MassDOT Rail: Springfield Hub (East-West, NNERI, Berkshires, CT-Valley-VT-Quebec)

Arlington

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We forget that WAS-NYP is an hour faster than BOS-NYP even though they are similar as the crow flies.

Acela limited to 90* in Metro North territory (NRO to NHV) and going BOTH too many miles (of coastal curves) and too slow (curves and bridges) NHV to Westerly


*And should actually be able to do 90 year round now that the overhead wire has been replaced. unfortunately they have speed and capacity restrictions associated with the next 10 years worth of bridge replacements.
 

Johnnyrocket891

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I was wondering if there are any proposals for high speed railways around the state also connected to other states?
 

Arlington

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I was wondering if there are any proposals for high speed railways around the state also connected to other states?
Mass' intra-state HSR is the most expensive option (jumping out to the Pike between cities and jumping back to serve existing downtown stations) in the MassDOT East-West rail study, as well as CT's eventual additional upgrade to Amtrak's NHV-HFD-SPG line. (jump back to here: https://archboston.com/community/threads/massdot-rail-springfield-hub-east-west-nneri-berkshires-ct-valley-vt-quebec.6002/#post-295756 where the study was approved, and then follow the links that report on progress)

Start here and see the options for upgrading SPG-BOS:

(whole archive of MassDOT docs https://www.mass.gov/east-west-passenger-rail-study)

Maxing out the existing CSX line (option 5), and at key points jumping off the ROW to eliminate curves, seems like the best value for money, promising BOS-SPG times of 85 to 105 minutes. The "tie in" to other HrSR would be via SPG, turning south onto the SPG-HFD-NHV line that's just been double tracked (except for key choke points at a bridge over the CT river and the HFD station) and signaled for higher speeds, and one day will be fully two tracked and we hope electrified.

Mass is fortunate in already having the (tied for) fastest stretches of HSR on the NEC where they can do 150 or 165 (with Acela II), but there's nothing new going on there, so I didn't move your post to the Amtrak thread.
 
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Arlington

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BOS-NLC (on Acela to New London) is 1h20m.

BOS-SPG in the "same" 85 minutes (yes, a 5 minute fudge) would be dreamy

SPG-NHV is 1h20m given 7 intermediate stops. Eliminate all but Hartford, save 20m. Double track and electrify, do 110mph max and average 90 and you'd be down to 0h42 (it is only 62 miles)

NHV-NYP is 1h35m and unlikely to change

Put it together and BOS-NYP via the Inland Route would be
1h25 BOS-SPG
0h42 SPG-NHV
1h35 NHV-NYP
3h42

Today's Acela is 3h45!
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Maxing out the existing CSX line (option 5), and at key points jumping off the ROW to eliminate curves, seems like the best value for money, promising BOS-SPG times of 85 to 105 minutes. The "tie in" to other HrSR would be via SPG, turning south onto the SPG-HFD-NHV line that's just been double tracked (except for key choke points at a bridge over the CT river and the HFD station) and signaled for higher speeds, and one day will be fully two tracked and we hope electrified.
The B&A is never going to be electrified west of Worcester. Worcester-Springfield there's 35 overhead bridges that would have to be cleared from current 21'6" double-stack clearance to 24' DS-under-wire (i.e. +2-1/2 ft. over an unshielded car roof) clearance. Nevermind all the ones west of SPG to Schodack, NY where the freights split off. Too many of those bridges were already maxed out during the DS clearance project 10 years ago with all the feasibly cheap trackbed undercutting tricks, so the bridge replacement and MassDOT road grade modification costs are going to be absolutely crippling if they have to go to that well again. Intercity traffic levels are not projected quite dense enough to amortize that premium, nor would it make that big a total schedule difference diesel vs. electric on speeds when Palmer is the only intermediate stop on that segment. Curve easing is the investment with real ROI by simply reducing the number of places where trains have to recover lost speed, and it's underwritten by CSX profits because ton-for-ton their trains save so much more operating $$$ with each fewer slowdown recovery.

