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

Joel N. Weber II

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A single full length high level platform at each station would be better for wheelchair accessibility than having an inferior platform on one or both sides, and any gap filler thing becomes a new thing for the T to maintain that might introduce new maintenance challenges. The T has plenty of experience maintaining crossovers, even if sometimes they're a challenge in the winter...
 

F-Line to Dudley

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A single full length high level platform at each station would be better for wheelchair accessibility than having an inferior platform on one or both sides, and any gap filler thing becomes a new thing for the T to maintain that might introduce new maintenance challenges. The T has plenty of experience maintaining crossovers, even if sometimes they're a challenge in the winter...
No, it wouldn't. Because the OTP of the T's and Amtrak's and especially Pan Am's is nowhere near robust enough to play bugfark crossover games in this statewide worst spot for midday congestion amongst all 3 carriers and not have the schedule shit the bed multiple times per week when somebody gets in the way. This isn't even the T's railroad to dispatch; Pan Am dispatch is calling the shots all points north of Lowell Jct. You can't stake perfect laboratory-condition timings to a too-many-chefs riddled stretch of track like this.

A mini-high is 100.0000% accessible by federal ADA standards. The only reason the MAB's tougher-than-feds accessibility stance granted exemptions here is: because single-platform crossover rope-a-dope games won't ever work reliably here. Aggregate accessibility is harmed--for everyone--by garbage-unreliable schedules created by mis-timed slots. And that is all why the MAB didn't put a gun to the MBTA's and Pan Am's heads to bend spacetime with physics-defying dispatch acumen here.


"Yeah, but. . ."

No.

"But what if. . ."

NO.

All parties--T, MAB, Town of Andover--made up their fucking minds 5 years ago on this and aren't going to revisit now because someone is outthinking their own selves with some ever-grander mobius strip of a crossover sequence in perfectly theoretical laboratory conditions. Build a time machine and start crashing past-tense Andover town meetings if you want to influence someone to a different decision. Beating the dead horse to its constituent molecules isn't going to sell a decision that's years-sealed.
 
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tysmith95

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Looking at the right of way for the defunct Essex railroad between Salem and Danvers Center, it looks like the right of way is mostly in tact.

Goes through dense neighborhoods.

It was only decommissioned for freight service in 85 so it shouldn't be too hard to recommission for commuter rail service.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Looking at the right of way for the defunct Essex railroad between Salem and Danvers Center, it looks like the right of way is mostly in tact.

Goes through dense neighborhoods.

It was only decommissioned for freight service in 85 so it shouldn't be too hard to recommission for commuter rail service.
Actually, it wasn't abandoned until 2005 because Pan Am held their trackage rights out-of-service for so many eons. That routing was considered as an either/or Peabody CR option in the 2004 North Shore Transit Improvements (see here...schematic renders of the routing are long gone to the Wayback Machine) along with the North Shore Mall routing...but Town of Danvers took out the 99-year rail trail lease in 2010 so that one's off the boards now. They are proceeding with trail design from Danversport to Liberty Tree Mall. Won't cross into Peabody until the burned-out Waters River bridge gets repaired by DCR some TBD years from now, but the whole of that branch from Peabody Sq. to Danversport is now completely toast as a CR consideration.


The other build Alt. to North Shore Mall on the ex- Salem & Lowell ROW is still very much in-play, and very loudly advocated by City of Peabody. ROW to 128 is owned by Peabody Municipal Light for their main feeder lines between downtown and West Peabody, and they enthusiastically gave their support back in the '04 study for selling the T the 1-mile ROW as long as their power lines were reaccommodated next to the tracks. Peabody Light is City-owned, so would be a public-public transaction. Power co. has banned any rail trail proposals on their ROW, so the short disconnected rump of Independence Greenway Trail by the mall won't ever span to the other side of 128. It's not as perfectly grade-separated as the Danvers Branch was exiting Peabody Sq., but it's a slightly shorter routing with North Shore doing a bit better on TOD density than Liberty Tree & Endicott Plaza on the other routing. Lahey Clinic and Harvard Vanguard have huge facilities right next to where the would-be CR station would go, and Simon Malls is bulldozing 114K sq. ft. of old big-box refuse on the north end of the Mall to re-densify with an "athletic lifestyle resort" (whatever that means). Liberty Tree is still sucking wind as a big-box dead-ender, so maybe that's for the best that the open-ended transit pipe with all the local advocacy has consolidated around North Shore.


