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

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,468
Reaction score
579
Note, though, that the tunnel is substantially longer than just between NS & SS: it has to include fairly long approach/exit tunnels to get from the surface and down to platform depth.
 

Semass

Active Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
726
Reaction score
48
Also note that the Old Colony lines for Middleboro, Kingston, and Greenbush are not intended to have NSRL access in the latest iteration I have seen. The only tunnel trunks on south side are Worcester and Providence.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
Also note that the Old Colony lines for Middleboro, Kingston, and Greenbush are not intended to have NSRL access in the latest iteration I have seen. The only tunnel trunks on south side are Worcester and Providence.
Yeah, but that was also the Baker/Pollack tankapalooza special where building 4 tracks meant building the entire project from-scratch on duplicating alignments. It's so much hot garbage you won't ever get far enough along parsing through all the nonsense to even make it as far as the secondary debate on deferring/not-deferring the Fairmount/OC portal.

Deferral was always an option even with the saner unified CA/T alignment builds, but realistically speaking it's not enough additional expense to make deferral of those portals a real-world value proposition debate. It's all under existing RR tracks free from utilities, and the grades on the OC/Fairmout approach are less severe (and less severely-stiff in portal flood door provisions as result) than the NEC/Worcester tunnel which has to ride the 1.5% max recommended grade to the hilt from portal on the Washington/Shamut block to hit the sharp curve slotting underneath the Pike tunnel in time. OC/Fairmount has twice the running room to hit that depth, so a much gentler 0.7-0.8% grade that--despite the Widett area's pants-shitting scary flood profile--does not need quite as weapons-grade protection for flowing water because the gentler grade makes stopping the "storm drain effect" that much easier at the portal.

Cost-wise it's not adding enough on top to practically omit, because the construction is basic enough that it scales on its own unit-length arithmetic. If that's too big a swallow then up-front there's already a lot of other things in major peril across the project area, and he practical fixes are probably going to finger too much surplus-to-requirement frillage bloat at the underground stations rather than the running tunnel. The tankapalooza study sort of proves this point, albeit in self-pwnage fashion. It gets way too precious about cutting that one rather academic-scale lead tunnel because of the absurdities it stakes itself to with the stations (esp. the "North Station that isn't" appearing on only the Congress alignment sans any northside surface service transfer connectivity, and the nonsensical alignment double-dip for getting 4 tracks).

If the starting point were more functional/less gobbledygook we probably wouldn't be presented with false choices about lopping off the OC/Fairmount leads. It's really not necessary if the chosen alignment v. capacity makes logical sense and they stay disciplined on the station-outfitting blowouts. Low-difficulty costs that scale faithfully in units of tunnel feet really aren't that big a terror threat in the big picture. I feel pretty confident that you can go out on a limb and mandate all-mainlines access in the base build's core value proposition because of that. I'd feel very comfortable about the project's overall chances with the OC/Fairmount leads baked in as mandatory...whereas 10+ years of looking at Central Station from every angle still sends off "Danger! Danger!...boondoggle ahead!" alarm bells with stations being such outsize-risk potential for blowouts.
 

Balerion

Active Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2013
Messages
147
Reaction score
6
My Northside neighbors desperately want better access to Back Bay, Ruggles-Longwood, FiDi and Seaport, but the Southside would be forgiven for not seeing the upside of being able to get a job in Malden, Melrose, or Woburn.
Of course you are correct about the overall dynamics....but this Southsider would love RUR service to my job in Melrose!!!
 

tysmith95

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
2,637
Reaction score
105
With regional rail and the NSRL, an assembly station for the Haverhill/Reading and Newburyport/Rockport lines has to be looked at. Assembly is quickly becoming a jobs center, and a pedestrian bridge to encore would drive traffic to the station.

I think it would be easier to build an assembly station than trying to build one at Sullivan. Sullivan is a bus hub but you could extend a number of routes up to Assembly in order to reduce connections.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
With regional rail and the NSRL, an assembly station for the Haverhill/Reading and Newburyport/Rockport lines has to be looked at. Assembly is quickly becoming a jobs center, and a pedestrian bridge to encore would drive traffic to the station.

I think it would be easier to build an assembly station than trying to build one at Sullivan. Sullivan is a bus hub but you could extend a number of routes up to Assembly in order to reduce connections.
So way not enough room there on the bridge approach for shivving an 800 ft. platform inside the passing siding. That's constraint #1, and while solvable it's a hamfist job that won't produce anything halfway elegant.


