Reasonable Transit Pitches

bakgwailo

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
1,101
Reaction score
167
OK, so, let's say they add a fourth track from Forest Hills to Canton. There is the 2 track Viaduct there, rather limiting an easy add a track project. Past Canton, would it make any sense to add more tracks? With Amtrak going to hourly Acelas and the MBTA potentially eyeing regional rail level service, is there enough capacity with only two rails to also not gum um the Acela's runs? Just seems quad rail w/ the inner tracks dedicated to HSR is the de facto standard else where in the world.
 

BostonBoy

New member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
88
Reaction score
16
Guys I'm talking from my personal experience. The Amtrak trains are running at close to twice the operating speed of commuter trains and the acceleration of the commuter trains is awful and they're the ones that make all the local stops. The back up of faster Amtrak getting caught behind Locals is virtually all inbound. My proposal is about creating tracks that enable capacity for faster trains to overtake slower trains inbound . I just don't believe preserving two track access for Needham trains is a higher priority than adding capacity and stops on the main line between Forest His and Rte 128. Years ago I posted a question to Mr. F Line ( I'm a big fan and read ALL his posts) about a shuttle between the Seaport and Back Bay. He told me it was not worth it because of all the conflicts it would create at Cove Interlocking ( Thats between South Station and Back Bay) I just think this is the same kind of problem. I only wish they had made it a 4 track right of way when they built the Corridor. Oh well.
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
129
Reaction score
174
Guys I'm talking from my personal experience. The Amtrak trains are running at close to twice the operating speed of commuter trains and the acceleration of the commuter trains is awful and they're the ones that make all the local stops. The back up of faster Amtrak getting caught behind Locals is virtually all inbound. My proposal is about creating tracks that enable capacity for faster trains to overtake slower trains inbound . I just don't believe preserving two track access for Needham trains is a higher priority than adding capacity and stops on the main line between Forest His and Rte 128. Years ago I posted a question to Mr. F Line ( I'm a big fan and read ALL his posts) about a shuttle between the Seaport and Back Bay. He told me it was not worth it because of all the conflicts it would create at Cove Interlocking ( Thats between South Station and Back Bay) I just think this is the same kind of problem. I only wish they had made it a 4 track right of way when they built the Corridor. Oh well.
I don't think anyone here is questioning your intentions, I certainly have not intended to if it ever came across that way. I do think that you haven't made clear why severing Needham's connection to the south platform track at Forest Hills is in any way beneficial. I fully admit I still have no understanding of how your conception of the Forest Hills tracks would run (which may be in whole or in part a lack of operations knowledge on my part) but you also haven't explained why your numerous changes are superior to the actual plan which simply makes the north platform track BOTH a Needham track and the start of the 4th NEC track (along with a few crossover changes at FOREST to help sort the traffic). Your plan seems to be entirely based on the idea that the only way that capacity (and overtaking space...though complicated by your changes at PLAINS) can be added to the NEC is by severing Needham from all but one track, yet you provide no evidence for this assertion that I can discern. I really would like to understand. Why is this better than the plan that exists as outlined in F-Line's original diagram now at least three pages ago?
 

roy_mustang76

New member
Joined
Jul 26, 2019
Messages
50
Reaction score
57
Guys I'm talking from my personal experience. The Amtrak trains are running at close to twice the operating speed of commuter trains and the acceleration of the commuter trains is awful and they're the ones that make all the local stops. The back up of faster Amtrak getting caught behind Locals is virtually all inbound. My proposal is about creating tracks that enable capacity for faster trains to overtake slower trains inbound . I just don't believe preserving two track access for Needham trains is a higher priority than adding capacity and stops on the main line between Forest His and Rte 128. Years ago I posted a question to Mr. F Line ( I'm a big fan and read ALL his posts) about a shuttle between the Seaport and Back Bay. He told me it was not worth it because of all the conflicts it would create at Cove Interlocking ( Thats between South Station and Back Bay) I just think this is the same kind of problem. I only wish they had made it a 4 track right of way when they built the Corridor. Oh well.
Yeah no, still confused here. If you want to try to avoid Amtrak getting stuck behind MBTA locals, and you agree that inbound traffic typically (though all tracks are bidirectional) uses Tks 4 and 2, then why on earth would you force merge those tracks at PLAINS? What are you getting out of that in terms of overtake ability that you don't already have from the existing Tk 4 to 2 crossover at FOREST? Since Amtrak doesn't stop at Ruggles or FH, FH would seem an ideal place to plan an overtake actually, while the MBTA local is on platform. Under your plan, however, if you're not able to manage the overtake at FH, now AMTK is stuck on Tk. 2 behind MBTA past PLAINS.

