Commuter Rail to New Hampshire?

stick n move

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If new hampshire wont play ball theres still some rhode island locations that would serve the system well notably woonsocket and its extremely close proximity to the border and massive cheap housing stock. The ROW is already there and its a short distance down the franklin line.
 

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If new hampshire wont play ball theres still some rhode island locations that would serve the system well notably woonsocket and its extremely close proximity to the border and massive cheap housing stock. The ROW is already there and its a short distance down the franklin line.
That doesn't solve the problem that the Lowell Line needs a layover yard if it's to scale up to Regional Rail service levels, while New Hampshire has all the functional sites for such a yard. There is a definite in-district constituency for going as far as Nashua: layover @ Nashua Yard, car diversion from Lowell Garage at the border, infills for UMass and Vinal Square/North Chelmsford. Border poke thus becomes the fallback advocacy if Manchester gets turfed by the NH Legislature...and thankfully there are still some (sub-ideal, but eminently workable) mechanisms to partner with Pan Am + City of Nashua to make it happen.
 

RandomWalk

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NH has people who are obstinate enough that they would consider the equivalent of spike strips across the RoW at the border to prove a point.
 

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NH has people who are obstinate enough that they would consider the equivalent of spike strips across the RoW at the border to prove a point.
Well, it's a good thing they don't own the ROW then and are too cheap to try. The lifetime irrevocable trackage rights agreement to Concord was negotiated by Pan Am and the T for the GLX-Brickbottom land swaps...not a living soul in New Hampshire having input in the matter. There isn't shit NH can do about the T physically running there. The T just has to come up with an extracurricular costs-covering plan for exercising the rights. If the Pheasant Lane border stop got built on the Tyngsboro side of the state line, all the T needs to do is slush some cash PAR/(future-CSX's) way under (*wink-wink*) MassDOT "freight improvements" coffers for hosting the layover @ Nashua Yard and maintaining the track from the border stop to the layover to passenger spec for the deadheads. If City of Nashua then opted to go it alone or via direct fed support for building the Crown St. downtown stop as a capper, all that would need to be squared is a small municipal subsidy cut from share of the revenue proceeds in addition for the line to function with a Crown St. terminus across the tracks from said layover.

It's obviously a lot better and more straightforward overall if NHDOT is a willing partner, but they don't have to be for Massachusetts to satisfy their in-district goals for the Lowell Line. The self-loathing NIMBY's can scream all they want, but as long as City of Nashua itself isn't obstinate enough (they aren't...they're very supportive) to attempt block it with gum-the-works legal challenges there's nothing the haters in the Legislature can do about trains going as far as Nashua so MassDOT can fulfill its to-the-border + layover bucket list. If NHDOT has a problem with this, they can cut CSX a check to buy the NH Main under their own ownership for the sake of self-determination on erecting those proverbial spike strips.
 

RandomWalk

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I would hope that MassDOT would bid if NHDOT gets the idea to purchase the line.
 

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I would hope that MassDOT would bid if NHDOT gets the idea to purchase the line.
MassDOT is jurisdictionally prohibited from owning assets outside of Massachusetts, so we're not going to be owning the NH Main. But there's no risk here...the MBTA trackage rights to Concord are lifetime and irrevocable, ensconced in a federal Surface Transportation docket after the T and PAR hammered out the rights deal 14 years ago. If CSX sells the line to anyone the new owners would have to honor the agreement in perpetuity. They can't be prohibited from running there if they need to. The worst that could happen is that if Nashua Yard were included in the sale, NH could say no as landlord to the layover siting. Of course, they'd probably also say no to the economically significant freight switching that takes place @ Nashua on a daily basis, so that would be completely their loss (and CSX's likely reluctance to ever selling the yard and any self-determination to/around it even if they someday sell the main).

If the T is just slushing money to PAR/CSX to lease space in Nashua Yard for a layover, they can deadhead across the border from an end-of-line Pheasant Lane/Tyngsboro stop all they want. If City of Nashua wants to join the party by self-funding (or direct Fed-funding) construction of the Crown St. stop...then they can run revenue to Crown St. all they want provided some equitable subsidy cut gets worked out with the municipality.
 
