Fairmount Line Upgrade

F-Line to Dudley

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See this thread, especially the linked video of NJ Transit's new bi-level EMU. That's the one that'll be easiest to acquire because NJT has hundreds of 'slush' options available on its contract with Bombardier that it could trade to other agencies.

25 kV is the most common voltage in the world, so all major manufacturers make stuff for it. Domestic single-levels are a little hard to come at the moment because the MNRR/LIRR stuff from Kawasaki is so hyper-customized and Rotem's Silverliner V's were such a disaster they drove Rotem from the market, but plenty of Euro imports could be adapted.
 

dwash59

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My anecdotal evidence from when I went to BU was that the students would take the B line even though the 57 was faster and came at the same frequency.
When I was at BU, the 57 filled up at Kenmore and skipped the eastern half of campus, sometimes running all the way through campus to Star Market, before finally stopping to let someone off and maybe let someone on. The B line at least offered the opportunity to get on some type of vehicle. Then again, I was trying to get on at BU East, where you have both a B line stop and a 57 bus stop, so I was very flexible in which one I grabbed. (If you were at Blandford/Silber Way, I found most people actually did the BU BUS to get across campus, then either walked to Allston or maybe caught a 57 or B line).
 

jass

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When I was at BU, the 57 filled up at Kenmore and skipped the eastern half of campus, sometimes running all the way through campus to Star Market, before finally stopping to let someone off and maybe let someone on. The B line at least offered the opportunity to get on some type of vehicle. Then again, I was trying to get on at BU East, where you have both a B line stop and a 57 bus stop, so I was very flexible in which one I grabbed. (If you were at Blandford/Silber Way, I found most people actually did the BU BUS to get across campus, then either walked to Allston or maybe caught a 57 or B line).
Yes there was a time period when the 57 had rules about where you could get on or off at, like no getting off before packards corner (outbound). I think they took those rules away.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yes there was a time period when the 57 had rules about where you could get on or off at, like no getting off before packards corner (outbound). I think they took those rules away.
Express-to-Packards was a good-faith legal restriction slapped on the 57 due to the "temporary bustitition" of the A Line. It lasted >25 years because of the Green Line restoration lawsuits which dragged out to 1994.

They quietly retired the expressing around '01-02, IIRC. Soon after the post- track rip-out streetscaping of Pakards-Oak Sq. was finished. Sans any prior announcement the buses just suddenly started picking up local passengers one morning, and that was it.
 

The EGE

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NETransit history says December 2006, though it may well have been unofficial earlier.

Back to Fairmount: as recently as January 7, Blue Hill Avenue was expected to open in February. It's now the 21st and no word.
 

Balerion

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jass

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NETransit history says December 2006, though it may well have been unofficial earlier.
I started at BU in 2005, so that matches with my recollection, which was that the restriction was lifted during my time there.
 

DigitalSciGuy

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See this thread, especially the linked video of NJ Transit's new bi-level EMU. That's the one that'll be easiest to acquire because NJT has hundreds of 'slush' options available on its contract with Bombardier that it could trade to other agencies.

25 kV is the most common voltage in the world, so all major manufacturers make stuff for it. Domestic single-levels are a little hard to come at the moment because the MNRR/LIRR stuff from Kawasaki is so hyper-customized and Rotem's Silverliner V's were such a disaster they drove Rotem from the market, but plenty of Euro imports could be adapted.
^ Yeah, NJ Transit's bi-level EMUs could be interesting, though the capacity concerns pushing for like-for-like replacement of unpowered bi-levels with bi-level EMUs seems to be a hot button topic. The prevailing opinion in current management is that bi-levels are needed to maintain rush-hour capacity, but you could probably provide just as many or more capacity in conventional 'flat' EMUs with 2x2 seating and more frequent service. This is less critical on Fairmount, which would benefit from just more frequent service with equipment configured with blended transverse and longitudinal seating more like London's S8 tube stock or Elizabeth Line Class 345.

The MNRR/CTDOT's M8 is actually not a bad demonstrator to simply prove the thesis that the service is possible, but agreed it's a little over-customised for direct import for us. Thankfully, there are now plenty of metro and mainline equipment families from major vendors that could be adapted rather than designing stock from scratch.
 

stick n move

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So theres been a lot of proposals with this. One included a rail bridge connecting fairmount to track 61. The linked article I think rightfully points out that fairmount to the convention center is unnessecary and would be underutilized. So what if it was connected into the silver line? This could be done like the attached picture or a tunnel linking up with the tunnel under D in a similar configuration.