But keep in mind, while the inner Western Route is fine for :15 turning Reading Urban Rail immediately so long as thru Haverhill service vacates to the Lowell Line, NSRL exposes the line's gimp status in a whole harsher way because pair-matching just isn't going to work super well within the limitations.

For one, Reading Jct. split in Somerville is going to start getting so crowded with Eastern trains backfilling every nook-and-cranny of available slots that Western trains at the junction are frequently going to have to pause for schedule correction right ahead of the switch to give the longer-distance/more-varied Eastern trains priority. This won't be a big deal at all for baseline RUR Phases I & etc. because at only a 12-mile trip from terminal to endpoint and only one single service pattern to juggle for achieving :15 clock-facing over those 12 miles the stop-and-protects for waving the Eastern Route ahead in the priority queue all happen well inside the schedule margin-of-error. Yes, you will notice on some trips that on the inbound side you're slowing to a stop just past Assembly so a Rockburyport coming in from 36 miles out has bunching-free priority into NS. And if the Sullivan superstation gets built you may notice slightly more of these timing pauses. But the pauses are compact enough that it'll never effect OTP to the endpoints or the clock-facing churn.

Different frailty as soon as you start trying to chain a southside line to Reading. Even one that keeps it dirtest-simple by eschewing "495-to-128" in favor of just straight "128-to-128", like a Fairmount run-thru. Now Reading Jct. is a real bottleneck because those occasional timing pauses are reverberating against a chained schedule 2-3x as long. And you still can't re-prioritize the Western to parity with the Eastern because the Eastern is still carrying a way heavier load of multiple longer-distance service patterns. You also are at a loss for chaining any "495-to-128" slot from the north, because re-inviting Haverhill into the mix puts you back at square-one with the Medford-Malden single-tracking and all the grade crossings not being able to handle it. With added demerit that Haverhill--because of the freight + Downeaster interference on the unexpandable Andover-Lawrence 2-track--will have more pronounced 'wobble' in clock-facing frequencies certain off-peak hours of the midday when Pan Am gets their slots between Lowell Jct. and Lawrence Yard. 'Wobble' isn't fatal if you have throttles to overcome it. For example, the uni-patterned & branch-less Fitchburg Line can deal with a little 'wobble' in Ayer-Wachusett slotting when Pan Am Southern has a monster freight arriving/departing Ayer terminal because the Littleton short-turn is so under-capacity and sees zero freight traffic it can be backfilled at will to keep the clock-facing strict/rote (as noted, schedule adherence the key to how Japan et al. run such all-around supremely efficient systems). And as mentioned earlier, the very slight and summer-season skewed 'wobble' of Beverly Draw boat usage is correctable if RUR Phase I uses all the smooth-over tricks available at Salem rather than stanning for 100.00% of trains hitting Beverly Depot. You don't, however, have consequential offsets for the Haverhill 'wobble' if NSRL pair-matching forces the 495-land trains back through Reading. The capacity constraints on the single-track + crossings just amplify it like a funhouse mirror...and then those correcting pauses at Reading Jct. get all mis-timed and start actually blowing slots.

Not a good situation. While 'wobble' is tolerable for square-peg patterns with foreign-RR service congestion and even the Japanese accommodate such outliers...by core principle you really need to keep those 'wobble' schedules as exceptionally limited as possible. As in...fine, if Haverhill is trawling the NH Main where there are many clock-correction options you're fine to accommodate it on the blended system because the 'wobble' is limited to just one schedule amongst many on the NH Main to only certain times of day. Every trick in the book is available to mitigate, so it's OK here just like it's OK when Japan has to bury a lone 'wobble' into the mix.

