Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

Java King

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Thanks for the updates on this important project. I have two observations from the last set of pictures.

#1. The Middlesex Courthouse is certainly ugly despite what many may think of Brutalism as positive, and the reconstruction will be quite visible from so many locations like East Somerville in that first picture. I think it will be a vast improvement.
#2. With all the current work, it seems like a perfect time to convert Lowell Line to electrification. I know F-Line said they have designed the conditions in for future conversion, but it sure seems like no other rail line would be as prepped and ready-to-go as Lowell with all the current work.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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#2. With all the current work, it seems like a perfect time to convert Lowell Line to electrification. I know F-Line said they have designed the conditions in for future conversion, but it sure seems like no other rail line would be as prepped and ready-to-go as Lowell with all the current work.
Lowell isn't plug-ready, though. It's the northside's sole freight clearance route into Boston, legally protected as such via a bunch of 4 decade old federally-ratified agreements between the T and Boston & Maine. And while most of the tall freight clearances are well outside 495 let alone 128, the NH Main is the only one that goes end-to-end straight into the Terminal District. To maintain its current 17 ft. vertal clearance under electrification takes +2.5 more feet of clearance underneath 25 kV wire. Any overhead bridge that currently ranges from 17' to less than 19'6" will have to be raised to an even 19'6" before wires can be strung. And since the route is completely grade separated except for the West Medford crossing pair, that's the highest number of bridge touches of any one line to electrify on the system. On any non-clearance line, they are only bound by safe wire height over a 15'6" T bi-level because all allowed freight cars are already shorter than that.

For the most part these would not be invasive touches. The majority would be accomplishable by trackbed undercutting, and there are a whole slew of bridges north of GLX to Lowell that are coming due to replacement over the next 2 decaddes. Ridership levels certainly merit wire-up even for the additional expense. But there will be lots of additional construction prep required, so it is not a first-priority northside electrification like the non-clearance Eastern Route is.
 

Arlington

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Still trying to figure out whose rail is dropped between the CR tracks in most of Javier's recent pictures?
Can you tell if it is transit or for CR?

What's the replacement cycle on CWR? I kinda remember getting all new CWR on the Lowell Line in 2010 ish?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Still trying to figure out whose rail is dropped between the CR tracks in most of Javier's recent pictures?
Can you tell if it is transit or for CR?

What's the replacement cycle on CWR? I kinda remember getting all new CWR on the Lowell Line in 2010 ish?
If it's shorter lengths of ribbon, it's GLX. Once the fence between modes is 'sealed' they're going to have to do all future cycled CWR replacement with rapid transit-dimension work equipment that can't handle the up-to 1/4 mile ribbon lengths the RR's use, so they want to make sure they're using reasonable splicing. Those lengths in that photo look like the long RR stuff, however, so guessing that's for a future track shift.

Replacement rates vary widely. Curve rail has way shorter lifespan than tangent rail because of the extra forces put on it, so on some punishing curves it gets changed every few years. Straightaways can last several decades if they're already up-to-spec on modern rail weights (115 lb. or greater...T buys a lot of 136 lb. bulk rail for mainlines).
 

F-Line to Dudley

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For comparison, this here looks like a commuter rail CWR drop. Unbroken lengths of ribbon rail 2000 or more feet apiece. . .
While these look like rapid transit ribbon rail...like 180 ft. per ribbon and self-containable on maximum 2 rail-transport flatcars. . .
The rail train flatcars are hacked up to be extra-bendy around curves because the lengths of ribbon have to span multiple cars...but on rapid transit the length of the splices is much shorter so the rail train can run through the subway from Riverside or maneuver the superelevated curves at Brickbottom Jct. from a loading spot at the new carhouse. Once the fence goes up sealing the two side-by-side modes from each other all future GLX rail replacement has to be staged from the rapid transit side of the fence. Therefore they go from Day 1 with the shorter-length ribbon so their future replacement splices line up with what's transportable solely from the rapid transit side of the fence.
 

BostonTrainGuy

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Thanks for those fantastic pics! Really appreciate the work to inform us of the GLX progress.

Is there any possibility of showing us the ancillary freight work? I am curious to see the "new" Yard 21 and the revived freight line that now parallels New Washington Street to get to it and Everett.

Thanks.
 

