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

Tallguy

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You could run a single track GL to. Weston station. Easier to fit and a six minute round trip might be tight but if you DTed the spur and only singled along the main line you'd do it easily and cheaply.
 

Tallguy

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The station line up should be: move Auburndale to Weston. Move West Newton about 1000ft west and move Newtonville east to Church St. Same number of stations but much better placement. Newtonville is close enough to NC to do the job.
 

737900er

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Norumbega is a great name! I think it refers to the a diverse group of places already, as the Norumbega Reservoir is to the west, but the Norumbega Tower is to the north 🤷‍♂️.

1. I believe there is a plan to rehabilitate the Pike/128 interchange very soon with minimal changes, so it's probably too late to provision for Quincy Adams style access. However, I don't think anyone really likes the current Pike/128 interchange, so re-drawing the whole thing shouldn't be against the rules.

2. You can see from the ramp configuration that Riverside was likely intended to fulfill this purpose when it was originally built, with effectively its own ramps from 128 and to the Pike. I think it worthwhile to address the question of "Why doesn't Riverside get Alewife or Quincy Adams levels of parking utilization given its seemingly excellent location" although this is probably not the right venue to do that (my guess is issues with South Shore CR, North Side CR not serving South Station, and better highway capacity from the west)

3. I think there is significant MWRA infrastructure in this area as well, which may complicate things. The 2010 incident was just about in this area.

4. The parks here already very handicapped -- it's between a massive highway interchange, a light rail yard, and a major commuter rail line.

5. I don't think an Indigo station on a Riverside spur needs to be the full 800' long. A 450' platform could fit nicely on the south side of the current parking lots against the ramps, with the two westmost tracks of the yard that are mostly used for dead storage anyway being converted to the leads. The only reason a 9 car train would ever go to Riverside would be an equipment substitution.

6. You just proposed a rapid transit station and parking garages in Weston. Other towns have been referred to as NIMBY Hellholes on this board, but Weston is 7th Circle NIMBY Hellhole.
 

Riverside

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The MWRA infrastructure is a good point, and I really don't know enough to say either way.

Good thought about Indigo platform location at Riverside! In fact, I think you might be able to fit 800' in there anyway -- given the T's institutional inertia and historic preference for being able to swap equipment at the last minute, I think an 800' platform might paradoxically be easier to get approved. Two modest downsides: 1) that's far away from the Green Line platforms, making a poor transfer experience (not vital) and reducing the ease of a "gametime" decision ("should I take Green or Indigo? Hmm there's an Indigo train sooner but it's all the way over there", etc); and 2) with platforms there, the route will need to go through 3 curves -- junction near Auburndale, turn south before the yard, turn southeast into the platform; that'll impose some speed penalty, though I don't know how much -- may be fine

(One cute upside -- I think that location is right near the old ROW of the "Ping Pong" shuttle to Newton Lower Falls, so could make for a nice little pedestrian access.)

Even with the platforms though, I still maintain that there is value to maximizing frequencies on the main line. But the question is, how much value?

You're not wrong that Weston makes for a challenge. But, as others have pointed out, there have been proposals for this area in the last 20 years. So, it's not completely "greenfield" from a public perception.

But yes -- that would be an additional obstacle for an idea that, as I said, already is a little bit of a solution in search of a problem.
 

Riverside

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@F-Line to Dudley -- can you remind me what the complications are for electrification and high frequency service to Lowell and Haverhill (via Wildcat) due to freight traffic and freight clearance routes? I know we've discussed in the past, but my Googling skills are coming up short. (Alternatively, if you want to link me to some documentation instead, am happy to do some reading -- again, my Googling is coming up short.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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@F-Line to Dudley -- can you remind me what the complications are for electrification and high frequency service to Lowell and Haverhill (via Wildcat) due to freight traffic and freight clearance routes? I know we've discussed in the past, but my Googling skills are coming up short. (Alternatively, if you want to link me to some documentation instead, am happy to do some reading -- again, my Googling is coming up short.)
They're Plate F (17 ft. high) clearance routes, and are protected in perpetuity as such by the Boston & Maine asset sale legalese of 1976. To string up 25 kV wire on those routes you'd need approx. 19.5 ft. of underclearance under bridges (couple inches lower potentially in certain highly specific situations of fully tangent track and/or increasingly restricted speed), which presently exists in only a few spots. Most of them can be accommodated by trackbed undercuts (especially on the Lowell Line), so there's some incremental cost chew but nothing killer. The toughest places to modify are the Haverhill Line overpasses in Downtown Lawrence and under I-495 in North Andover; those really can't be undercut at all and will require significant expense. For that reason, the Haverhill Line is probably the last mainline on the system that'll get wired.

Do not trust the TransitMatters Regional Rail report on the Haverhill Line that says that 25 kV can be done at much lower clearances with hardly any mods whatsoever. The methodology is highly suspect, as they eschewed the law-of-the-land AREMA (American Railway Engineering & Maintenance-of-Way Association) standards for 25 kV electrification for a single pigeonholed foreign example (which may have been highly speed-restricted at its minimum clearances), and ran roughshod over the federally-protected Pan Am clearances. Couldn't legally do that if they wanted. TM's proofreaders should've caught those oversights before pub but didn't.


CSX desires to make the Western Route from Lowell Jct. to Portland a double-stack freight route in the future. That means the freight clearances will go from 17' to 20'6", and the electrification clearances will go from 19'6" to 23'. They can be expected to heavily pay in for such clearance mods, however. And while expensive, their participation is a potential funding source to wad up for doing the Downtown Lawrence and 495 overpasses. Which makes planning future Haverhill electrification specs somewhat of a priority.