Different story entirely if the 'wobble' starts getting amplified by the endemically gimpy conditions of the inner Western. You really have something on your hands that's going to stick out like a sore thumb when pair-matching exploits the brittleness to this degree...where Reading Jct. is going to genuinely start to upend OTP some of the time, where Haverhill may be forced back into the mix on the lesser-capable main routing, and so on. And the solutions for continuing to fight the fight on Purple Line are all lousy: tear the everloving crap out of the Medford-Malden embankment at fraught community relations to do something to address the single-track, and do a lot of maximally-expensive grade separation at 1.5% RR grades and 18 ft. mandatory RR vertical clearance under wires to the Melrose-Wakefield clusters. Shit sandwich. Or...you rip it entirely off the RR network and do the Orange extension. Orange extension probably being cheaper because no touches required to the Medford-Malden embankment, and while the grade separation to Reading must be total instead of partial each of them can be done on vastly shorter approaches and/or shorter-clearance duck-unders at allowable rapid transit grades. Plus Reading Jct. ceases to be any constraint whatsoever, as the Eastern Route will have 100% run of the place. And you will get a de facto north-south pairing out of Reading-W. Roxbury...just run via NS-BBY instead of NS-SS. Various cost experts like Alon Levy have ascertained that outright OL conversion is probably cheaper than pussyfooting with Purple Line kludges that may end up half-assed for still retaining *some* problem crossings and still having a bottleneck of some degree in Somerville @ Reading Jct. If we aspire to value Japanese time-keeping as the lifeblood of the blended system's mobility, whatever scenario gets rid of Reading Jct. has to be considered a BIG get in addition to all the "to kludge or not to kludge" considerations in Medford-Malden-Melrose-Wakefield that already weakly favor rapid transit conversion. And the one and only guaranteed zero-out of Reading Jct. is full-Orange FTW.

So as far as Assembly access goes...all signs point to easiest path forward giving that to you all the same. But it ends up being Orange via the existing Orange station, and not through any series of CR kludges. Yeah...it means there's a 4-on-3 south vs. north mismatch of mainlines for pair-matching that way...but since functionally the inner Western is a born gimp you were staring at that anyway. The NH Main (even co-carrying Haverhill and some Amtrak) is still well under native capacity, and branchless Fitchburg (at least as far as Littleton) will still be the most under-capacity on the whole system by a wide margin and capable of being the proverbial dumping ground for misfit pair slots. But taking this sidebar of Japanese schedule adherence...Orange conversion is a direct pivot in service to those principles by virtue of knocking Reading Jct.'s inherent brittleness entirely off the blended system. So in that context, OL-Reading gets that much higher priority as the ultimate perma-solve here.
 
Last edited:

Deetroyt

Active Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2013
Messages
383
Reaction score
15
The NH Main (even co-carrying Haverhill and some Amtrak) is still well under native capacity, and branchless Fitchburg (at least as far as Littleton) will still be the most under-capacity on the whole system by a wide margin and capable of being the proverbial dumping ground for misfit pair slots.
What would this mean for Waltham? It seems the city would benefit greatly from increased frequencies to downtown from the stop in the city (as well as one near 95 with biz park shuttles) but I’ve never understood a good way to eliminate the grade crossing? Would the crossing be able to remain under NSRL traffic levels?
 
  • Like
Reactions: W-4

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
What would this mean for Waltham? It seems the city would benefit greatly from increased frequencies to downtown from the stop in the city (as well as one near 95 with biz park shuttles) but I’ve never understood a good way to eliminate the grade crossing? Would the crossing be able to remain under NSRL traffic levels?
Yes. Can't trench down because it's in the Charles floodplain. Can't elevate up because there's not enough incline room after the Newton St. overpass. So Elm/Moody slot in the same "@#$% impossible" category as Framingham. Pain-reducing offsets are available, however. Now that the Bemis Branch is gone where it ran behind Waltham Mills the back alley spanning Elm-Moody by the river has potential for getting upgraded into a spanning side street like Carter but on the south side of the tracks. That's an immediate pivot the city can make. Fixing the platform siting is the other. If they do the double-track infill, eliminate the mid-block platform, and do a matching full-length second side platform west of Moody across from the current long platform they can shorten the gate timing on the outbound side and install a DTMF switch on the inbound side for queue dumps while the train is stopped.

I think do those relatively low-cost touches and you're in pretty good shape even at :15 bi-directional traffic levels, because there'll never be a scenario where both gates are blocked by an over-long train on the midblock anymore. And the southerly spanning road/alley (even if only a one-way) looms large for load-spreading.


