Amtrak, Fairmount, and the NEC

AmericanFolkLegend

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Maybe I should've posted Design a Better Back Bay instead?
Agreed that SS is an infinitely more pleasant waiting/boarding experience than BBY. Between the exhaust and the crowds and the lack of any amenities (other than a taco cart), BBY has a sort of sci-fi dystopian feel.
 

HenryAlan

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This is true, but the use pattern is more along the lines of a subway station. People don't usually get there more than a couple minutes ahead of the train. I'm not sure better amenities would be much of a draw. Certainly it could be less ugly, although aesthetics are a tricky thing. And the taco cart (really more of a burrito cart) is fantastic!
 

bbfen

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Nothing will ever "blast" out of South Station. Ever.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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This is true, but the use pattern is more along the lines of a subway station. People don't usually get there more than a couple minutes ahead of the train. I'm not sure better amenities would be much of a draw. Certainly it could be less ugly, although aesthetics are a tricky thing. And the taco cart (really more of a burrito cart) is fantastic!
Besides a more inviting look, it should have an air quality on the commuter rail / Amtrak platforms that can't be described with words like 'oppressive' 'sickening' or 'hazardous.'

Weren't they supposed to install a vent system at some point? What's the status on that?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Besides a more inviting look, it should have an air quality on the commuter rail / Amtrak platforms that can't be described with words like 'oppressive' 'sickening' or 'hazardous.'

Weren't they supposed to install a vent system at some point? What's the status on that?
Partially funded, I think. It's moving...it'll get done...but it's not moving very fast.

Not an optional fix...the EPA's already barked at them over the abysmal air quality in that station. I've been up in the lobby before when a commuter rail loco having some mechanical issues was spewing more smoke than usual. Giant clouds of it were wafting up the stairs and people were coughing and rubbing their eyes. Yeah...they can't let the ventilation situation there persist much longer. It's already at the point of health hazard.
 

HenryAlan

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Besides a more inviting look, it should have an air quality on the commuter rail / Amtrak platforms that can't be described with words like 'oppressive' 'sickening' or 'hazardous.'

Weren't they supposed to install a vent system at some point? What's the status on that?
Perhaps it died with Columbus Center? Maybe Ned Flaherty can comment on this issue.
 

Nexis4jersey

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Honestly I think by 2030 stations like 128 and Metropark which service ever so shrinking office parks will be dumped by Amtrak. They won't be needed , as those 2 corporate parks die off....sure they can be redeveloped into TOD but that doesn't warrant Amtrak... With the Case of Metropark the companies are moving South to Booming New Brunswick or Newark. Idk about 128 so much , I'm assuming there moving south to Providence or North to Boston...
 

Nexis4jersey

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As for 3 Tracking the line , its not really needed right away. With Electrification and signal improvements you could mix Amtrak and MBTA trains just fine without incident. But do the road for Capacity Upgrades adding a 3rd track might be a good idea , it could act as a High Speed Bypass with a Top speed of 130mph...of course during peak periods it could be an Amtrak only track. I have looked at the whole line , adding a 3rd Track with some push wouldn't be that hard.... Aside from Electrifying this line , I think the T should electrify the entire South Station Network. It would greatly enhance the service along the short spurs like the Greenbush line and Needham line. Longer lines like the Franklin line or the Middleboro line would benefit from faster service. Despite the Heavily bulky trains we have in this Country ,EMUs are still faster then Diesel push pulls...
 

Nexis4jersey

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As for the NEC , Amtrak wants the line to be 4 Tracked all the way to Providence , and 3 Tracked to Wickford for long term capacity enhancements , and safety. They also want flyovers at Canton JCT to allow trains to cross over the tracks safely. The Capacity issues along the NEC , are one of the reasons why most of the Rail community does not see the current Next Gen HSL plans going through but rather the I-84 / Worcester alignment which was a candidate but was dropped for some reason.

Lets recap the stations for the Next Gen proposal...


