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

sneijder

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Dumb question.

If South Station is pretty close to full, how exactly do they expect to increase frequencies, assuming SSX or NSRL doesn't happen?
The last transitmatters report found that by re-doing all the switches and giving dedicated platforms for each line they could increase increase track speed up to 30mph in the entire SS approach and effectively reduce the turnaround time by half and double the capacity.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The last transitmatters report found that by re-doing all the switches and giving dedicated platforms for each line they could increase increase track speed up to 30mph in the entire SS approach and effectively reduce the turnaround time by half and double the capacity.
Problem with that (and why TM's SSX opposition is irrational) is that the platform needs for each line are not static. Amtrak is the aggravating factor there as their schedules are fundamentally different from commuter and come in dips and surges all day. This impacts commuter NEC users most directly as Providence/Stoughton, Needham, and Franklin have to routinely get bumped from their idealized platform slots to fan further out across more switches when an Amtrak surge hits during the peak period. Worcester and the Old Colony lines, being slotted at the far ends, have fewer such conflicts. But unfortunately the near-Atlantic Ave. side to middle platforms have an inherent instability. This is made worse by the fact that Amtrak, which goes in/out in revenue service on the Cove interlocking (NEC/Worcester) side of the terminal, has to make a non-revenue deadhead to/from Southampton Yard on the Tower 1 (Old Colony & Fairmount) side for between-run duties (changing ends on Widett Loop for all NE Regionals and Lake Shore Ltd.'s/Inlands, crew changes and food service restock for everything period, and occasional toilet pumping). That makes the surges worse, as the commuter trains must fan out...but then get pinned onto the platform by Amtrak needing to cross a bunch more switches during non-revenue duties. This is especially bad when the commuter train that's pinned can't simply be re-badged to whatever the next outbound schedule is, since a Needham peak train is going to have way fewer cars than a Providence peak train and be woefully inappropriate for swapping roles.

The biggest upside to the pure track-work SSX is restoration of tracks and revamping of switches so the terminal becomes more or less symmetrical again on the Cove and Tower A sides. It reduces the pinning-in-place for commuter trains when Amtrak has a surge that swaps from revenue-in to non-revenue -out to non-revenue -in to revenue-out in a short span because fewer paths get blocked, and the additional platforms period allow for more slush options in the middle for Amtrak to fan out when one of their surges conflicts with the more even churn of commuter runs. Thus, you can have set platform assignments and much quicker turnarounds all the same per the TM recs. Where TM can't seem to quite grasp it is that the extra platforms are a requirement of the restored switch symmetry that relieves the pressure and enables all the other optimization they recommend. They are unfortunately taking somebody's bait and opposing the project lock, stock because of the real-estate empire-building lard that's bloating the cost. Stuff that SHOULD be wholly divorced from the bare track work so the cost valuations (and whose backs it goes on) can be sane...but unfortunately is goading a lot of folks into throwing baby out with the bathwater instead of trying to sanefully segment the unrelated moving parts of the project.


TL;DR...you have to build SSX--the track & platform work portion--to net meaningful optimization. And that optimization is needed whether we build NSRL or not because it's the difference between a smooth-performing terminal and a crap-performing terminal when Amtrak and T schedules collide in waves at various points during the day. Unfortunately pols and advocates have locked themselves into a zero-sum game over it where all the headhouse and Dot Ave. real estate extras piled onto the price are warping the value proposition like a funhouse mirror, such that some advocates are making the excess real estate lard an indictment of the base track work. That's bad; TM can't enact nearly enough of the "switch optimization" it wants by canceling the project outright. Some degree of track/platform expansion has to happen, and something has to give with their reflex to oppose in-total. But for whatever reason cognitive dissonance has got the sides locking horns over this without any clear effort to simplify their way to a solution by stripping out the real estate cogs into separate projects like they should be. I credit Baker/Pollack for running a good interference game over SSX because it's got the transit advocates distracted and contradicting themselves whereas with just about every other initiative (RUR and--minus the doddering-old-fool Duke/Salvucci faction--all things NSRL) they're immaculately on-point and have the Administration on the run.
 

joe

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Absolutely. Arguably we need the FRA-compliant DMU's market to un-freeze to put all the tools to work, but frozen solid it continues to be...longer than anyone thought it would go for. The original RFP for Nippon-Sharyo equipment on the Fairmount LIne from over half-decade ago was a 24-car (married-triplet) base order. With N-S shutting its doors soon after, that's exactly the kind of quantities that are much too small to open an assembly factory when nearly all EMU and coach orders (or both in the case of the Bombardier MLV's) are far larger. So unfortunately finding a way around the deep freeze means finding a way to increase the unit quantities to something "general purpose". That unfortunately is very hard with DMU's when fuel efficiency stinks on a trans-495 schedule compared to P-P, the better-than-PP/much-worse-than-EMU acceleration only finds its niche on certain stop spacings most likely to reside on intra-128 schedules, and the extra fuel/engine bulk makes hybridizing the setup with trailers for capacity management far more difficult than, say, the plug-and-play MLV's. They'd have to filet diesel ops to keep the cost margins appropriate for each type of equipment, but that pigeonholes DMU's into a very small fleet size (which would be fine if it the market hadn't already spoken such volumes about how that doesn't wash with Buy America). 'Round and 'round we go.

