Commuter Rail to New Hampshire?

Arlington

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$246m for some track upgrades and 4 commuter rail stations?
Palaces? WTF.
{EDIT} Is there a link to the budget? I bet a decent chunk is upgrading the ~30 miles of track from Class 3 (60mph max) to Class 4 (80mph). Could be tie-replacement or signals. Could eat 2/3 of the budget on rail stuff, easy.
 
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cozzyd

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How else do you expect those Granite staters to give up their cars?
 

bigeman312

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Why haven't we learned the OBVIOUS lesson of incremental service introduction.

CapeFlyer = Success
Downeaster = Success
Greenbush = Failure

Yet, we are trying to duplicate Greenbush (especially in SCR) rather than CapeFlyer and Downeaster. Put a small platform in Nashua and run two round-trips daily on un-upgraded tracks with incremental improvements as ridership increases. It's not rocket science!

Extension to Manchester and Concord comes later. Upgrading tracks comes later. Building full-service stations comes later.
 

Arlington

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Here is HRTA's Powerpoint from the Nov 20th Public Meeting

In it, it shows that buses stink at attracting new trips (not a surprise), and while cheap in nominal dollars ($7m to $17m per option), they cost ~$35 per new user in capital costs and attract a stinky ~350 new trips and still cost $2m per year in operating costs.

It also shows that "Manchester Regional" is the preferred system from a costs-per-new rider standpoint (costing NH just $72m for a system costing $246m, that'd carry 2,558 new trips per day)...or just $10 per new rider, and only $1m per year in net operating costs.
 

BPLange7

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Would love to see expanded rail access to NH but I think there is reason to be skeptical. Manchester is a metro area that is a fraction of the size of Worcester and Providence and farther away but the ridership projections appeared to be close to what those cities are drawing. Extending to Concord is irrational given the current cost structure and should get discarded fairly early on.

What gets built first - This or SCR?
 

Arlington

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What gets built first - This or SCR?
Well, to BigE's point, above, there's a nice starter system that's possible: MBTA builds a layover yard someplace near Nashua with the justification that it expands Lowell Line service.

It is kind of sad the disparity between NH, which struggles to build a good project with a high payback and MA, which gets snookered into building a bad SCR project (10x the size too) with low payback (see also Greenbush). (Mostly, though Mass does a decent job at living at the happy medium).

I'd also say that since the New Hampshire Main Line is already 286k (weight) capable, and Class-3 rated for 60mph, the Nashua starter system might just go with the tracks it has (only if you were going as far as Manchester would you start to notice how slow 60 mph is compared to 80mph

There's got to be some kind of MassDOT-Feds-Nashua starter-system deal that can mostly bypass NH State politics.

A big part of it, though, is Nashua's city government having the courage to tax-and-spend in the belief that it'll pay back in better jobs and better real estate prices.
 

themissinglink

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There was an NHDOT virtual public meeting last night regarding the Capitol Corridor Project/NH Commuter Rail extension. I only caught the end of it so I don't have much information to share, however they said the presentation slides would be uploaded within the week, and I'll be sure to post them when they're released.

During the presentation it was said that they are aiming to submit an FTA application for the project by "late 2022", and that construction would take "approximately 3 years" once the application was approved.

No new stations in Massachusetts are currently planned as part of the project. (However I would certainly expect North Chelmsford, UMass Lowell, and maybe even Tyngsborough stops to be added later as infill stations if the project is completed)

It was also mentioned that 12 new bi-level coaches are planned to be purchased as part of the project. No new locomotives are planned to be purchased.

One of the presenters briefly mentioned that "far-future" electrification was anticipated, and that the project is being designed with future electrification in mind.

Lastly, here is the proposed schedule.

nh schedule.PNG
 
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jass

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They need to get that application in ASAP if they want the current pile of money
 

RandomWalk

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And they will change their mind with the next election, so we will be talking about this next pandemic too.
 

MrDee12345

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There was an NHDOT virtual public meeting last night regarding the Capitol Corridor Project/NH Commuter Rail extension. I only caught the end of it so I don't have much information to share, however they said the presentation slides would be uploaded within the week, and I'll be sure to post them when they're released.

During the presentation it was said that they are aiming to submit an FTA application for the project by "late 2022", and that construction would take "approximately 3 years" once the application was approved.

No new stations in Massachusetts are currently planned as part of the project. (However I would certainly expect North Chelmsford, UMass Lowell, and maybe even Tyngsborough stops to be added later as infill stations if the project is completed)

It was also mentioned that 12 new bi-level coaches are planned to be purchased as part of the project. No new locomotives are planned to be purchased.

One of the presenters briefly mentioned that "far-future" electrification was anticipated, and that the project is being designed with future electrification in mind.

Lastly, here is the proposed schedule.

