MBTA Commuter Rail (Operations, Keolis, & Short Term)

F-Line to Dudley

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Might be my favorite announcement of 2019 no matter how small it seems the lack of information on commuter rail arrivals is a massive annoyance of mine.
Good. Most of the old red-scrolling LED signs are of late-90's vintage and well past end of component life to begin with (the amber LED ones somewhat more recent vintage). Some of them were starting to get pretty hard to read while they were scrolling because of all the dead pixels.
 

Arlington

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There still seem to be a surprising number of CR runs where the transponder* is turned off, resulting in the train just disappearing from live apps and from the platform LED signs.

There ought to be a way to either:
1) Make sure transponders are working
2) Supply approximate data when there's no transponder:
2a) The train is running, but is roughly on time (and provide a "the train is scheduled to be 2 stations away...")
2b) The train is running but is delayed 10min 20min 30min (rounded)
2c) The train is missing from the livestream because it isn't running

*or whatever it is called
 

HelloBostonHi

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It would appear (this is a guess) that all scheduled trains appear on the left and live times where available show on the right in countdown format.
 

MjolnirMan

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These were installed around 8pm last night and running as of this morning. Thoughts? The resolution looked fine and I guess it's an upgrade from the previous boards, but it seems like these are basically designed to be flexible enough to show ads when there isn't a boarding train. This means it's harder to distinguish the correct boarding platform at a glance, given how randomly they're assigned.

IMG_20200115_072317940.jpg
 

jass

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Looks nicer, but the old ones appear simpler to maintain
 

ceo

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North Station has had those for a while, just inside the doors to the platforms. They only show T ads (the Wachusett ski train, $10 weekends, etc) and always have the track number in the corner.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Looks nicer, but the old ones appear simpler to maintain
Not really. The old ones were so technologically obsolete no one was maintaining the software anymore. Hardware was at replacement age and it took ugly hacks (which invited bugs that couldn't be fixed) to get them to convey any additional on-demand info.

This new stuff looks complicated, but TV screens are pretty much consumable tech and they can pretty much transmit anything you can encode in HTML5 so have near-infinite adaptability.
 

Wash

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Question: I had a lovely (if spirited) discussion with an older gentleman on the downeaster the other day about commuter rail electrification.

He contended that electric locomotives operating push/pull would be better than EMUs because they would be a)cheaper and able to use existing coach stock and b)not worse enout than an EMU in acceleration/top speed/etc. to justify the extra cost.

I know he was wrong, but in the moment I couldn't find an effectivere rebuttal. What should I have said?
 

stefal

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A WHDH report goes against the grain, so to speak: A risk on the rails (with video).
Silica dust is not something to mess with. I've seen how it affects people, not fun...

The fact we throw it on our rails for traction is a little concerning, to be honest. It should probably diffuse out to very low levels in wind gusts, but I wouldn't want to 100% trust that assumption.
 

whighlander

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Silica dust is not something to mess with. I've seen how it affects people, not fun...

The fact we throw it on our rails for traction is a little concerning, to be honest. It should probably diffuse out to very low levels in wind gusts, but I wouldn't want to 100% trust that assumption.
Stefal -- I guess its how we hear a word -- if you call it Sand -- you get an entirely different reaction from the public than if you call it Silica Dust -- yet that is what it is -- fine Sand.

And its not even as fine a "Silica Dust" as we use industrially for tasks such as*1 -- why because to be useful for traction it has to been "Big Enough" to provide the friction necessary to allow the wheels to not slip on the rails -- this is essentially achieved by "the wheels climbing up the grain" and then pushing the sharp edges of the grain into the rails.

