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

Arlington

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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.
But how many times in the day (and at how many stations) is there a crowd both embarking and disembarking?
At the AM rush, yes there's a huge crowd trying to disembark, but how many counter-rush commuter are they and would you even notice?
In the PM rush, who is getting off that the boarding hoards would interfere with?

Versus, if you were trying to turn trains quickly, being able to load immediately after unloading would be a good way to enable quick turns.
 

bakgwailo

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I also thought it was a combo of people crowding the platform, and, dispatch not knowing until the train actually comes in to what platform it gets routed to.
 

Riverside

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A few thoughts.

1) Though there aren’t too many of them, there are a surprising number of people who get off inbound trains during the PM rush. This compared to the literally 500-800 people coming down the platform the other way, and it becomes a legitimate challenge to actually leave the platform.

2) Especially on the more popular lines, the crowds waiting for an outbound train are pretty large. Moreover, they’re all concentrated at one end of the platform (unlike a subway platform which usually has multiple entrances, and rarely sees this specific kind of crowding). Sometimes the crowd manages to guess which track it will be, and I always feel bad for the engineer who gets to pull that set into the station — I’d be terrified of someone falling into the pit, especially if it’s a rainy day.

3) As mentioned before, sometimes the track number is not known by dispatch as early as we would expect. Especially the case when there are equipment swaps, or delays.

4) There are some checks that the crew has to do while the train is at the platform. On the NEC, they need to do computer checks to ensure the train can talk to Amtrak’s system. If that check fails, they’ll need to swap trains; if passengers are already aboard, it’s that much worse. Obviously, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — sometimes a track is announced, and then 10 minutes later they have to swap sets anyway. But there’s a balance to strike.

South Station could really benefit from entrances at the middle or the far end of the platform. (Whether from an overpass or from the bus station.) Would reduce crowding and increase access from the south of the station. Likewise, though a bit of a challenge operationally, adding railings to the platforms would help reduce the risk caused by crowds.
 

ssresident

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A few thoughts.

1) Though there aren’t too many of them...
A lot of us Old Colony riders are being described here. I work in the Back Bay and come into the city on a Kingston line train, so I run over to another track to catch the next outbound train stopping at BB. Most of the time it's easy to do, but sometimes there will be an arriving train on the same platform and you have to fight a crowd. From my train, I'd say there's maybe 30 or so of us that make this trip. On the way home, I usually catch a train that originated in either Providence or Needham, and that PVD train will have pax in the last 3 cars, with quite a few people, maybe 40-50, getting off at BB (more if there's a Sox/C's/B's game).
In the evening, God help us if there's a delay, because you might not be able to physically get to your train. All the OC riders like to hang out in the track 10-13 area, so if say the 4:52 to Greenbush is late to board, good luck getting over to the 5 PM train to Kingston boarding on track 12. You'll literally have to push your way through the crowd because no one wants to move, and the purple vest people have no interest in performing any kind of crowd control.
 

jass

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As mentioned before, sometimes the track number is not known by dispatch as early as we would expect. Especially the case when there are equipment swaps, or delays.
I dont buy this excuse. The rest of the world manages to know the platform so far in advance that it's printed on the schedule, and the rest of the world also has equipment swaps and delays.

NYC Penn uses this excuse, but at the same time theres a "secret" board that announces tracks well in advance of the public boards. I've seen trains noted over an hour in advance, while the public boards always wait until 10 minutes. However, in NYP, I agree that crowds are too big to have people wait on the platform.
 

HenryAlan

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NYC Penn uses this excuse, but at the same time theres a "secret" board that announces tracks well in advance of the public boards.
Really? Where is this secret board? I would love to have that information ahead of the crowd.
 