The Needham Line is almost superfluous to the confusion now, your proposal seems to actively worsen the problem you're trying to solve. Unless we're all missing something, help us out here.
 

BostonBoy

New member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
88
Reaction score
16
Yeah no, still confused here. If you want to try to avoid Amtrak getting stuck behind MBTA locals, and you agree that inbound traffic typically (though all tracks are bidirectional) uses Tks 4 and 2, then why on earth would you force merge those tracks at PLAINS? What are you getting out of that in terms of overtake ability that you don't already have from the existing Tk 4 to 2 crossover at FOREST? Since Amtrak doesn't stop at Ruggles or FH, FH would seem an ideal place to plan an overtake actually, while the MBTA local is on platform. Under your plan, however, if you're not able to manage the overtake at FH, now AMTK is stuck on Tk. 2 behind MBTA past PLAINS.

The Needham Line is almost superfluous to the confusion now, your proposal seems to actively worsen the problem you're trying to solve. Unless we're all missing something, help us out here.
If I could
Can't even begin to comprehend what you're talking about here. With all the surrounding street overpasses and multi-level junctioning rail infrastructure surrounding Readville on all sides there is no room anywhere for constructing flying junctions at FRA grades. Franklin is always going to junction with the NEC on the west (Tks. 3 & 4) side, and that is absolutely a problem for trains being forced to cross over...compounded by the Needham trains needing to cross over a short distance up. As long as you have 2 full-service branchlines junctioning flat off a western trajectory requiring multiple crossover moves in a 4-mile/3-station span where the layer-cake traffic profile of the NEC requires for that span to be a sorting space for service classes of divergent speed profiles, you're going to have conflicts that escalate with increasing traffic on each tier of the layer cake. That's inescapable. Something has to give, because not all mouths can feed from the same trough the way this is set up.

Whether "your" Track 4 and crossover layout are some ingenious improvement over everything under the sun the official parties have studied or not, remember...the official parties have had "their" proposed track layout ratified for 11 years now ever since the NECIIMP document (which that previous illustration was direct-sourced from) was released by Amtrak with the MBTA's and MassDOT's co-sign. Those parties all foresee conflict-city on the NEC with the Rail Vision and 2030+ Amtrak volumes being simultaneously fed through it, and are the ones calling for evasive action by culling the branches via other equitable means. "Their" Track 4 is ultimately going to be the one that matters, whether "yours" is any improvement or not on a Train Sim plot.


To reiterate: there is nothing wrong with Providence/Stoughton trains picking up FH with the side platform on Tk. 1, because it can all be done without crossing over. It's the presence of Needham and to lesser extent Franklin that gum up the works, because those are the ones that have no recourse but to lean hard on the crossover games. If more Purple Line service to FH is an aspirational thing (I'm not really sure the ridership says it is, but it could be)...then we need to be working on getting Needham and Franklin out of the way and cleaning up the crossover games. A 'more perfect kludge' of immaculate crossover placement isn't going to bring pure harmony here where any other setup is chaos. That's a lot of train-sim studying from official sources that would be upended in an "if only for this one neat trick I came up with..." scenario. I get that there's some turf warrage with Amtrak being the dispatcher that may or may not be influencing the presentation around the severity of conflicts, but when both agencies' traffic modeling bullseye this area as conflict-city under the reference Rail Vision + AMTK 2030 traffic levels...it's pretty unlikely they're bald-faced lying to us or sleeping on some ingenious quick-and-easy fix. After all, the state most definitely does not want to build OLX even if you dragged them over hot coals. The fact that they're saying it might be necessary **in spite of their innate revulsion to it** definitely telegraphs their underlying level of concern that the NEC is up to the task of handling full Regional Rail service levels with its incumbent branch membership. If they could make everything harmonious with a simple "your/their" crossover tweak instead of letting slip "Welp, we might actually have to rapid-transitize Needham after all"...don't you think they would've been pushing that solution with highlights long ago???
Yeah no, still confused here. If you want to try to avoid Amtrak getting stuck behind MBTA locals, and you agree that inbound traffic typically (though all tracks are bidirectional) uses Tks 4 and 2, then why on earth would you force merge those tracks at PLAINS? What are you getting out of that in terms of overtake ability that you don't already have from the existing Tk 4 to 2 crossover at FOREST? Since Amtrak doesn't stop at Ruggles or FH, FH would seem an ideal place to plan an overtake actually, while the MBTA local is on platform. Under your plan, however, if you're not able to manage the overtake at FH, now AMTK is stuck on Tk. 2 behind MBTA past PLAINS.