The Springfield Line almost certainly is going to be electrified. So will MBTA territory because there's only 6 overhead bridges (some of them already confirmed tall enough) in double-stack territory to evaluate, vacated 19'6" autorack clearances Westborough-Framingham (no longer needed since the CSX autoport relocated to East Brookfield) that don't need modification because Plate F/17' is the remaining max clearance going inbound, and vacated 17' clearances east of Framingham to Beacon Park that don't need modification because the freights are gone and CSX contractually sunset its Plate F clearance at the end of calendar year 2018. What you will likely see if/when New Haven-Springfield electrification proceeds is Amtrak using dual-mode Siemens Charger-Sprinter hybrid locos on the Inland Route, like NYSDOT is evaluating for the Empire Corridor GE Genesis P32AC-DM replacements. Only the Siemens platform, being modular, can be orderable with DC third rail or AC pantograph pickups within the same make. Meaning after NYSDOT orders theirs, Virginia and North Carolina may be looking at their own orders to eliminate the engine-change layover at Washington for run-thru Regionals (and also prevent Richmond from gaining an engine-change layover on the schedule whenever the wires get extended down there). If those states dip, ConnDOT/MassDOT/VTrans have low barrier to entry for buying their own and eliminating the New Haven engine-switch layover (plus preventing Springfield from gaining one like Richmond if/when the wires are extended north). Doubly good for MassDOT because their Amtrak routes will also be future-proofed for the North-South Rail Link at running Regionals through to Portland or Concord through patchwork-powered territory.

That will probably be the ideal way to handle the ice cold cost-benefit valuation of trying to bridge WOR-SPG diesel territory between to-be wired NHV-SPG and WOR-BOS territories. Unlike commuter rail where duals are a colossal waste vs. just biting the bullet on the fullest electrification and EMU fleet they can net...a fairly slim-profile investment in duals is much more right-sized for the region's intercity equipment needs and territory that doesn't amortize its costs well enough to ever wire-up. And very much in-line with what other Amtrak regions are going to likewise find right-sized, so there'll be some starter scale for pooling PRIAA dues with New York and Virgnia, etc. on a standardized flavor of Amtrak equipment for the task.
 

Arlington

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So for dual modes, a variation on:

And then it'd run:
BOS-BBY-FRA-WOR as AC 60Hz 25kV
WOR-SPG as a diesel
SPG-NHV as AC 60Hz 25kV
NHV-NRO as AC 60Hz 12kV
NRO-NYP-WAS as AC 25Hz 12kV

Crazy in the weeds:
1) are WOR-SPG clearances enough for 12kV (which takes less clearance than 25kV, right?) if you wanted all electric and a fleet commonality with Acela/NER?
2) Why not Bombardier Traxx? (given VA/VT/MA don't need DC, which is a Hudson-LIRR thing) is it a choice of order size (combining NY + all other NEC) vs "all other NEC" getting 2 bidders? (Bombardier & Siemens)
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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So for dual modes, a variation on:

And then it'd run:
BOS-BBY-FRA-WOR as AC 60Hz 25kV
WOR-SPG as a diesel
SPG-NHV as AC 60Hz 25kV
NHV-NRO as AC 60Hz 12kV
NRO-NYP-WAS as AC 25Hz 12kV

Crazy in the weeds:
1) are WOR-SPG clearances enough for 12kV (which takes less clearance than 25kV, right?) if you wanted all electric and a fleet commonality with Acela/NER?
2) Why not Bombardier Traxx? (given VA/VT/MA don't need DC, which is a Hudson-LIRR thing) is it a choice of order size (combining NY + all other NEC) vs "all other NEC" getting 2 bidders? (Bombardier & Siemens)
You still need 1-3/4 ft. extra clearance for 12.5 kV, which isn't going to reduce the bridge touches nearly enough to make a difference. The CSX project really and truly maxed out the track undercutting tricks in most places, so the number of bridge raisings is going to trend to the extreme end of probabilities out of the 35 spans. I guess you could do your own research on Uglybridges.com to see exactly how bad it's going to be (caution: NBI stats go by bridge centerline, not track centerline...so it's only ballpark-accurate at guesstimating rail clearances). But--no sugarcoat--it's going to be bad. I don't think there's enough spans that can be safely crossed off that list to pound the cost-benefit threshold anywhere close to where it needs to be to make the value proposition work.

Bombardier's ALP-46 electric and ALP-45DP dual are their TRAXX-derived domestic products; that is their North American platform for it all (though they haven't fetched enough sales interest yet to port over the straight-diesel and freight flavors from the Euro product catalogue). They're already bidding a third-rail shoed variant of the ALP-45DP for the Empire/NYSDOT + Metro North + LIRR triple-procurement of duals. But in the Request For Information docs they were having lots of trouble pounding it into the specced weight limits, because the ALP-45 is already a slovenly beast and one of the heaviest passenger locos in North American use. Siemens starts out with a much more attractive weight profile with the Charger, and in the RFI they said they were close (but still slightly over because top speeds had to match the 125 MPH of AMTK's new straight-diesel procurement and wouldn't compromise down to a weight-making 110 instead). Siemens thought they'd be able to make up the difference by RFP time with a little more R&D, and since it's been a few years since that RFI they've already been hard at work on this. Given the more advantageous starting position of Siemens in the RFI and fact that Amtrak is now basically an all-Siemens shop...it's going to be a "Charge-Sprint" and not Bombardier for the New York State triple-order. They still have issue the RFP for real bidding later this year, but at this point it's basically a coronation-in-wait for Siemens.
 

