Regional New England Rail (Amtrak & State DOT)

RandomWalk

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The interior looks shopworn, but nice. Too bad we can’t get finishes and detailing like that today.
 

Roxxma

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...the 1899 station (built in tandem with South Station to similar architectural prominence after major grade separation work downtown united the separate Boston & Providence and Boston & Albany BBY depots into a union station) thoroughly obliterated by the fire.
Did the pre 1899 station serve the B&A? And if not, was there ever any attempt to connect it? I thought Trinity Place and Huntington Ave stations stuck around until the Pike Extension was built, or was there access to B&A services from the 1929 station (either at the time it was built, or later on) as well?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Did the pre 1899 station serve the B&A? And if not, was there ever any attempt to connect it? I thought Trinity Place and Huntington Ave stations stuck around until the Pike Extension was built, or was there access to B&A services from the 1929 station (either at the time it was built, or later on) as well?
It's complicated.

1834-1899 -- No South Station, separate terminal stations by RR. Boston & Albany's terminal was Columbus Ave., which sat on the blocks occupied post-1899 by the three permutations of Back Bay. Boston & Providence's terminal was at Park Square on corner of Boylston/Charles South/Columbus where Park Plaza currently is, across the street from the Public Gardens. B&P crossed B&A's Columbus Ave. tail tracks on a diamond, but never shared station digs.

1896-1899 -- Boston Terminal Company formed as joint venture between the (then 4) southside RR's to construct union South Station and related projects. This included a massive grade separation project of the B&P between Forest Hills and Back Bay, creating the old Southwest Corridor embankment. The nearly half-mile of track from the B&A diamond @ Columbus to Park Square Depot was abandoned in favor of the new alignment to SS continuing straight off the B&A tail tracks on brand-new trench construction Columbus-Albany St.'s. 1899 BBY was built as the next-nearest replacement to Park Square Depot for CBD access, since it was well-served by Central Subway trolleys coming off the Public Gardens portal. Building it required nuking the B&A Columbus Ave. depot...the latest permutation of which was an 1880 structure only 1-1/2 decades old at the time. B&A opted against joing Back Bay as a union station, instead building westbound-only platforms at Trinity Pl. and eastbound-only platforms at Huntington Ave. on a more direct streetcar transfer. They took some profit-sharing stake in the BTC venture in exchange for their downsizing.

1928-29 -- "Million-dollar Fire" and BBY rebuild by NYNH&H. B&A stays stet at Trinity/Huntington.

1959-1964 -- B&A takes its payola from the Turnpike Authority for the great chop-down of the mainline to Riverside Jct., elimination of 4 intermediate stops (Cottage Farm/BU, Allston Depot, Brighton Depot, Newton Corner), and the ghetto single-side rebuilds of the remaining Newton trio. The tail end of that package included an add-on platform at BBY so they could jettison Trinity/Huntington, which were immediately demolished.

1964-1979 -- '29 BBY is a 'true' union station. MBTA starts paying in for Needham, West Medway, Blackstone, Dedham commuter rail subsidy to NYNH&H in '64. NYNH&H Providence/Stoughton and B&A Worcester remain 100% private-run '64-73 sans subsidy because those routes were still deemed profitable by the feds. Amtrak takes over intercity franchise in '71 on both routes. Penn Central "happened" between '69-73, uniting the B&A and New Haven under one private ownership roof until the T bought everything lock/stock in '73 and began the modern incarnation of the Purple Line.

1979-1987 -- SW Corridor service suspended for 8 years of reconstruction; Providence/Stoughton and NEC intercity re-routed over upgraded Fairmount Line. '29 BBY continues in-use for Framingham and Amtrak Inlands/LSL. A South Station-BBY shuttle runs for the duration of the shutdown to the B&A berths (last-ever use of self-powered Budd RDC's by the T, '82-85). '29 BBY building is demolished in '81, B&A platform remains open in the trench throughout.

1987-present -- Current BBY bunker opens w/ Orange Line + new full-highs on NEC side. B&A side remains low + retractable-edge mini-high for high-and-wide boxcars of newsprint going to the Boston Herald's former freight siding @ Ink Block. Plate F freight exemption was sunset east of Beacon Park upon closure of the Herald HQ's printing presses ('new' Yawkey/Landsdowne the first to take advantage).
 