Ultimately the one and only way to get rid of those crossings is a GLX Waltham extension from Porter (can be one branch to Waltham, one to Watertown forking after Porter) where the Fitchburg Main is re-routed station-less over a reactivated Central Mass from Beaver St. to the meet-back-up @ the 128 superstation, GLX runs alongside on the ex- 4-track ROW through Belmont Ctr., and GLX takes over the downtown + Brandeis leg. Then you have enough incline room at allowable LRT grades to get between the Newton St. overpass and Elm (or, conversely, outright-share traffic signals with the Carter intersection because it's LRT). On absolute cost it really wouldn't be a hard one to do, but on priority that's charitably 2nd- or 3rd- division expansion priority we probably won't live to see hit front-burner status.


Inner Fitchburg will definitely explore zapping the Park St. Somerville crossing with road-over-rail overpass as a project requirement for a GLX Union-Porter build. And Blanchard Rd. might be one worth picking off someday because the grading is readily available on both sides for a no-fuss rail-over-road overpass. Sherman St. is a P.I.T.A. because stupid City of Cambridge had to greenlight condos massed right up against the ROW property lines...I don't have a good idea for that one except that maybe if GLX is Watertown-bound that mode does a quick duck-under while CR stays at-grade from limited options. That's about it, though. Elm/Moody are what they are...just do the sensible up-front mitigation and monitor how it holds up. South St. @ Brandeis isn't a large concern. And anything between the 128 superstation and Littleton is in the throttle-down zone between :15 Urban Rail and :30 RUR frequencies and not an acute concern because none of them are incumbent acute concerns. I think Ayer/Shirley can use some pruning of duplicating cross-street crossings just because the 90+ car freights are onerous enough on gate times, but even there you're just talking spot consolidations and not a zero-out.



You want to see a NIMBY war erupt on RUR-driven crossing consolidations? Go up to the Rockport Branch and count up all that crossing insanity. So many duplicate neighborhood inlets...so much utter-shit sightlines because the towns can't be arsed to trim trees, paint markings, hang signage, strip pavement wide enough for two cars to pass each other over a crossing. Worst line on the system by far for tally of utter crap crossings decades overdue for getting jersey barriers dropped permanently in front of them. But the NIMBY blood runs so deep here they punched back at B&M's mid-1950's comprehensive mass crossing-elimination program that mowed down nearly all of the most uselessly-duplicating crossings on all other northside lines with closures. B&M succeeded everywhere but Rockport Branch, where they got utterly stuffed. Crossing closures are going to have to carry some of the water for uprating the slow speed limit on the branch for TM's recommended frequencies...so bust out the popcorn when they get shown the first implementation map showing the X'ed out dupes. You'll hear bloody-shirt waving histrionics about overglorified driveways you would've thought was too stupid for human discourse. I guarantee.
 

tysmith95

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
2,637
Reaction score
105
^People in Beverly Farms and Manchester By The Sea have money, therefore their shortcut is more important than normal commuters from Gloucester.
 

Java King

Active Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
201
Reaction score
85
In general, the Northside is underdeveloped (precisely because the Southside has always had the better access to Providence, Worcester, and NYC) and there will always be an asymmetry.

My Northside neighbors desperately want better access to Back Bay, Ruggles-Longwood, FiDi and Seaport, but the Southside would be forgiven for not seeing the upside of being able to get a job in Malden, Melrose, or Woburn.
I think the cool thing about the possibility of the NSRL is that it would drastically change the decision of where people decide to live based on easy access to their jobs. If it all comes about like we would like, I think there might be better balance over time. Look at all the recent development around the North Station area. Currently if you work at Rapid7 or Verizon and want to live in the burbs, you are probably thinking North Shore. The NSRL would open the possibility to look north or south with fairly easy access. I used to work at an architecture firm on North Washington Street in the Bulfinch Triangle. Almost EVERY single person living in the burbs commuted from the North Shore. Heck, my decision to live in Somerville at the time was partly made because of easy access via Porter Square to North Station. So, I just think it might even out over time, whereas now it's very lopsided.