Current / Proposed , Planned , Under Construction Stations

Next Gen High Speed Rail Northeast

Next Gen Super Express - Replaces Acela Express
Washington DC Union Station
Philadelphia Market East Station
New York Penn Station
Grand Central HSR Station
Hartford Union Station
Boston Back Bay Station
Boston South Station

Next Gen Express - Acela Regional
Washington DC Union Station
BWI Airport Station
Baltimore Charles Center
Wilmington HSR Station
Philadelphia In't Airport
Philadelphia Market East

Trenton Transit Center
Newark Liberty Airport
Newark Penn Station
New York Penn Station
Grand Central HSR Station
White Plains HSR Station
Danbury HSR
Waterbury HSR Station

Hartford Union Station
Tolland (UConn)
Worcester Union HSR Station
Metro West HSR Station
Riverside HSR Station

Back Bay Station
South Station


Next Gen Shoreline Express - Old Acela , Coastal Acela
Washington DC Union Station
BWI Airport Station
Baltimore Penn Station
Wilmington HSR Station
Philadelphia 30th Street
Newark Penn Station
New York Penn Station
Stamford Station
New Haven Union Station
Providence Union Station
Boston Back Bay Station
Boston South Station


Next Gen Long Island Express
Washington DC Union Station
BWI Airport Station
Baltimore Charles Center
Wilmington HSR Station
Philadelphia In't Airport
Philadelphia Market East

Newark Liberty In't Airport
Newark Penn Station
New York Penn Station
Jamaica - JFK Airport Station
Nassau Hub
Farmingdale - Route 110
Ronkonkoma - Mac Arthur Airport
Terryville (SUNY Stony Brook)

New Haven Union Station
Meriden Station
Hartford Union Station
Tolland (UConn)
Worcester Union HSR Station
Metro West HSR Station
Riverside HSR Station

Back Bay Station
South Station
 

Commuting Boston Student

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As for the NEC , Amtrak wants the line to be 4 Tracked all the way to Providence , and 3 Tracked to Wickford for long term capacity enhancements , and safety. They also want flyovers at Canton JCT to allow trains to cross over the tracks safely. The Capacity issues along the NEC , are one of the reasons why most of the Rail community does not see the current Next Gen HSL plans going through but rather the I-84 / Worcester alignment which was a candidate but was dropped for some reason.

Lets recap the stations for the Next Gen proposal...
I may or may not have expressed a sentiment similar to this before on this forum, but Amtrak's NEC vision is laughable - a word which here means 'misses the point completely and absolutely should never come to pass.'

The Inlander route was dropped because it's an extra $1B or so to cut Providence and New Haven off of HSR in favor of Worcester and Hartford - but Worcester will already pick up an HSR connection from Springfield or Albany and points West to Boston, and Hartford wants HSR between Springfield and New Haven. Bypassing Providence is a solution in search of a problem - the real issues requiring a bypass at all kick in once you hit MetroNorth territory, and an I-95 routing can be built cheaper and has much more breathing room anywhere between T.F. Green Airport and south of Kingston Station.

Current / Proposed , Planned , Under Construction Stations

Next Gen High Speed Rail Northeast

Next Gen Super Express - Replaces Acela Express
Washington DC Union Station
Philadelphia Market East Station
New York Penn Station
Grand Central HSR Station
Hartford Union Station
Boston Back Bay Station
Boston South Station
For similar reasons, Market East shouldn't happen because it's an insane money sink solution in search of a 'problem' - that problem being 30th Street Station, unfortunately, 30th Street is too valuable as a connection to the Keystone Corridor which is Pennsylvania's primary interest in HSR anyway.

Next Gen Express - Acela Regional
Washington DC Union Station
BWI Airport Station
Baltimore Charles Center
Wilmington HSR Station
Philadelphia In't Airport
Philadelphia Market East

Trenton Transit Center
Newark Liberty Airport
Newark Penn Station
New York Penn Station
Grand Central HSR Station
White Plains HSR Station
Danbury HSR
Waterbury HSR Station

Hartford Union Station
Tolland (UConn)
Worcester Union HSR Station
Metro West HSR Station
Riverside HSR Station

Back Bay Station
South Station
I somehow doubt that UConn wants or needs their own HSR stop and Metro West / Riverside can both be axed and consolidated into a Weston Regional Transportation Center. There's plenty of room around the Pike/128/30 interchange, which itself could be easily reconfigured to serve both for the park-and-ride crowd and offers a Green Line connection that would only require the Green Line to be extended some several hundred feet - much easier than trying to relocate Riverside, or the tracks into Riverside. This is also a convenient place to jump HSR off of the Worcester line and onto I-90, where it could extend into Springfield en route to Albany or New Haven via Hartford.

