Other People's Rail: Amtrak, commuter rail, rapid transit news & views outside New England

tysmith95

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Ow.

Kind of surprised the T's alert tracker is devoid of any heat-related delays. Today is prime heat-kink weather for welded rail on rapid transit and commuter rail.
It's hot today in Boston, but not never before seen hot like in the PNW. The previous all time record high before this week in Portland was 107 degrees, yesterday Portland hit 116 degrees. The current heat out there is way past what would could be foreseen when designing rail infastrcture.

On the other hand, we usually have temps in the high 90s once or twice a year. Not unheard of.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I wonder what they do in Phoenix on the light rail to avoid heat issues
The welded rail is tensioned according to the climate. So in Phoenix it would be tensioned so there's more expansion available in the summer...but less room for contraction in the winters that are much milder. They're adequately provisioned for 110 degrees (whereas Portland most definitely is not). It's when an extreme weather event (hot or cold) overshoots the tensioning allowances for the climate that you get problems. If you had 110 heat in Minneapolis, you're gonna get welded rail spaghettification galore because their tensioning range leans way harder on extreme-cold protection vs. extreme-hot. Likewise, Texas rail would get fucked over by a record-cold January overnight lows but probably wouldn't suffer any ill effects from an extended heat wave. Here in the Northeast we keep somewhat of a precarious balance as we have to tension for both *pretty* cold winter snaps and *pretty* hot summer waves. Since a broken rail from too much contraction is a bigger safety hazard than a bent rail from too much expansion, our welded rail tensioning tends to apply more caution with winter than summer. Which means Day 2+ thereabouts of a high-90's heat wave is where it starts to scrape some of the provisional limits.

So far, so good today per the delay tracker. But you can probably expect some heat speedos to start showing on various rail modes tomorrow.



I bet also if you're out along the Green Line today the counterweights on the self-regulating constant-tension cat poles are resting in their lowest position of the year to-date. Weights go lower as wire expands, higher as it contracts.
 

NoShJFK

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$66B in the compromise infrastructure bill for Amtrak. '

I can imagine about $50B worth of projects in states with traditions of taking federal $ and supporting state service
($48B are listed below). Where will the other $16B go? (guesses in next post)

$8B North of NEC
$4B for Albany-Buffalo 79 to 110mph service (federal share of $8B?)
$3B for BOS-SPG (federal share of $6B?)
$1B Downeaster to Rockport, signals, double-track

$10B NEC
$6B Hudson River Tunnels (half of 11B plus slush)
$1B Portal Bridge (rounded up from .77B)
$2B Baltimore Frederick Douglass Tunnel (half of $4B)
$2B bridges & SOGR

$10B South of NEC
$3B Misc federal Share from Long Bridge to Norfolk
$4B Petersburg VA to Raleigh NC restored S-Line (110mph)
$3B to upgrade Atlanta - Charlotte

$10B Chicago Hub
$7B scattered across 6 states (CHI-MKE, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa)
$1B to unclog CHI-to-Mich
$1B to complete Wolverine @ 110
$1B to start towards Toronto (payoffs for tunnel use)

$10B Pacific Coast
$5B to for Canada to Oregon
$5B to California
On this subject alone. I have been excited about these bills for a long time and I can’t tell you how disappointed I’am with at least the first one. Not because of the size either - because the lack of investment in our public transit.

When talking about infrastructure in the past people always mentioned Chinas High Speed Rail. They not only have built a dozen HSR in a dozen years they have built entire metro SYSTEMS as well.

There are some cities that need ENORMOUS amounts of money to adequately expand and update there systems. Or build systems. Or maintain current systems. These are some of the badly needed projects on the top of my head and the price estimates are just that - rough estimates.


Los Angeles

(They have SOME funds from Measure M and Measure R but not quite enough to do these projects CORRECTLY. They’ve botched some big ones recently. And a lot of the funding for some projects from these ballot measures doesn’t come on line for 10-20-30yrs)


  • Sepulveda Subway SFV to West Side.
    (To do it RIGHT, this time) additional $2-3B
  • Sepulv. Subway West Side to SoFi • $8B
  • Vermont Ave Red Extension • $10B
  • Purple Line Phase 4 Santa Monica • $3B
  • East Side to Whittier • $4B additional
  • Washington & Flower St Subway • $1.5B
  • Orange Line Conversion • $3B
  • WSAB Phase 3 • $5B