The Needham Line is almost superfluous to the confusion now, your proposal seems to actively worsen the problem you're trying to solve. Unless we're all missing something, help us out here.
Well, I think everyone would agree the idea of putting back 4 tracks on the Corridor where they previously existed and extending them to Canton Junction is a good idea. And if all those experts had asked me in 1979, I would have recommended a 4-track railroad , signaled for bi-directional traffic, from Boston at least to where it ended at Readville. I also think Back Bay is a big commuter stop, and Franklin Riders would agree. So my idea was to add capacity to both reduce the times when faster Amtrak trains are now forced to follow much slower commuter trains and actually add a commuter station to an area which I believe is under served. It's where the old Clarendon Hills station was at Metropolitan Ave and Dale Street on the Hyde Park/Roslindale line. And maybe you could cut a platform on the new track 4 at Forest Hills. I'm thinking about what Rapid Commuter rail could look like on the Southwest Corridor and while adding a track in the "trench" is out of the question, this could help. The extra track would reduce conflicts where the faster trains (Both Amtrak and express Commuter) could overtake locals before entering the three- track "trench". Westbound traffic is not as challenging because it all gets sorted out right at South Station. Acela first , Commuter Express Amtrak Regional Needham etc. The only hit that the Needham takes is that it has only one track entering the Main Line, and hourly service and even peak service , could be handled with meets OFF the Corridor; not at Forest Hills Station. The reason I finessed Forest and Plains Interlockings (based on it being possible without too much disruption) was to make the added track west of Forest ( track no. 3) and the outside track on the inbound side which is now track no. 2, but re- numbered Tk. 4 in my proposal, to be true local tracks with that added commuter stop at Clarendon Hills. If you want to take the Franklin trains off the Corridor and run them ,with the four tracks to Canton ,you could have Corridor commuter trains stop at Readville and Franklin passengers could transfer there for Back Bay, instead of going to South Station and back-tracking to the Back Bay. And Passengers on the Fairmount line could go to Readville and transfer to outbound Commuter stations on the corridor. It would open opportunities for inner city residents a two seat ride to jobs in, say, Westwood. The switch where track 4 would merge with track 2 at Forest would be a high speed switch capable of higher speeds for the merging track 4 and normal speed for the express track 2. I'm ready Mr. F Line . If I were King I would tell you to make it so!
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
129
Reaction score
174
Sorry about this in advance, this one wound up being way longer than I expected, so I've got to post it in parts. Skip to the end of Part II if you want the conclusion.

PART I

Well, I think everyone would agree the idea of putting back 4 tracks on the Corridor where they previously existed and extending them to Canton Junction is a good idea. And if all those experts had asked me in 1979, I would have recommended a 4-track railroad , signaled for bi-directional traffic, from Boston at least to where it ended at Readville.
Agreed. There's maybe a little quibbling on the exact form of what would be built where (other posters might have more familiarity with existing future plans there), but the capacity add to the Corridor south of Forest Hills is well-supported (including by Amtrak).

o my idea was to add capacity to both reduce the times when faster Amtrak trains are now forced to follow much slower commuter trains and actually add a commuter station to an area which I believe is under served. It's where the old Clarendon Hills station was at Metropolitan Ave and Dale Street on the Hyde Park/Roslindale line.
No clue whatsoever if ridership numbers would support this. That would have to be studied (or maybe it has been and I'm simply not aware of it). A basic Google Maps check would suggest there's sufficient room for a station with two side platforms for the outer tracks and two central express tracks. That Eversource building (which looks to be some kind of a garage, possibly?) would probably have to go, though I don't think that'd be any great loss. Your mileage may vary on the "Reasonableness" of this particular Transit Pitch depending on what the ridership projections might look like compared to the cost, but that's par for the course in this thread, and at any rate it would depend on the studies.