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Tom Nevers

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The Downeaster's sponsor, NNEPRA has a Portland Transportation Center page that says that the study of new sites was "Phase Two of Study Complete" in September 2020. I can't find a link, nor a reference in the September NNEPRA board meeting. Did I miss it somewhere?
It hasn’t been posted yet. In addition to the NNEPRA site, I’m also monitoring this Maine DOT page https://www.maine.gov/mdot/planning/ptldtranportationstudy/
Whether they move the station or not, I’d like to see the pedestrian experience improved. I usually walk down Congress, make a left on Frederic then make a right on 1A to reach the station. The 295 underpass is poorly lit and uncomfortable at night.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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It hasn’t been posted yet. In addition to the NNEPRA site, I’m also monitoring this Maine DOT page https://www.maine.gov/mdot/planning/ptldtranportationstudy/
Whether they move the station or not, I’d like to see the pedestrian experience improved. I usually walk down Congress, make a left on Frederic then make a right on 1A to reach the station. The 295 underpass is poorly lit and uncomfortable at night.
They so need to move it to the old Portland Union Station site (St. John St. option in study) along with the bus terminal. The reverse move is such senseless waste, and Union Station is exactly as convenient to intercity buses from the Exit 5 spaghetti as PTC. Plus would give them a chance to eliminate the Congress St. grade crossing, worst in Portland, in the process. Ex- quad-track ROW in that spot, so they'd easily be able to have a Worcester-like 2-track island + flanking-side platform with 2 freight passers for the PAR freights swarming all around slow speed.

Unfortunately NNEPRA and TRNE sold itself on PTC being such an outsized-and-forever economic driver to Thompson's Point that they are intrinsically against a relocation despite the ops deficiencies mocking them right in the face. The distance difference is so small that Thompson's Point--which is standing on its own two feet now redev-wise--will be just fine without the crippled train station. But to listen to their spokesflaks throw cold water on the Union Station site time and again, they seem to have limited understanding of the big picture. Everything would grow bigger if you could simply get transit moving in/out of Portland 10 minutes faster on the clock than it does right now.
 
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Arlington

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+1.

10 minutes is a big deal--it costs millions to speed up track to save 10min, and it matters when you can save 5% to 10% on a 100 to 200 minute trip.

Adding an extra seat to a trip (needing a taxi to get downtown) is also the wrong kind of friction.

Cities are where they are for about the reason union stations were where they were.
 
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ErnieAdams

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The wiki page on the old Union Station had a link to a 2011 Press Herald story about the destruction of the old station with a surreal picture of the station clock tower in mid-collapse:

From the dust of Union Station, Portland preservation arose

It would be wonderful if they got the station back to or close to the old site. Speaking as an avid visitor, the current location and facility is such a bummer.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Feds chuck $145M in grants at the Norwalk River and Connecticut River bridge replacement projects on the NEC. WALK Bridge, with second-most openings on the New Haven Line is already mostly funded for replacement as twin lift spans. The $79M apportioned for CT River is the first big installment to kick off that project, the last required bridge replacement on the Shoreline and the primary bottleneck reliever for extending 100% of the Shore Line East schedule from Old Saybrook to New London and supporting more Amtrak schedule extensions from NY to BOS. Final price tag for it is $400M, but this award funds enough of the very involved staging work to let them stay on-schedule for 2024 construction starts while seeking additional funding.
 

Arlington

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on the CT River Bridge, how far south are they willing to come? Seems like if they could come a little more south (than just the orange outline) they could both reduce the number of track-feet and put it all on one gentle curve for higher speed?
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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on the CT River Bridge, how far south are they willing to come? Seems like if they could come a little more south (than just the orange outline) they could both reduce the number of track-feet and put it all on one gentle curve for higher speed?
They can't move it anywhere. It's surrounded on all sides by extreme low-lying marshland. The grading for the bridge approaches were built 4-track wide on each side so NYNH&H retained future option to twin the span. That's what they're locked into--in the orange outline--for being able to do this without excruciating EIS. The curves will be the same: 70 MPH restriction on the west side, 90 MPH on the east side, 110 MPH speed zone overall. The actual bridge itself will bump from 60 to 70 for slight improvement.

Speeds aren't the primary bottleneck. All SLE and most Regional trains are making station stops at Old Saybrook 1 mile west of the bridge so the Acelas and some express Regionals are the only ones that feel even a slight restriction. And it's not a consequential restriction as Shoreline curves go; there are way worse ones to the east. Primary bottleneck are the openings themselves: bascule must be open whenever there's no train because Connecticut River mouth is the biggest/tallest navigable river in New England. It doesn't have much underclearance, and the marinas cater to taller-than-normal boats. The bascule mechanism itself takes absolutely excruciating length of time to close while being very error-prone at closing tight in its advanced age. So it imposes a stiff penalty on train spacing, which is the primary reason why 50% of SLE's schedule is forced to turn at Old Saybrook.