As for how service gets introduced...Salem-turning RUR is alone and by itself enough reason to reinstate the Peabody Branch portal out of the tunnel and build the 450-ft. semi-curved full-high on the outline of the front mini-lot at Salem Station graded specifically for that purpose. Reconnecting the track gives the T immediate access to 3-tack North St. freight yard along Bridge St. as a layover for 2-4 short Urban Rail sets. Building the Peabody-side platform with the better-positioned traffic throttling out of the tunnel is also cheaper than bringing in the excavators for a facing 2nd-track mainline platform and squaring the construction & permanent ped platform access with the condos next door. They probably get to take a half-decade punt on that decision by choosing the Peabody side first, so even if the plan is just Salem-terminating runs they'll be doing the work on that side of the station. From there it's a matter of rationalizing the scruples of going +1 more to Peabody Sq. on a scant 1.5 miles that's perma-active for 3-day-a-week freights and has a heavy cheerleading section in-town for service at least as far as the Square @ Railroad Ave. From there they just deadhead back to the layover outside Salem, and don't need to build any sort of lasting facility until they get to 128.

If you get that far, there's absolutely no reason not to Phase II it to North Shore/128 because the (2004 dollars) costs benchmarked by the North Shore study weren't anything to write home about. The City's loud advocacy will reach a crescendo, and they start running out of excuses to keep punting...so inevitability takes hold. In the mean time, watch the Rail Vision goings-on re: where the stiffest layering of Urban Rail service is going to get implemented on the Eastern Route. That missing 2nd-track mainline platform @ Salem is a vexing problem because they didn't show the foresight to get it over with when they were rebuilding the whole station site. So if the Peabody-side bailout is considerably less of a headache for rounding up Salem service to :15 minutes...they'll probably pick that off first and grab the yard access to clinch the service levels first...deal with joining hands with the City and condo residents over the new mainline platform later. And if that's how it goes, the installment-plan extension(s) to Peabody Sq. and/or 128 are pretty much in the bag because then it's too obvious not to.
 

The EGE

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All of those 2004 Major Investment Study docs can be found here. It's interesting to note that most of the potential projects were mapped out at "F-Line had one too many margaritas" level of detail, while the Peabody/Danvers service got rather more attention.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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These are the Peabody docs of most significance. . .

MIS Summary (p.35): https://web.archive.org/web/2011111...re_Transit_Improvements/Chapter_3.pdf#page=35

Render #1, Salem to Peabody Sq.: https://web.archive.org/web/2011111...t_Improvements/Figure_3_9_Peabody_11x17_1.pdf

Render #2, Peabody Sq. to North Shore Mall: https://web.archive.org/web/2011111...t_Improvements/Figure_3_9_Peabody_11x17_2.pdf


Being '04 in the days before RUR they were speccing 30-min peak/2-hr. off-peak service. That gets flattened now to :30-rules-all. $125M ('04 $$$) capital cost for the North Shore Mall vs. $119M ('04 $$$) for the now-defunct Danversport option. North Shore had higher ridership, though (+2600 weekdaily / +5600 daily net increase in transit usage on the peak/off-peak schedule), so cost-per-rider and ops costs were more attractive for North Shore. Those numbers have probably diverged significantly more in the 15 years since given the diverging TOD fortunes at densifying North Shore vs. stagnant big-box Liberty Tree. RUR utilization would shoot the top-line through the roof because Lahey is an all-day draw and last-mile buses can significantly densify across this whole region with :15 service @ hublet Salem and :30 or better @ diverging-route point Peabody Sq.

