Providence-Cape Cod railroad idea

LordStanleyCup2011

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This is just an idea that I have that could help relieve traffic on Interstate 195. Commuting from Providence thru Cape Cod can be a pain in the winter, and this plan could help relieve the stress.

My plan calls for stops in the following locations:

  • East Providence
  • Swansea-Somerset
  • Fall River
  • Westport-Dartmouth
  • New Bedford
  • Fairhaven-Mattapoisett-Marion
  • Wareham-Bourne
  • Falmouth
  • Barnstable

Does this seem feasable?
This could help the struggling cities in the South Coast get some development going around the stations as well as to ease traffic on I-195 , and Route 6. There are already tracks down between Fall River and New Bedford. The tracks that were once apart of the Old Colony Railroad that connect Fall River to Providence (the track ran thru Fall River, Somerset, MA; Swansea, MA; Warren RI; Barrington, RI; Bristol, RI; Riverside, RI; East Providence, RI; and Providence) are now either developed on , or removed. 15 miles of the former rail lines are now bike paths as well. So I'm not sure how much this could work but it seems like a good idea, no? The track could be run by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, and the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority. SRPEDD could also help as well. Maybe we could discuss how this could work in this thread.
 

kmp1284

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I doubt there are enough potential users to justify such an expenditure, besides, from my experiences 195 is rarely congested outside of the immediate Providence area.
 

LordStanleyCup2011

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I doubt there are enough potential users to justify such an expenditure, besides, from my experiences 195 is rarely congested outside of the immediate Providence area.
In the summer, I-195 is very congested (I travel it every day). The hot spots on I-195 are obviously around all the cities and in the Cape Cod area (Providence, Fall River, New Bedford, CC Canal).
 

Commuting Boston Student

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This is just an idea that I have that could help relieve traffic on Interstate 195. Commuting from Providence thru Cape Cod can be a pain in the winter, and this plan could help relieve the stress.

My plan calls for stops in the following locations:

  • East Providence
  • Swansea-Somerset
  • Fall River
  • Westport-Dartmouth
  • New Bedford
  • Fairhaven-Mattapoisett-Marion
  • Wareham-Bourne
  • Falmouth
  • Barnstable

Does this seem feasable?
This could help the struggling cities in the South Coast get some development going around the stations as well as to ease traffic on I-195 , and Route 6. There are already tracks down between Fall River and New Bedford. The tracks that were once apart of the Old Colony Railroad that connect Fall River to Providence (the track ran thru Fall River, Somerset, MA; Swansea, MA; Warren RI; Barrington, RI; Bristol, RI; Riverside, RI; East Providence, RI; and Providence) are now either developed on , or removed. 15 miles of the former rail lines are now bike paths as well. So I'm not sure how much this could work but it seems like a good idea, no? The track could be run by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, and the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority. SRPEDD could also help as well. Maybe we could discuss how this could work in this thread.
Completely unviable, sorry.

The only way you're getting rail between Providence and East Providence is the East Side Rail Tunnel, which is inaccessible unless Providence's platforms move several hundred feet closer to the mall. You could start the line in East Providence instead of Providence, but that means you're up against a completely non-negotiable dead end, and a messy bypass of Providence Station to access the tunnel from west/south of it is going to piss off a lot of Downcity Residents.

Don't think it's smooth sailing once you're in East Providence, either. There's no ROW paralleling 195, and the area is too developed to blaze a new ROW through - which pretty nicely locks you out of any path forward that doesn't go through Attleboro and Taunton. Okay, you're saying, no big deal - we lose Seekonk and Swansea but pick up Attleboro and Taunton, that's a fair trade - but there's also no clear path directly from Fall River to New Bedford that doesn't involve blowing up half of Fall River or constructing an expensive tunnel under I-195 to get to the ROW into New Bedford.

Well, once you're in New Bedford, the good news is there's an intact ROW for you to take right on through to Cape Cod. The bad news is that ROW has you doubling back all the way to Taunton before jaunting over to Middleboro - which makes the jaunt down to Fall River (and the resultant landscape-reconfiguration) one great big waste of time. Naturally, the best possible alignment for rail service from Providence to the Cape drops Fall River and New Bedford both, doesn't really hit anything on 195's corridor, and thereby completely misses the stated point of your hypothetical line.