And maybe you could cut a platform on the new track 4 at Forest Hills.
If there's anything that would prevent them from cutting a platform into the south wall of the trench to serve the southernmost track at Forest Hills, exactly like what they just did at Ruggles, it's not at all apparent to me. Best-case scenario you'd get the option for some of the CR services to not have to cross over from the island platform to serve the new Ruggles platform heading inbound, though I think more likely the real-world benefit would be the ability to have some more of the Providence trains stop at Forest Hills because they wouldn't need to cross over at all, whereas today they have to sail right past to avoid crossover hell. Still a very reasonable idea unless there's something big in the way that makes it technically infeasible or extremely expensive.

The only hit that the Needham takes is that it has only one track entering the Main Line, and hourly service and even peak service , could be handled with meets OFF the Corridor; not at Forest Hills Station. The reason I finessed Forest and Plains Interlockings (based on it being possible without too much disruption) was to make the added track west of Forest ( track no. 3) and the outside track on the inbound side which is now track no. 2, but re- numbered Tk. 4 in my proposal, to be true local tracks with that added commuter stop at Clarendon Hills.
This section is extremely hard to parse and therefore very confusing. Part of that is because of an incomplete mental picture of what all of the crossovers would look like at both FOREST and PLAINS. (I'm using your numbering for consistency.) If there's no connection between "local" Track 3 and "express" Track 1 at FOREST (the two current platform tracks at Forest Hills) then all southbound/westbound traffic must be sorted onto the appropriate track at or before PLAINS. Whenever there's an Amtrak or one of the Providence expresses coming through (which definitionally would have to be on Track 1), any other traffic that it needs to pass would have to be on Track 3. But since you've also force-severed Needham from anything but Track 3, any time a Needham train needs to come off the branch, it has to occupy Track 3 at least as far as PLAINS, which is its first opportunity to get out of the way. But to do so it requires crossing onto at least Track 1, or crossing over Track 1 (during which time nothing may use Track 1) to Track 2 (right where you've had it merge with Track 4). The only way to avoid it (and, as a Needham, it will stop at Ruggles) is to semi-permanently restrict it to Track 3 east of PLAINS. Meaning that you've artificially congested the railroad even more. Forced local-express separation plus the Needham restriction is what does that to you. The thing is, the actual railroad might well operate like that diagram most of the time. The problem is that by removing and restricting crossovers, you lose flexibility, and you lose it for no apparent reason other than ideological purity of "express and local should be separate".
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
129
Reaction score
174
PART II

If you want to take the Franklin trains off the Corridor and run them ,with the four tracks to Canton ,you could have Corridor commuter trains stop at Readville and Franklin passengers could transfer there for Back Bay, instead of going to South Station and back-tracking to the Back Bay. And Passengers on the Fairmount line could go to Readville and transfer to outbound Commuter stations on the corridor. It would open opportunities for inner city residents a two seat ride to jobs in, say, Westwood.
Not going to touch this. Completely out-of-scope for any discussion of the Forest Hills situation. (Not to say it's unworthy of discussion, just that that discussion is not the topic of this post.)

The switch where track 4 would merge with track 2 at Forest would be a high speed switch capable of higher speeds for the merging track 4 and normal speed for the express track 2. I'm ready Mr. F Line . If I were King I would tell you to make it so!
This is the part that's making heads explode, I think. This, maybe even more so than the Needham forced-severing, makes no sense whatsoever. In real-track terms you're essentially exchanging something like a couple of thousand feet of Track 4 for the equivalent length on Track 3 (which is actually probably a bad thing).

Your conception of express/local would imply that, east of PLAINS, the merged Tracks 4/2 (Track 2) would be the main eastbound running track to South Station via Ruggles and Back Bay. Track 1 would nominally be able to be used in both directions as it is today (though I think you'd need a crossover from Track 2 to Track 1 to make that possible because I think there isn't one now.