As per last post the fuck-up of not doing Salem's 2nd mainline platform when the station was torn up is going to be a problem for cramming :15 service up to Salem, so reopening the Peabody side is the 'easy' way to backfill the frequencies without needing to plot out bi-directional meets on the main platform or engaging pain-in-butt neighbors for half-decade on the mainline build. That's their shortcut punt to implementing baseline RUR and buying an extra 5-8 years of time to dawdle on the 2nd main platform. On Render #1 the circled area (overlaid on pre-garage Salem) corresponds to present-day Google on the tiny aux lot outside the garage, so they faithfully preserved this option in-full. Side platform would be a T-minimum 450 ft. coming out the portal (5 all-door set + front-door only on 6th car) with a DTMF switch at the garage driveway grade crossing for dumping gate queues while the train is stopped. North St. Yard layover is between the distance markers "15+00" and "25+00" on the render (I don't know if that's mileopost shorthand or what???). Per the render, Pan Am would remove the northbound wye and start using this more direct route for the freights so they no longer have to reverse, so the waterfront wye track probably becomes a path extension.

^^That much^^ could indeed be the setup just for the Salem Urban Rail short-turns, and just because it's easier for capacity to work that side of the station first rather than double-up the mainline platform.



From there you just look to the relative ease of adding Peabody Sq. on already-active track, where the Square being a diverging route for buses makes that +1 eminently useful even at :30 all-day. T circles the Dunkies property on Central St. as the would-be station. That's now obsolete. There's not enough room to cram more than a 250 ft. platform on the east side of the Central grade crossing without siting it in the middle of the switch for the South Peabody Branch turnout the freights use. City of Peabody has offered the municipal lot on the west side of the grade crossing along Railroad Ave.--the historic station site--instead. Room for a complete 800 ft. full-high if it started behind the Little Depot Diner building and spanned to the Sawyer St. grade crossing. Downright comfy room if Sawyer (glorified driveway for the muni lot) were cut and all the area to Crownshield St. were fair game for a nicer facility with bus waiting area. Danvers Rail Trail trail head would meet here from the north on the now-eliminated Danversport fork shown on Render #1. Anywhere from 40-60 parking spaces would be sacrificed for the platform footprint in the muni lot, maybe 20%+ of the deletions offsettable by re-striping elsewhere. And that's probably enough parking for a dense walkable downtown that craves more bus frequencies; this isn't freaking Norwood. Platform can be single-track full-high, but poured to Rowley-width 12 ft. island width so if necessary 2nd track can be laid on parking lot side and initial straight walkup access converted in future to up-and-over if need be. If the Square is Phase I terminus, idling trains would just deadhead 1 mile back to North St. Yard. No layover needed until final buildout to North Shore is complete. Very cheap production overall.

As hinted in last couple posts, if the T has to pursue the Peabody turnout at Salem for implementing :15 Urban Rail strictly to Salem because they fucked up on the 2nd mainline platform...it's almost faint accompli to just tack on the extra +1 to Peabody Sq. City of Peabody has said they are A-OK at chunking out Square vs. North Shore in separate installments if that's what brings the trains in, so watch the Rail Vision's implementation developments around Salem. If they've got easiest path for short-turns working Peabody side first solely for sake of Salem short-turns...then Peabody's got the "it's too easy not to!" sales pitch to hammer them with about lumping the Square in with that build. It's a very pro-rail suburb; they'll be working their RUR exploits to the hilt with that sales pitch.


Render #2 shows the base build to 128 on the Peabody Municipal Light ROW that is not ever going to be rail-trailed. Most of the cost is for wetlands permitting around Proctor Brook, the uni-bridge overpass spanning Northshore Rd. and 128, and outfitting the layover yard (which wouldn't need to be large on an intra-128 schedule) on the old ROW to ex- Lowell St. grade crossing. There might be minor NIMBY kvetching by Terrace Estates condos on Northshore Rd., but it's mostly their parking lot facing the ROW and not the actual dwellings. This being a city-owned ROW via the city-owned power co. and the city primarily pushing it means that the deck is stacked firmly against resident complaints, however. Render #2 sort of gives up trying with those 90-degree turns inside the North Shore parking lot. Forget those...Lahey long since infilled those paths, which weren't serious to begin with. Station site would be on the ROW at Essex Green Ln. cul de sac upon touchdown on the other side of 128 (you can see on Google that street is meant to be continued around the backside of Harvard Vanguard to span Essex Center Dr. for a full-on perimeter access road). And then the layover is direct-adjacent to the station. Since Simon Malls is shooting for Legacy Place faux-density with its redev of this site, there's probably going to be a mall shuttle van perpetually cycling around the perimeter road hitting the station at regular all-day intervals. And theoretically it can hop across MA 114 on the north end of its loop and do a quick hop to Liberty Tree too if that mall's owners paid in for it...covering the Danversport catchment into this site. Assume the Independence trail gets re-manicured to tie into the new station, and that the 128/Northshore Rd. overpass (which would be build 2-track just in case) can have a ped deck on it so the residential along Northshore Rd. and upper Lowell St. is in easy access.