Of course, you could always take the alternative option, which is - in a running theme for this terrible routing - an expensive tunnel under 195 (and the Acushnet River as well). That tunnel, at least, would be the last one you'd need to bore - past Fairhaven, the area surrounding 195 appears desolate enough that we can revert to good-old-fashioned eminent domain takeovers to get a clean enough ROW over to the existing line at Wareham, and on out to your choice of any one of Falmouth, Hyannisport or Yarmouth. You have to pick one, though, because all three are mutually-exclusive endpoints without - you guessed it! - yet more tunneling and/or land grabs.
 

BostonUrbEx

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Why not just follow the route the Amtrak Cape Codder took? It's still there, and used by freight. I'm not sure it would be worth starting up again, though, unless you started back in NYC.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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Why not just follow the route the Amtrak Cape Codder took? It's still there, and used by freight. I'm not sure it would be worth starting up again, though, unless you started back in NYC.
Yes, that's the route via Attleboro and Taunton. It's a good route for an NYP - NHV - NLC - PVD - Hyannisport service, but serves basically nobody on the 195 corridor.
 

Nexis4jersey

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I think we covered this back in August , I proposed a LRT corridor between Providence - Fall River - New Bedford - Wareham and various towns in between and reactiving the Cape Codder route which would act as an express service for people in Providence and Pawtucket and Taunton to the Cod... That region needs at least 2 corridors , the Cape Codder line would also carry out of state passengers from New York or points further south... The I-195 corridor would benefit the people of Rhode Island and the South Coast network.... The LRT id expect to get anywhere between 50-80,000 daily riders while the Cape Codder would be about 5,000 daily riders...

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=215312482559953359515.00049110c2f416653cba3&msa=0&ll=41.735454,-71.004639&spn=0.695823,1.674042
 

Lrfox

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^There's absolutely no way a LRT route from Wareham to Providence gets 50-80,000 riders. Just not a chance. I'd say that at best you could expect 7-10,000 daily on that route. Providence, Fall River, and New Bedford aren't big enough employment centers to justify that volume of traffic. Even with rapid revitalization and improvement they STILL won't be big enough employment centers to justify that volume of traffic. Also, 195 (outside of central Providence) is really an easy drive almost any time/day of the week. Unless the LRT vehicles can keep up with cars going 65-75mph, there's little incentive to take LRT instead of driving between those communities.

If we're being unrealistic, I'd like to see a local network of streetcars in NB and Fall River, and I'm hoping the LRT network in Providence comes to fruition. However, I think the absolute best case scenario for public transit connecting the South Coast and Providence would be BRT along I-195. I say that as someone who mostly hates BRT. But I just don't see regional LRT as even close to a viable option. Especially not all the way to Wareham (especially especially if you already have Cape Codder service in place which would make the Providence-Wareham route redundant). Realistically, the best thing we'll get is a way to get a few bus stations near the border where passengers can transfer from RIPTA to SRTA. Contract issues prevent either service from crossing state lines at the moment.

It would be nice to see the Cape Codder route restored and I think your numbers would be more accurate there.

As others have pointed out, a rail connection between PVD, FR and NB is not within the realm of possibility.
 

Nexis4jersey

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^There's absolutely no way a LRT route from Wareham to Providence gets 50-80,000 riders. Just not a chance. I'd say that at best you could expect 7-10,000 daily on that route. Providence, Fall River, and New Bedford aren't big enough employment centers to justify that volume of traffic. Even with rapid revitalization and improvement they STILL won't be big enough employment centers to justify that volume of traffic. Also, 195 (outside of central Providence) is really an easy drive almost any time/day of the week. Unless the LRT vehicles can keep up with cars going 65-75mph, there's little incentive to take LRT instead of driving between those communities.

