Regional Rail (RUR) & North-South Rail Link (NSRL)

Riverside

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“RER” is indeed ridiculous to say aloud in French. However, I really like the idea of backronyming it to “Regional Electric Rail.”

“T-REX” is fun, but 1) is already attached to a vaguely similar plan in NYC and 2) obviously connotes “dinosaur”, which may not be what the T wants to frame a modernization effort as.
 

Arlington

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And they may get both. Let this be a lesson to every town in the Boston area: make a lot of noise. Both Somerville and Lynn have had outspoken mayors bulldoze the MBTA's priorities-setting process under the FMCB.
It seems completely appropriate: if you have a voter-dense area that currently uses buses, and in unanimous in favor of rail that they should go to the head of the list, particularly if willing to densify/TOD around stations.

Far better to use Lynn and Somerville as models of "pull" than to re-run the Greenbush "pushback" playbook of having to bribe (with a tunnel) and area to take $500m of rail tha tthey then don't use.
 

jass

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Forget T-Rex.

Call it the Lobster Express.

No one said it had to make sense (see Charlie Card).
 

HenryAlan

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“RER” is indeed ridiculous to say aloud in French. However, I really like the idea of backronyming it to “Regional Electric Rail.”
And just imagine the promotional video, to the tune of electric slide: RER -- it's electric!
 

Equilibria

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It seems completely appropriate: if you have a voter-dense area that currently uses buses, and in unanimous in favor of rail that they should go to the head of the list, particularly if willing to densify/TOD around stations.

Far better to use Lynn and Somerville as models of "pull" than to re-run the Greenbush "pushback" playbook of having to bribe (with a tunnel) and area to take $500m of rail tha tthey then don't use.
That's fine when it's Somerville and Lynn doing it... what if Scituate or Dover (or New Bedford/Fall River) did it next? The discussion has been full of comments from people in Worcester and Providence asking to be first in line for 15-minute service.
 

George_Apley

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I hope this does not preclude BLX to Lynn. I think there is still plenty of density and demand for the heavy rail and its ~5 minute headways.
That's going to be the next big advocacy fight. There's nothing politicians and bureaucrats love more than "either/or" solutions rather than "both/and", and RER+BLX is certainly a BOTH/AND solution to North Shore commute patterns.
 

George_Apley

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That's fine when it's Somerville and Lynn doing it... what if Scituate or Dover (or New Bedford/Fall River) did it next? The discussion has been full of comments from people in Worcester and Providence asking to be first in line for 15-minute service.
They don't have the constituent base that metro-Boston cities do. There's a big difference between Somerville and Lynn pushing the MBTA to *meet service demands* compared to Scituate asking for high levels of service that aren't currently warranted by demand. I know you were just spitballing an example, but the idea of Dover loudly demanding frequent rail service is laughable seeing as they killed off any possible extension Needham Line years ago. Needham btw will never get RER-frequency trips because of NEC traffic loads. If Needham, Dover, etc. aren't careful, their advocacy will get Needham Line split between a GLX and an OLX. More frequent service! Definitely a longer trip for Needham riders through Newton and Back Bay/Fenway though.
 

whighlander

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I agree and my bias shows in that, as Moderator renaming this thread, could not bring myself to insert the "Urban" into Regional Rail, but still, in the interests of search-and-find, think that people are going to be searching for RUR and NSRL. And the act of renaming (away from Commuter Rail and toward something that evokes an all-day mode), was a pretty big political shift and victory for TransitMatters, even if the actual branding sucks.

ArchBoston, and Railroad.net have used RER as shorthand-brand until now. RER is a French (originally Parisian) acronym Réseau Express Régional (transliterates as Network Express Regional or Regional Express Network), and is not particularly catchy either though transit nerds know *exactly* what is meant by it.

London calls their (rough) equivalent the London Overground to stress that it has subway-like operations, but is surface rail.