However, because you've also force-severed Needham and apparently not provided for a Track 3 to Track 1 crossover at FOREST (in the name of express/local separational purity?) Track 3 becomes a nightmare. Anytime anything "local" (Needham or otherwise) needs to serve Forest Hills, it would (apparently) have to occupy Track 3 and only Track 3 at least as far west as PLAINS and in practice quite possibly before that (because if it was on Track 1 stopping at Ruggles, the crossover problem would be even worse than the problems from hogging Track 3. Whenever a Needham train needed to come off the branch, it would have to hog Track 3, cross over Track 1 hoping nothing needs to use it going west, then merge onto Track 2 where it hogs the eastbound lane stopping at Ruggles. Alternately you can avoid this problem by having it hog Track 3, leaving Track 1 as the westbound lane and Track 2 as the eastbound (both at least notionally branching at PLAINS)...but if you do that then absolutely nothing can move west on that track until you find some place to get it out of the way (which is at least one station stop longer away). That's demonstrably insane, hence why if the track was actually configured like that you'd have the inbound Needhams wait on the branch until there was a nice wide gap to fit them in: i.e. screw Needham for no cognizable reason.

The configuration doesn't work. None of the changes downstream (south/west) of Forest Hills on the corridor require you to touch PLAINS in any way whatsoever. All the changes required are at FOREST, and that's simply ADDING crossovers to-and-from Track 3 to Track 1 and extending Track 3 from just being the Needham lead to also being the 4th NEC track. Your changes at FOREST are useless at best (to the extent that they prefer Track 3/the north platform track for Needham anyway) and detrimental at worst (just because they don't have Needham meets at FH now doesn't mean that the flexibility is unnecessary let alone somehow objectionable). Your changes at PLAINS are not only incomprehensible, they are outright destructive to its ability (in concert with FOREST) to handle throughput and serve as the sorting point for the NEC, and they are in no way required for the (I'd say good) goal of adding a south-side ("Track 4") platform at Forest Hills.

By-design breaking the current not to mention future capacity of the system for any reason - and the only one I've been able to discern is an unsupported preference for strictest-possible express/local separation - is not a Transit Pitch, let alone a Reasonable one. Everything above the dividing line in the middle of my post is at least worthy fodder for consideration if not already things that are board-consensus things that should have been done yesterday. Everything below, unless there's a great deal more to this that you've not been able to convey, is so fundamentally outside the purpose of this thread that discussing it any further would have no purpose beyond beating a dead horse. I've never liked seeing ideas get ignored, stonewalled, or dismissed out of hand on any forum, here or elsewhere, which is part of why I've tried at length to unpack what it is you're offering, but at this point I feel like we've reached the end of the road so, respectfully, I'm out on this one.
 

BostonBoy

New member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
88
Reaction score
16
PART II



Not going to touch this. Completely out-of-scope for any discussion of the Forest Hills situation. (Not to say it's unworthy of discussion, just that that discussion is not the topic of this post.)



This is the part that's making heads explode, I think. This, maybe even more so than the Needham forced-severing, makes no sense whatsoever. In real-track terms you're essentially exchanging something like a couple of thousand feet of Track 4 for the equivalent length on Track 3 (which is actually probably a bad thing).

Your conception of express/local would imply that, east of PLAINS, the merged Tracks 4/2 (Track 2) would be the main eastbound running track to South Station via Ruggles and Back Bay. Track 1 would nominally be able to be used in both directions as it is today (though I think you'd need a crossover from Track 2 to Track 1 to make that possible because I think there isn't one now.

However, because you've also force-severed Needham and apparently not provided for a Track 3 to Track 1 crossover at FOREST (in the name of express/local separational purity?) Track 3 becomes a nightmare. Anytime anything "local" (Needham or otherwise) needs to serve Forest Hills, it would (apparently) have to occupy Track 3 and only Track 3 at least as far west as PLAINS and in practice quite possibly before that (because if it was on Track 1 stopping at Ruggles, the crossover problem would be even worse than the problems from hogging Track 3. Whenever a Needham train needed to come off the branch, it would have to hog Track 3, cross over Track 1 hoping nothing needs to use it going west, then merge onto Track 2 where it hogs the eastbound lane stopping at Ruggles. Alternately you can avoid this problem by having it hog Track 3, leaving Track 1 as the westbound lane and Track 2 as the eastbound (both at least notionally branching at PLAINS)...but if you do that then absolutely nothing can move west on that track until you find some place to get it out of the way (which is at least one station stop longer away). That's demonstrably insane, hence why if the track was actually configured like that you'd have the inbound Needhams wait on the branch until there was a nice wide gap to fit them in: i.e. screw Needham for no cognizable reason.