.........and to add to StillInTheHood's wonderful post, I don't ever think we need subway-like service in Scituate, but a train more than every 2 hours would be nice! :)
 

BostonBoy

New member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
34
Reaction score
5
To mitigate costs, why not have Central Station replace North Station? It would free up the station for further development and eliminate the movable bridge over the Charles River.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
149
Reaction score
29
There you go, poking the bea....I mean F-Line. I concur with you that nearly every train that comes in from the north should go in the tunnels, with the exception of a few diesels(Amtrak, NH and possibly outer Fitchburg). But I sure that you will soon see a very long text about how wrong we are.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,977
Reaction score
1,337
In one of the proposals for nsrl they actually mention that north stations platforms could be removed because all the trains from the north could go through the tunnel. Not the case for south station that deals with west and south, but they mentioned it in an official proposal.
 

jlichyen

New member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
9
Reaction score
1
There you go, poking the bea....I mean F-Line. I concur with you that nearly every train that comes in from the north should go in the tunnels, with the exception of a few diesels(Amtrak, NH and possibly outer Fitchburg). But I sure that you will soon see a very long text about how wrong we are.
Isn't there a fair amount of freight interference on the North side to the point that electrification can't actually cover most of it? I'm thinking of the Haverhill line in particular. So that "a few diesels" is probably a lot more diesels!
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
To mitigate costs, why not have Central Station replace North Station? It would free up the station for further development and eliminate the movable bridge over the Charles River.
North Station land doesn't need to be freed up. Jerry Jacobs has air rights over the platforms to do as he pleases whenever he's ready for an back-side encore to Hub on Causeway. Ask him about that one, because he's the oracle there.

"Central Station" only exists on the CA/T alignment as a deep cavern underneath Aquarium for Blue Line transfers. It's not a drop-in for NS at all because no Green or Orange access, and no surface access. That's why it's strictly tertiary importance to NS Under and SS Under.

On the Congress St. alignment there's an offset station at Haymarket that hits Green/Orange but omits NS Surface because the cavern is too far away from there.

One thing to remember is that none of the cavern stations are geographically 1:1 with the locations of the surface stations, so all this kvetching about "North Station is in the middle of nowhere" are missing the point. We're getting hung up on 2D map positions where not only is this very much 3D at near-100 ft. below ground but the platform positionings on renders say nothing about where the egresses from those platforms are going to go. The CA/T alignment's NS Under gets within 1 block of Haymarket on its back-end footprint. That's close enough that it will have a secondary egress into the Haymarket rapid transit headhouse. The Congress & CA/T builds are functionally zero-difference at providing full access to more-centralized Haymarket. They're both deep caverns and a relative P.I.T.A. on escalator transit to the surface exits. So it's not much functional advantage that the Congress alignment is more physically centered under Haymarket while the CA/T alignment straddles NS + Haymarket with a slight lean towards NS. They're both going to take about the same amount of effort to get upstairs to rapid transit or the surface exit.

The CA/T alignment's already got the major advantage in that it can be 2 or 4 tracks on the same footprint vs. Congress which is 2 max and requires the CA/T alignment to be built in (pointless) duplicate to get Tracks 3 & 4. The fact that the CA/T alignment's NS Under is going to have combo-egress Haymarket + NS rapid-transit/surface-exit accessibility as the access 'superset' sort of settles what's left of that debate. You don't have to debate the particulars of 2D map-landmark NS being too off-center from the action and 2D map-landmark Haymarket being closer. It's irrelevant. The dang build will have exits into both by default, and if there are any access demerits whatsoever it's depth not linear placement that's going to be the limiter anyone notices. Nobody's pretending the escalator trip is going to be all that brisk from a cavern so deep, but there's zero solves for that given the engineering paths left to choose from and that'll get noticed more at SS Under to begin with since that's the busier station.

What's central vs. not-central on surface placemarking is an irrelevant argument to get distracted by. Actual egresses to what's most-central are covered by any permutation of the base build Alts.

In one of the proposals for nsrl they actually mention that north stations platforms could be removed because all the trains from the north could go through the tunnel. Not the case for south station that deals with west and south, but they mentioned it in an official proposal.
They do, but it's still a shitty idea for traffic management because reversing slots on-platform in the tunnel is utterly wretched waste of capacity. And see prior post about the Western Route/Reading Line's gimpiness being a problem for chaining, so even the assumption of getting rid of the surface terminal for the sake of turning stuff at Westwood or Dedham Corporate starts to eat into that Japanese schedule-adherence 'golden rule'-age that makes the whole blended system cook. The arguments for doing away with NS Surface are all pretty weak, and a bit too precious at integrity-of-concept overruling practicality.