Obviously this would require electrification so it would take a heavy investment, but I think this could be our best option to get rail transit in the seaport and more frequent service on the fairmount line with the line separated from the rail yard, arriving at South Station underground, and using new cars. It would require a bridge running near the south boston bypass rd, electrification, and this realignment in the picture, along with obvious station changes... I would imagine this would take blue line style cars with overhead wires which would fit in the silverline tunnel. It would only really need to be single tracked for the one stretch by the bypass road and around the bcec, that wouldnt be too bad. What do you guys think possible or not possible? The silverline from Chelsea could exit 90 as it does now but instead of switching to electric and going into the tunnel, continue through the Seaport across Fort Point to South Station above ground.
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/debunking-the-track-61-plan/

Forgot to show tunnel under D but it would be there. Purple is the existing track.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/12/01/city-leaders-see-new-use-for-old-south-boston-railroad-track/Z810C3TKndZrEVGimVuupM/amp.html


The section of track 61 next to bypass rd is currently being electrified for testing the new red line cars, Id have to imagine they have something in mind for the future.. but thats 3rd rail. Theres also probably enough room to double track track 61. Anyways all Im really proposing is the link into the silverline tunnel under D, past what many others have already proposed with connecting fairmount to track 61, this is just a way to get that extension to South Station.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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So theres been a lot of proposals with this. One included a rail bridge connecting fairmount to track 61. The linked article I think rightfully points out that fairmount to the convention center is unnessecary and would be underutilized. So what if it was connected into the silver line? This could be done like the attached picture or a tunnel linking up with the tunnel under D in a similar configuration.

Obviously this would require electrification so it would take a heavy investment, but I think this could be our best option to get rail transit in the seaport and more frequent service on the fairmount line with the line separated from the rail yard, arriving at South Station underground, and using new cars. It would require a bridge running near the south boston bypass rd, electrification, and this realignment in the picture, along with obvious station changes... I would imagine this would take blue line style cars with overhead wires which would fit in the silverline tunnel. It would only really need to be single tracked for the one stretch by the bypass road and around the bcec, that wouldnt be too bad. What do you guys think possible or not possible? The silverline from Chelsea could exit 90 as it does now but instead of switching to electric and going into the tunnel, continue through the Seaport across Fort Point to South Station above ground.
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/debunking-the-track-61-plan/

Forgot to show tunnel under D but it would be there. Purple is the existing track.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/12/01/city-leaders-see-new-use-for-old-south-boston-railroad-track/Z810C3TKndZrEVGimVuupM/amp.html
1000% impossible. The Fairmount Line cannot be taken off the RR network and changed over to rapid transit. It is the last southside freight route into Boston, hosts Readville freight yard, and has its status on the FRA network protected from encroachment by the MassDOT-CSX deal for Beacon Park. You must use FRA-compliant vehicles on it...now and forever. Amtrak also has trackage rights over Fairmount for work equipment and alt-routing past any NEC service outages with a diesel locomotive, so they are another co-signee.

Track 61 is non-abandoned as an FRA railroad, with CSX having no-cost freight trackage rights over its full length which it has no intention of giving up in order to keep a toehold on any speculative South Boston business. Additionally, ownership changes over to Massport at the Pumphouse Rd. grade crossing where their intentions to reactivate the line for deepwater port activities would federally preempt any T or MassDOT desires to do something else with it. The RL test track takes advantage of the line's current out-of-service designation, but the T must put it back ready for RR service when they're done. While not in a hurry because of the ongoing Harbor dredging effort, Massport still does have plans to construct a spur up Tide St. to Marine Terminal, and that would force the line back open for nightly freight. Reactivation is not difficult and can probably be done in a matter of weeks, as the T would just need to detach the third rail + holders and run a rail grinder over the brand new rail they just installed to change the wheel profile from rapid transit to RR. The construction they did actually serves future RR needs by fixing up a shot trackbed and renewing pretty much all remaining rail that wasn't already renewed when BCEC was built.