The configuration doesn't work. None of the changes downstream (south/west) of Forest Hills on the corridor require you to touch PLAINS in any way whatsoever. All the changes required are at FOREST, and that's simply ADDING crossovers to-and-from Track 3 to Track 1 and extending Track 3 from just being the Needham lead to also being the 4th NEC track. Your changes at FOREST are useless at best (to the extent that they prefer Track 3/the north platform track for Needham anyway) and detrimental at worst (just because they don't have Needham meets at FH now doesn't mean that the flexibility is unnecessary let alone somehow objectionable). Your changes at PLAINS are not only incomprehensible, they are outright destructive to its ability (in concert with FOREST) to handle throughput and serve as the sorting point for the NEC, and they are in no way required for the (I'd say good) goal of adding a south-side ("Track 4") platform at Forest Hills.

By-design breaking the current not to mention future capacity of the system for any reason - and the only one I've been able to discern is an unsupported preference for strictest-possible express/local separation - is not a Transit Pitch, let alone a Reasonable one. Everything above the dividing line in the middle of my post is at least worthy fodder for consideration if not already things that are board-consensus things that should have been done yesterday. Everything below, unless there's a great deal more to this that you've not been able to convey, is so fundamentally outside the purpose of this thread that discussing it any further would have no purpose beyond beating a dead horse. I've never liked seeing ideas get ignored, stonewalled, or dismissed out of hand on any forum, here or elsewhere, which is part of why I've tried at length to unpack what it is you're offering, but at this point I feel like we've reached the end of the road so, respectfully, I'm out on this one.
Just because I didn't mention it doesn't mean I wouldn't include the crossovers that are already in place to provide flexibility for eastbound moves at Forest Hills . And I am NOT advocating the elimination of the Needham Branch . I believe that is where some of the reluctance arises here . I don't believe having Needham restricted to track 3 at Forest and resolving any Needham Branch conflicts at the two tracks already there, just west of Forest Hills, as a death sentence to adding service on that Branch. the distance between South Station and Forest Hills is so short that any meets or conflicts For Needham Service should and must be addressed on the Branch; not at the platforms at Forest Hills. I am not doing any "modeling on computers or anything like that. I am going on my personal experience. The idea of rationalization tracks but getting some capacity by signaling in both directions was a big idea in the Seventies. They tried it on Metro North too. The plan was to take 4 tracks, where two were signaled in one direction and two the other, and reduce them to three tracks signaled in both directions between between Stamford and New Haven. As they were converting the signal system, they actually stopped maintaining portions of the eastbound express track in some sections, while they did the Southwest Corridor thing ( 4 trks to 3 trks) between New Haven and the Devon moveable bridge at Stratford. They finally nixed that idea for the rest of the route, with Amtrak money, and restored the 4th express track that was scheduled for rationalization. Good thing too. The Catenary upgrade program on the New Haven Line was just completed, after 20 years! And more challenges are coming with the rebuilding of movable bridges on the MN New Haven Line. In the mean time Service for Metro North has exploded and Amtrak service has doubled, and I believe they are considering restoring the 4th track that between Stratford and New Haven partly, I believe, because they added a new station on that section (West Haven) and one of the platforms is now on "express" track number 2. I am just going on my personal experience. That's all. Maybe my proposal has already been considered by the big brains and they have found out it is too expensive or it doesn't fit on the footprint. I don't know that . My proposal is a way to add capacity and station stops while eliminating the congestion already present where faster trains cannot overtake slower trains. I do think there is merit to it, operationally. I believe the strongest argument AGAINST my idea is whether or not it fits in the space without big bucks changes. But, regarding the efficacy of the goals of increasing capacity while reducing delays; it has merit. Cheers and ride trains!
 

Wash

Active Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
177
Reaction score
219
In preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Henri, the entire D branch is currently shut down. While the fact that pretty much the entire line runs under blow-downable tree cover is part of it, part of the reason for the complete shutdown is definitely the storm surge barriers that stop any water (or Green Line trains) from entering the Fenway Portal in the event of heavy rain. With flooding on the increase in Boston, it seems dumb to close the entire line all the way from Newton just because the final 400 feet of track is underwater.