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found5dollar

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Forgive me for maybe being a bit naive on how passanger rail networks work, but all this scheming between MassDOT, CSX, Nashua etc. Seems to be a recipe for disaser. If they all really do decide to run trains into NH without the NH state government behind it you would suddenly have a bunch of mad legislators that already didn't like passenger rail. I could see them coming up with all kinds of laws and regulations to gum up the works. Large fees for trains crossing the border or sitting at stations or layover yards in the name of "environmental protection", requiring outrageous "safety" measures on trains or at stations or layover yards that make them infeasible, legsliating taxes on train fares making them outrageously expensive. An angry politician, particularly an angry New Hampshire politician, can make life hell.

Am I missing something? I am not an expert in any way about interstate rail but I imaging you need the state on your side or they will tax and legsliate you into oblivion.
 

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Forgive me for maybe being a bit naive on how passanger rail networks work, but all this scheming between MassDOT, CSX, Nashua etc. Seems to be a recipe for disaser. If they all really do decide to run trains into NH without the NH state government behind it you would suddenly have a bunch of mad legislators that already didn't like passenger rail. I could see them coming up with all kinds of laws and regulations to gum up the works. Large fees for trains crossing the border or sitting at stations or layover yards in the name of "environmental protection", requiring outrageous "safety" measures on trains or at stations or layover yards that make them infeasible, legsliating taxes on train fares making them outrageously expensive. An angry politician, particularly an angry New Hampshire politician, can make life hell.

Am I missing something? I am not an expert in any way about interstate rail but I imaging you need the state on your side or they will tax and legsliate you into oblivion.
Railroads are federally regulated. The state can't self-legislate them, and most definitely can't set rates on them.

As for the politics of layover yards...Nashua is a 24/7 active freight yard. Passenger layover idling is nestled inside the freight switching/idling that already takes place. Since they can't retroactively regulate freight switching, there's nothing additional they can levy on a few Purple Line trainsets plugging in for the night that would restrict such activity. The freight switching forms a 'superset' of the activities that the layover would entail, as well as forming a 'superset' of the land usages because freight switching is a lot dirtier function than passenger layovers.
 
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found5dollar

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Railroads are federally regulated. The state can't self-legislate them, and most definitely can't set rates on them.

As for the politics of layover yards...Nashua is a 24/7 active freight yard. Passenger layover idling is nestled inside the freight switching/idling that already takes place. Since they can't retroactively regulate freight switching, there's nothing additional they can levy on a few Purple Line trainsets plugging in for the night that would restrict such activity. The freight switching forms a 'superset' of the activities that the layover would entail, as well as forming a 'superset' of the land usages because freight switching is a lot dirtier function than passenger layovers.
But doesn't a state have a right to tax goods and services? Isn't the storage of a vehicle or a train ticket a service? If there is a passenger station in Nashua shouldn't the state be able to add a tax in the same way local airports can add a "fee" to airline tickets? In NY you get hit with sales tax when you rent a storage unit, couldn't the State do a similar thing for storing trains within their border? It just feels to me, someone who admittedly knows very little about interstate train travel, that the state could find some way to make this "get commuter rail trains into NH at all costs" incredibly difficult or expensive if they wanted to.
 

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But doesn't a state have a right to tax goods and services? Isn't the storage of a vehicle or a train ticket a service? If there is a passenger station in Nashua shouldn't the state be able to add a tax in the same way local airports can add a "fee" to airline tickets? In NY you get hit with sales tax when you rent a storage unit, couldn't the State do a similar thing for storing trains within their border? It just feels to me, someone who admittedly knows very little about interstate train travel, that the state could find some way to make this "get commuter rail trains into NH at all costs" incredibly difficult or expensive if they wanted to.
It's *very* limited. Even the fares that state-run commuter railroads charge for end users have to abide by a litany of federally-regulated conditions describing what purposes they can and cannot charge for. It's strict enough that it is not possible to attack a rightful user of the rails with 'fee trolling'. The New Hampshire Legislature may well be arrogant and spiteful enough to give it the old college try; many other states were spiteful and arrogant enough to try to tax/fee railroads within them. Any such attempts will be overruled...every time...by the federal government. This is eons-settled caselaw.
 

themissinglink

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Cline said the DOT estimates for ridership were 2,866 passengers for 32 trips a day on trains to from Boston to Nashua and on to Manchester.

"We are talking about 89 people per train; that is not going to solve our traffic congestion problems," Cline said.
I'm kind of skeptical that only 2,866 people a day would ride the T from the two biggest cities in New Hampshire. Especially Nashua, which is only ~38 miles away from North Station by rail. I'd have expected ridership to be somewhat higher.
 