Not saying that you should go about blowing it into the air and then inhaling it on purpose -- so perhaps engineers chronically inhaling fine sand constantly leaking into the cab might have some valid issues. On the other hand -- for commuters sitting in a coach -- you've got a whole lot of more dangerous matters to deal with such as noise and diesel engine exhaust.

and then there's just plain-old driving down a dusty unpaved road in your SUV with the windows down

*1
see for example
Uses of industrial sand include:

  • Glass Making
  • Metal Casting
  • Metal Production
  • Chemical Production
  • Construction
  • Paint and Coatings
  • Ceramics and Refractories
  • Filtration and Water Production
  • Oil and Gas Recovery
  • Recreational Products
&

RAILWAY SAND FOR LOCOMOTIVES
Remzand voor trein en tram.jpg
Railway sand can be used as traction sand as well as braking sand for trains, trams and other locomotives. We provide calibrated sand to the railway sector for applications such as trains, trams, metros or subways.
&
still quite a bit dumped onto our streets and highways for safe driving in ice and snow particularly at the lower temperature range where salt and other chemical /physical ice melters don't do much
 

F-Line to Dudley

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There's no way this is one one-thousandth the health hazard of road treatments, which you track through your own home every day and no doubt end up ingesting in steady quantities through secondary body contact. Rail sand doesn't need to have melt product mixed in as ice on exposed steel melts very fast with sunlight, wheel friction, and heat transfer a considerable distance from the point of sunlight and/or nearest passing wheel friction. It's also very point-specific to where the extra traction is needed: two parallel 2-inch railhead surfaces, and nothing in-between or to the side (whereas road treatment has to be thrown out over enormous surface area to do any good...including exponential increasors like side streets, driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots far-removed from the main thoroughfare needing to be treated in order to functionally enable safe travel). And, yeah, this isn't like inhaling plaster dust; you need big SAND grains to lend any practical adhesion help for the very big machines with very big wheels that are making contact with the rail surface. Plus you're not making any physical contact with it unless you're illegally trespassing on the tracks, so it's not getting smeared all around your home and body like road treatment is.

If you want a concerning rail-related hazmat scare to get all bothered about, Google up the all the carcinogens that wood ties are dipped in and why RR's (Pan Am being New England's #1 offender of this with a bullet) keep getting fined into oblivion by the EPA for chucking used ties by the side of the railbed where drainage seeps the nasty stuff into the local ecosystem. Toxic silica in traction sand is the proverbial doormouse sitting next to every DOT and town Public Works Dept.'s ravenous road salt-belching Tyrannosaurus rex.
 

Semass

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I saw that there was a different locomotive in the MassDOT paint scheme today. A freshly painted GP40. The other had been an F
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I saw that there was a different locomotive in the MassDOT paint scheme today. A freshly painted GP40. The other had been an F
Yeah, they're doing in-house overhauls of a few dead GP40MC's that have been stored in Rochester for years, as well as life-extender component renewal on the active fleet. The rehabs aren't as intensive on the Geeps as the F40's because parts supply chain isn't there to ensure a full-on 25-year maint-supportable extended lifespan like the F40PH-3C spec the others are being upgraded to. Geeps are getting rare enough in passenger service (and starting to decline with Class I & II freight carriers) that this is pretty much the last 5-7 year gasp for the MC's until they have to be replaced. But there's just enough parts commonality with the F40's to revive the stored units and get the others up to short-term state of repair while they're in a rebuilding mood, so they're taking advantage.
 

mass88

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Are there plans to electrify the entire commuter rail system? If so, how long will it take? What are the biggest benefits to having all lines electrified?
 

ulrichomega

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Are there plans to electrify the entire commuter rail system? If so, how long will it take? What are the biggest benefits to having all lines electrified?
There are plans in the sense that things are being studied right now, however it is unlikely that anything substantial will happen for a long time. Currently the T has an RFI out for an EMU that implies plans to electrify to Salem as well as the Fairmount Line. In addition one of the Commuter Rail Transformation options is full-system electrification, but I don't believe it's high on the list.
 

estyle

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Question for people who know way more about this than I do.

One of the concerns with the upcoming South Station Tower is the impacts on commuters. It seems to me, that much of the management of the station would be simplified if commuters knew where their train was coming in advance, rather than the last minute announcement.

All commuter rails I know of in the US operate this last minute way, but why? I know that schedules are weird but are there really so many trains that some kind of structure couldn't be implemented? That is the only reason I can think of--too many trains.

If there is somewhere I can read about this please point me in that direction, I know this must be obvious to people who understand but that ain't me (yet).
 

chmeeee

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I always assumed that if you told people which platform in advance, they would all go wait there and get in the way of passengers disembarking.
 

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