Semass

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A lot of us Old Colony riders are being described here. I work in the Back Bay and come into the city on a Kingston line train, so I run over to another track to catch the next outbound train stopping at BB. Most of the time it's easy to do, but sometimes there will be an arriving train on the same platform and you have to fight a crowd. From my train, I'd say there's maybe 30 or so of us that make this trip. On the way home, I usually catch a train that originated in either Providence or Needham, and that PVD train will have pax in the last 3 cars, with quite a few people, maybe 40-50, getting off at BB (more if there's a Sox/C's/B's game).
In the evening, God help us if there's a delay, because you might not be able to physically get to your train. All the OC riders like to hang out in the track 10-13 area, so if say the 4:52 to Greenbush is late to board, good luck getting over to the 5 PM train to Kingston boarding on track 12. You'll literally have to push your way through the crowd because no one wants to move, and the purple vest people have no interest in performing any kind of crowd control.
All of this is true. Want to fix it? Two words: Regional Rail. If trains leave every 15 minutes instead of 45+ and you aren't trying to jam 1000 people on each train, the crowds will thin out because missing one isn't that big of a deal.
 

eber

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NYC Penn uses this excuse, but at the same time theres a "secret" board that announces tracks well in advance of the public boards. I've seen trains noted over an hour in advance, while the public boards always wait until 10 minutes. However, in NYP, I agree that crowds are too big to have people wait on the platform.
Is it different than watching the smaller arrivals boards for trains that don't originate in NYP? I think that trick has stopped working recently or at least the past few times when I've been waiting they haven't shown up earlier than the departures board. The red caps do know the track before though, so maybe there is still a secret board that you can peek at.

Now back to South Station:

A few thoughts.

South Station could really benefit from entrances at the middle or the far end of the platform. (Whether from an overpass or from the bus station.) Would reduce crowding and increase access from the south of the station. Likewise, though a bit of a challenge operationally, adding railings to the platforms would help reduce the risk caused by crowds.
I agree. I don't know how they'd really do it but having multiple entrances/exits on the platform would definitely be cool. The South Station Tower plan doesn't have anything for that, right? Even though they're building some parts of it over the tracks, right?
 

jass

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Is it different than watching the smaller arrivals boards for trains that don't originate in NYP? I think that trick has stopped working recently or at least the past few times when I've been waiting they haven't shown up earlier than the departures board. The red caps do know the track before though, so maybe there is still a secret board that you can peek at.
Correct, it is a feed used by the red caps + inside the Amtrak lounge
 

estyle

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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.
Maybe? I still wonder--we will never achieve the organization of places like Japan but predictability is helpful.
 

bakgwailo

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Assigned seating on the ticket could also go a long way - it would forgo the need to queue up early to try to grab a seat.
 

Arlington

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Assigned seating on the ticket could also go a long way - it would forgo the need to queue up early to try to grab a seat.
Amtrak will have that for Acela 2 (including at-seat display that could show "Reserved" or even the passenger's name)

But we're talking CR's practice here, aren't we (mostly?). And for that, I like Semass' solution: trains so frequent it doesn't matter (kinda like it doesn't matter on the LIRR at Jamaica which is a crazy coming-and-going complex all day and essentially works like a subway)
 

Semass

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But we're talking CR's practice here, aren't we (mostly?). And for that, I like Semass' solution: trains so frequent it doesn't matter (kinda like it doesn't matter on the LIRR at Jamaica which is a crazy coming-and-going complex all day and essentially works like a subway)
Thanks but it's not my solution. If implemented, the regional rail discussed at length on this forum and advocated for by many would address many train problems. Reducing crowding at the stations is one benefit.
 

whighlander

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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).
estyle:
Goodnews:
When the Tower is finished -- Thanks to the Giant Support Arches -- Siberia is gone
Oh the platforms will still have some breezes -- but there will no longer be any precipitation falling either on the trains or the passengers
As for more and better display of information -- I'm sure that is coming as Big Digital Displays*1 are all the rage these days and all the information is in databases