Next Gen Shoreline Express - Old Acela , Coastal Acela
Washington DC Union Station
BWI Airport Station
Baltimore Penn Station
Wilmington HSR Station
Philadelphia 30th Street
Newark Penn Station
New York Penn Station
Stamford Station
New Haven Union Station
Providence Union Station
Boston Back Bay Station
Boston South Station
What's in Stamford, anyway? It seems like a stop that should go the way of Trenton, to me. I could be wrong though...
 

Nexis4jersey

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I may or may not have expressed a sentiment similar to this before on this forum, but Amtrak's NEC vision is laughable - a word which here means 'misses the point completely and absolutely should never come to pass.'

The Inlander route was dropped because it's an extra $1B or so to cut Providence and New Haven off of HSR in favor of Worcester and Hartford - but Worcester will already pick up an HSR connection from Springfield or Albany and points West to Boston, and Hartford wants HSR between Springfield and New Haven. Bypassing Providence is a solution in search of a problem - the real issues requiring a bypass at all kick in once you hit MetroNorth territory, and an I-95 routing can be built cheaper and has much more breathing room anywhere between T.F. Green Airport and south of Kingston Station.



For similar reasons, Market East shouldn't happen because it's an insane money sink solution in search of a 'problem' - that problem being 30th Street Station, unfortunately, 30th Street is too valuable as a connection to the Keystone Corridor which is Pennsylvania's primary interest in HSR anyway.



I somehow doubt that UConn wants or needs their own HSR stop and Metro West / Riverside can both be axed and consolidated into a Weston Regional Transportation Center. There's plenty of room around the Pike/128/30 interchange, which itself could be easily reconfigured to serve both for the park-and-ride crowd and offers a Green Line connection that would only require the Green Line to be extended some several hundred feet - much easier than trying to relocate Riverside, or the tracks into Riverside. This is also a convenient place to jump HSR off of the Worcester line and onto I-90, where it could extend into Springfield en route to Albany or New Haven via Hartford.



What's in Stamford, anyway? It seems like a stop that should go the way of Trenton, to me. I could be wrong though...
1. A Shoreline route is too congested and curvy to handle speeds above 130mph even with improvements so a New ROW is needed between Westchester and Boston to achieve 220mph speeds. The Various routes seem to all agree on riding I-684/84 to Hartford , then either going to Woonsocket which I think is laughable or going to Worcester which I think is better. I do think a Tolland Stop is stupid....that was slipped into the Amtrak plans for some reason by UCONN... As for New Haven if the LI Express every gets built then it will have 2 services , one being the Shoreline express and the other being LI Express along with regular Amtrak Services and Metro North. Rerouting I-95 would be pricey , they've looked at alot of things and decided it be best for a New line to be built. Its not like a line to nowhere , at Danbury it would connect to the Danbury Branch , at Waterbury it would connect to the Waterbury and Bristol Branches , in Hartford it would connect to the Busway , LRT and Amtrak services. Its not like its a dead route... With Proposals for a Woonsocket - Worcester line to be built one day , its not like Providence loses out completely.... As for Worcester HSR , I guess you mean Amtrak's Proposed Cross England Service which Electrifies the exisiting Lake Shore limited for Boston to Albany and adds 12 round trip trains. The line would be one of 13 Mini HSL's with a max speed of 125mph. Actually the whole line will be bypassed except in and around NYC , Boston and DC ...the New Southern NEC will involve New 2 New tracks to run next to or in the existing NEC from NYC to DC which is possible.

