North Station, Charles River Draw, & Tower A

Brattle Loop

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Question: What's wrong with the Reading and Needham lines? Do they have poor on-time performance or something, and if yes, why?
Capacity problems. It not a problem right now, and they're capable of meeting Regional Rail-level increased frequencies to some degree (Reading moreso than Needham), but both have fairly hard ceilings on how many trains they can take.

Reading is single-track, constrained by the Orange Line to the west, from the junction with the Eastern Route north of Sullivan Square (and that junction needs to be reconfigured to give Reading two tracks through it if Regional Rail frequencies are to be implemented on Reading and Newburyport/Rockport) all the way to just north of Oak Grove. That length of single track, which is effectively impossible to double track for much of its length, inherently constrains the line's capacity. Full Regional Rail headways presumptively require Haverhill service to run via the Lowell Line and the Wildcat Branch (as was the case before the 1970s when Reading's schedule was slashed and backfilled with Haverhill run-throughs).

Needham is currently single-track along a lot of its length, though the ROW is sufficient for double tracking. The problem there is that Needham has to run via the Northeast Corridor until just south of Forest Hills, and it's the slowest and lowest-priority service operating through there. The NEC can't grow beyond three tracks north of FH because it's constrained in the trench, so there's a capacity ceiling there as well, and both Amtrak (with its own ambitious growth plans) and the Providence/Stoughton Line service have higher priority than Needham in terms of who gets the biggest slices of the pie.

What that works out to is that those two lines wind up with some of the lowest capacity ceilings in terms of potential service increases (while still considerably more than presently), as well as having the least flexibility because of it. Pair-matching runs through the NSRL will be hard enough before trying to deal with the lines whose capacity constraints make them the hardest to schedule, meaning they're going to get the dregs when it comes to slots through the tunnel.
 

BostonUrbEx

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The only place where double tracking to Reading is truly tricky would be Malden station. That station has inadequate passenger circulation anyway, and should probably just be blown up and redesigned to allow for a total of four tracks and two islands between the two modes, and add/improve the vertical access points.

Cannibalize the Orange Line test track from Sullivan to Revere Beach Pkwy, add double track in between the Medford Jct underpass and Commercial St, build a retaining wall behind the Commercial St businesses to put a second track where the sloped embankment currently is, there is room under Mountain Ave for a second track, the Clifton/Washington bridge would need to be replaced for sure, if you can shift tracks west slightly when replacing the Clifton/Washington bridge or at least allow the curve to start closer to the bridge you could maybe avoid taking out 2 low value single story industrial buildings off Clinton St (but if not, that seems pretty easy to acquire), the Winter St bridge is wide enough if you're laying the second track through those handful of cars behind Enjet Aero, and finally wipe out some parking through Oak Grove (and then remove the rest of the parking and replace it with housing). And then the section from Ash St in Reading to Wilmington Jct couldn't be easier, you're just relaying track where it used to be.
 

Brattle Loop

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The only place where double tracking to Reading is truly tricky would be Malden station. That station has inadequate passenger circulation anyway, and should probably just be blown up and redesigned to allow for a total of four tracks and two islands between the two modes, and add/improve the vertical access points.

Cannibalize the Orange Line test track from Sullivan to Revere Beach Pkwy, add double track in between the Medford Jct underpass and Commercial St, build a retaining wall behind the Commercial St businesses to put a second track where the sloped embankment currently is, there is room under Mountain Ave for a second track, the Clifton/Washington bridge would need to be replaced for sure, if you can shift tracks west slightly when replacing the Clifton/Washington bridge or at least allow the curve to start closer to the bridge you could maybe avoid taking out 2 low value single story industrial buildings off Clinton St (but if not, that seems pretty easy to acquire), the Winter St bridge is wide enough if you're laying the second track through those handful of cars behind Enjet Aero, and finally wipe out some parking through Oak Grove (and then remove the rest of the parking and replace it with housing). And then the section from Ash St in Reading to Wilmington Jct couldn't be easier, you're just relaying track where it used to be.
I mean, it's probably Crazy Transit Pitches-level invasive and difficult, but it's doable. Open question as to whether it's actually worth it compared to the much simpler task of simply replacing the Reading Line with the Orange Line, but that's a debate for a different thread.
 

Jahvon09

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WOW!! That looks like a long list of things to do! Over 120 pages worth! Hopefully, it will all get done!! :)
 
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GP40MC

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The proposed FY23-27 CIP continues including funding for the drawbridge replacement (not really surprising I guess), but it also mentions that it includes a pedestrian path over the river, which is cool to see in writing! (slide 41)
Hopefully the pedestrian bridge will NOT be attached to any of the drawbridges at Tower A. This would be pure folly especially during peak boating periods.
 

Charlie_mta

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The proposed FY23-27 CIP continues including funding for the drawbridge replacement (not really surprising I guess), but it also mentions that it includes a pedestrian path over the river, which is cool to see in writing! (slide 41)
View attachment 22989
Whatever happened to the proposed South Bank pedestrian bridge (shown in red here). This was an official proposal a few years ago that supposedly was going to be built.

 

ceo

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Hopefully the pedestrian bridge will NOT be attached to any of the drawbridges at Tower A. This would be pure folly especially during peak boating periods.
It's either that or the bridge has to be significantly elevated. Take your pick.
 

bigpicture7

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Finally a (somewhat related) update from the T (project page was updated June 16):


We’re upgrading the signal system to improve the reliability and resiliency of service at North Station. The new signals will improve efficiency and safety, and will support the future growth of the MBTA and Amtrak.
Project Features:
  • This project is part of a larger initiative to enhance train capacity at North Station
  • Work will be done in conjunction with a future project that will replace the drawbridge over the Charles River—both projects will allow use of all 12 North Station tracks
  • Includes installation of two new crossovers, to allow more train routing options
Projected completion: Winter 2022
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Finally a (somewhat related) update from the T (project page was updated June 16):

This is primarily for cab signals in the terminal district. They're on an FRA deadline of 12/31/22 for getting the northside on cabs so the Positive Train Control overlay can be airtight, so this is a project they necessarily have to do now and can't roll up with the later drawbridge work.
 

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