How about running some D branch service via the C branch and Chestnut Hill Avenue? How about a shuttle train doing the same thing from one of the Chestnut Hill Ave platforms at Reservoir? Whatever the solution, it would definitely require some labor-intensive manual operations and or/installation of spring switches and/or contraflow running into Cleveland Circle, but this is an emergency maneuver performed for, at most, a week out of the year.

I can draw up a more detailed proposal if folks would like.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
628
Reaction score
433
Looking at @vanshnookenraggen's track map, Riverside via Beacon feels like a difficult service to swing.

Screen Shot 2021-08-22 at 12.37.33 PM.png


Traveling inbound, you'd need to pull out from the Reservoir platform, roll forward, and then reverse ends, divert over to the yard tracks and run "backwards" all the way in. Hardly impossible, but not super simple either. I also would not want to be the driver who has to get out in the middle of stormy weather to walk to the other end of the train.

Alternatively, you could run a pair of shuttle services: Riverside-Reservoir, and Reservoir-Beacon-Subway. Have Riverside trains terminate on the outbound platform, and have passengers do a cross-platform transfer to a waiting shuttle train on the southern yard platform (the one in black in the diagram above). That feels a bit more achievable, even if it's not a one-seat ride.

There are two questions that get raised here.

1) Can riders remain onboard while a driver changes ends? If not, then the one-seat reverse-move only works if you have a second driver.

2) (The bigger question) Are the yard tracks cleared for passenger/revenue service? If not, then it still might be worthwhile to short-turn Riverside-Reservoir services, but it'll be an obnoxious rider experience.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
732
Reaction score
119
In preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Henri, the entire D branch is currently shut down. While the fact that pretty much the entire line runs under blow-downable tree cover is part of it, part of the reason for the complete shutdown is definitely the storm surge barriers that stop any water (or Green Line trains) from entering the Fenway Portal in the event of heavy rain. With flooding on the increase in Boston, it seems dumb to close the entire line all the way from Newton just because the final 400 feet of track is underwater.
Funny thing is that conditions don't seem that bad right now. It did rain earlier but that's about it.
 

Stlin

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
247
Reaction score
237
How much time do you actually need to set those new floodgates? I assume they're remotely actuated? If it's quick enough, would it be feasible to continue to run (reduced) service and just shut it when the muddy is at imminent risk of flooding, and then just run short turn to Fenway? There's a switch just outside of it, and the operator would need to change ends, but it seems doable. From there you can probably implement a 1-2 bus shuttle loop to kenmore. You might strand some trains, but It's a short enough tunnel segment b/t Beacon and Fenway that you could probably just wait for them to clear and redirect the rest onto the C.
 

Stlin

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
247
Reaction score
237
What would it take to allow volunteer or community groups to help maintain MBTA stations? Basically, an "Adopt-a-Station" program akin to adopt a median. I know this is something NJT has, as well as Denver RTD, and some international agencies. The FTA has even published formal research on the topic. Admittedly, most agencies limit it to bus stops, but I would totally be down to power wash some T stations.
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
732
Reaction score
119
What would it take to allow volunteer or community groups to help maintain MBTA stations? Basically, an "Adopt-a-Station" program akin to adopt a median. I know this is something NJT has, as well as Denver RTD, and some international agencies. The FTA has even published formal research on the topic. Admittedly, most agencies limit it to bus stops, but I would totally be down to power wash some T stations.
There's like no way the Union would allow that.
 

AndrewOnTheMBTA

New member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
64
Reaction score
54
Not sure how feasible this is but I think it's reasonable: a late night pilot of T service between Maverick and Aquarium, similar to the S line in NY, which would just serve as a lifeline option of getting across the harbor once the rest of the blue line and T is closed. I just moved to East Boston and I've noticed people would use this and stay out later if possible - with the last BL from Aquarium at 1:03am. If you miss that last train you essentially have to rely on expensive uber/lyft to make it across water. This could run from 1:15 ish to 3am. Thoughts?
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
129
Reaction score
174
Not sure how feasible this is but I think it's reasonable: a late night pilot of T service between Maverick and Aquarium, similar to the S line in NY, which would just serve as a lifeline option of getting across the harbor once the rest of the blue line and T is closed. I just moved to East Boston and I've noticed people would use this and stay out later if possible - with the last BL from Aquarium at 1:03am. If you miss that last train you essentially have to rely on expensive uber/lyft to make it across water. This could run from 1:15 ish to 3am. Thoughts?
I don't think there's a crossover between Aquarium and State, so you'd have to either run the trains at least past State (though you wouldn't necessarily have to stop there) or run it single-track (which might be feasible if the headways were sufficiently spread out).