2. Market East is in the Heart of a boom Center City , alot of jobs and tourist traps are within the station , and if you factor in the Urban Transit ,along with Regional Rail its the Busiest station in the region with 90,000 daily trips. As for why the new Tracks will go through Center City , the current NEC even with speed upgrading it will still cost Amtrak 35 mins to get in and out of Philly , this new Route knocks that down to 10 mins. The 30th Street Station will still be used by the Shore line Express , Amtrak Services , Regional Rail , Subway and Trolleys.... By 2030 even with improvements the various interchanges will be at capacity....so that's also another reason to bypass 30th Street. With all the Redevelopments planned for the stations around Philly , a new Station will be needed by 2030.... regardless....the city is exploding at a incredible rate and its around the train station and along trolley lines.

3. I would keep Metrowest , but dump Worcester and Riverside and UCONN...

4. Stamford and White Plains are both booming with jobs leaving Manhattan due to Costs , same is happening to Newark which has taken alot of jobs from the suburbs and Manhattan recently. As for how many Jobs , both White Plains and Stamford have at least 180,000 jobs , 40-50,000 jobs are high paying posh jobs....the rest are in between but still decent jobs. These Job booms have caused Housing booms and Rail Usage Booms along the MNRR system. The Stamford Station is used by 25,000 all modes added , and the 18,000 use the White Plains station... Not as much as Newark which sees 115,000 daily users , or NY which sees 600,000+ a day but still decent. So Stamford is a keeper. Trenton on the other hand can be dumped , its only used by 12,000 all modes , mostly regional Rail and Bus , only 200 Amtrak users. Theres about 600 daily Amtrak users at Stamford if i'm correct....and growing due to the City Growth.
 

kz1000ps

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How many of those boardings were Acela boardings versus Regionals, though? We can absolutely pull one and not the other if it comes to that.
Sorry I missed your question from last week. I've never ridden Acela, always the regional trains, so I guess at the very least keep regionals running through BBY.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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1. A Shoreline route is too congested and curvy to handle speeds above 130mph even with improvements so a New ROW is needed between Westchester and Boston to achieve 220mph speeds. The Various routes seem to all agree on riding I-684/84 to Hartford , then either going to Woonsocket which I think is laughable or going to Worcester which I think is better. I do think a Tolland Stop is stupid....that was slipped into the Amtrak plans for some reason by UCONN... As for New Haven if the LI Express every gets built then it will have 2 services , one being the Shoreline express and the other being LI Express along with regular Amtrak Services and Metro North. Rerouting I-95 would be pricey , they've looked at alot of things and decided it be best for a New line to be built. Its not like a line to nowhere , at Danbury it would connect to the Danbury Branch , at Waterbury it would connect to the Waterbury and Bristol Branches , in Hartford it would connect to the Busway , LRT and Amtrak services. Its not like its a dead route... With Proposals for a Woonsocket - Worcester line to be built one day , its not like Providence loses out completely.... As for Worcester HSR , I guess you mean Amtrak's Proposed Cross England Service which Electrifies the exisiting Lake Shore limited for Boston to Albany and adds 12 round trip trains. The line would be one of 13 Mini HSL's with a max speed of 125mph. Actually the whole line will be bypassed except in and around NYC , Boston and DC ...the New Southern NEC will involve New 2 New tracks to run next to or in the existing NEC from NYC to DC which is possible.

2. Market East is in the Heart of a boom Center City , alot of jobs and tourist traps are within the station , and if you factor in the Urban Transit ,along with Regional Rail its the Busiest station in the region with 90,000 daily trips. As for why the new Tracks will go through Center City , the current NEC even with speed upgrading it will still cost Amtrak 35 mins to get in and out of Philly , this new Route knocks that down to 10 mins. The 30th Street Station will still be used by the Shore line Express , Amtrak Services , Regional Rail , Subway and Trolleys.... By 2030 even with improvements the various interchanges will be at capacity....so that's also another reason to bypass 30th Street. With all the Redevelopments planned for the stations around Philly , a new Station will be needed by 2030.... regardless....the city is exploding at a incredible rate and its around the train station and along trolley lines.