If we're being unrealistic, I'd like to see a local network of streetcars in NB and Fall River, and I'm hoping the LRT network in Providence comes to fruition. However, I think the absolute best case scenario for public transit connecting the South Coast and Providence would be BRT along I-195. I say that as someone who mostly hates BRT. But I just don't see regional LRT as even close to a viable option. Especially not all the way to Wareham (especially especially if you already have Cape Codder service in place which would make the Providence-Wareham route redundant). Realistically, the best thing we'll get is a way to get a few bus stations near the border where passengers can transfer from RIPTA to SRTA. Contract issues prevent either service from crossing state lines at the moment.

It would be nice to see the Cape Codder route restored and I think your numbers would be more accurate there.

As others have pointed out, a rail connection between PVD, FR and NB is not within the realm of possibility.
At least 50,000.....and BRT is the wrong way to go it costs more then LRT and does not spur massive economic booms like LRT does... Its not just about employment centers , its about a connected network... LRT also needs to connect the various towns between the cities , the BRT along the highway would bypass just about everything.
 

Lrfox

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At least 50,000.....and BRT is the wrong way to go it costs more then LRT and does not spur massive economic booms like LRT does... Its not just about employment centers , its about a connected network... LRT also needs to connect the various towns between the cities , the BRT along the highway would bypass just about everything.
Ok, I have to ask. Where did the "at least 50,000" figure come from. I'm from that area of Massachusetts, I am a big supporter of the development of that region, and I'm a very big supporter of LRT. However, I think that figure is ridiculous.

There are only 500,000 people along the route (inc. Providence and East Providence) to begin with. You're assuming 10% of the population would use that line. Why? If they're commuting to Providence, driving will be faster. Even with traffic. There will be little/no traffic for commuters from Providence to Fall River/New Bedford/Wareham. Light rail, for all intents and purposes, really only travels a max of 65mph. Now when you factor in stops along the route (and there are many), the LRT vehicles will only spend a small portion of the commute at 65mph. A motorist will be driving 65+ for the vast majority of their commute.

Parking in Providence/Fall River/New Bedford is cheap and readily available. It's not like Boston/NY/Philadelphia where it's $20+ per day to park. Traffic isn't much of an issue (Providence gets backed up on 195 for about a mile or 2 before the S. Main St. exit to downtown during a bad rush hour). And most people in that region live in households which require multiple vehicles anyway because even with a LRT connection between the cities, getting anywhere else requires driving.

Finally, a huge percentage of the population living along your proposed LRT corridor doesn't commute along I-195. Many people in the Fall River and New Bedford areas commute to work in Boston (via routes 79,24 and 140), to offices along route 128 (Burlington, Waltham, Dedham, etc), the South Shore (Quincy, Braintree, etc), Taunton, Brockton, etc. Between the people who live but don't work on the I-195 corridor and the people who do work on that corridor but would drive anyway, there's absolutely no way that you'd see anywhere even close to 50,000 commuters per day on that light rail line. And the VAST majority of the commuters who do use such a line would be from right within Providence and East Providence which would make an extension to Wareham an obscene waste of money. With a faster, more express Cape Codder service already in place, I couldn't even justify a seasonal LRT route to Wareham from Providence.

BRT isn't always more expensive than LRT. I'm not sure where that comes from. In this particular case, I can't imagine BRT would be more expensive when you factor in the cost of Infrastucture. For LRT, you need to reclaim ROWs (much of it is in poor shape or being used for other purposes like Bike trails), build large bridges (how does your LRT line cross from Providence to East Providence, Somerset to Fall River? How about New Bedford to Fairhaven?), and lay all sorts of new track and catenary. For BRT, you really only need to modify I-195. For the most part it would mean adding designated BRT lanes to the highway. No additional bridges or reclaiming ROWs.