That means there's no physical way to make this scheme work. As with the Purple Line Track 61 dinky idea, at RR grades it is not possible to flyover the throat of the Amtrak yard...so that busy maze of switches will never be grade separated, and headways will suffer as a result. It is also physically impossible to get an RR vehicle, even a single-level car, into the Transitway. The tunnel is way too small, the geometry (curves, inclines, etc.) is incompatible with RR stock, the tunnel tubes sunk under Ft. Point Channel aren't even close to weight-rated 263,000 lb. FRA minimum standards, and it was not built to support safe electrical clearance for 25 kV RR-standard electrification...only 600 V rapid transit-standard. You'd have to blow up and rebuild every square inch of concrete between station caverns to do that particular mode switch, which is extreme even for somebody's idea of a Civil Engineering Strongman competition and more expensive overall than simply punching the Green Line into there.

And for what benefit? So riders with an existing one-seat to South Station take 20 minutes longer to get to South Station??? Seaport access today isn't overly problematic for southside CR riders who only have to run downstairs to catch Silver. The real pain is felt by everyone else who's got to multi-transfer or take an overstuffed Red Line. That's what connecting the Green Line to the Transitway directly addresses. This latest Track 61 dart throw doesn't do that. It's another solution in search of a problem, like the Commonwealth Mag article says.

The section of track 61 next to bypass rd is currently being electrified for testing the new red line cars, Id have to imagine they have something in mind for the future.. but thats 3rd rail. Theres also probably enough room to double track track 61. Anyways all Im really proposing is the link into the silverline tunnel under D, past what many others have already proposed with connecting fairmount to track 61, this is just a way to get that extension to South Station.
As per above, there's nothing in mind except returning it to the FRA network with renewed track and trackbed when they're done with the Red cars.

There is not nearly enough room to double-track the line anywhere prior to the small yard at Cypher St., and only for a 2250 ft. passing siding between the W. 2nd St. overpass and the curve around BCEC. When Haul Road was built they chopped it down as narrow as it could go while still supporting freight operations. Go on Street View along Haul Road and see for yourself. Nowhere between Dot Ave. and W. 2nd does it even get close to there being enough room.
 

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It's definitely the brit in me but I think something like what they use over there as DMUs https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_185 would be pretty disastrous here, the trend in the UK is to move away from them to full size trainsets (emphasis on trainSETS and often they are still technically DMUs at their core like the Class 800/801s)

I know the MBTA enjoys the flexibility of being able to move carriages between trains but I can't help thinking moving to trainsets is the way forward

You know what I would LOVE to see the MBTA use? Bi-modes, like the Class 800 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_800 that allow for electric operation on lines that have it (right now the NEC) and diesel on those that don't. That keeps the flexibility they want and paves a path towards future electrification of more lines, there's a lot more incentive to electrify say the Fairmount line if there are already rolling stock ready to use it.
1000x YES. Honestly, cutting trains and transfers for maintenance is pretty time-consuming and exist only because so much of the equipment is so old. In contrast, modern trainsets have swappable modules for pretty much everything so a whole set isn't out of service for too long and maintenance on the failed unit can happen off the road. Any resistance to this is happening from a scarcity mindset and all their concerns point to capital needs: new trains, more trainsets to allow for increased service and spares, new maintenance facilities at layover yards, etc.

Thankfully, it's not a foreign practice. We already do it on the subway and it's a practice that can easily map over to rail ops.

1000% impossible...This latest Track 61 dart throw doesn't do that. It's another solution in search of a problem, like the Commonwealth Mag article says.
Yes. 👆 I'll credit stick for developing a creative solution that also ties into the Seaport mobility issue, but it's not workable for various reasons that F-Line pointed out.

They're certainly still issues worth exploring solutions for. With a possible need for a 'Back Bay Under' to accommodate lead tracks for NSRL, it might be more impactful to solve the Seaport conundrum with a bored tunnel through the Seaport and the airport to Chelsea as an 'outer loop' NSRL, but that's a discussion for a totally different thread...
 

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stick n move

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https://twitter.com/marty_walsh/status/1103398306754031617

Blue Hill Ave had its "official" opening today and the signage went up at the entrances to mark it as open.

Governor Baker reaffirmed his opposition to TNC tax and gas tax increases at the event: https://twitter.com/adamtvaccaro/status/1103394609382809600

We need TNC fees in Boston, I would be in full support of some dynamic ones that charge fees only in transit served areas during transit operation hours?
“He stressed his plan for multi-state cap-and-invest on transpo emissions.”

Can someone explain what this means for us?