If we wanted to Backronym RER to mean Regional Electric Rail, that'd be OK by me.
Auf Deutch
S-Bahn though some might expect the Green Line @ BU to be a part of it

But being a bit more serious -- the Urban part is important to the electrification story -- you just can't justify spending the amount of money it takes to electrify the rail network to the NH border and Worcester at this time

Maybe after a decade of experience and understanding of the cost / benefits these boundaries can be extended -- BUT for now we are talking connecting the core to established cities which can serve a extra-room for Boston / Cambridge

even the fiction of reverse commutes is mostly fiction -- there only for political reasons
 

Arlington

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Waiting for electrification seems like another kick the can down the road plan.
How so?

"Down the road" was always going to include BOTH a 20 year fleet-replacement cycle AND a yards-and-shops upgrade AND a level-boarding platforms/clearances project

We can't get to level boarding and single-level EMUs all that quickly, and we can't string wire all that quickly.

Moving "down the road" is going to require a phased implementation. F-Line and FMCB each have their engineering-or-political reasons why they choose the phases they do, but everybody agrees (don't we?) that it is all going to happen about 1-line-at-a-time.

Electrification starts with the north Providence yard and EMU rolling stock for the Providence Line, and immediately frees up a whole bunch of Krotems.

Hopefully the pace will represent enough new capacity that the Krotems can be redeployed into (Northside) lines and yards that are ready for more-frequent but not-quite-EMU-endgame frequency.
 

Java King

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“RER” is indeed ridiculous to say aloud in French. However, I really like the idea of backronyming it to “Regional Electric Rail.”

“T-REX” is fun, but 1) is already attached to a vaguely similar plan in NYC and 2) obviously connotes “dinosaur”, which may not be what the T wants to frame a modernization effort as.
I like the Melbourne terminology of Metro Rail for close to the city and Regional Rail for further out.
https://regionalrailrevival.vic.gov.au/

RRR is nice with "Regional Rail Revival" message.
 

Java King

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The single-tracked sections of the Old Colony Lines through Dorchester and Quincy are likely to blame.
I don't doubt this at all, and I'm sure that's the pinch point. However, I don't like when the current report states that Old Colony service is 30 minutes peak and 60 minutes off-peak and no changes would be made. To me, that's just dead wrong. We don't have 60 minute off-peak service by a LONG shot.
 

Tallguy

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Arlington -- some won't like this but here's the bottom line as I see this:

Suffolk Downs [formerly Amazonia] -- which while it has issues -- really has amazing potential for development along the Blue Line -- it could be more with better interface to the other lines

As for the rest of the near-by undeveloped or under developed areas:
Lynn, Chelsea and Everett are primed for reconquesta [in a good way]
These places are close to the core, have been cities for a long time and so have city like features [including a lot of nice old houses] some nice parks and Lynn even has its own harbor and shoreline [plus Nahant as a State run beach]
They have fallen from being industrial hotspots of the late 19th through mid 20th C and now are underutilized -- none of them will ever be Kendall's or even Seaports -- but they could very well become Alewife's or Assembly's -- and become heavy on middle income home owners
What they lack is what an EMU-based rail can deliver -- prompt, easy connectivity to the core -- and importantly easy access to Logan if the Blue to RER easy connection [i.e. moving sidewalk] is made at Wonderland - the connectivity to Kendall and the Seaport can be really enhanced through either a DTX HUB or Red-Blue @ Charles / MGH

This kind of investment in transportation will enable another couple of decades of Boston / Cambridge core growth because the folks to populate the next gen of Amazon's , Googles, Akamai's , etc., will be able to find reasonably affordable housing with good access and relatively short reliable commutes

As for Salem and Newburyport -- that's a vestige of the era when the Finance People all lived on the North Shore and commuted via North Station to State Street -- I don't see future Googlers hanging out with the Gov.