As for stations, build platforms in the middle of the highway and have parking lots and pedestrian overpasses adjacent to the highway (similar to the outer edges of Chicago's Blue Line near O'Hare or BART in the outer reaches of the network along I-580). Most riders along the route would have to drive to the stations anyway because outside of Fall River, Providence and New Bedford most towns are suburban/rural and there aren't too many walkable neighborhoods. I-195 passes literally right underneath downtown Fall River which would make a BRT stop in that city about as Centrally located as humanly possible. You could even have the entrance/exit to the station come right up into the City Hall lobby. I-195 passes within a mile of downtown New Bedford too. In fact, it passes right through the middle of the most densely populated section of the city and one of the most crucial development districts (Acushnet Avenue and the Hicks-Logan area). Having a station there would be incredibly beneficial. Of course, since this is a pipe dream anyway, transferring to the New Bedford station from downtown would be easy on the city's local streetcar network. Outside of those cities, most of the area is suburban or rural and would be fiercely opposed to any major development in their communities.

Your concern is that BRT won't create economic development. I tend to agree that BRT generally isn't nearly as good at creating economic development. However, there are only a few pockets along that corridor that would really welcome any TOD/Urban development and those pockets would be served fairly well by BRT along I-195.

I'm not a BRT fan. I almost always support LRT in favor of it. I know there will never be any real transit connection between Providence and the South Coast of MA (aside from regular city bus service), but I can't imagine 50,000+ daily riders on a LRT network along the South Coast and there's no way a LRT network would be cheaper than accommodating BRT along I-195. Now, if there was a way to make faster LRT run along I-195, I'd support that over both. However, it would never happen.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Unfortunately this route was never even possible in the old days, let alone now when suburban development was saturated. The Old Colony's Warren Branch got you from Providence (via the tunnel) to Fall River fine. But there was never a FR-NB direct connection. The Wattupa Branch dead-ended at the downtown mills with a half-mile gap between it and the FR/Newport mainline. The Old Colony diddled around for years with plans to connect them, but never acted on it. Now City Hall and the 195 tunnel fills that gap.

And there was never a direct New Bedford-Cape option. The NB mainline ends at the docks...and the Fairhaven Secondary ended on the other side at the docks. They stared right at each other across the water, but never were connected. Maybe at one point if the RR got its act together they could've built a rail bridge across Fish Island before the current Route 6 bridge bogarted all that space...but that window of opportunity closed when the density around 6 filled in.


Two gaps of a half-mile each that were never solved...90 years ago when the RR's last had the economic huevos to solve those problems. Then of course the Warren Branch got abandoned and obliterated by private development and the Slade's Ferry Bridge between Somerset and Fall River got demolished, making PRV-FR direct physically impossible. Then City Hall got plonked in the middle of the Wattupa-FR gap. I guess theoretically if that much-maligned municipal complex got blown up and the road tunnel widened they could provision for a FR-NB direct connection...if there's ever a need for open heart surgery on that block it might even be a good idea to provision a ROW in the cut next to 195 as a footpath that's rail-convertable for a rainy day, since at least the unused part of the Wattupa west of the scrap yard in Westport is properly landbanked. But that doesn't solve the problem of how in the hell you get from the end of the tracks in NB across the river to meet up with anything on the Fairhaven side. The Fairhaven Secondary is likewise abandoned-abandoned without landbanking, but at least is an intact and mostly unencroached ROW. I don't know how you could ever get on-alignment to it, though. It is solid-ass residential/commercial development lining that whole side. I'm not even sure how you'd do it if you widened the 195 causeway and snaked the tracks alongside...you'd have to keep the rail on the median all the way to eastern Mattapoisett before there's a way to get on-alignment with the Fairhaven Secondary without tearing a scar through a neighborhood.


Blame the Old Colony for not having its shit together on this route back when they still had the wherewithal to do it. ANY contiguous ROW, encroached or otherwise, would be a more realistic canvas to play with today than those squandered gaps in downtown FR and NB severing the whole works into 3 chunks...that were themselves abandoned at the first hint of a passenger downturn. Had any one of those critical gaps been filled in the old days all of these lines would've lasted longer and been left better-preserved than they are. It really is a vexing failure of planning that they bungled this one at the height of the RR's power.