*1 of course it will come with advertising such as the display of CR Tracks and Trains is brought to you by:
  1. Herb Chambers and our family of 100 dealerships
  2. Chewy.Com -- looking for a job for your pooch -- we're hiring
  3. Amazon Prime -- order it now -- have it delivered when you get home
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Nothin crazy but havent seen this before


Link
Jesus Christ, stacking??? My head hurts from all the overthinking going on in that render. Not a single Worcester Line station has the capability of going tri-track platform let alone quad. The Grand Junction RUR dinky that hasn't even been traffic-modeled on a cocktail napkin yet will be running to a single-track Kendall platform and single-track junction into the congested Northside terminal district. And Amtrak Inlands aren't going to be stopping here in any way/shape/form unless--maybe (but also maybe not even)--the Green Line is occupying one of those berths . So of course let's bust that budget quadding the whole fucker up--with decking!--for sum total RR schedules that will (1) never saturate nearly enough to require 4 full-service platform tracks and (2) will barely even saturate 3 full-service platform tracks when the Grand Junction side has available crossovers to thru-route to the B&A berths or choose to reverse on a B&A berth whenever there's a regularly recurring schedule gap. And meanwhile...let's get all precious about the bus berth needing to go way up on stilts when the T's incredible shrinking layover yard easement next door is so openly coveted by a land-greedy Harvard that it's inevitably going to disappear outright in another quid pro quo land swap by the time first shovel gets in the ground.

This thing isn't being sited at the area of maximum pinch point where the grounded Pike viaduct, Soldiers Field Road, and the Charles Path are at war with each other over space allowances. There is luxurious side space at the West siting now that we no longer are even pretending the adjacent T storage yard is any sort of high land-use priority. You can pretty much MS Paint some black asphalt on each side of this render for service driveways, busways, and future Urban Ring platforms without running out of space. Nevermind the extra space reclaimed for UR/busway fungibility if you actually right-sized the RR ops to their source schedules by outright deleting Track 4 and doing this as a more sanely laid-out 1 side + 1 center island tri-tracker that needs zero canopy except for a basic ped overpass. ↑This↑ is the kind of unfocussed render that gets produced when nobody has any fucking clue what service purpose the station fulfills and has tied themselves in total blinders to the "project area" with zero perception of the world outside that is feeding into said project area. Willful ignorance is the only way you can design something so off-scale superfluous to the systems that feed it.
 
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Tallguy

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But busses, coming from the north or south, will be going OVER the pike at about 20ft above. Assumedly, they would also cross over the tracks.
 

Tallguy

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However, not sure what that whole third elevator on the south is about......
 

F-Line to Dudley

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But busses, coming from the north or south, will be going OVER the pike at about 20ft above. Assumedly, they would also cross over the tracks.
They would, but the land allowances here are still generous enough to not need to put the whole works on stilts because reasons. Ramp-down to a surface-level busway is doable on either side for a fraction of the cost, and doable with additional slack space if the RR station were sanely compacted to 3 platform tracks supportable by any/all feasible service levels vs. the 4 supportable by absolutely no known originating capacity. Plus when the inevitable land-use pivot claims what little is left of the T layover yard easement (now 8 trains and shrinking) you're redesigning all that's on the out-of-picture side of the render anyway for the sake of packing more Harvard buildings onto the land swap.

I mean, really, there's the obvious adherence to "limits of project area" for setting scope-of-work boundaries and then there's taking that project area so rote-literally that all concept of the connecting outside world goes out the window. The only way a contractor produces a render like this is by lazily divorcing themselves from all reality not sitting on an X ft. by Y ft. slab floating through the vacuum of outer space. How in the hell does this thing make use of all 4 platform tracks when not even Back Bay has space for more than 2 Worcester platforms? But they're going to justify the additional cost intrusion of 100% stacking of the busway level based on that assumption? And make no attempt whatsoever to account for the minus-4 trainset shrinkage that's already eaten into the acreage of the storage yard just out of view of this render?

This contractor fails at life. (n)
 

jklo

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Presumably if GJ is kept it will be double tracked all the way.
 

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