3. I would keep Metrowest , but dump Worcester and Riverside and UCONN...

4. Stamford and White Plains are both booming with jobs leaving Manhattan due to Costs , same is happening to Newark which has taken alot of jobs from the suburbs and Manhattan recently. As for how many Jobs , both White Plains and Stamford have at least 180,000 jobs , 40-50,000 jobs are high paying posh jobs....the rest are in between but still decent jobs. These Job booms have caused Housing booms and Rail Usage Booms along the MNRR system. The Stamford Station is used by 25,000 all modes added , and the 18,000 use the White Plains station... Not as much as Newark which sees 115,000 daily users , or NY which sees 600,000+ a day but still decent. So Stamford is a keeper. Trenton on the other hand can be dumped , its only used by 12,000 all modes , mostly regional Rail and Bus , only 200 Amtrak users. Theres about 600 daily Amtrak users at Stamford if i'm correct....and growing due to the City Growth.
1. Riding I-95 is going to cost the same or less than riding I-84 will. It's a choice between two new ROWs - not one new ROW or Shore Line.

I'm not sure who agrees that switching Providence and New Haven for Worcester and Hartford (which, when factoring in the Boston-Albany HSR, turns into just Hartford) is a net benefit, especially given the associated cost gain and Hartford's HSR demands not being a direct link to Boston.

If Danbury, Waterbury and Woonsocket aren't lines to nowhere, I'm not sure what your definition of a line to nowhere is exactly. These are all localities that benefit from a mid-speed local connection (Hartford for the first two, Providence for the third), not a super-express trip to New York or DC.

2. Yes, it's in the heart of a major city, but the costs associated with punching right through to the Center City are just too immense for what it gets you. It's far more cost effective to upgrade 30th Street Station, even if you factor in the cost (which will be necessary) of completely replacing the mess that's down there right now. There's not enough good reasons to do it, and way too many good reasons not to.

3. Boston - Worcester - Springfield - Albany - Points West seems like a more ideal station spacing than Boston - MetroWest - Springfield - Albany does. I would have MetroWest and/or Weston/Riverside serve the Park-and-Ride crowd into Boston or west to Worcester/Springfield, where they could transfer onto HSR if so desired.

4. Fair enough, but I'm not happy about keeping Stamford.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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1. Riding I-95 is going to cost the same or less than riding I-84 will. It's a choice between two new ROWs - not one new ROW or Shore Line.

I'm not sure who agrees that switching Providence and New Haven for Worcester and Hartford (which, when factoring in the Boston-Albany HSR, turns into just Hartford) is a net benefit, especially given the associated cost gain and Hartford's HSR demands not being a direct link to Boston.

If Danbury, Waterbury and Woonsocket aren't lines to nowhere, I'm not sure what your definition of a line to nowhere is exactly. These are all localities that benefit from a mid-speed local connection (Hartford for the first two, Providence for the third), not a super-express trip to New York or DC.

2. Yes, it's in the heart of a major city, but the costs associated with punching right through to the Center City are just too immense for what it gets you. It's far more cost effective to upgrade 30th Street Station, even if you factor in the cost (which will be necessary) of completely replacing the mess that's down there right now. There's not enough good reasons to do it, and way too many good reasons not to.

3. Boston - Worcester - Springfield - Albany - Points West seems like a more ideal station spacing than Boston - MetroWest - Springfield - Albany does. I would have MetroWest and/or Weston/Riverside serve the Park-and-Ride crowd into Boston or west to Worcester/Springfield, where they could transfer onto HSR if so desired.