High-leverage enough with enthusiastic enough local support that it's a gimme with RUR to Salem and at least entertaining the Peabody Sq. poke as a Phase I. And, fortuitously, the TOD trajectory at the Mall has swung in a much more favorable direction since the last close look 15 years ago with all the med facilities and the huge redev Simon is doing of the big-boxes to wean themselves off the more economically vulnerable tenants and faux-densify themself. The top-line demand here is going to project considerably better than it did in the '04 study because of that TOD, and the fact that now we're talking all-day frequent service not just conventional peak vs. off-peak.
 

Equilibria

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A little bit of ancillary news at MBTA board meeting talking about future commuter rail: A future "environmental justice" electric regional rail line to Chelsea/Everett/Lynn would likely stretch through Salem and to Beverly because it is easier to turn trains there.

Coulda gone to Peabody if they hadn't built the Salem garage...
 

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Coulda gone to Peabody if they hadn't built the Salem garage...
Well...at what frequencies to Beverly? That Salem single platform is 'the' chokepoint preventing :15 bi-directional Urban Rail, and I would hope Urban Rail is the threshold for the "environmental justice" they seek otherwise name-checking the term has no meaning. You aren't running it through the stet station infrastructure without headway gapping...no way, no how. So it's 2 choices: either gird up for battle with the condo neighbors for access from that side to a 2nd main platform scooped out of the hillside, or take the easy way out and do the Peabody-side platform on entirely existing T property to the entirely existing 3-track yard across the driveway. It doesn't have to span any further up the branch than a Salem Station turn if they don't want it to, but at some point they're going to have to stop being coy on what level of service this "justice" actually entails and state what capital work @ Salem Station they're willing to stick their necks out for delivering it. "No build" simply means "less-than..." service levels.
 

George_Apley

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So it's 2 choices: either gird up for battle with the condo neighbors for access from that side to a 2nd main platform scooped out of the hillside, or take the easy way out and do the Peabody-side platform on entirely existing T property to the entirely existing 3-track yard across the driveway. It doesn't have to span any further up the branch than a Salem Station turn if they don't want it to, but at some point they're going to have to stop being coy on what level of service this "justice" actually entails and state what capital work @ Salem Station they're willing to stick their necks out for delivering it. "No build" simply means "less-than..." service levels.
This. Just do this. FFS it's so obvious.
 

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This. Just do this. FFS it's so obvious.
That plus the fact that "build the second mainline platform" isn't the end of the issues. Beverly Depot is going to be one of the hardest lows on the whole system to raise to full-high because of the large historic depot building massed up against the southbound track. When building the new parking garage they took almost farcial pains to not touch a single inch of pre-existing station platform in order to escape any MA Architectural Board auto-triggers for enhancements big enough to force a full-high renovation. The garage overpass was painstakingly grafted on with a 15 ft. paved extension of the northbound platform to escape scot-free. So that means in addition to the single Salem platform creating a de facto 3-mile single-track railroad between the Salem State U. infill and Bev Depot platforms with the tunnel and swing bridge pushing Rockburyport OTP adherence to the outer limits with modest service increases, auto-door cars will have to cut out after the Salem stop for flipping traps at Beverly. With too little time between a pairing of such heavy-patronage stops for all traps on the train to get flipped, meaning that outbound-at-Bev will have limited doors open and an outsized station dwell. So will either inbound-at-Salem or--if Montserrat + North Bev are full-high--sacking inbound-at-Bev in the matching direction so they're taking the shortest knee possible between all-doors openings.