Today's north-vs.-south traffic comparison isn't a relevant comparison because north is getting the same re-fitting to RUR :30 / Urban Rail :15 bi-di all-day frequencies as south. So the gap is going to close because the present starting slate of frequencies is so much weaker than the south schedule-by-schedule, and will be upscaled to standardization. The north-south differentiator is going to strict-arithmetic number of schedules run out of SS, and no longer number + north being the born weakling. There's going to be a metric shitload more slots infilling NS right from RUR Phase IA on, such that by the time you get to NSRL those traffic levels are going to be so much higher than today that "integrity-of-concept" zero-out starts to look awfully impossible. The RUR upscaling is an order-of-magnitude change in itself. And by virtue of that, giving RUR + Urban Rail 20 years to cook before any tunnel opens is going to move the needle gravitationally on that whole "NS isn't central enough" debate. The frequency growth's going to make it way more central than it is today, such that this already false-argument for NSRL is going to look real muddy. Doesn't matter in the real world because building the most buildable alignment gives you the dual NS & Haymarket egresses to begin with...but for "centrality" purposes the NS egress is going to have grown quite a lot beforehand by all the add'l RUR action.

And...as mentioned first off...there's zero real-estate coattails to eliminating NS because Jerry J.'s already land-parking on the air rights for the backside and will have made his move way before NSRL comes out of design and is deemed shovel-ready. Given all else that's ops-easier and all else that the CA/T alignment NSRL covers its ass with egress options-wise, might as well keep the train station if there's already going to be another big-ass tower sitting on top of it as an additional driver.

There you go, poking the bea....I mean F-Line. I concur with you that nearly every train that comes in from the north should go in the tunnels, with the exception of a few diesels(Amtrak, NH and possibly outer Fitchburg). But I sure that you will soon see a very long text about how wrong we are.
Judges...how'd I do? Too consise? Not vitriolic enough? :cautious:

There's something very blinkered about over-projecting to such degree that there's some sort of "game" being played here. Maybe back off the leading pretenses a bit and you'll enjoy the discussion more, dude.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
Isn't there a fair amount of freight interference on the North side to the point that electrification can't actually cover most of it? I'm thinking of the Haverhill line in particular. So that "a few diesels" is probably a lot more diesels!
"Lot of" is all relative. What passes for freight interference here is downright adorable compared to what Metra in Chicagoland or Metrolink & Caltrain on the West Coast have to swim through on a daily basis. You're not talking insurmountable challenges by any stretch of the imagination. Now that Pan Am's up for sale, their infamous corporate history of "slop-ops" schedule adherence is going to be going away...because absolutely no one in railroading with the resources to own a Class II regional road is willing to piss as much $$$ down the drain running late as PAR does. We'll see that biggest problem stretch Andover-Lawrence start to tighten-the-F-up even before RUR diesel first phases get assigned to CIP budget items, thanks to this upcoming company sale.

What's unavoidable is a little bit of 'wobble' on the :30 frequencies during select off-peak time slots, because amid the churn of commuter locals and Downeasters about to go to 6 round-trips per day the freights need to get unleashed to move between Lawrence Yard and Lowell Jct. No avoiding that as there's a lot of daytime activity to shove between yards on the Freight Main. The passing-track opportunities between Lawrence & Haverhill are a lot more robust, so it's mainly the Andover stretch that has to bend. For example, when Bradford Layover relocates to the new plot of land they're grading by the state line the freed extra tracks at Bradford can be folded into freight + DE passers around Merrimack Bridge slots while allowing Bradford Station to gain full-high platforms. Inoculates the #2 bottleneck on the line around the bridge + sharp curve onto the bridge.

As mentioned in prior post, a 'wobble' is no big deal because on a huge blended system there's always going to be square-pegs to pound out and even the immaculately punctual Japanese routinely accommodate schedule 'wobble' by artfully burying it as the exception to the rule (they too have some lines with freight or multi-carrier interference, even though in general their freight traffic is a pittance of ours). So if Haverhill has to space a few midday slots at 20 & 40 minutes--still maintaining the :30 average, mind you--that's no big deal. Just keep it isolated, such that the NH Main can run a supplemental Wilmington short-turn to cover a gap if need be. It only starts getting dicey if you start piling on multiple compromises and multiple 'wobbles'...which is why the TransitMatters plan needs to clean up its language over Haverhill vs. Reading separation and revisit some of its Eastern Route Salem vs. Beverly assumptions where Beverly Draw induces a seasonal 'wobble' and their integrity-of-concept fervor passes up a few too many clock-control smoothing options at Salem. Not big tweaks at all...just have to mind those P's and Q's to uphold the top-level principle that we want as much as possible to be upholding Japan-level punctuality.