Boston:
  • Red/Blue Connector • $0.8B
  • Blue Line to Lynn / Salem • $2B / • $4B
  • Seaport Rail • $2B
  • Orange Line North • $3B
  • Orange Line Extension South • $2.5B
  • NSRL • $10B
New York:
  • Second Avenue Subway Phase 3 • $4B
  • Second Avenue Subway Phase 4 • $10B
  • Utica Avenue Subway • $6B
  • 7 Extension • $4B
  • Jewel Point • $5B
  • Northern Line • $5B
  • Nostrand Ave Ext • $3B
  • Station Overhauls • $1B
Austin
  • Blue Line & Orange Line w/Subway • $6B
Atlanta:
  • BeltLine LRT • $2B
  • Gold Line Ext • $1.5B
  • All Station Renovations • $0.6B
  • Clifton LRT • $1B
  • Short HRT Extensions • $1.5B
Dallas
  • D2 Subway • $3B
  • D1 Grade Seperate • $3B
Philly
  • PATCO West Extension • $2B
  • BSL Northwest Extension • $3B
Chicago
  • Major Station Modernizations • $1B
Seattle:
Like LA they have a ballot measure to pay for some but not enough
and in some corridors just to the do the bare minimum

  • West Seattle Subway • $3B
Bay Area:
  • San Jose BART Subway • $4B
  • Second Transbay Tube • $20B




That’s roughly $150m worth of rapid transit rail that in most cases is badly needed (and admittedly a small portion of it is aspirational). We hear so much from politicans on both sides about competing with other nations but this bill shows a woeful lack of care for our major cities. These lines improve the quality of life - reduce traffic, make the workforce more efficient and often spur economic development. The fact that public transit gets the number it does out of this bill is... unforgivable. Especially when you consider a portion of that is likely going to be for something like “electric buses”. Buses don’t move the needle anywhere close to the same degree that rapid rail lines do. Not to mention the benefit of easing traffic also acts as a dual benefit in that it helps the environment - something you’d think would be factored in.

I can understand a bill mostly crafted by republicans leaving these projects out but I’m surprised with Democrat majorities and a Democratic President that these projects aren’t in this bill. It’s not just smart for the country but it’s smart POLITICALLY as well. Do you know how well it plays back in communities when a project that’s been talked about for years is in the news because “it’s finally happening!” ... “construction starts soon!” That’s a TANGIBLE impact on communities and peoples lives that the public will associated with whoever’s in office at the time.

Also... where are these Democratic mayors of these cities? How are they not on the phone with the President, the speaker, the Majority leader and transportation secretary saying “Put this in the bill! It’ll be a game changer for my city”
 
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Tallguy

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Where are you extending OL south to? Dover? Two single span girders($20M even at T prices) Three stations($60M?) 2 1/2 miles of new track and 3 miles of third rail. The fiberoptic cable is already in. $100M tops
 

NoShJFK

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Orange Line to Roslindale was estimated at $500M in 2017.

GLX kit and caboodle is $2.2B.

What is the $4B estimating?
I should have clarified I was talking about extending it all the way to Needham. And at a distance of roughly 7 miles that’s about $500m per mile. We’re talking about the T here. Nothing comes in at a fair market price. Everything comes in at over priced.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I should have clarified I was talking about extending it all the way to Needham. And at a distance of roughly 7 miles that’s about $500m per mile. We’re talking about the T here. Nothing comes in at a fair market price. Everything comes in at over priced.
There's hitting the target on fair market price, and there's highway robbery. Ain't no way you can possibly chunk up an OLX that costs $4B. Either end--Reading or W. Rox/Needham--for that matter. OLX-W. Rox + GLX-Needham Jct. together won't cost anywhere close to as much as the current GLX because the ROW work is an giant order of magnitude less intensive, amongst other relative simplicities.
 

NoShJFK

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That’s roughly $150m worth of rapid transit rail that in most
cases is badly needed (and admittedly a small portion of it is aspirational). We hear so much from politicans on both sides about competing with other nations but this bill shows a woeful lack of care for our major cities. These lines improve the quality of life - reduce traffic, make the workforce more efficient and often spur economic development. The fact that public transit gets the number it does out of this bill is... unforgivable. Especially when you consider a portion of that is likely going to be for something like “electric buses”. Buses don’t move the needle anywhere close to the same degree that rapid rail lines do. Not to mention the benefit of easing traffic also acts as a dual benefit in that it helps the environment - something you’d think would be factored in.

I can understand a bill mostly crafted by republicans leaving these projects out but I’m surprised with Democrat majorities and a Democratic President that these projects aren’t in this bill. It’s not just smart for the country but it’s smart POLITICALLY as well. Do you know how well it plays back in communities when a project that’s been talked about for years is in the news because “it’s finally happening!” ... “construction starts soon!” That’s a TANGIBLE impact on communities and peoples lives that the public will associated with whoever’s in office at the time.

Also... where are these Democratic mayors of these cities? How are they not on the phone with the President, the speaker, the Majority leader and transportation secretary saying “Put this in the bill! It’ll be a game changer for my city”

Meant to put this last part as a new post (instead of editing it into the original post). Curious if anyone has some answers to this though...
 