Any which way they are in a bind here, because even a full due-diligence design kickoff on Beverly mods is going to take many years in gestation and a lot of tortured community input because of the maximal degree of difficulty the building poses. And Salem has already boomeranged right back in their faces not 4 years after the ribbon-cutting on the new station. The all-in overfocus on that albatross of a garage got them punting on that 2nd main platform as an unnecessary frill...and now it's screwed them. Eventually it'll have to be done any which way for Rockburyport OTP because they can't surf the outsides of their schedule margins forever without it coming back to haunt them at the Chelsea grade crossings, at Reading Jct. where an RUR & Urban Rail layer cake on the Eastern Route has to merge with Urban Rail on the Western, and the North Station throat when everyone is flinging their layer cake. Much less if adding a Sullivan superstation between Reading Jct. and the NS throat ever becomes a thing, because then trip-wide OTP will have to be supremely precise and not risk its outer margins at all. That 2nd main platform do-over--so wasteful in light of the project just finished--will be a many-years-gestation process because side egress has to negotiate easements with the condos...who know damn well they're in the driver's seat this time around.

So, yeah...fact that the Peabody side is all their property, fact that the junction for the branch is inside the tunnel making an occupied mainline platform a non-issue for full green light through the thrown switch, and fact that they can stage an Urban Rail run here on all- auto-doors / zero trap-flips makes it a path of least resistance vs. a best-case timeline for touches at Salem Main + Bev Depot. If they want anything resembling a rapid rollout of denser service, time isn't their friend at kick-starting the mainline station touches. So they should be a lot more careful about using "environmental justice" as a human shield when those farcial garages are the antithesis of environmental justice, and the delays over those garages wasted half a decade in CLF lawsuits that were then perverted on the settlements to back out of other critical North Shore-serving transit projects. Perfectly cromulent "are we no longer doing phrasing?" choice of words for starters. But if you're going to go there, you have to say how justice is going to be delivered. If not reopening the Salem 2nd Main Platform saga--tail between legs a scant 4 years after shutting that door--then what? If Beverly's supposed to included in this "justice" but Salem single + tunnel + draw + low platform all conspire to make it impossible...then what? More buses from Salem backstopping to buy them time? That'll work, but they have to state that as one of the options if design-build on those platforms is going to be a slow process.

So what does "justice" entail? As before the 'no-build' options that don't touch any of the existing station facilities and just assume cramming the Eastern up to its physical OTP limits isn't justice at all, because it won't deliver the advertised frequencies at all. It'll water them down to something wider than :15 to make a further mockery out of the "justice" that the agency has been meting out to the North Shore for 30 years. If they're choosing to frame it that way, they better be prepared to answer some very substantive questions about how it'll all be done.
 

The EGE

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Fortunately, the ROW is quad-track width until the branch split at Beverly, as the B&M planned around 1910 to quad-track up to the split. Beverly shouldn't be too bad to full-high without affecting the historic depot. I can see three relatively easy options:
  • Build a full-high west-side platform north of the depot. No takings required, but may need to relocate a crossover.
  • Build a full-high west-side platform south of the depot. No takings required, but need to relocate an electric tower.
  • Build a full-high island platform at the present platform location. Some takings (probably a few feet of a building or two on Park Street) and have to rebuild Pleasant Street bridge.
Hard mode is to relocate the depot building back a few feet, as was done at Canton Junction. But I doubt that'll be necessary when any of the three above options would do just fine. Which one is best probably depends most on how Beverly wants to configure their downtown as far as station access. Peabody is absolutely a worthy destination, but I don't think that Beverly will be a blocker on the time/cost scale of electrification.

