Amtrak NEC, Downeaster, Acela, & Long Distance

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
4,720
Reaction score
172
The best sollution is to bypass CT entirely with a Long Island route + tunnel and don't bother arguing because I'm right.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,089
Reaction score
1,017
The best sollution is to bypass CT entirely with a Long Island route + tunnel and don't bother arguing because I'm right.
Watch Hill?...no. That didn't pan out on projected utilization when they envisioned I-495/LIE direct-connecting to the RI 78 expressway stump in Westerly via a Chesapeake Bay bridge-n'-tunnel thon. East-end L.I. is a bunch of cottagefolk with "Go Away" signs on their front lawns; they don't want to go anywhere or be visited by anyone. Never was proposed as a rail routing, and never will be because Greenport Scoot isn't nearly enough co-utilization to blunt any of the trauma of the up-front cost.

Port Jefferson or Wading River to Bridgeport or New Haven? Maybe. That was one of NEC FUTURE's first-round scoping crayon drawings. Albeit one that didn't graduate because the bypassing of New Rochelle-Stamford-Bridgeport was too problematic for Amtrak service levels (esp. Acela which has much BIGGER Stamford ridership than New Haven), and having to deal with clownshoes LIRR congestion little better than the New Haven Line (supposedly the Central Branch would have to come back in-total as prereq to making it work). But the bypassing was only New Haven Line-relevant, as the Shoreline options would remain exactly the same: I-95 bunny-hop, Midland via Hartford, or "No Build" and try to squeeze blood-from-stone out of curve-easing on current alignment. We might not be done studying the mid- Long Island tunnel, esp. if we're up for 'accessorizing' the main Stamford corridor.
 
Last edited:

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,821
Reaction score
1,146
Seeing that Nashua is close to Lowell and the tracks go right from the Lowell station to downtown Nashua, is there any plans to add this connection?

Also Woonsocket would be a HUGE addition as well for accessing a massive affordable housing stock within a reasonable commute.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,089
Reaction score
1,017
Seeing that Nashua is close to Lowell and the tracks go right from the Lowell station to downtown Nashua, is there any plans to add this connection?
Swingy NH politics has been putting this on the board, off the board, on the board again, off the board on roughly 2-year intervals. The latest scheme is (Googles, throws dart for good measure)..."on-again" study for Nashua-stub extension of full-local Lowell schedule + couple commuter-extra pokes to Manchester in unsignalized territory. Nashua isn't hard. Track from Lowell to North Chelmsford Jct. on the heavily-used freight main is same speed, good condition from 24/7 freight use, and fully grade separated. North Chelmsford-Nashua is Class 3/60 MPH passenger with all its handful of grade crossings fully-gated, and Pan Am is in-process of renewing all the signals. It's mainly in dire need of a thorough roadbed resurfacing with replacement of some jointed-rail sections, as right now it would be a barf-bag ride at pax speeds. Manchester is a maint-deferred sub-40 MPH and was recently de-signalized because the freight schedule has atrophied too much. I can't see the past-Nashua schedule extras making the cut for first service starts because the physical plant just doesn't ride well enough. In absolute terms it's still mainline-grade, but practically speaking you have to lump that to a Phase II and put more up-front elbow grease into track quality before it's worthy of consequential business.

The T has been absolute 100% on-board with this all along, largely because of the fact that Lowell is the longest line on the whole system without an outer layover yard and has the highest cost chew on the system in no-revenue/low-revenue operating miles because trains can only short-term idle on one side of the Lowell island platform before needing to deadhead back to BET in Somerville. Layover inside of Nashua Freight Yard is thus 'the' perma-solve for the ops economics. And pretty much an RUR prerequisite, though they have to count on NHDOT to enable it. If the Concord State House did not have the electoral attention span of a fruit fly that forgot to take its Ritalin, this would've been done years ago on MA pressure alone.