FK4

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Long ago there was discussion of actually making an entirely new ROW for HSR from Boston to NYC, likely via going roughly alongside I-84. Is anyone still discussing this option or it kaput?
 

Arlington

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Long ago there was discussion of actually making an entirely new ROW for HSR from Boston to NYC, likely via going roughly alongside I-84. Is anyone still discussing this option or it kaput?
We've discussed that Amtrak/Multistate issue in the Amtrak main thread
The short answer is that the most ambitious stuff is "Kaput" and thoughts have turned to "segment-wise" thinking (like additional passing tracks along the Metro North or a Hartford-Providence cutoff on the original (acquired and used) I-84.

This thread covers the CT- and MA-led efforts that could result in stitching " New Haven - Springfield -Boston into an alternative
 

FK4

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We've discussed that Amtrak/Multistate issue in the Amtrak main thread
The short answer is that the most ambitious stuff is "Kaput" and thoughts have turned to "segment-wise" thinking (like additional passing tracks along the Metro North or a Hartford-Providence cutoff on the original (acquired and used) I-84.

This thread covers the CT- and MA-led efforts that could result in stitching " New Haven - Springfield -Boston into an alternative
Thanks
 
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odurandina

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I was wondering if there are any proposals for high speed railways around the state also connected to other states?
Like 165mph Concord, NH to Boston intercity on the existing row? Imagine what that would do for
New Hampshire property values and tax revenue if Boston continues on its rocket ride.
 

Arlington

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^ Not a real proposal, and the sad reality is that most rail ideas in NH get torpedoed because they won't even accept the money to study them.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Well...VTrans and the feds did study BOS-MTL via the Northern Division from Concord to White River Jct., but that was a sick joke that did little more than light a pile of paper on fire. Following the meandering banks of the Merrimack River for 70 miles then taking on the White and Green Mountains in succession through corkscrewing passes is not conducive to fast-speed anything and in the real-world still would've been slower than the L-shaped BOS-SPG-MTL route.

Concord gets plenty close to Boston just by getting on with it and implementing Capitol Corridor commuter rail. The extra-layer service would've made all local stops in NH then skip-stopped Lowell<-->Anderson<-->North Station in MA to keep travel times brisk, while all-local trains in MA would've terminated at Nashua. The studies projected it at a 97-minute trip. Speed up Boston-Wilmington to 90 MPH for the benefits of the Downeaster and these Concord expresses and it rounds down a shade under 90, which is out-fucking-standing and the most any interstate demand could hope for.

NH doesn't financially or materially support development enough to raise the local development stakes any higher than that. Nobody's going to be building supertalls in Manchester when they won't even bother laying a water main big enough to flush the toilets in it. Go to Portland if you want a corporate HQ sited north of 42.36° latitude. If anything, buff rail service is just going to make their population suck at MA's teat even harder for the sustenance. NH is intentionally not playing the same sustainability game its other 5 New England neighbors are. Whatever the scruples or lackthereof, that's their choice and they're nothing if not resolute about that. They're not going to be force-fed somebody else's growth.
 

whighlander

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So for dual modes, a variation on:

And then it'd run:
BOS-BBY-FRA-WOR as AC 60Hz 25kV
WOR-SPG as a diesel
SPG-NHV as AC 60Hz 25kV
NHV-NRO as AC 60Hz 12kV
NRO-NYP-WAS as AC 25Hz 12kV

Crazy in the weeds:
1) are WOR-SPG clearances enough for 12kV (which takes less clearance than 25kV, right?) if you wanted all electric and a fleet commonality with Acela/NER?
2) Why not Bombardier Traxx? (given VA/VT/MA don't need DC, which is a Hudson-LIRR thing) is it a choice of order size (combining NY + all other NEC) vs "all other NEC" getting 2 bidders? (Bombardier & Siemens)
Arlington and undoubtedly F-Line as well
By the time all of the best wishes with respect to long haul electrification turns into anything concrete -- there will be Hydrogen Fuel Cells powering over-the-road trucks or Nikola will be a major flop

At that point -- the rest of transit except for heavy and light rail and something big like an Acela that needs a permanent high power connection to the AC or DC power supply can be powered by Hydrogen Fuel Cells coupled with some battery packs for extra HP when you need a burst

So that would mean all the buses, BRTs and EMU's become Hydrogen Powered and all of their current bad attributes either vanish in a puff of H2O vapour or at least get greatly mitigated
 

Arlington

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Wire systems for Railroads now do a very good job of feeding braking energy back into the grid, which actually favors vehicles that don't have the weight or expense of onboard batteries or storage (the grid is "massless" storage)

For a systems like BOS-WOR (electrified), WOR-SPG (unwired) and SPG-NHV (electrified) and onward to NYC on existing wires, you might find yourself running dual mode (diesel for WOR-SPG, catenary for everything else) and even installing a battery that could store "one brake cycle / one acceleration cycle" worth of power (essentially as the Toyota Prius does) which also would provide a "limp home" function if the wires lose power. But beyond that the "zero mass" grid has way better energy density than any storage or hydrogen system you can propose.