The conversation will hopefully also include double-tracking the Salem tunnel - not as a prerequisite for electrification, but to support the service scale-up that electrification makes possible. It won't be easy, but it's possible without a Big Dig level of disruption. The B&M built the 1958 tunnel extension on the west side of the street specifically to not preclude later double-tracking, and it's all cut-and-cover. Dig a pair of narrow trenches with the slurry wall method, deck over the top, then excavate the tunnel and pour the floor. Other than the Church-Essex block, Washington Street is wide enough that it should be fully possible to maintain pedestrian access to both sides of the street, and maintain cross-streets except for one-at-a-time closures. In return for the full scale of service that can then be provided, that's a level of disruption that Salem may be willing to deal with.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Fortunately, the ROW is quad-track width until the branch split at Beverly, as the B&M planned around 1910 to quad-track up to the split. Beverly shouldn't be too bad to full-high without affecting the historic depot. I can see three relatively easy options:
  • Build a full-high west-side platform north of the depot. No takings required, but may need to relocate a crossover.
  • Build a full-high west-side platform south of the depot. No takings required, but need to relocate an electric tower.
  • Build a full-high island platform at the present platform location. Some takings (probably a few feet of a building or two on Park Street) and have to rebuild Pleasant Street bridge.
Hard mode is to relocate the depot building back a few feet, as was done at Canton Junction. But I doubt that'll be necessary when any of the three above options would do just fine. Which one is best probably depends most on how Beverly wants to configure their downtown as far as station access. Peabody is absolutely a worthy destination, but I don't think that Beverly will be a blocker on the time/cost scale of electrification.

The conversation will hopefully also include double-tracking the Salem tunnel - not as a prerequisite for electrification, but to support the service scale-up that electrification makes possible. It won't be easy, but it's possible without a Big Dig level of disruption. The B&M built the 1958 tunnel extension on the west side of the street specifically to not preclude later double-tracking, and it's all cut-and-cover. Dig a pair of narrow trenches with the slurry wall method, deck over the top, then excavate the tunnel and pour the floor. Other than the Church-Essex block, Washington Street is wide enough that it should be fully possible to maintain pedestrian access to both sides of the street, and maintain cross-streets except for one-at-a-time closures. In return for the full scale of service that can then be provided, that's a level of disruption that Salem may be willing to deal with.
Actually, you wouldn't need to go tactical nuclear strike on the tunnel. It can handle much more throughput it were simply flanked at each portal with double-track stations as a timing mechanism. South Salem/Salem State U. infill--which just got endorsed in a major City referendum--is one of those crucial timing spots with Preferred Alt. station siting off Canal St./Ocean Ave. Double-up of the Salem mainline platform (semi-unfortunately) is the other. That's why it's such a groaner that they overspent to exclusivity on the garage and spaced on the 2nd main platform. The perma-solve could've been in place by 3 years from now with the SSU infill's construction, instead of now requiring >half-decade of re-haggling with the condo neighbors to do.

You can rapidly alternate directions and clear the single-track tunnel block with ease by rolling up the platform dwells and corrective pauses into small alternating-traffic windows for scooting through the tunnel. For Rockburyport schedules that's the perma-solve for managing interlaid :30 all-day headways to the endpoints without OTP getting ragged and imprecise around the Terminal District. You would have way more precision timing of opposite-direction than the 3+ miles of current de facto single-track dispatching between Beverly and the crossovers en route to Swampscott to have the on-platform pauses and only 1 scant mile between them...plus maneuverability to pull into either/or platform at either portal if the train sequence happens to be two outbounds or two inbounds riding each other's taillights. For strictly Rockburyport/non-Peabody purposes the schedules aren't ever going to dip below 30 minutes because of the drawbridges, lack of branchlines up north, and likelihood that a Newburyport-Portsmouth extension may only be running hourly inside NH and possibly cutting some of the :30 minute runs to Newburyport. So that pretty much does support your final-final configuration for the past-128 branches without needing to have a big debate about the tunnel. And the move to EMU's shortens the acceleration enough that diesel acceleration won't set the new throughput limiter...E-mode acceleration can pack the alternating-direction margins even tighter.