Right now City of Nashua has its downtown station site at Crown St. fully pre-prepped as a commuter lot for the #11 Crosstown Connector bus. Site plan calls for razing the factory on the front lawn to build a multimodal depot, and the CR platform would go up to the grade crossing on a full-high track turnout abutting the handicapped spaces. Design allowances for building initially as a Rowley-sized 12 ft. wide single-track with direct-ramped side access that can then be later repurposed into a double-track island with up-and-over access. T and PAR already have quid pro quo agreement to host the layover yard on the unused grading in the backside of the freight yard. City up-fronted the payout for the site prep on hedge that the State House was so perennially unreliable that they were going to try for go-it-alone as a last resort. Though the would-be South Nashua Pn'R stop is way more conseqential for ridership, the Downtown site is ready-serve for a stop and positioned where the trains would be backing into the layover yard so it's thoroughly baked into the base requirement. City is fully prepared to debut a minimalist extension @ Downtown and figure out South Nashua on-the-go if it comes to that (even if that's the less-satisfying service start config at go-it-alone capital funding levels). Right now study funding has been restored such that there's enough assistance to plot bigger S. Nashua in-tandem, but you never know if that'll hold by the '22 election.

Study locus is right now for pinning down the siting of the South Nashua/Pheasant Lane Mall stop. The Mall is fully onboard with that now. Only major existential decisions is whether it's sited south hugging the state line squared up with Exit 36 and the Mall overflow lots being repurposed for station parking, or further north on the Danforth Rd./Spit Brook Rd. block squared-up with Exit 1. The T long ago settled placement of the North Chelmsford stop...behind Sleeper & Butterfield St. dead-ends displacing trashy scrapyards, with the Wotton St. grade crossing being cut in favor of duplicating Welleman St. crossing a few blocks out. Double-track full-high w/ freight passing track. LRTA buses in Vinal Square would loop at the kiss-and-ride. No Tyngsboro intermediate proposed, as the pre-1965 ex-B&M station @ 3A/113/Tyngsboro Bridge is on wholly-duplicate bus routing from Vinal Sq. and wouldn't have any native bona fides. No *official* UMass-Lowell request yet for an intermediate between Lowell Station and N. Chelmsford, although that seems like an ideal last-minute add for the Pawtucket St. commuter lot + footbridge site. Only build complexity there is that you're probably re- quad-tracking the 3-mile freight main overlap if that scoot has to host stations, since it's already projected to be a traffic-complex piece of dispatching with freights coming in from the north off the Lowell Branch @ Lowell Station but having to cross over to the south @ N. Chelmsford Jct. for the Stony Brook Branch to Ayer...and pax trains making a complete opposite south-to-north flip over the same span. +1-2 extra mainline tracks on the overlap + multiple widely-staggered crossovers are going to be the means of staging those contrasting flips fluidly.


From the T's standpoint they're only interested in running all-stops locals to Nashua...*maybe* Manchester if lump-sum build to there ended up the Phase I (now extremely unlikely). Ultimate full buildout to Concord would always be operating as a wholly separate service layer above-and-beyond the Lowell/Nashua district locals. The extra NHDOT schedule layer would've made all NH local stops but skip-stopped from Lowell<==>Anderson<==>North Station inside the MA border. That way schedule times could stay pretty well-rounded at hour for the Nashua-terminating locals, 75 min. for the Concord super-expresses carrying the largest share of Granite Staters to their MA paychecks. With the Concord super-expresses being able to bleed further time in the future if NS-Wilmington were re-signaled for 90 MPH speeds around a fat frequency target of NHDOT + the Downeaster immediately being able to make hay on the nonstop inside-128.
 

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,358
Reaction score
497
NEWS: Amtrak double-secret restores Acela service...to Harrisburg!
RR.net servers literally melt in foam overload.
It does a great job of saying:
1) Please aim higher: instead of scheming how the Acela 1s can be repurposed to Keystone Service, aim higher to demand an expanded Avelia fleet
2) And, yeah, Pennsylvania-based advocates should lobby to accelerate the rebuild of Keystone stations for all high-level boarding
3) Such that when the platforms are ready and the fleet is expanded, the goal is a Avelias to everywhere with catenary.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,089
Reaction score
1,017
It does a great job of saying:
1) Please aim higher: instead of scheming how the Acela 1s can be repurposed to Keystone Service, aim higher to demand an expanded Avelia fleet
2) And, yeah, Pennsylvania-based advocates should lobby to accelerate the rebuild of Keystone stations for all high-level boarding
3) Such that when the platforms are ready and the fleet is expanded, the goal is a Avelias to everywhere with catenary.
No, PennDOT is never ever ever ever ever ever going to be ordering Aveilas. Damnit...if you don't chop off the foamer zombie's head it just comes right back to life with a new Crazy Pitch! 💀

1) The Keystone is only good for 125 MPH tops so there's zero advantage over conventional equipment. It would be fiscally insane for them to pay in for share of HSR fleet maintenance costs when there's no performance benefit over spending the same money on more conventional equipment capacity.

