BandA wrote:Can't use the Grand Junction for trolleys, it is already being used for freight and CR equipment moves.
Not true. You can take it off the RR network without unduly impacting commuter rail use if certain prerequisites are met:
1. More equipment independence between northside and southside. If the T had enough padding on its reserves, there wouldn't be a need to keep shuttling cars to keep equipment availability on each side in such precise balance in the face of yearly shortages. Same goes for work equipment, which they are starved for systemwide and have to triage overwhelmingly from northside.
2. More places to store that equipment. If they luck out on that Widett Circle real estate deal with the bottom-level storage easement they're pretty much set here...and set for freeing up some reserve work equipment space at their (incredible shrinking) Beacon Park easement.
3. Full-service maintenance facility for the southside. A start on electrifying the Providence + Indigo-Fairmount + Indigo-Riverside lines kicks off that process by default, since the EMU's or electric locos would be captive south-only. You'd also want that same facility to be able to handle day-to-day coach servicing needs to start differentiating S&I jobs with BET. Say...diesel locos still have all their work done north and any heavy-repair jobs go north, but southside gets fortified to keep up on inspections and day-to-day maintenance of the coach fleet.
4. The PAR Worcester Branch is upgraded to Class 2 or 3 speeds at full state-of-repair. This is going to happen anyway with a more competent owner than PAR, because once NS shears off the Patriot Corridor then Worcester-Portland becomes 'the' freight main. MassDOT's going to burn some cash helping out with that rebuild in the next decade for the sake of the next freight regime, so eventually the CR Hospital Trains will be able to sustain 35+ MPH and get the round-trip done in under 3 instead of 5+ hours.
5. All of the above in #1-3--fortifying southside equipment reserves + storage, adding southside maint facilities + differentiation with BET--limits the required number of north-south equipment swaps from up to 2 a day to only ~3 per week. That keeps the operating costs of running much longer-distance in *relative* balance with today. And as per #3, the swaps are going to lean heavier on shuffling diesel power and lighter on shuffling coaches because southside is picking up more S&I tasks and starting to differentiate its fleet with initial introduction of electrics. So it may cost more per trip, and CR employees might grumble that it's a lot less convenient...but *relative* equilibrium is maintained systemwide so the re-route doesn't become any undue burden.
Freight will probably solve itself. CSX stops serving Houghton Chemical @ Beacon Park on its Everett daily come July 2018, which opens up an opportunity to shove their Everett customers off on a haulage deal to PAR. CSX can keep their customers and chase new business at Everett Terminal, but PAR pockets some extra cash by tacking CSX's loads onto their own Everett BO-# freight and interchanging with CSX at Worcester...while CSX makes more total money keeping the loads but saving more in cut staff and operating costs by abolishing the Everett job. So long as PAR meets on-time performance targets at the interchange, the loads arrive in Framingham all the same...only now they're picked up on the westbound daily that handles the G&U + P&W + PAR interchanges instead of on the eastbound direct to Everett. In the event CSX ever needs to take back the job for itself, the state can substitute an overhead rights agreement on the Fitchburg Line inbound of Ayer in place of the deleted Grand Junction (GJ has a system-worst Plate B freight clearance because of the very low Memorial Drive overpass, so Plate C on the inner Fitchburg actually ends up a capacity improvement for CSX).
^^This (excepting the carrier-to-carrier freight outsourcing which will probably happen within 18 months) is several hundred $M's in eat-your-peas stuff. But it's all upgrades the state has to do anyway to keep up with general growth: the equipment reserves, the southside storage, the southside maint facilities, the upgraded freight line. So all you have to do is group these loosely into a master plan instead of treating them each as wholly independent bucket-list items, and start plugging away. Past a certain fortified threshold, you're A-OK to take the Grand Junction even without an intra-city replacement like North-South Rail Link advancing any further beyond the next study-about-studies. The upside in being able to string together real rapid transit on that route so insanely outweighs the most convenient Hospital Train route that it's a no-brainer. Just don't leap until you've eaten enough peas to not need to run the Hospital Train more than a few times a week for sanity's sake.
As described earlier from the CTPS study, the only reason demand for a Worcester-North Station direct exists for even part
of the day is because Red and Orange are too oft-FUBAR'ed at rush hour. Fix the subway state-of-repair and fix the dwell problems that are choking the Big Four downtown transfer stations, and the patronage for the B&A one-seat to Kendall & BON vanishes. The only route of any kind that gets outright prevented by taking the GJ is an Amtrak New York-Portland daily via the Inland Route and a North Station reverse. And that's not more than a tiny niche of thru riders once you take away the Boston overchurn of typical Inland Route patronage vs. typical Downeaster patronage. Nothing you'd ever want to blink on a rapid transit build by fretting over, especially if fixing Orange makes the current BBY-BON transfer leg between NEC trains and the Downeaster a lot more real-world useful.