Providence-Cape is doable on the around-the-horn route. Yes, it sucks that there's no way to tap Fall River or New Bedford as anchor stops, but the Cape Codder was a successful train on this very same route up until it got kneecapped by a hostile Congressional environment. Work in tandem with the T's Cape forays on getting the Old Colony main from Middleboro to Buzzards Bay up to speed. Then bring on-Cape and the Middleboro Secondary between Attleboro and Middleboro up to speed. If the T is running Cape service in-district, then any RIDOT-funded runs out of Providence can run from the T's equipment and staffing pool because RIDOT owns a share of that...and can run as much extra service as it wants within that contract by upping their share.

The new locos and coaches will be certified for 90 MPH, so that's a nice zippy trip out of Providence. Don't stop anywhere on the NEC except Pawtucket if you absolutely have to so you can take advantage of those optimal diesel speeds. Middleboro Secondary is nice and straight...60 MPH was a Cape Codder goal through there that they were working towards when the plug got pulled on them. Middleboro-Buzzards Bay at 80 with full signals is going to be a short-term goal because I think the utilization will be there to push an inexpensive commuter rail extension through to BB. Then do what you can to gradually bring on-Cape speeds up.

That's not bad...90 MPH to Attleboro, 60 MPH to Middleboro, 80 MPH to BB, 60 MPH to Hyannis. And it's doable in small, low-drama funding chunks spread over a 5-15 year span. Set those speeds as the goal for full-blown Cape Codder restoration and full-service seasonal MBTA schedules from both Boston and (RIDOT-supported) from Providence. Then as the service grows bring the Attleboro-Middleboro and BB-Hyannis segments up to as close to an even 80 MPH as it can get. Do that and the travel times by rail probably will beat 195/25/6 out of Providence most hours of the day.
 

Semass

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Hate to bring South Coast Rail into the discussion but it is notable that the proposed stations for Taunton of Rt. 44 on Arlington St. and at the Galleria are not on the Cape Codder Route. That would be unfortunate if, at some time in the future, both services advance.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Hate to bring South Coast Rail into the discussion but it is notable that the proposed stations for Taunton of Rt. 44 on Arlington St. and at the Galleria are not on the Cape Codder Route. That would be unfortunate if, at some time in the future, both services advance.
Yes, well...nobody at the South Coast FAIL taskforce ever thought that placing a couple calls to Amtrak about the Cape Codder might give them a funding source for a few miles of track shared by both routes. Even though all those clowns magically believe the Feds are going to pony up a bil for a purely commuter project that offers no intercity hooks...including this one intercity hook staring them right in the face.

That's about the level of seriousness afoot inside the taskforce. They won't entertain for one second the notion that roping in Cape and Amtrak stakeholders might make their lives muchmuchmuchmuch easier because it distracts from their singular focus on promising Freetown shiny things.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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The new locos and coaches will be certified for 90 MPH, so that's a nice zippy trip out of Providence. Don't stop anywhere on the NEC except Pawtucket if you absolutely have to so you can take advantage of those optimal diesel speeds. Middleboro Secondary is nice and straight...60 MPH was a Cape Codder goal through there that they were working towards when the plug got pulled on them. Middleboro-Buzzards Bay at 80 with full signals is going to be a short-term goal because I think the utilization will be there to push an inexpensive commuter rail extension through to BB. Then do what you can to gradually bring on-Cape speeds up.

That's not bad...90 MPH to Attleboro, 60 MPH to Middleboro, 80 MPH to BB, 60 MPH to Hyannis. And it's doable in small, low-drama funding chunks spread over a 5-15 year span. Set those speeds as the goal for full-blown Cape Codder restoration and full-service seasonal MBTA schedules from both Boston and (RIDOT-supported) from Providence. Then as the service grows bring the Attleboro-Middleboro and BB-Hyannis segments up to as close to an even 80 MPH as it can get. Do that and the travel times by rail probably will beat 195/25/6 out of Providence most hours of the day.
Stopping at Pawtucket and not Attleboro/South Attleboro is incredibly stupid if any commuter service is running this. Stopping at Attleboro and not South Attleboro and/or Pawtucket is also stupid, but slightly less so - and only then if it's MBCR at the helm and not RIDOT.