2) If they want first-class Keystone service, they have the option in the statie Amfleet-replacement order to offer first-class configuration coach livery if they want and to self-provide all the perks of that class. They don't have to run HSR sets to get that, so refer to #1 re: lighting money on fire for HSR fleet pay-in that gives them no benefit. While it's extremely unlikely they're going to do that, the PRIAA legislation already carves out this flex for anyone to tap if so desired.

3) PennDOT's 'vision thing' growth is all about bringing Keystone West to Pittsburgh closer to service par with Keystone East to Harrisburg by making staged investment in the Pennsylvanian. That's on the hugely busy Norfolk Southern intermodal main, so electrification is going to be the very last thrust after it gets brought up to 110 MPH diesel with lots more frequencies. Absolutely no way in hell do they invest in statie rolling stock that'll only be captive to Harrisburg-east when the linchpin of their plans is all about bringing Pittsburgh up to greater parity. As in #2, they can offer first-class service all they want with coaches fully compatible with another 2 decades of diesel engine swaps, so paying in for Aveilas is utterly wretched value for their statewide plans. Furthermore, even if you did have electrification out there the future full-highs west of Harrisburg are going to be gapped for freight passage. Aveilas don't have onboard auto-flip bridge plates for interfacing with a full-high that's missing the 4-inch edge gap-filler. The Amfleet replacements will have those just like the Brightline cars. So...no...they are not able to go "eveywhere with catenary" even if we hurried up and strung 25 ft. high double-stack-under-wire compatible cat to Pittsburgh.


Substitute "Pennsylvania" for "Virginia" or "Upstate New York" and these 3 answers are basically rote- the same, with all the same exact factors in effect. There is opportunity to order supplemental Aveilas because TGV in France has ordered brand new Aveila Horizons derived from this same exact base lineage for delivery in 2022 stretched over an 8-year deployment at 5x the number of trainsets and similarly deep vendor Service & Support contract over lifetime-of-vehicle. So not only is the parts supply chain for these ironclad-guaranteed for 20 years and (if they perform well) a midlife overhaul thanks to the unit scale France is ordering at, but Alstom's overseas factory is going to be hot for the rest of the decade pumping the extrmely similar French family variant out. So if things break right on funding the Gateway project and other capacity-expanders, Amtrak will be able to hedge on ordering some expansion trainsets at very good unit price. But make no mistake...that is only going to be for Boston-D.C. service increases. There is simply no way the fleet buying options for state-supported services are ever going to break in favor of pay-in for the HSR sets with the far greater flex they have available on the PRIAA coaches on corridors that at tippy-top speed will be no more than 110-125 MPH with certain number of decades caught mid-stride between fast diesel and first electrification. And baseline Acela service will always, in every NEC capacity expansion scenario, be the hungriest of all for more frequencies so Amtrak has no interest in pressuring the unwilling states to adopt either. What we have now is the HSR route configuration through 2050. Everything on the plate is for maxing that out to the hilt and the states maxing their regional services out to the hilt before there's ever a convergence of the two. There's enough on everyone's plates to take them straight through into the 2040's and past any life-extended Aveila retirement date before this ever goes into practical consideration.