NoShJFK

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There's hitting the target on fair market price, and there's highway robbery. Ain't no way you can possibly chunk up an OLX that costs $4B. Either end--Reading or W. Rox/Needham--for that matter. OLX-W. Rox + GLX-Needham Jct. together won't cost anywhere close to as much as the current GLX because the ROW work is an giant order of magnitude less intensive, amongst other relative simplicities.

As I said these numbers were rough estimates - some reasonably accurate based on education-supported assumptions and others very rough based on limited knowledge of a project (also some were exact figures taken from the local transit agencies)

Not sure why you’re bringing a GLX to Needham into the discussion - my estimate was for *Orange* Line Extension to Needham. However if you’re correct on how low the costs would be - why in the HELL have those projects not been signed sealed and delivered by now? My goodness. Talk about leaders being asleep at the wheel.
 

Tallguy

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Seaport is a cut and cover station, 3/10th mile c&c tunnel and 1/2 of tbm, and a mile of new track in the transitway, plus where ever you go with tracks. Even the T could do that for $1B, if they wanted to.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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And a chunk of that $500M was to keep CR running. OLX AND GLX Needham should be cheaper
Other reasons:
  • Less intensive interlockings (no spaghetti junctioning)
  • No Vehicle Maint Facilities (just plain-old end-of-line storage yards)
  • Complete 2-track legacy ROW on the OLX side (need slightly remanicured drainage channels and prefab expansion bridge decks on the recently replaced Robert St. and Lagrange St. overpasses).
  • At-grade, D-line style non-prepayment stations on all of GL side.
  • No community path on OLX side. Only partial rail-with-trail accommodation (to Upper Falls Depot) needed on GLX side, but on section of ROW that fully has the room at-grade.
  • Some electrification efficiencies since ends of line (OLX storage yard @ Millennium Park + GLX @ Needham Jct.) have pre-existing Eversource high-voltage AC substations to tap into for 600V DC conversion. Ongoing GLX has to pay more because the sub siting didn't wind up anywhere near as lucky on access to easy grid power.
The $500M Rozzie +1 quote alone reeks of Baker/Pollack tankapalooza'neering...like, at least 1.5x as high as it should be for that basic a job. $1B is maybe a reasonable expectation for project managers who can't keep anything in-budget, but if you even sniff north of $1.2B the corruption is already audit-worthy. There's simply no way the scope of work adds up like that with how much you don't have to do here that you very much did have to do in order to make a twin-branch GLX fit inside an active Commuter Rail + future-path uni-cut.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Not sure why you’re bringing a GLX to Needham into the discussion - my estimate was for *Orange* Line Extension to Needham. However if you’re correct on how low the costs would be - why in the HELL have those projects not been signed sealed and delivered by now? My goodness. Talk about leaders being asleep at the wheel.
No one has ever proposed that. OLX has never been studied for Needham, because prior to the ROW being sold off in 2008 it was always assumed that Dedham Center would be the next stop after West Roxbury. So right then and there you're veering off into Crazy Transit Pitches un-studied, rather than stuff with a library of studies that could be dusted off somewhat quickly for plugging into a fed stimulus. There's absolutely no compelling reason to wrap OLX directionally off-target at Needham Junction then do a bunch of expensive grade separations when you have an established directional corridor (the 59 bus) off Newton Highlands and can keep all the legacy grade crossings with light rail.

It wouldn't be considered for Build Back Better stimulus bucks in the first place because no one's ever attempted to quantify Orange with plug-in ridership from Needham. The only reference data we have is for OLX Rozzie-West Rox and GLX Newton-Needham. If the aim of this exercise is to figure out ways to fast-track stuff that's been well-studied, you pick the builds that have the study history...not the one that has zero study history.
 

stick n move

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Plus olx-west rox and glx-needham have to go together because taking the CR ROW for olx means needham loses their CR service. So you have to do both because one affects the other.
 

Tallguy

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Other than the 128 bridge replacement, this one is even easier. One mile of DT, one mile of ST+ rehab of old track, and one mile of ST, and a fairly straightforward doubling of the Charles River bridge. One or two new stops.easy-peasy. Unless your name is Stefanie Pollack
 

NoShJFK

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Plus olx-west rox and glx-needham have to go together because taking the CR ROW for olx means needham loses their CR service. So you have to do both because one affects the other.
I think Needham would trade their CR service for Orange Line service. Faster, way more frequent, connects with the Red, Blue, Green and CR.
 

JeffDowntown

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I think Needham would trade their CR service for Orange Line service. Faster, way more frequent, connects with the Red, Blue, Green and CR.
The trade that has been studied is Needham gets Green Line service, not Orange Line service.
 

RandomWalk

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Given that it has been studied as GLX to Needham and OLX to West Roxbury, it’s nothing more than a stall (at best) or sabotage to bloviate about OLX to Needham.

Given the nature of infrastructure project development in the US, it is crucial that everyone stay laser focused on continuous incremental expansion. That will help build up the institutional skills for getting projects done, and habituate people to a growing transit network.
 

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