What's actually going to happen is you're going to see trains make both/all three stops, killing your 'optimal' diesel speeds. The only way you're getting around that is if you turn the service over to Amtrak to run, full stop, which gets you 110/125 but loses you Pawtucket, South Attleboro, Attleboro and probably Middleboro for a Providence - Taunton(?) - Wareham - Buzzards Bay direct. Frankly, I don't see Amtrak wanting any part of this for a long, long time, because each and every "Cape Codder" is one less Regional on the schedule. One of these two services has a much higher demand than the other one... no points for guessing.

Still, all three stops are only going to cost you 15 minutes - if that - and it's not like nobody living in Pawtucket or Attleboro is ever going to want to go to the Cape. Stopping the trains there also represents a headway bulk-up for the commute between Attleboro - Pawtucket - Providence, which is definitely worth a few riders, and there's no rule that You Must Be Going To Or From The Cape To Board This Train On Pain Of Death. The schedule's going to have to be staggered with Providence Line trains anyway. Since anyone for whom 15 minutes is going to be the deciding factor on boarding this train is probably going to keep driving anyway, why throw away free money like that? Like you've said to me before, perfect is the enemy of good enough.

Hate to bring South Coast Rail into the discussion but it is notable that the proposed stations for Taunton of Rt. 44 on Arlington St. and at the Galleria are not on the Cape Codder Route. That would be unfortunate if, at some time in the future, both services advance.
With Dean Street before the merge and Silver City Galleria after the split, there's simply no way to have both routes stop in the same place, unless you're willing to axe one or both of them and put Taunton Station somewhere around here or around here instead.

Well, considering what's happened with South Coast FAIL so far, I could actually see them keeping Dean Street ("Taunton Center") and Silver City Galleria and shoving in the Target / Erika Drive stop as "Taunton Depot" for the Amtrak transfer or to pay off Taunton NIMBYs with a potential single-seat ride to the Cape. Three stops for Taunton, baby! Why not?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Stopping at Pawtucket and not Attleboro/South Attleboro is incredibly stupid if any commuter service is running this. Stopping at Attleboro and not South Attleboro and/or Pawtucket is also stupid, but slightly less so - and only then if it's MBCR at the helm and not RIDOT.
Incredibly stupid for whom? This is a service paid for by RIDOT and serving the RI commuter market. All decisions about that service are going to hinge on how to maximize its advantage for the RI commuter market. Attleboro, MA's needs are not RIDOT's concern. And if RIDOT ponies up the subsidy within its MBTA contract to run a RI-centric service...like they are doing elsewhere...the T will go where they tell it to go. The T is slap-happy to run its trains on somebody else's money...that's how we're getting from Boston to Hyannis in 2013, no?

What I can say is that you have 10 years of Cape Codder data from 1986-96 to chew on and make educated guesses about the Providence-Cape ridership subset from the CC's original D.C.-Hyannis run. The Cape Codder went: Providence, Taunton, Wareham (M'boro didn't exist back then), BB, Sandwich, West Barnstable, Hyannis. No NEC stops. This is the most recent regular service run to the Cape, and the most reliable template for any new service.

OK...establishing that, if RIDOT is picking up the tab it is a reasonable assumption that they are going to want to pick up tix and parking revenue on this run from Pawtucket to max their intake and help fund this thing. Amtrak wouldn't want that, but this isn't Amtrak: it's a home-state service with a vested interest in serving Pawtucket station. Add that to the schedule as basic cost of doing business. Yes, it's a few minutes of schedule burn...on a stretch of NEC between Providence and Central Falls where you're only hitting 40-50 MPH to begin with. Not the end of the world.

Where's that leave the Attleboros? I don't know, but if you're working off the known-knowns from the Cape Codder service template and have to ration in-state revenue collection needs with your choice of possible NEC intermediates...this service map doesn't start with both of them included. It may end with one or more of them *earning* their way onto the schedule, but you don't start kicking numbers around that far removed from the known-knowns in the baseline. We aren't reaching here with a speculative market or a megaproject...it's re-initiating a recent service for a more narrowly-defined local market than the old D.C. intercity direct, and doing it with gradual upgrades that work Cape-backwards and overlap areas-first (i.e. Middleboro Jct. south). Nobody is doing this for NEC corridor development. That comes last when RI starts wrapping all its overlapping commuter rail dreams around a Providence hub. If Boston-Hyannis is a limited service that can gingerly start in 2013 and meet or exceed modest projections right from Season 1, Providence-Hyannis is a limited service that can gingerly start in 2015 on modest and easily exceedable projections when the T has more pooled equipment available and there's been a couple years worth of incremental speed improvements south of Middleboro.