And the grid can often directly use the wind or solar that would otherwise have to be indirectly used (spitting water to make hydrogen fuel) in hydrogen systems.
 

whighlander

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Wire systems for Railroads now do a very good job of feeding braking energy back into the grid, which actually favors vehicles that don't have the weight or expense of onboard batteries or storage (the grid is "massless" storage)

For a systems like BOS-WOR (electrified), WOR-SPG (unwired) and SPG-NHV (electrified) and onward to NYC on existing wires, you might find yourself running dual mode (diesel for WOR-SPG, catenary for everything else) and even installing a battery that could store "one brake cycle / one acceleration cycle" worth of power (essentially as the Toyota Prius does) which also would provide a "limp home" function if the wires lose power. But beyond that the "zero mass" grid has way better energy density than any storage or hydrogen system you can propose.

And the grid can often directly use the wind or solar that would otherwise have to be indirectly used (spitting water to make hydrogen fuel) in hydrogen systems.
Arlington -- my point is that the huge capital expense factor will limit electrification of many routes. However -- you can have all of the benefits of electric propulsion and no-fossil fuel emission by installing a hydrogen fuel cell and a small battery pack -- no need for wiring. Obviously there are matters of scale where the trade goes the other way -- But for EMU-type operation ---- Hydrogen fuel cells will will hands down in overall system costs
 

F-Line to Dudley

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No, no, no. Hydrogen is not making overhead wires obsolete. In any of our lifetimes, if ever. There is ONE hydrogen train research test project going on...60 years after we started using fuel cells for the Space Program. It's not advancing anywhere close to fast enough to affect the next quarter-century of rail planning.

Second...it is an even more BASIC tenet of laws of physics that anything which has to haul its own power source has a major weight penalty over something that doesn't with a corresponding weight-induced acceleration penalty. So the notion that this very slowly developing technology will render the overhead wire's acceleration advantage and service scale for high frequencies obsolete in any less than 50 years...if ever...is absurd.

There are niche exploits for this. Yard switchers always end up a first commercial test bed for alt fuel technologies, for instance. But we have a "Future Rail Technologies" thread to nerd out about that. Those tangents are not relevant at all to a thread about Amtrak service in New England where alt fuel tech is beyond the time range of any service proposal planning range.
 

Arlington

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Catenary wire is an extremely simple machine, too.
One moving part: a concrete weight hung on a pulley.
 

fattony

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No, no, no. Hydrogen is not making overhead wires obsolete. In any of our lifetimes, if ever. There is ONE hydrogen train research test project going on...60 years after we started using fuel cells for the Space Program. It's not advancing anywhere close to fast enough to affect the next quarter-century of rail planning.
Thank you for that. I didn't have the patience to state the obvious myself

Catenary wire is an extremely simple machine, too.
One moving part: a concrete weight hung on a pulley.
I have to say though, it makes my head hurt to think about the cost associated with stringing together these simple machines. Whatever that cost is, it is less than developing a hydrogen economy...
 

whighlander

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Thank you for that. I didn't have the patience to state the obvious myself



I have to say though, it makes my head hurt to think about the cost associated with stringing together these simple machines. Whatever that cost is, it is less than developing a hydrogen economy...
Talk to Nikola Motors

They are moving into rarefied territory [Investor-wise] with respect to Hydrogen powered over-road long-haul trucking -- in its essence the vehicle is not much different than a bus in terms of mechanical matters [mass, power, etc.]

No one is claiming Hydrogen will replace Heavy or Light Rail in transit -- but there is a real opportunity to replace gasoline, diesel or CNG powered buses, battery powered electric buses and even the lower frequency of service overhead wire electric trolley buses

EMUs on rail are even a possibility depending on how frequent the service and how heavy the utilization.

Once again -- the key is not absolute efficiency -- its "system efficiency", "utility" and "acceptability" -- where those broad terms include the ability of the system to adapt to changing demand with minimal capital investments [i.e. no rails to lay and no wires to string]
 

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