The broader question I have is, beyond the specifics of the body of water in the way, what makes this particular set of journeys and this particular set of station pairs more deserving of late-night service than others? That's not a shot against the proposal, so much as saying that if we're talking about late-night service, it might be ideal to look at the whole system's ability to do so, which would increase utility for everyone.
 

Stlin

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
247
Reaction score
237
There's like no way the Union would allow that.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the MBTA contract out cleaning? And if the union is a concern, the MBTA can scope limit any volunteer work to areas the T doesn't really do, such as landscaping, or at certain categories of facilities such as outer CR stations, or unimproved bus stops. I can't really imagine the unions objecting to a local garden club putting in flower beds at suburban CR stations, for example.

Either way, I think my end goal is mostly community engagement and ownership, with a side benefit of should result in cleaner stops and stations, and freeing up staff to do other tasks: the FTA research seems to support this.
 

Wash

Active Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
177
Reaction score
219
Looking at @vanshnookenraggen's track map, Riverside via Beacon feels like a difficult service to swing.

View attachment 15847

Traveling inbound, you'd need to pull out from the Reservoir platform, roll forward, and then reverse ends, divert over to the yard tracks and run "backwards" all the way in. Hardly impossible, but not super simple either. I also would not want to be the driver who has to get out in the middle of stormy weather to walk to the other end of the train.

Alternatively, you could run a pair of shuttle services: Riverside-Reservoir, and Reservoir-Beacon-Subway. Have Riverside trains terminate on the outbound platform, and have passengers do a cross-platform transfer to a waiting shuttle train on the southern yard platform (the one in black in the diagram above). That feels a bit more achievable, even if it's not a one-seat ride.

There are two questions that get raised here.

1) Can riders remain onboard while a driver changes ends? If not, then the one-seat reverse-move only works if you have a second driver.

2) (The bigger question) Are the yard tracks cleared for passenger/revenue service? If not, then it still might be worthwhile to short-turn Riverside-Reservoir services, but it'll be an obnoxious rider experience.
The shuttle service you've described is exactly the setup I'd imagined. Definitely the biggest obstacle are those couple dozen feet of yard trackage that might not be cleared for revenue use.

I don't think there's a crossover between Aquarium and State, so you'd have to either run the trains at least past State (though you wouldn't necessarily have to stop there) or run it single-track (which might be feasible if the headways were sufficiently spread out).

The broader question I have is, beyond the specifics of the body of water in the way, what makes this particular set of journeys and this particular set of station pairs more deserving of late-night service than others? That's not a shot against the proposal, so much as saying that if we're talking about late-night service, it might be ideal to look at the whole system's ability to do so, which would increase utility for everyone.
On foot or on a bicycle late at night, getting across Boston Harbor is literally impossible. Water taxi service ends at 8 PM. Calling a ride-share vehicle or a cab late at night is extremely expensive and most likely includes a toll surcharge. It is far easier to get from Government Center to Harvard on foot or bicycle than it is to get from Government Center to Maverick.
 
Last edited:

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
129
Reaction score
174
On foot or on a bicycle late at night, getting across Boston Harbor is literally impossible. Water taxi service ends at 8 PM. Calling a ride-share vehicle or a cab late at night is extremely expensive and most likely includes a toll surcharge. It is far easier to get from Government Center to Harvard on foot or bicycle than it is to get from Government Center to Maverick.
Fair enough with respect to the particular difficulties of the harbor crossing versus other local trips. I live too far outside the city for biking (let alone walking) to be a viable option, so I wasn't thinking of the specifically local trips when I made my comments. I think the point still stands that it'd be worth considering the accessibility-mobility benefits of more service (even if it's not the full lines) late at night, though I acknowledge that the particular geography makes Aquarium-Maverick the most pressing issue on the topic.
 

Top