That's it. Known-knowns, sharply defined market, conservative reach...build it up from there with the demand cresting at their backs. Even the T's not going to bother with the fully ADA'd and well-maintained Sandwich and West Barnstable intermediates for Season 1 until it gets more 40 MPH track to run on. There's no way it's going to be zippy enough east of Attleboro for Season 1 from Providence to consider stopping at any of the current or pending NEC intermediates. If South-frickin'-Attleboro's place in the pecking order is giving ANYONE indigestion...may I suggest not overthinking this so much at least for the first few seasons of service?

What's actually going to happen is you're going to see trains make both/all three stops, killing your 'optimal' diesel speeds. The only way you're getting around that is if you turn the service over to Amtrak to run, full stop, which gets you 110/125 but loses you Pawtucket, South Attleboro, Attleboro and probably Middleboro for a Providence - Taunton(?) - Wareham - Buzzards Bay direct. Frankly, I don't see Amtrak wanting any part of this for a long, long time, because each and every "Cape Codder" is one less Regional on the schedule. One of these two services has a much higher demand than the other one... no points for guessing.

Still, all three stops are only going to cost you 15 minutes - if that - and it's not like nobody living in Pawtucket or Attleboro is ever going to want to go to the Cape. Stopping the trains there also represents a headway bulk-up for the commute between Attleboro - Pawtucket - Providence, which is definitely worth a few riders, and there's no rule that You Must Be Going To Or From The Cape To Board This Train On Pain Of Death. The schedule's going to have to be staggered with Providence Line trains anyway. Since anyone for whom 15 minutes is going to be the deciding factor on boarding this train is probably going to keep driving anyway, why throw away free money like that? Like you've said to me before, perfect is the enemy of good enough.
If I had to guess, if all the Cape speeds rounded into nice enough shape and it got time to consider adding new intermediates...South Attleboro is still going to be the more likely skip. The station was built in the first place to offset the subsidy-loss induced closure of the original Pawtucket stop, and it sits on 150 MPH-rated straightaway that T diesels could blow through at 90 MPH. If it's a choice of one or the other, Pawtucket's the much lesser drag on the schedule because nothing is moving at full track speed through there. Easy decision. Attleboro-proper...it sits at the junction, so wouldn't burn much 90 MPH territory to plunk a stop there. But I'm still of the mind that you start conservatively, get the end-to-end service cooking, THEN *graduate* new intermediates on their merits.

And, no, this isn't going to impact Providence Line headways or make a measurable difference in service levels in Attleboro. Assigning the 90 MPH-rated locos and coaches in the fleet to the Providence pool alone creates far more new schedule slots in Attleboro and S. Attleboro than any Cape service ever would. RIDOT upgrading the freight track to passenger duty from Providence to Central Falls in prep for the new Pawtucket stop creates more schedule slots. 3rd track Readville-Canton, 4th track Readville-Forest Hills, passing tracks at Sharon and Mansfield, wiring up the extra tracks around Attleboro, level boarding at all stops...all of that creates more new schedule slots through Attleboro. There is nothing a Providence-Cape run would add that wouldn't be dwarfed by the regular Providence Line schedule expansion already in the works. Moreso after RIDOT South County is running at full load if the T decides to draw a line in the sand at T.F. Green for one-seat rides to Boston.

Schedule fluffing to Providence is an utterly unimportant consideration for this service vs. the quality of life in Attleboro. If Attleboro generates enough demand to the Cape to *graduate* into this narrowly-targeted RIDOT-run service, so be it. But let's see some study numbers first, because we're working from a service template here and aren't grandfathering intermediates by default. And yes, agencies that study these things, please do study...we don't know, and it would be beneficial to know.