4. Fair enough, but I'm not happy about keeping Stamford.
I-84 ROW construction is gonna be hella expensive. There's enough median room, but a couple of the hills in Tolland County are too steep to support regulation 1% track grades. The hill between Exit 68/Tunnel Rd. and the Willington rest area in particular...no way that's doable without busting out the tunnel boring machine. A far better route is building a combo highway/rail line for the I-384 Willimantic extension. They almost had the routing accepted 9 years ago for Fed fast-tracking...a route that minimized land-taking, spread the median wide with a greenway, and had tacit local support. And then the Army Corps decided to play God and politics, jab its preferred routing with dozens more houses of land-taking, and deny the EIS. Fell apart right there...for the umpteenth time. I think if they re-mounted the effort with rail on the median (which, mind you, is nearly 1/4 mile wide because of the greenway setting), that might be enough to put it over the top. It has this going for it:

1) Shotgun marrying it to the highway is some safety in numbers on the EIS. The highway funding, which is more plentiful and which would favor this long-desired route, can clear away a ton of the paper hurdles for the rail line if a bare railbed were graded during the highway construction. They don't have to build the thing until they need it...just grade it and take advantage of the permitting.

2) The Manchester Secondary crosses the highway at Bolton Notch where current I-384 ends, and is active to Manchester Ctr. with only a short abandoned jog through Vernon. Easy one to do without displacing the rail trail because the railbed here runs through a state park. On the other side the active stub of the Willimantic Secondary crosses under the existing Route 6 expressway that 384 would connect to. So there's your entry and exit points for highway+rail. And on the highway grading it would have curvature supporting 150 MPH. You could probably do 150 from East Hartford yard to Manchester if the Manchester Sec. had its last grade crossings eliminated, then a slower zone on the curve through Bolton Notch, then 150 again to Willimantic along 384. You sure as hell ain't going that fast on the NEC Shoreline.

3) It's got immediate utility as a freight route. NECR and P&W, the state's two largest carriers, already exchange double-stack freight in Willimantic. NECR and CSO, the carrier that operates out of Hartford on the Manchester Sec., are owned by the same company, RailAmerica. Both are growing at a good clip, but they have no physical connection to each other. Bringing double stacks to Hartford Yard would be a big freakin' deal for I-84/I-91 traffic. And if P&W got overhead rights (i.e. RailAmerica handles the locals, but P&W can express through) to its Hartford-area holdings on the freight-only line that parallels the Springfield Line on the east side of the river, it won't have to use schedule slots on the NEC to New Haven every day of the week like it currently does.

4) It's got immediate utility as a passenger route. Hartford-Manchester/Vernon commuter rail on the Manchester Secondary is a lot of I-84 relief, and probably third priority for Hartford-area commuter rail after the New Haven-Springfield service and Waterbury-Hartford service. Easy line to adapt for it since it's in relatively good condition and as the former Hartford-Providence mainline is pretty straight, formerly double-track, and relatively grade crossing-free except for an icky cluster near Buckland Hills. Willimantic CR would be the ideal destination for such a line, and then there can be continuing service to New London and the casinos on NECR...before they build any of the HSR links further east. NECR is already proposing running its own Willimantic-New London service to eat into the casino bus market and draw some state money for freight improvements. This would be a well-patronized route. Again, start by just grading the railbed along 384. Then start it off as diesel with freight + commuter rail. And THEN later on they can electrify it and get it up to spec for HSR speeds. Easier steps than plunking billions all at once.

5) It's a way better route for high speeds and grade separation than de-mothballing the old line along Route 6, which is--like most old RR lines in New England--grade-crossing heavy and curvy so it can hit small town centers. It's also got a very nice trail on it right now and some close abutters in these town centers, so not an easy one to reactivate. If they'll swallow the highway, obviously they'll swallow a rail line along the highway. And be happy to keep their nice trail.

6) They have multiple routings they can choose after Willimantic.

-- The ex-NYNH&H Air Line (a.k.a. the Franklin Line) barrels northwest out of Willimantic to Putnam. It's graded as a former high-speed route...some curvature and hills, but can probably waver between 90-125 MPH through the wilderness. The current trail is under state lock-and-key as a linear state park, so there are no NIMBY "Friends of The Trail" organizations to act as a royal P.I.T.A. here and the state DOT has it in the state rail plan that this is a high-profile potential reactivation corridor. From Putnam the P&W mainline is almost arrow-straight northbound to Worcester. Not many grade crossings either...only problem areas are up in Auburn where a slight re-route next to 395/290 might be advisable through town centers. Otherwise that can be upgradeable out to Worcester Union Station. And then the Worcester Line (which we hope will be electrified by then) is tri-trackable all the way to Route 128.