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I'm kind of skeptical that only 2,866 people a day would ride the T from the two biggest cities in New Hampshire. Especially Nashua, which is only ~38 miles away from North Station by rail. I'd have expected ridership to be somewhat higher.
Much higher. Just a Nashua poke on the existing Lowell schedule with stops at North Chelmsford + Pheasant Lane + Downtown Nashua projected out to 3100 daily riders in the Boston MPO's 2004 PMT (screencapped below).
NA.png


Add the Manchester + Manchester Airport demographics and it's at least 1-1/2x higher.
 

themissinglink

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Much higher. Just a Nashua poke on the existing Lowell schedule with stops at North Chelmsford + Pheasant Lane + Downtown Nashua projected out to 3100 daily riders in the Boston MPO's 2004 PMT (screencapped below).
View attachment 23591

Add the Manchester + Manchester Airport demographics and it's at least 1-1/2x higher.
Are the low ridership estimates likely because of COVID/WFH and the associated impacts on ridership? Or could the study have possibly been sandbagged by the NH DOT?
 

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Are the low ridership estimates likely because of COVID/WFH and the associated impacts on ridership? Or could the study have possibly been sandbagged by the NH DOT?
It sure smells sandbaggy. I mean, we've recently discussed on this thread just how yuuuuge the demographics on this corridor are, and 32 trains a day at brisk travel times is a good schedule (remember we were discussing this relative to how many riders the poor South Coast Rail schedule was going to leave on the table) so would adequately capture the market. They're off by a higher % than the most pessimistic COVID recovery would indicate, so that doesn't explain the whole of it.
 

jklo

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It sure smells sandbaggy. I mean, we've recently discussed on this thread just how yuuuuge the demographics on this corridor are, and 32 trains a day at brisk travel times is a good schedule (remember we were discussing this relative to how many riders the poor South Coast Rail schedule was going to leave on the table) so would adequately capture the market. They're off by a higher % than the most pessimistic COVID recovery would indicate, so that doesn't explain the whole of it.
All I've been hearing about is people resisting RTO.... and I imagine the cries get much louder the worse the commute is. Seriously, I don't think the ridership will be there. Any sort of polling in NH are likely people who have no idea how much a ticket costs and no idea how much of a loss the MBTA would run despite that. Short of a Great Depression these people aren't going back to Boston.

From the Census OnTheMap, for Nashua in 2019 Suffolk County was 5th at a whopping 3.1% (which even that is shockingly high). Middlesex was 20% but that's all 128 Towns and not Cambridge.
 

themissinglink

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Any sort of polling in NH are likely people who have no idea how much a ticket costs and no idea how much of a loss the MBTA would run despite that. Short of a Great Depression these people aren't going back to Boston.
There's been a significant amount of support from people and businesses in the Nashua/Manchester area for this commuter rail extension. I doubt that the same people who advocate for transit expansion are scratching their heads over how much a ticket costs.

Southern New Hampshire isn't even that far from Boston. It's about 40 miles away as the crow flies, which is comparable to the distance between the Providence area and Boston. And yet the Providence Line has the highest ridership of all of the Commuter Rail lines, even though it crosses over state borders. Although the Providence area is obviously more populated than the Manchester/Nashua area, there's certainly not a lack of people or development in Southern NH.

I'm not trying to suggest that a NH extension would totally blow ridership estimates out of the water, but I'm not at all convinced that a NH commuter rail extension would fail based on ridership. Most of the reasons I've heard from various people as to why a NH extension (supposedly) wouldn't work have all been pretty anecdotal.
 

jklo

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Southern New Hampshire isn't even that far from Boston. It's about 40 miles away as the crow flies, which is comparable to the distance between the Providence area and Boston. And yet the Providence Line has the highest ridership of all of the Commuter Rail lines, even though it crosses over state borders. Although the Providence area is obviously more populated than the Manchester/Nashua area, there's certainly not a lack of people or development in Southern NH.
Population and South Side vs North Side makes a big difference. Don't have to get on the subway.

Toll route 3 south bound at the border and the ridership won't be an issue.
And mess with the tax free shopping? ;)
 

themissinglink

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Population and South Side vs North Side makes a big difference. Don't have to get on the subway.
I agree that population makes a big difference when it comes to ridership. Good thing that Nashua (pop. 91,322) and Manchester (pop. 115,644) aren't lacking in that regard.
 

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