 

orulz

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Though it may be in a plan somewhere, is having heavy rail access to the port of Boston really that important to the city's, region's, and country's economic competitiveness? Given how the area around it is developing, having heavy freight trains rumbling through there would seem incongruous at best. There are numerous ports up and down the east coast with way better rail access; why can't things that require rail just ship out of those ports instead?

I get that the Port wants it - of course they do. But at what point does that become the tail wagging the dog of development in the greater downtown Boston area?

To me, the days of Track 61 being under the purview of the FRA should be numbered at this point. Move toward abandonment.
 

bakgwailo

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Though it may be in a plan somewhere, is having heavy rail access to the port of Boston really that important to the city's, region's, and country's economic competitiveness? Given how the area around it is developing, having heavy freight trains rumbling through there would seem incongruous at best. There are numerous ports up and down the east coast with way better rail access; why can't things that require rail just ship out of those ports instead?

I get that the Port wants it - of course they do. But at what point does that become the tail wagging the dog of development in the greater downtown Boston area?

To me, the days of Track 61 being under the purview of the FRA should be numbered at this point. Move toward abandonment.
That is one part of it, but, even if their wasn't freight traffic, its still a pretty limited/useless ROW to try to route rapid transit down.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Though it may be in a plan somewhere, is having heavy rail access to the port of Boston really that important to the city's, region's, and country's economic competitiveness? Given how the area around it is developing, having heavy freight trains rumbling through there would seem incongruous at best. There are numerous ports up and down the east coast with way better rail access; why can't things that require rail just ship out of those ports instead?

I get that the Port wants it - of course they do. But at what point does that become the tail wagging the dog of development in the greater downtown Boston area?
New England ports only have a chance if they hone their specialties, since they're never going to compete with PANYNJ, Halifax, and the like. Port of Boston has already done a pretty good job of that with the Autoport at former Moran Terminal, and by being very focused with where they drive container biz at Conley Terminal to target the gaps in drayage distance and shipping costs vs. NY. You've also got regional examples like Quonset Point in RI that have done well by having laser-like focus on their specialties, and some recent revivals seeing an uptick in business like Portland and Belle Dock in New Haven.

So it's not useless. It just has to be more targeted than simply "well, we gotta do something to keep up with the Joneses". Ruthless efficiency more than grandeur. Since Massport's had some recent successes and has studied Port of Boston to death, they've got their data house in order on what probable uses will bring highest return. The only thing that's going to screw with that is City politics.


What's envisoned for Marine T. (skimming the bullet points in the 2013 rail study) is:

  • Cold storage warehousing. Biggest specialty use seen for this part of the port. The metro region is at a disadvantage by not having a full-service Hunts Point-like district providing a measure of local price control over perishables. Walsh had advocated for that...the BDPA, not so much. Marine T. can help with that task, and perishables are one of the commodities that already travels by rail from Everett Terminal where fridge cars from New England Produce Center stock your supermarket shelves with fresh veggies...so it's not that big a stretch to expand from there. Outbound fish shipments to the Midwest were seen as possibility if the proposed Tide St. spur had tail tracks close to the seafood warehouses.

  • Overdimension or overweight containers. Equipping Marine T. to handle nonstandard container sizes that don't fit the extremely rigid standardization of Conley Terminal. These would be more appropriate for rail than truck. Seen as #2 overall need since more of these containers will be coming with the Port dredging, and Conley simply isn't equipped for them.

  • Bulk shipments of distillery grain (e.g. Harpoon needs 20 carloads/yr.)

  • Beverages (e.g. Harpoon estimated to be worth 45 boxcars/yr., beer already moves by rail in modest quantity in New England)

  • Imported building materials, lumber, structural steel. Ships more efficiently to distribution centers via lumber rack railcars than by truck. ID'd need for steel-loading facilities ports and rail, since few places in Northeast that can do that.

  • Cement. There's a cement plant at end of existing track that was a rail customer until Track 61 was temporarily severed for Big Dig construction and they switched to truck. CSX did a test run a few years ago to see if the tracks were operable that far because they wanted to start re-using rail, but for whatever reason they couldn't come to financial agreement.

It's a hodgepodge, but there's enough here to do a dozen-plus cars per night 6 nights a week on a CSX local out of Readville that comes into Widett Circle after commuter rail shuts down for the night. They'll get in and out so quickly it'll barely cost them anything to run the train, and they'll definitely be making a tidy profit on it.