Regional stops on the Worcester flank: Hartford, Buckland Hills park-and-ride (84/384/291 convergence), Willimantic, Putnam/395 (eh...need some station spacing, make it a bare platform), Worcester, Framingham, Boston. Pretty nice. Acelas can of course blast through.

-- East to Providence. Now, the active Willimantic Secondary to Plainfield is one curvy piece of track that can't exactly be high-speed. But if they can get 384 to Willimantic in one piece, the second desired leg of it to 395 and the stub highway to the RI border is a considerably easier build. So second-phase the ROW as more rail-on-highway-median. It crosses the P&W main in Plainfield before it hits 395, so could also be a choose-your-adventure alternative to Worcester if the Air Line isn't palatable. Getting to Providence would require a short slow-speed jog south on P&W to Moosup to meet with the old main to Providence, but it's short. And north you're dealing with much the same straightaway on P&W (albeit not as direct as the Air Line cut-over to Putnam). The route to Providence is landbanked in both CT and RI...no trail in CT, some trail in RI. RIDOT has also studied it as (far, far future) commuter rail from Providence to Coventry, so there's some other stakeholders in play there. And P&W would probably rather go to Willimantic on the grade-separated highway median than continue using the Willimantic Secondary, so there's freight stakeholders (I do not think it realistic to build as passenger-only...freight's a fact of life, and this is not a high-congestion route where that's a problem).

Regional stops on the Providence flank: Hartford, Buckland Hills, Willimantic, Plainfield/395, Coventry (convergence of RI3 / RI117 / RI116 / RI33, not too far from Exit 7 off 95), Providence. Acelas...non-stop. Willimantic as intermediate stop for the transfers in other directions...at most.


There...build in stages. Each segment has its multiple stakeholders who can utilize it if built asynchronously. Multiple routings. And it can be fed from a 100+ MPH-upgraded Springfield Line for starters. I think as Amtrak studies it more the Willimantic routing is going to snap into focus as the best and most cost-manageable option, and the 384 median build is going to look like a smarter way of getting the dang thing (both the road and rail dang things) built.


I do NOT think Woonsocket's a great destination because it misses Worcester. They have such an easier time upgrading the existing P&W track to Worcester and using the Worcester Line that the Putnam-Blackstone restoration makes little sense. The other P&W main to Providence will be hosting commuter rail by 2020-2025 and be available, but it's got a lot of grade crossings so I think >80 MPH is gonna be tough. You also can't get to Boston AND Providence that way without reversing direction at Providence. I don't know where else you can cover Woonsocket and Providence in the same trip...there's no available land.

I do NOT think going straight to Boston via the Franklin Line is a good idea because it misses too many population centers. Really, either go to Worcester on the existing P&W track or go to Providence on the old route east of 395. I can't take these maps seriously if the east-of-395 portions show anything different.

I think it's going to be HARD AS HELL to build the western half at all. Westchester County is a NIMBY minefield. Upgrading the Metro North Harlem Line to HSR or relocating portions of it to the Saw Mill Parkway and I-684 medians are going to bring out the flaming pitchforks. Brewster-Danbury is fine, but the old ROW from Newtown to Waterbury was obliterated by I-84 construction. To do that would require median running on an expressway they are having a devil of a time trying to permit and expand from 4 to 6 lanes because of terrain, EIS, and abutter issues. I think that is BILLIONS down the drain to re-establish that link, and another community minefield because of the density along 84. Waterbury-Bristol is OK...that is the former intercity route. However, downtown Bristol has a hella tight hairpin curve because the RR was built to serve a former downtown factory instead of cutting straight across. The town defeated the Route 72 expressway about 10 times over because of how it would decimate downtown. You aren't cutting across that mile or so without busting out the tunnel boring machine and digging under dozens of residential property lines, the Pequabuck River, and a whole lot of wetlands. That could be another billion to eliminate the 5 minutes of sharp curves, steep hill, and grade crossing hell on the hairpin. Chances: very, very poor. Rest of the line to Hartford is nicely built for it, though.