Arlington

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Is there any possibility of showing us the ancillary freight work? I am curious to see the "new" Yard 21 and the revived freight line that now parallels New Washington Street to get to it and Everett.
The Yard 21 work has been covered in the general MBTA Construction Projects thread
Here (or there) I would like to see a few shots near East Somerville where the freight lead was/is/is-going-to-be that take trains along New Washington St
 

BostonTrainGuy

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F-Line to Dudley

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Thanks for those fantastic pics! Really appreciate the work to inform us of the GLX progress.

Is there any possibility of showing us the ancillary freight work? I am curious to see the "new" Yard 21 and the revived freight line that now parallels New Washington Street to get to it and Everett.

Thanks.
From NErail. . .

Backup shove move by Pan Am job BO-1 of 13 empties returning from Rousselot Gelatin in Peabody onto the Yard 21 tracks on Tuesday. Peabody loads amongst the most frequent visitors to Yard 21 because on days when BO-1 runs as far as Peabody it often has trouble finishing its work within crew hours (presumably these empties were dropped in Salem or Everett at the end of the previous day's shift for a fetch at beginning of next day's trip).

Pic taken from FX interlocking (see dwarf signal lit up in the background). Curved track on the left foreground of the photo is the end of northbound leg of the freight wye tying into FX interlocking at this spot underneath the Leverett ramp decks, and the track snaking under the highway decks in the background past the signal is where all the freight + work tracks framing the backside of Boston Engine Terminal cross over to the outbound Eastern & Western Route mains. The big Keolis tie/rail piles off to the left of the photo frames the perimeter acreage between FX and the industrial backlots of Roland St. in the Innerbelt. This vantage point is about 650 ft. inbound of the Sullivan Station platforms. The empty hoppers on the rear half of the train past the last highway truss abutment have all cleared the switches and are traveling on the Yard 21-proper trackage.

 

stick n move

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What is the purpose of yard 21? I had to look on apple maps and its just 2 tracks that stop before assembly row on the inside of the orange line right? What benefit is there.
 

Arlington

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Roughly: The restored Yard 21 replaces other freight train-parking space lost, particularly where the GLX has already squeezed freights out in this same area (but more on the E. Somerville / USq side)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Roughly: The restored Yard 21 replaces other freight train-parking space lost, particularly where the GLX has already squeezed freights out in this same area (but more on the E. Somerville / USq side)
It is equivalent-capacity car storage space to what was lost when Yard 8 on the west side due south of the Washington St. overpass closed last year to get ripped out for GLX. But slightly less flexible for switching cars because of the way Yard 21 is pinned in by the Orange Line (though if Pan Am gave two shits about efficiency they could effortlessly self-pay for a couple more hand-throw crossover installations on Yard 21 to make switching ops more nimble than the default T-paid setup). PAR were the ones who sold themselves short by cashing out their real estate rights to Yard 8 in the GLX land swaps, so it's their nickels-on-dollar to spend if they need to make Yard 21 ops act a little more smoothly than the barebones current switch setup.

Yard 21 is set up in a "runaround" track configuration...single-track at the FX Interlocking and Assembly ends-of-track, double-track in the middle. This is so they can detach the locomotive from a parked string of cars and "run around" alongside it on the open second track to change ends for the prevailing operating direction. So even when the car counts aren't long enough to stretch over to the Sullivan platform you will see the PAR locomotive putter past all the way to Assembly for the sake of changing tracks/changing directions.


As described previously, Pan Am is getting shoved here because it's one of the last nooks in Somerville they haven't land-swapped to the T for sweet instant-gratification cash. They still legally have perpetual squatter's rights on this spur, whereas those perpetual rights at Yard 8 and Northpoint were voluntarily bartered away in the land swaps for $$$. It's nobody's idea of everlasting permanent digs, and if they get acquired by a carrier who gives a damn about running on-time they won't need Somerville nearly as often as a storage crutch for running out of crew hours. BO-1 on its Peabody days is a prime example of how stoopid their PAR 'slop-ops' go. To switch Rousselot Gelatin's small siding, PAR has to sometimes make as many as 4-6 switching trips over the 2-1/4 miles between North St. Yard outside Salem Station and Rousselot's siding on the South Peabody Branch to shunt 2 cars at a time. Requiring a crossing of dead-center heart of Peabody Sq. every time...throughout the duration of PM rush...with the crew needing to hand-flag all crossings because they're too cheap to install flashers and/or gates on their own track through the Square or pay in to the T for crossing protection upgrades to the 4 crossings immediately prior to the Square. What's more...their refusal to patch one 20+ year old track washout on the out-of-service South Peabody Branch track just west of Rousselot means they can't/won't use 3200 ft. of perfectly fungible self-owned track for extra storage space that would basically eliminate all those inane fetch moves through the Square back to Salem. Therefore, the understaffed BO-1 crew habitually runs out of work hours before they finish switching Rousselot and has to dump their return train in Salem to come back and finish the next day. Which in turn puts stress on the next day's understaffed BO-1 from finishing its job within hours. PAR is rumored systemwide to light upwards of $1M per year on fire strictly for taxicab fare bringing crews to/from remote trains that ran out of Hours of Service.