Last diesel remainders are probably going to be on services way the hell outside of 495 that don't merit frequencies as high as :30. Like Hyannis super-extendeds...that has no business being more than hourly. And at hourly you're going to be waiting an awfully long time (if ever) to pay for electrification because the payback is much muted at those frequencies. Could also see NHDOT super-extendeds like the Concord runs that are supposed to be distinct from Lowell/Nashua all-locals, making the in-state NH stops then skip-stopping in MA Lowell-Anderson-NS. That's probably going to stay diesel a long time because it's some other state's expense, the in-district super-expressing levels the performance difference vs. EMU, and it's simply way too long a run to try to pair-match through NSRL. Ditto if NHDOT wants to try any Dover super-expresses distinct from Haverhill locals, like used to exist into the MBTA era until 1967. I'd even argue that Fall River/New Bedford on the branches by financial logic should stay diesel because they won't be more than hourly even if Phase II via Stoughton gets its botched FEIR fixed with mainline double-tracking...though obviously the oinking pork machine @ Beacon Hill wants to bless them with wires first. Regardless, any FR super-extendeds to Newport, RI are sure to be forever-diesel and forever surface-bound at those distances and frequencies.



Haverhill legitimately is going to be the last mainline electrification on the northside because of the freight clearances. It's Plate F (17 ft. tall) now with a lot of overhead bridges. If PAR gets bought by a larger RR like Class I behemoths Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, or Norfolk Southern on the Portland Main then double-stack clearance upgrades to 20'6" are going to become a top priority instead of a someday-priority. To do electrification over DS freights you need an additional 2.5 ft. of undergrade height: 23 ft. total. That'll be everywhere Lowell Jct. in Andover to state line--about 10 overpasses total--with tightest/toughest squeezes being under the Lawrence street grid. Fair prediction that they're going to kick that to the rear to give themselves extra time to figure it out. Comparatively, Worcester Line electrification only goes under 6 bridges in DS territory...most of them already measured tall enough for wires, and any potentials that aren't cheaply fixable with trackbed-undercut tricks. You just wouldn't think of doing the Inland Route to Springfield under wires any time soon, because WOR-SPG in itself is 35 more bridges. Fitchburg Line, Willows Jct. to Wachusett, is current 19'6" autorack territory with the extra 1 ft. to double-stack coming as soon as the Hoosac Tunnel is enlarged. That's only 7 overhead structures, some of them also tall enough as-is or cheaply undercut, and only a couple that may need MassDOT touches. So Haverhill--and only really specific to Downtown Lawrence--is the only place where freight clearances are going to induce any delay in electrification sequencing. And only a delay; it's solvable, just with a consequential price premium informing the sequencing.
 
Last edited:

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,632
Reaction score
1,025
There you go, poking the bea....I mean F-Line. I concur with you that nearly every train that comes in from the north should go in the tunnels, with the exception of a few diesels(Amtrak, NH and possibly outer Fitchburg). But I sure that you will soon see a very long text about how wrong we are.
This is the sort of pettiness that is not okay.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
149
Reaction score
29
Isn't there a fair amount of freight interference on the North side to the point that electrification can't actually cover most of it? I'm thinking of the Haverhill line in particular. So that "a few diesels" is probably a lot more diesels!
Haverhill sees about 7ish freights a day.Some of them at night. Nobody else could run it as badly as PAR. MBTA takes over dispatch and brings a little discipline.
You're talking 30min freq most of the day
 

BostonBoy

New member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
34
Reaction score
5
North Station land doesn't need to be freed up. Jerry Jacobs has air rights over the platforms to do as he pleases whenever he's ready for an back-side encore to Hub on Causeway. Ask him about that one, because he's the oracle there.

"Central Station" only exists on the CA/T alignment as a deep cavern underneath Aquarium for Blue Line transfers. It's not a drop-in for NS at all because no Green or Orange access, and no surface access. That's why it's strictly tertiary importance to NS Under and SS Under.

On the Congress St. alignment there's an offset station at Haymarket that hits Green/Orange but omits NS Surface because the cavern is too far away from there.