The chances of that route working are vanishingly small. I think if this is gonna happen it's Springfield Line or bust, then the much more buildable eastern inland half. Which means they still have to contend with Metro North congestion to New Haven. OR, they have to contend with Long Island Railroad congestion halfway across the island and the mythical cross-Sound tunnel. Better wrap brain about figuring out how to de-clog MNRR, because that's probably what they're stuck with. Springfield Line + east leg is still a hell of a lot better than the NEC Shoreline, but I think this plan needs several more revisions to bring it down from the clouds into some sort of realism.
 

BostonUrbEx

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Okay, $151 billion is ridiculous, but when I read comments like this:

"here's a fact: amtrak receives millions in subsidies, while passenger automobiles receive nothing, and are in fact a net contributor. how much is enough for you fanatics?"

...it makes me want go out and fucking murder neocon fuckwits. Then I'll pillage their wallets and mail it to Amtrak.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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The chances of that route working are vanishingly small. I think if this is gonna happen it's Springfield Line or bust, then the much more buildable eastern inland half. Which means they still have to contend with Metro North congestion to New Haven. OR, they have to contend with Long Island Railroad congestion halfway across the island and the mythical cross-Sound tunnel. Better wrap brain about figuring out how to de-clog MNRR, because that's probably what they're stuck with. Springfield Line + east leg is still a hell of a lot better than the NEC Shoreline, but I think this plan needs several more revisions to bring it down from the clouds into some sort of realism.
OR they can median-run over I-95, which renders most of the Shore Line a non-issue, still lets you hit Providence and New Haven (and Stamford if it's warranted), offers several options for an easy move back onto the NEC main line in Rhode Island, means a lot less of Westchester County to deal with, and is STILL less new ROW in terms of pure mileage than every option that contends with I-84.

I-95 is the best option, hands down.

Meanwhile, Amtrak came up with an actual plan today to create next-gen HSR in the NEC by 2050...for $151 billion.

http://www.philly.com/philly/busine..._Northeast_Corridor_plan_at__151_billion.html

Obvi this will never happen, but glad they're keeping the proposal alive.
Extremely disappointed to see that Amtrak is still committed to a vision that doesn't match up with reality on any level. We honestly would have been better off if they'd let this proposal die.
 

Nexis4jersey

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The Westchester part of the line will be tunneled from the Mount Vernon Metro North Interchange to I-684 which is about 15 miles so its not going to even touch any of the real estate. From The Interchange to Grand Central and Penn Station the line would share a 4 track Harlem line. I Don't understand why people are still clinging to the NEC , we need a NEW NEC , the current will be over capacity by 2030 and building next to I-95 in CT and RI and MA is out of the question due to costs and NIMBYs. Thats why there going along 684-84-90 and hugging the MNRR in NY to save costs and spend things up. The Existing the NEC will be upgraded to support speeds of 140mph in CT and 3 and 4 tracked along parts of the Shore line and in RI / MA. Don't worry , Providence and New Haven will still be connected.... As for the costs , alot of the cost is to upgrade the Existing NEC and build capacity for the New NEC between New Brunswick,NJ and Westchester about 45 Billion in upgrades are needed.... The MNRR tunnels need to be replaced and bridges above the Harlem line Raised to allow Catenary to be installed... Theres also the feeder lines like the Empire Service , Lackawanna line , Lehigh line , Northwest Service , Downstate corridor , Downeaster , Concord line , Cape Cod Service , Knowledge Corridor , Cross England line , and Virginia Network will be upgraded and feed into the NEC which is spine in this region. Of course the most Expensive new line would only cost 2 Billion....although with upgrades to bring lines up to 125mph and electrification the feeder system would cost 15 Billion. Upgrades to the Existing NEC will cost between 45-50 Billion....at what Amtrak said 2 years ago. The whining about the route on this board reminds me of the moaning about the New stations in Philly and Baltimore , what people don't realize is we can't continue to use the same Infrastructure for Higher speeds ,its to congested as it is...
 

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