Since 99.9999% of prospective railroaders give way more shits than this on the cost/benefits of running on-time, Yard 21 and other parking spots will probably be seldom-used by the next regime that replaces PAR. Throwing 10 grand into fixing the South Peabody washout and maybe finagling another $75K on top of that to install a double-track runaround between the Allens Ln. and Summit St. crossings is enough to perma-end all the back-and-forth lollygagging across Peabody Sq. and get them back to Somerville 2 hours sooner. They'll literally pay back the chintzy up-front capital investment in taxi fare saved. This in turn makes the Everett-only days on BO-1 run faster, and lets them get back home to Lowell or Lawrence without any Somerville overnight parking. Staffing beyond the legal minimum also means switching gets done way faster and they can pack more customers on-trip. A one-stop shopping destination like Everett Terminal shouldn't take half a shift to switch by its lonesome, but for the fact PAR refuses to pay more than 2 guys to do it.

So in the future when the T needs to go to the land-swap well again to pick up Yard 21 for the Urban Ring ROW...the loss of Somerville's last overnight parking spot won't crimp freight ops. The new carrier will by give-a-damn purposes be running with extremely little Somerville parking (save for the short-term pauses behind BET between opportune commuter slots). And they can be compensated for growth + contingencies by the state with some grant money for expanding storage inside Everett Terminal and on the Winchester-Woburn stretch by reanimating 90% derelict Montvale Yard to bookend Somerville with enough safety-margin parking spots to safely give up Yard 21. The only reason why a Montvale + Everett triage isn't worth spending on today is that PAR would just make itself that much lazier...bogarting the new space as immediate parking lots while staying needy as ever in Somerville and setting new records for pure-waste annual taxicab fare for crews that can't stay within Hours of Service.

Right now--and under the current PAR administration--GLX is a legit worrisome complication for making fluid freight ops in Somerville a little bit harder. As Yard 21 is just a little bit ham-fisted a replacement for lost Yard 8. But that's largely a self-correcting glitch. Get rid of the FAILroad HQ'd in Billerica for an honest-to-god professional industry outfit and we're largely set for life...including when things like the Urban Ring ROW send next steps into motion.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-Line, do you have a preferred suiter and why?
It doesn't matter, because only in the Randoid fever mind of one Timothy Mellon is spending a buck to save two bucks such ideological anathema that $1M annual cab fare budgets are ever justifiable means of managing crew Hours Of Service. Literally anyone in the bidding for PAR is already pre-revulsed enough by the incumbent carrier's slop-ops culture and too much DNA-wired themselves towards "run the @#$% trains on-time = don't senselessly waste money!" It's not even a question.

I have no fricking clue who's going to walk away with them, and am averse to making predictions because the odds always favored this being a *very* opaque process rife with unexpected twists in betting odds due to that opaqueness and much slower timetable for actually transacting than the over-optimistic initial projections. It's mid-October and we still know nothing firmer than we did in June when this was breathlessly broken as a bang-bang sale in-wait. All the while, the overzealous prognosticators on the RR.net thread have pretty much burnt themselves out overforcasting from unreadable tea leaves that they're grasping for straws trying to explain why we still know nothing as of 10/10. That should be enough of a lesson that it's better to just sit back, wait for this opaque process to happen at its own pace, then be ready to react when presented with a New World Order's circumstances rather than trying to get ahead of it with too much leading prognostication utterly non-useful for advancing any discourse. I mean, if "no more slop-ops" is the baseline for literally anyone with interest in bidding 1¢ for this outfit, then the future is already well brighter no matter what happens with whom.
 

BostonTrainGuy

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Okay, thanks for that. I do find it interesting that they supposedly are still running the OCS around for potential buyers.
 

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