Worcester is still too far to support 15 minute frequencies. Plymouth has a lot of land -- but it lacks any infrastructure and has a small town vibe

However -- Framingham as a newly minted and developable city [with huge growth potential being both on the Turnpike and ideally located on Rt-9 between Rt-128 and I-495 is on the fringe of the critical distance -- perhaps circa 2035

The other one that could benefit from EMU high frequency service is of course Waltham -- but there are issues with where the business and people are located and where the stations are located

I think the rest is just feel good stuff from Aiello and probably Pollack

The one really key essential link is from MIT-ish to Lechmere and ultimately North Station [west station on the other end eventually] -- whether via a reborn Grand Junction or something else along that general right of way -- it should be implemented by a dedicated bus now and later converted to something more robust
So, I think that the North Station mantra is shorthand for GL/OL access and CR. Fitch burg Line access for Kendall is of course, Porter, with the possibility of squeezing some kind of multmodal station at Twin City. OL/CR northbound access happens with GL to Sullivan cheap UR extension through the GL yard. GJ GL to Lechmere gives you OL southbound @NS or Haymarket. GJ by CR is just too difficult. You can't depress it, you can't raise it.(except at Mass Ave)
Putting railway gates at Main and Binney is a serious non-starter. GL leaves a MUCH smaller footprint on the area.
 

Tallguy

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They don't have the constituent base that metro-Boston cities do. There's a big difference between Somerville and Lynn pushing the MBTA to *meet service demands* compared to Scituate asking for high levels of service that aren't currently warranted by demand. I know you were just spitballing an example, but the idea of Dover loudly demanding frequent rail service is laughable seeing as they killed off any possible extension Needham Line years ago. Needham btw will never get RER-frequency trips because of NEC traffic loads. If Needham, Dover, etc. aren't careful, their advocacy will get Needham Line split between a GLX and an OLX. More frequent service! Definitely a longer trip for Needham riders through Newton and Back Bay/Fenway though.
Needham GL with Type 10s should make it to Park in the same time from Needham Center, less time than CR from Heights
 

tangent

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How so?

"Down the road" was always going to include BOTH a 20 year fleet-replacement cycle AND a yards-and-shops upgrade AND a level-boarding platforms/clearances project

We can't get to level boarding and single-level EMUs all that quickly, and we can't string wire all that quickly.

Moving "down the road" is going to require a phased implementation. F-Line and FMCB each have their engineering-or-political reasons why they choose the phases they do, but everybody agrees (don't we?) that it is all going to happen about 1-line-at-a-time.

Electrification starts with the north Providence yard and EMU rolling stock for the Providence Line, and immediately frees up a whole bunch of Krotems.

Hopefully the pace will represent enough new capacity that the Krotems can be redeployed into (Northside) lines and yards that are ready for more-frequent but not-quite-EMU-endgame frequency.
Just from what I have read so far there is no realistic plan for actually doing this in the next decade. Picking a less expensive option that would have been more doable in the nearer term like DMU service for a few stops would have actually put pressure on the state to pull together the money to do this in the next 5 to 10 years. Choosing the 15 to 20 year option kicks the can down the road. Good to have a longer term vision, but not worth much.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Just from what I have read so far there is no realistic plan for actually doing this in the next decade. Picking a less expensive option that would have been more doable in the nearer term like DMU service for a few stops would have actually put pressure on the state to pull together the money to do this in the next 5 to 10 years. Choosing the 15 to 20 year option kicks the can down the road. Good to have a longer term vision, but not worth much.
How are DMU's doable in the nearer-term? You can't buy FRA-compliants today or for at least the next 5-7 years because of terrible business decisions by some of last decade's most ballhyooed manufacturers colliding head-on with "Buy America" sucking the life out of small-unit orders. You literally can get EMU's on the property fresh from the factory decked in Purple Line livery in sooner time than that by purchasing Bombardier MLV coaches and cab cars with the upcoming 200-unit coach RFP, then making a deal with NJ Transit for a couple dozen of their 'slush' MLV power car options.

If you're going to non-specifically criticize them for kicking the can, try picking an example that isn't a strawman's delight at can-kickery as the counterexample. Frankly, if you're concerned about service starts while they get the hardware side of the upgrades settled then the question to ask is "How can we use the soon-to-be-surplus Pullman single-levels, Bombardier cab cars, and a bumper crop of Amtrak leaser locomotives about to become available to service ASAP while the electrification backfills on a timetable TBD?" The last thing we need is a some talking points' repeat of the Patrick Administration's "The vehicle IS the service" DMU purchase bullcrap imposing artificially long timetables on seeding more frequent corridor service because the pols decreed they must blow a wad on the sexy toy before making any promises to run frequent. When in fact there's nothing the current equipment is physically incapable of running if repurposed for fast turns, other than you want to keep that bridge era of diesel push-pulls covering for EMU's-in-wait to be as short as possible because the ops costs chew will start to get unfavorable a few years on. But spare us this "no realistic options" tripe. A whole freaking lot has yet to be prioritized for this rollout, including what to do with the coming equipment surplus to front-load more frequencies sooner.
 