The replacement will be bascule-for-bascule...though probably twinned up one moving mechanism per track as that's the preferred maint fail-safe. It will similarly leave side room on the approach for twinning the bridge to quad-track if that's ever needed (though that's probably not ever going to be needed at this one single point even if there's track expansion or bypassing elsewhere to increase capacity). But the mechanism itself will move way faster and be able to lock through duty cycles with reliability today's span can't dream of...and that's what will dramatically change the dispatch-allowable train spacing so SLE can run all its schedules to New London/Westerly. Bridge maneuvers won't need to be buffered by so many extra minutes ahead/behind every damn train like today maiming the allowable spacing density.
 
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DominusNovus

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Haven’t taken the Lakeshore Limited in over a decade. Used to be ~$20 between Boston and points west to the state line (Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield). I just checked it, and its only $9 now.

Did they drop the price during the pandemic or is it normally this cheap now?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Haven’t taken the Lakeshore Limited in over a decade. Used to be ~$20 between Boston and points west to the state line (Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield). I just checked it, and its only $9 now.

Did they drop the price during the pandemic or is it normally this cheap now?
I think it got reduced when the Valley Flyer was extended from Springfield to Greenfield; it's schlepping off the same CTDOT/MassDOT quasi-commuter subsidy that the Springfield Shuttles and now VF do. Not that too many people are going to be attacted by a train as infrequent as the LSL for hitting a connection, so nothing strategic at all about the pricing. I'm guessing that when they were hashing out the subsidy paperwork for the VF extension to Greenfield they uncovered a favorable low-income loophole they could port over to the intrastate LSL leg and ran with it.
 

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Funds appropriated for design of a new Brattleboro Amtrak station, replacing spartan current stop with a modern ADA facility. Will include State of Vermont's first ever full-high platform (station has pre-existing freight passing track).


That woo-woo noise you hear is Valley Flyer being beckoned a +1 extra poke past Greenfield.
 
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Tom Nevers

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It hasn’t been posted yet. In addition to the NNEPRA site, I’m also monitoring this Maine DOT page https://www.maine.gov/mdot/planning/ptldtranportationstudy/
Whether they move the station or not, I’d like to see the pedestrian experience improved. I usually walk down Congress, make a left on Frederic then make a right on 1A to reach the station. The 295 underpass is poorly lit and uncomfortable at night.
NNEPRA posted minutes from the September BoD meeting that include this note concerning the PTC,

“Bruce Van Note provided a brief update on the Portland Transportation Study. The Study is being finalized for comment by stakeholders but does not show any of the proposed locations having a large benefit over any other site. Maine DOT hopes to have a draft of the report ready soon.”

As I mentioned previously, I do hope they’ll consider improving the experience of walkers and cyclists if the station remains at the current location.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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NNEPRA posted minutes from the September BoD meeting that include this note concerning the PTC,

“Bruce Van Note provided a brief update on the Portland Transportation Study. The Study is being finalized for comment by stakeholders but does not show any of the proposed locations having a large benefit over any other site. Maine DOT hopes to have a draft of the report ready soon.”

As I mentioned previously, I do hope they’ll consider improving the experience of walkers and cyclists if the station remains at the current location.
That's the "overrating Thompson's Point TOD by orders of magnitude" finger on the scale right there. There's no way the crapola PTC layover for the multi-legged reverse scores par with something near old Union Station...but NNEPRA has long relied on intensity-of-belief over best-practice when parsing that situation.

As progressive as they are overall as transpo advocates, they do succumb to insider-Maine blinders from time to time. This is a frustratingly obvious example of where they still need to step outside their bubble and smell reality.
 

Norval Elliot

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Amtrak's Vermonter is now limited to service between WAS and NYP. (The leg to NHV has been severed.)

While Amtrak has yet to post the foregoing change among its "adjustments," the Vermonter no longer appears beyond New York on the schedule. Perhaps the train should be rechristened the New Yorker.
 
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jass

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I dont understand why not just cancel it and call it a regional for now?
 

MjolnirMan

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I'm not really sure about the best place to post this, but I came across the Transit Forward RI 2040 Master Plan that was released this August, and saw the following:
Cross-Honored Fares with Amtrak will Fill Gaps in Service and Provide Access to Faster Service
RIDOT is planning to implement a cross-honor fare agreement with Amtrak that will provide the ability for Providence Line passholders to ride select Amtrak trains. This will provide more frequent service to passholders as well as access to faster and more comfortable trains, and fill gaps in off-peak service
This is listed as a "Short-Term Improvement", "close to launching", and in the "1 to 4 years" project list. I'm assuming "select" will mean Northeast Regional only, not Acela, but that's still a massive improvement. Combined with the recent MBTA CR service changes, this means BOS/PVD train headways slightly better than 1hr all day. As a frequent commuter on that section, it was always frustrating to watch an empty NER pull away towards Boston while having to wait for a delayed and overcrowded MBTA car.
 

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