To me, the days of Track 61 being under the purview of the FRA should be numbered at this point. Move toward abandonment.
Doesn't work that way. No one can initiate a drive to will a line into abandonment. The only way that can be done is CSX filing an abandonment docket with the Surface Transportation Board to extinguish their operating rights. And in the process Massport, as the primary cosignee served by those freight rights, must file a supporting statement to that abandonment docket.

That is the only way it can be done, and absolutely no one...not line owner MassDOT, not the state, not citizen action...can compel an unwilling carrier to abandon against their will. CSX's trackage rights to Track 61 are free-as-in-beer as a condition of the Beacon Park relocation deal, so they have no financial interest in expunging those rights. And there is no "use it or lose it" clock, either. Port of Boston's two other inactive industrial spurs, the Mystic Wharf Branch in Charlestown (Massport-owned) and the East Boston Branch in Eastie (MBTA-owned), each have had dormant Pan Am Railways trackage rights since the mid-90's which that carrier is still sitting on in perpetuity. CSX has even more reason to sit on Track 61 for the long term because all this Red Line test track activity ends up buying them brand new rail infrastructure when it ends up reverting back to freight service.

Massport, should it feel its business interests are threatened by a CSX abandonment docket, also would have the right to file an adverse abandonment and probably get the docket struck down by the feds with ease. The Executive Branch wouldn't necessarily be able to give them a unilateral order to stop, either, given the peculiarities of Massport's charter and semi-autonomy (at best it's an "it's complicated" answer on checks and balances). If CSX wanted out and Massport filed for adverse abandonment, they would be able to offer assistance to broker substitute carrier rights as a means of keeping its toehold...even if the new carrier is just going to sit on the inactive line some more. There is one such very readily available carrier: Fore River Transportation, the state-owned (MA Water Resources Authority) terminal switching freight railroad that runs the "poop train" of processed Deer Island sludge in tankers from Quincy Shipyard to CSX Braintree Yard. They'd be eminently qualified to switch Southie.

This is all by-design. MassDOT got a steal on the throw-in of Track 61 in the big Worcester Line sale package in exchange for giving up a lot of control in the form of free-as-in-beer trackage rights to the port and indemnities to CSX to preserve and improve their freight access to Boston via the L-shaped Framingham-Walpole-Readville route. There's no "go away" ransom that's going to materialize for CSX and no "stand down" mandate that's going to get laid on Massport. If they wanted to take 61 off the FRA network, they would've negotiated the line sale very differently than they did. The conditions they did go by were all intent on keeping it on the FRA network.

It's staying on the FRA network. It's not in any way bereft of passenger opportunities on the FRA network, though none of them to-date are as high-leverage as the BCEC seems to want us to think. But with mostly renewed infrastructure they can look at those things in addition to the nocturnal freight. But make no mistake...no citizen advocacy's sheer force of will is going to suddenly make it a rapid transit line divorced from the FRA network. The state wouldn't have made the deal they did if they placed high empirical value on keeping a rapid transit option in-pocket.
 

millerm277

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Though it may be in a plan somewhere, is having heavy rail access to the port of Boston really that important to the city's, region's, and country's economic competitiveness? Given how the area around it is developing, having heavy freight trains rumbling through there would seem incongruous at best. There are numerous ports up and down the east coast with way better rail access; why can't things that require rail just ship out of those ports instead?
It's pretty useful. Also, what doesn't go by rail, goes by truck. I would much rather have 1 freight train go by than 100 trucks. And said trucks also fill up the roads throughout the Seaport (and the Haul Road - an argument against opening it up to cars to improve throughput in the Seaport)

To me, the days of Track 61 being under the purview of the FRA should be numbered at this point. Move toward abandonment.
Exactly what impact on development do you think Track 61 is having on development? Just about every lot adjacent to it already has a major project under construction or is built out fully.

Two Drydock (Parcel Q1) and the Omni Hotel across from the BCEC are already underway. Those lots are obviously not going to see any alterations for decades, so Track 61 is now irrelevant to the plans for those lots.

So you've basically got both sides of Pumphouse Road as the only remaining places to build where the track matters at all.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Before this thread.... derails.... onto some NYC topic, the TriboroRX and Fairmont are vastly different animals. Fairmount was an existing commuter rail line that needed more stations and more service. TriboroRX is a single track freight line that didn't have passenger service for most stretches and is in disrepair. A more appropriate comparison would be Penn Access which would add new stations along the NEC so that Metro North trains can serve the eastern Bronx into Penn Station.
 

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