As for Amtrak...they make a good mint catering to premium-class customers. That's their NEC meal ticket, and that's what got the Cape Codder goodish ridership on the first go-around. I agree that there's a local need that can more immediately be served from Boston or Providence and that the locals are going to have to make the first move on track improvements before Amtrak starts sniffing around. MA didn't exactly have their back in '96, so they'll want to see the commitment. But bottom-line is that if their NEC business class regulars show enough demand for reinstatement of D.C.-Hyannis, that's probably going to be one of the very first routes they revive. Robust Downeaster and Vermonter numbers during tourist season make it a low-risk/high-reward thing to try, and they can get away with charging high fares for it. And equipment, scarce as it perpetually is, is a lot less difficult to come by on warm-weather weekends than it is in the dead of winter or during peak business/school travel periods in Fall or Spring. We aren't talking big equipment needs...the old CC was 2 trainsets total for a Friday and a Sunday. That's barely a drop in the bucket for the NEC equipment pool. It's basically taking a New Haven-terminating Regional, sending it on thru to Providence...then "off-roading" it for a couple extra hours.

With Dean Street before the merge and Silver City Galleria after the split, there's simply no way to have both routes stop in the same place, unless you're willing to axe one or both of them and put Taunton Station somewhere around here or around here instead.

Well, considering what's happened with South Coast FAIL so far, I could actually see them keeping Dean Street ("Taunton Center") and Silver City Galleria and shoving in the Target / Erika Drive stop as "Taunton Depot" for the Amtrak transfer or to pay off Taunton NIMBYs with a potential single-seat ride to the Cape. Three stops for Taunton, baby! Why not?
South Coast FAIL website has the "latest" Taunton station proposals at Dean St. and the "Depot"/Target parking lot, so Silver City doesn't have a direct stop. Today. It has on previous documents. Depends on who's getting a pony now vs. last week. If they're going to put a park-and-ride at the 24/140 interchange, the Target side is going to be vastly easier to build parking and access roads for than the Silver City side. It makes some degree of cost control sense to put it there. Silver City's valuable enough and that interchange is rough enough for cross-traffic that there's some future value in connecting the shopping access roads together over (i.e. spur off the Galleria perimeter road on a bridge over 24 to hit the ends of Industrial Dr. and Mozzone Blvd.). But that could be a future MassDOT project on its own merits totally disconnected from commuter rail and/or driven by whatever casino action may or may not be happening in the area.

The true insanity was X many proposal revisions ago when Taunton DID have 3 stops: downtown/44, Weir Jct. near 138, and Silver City-proper. Yuck. Dean and Target at least get the stop spacing right and offers up 1 walkable downtown stop and 1 highway park-and-ride without totally precluding road access to the Silver City side. The three-headed monster plan would've hosed the Cape stop AND plonked a completely superfluous 'tweener at Weir.

This is a tenfold improvement. And that, in the scope of this project, is a truly terrifying thought to ponder.
 
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Ron Newman

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Brockton has 3 stops, Newton has 3 stops, Wellesley has 3 stops, Needham has 4 stops, Dedham has 3 stops, Melrose has 3 stops, Beverly has 5 stops.

So why is it necessarily bad for Taunton to have 3 stops? (for commuter rail, not Amtrak)
 

BostonUrbEx

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Brockton has 3 stops, Newton has 3 stops, Wellesley has 3 stops, Needham has 4 stops, Dedham has 3 stops, Melrose has 3 stops, Beverly has 5 stops.

So why is it necessarily bad for Taunton to have 3 stops? (for commuter rail, not Amtrak)
Brockton and Newton cover a large amount of area. Needham, Newton, Melrose, and perhaps even Dedham are suited to rapid transit conversions. Beverly also covers some decent area, and some of those stops are split into two lines of service, and even then some of them don't see stops for all of the trains which pass through. All of these stations are also very old, too, and some not ADA compatible in the slightest. They're not massive, bloated hogs with 800 foot high level side platforms with elevators and ramps up the wazoo and a massive parking lot that never fills.
 

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