True, [upon recounting*] inbound AM passengers, and found that 6,700 passed through the Salem tunnel vs 3,000 that traversed Ballardville

If you'd like to count trains, I reckon we'll get an answer where, again, Salem is a bigger choke point

Counting trains:
Salem Tunnel is handling 66 MBTA trains a day (I counted 33 inbound and doubled it)

Ballardville handles: 30 MBTA trains a day (I counted 15 inbound at Ballardville and doubled it)
Ballardville handles: 10 Amtrak trains a day
Ballardville will add: 2 Amtrak trains a day
Ballardville will do 42 Passenger trains per day (when the DE steps up to 6 r/t a day)
I'm thinking even if I counted and added Pan Am freights, we're not talking 24 freight trains a day, are we?

So it seems that Newburyport-Rockport has 2x the passengers and [you'll tell me how the train #s compare]. If our definition of choke point is "single track stretch that stands between [rail activity] and Boston", Salem tunnel is still choking more people and probably more train movements.

But viewed another way, with proper scheduling, there'd be reason to believe that Ballardville-Haverhill will function at a new, higher throughput (matching N/R) and not actually need Ballardville upgraded.

I'm sure that if I traversed Ballardville (or Malden) every day on a single track stretch, I'd feel "choked" in an OCD sorta way--I'd hate looking out at it, just like I'm going to hate when the Lowell is single tracked through the GLX construction from Tufts to NS.

But stepping back I'd see that N/R has been similarly single-tracked at its very heart and works well-enough at twice the passengers and similar-or-more train movements.

*Salem tunnel is a chokepoint in 6,700 AM inbounds (corrected downwards from my early, incorrect "8,000") but still is the "double" the Haverhill ridership that I've been calling it
Last edited by Arlington on Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by BostonUrbEx
 
Arlington wrote:I'm thinking even if I counted and added Pan Am freights, we're not talking 24 freight trains a day, are we?
Freight trains are much longer and take much more time to traverse the same distance as passenger trains. If you weight freight trains more heavily, I'd absolutely say that the Ballardvale choke point is more pressing. Even without freight, it is also likely cheaper to fix on a per passenger cost basis because Salem would be so damn expensive to fix.

Also would like to point out that the Ballardvale single track is longer than the Salem single track.
  by Arlington
 
I'd like to flip the question: how much capacity has the Haverhill Line Upgrade already added, and how much can service grow (in MBTA trains & passengers), such as by adding greater layover space near Plaistow, before it reaches the operational limit imposed by a choke point at Ballardville? Aren't the value-for-money next steps for Haverhill on the double-decker and layover side? IE Ballardville may be a chokepoint, but is it the limiting bottleneck, or the most cost-effective way to add capacity, or does that actually lie in removing bottlenecks in yards and rolling stock?
Last edited by Arlington on Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by gokeefe
 
Given the extremely low cost to finish Ballardvale vs anything else I doubt it can be beat in terms of "value".
  by roberttosh
 
Good discussion and valid points all around. That being said, I still think Ballardvale is the bigger bang for the buck fix. Granted Salem may see more movements, but as BUE pointed out at Ballardvale you're trying to squeeze in both less predictable long distance Amtrak passenger trains as well as completely unpredictable, much slower freight trains with a scheduled CR operation. 3 different outfits all sharing the same stretch of single track. Furthermore, though maybe not so much in the very near future, the Western Route could see increased train movements with all 3 tenants whereas the Eastern is pretty much limited in that regard since it's a dead end CR route.
gokeefe wrote:Given the extremely low cost to finish Ballardvale vs anything else I doubt it can be beat in terms of "value".
Double tracking through the Salem tunnel would be another big dig, or maybe little dig, but definitely in the hundreds of millions.
  by gokeefe
 
roberttosh wrote:Furthermore, though maybe not so much in the very near future, the Western Route could see increased train movements with all 3 tenants whereas the Eastern is pretty much limited in that regard since it's a dead end CR route.
That is a very serious possibility for freight in particular. The Downeaster is only a matter of time before NNEPRA is able to complete the required improvements for the 6th roundtrip. Pan Am on the other hand could materialize much sooner and in much greater volumes.
  by Arlington
 
gokeefe wrote:Pan Am on the other hand could materialize much sooner and in much greater volumes.
How many trains/day now? and "much greater volumes" would be how many more?
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