I wish Bombardier would qualify something for the relaxed regs too, but they show zero indication of wanting to. And why should they? 600+ MLV's 'slush'-orderable, going gangbusters for the GO Transit electrification order of 8-inch boarding BLV EMU's that'll be almost as large units-wise, then no doubt a single-level product of some sort to cap off the modular product offerings. Moving a dozen DMU's here and there between those monster EMU and P-P orders means nothing to them. They're happy to keep that product in Europe where the build quantities are much larger. If the Canadian gov't charity doesn't compel it under their "Buy Canadian" home-field advantage, then they see less than nothing to chase wrestling with "Buy America".


So it's getting to the point where now that RUR is a go we have to start plotting for what the Plan B's are going to be if the market doesn't jar loose in the given time frame. Because this deep freeze has outlasted prediction and is persisting into a volatile tariff environment which means the small-unit orders really aren't rounding out the mix like they used to. I think those Plan B's have to include a 12-year max (no more, even the pretty-good condition Pullmans and rebuilt F40PH-3C's aren't going to stretch longer than that) of subbing the P-P equipment on seeder routes with aggressive PoP automation and precision trainset management...so long as there's an up-front transition plan for moving off the costlier-to-run (but very much schedule-capable) equipment when better stuff is available. We can do that much, and it doesn't have to succumb to the "vehicle is the service"-itis of the initial Fairmount/Indigo DMU plan so long as there's an established budget + pecking order of wean-offs to electric equipment or _____ TBD.
Do you have it on good authority that FRA is likely to impose operating conditions under (b)(2)(iii) on 238.201(b)(2) compliant equipment that would make it unusable for this application? Or somehow otherwise put the kibosh on it? I had the impression TexRail had the authority to operate among traditionally compliant passenger equipment and some degree of freight traffic (maybe not heavy mainline?) without temporal separation, but I haven't gotten around to FOIAing the bits of their waiver submittals that didn't seem to go in the public docket file. Really eager to see what happens when we see the first couple of alternative complaint projects begin operating under the new regs, rather than a waiver.
 

Semass

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RE: South Station.
Please forgive me if this is dumb or fantastical because I just don't know.

Is it possible to "stack" more than one trains on a single platform? For instance, if you had two trains that would leave in relatively short succession could you park both on one of the long platforms and the depart in order? Some of the middle platforms seem long enough.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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RE: South Station.
Please forgive me if this is dumb or fantastical because I just don't know.

Is it possible to "stack" more than one trains on a single platform? For instance, if you had two trains that would leave in relatively short succession could you park both on one of the long platforms and the depart in order? Some of the middle platforms seem long enough.
The platforms aren't long enough. Old Colony berths are 6 cars (shorter than average until you blow up USPS), most of the rest are a T-regulation 9 cars (Providence already runs some 8-car trips), and some of the middle berths used by Amtrak are 12-car for max-length NE Regionals. When an average consist goes 5 cars that means stacking is impossible without having closed-door cars on the lead train. And that clobbers dwells, which is doubly bad when the lead train has to board fastest to get out of the way.

Only way to lengthen any platforms is building SSX since that unsquishes the switch layout. All platforms including Old Colony would round up to the 9-car T max and Amtrak would net a couple more berths of 12-car flex to absorb Regionals growth. But it isn't possible with the switch mashup to unsquish enough to go super-long across the board.
 

ulrichomega

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RE: South Station.
Please forgive me if this is dumb or fantastical because I just don't know.

Is it possible to "stack" more than one trains on a single platform? For instance, if you had two trains that would leave in relatively short succession could you park both on one of the long platforms and the depart in order? Some of the middle platforms seem long enough.
The longest platform is definitely long enough for this, as I've been on trains that needed to be pushed into the station by a following train. However, I'm sure there are a number of massive caveats and asterisks following that statement, not the least of which is that I'm pretty sure the longest platforms are generally used by Amtrak, and they wouldn't be able to fit two trains on them, and their operations wouldn't be able to take advantage of such a move given how they need to come in and out of service.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Do you have it on good authority that FRA is likely to impose operating conditions under (b)(2)(iii) on 238.201(b)(2) compliant equipment that would make it unusable for this application? Or somehow otherwise put the kibosh on it? I had the impression TexRail had the authority to operate among traditionally compliant passenger equipment and some degree of freight traffic (maybe not heavy mainline?) without temporal separation, but I haven't gotten around to FOIAing the bits of their waiver submittals that didn't seem to go in the public docket file. Really eager to see what happens when we see the first couple of alternative complaint projects begin operating under the new regs, rather than a waiver.
Can't see it ever happening here, because northside you've got one of the biggest freight customers in New England (Boston Sand & Gravel) switching dozens of cars of heavy crushed stone right in the gut of North Station's main interlocking. And NSRL would be no different portaling up in exactly the same spot.

South you've got CSX-Readville running all day touching the NEC/Franklin/Fairmount. While the activity level is pretty tame by freight standards, Amtrak being the terminal + NEC dispatch lord and ruler means they're going to have little stomach for unorthodox waivers when it's their dispatchers shouldering the liability. Extreme unlikelihood of a co-sign from them; that's worth the turf warrage from their insurance perspective.
 

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