Arlington

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If we went for single level EMUs, could we get Kawasaki M8 or M9s fitted with pantographs and 60hz AC?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If we went for single level EMUs, could we get Kawasaki M8 or M9s fitted with pantographs and 60hz AC?
No. Those are overweight, overcustomized unicorns designed for New York only. The M9's shouldn't be anywhere near as insanely complicated as they're proving to be, but LIRR's and Kawasaki's mismanagement of them is a case study in mission creep.

There is no "off-shelf" single-level EMU make since the Silverliner V's are a dead-end Brokem lineage that SEPTA is bypassing in favor of parasitic NJT MLV options. And Montreal's MR-90's are pushing 25 years old and would need hefty generational system overhauls to find their place with 2020's makes. Unfortunately that only leaves 2 options: MLV's, 2 x 2 seat bi-level but based on a proven coach model and debugged on NJT's dime, or taking chances with a fresh Euro adaptation in less pants-on-head stupid fashion than Caltrain is doing with its FrankenStadlers.


TransitMatters may yell otherwise, but I don't think single-level vs. bi-level is a nearly big enough hill to die on. If we can really outfit a fleet of MLV's without having to be test guinea pigs, that's a once-in-a-lifetime steal that's hard to pass up. Implementing dynamic PoP and funding level boarding like we mean it ultimately make a much bigger difference to dwell times, and the switch to 2 x 2 seating from 3 x 2 is big unto itself. Bombardier has an overarching strategy after it's perfected this MLV self-propelled to do up the 8-inch boarding BLV coach in the same power car setup, because Toronto is overwhelmingly likely to adopt that. After they get the BLV variant into production they'll turn their attention to filling the single-level gap in the product catalogue. Meaning we probably won't have to wait forever to get our EMU's differentiated by intra-128 flats and outside-128 bi's. The second big supplemental order should be ready to start that differentiation process. So it depends on how flexible they want to be up-front buying the most readily available vehicles for service starts vs. 'stanning for some sort of unassailable perfection that may not matter much for the first 15 years where this buildout is in a process of rapid evolution.
 

Arlington

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As a 125mph rated EMU, the MLV seems good enough to me for launch on PVD-BOS* and we can worry later about dwell times.

Maryland's MLV (for use in the NEC) is the slightly-less-tall car in the middle of this test consist:


* IIRC, RI didn't string catenary PVD-Wickford
 
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HenryAlan

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I don't doubt this at all, and I'm sure that's the pinch point. However, I don't like when the current report states that Old Colony service is 30 minutes peak and 60 minutes off-peak and no changes would be made. To me, that's just dead wrong. We don't have 60 minute off-peak service by a LONG shot.
I don't think that's what they are saying. Here's the quote again:

*Note: Approximate 30 minute peak period and 60 minute off-peak period service applies to all stations, with the exception of Mishawum, Plimptonville, Wickford Jctn,
TF Green and Old Colony/SCR Stations, which are consistent with today’s service schedules.
My interpretation of this is that everywhere would get 30/60 with the exception of the stations and lines listed after the words "with the exception." Those will remain as currently scheduled, which is to say not 30/60, but whatever they currently have for service levels.
 

jklo

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Needham GL with Type 10s should make it to Park in the same time from Needham Center, less time than CR from Heights
Would Type 10 really be able to go faster? Riverside to Park is 40 minutes typically and the issue I've seen has been more getting bogged down at Kenmore than anything else. Needham Heights would be at least that long and likely longer. And Park is a destination for sure but Back Bay and South Station are a bigger draw and I would think would be better with CR, even without electrification.

If it was possible to keep both, that would be ideal.
 

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