One thing to remember is that none of the cavern stations are geographically 1:1 with the locations of the surface stations, so all this kvetching about "North Station is in the middle of nowhere" are missing the point. We're getting hung up on 2D map positions where not only is this very much 3D at near-100 ft. below ground but the platform positionings on renders say nothing about where the egresses from those platforms are going to go. The CA/T alignment's NS Under gets within 1 block of Haymarket on its back-end footprint. That's close enough that it will have a secondary egress into the Haymarket rapid transit headhouse. The Congress & CA/T builds are functionally zero-difference at providing full access to more-centralized Haymarket. They're both deep caverns and a relative P.I.T.A. on escalator transit to the surface exits. So it's not much functional advantage that the Congress alignment is more physically centered under Haymarket while the CA/T alignment straddles NS + Haymarket with a slight lean towards NS. They're both going to take about the same amount of effort to get upstairs to rapid transit or the surface exit.

The CA/T alignment's already got the major advantage in that it can be 2 or 4 tracks on the same footprint vs. Congress which is 2 max and requires the CA/T alignment to be built in (pointless) duplicate to get Tracks 3 & 4. The fact that the CA/T alignment's NS Under is going to have combo-egress Haymarket + NS rapid-transit/surface-exit accessibility as the access 'superset' sort of settles what's left of that debate. You don't have to debate the particulars of 2D map-landmark NS being too off-center from the action and 2D map-landmark Haymarket being closer. It's irrelevant. The dang build will have exits into both by default, and if there are any access demerits whatsoever it's depth not linear placement that's going to be the limiter anyone notices. Nobody's pretending the escalator trip is going to be all that brisk from a cavern so deep, but there's zero solves for that given the engineering paths left to choose from and that'll get noticed more at SS Under to begin with since that's the busier station.

What's central vs. not-central on surface placemarking is an irrelevant argument to get distracted by. Actual egresses to what's most-central are covered by any permutation of the base build Alts.



They do, but it's still a shitty idea for traffic management because reversing slots on-platform in the tunnel is utterly wretched waste of capacity. And see prior post about the Western Route/Reading Line's gimpiness being a problem for chaining, so even the assumption of getting rid of the surface terminal for the sake of turning stuff at Westwood or Dedham Corporate starts to eat into that Japanese schedule-adherence 'golden rule'-age that makes the whole blended system cook. The arguments for doing away with NS Surface are all pretty weak, and a bit too precious at integrity-of-concept overruling practicality.

Today's north-vs.-south traffic comparison isn't a relevant comparison because north is getting the same re-fitting to RUR :30 / Urban Rail :15 bi-di all-day frequencies as south. So the gap is going to close because the present starting slate of frequencies is so much weaker than the south schedule-by-schedule, and will be upscaled to standardization. The north-south differentiator is going to strict-arithmetic number of schedules run out of SS, and no longer number + north being the born weakling. There's going to be a metric shitload more slots infilling NS right from RUR Phase IA on, such that by the time you get to NSRL those traffic levels are going to be so much higher than today that "integrity-of-concept" zero-out starts to look awfully impossible. The RUR upscaling is an order-of-magnitude change in itself. And by virtue of that, giving RUR + Urban Rail 20 years to cook before any tunnel opens is going to move the needle gravitationally on that whole "NS isn't central enough" debate. The frequency growth's going to make it way more central than it is today, such that this already false-argument for NSRL is going to look real muddy. Doesn't matter in the real world because building the most buildable alignment gives you the dual NS & Haymarket egresses to begin with...but for "centrality" purposes the NS egress is going to have grown quite a lot beforehand by all the add'l RUR action.

And...as mentioned first off...there's zero real-estate coattails to eliminating NS because Jerry J.'s already land-parking on the air rights for the backside and will have made his move way before NSRL comes out of design and is deemed shovel-ready. Given all else that's ops-easier and all else that the CA/T alignment NSRL covers its ass with egress options-wise, might as well keep the train station if there's already going to be another big-ass tower sitting on top of it as an additional driver.



Judges...how'd I do? Too consise? Not vitriolic enough? :cautious:

There's something very blinkered about over-projecting to such degree that there's some sort of "game" being played here. Maybe back off the leading pretenses a bit and you'll enjoy the discussion more, dude.
Building over a railroad tracks is MUCH more expensive than building on open land. That is what held up South Station and the air rights over the Pike. My suggestion of eliminating North Station also eliminates the cost of building over the tracks, and makes the land more valuable .
 

Top