A thousand "but what if. . ." message board threads getting mod-locked in the meantime isn't going to change the priorities that currently do NOT point in any way/shape/form to any state-sponsored convergence with HSR trainset adoption whatsoever for a very, very, very long time beyond scope of any current corridor planning.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,089
Reaction score
1,017
NEWS: Amtrak double-secret restores Acela service...to Harrisburg!

http://instagr.am/p/CAvNX4rnUk8/
RR.net servers literally melt in foam overload.
Obscure note from the earlier testing pics: see that despite the train approaching the cameraman, the Aveila set is running only with its rear pantograph up. This provoked some curiosity as to what the default running mode was going to be, and whether that test run was just trying out alternate power-up scenarios. As it turns out, rear-pans-up is the default running practice for the new sets...the opposite of the Acela 1's which always run both-pans-up under constant-tension wire or front-pan-only on the remaining stretches of older/saggy variable-tension wire. Used to be that for ID'ing the running direction in Acela pictures where the headlights or rear marker lights weren't visible that you'd go by leading pantograph to break the tie. Now we've got to reverse those calls (Regionals and LD's are easier calls because there's always only 1 Sprinter electric, and if it's on-NEC and not on the Keystone it'll always be leading in pull mode).

No game-changing technical reason behind the rear-pans preference. It's just a little less wear on the overhead wire to hit it with the trailing power car vs. leading car. And less abundance of precaution than with the A1's lemony-stink reliability power cars to run with only 1 pan up instead of both. Most power-car sandwich HSR trainsets worldwide are factory-built for powering the full set on one-touch-to-wire, and preferences on leading vs. trailing pantograph seems to run the gamut by ops preference so doesn't seem to inform any discernable design bias on the vehicle side. Apparently the plan for the Aveilas is rear-pan running as the default mode, both-pans running by as-needed bulletin order in winter months for ice-cutting protection.
 

Deetroyt

Active Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2013
Messages
379
Reaction score
7
Right now City of Nashua has its downtown station site at Crown St. fully pre-prepped as a commuter lot for the #11 Crosstown Connector bus. Site plan calls for razing the factory on the front lawn to build a multimodal depot, and the CR platform would go up to the grade crossing on a full-high track turnout abutting the handicapped spaces. Design allowances for building initially as a Rowley-sized 12 ft. wide single-track with direct-ramped side access that can then be later repurposed into a double-track island with up-and-over access. T and PAR already have quid pro quo agreement to host the layover yard on the unused grading in the backside of the freight yard. City up-fronted the payout for the site prep on hedge that the State House was so perennially unreliable that they were going to try for go-it-alone as a last resort. Though the would-be South Nashua Pn'R stop is way more conseqential for ridership, the Downtown site is ready-serve for a stop and positioned where the trains would be backing into the layover yard so it's thoroughly baked into the base requirement. City is fully prepared to debut a minimalist extension @ Downtown and figure out South Nashua on-the-go if it comes to that (even if that's the less-satisfying service start config at go-it-alone capital funding levels). Right now study funding has been restored such that there's enough assistance to plot bigger S. Nashua in-tandem, but you never know if that'll hold by the '22 election.
F-line, I'm curious as to why they prefer the Crown St. site rather than right at Main St., which is much closer and walkable to actual downtown. Does this just have to do with the layover yard access that you mentioned, or because the curvature of the track at this location? Would this be under future consideration?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,089
Reaction score
1,017
F-line, I'm curious as to why they prefer the Crown St. site rather than right at Main St., which is much closer and walkable to actual downtown. Does this just have to do with the layover yard access that you mentioned, or because the curvature of the track at this location? Would this be under future consideration?
Wrong line. Main St. is on the Hillsboro Branch, not the NH Main. Can't put anything out there and still have Manchester & Concord servable on a linear schedule. Old Nashua Union Station used to be 1 block up from Crown at the E. Hollis St. grade crossing bordering Temple, where the Boston & Lowell + Worcester, Nashua & Portland + Keene & Concord (current Hillsboro Br.) all converged on different sides of the the same block. So the primary passenger depot was always off-center from central downtown and hugging the Merrimack banks instead.

Crown was the closest approximation to the historical union station being only a block away. It's on cheap-cheap land recently cleaned up from prior industrial tenants with the to-be T layover yard conveniently across the tracks and no need to cross any grade crossings to platform. So the City bought it for a song, graded it, laid down the inexpensive commuter lot, and designated that as the future multimodal transit center when the derelict factory on the front lawn gets redevved as a depot building. Low-hanging fruit they can finish up set-it-and-forget-it when the time comes. South Nashua by the Mall is going to be the more consequential stop siting by any measure for its expressway access and diverting the NH plates that currently slam Lowell garage.
 

Top