Peabody, on the other hand, has its track turnout inside the tunnel so presence of the SSU infill's platform throttle makes service density through the tunnel single-track even brisker than it is on the mainline...and with its single platform in addition to the final-configuration two platforms on the mainline side you can have open tunnel passage in one direction with 4 out of 5 occupied South Salem + Salem superstation platform berths. A big capacity jump on top. So for increasing the mainline to fullest Urban Rail frequencies the Peabody side will have to be leveraged at some point during the service upshifting, because the completed 2nd main platform only brings Rockburyport up to the :30 ceiling each branch supportable by the ensuing drawbridges. Any/all above and beyond that has to work the side turnout (again...actual running to Peabody an optional thing, as these can be strictly Salem turns). And any/all smoothing out of incidental Rockburyport frequency gapping caused in summer by heaviest seasonal usage of the upper drawbridges will be using Peabody-side slots as backfill. That in turn becomes crucial for managing the orderly turn of RUR & Urban Rail schedules at Reading Jct., Sullivan, and the NS throat. But it indeed all doable within the throughput of the tunnel if you simply work the complementing platform pieces to their fullest. So the tunnel really doesn't rate until midcentury as any sort of limiter for saturating demand.


Of course...the current-events reason we're talking about this is that they're making their (poorly-chosen) "environmental justice" pitch for not answering questions as to how they'll stage this. The 2nd main platform WAS a sorely missed opportunity that's now bitten them hard, and won't be a fast fix even with it eventually being non-optional. The state's saying nothing about the City's SSU infill advocacy; they're mum on the south-of-portal timing mechanism. They're explicitly name-checking Beverly to shut down the Peabody cheering squad, which shuts down questions about whether they'd open up the faster-to-construct Peabody-side turnout as a possible solve for the red tape that's going to make the 2nd main platform slow-going. You eventually need both for utter precision clock-facing, but you can at least seed it by working Rockburyport through the single platform at best adherence they'll bear and then working the turnout side to the hilt to smooth out any variance. By artificially shutting off all these ^^crucial timing mechanisms^^ and build sequence within from further public inquiry they're making the timetable for implementation of rapid North Shore service awfully squishy, and implicitly challenging the definition of whether understood :15 Urban Rail turns as defined by the Rail Vision are even going to be applicable here.

Because let's face it...if they refuse to go on-the-record about capital improvements to Salem Station :15 isn't doable without conflict-city Reading Jct. south when it's got to merge with :15 Reading Line service. Somebody...either the North Shore or Reading...is going to have asstacular OTP and gapped-out adherence to the clock if you try to run it through current conditions at Salem and are perpetually running ragged with threadbare timeliness by the time it hits the Chelsea grade crossing slow zones. It's not going to hold, and things are going to have to get spaced out more like :20+ intervals--here and/or with Reading--for good behavior. So "environmental justice" means SOMEWHERE the shovels have to hit the ground @ Salem Station for another platform, and the SSU infill is rather mandatory. Otherwise...no reliable timing mechanism framing the tunnel is on a construction schedule, and you're unable to plot a 'real-deal' service rollout to a 4-year CIP with more than dart-throw's accuracy. North Shore is sick of having their promises withheld decade upon decade; I don't think this level of outreach opaqueness is going to fly.
 

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According to the states reopening plan, when we hit phase 4 the commuter rail will run a modified commuter rail schedule. According to the plan "FY20 schedule modified, where feasible, to reflect changed travel patterns in COVID-19 new normal and workforce availability"

Does that mean they're planning on cutting service even when we get a vaccine?
 

George_Apley

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I think it means they're going to base any schedule changes on how commute patterns reveal themselves over time.
 

millerm277

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According to the states reopening plan, when we hit phase 4 the commuter rail will run a modified commuter rail schedule. According to the plan "FY20 schedule modified, where feasible, to reflect changed travel patterns in COVID-19 new normal and workforce availability"

Does that mean they're planning on cutting service even when we get a vaccine?
FY20 ends in about a month. I don't think anyone is thinking you'd be restarting full service sooner than that even if a vaccine came out tomorrow.

Last week's FMCB FY21 budget docs state:

Overall objective for FY21 is for budget to support return to full FY20 service levels even while assuming substantially lower ridership and fares, thus ensuring that that social distancing can be sustained

While prioritization decisions need to be made now and over the course of the coming fiscal year, CARES funding will allow MBTA to support FY20 service levels, although safety headcount will have to be phased in depending on revenue availability
Looks like the federal assistance is going to mostly cover the gaps in the operating budget: https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/files/2020-05/2020-05-11-fmcb-16-fy21-draft-operating-budget.pdf
 

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