View attachment 18977
Why are there no express trains from NH that bypass the smaller Mass stops like they have on Metro North. Lowell could become the new Stamford and be the transit point for those who want a local train. But to take every stop from Manchester seems like a waste of time and money.
 

Brattle Loop

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Why are there no express trains from NH that bypass the smaller Mass stops like they have on Metro North. Lowell could become the new Stamford and be the transit point for those who want a local train. But to take every stop from Manchester seems like a waste of time and money.
No express tracks, and no room to build them on much of the ROW. Without them, express scheduling becomes extremely difficult, because there's no way to get out of the way of the local trains making all stops on the same tracks. (That's part of why the MBTA CR's various "express" trains over the years have been sparse, and partial expresses at that.)
 

ceo

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Possibly peak-hour Lowell-Boston expresses would be too disruptive of the rest of the schedule. I'm purely speculating here.
 

themissinglink

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Why are there no express trains from NH that bypass the smaller Mass stops like they have on Metro North. Lowell could become the new Stamford and be the transit point for those who want a local train. But to take every stop from Manchester seems like a waste of time and money.
Somebody asked about express trains from NH during the presentation. One of the presenters said there would not be any express trains with the initial project because there are currently no express trains on the Lowell Line, but they mentioned that it could be a future possibility.
 

bigeman312

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I noticed that the timetable above implies a Manchester terminus. Is Concord out-of-scope for this project?

If so, as proposed on the timetable above, the line would have 11 stops over 55 miles. One stop per five miles is not unusually close together for a line of this length.

For comparison, the Fitchburg Line doesn't currently have any express trains on any day of the week. At 54 miles, the Fitchburg Line has 16 stops, good for one every 3.4 miles!

The New Haven Line (on which Stamford is mentioned above in parallel with Lowell) is 74 track miles. This is comparable to a Concord, NH extension which would come in at 73 miles.

I am not advocating for or against express trains, just putting the situation in context.
 

themissinglink

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I noticed that the timetable above implies a Manchester terminus. Is Concord out-of-scope for this project?
Manchester will be the terminus of the project, at least for now. IIRC the terminus of the project was scaled back from Concord to Manchester in ~2013, but I'm not completely certain about that so take it with a grain of salt.

I'm hopeful for an extension to Concord (with a potential intermediate station in Hooksett) sometime not too long after service to Manchester begins, but as of right now it's not part of the project.
 

jass

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No express tracks, and no room to build them on much of the ROW. Without them, express scheduling becomes extremely difficult, because there's no way to get out of the way of the local trains making all stops on the same tracks. (That's part of why the MBTA CR's various "express" trains over the years have been sparse, and partial expresses at that.)
One way to do it is have the express start, and then the local leave a few minutes later. Thats basically how Amtrak runs the Acela/Regional, as they tend to depart 5 minutes from each other at Boston.
 

Brattle Loop

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One way to do it is have the express start, and then the local leave a few minutes later. Thats basically how Amtrak runs the Acela/Regional, as they tend to depart 5 minutes from each other at Boston.
True, and that may well be possible for the T with current schedules. At some point, though, the increased frequencies generally deemed desirable on this board might start to make that problematic. (I'll add that part of my comment was in reply to a direct mention of the New Haven Line, which can handle very high frequencies and express trains precisely because it has express tracks that the Lowell Line does not and probably cannot ever feasibly have. To the the extent that I inadvertently implied that expresses are completely precluded, especially under present schedules, that was an error on my part.)
 

tysmith95

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The mbta cut back on most express routes during the pandemic and they haven't come back yet.

With the exception of Winchester, Lowell Line stops are pretty spread out making express trains less of a necessity.

Though if the MBTA were to ever electrify, than express trains basically become a moot point (the time penalty for stops would be much less).
 

WestMedford

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The Lowell Line handles express trains multiple times a day Wilmington to Boston, most notably Downeaster service but also one (two prepandemic) Haverhill Wildcat Branch express train each rush hour. Often times (again prepandemic) saw Downeaster running opposite (east side) track inbound through West Medford station while waiting for local service in the morning.

Not saying it’s not an operational challenge without a true express (third) track running express service Lowell - Boston. However, of all north side lines, Lowell Line has most “experience” operating mixed express and local service so it’s not out of the question NH express service Lowell-Boston given it’s already been going on for a long time.

Of course I agree any regional rail like scheduling ever implemented (i.e. 15 or 30 min interval) on this line would require third track to run express without debilitating conflict with local service.
 

Stlin

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NHDOT posted the Public meeting slides here. What struck me about all of their station designs (attached here), is that both Nashua and Manchester require track level crossings to access their island platforms, and Bedford requires it for it's very small outbound side platform. It must be ADA compliant otherwise they wouldn't be proposing it, but it's something that would seemingly only work with low level platforms, which would be a shame for new builds.
Screenshot_20211120-092545_Acrobat for Samsung.jpg
 

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