EDIT: If you want to electrical engineering nerd out at 25 kV clearance specs, they're here: https://www.arema.org/files/comm/c33/10-25-19/33-19-01.pdf.
 
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Riverside

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Awesome, thank you. And if memory serves, the Plate F clearance also has impact on platforms, right? Requires them to be mini-highs that have a collapsible edge? (Or can they be full-highs with collapsible edge?) (Assuming no passing track or gauntlet track.)

Is there a full listing (I guess outside of the aforementioned 1976 sale paperwork) of the extent of the clearance route? e.g. the Lowell-Ayer trackage?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Awesome, thank you. And if memory serves, the Plate F clearance also has impact on platforms, right? Requires them to be mini-highs that have a collapsible edge? (Or can they be full-highs with collapsible edge?) (Assuming no passing track or gauntlet track.)

Is there a full listing (I guess outside of the aforementioned 1976 sale paperwork) of the extent of the clearance route? e.g. the Lowell-Ayer trackage?
*Some* Plate F cars are high-and-wide. Some are just high and do not swing wide (short answer: it's a turning radius thing, not an absolute-width thing).

The agreement/feds-enforced clearance routes on the system (listed in the T's own CR design guide) are:
  • Worcester Line, Framingham Jct. to Westborough Yard -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (protected per CSX 2008 line sale agreement)
  • Worcester Line, Westborough Yard to Worcester Yard (excluding Worcester Union Station turnout) -- Double-stack/20'6", high-and-wide (protected per CSX 2008 line sale agreement)
  • Franklin Line, Readville Upper Jct. (incl. Franklin-Fairmount connector) to Walpole Jct. -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (protected per 1973 Penn Central line sale agreement)
  • Framingham Secondary (all) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per mid-2010's CSX line sale agreement, passenger service only on Foxboro spur)
  • Northeast Corridor, Mansfield Jct. to East Junction, Attleboro -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1973 Penn Central line sale agreement, already electrified)
  • Middleboro Secondary, Attleboro Jct. to Taunton -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1982 Conrail line sale agreement, no passenger service)
  • NH Mainline (all to state line, Tyngsboro) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Western Route, Wilmington Jct. to state line, Haverhill -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Wildcat Branch, Wilmington (all) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Fitchburg Line, Willows Jct., Ayer to Fitchburg -- Autorack/19'6", high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
Everything else state-owned not on this list has no special protected clearance preemptions. For example, the Western Route from Medford to Wilmington has physical Plate F (non high-and-wide) clearances right this moment, but the T isn't required to sustain them and could at-will chop the freight clearances down with electrification to Reading if it so chose. It's only on the legally protected routes where Interstate Commerce intervenes. Everything that's freight company-owned (B&A west of Worcester, NH Main on the NH side of the state line, Fitchburg Line west of Fitchburg Station thru Wachusett, the Downeaster) is whatever the line owner says it is...until the owner sells to the state and decides to encode it in legalese (like CSX did when it sold the outer Worcester Line in '08).

One special example also exists on the T, but out-of-state:
  • Northeast Corridor, Boston Switch, Central Falls (by state line) to West Davisville Jct. -- Autorack/19'6", high-and-wide (per 2000's Amtrak+RIDOT+P&W "FRIP Track" agreement). Encompasses the various un-electrified third "FRIP" track segments on the NEC in RI, plus some segments of electrified mainline track spanning the tri-track segments. Created via an economic development grant to enable autorack traffic between Port of Quonset Point and Worcester via P&W. Affects some T ops (south-of-Providence Station thru T.F. Green, where the T uses some un-electrified track at station turnouts) but not others (north-of-Providence Station thru Pawtucket, where the T doesn't have any access to the un-electrified track).
 

Tallguy

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*Some* Plate F cars are high-and-wide. Some are just high and do not swing wide (short answer: it's a turning radius thing, not an absolute-width thing).

The agreement/feds-enforced clearance routes on the system (listed in the T's own CR design guide) are:
  • Worcester Line, Framingham Jct. to Westborough Yard -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (protected per CSX 2008 line sale agreement)
  • Worcester Line, Westborough Yard to Worcester Yard (excluding Worcester Union Station turnout) -- Double-stack/20'6", high-and-wide (protected per CSX 2008 line sale agreement)
  • Franklin Line, Readville Upper Jct. (incl. Franklin-Fairmount connector) to Walpole Jct. -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (protected per 1973 Penn Central line sale agreement)
  • Framingham Secondary (all) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per mid-2010's CSX line sale agreement, passenger service only on Foxboro spur)
  • Northeast Corridor, Mansfield Jct. to East Junction, Attleboro -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1973 Penn Central line sale agreement, already electrified)
  • Middleboro Secondary, Attleboro Jct. to Taunton -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1982 Conrail line sale agreement, no passenger service)
  • NH Mainline (all to state line, Tyngsboro) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Western Route, Wilmington Jct. to state line, Haverhill -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Wildcat Branch, Wilmington (all) -- Plate F/17', high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
  • Fitchburg Line, Willows Jct., Ayer to Fitchburg -- Autorack/19'6", high-and-wide (per 1976 B&M line sale agreement)
Everything else state-owned not on this list has no special protected clearance preemptions. For example, the Western Route from Medford to Wilmington has physical Plate F (non high-and-wide) clearances right this moment, but the T isn't required to sustain them and could at-will chop the freight clearances down with electrification to Reading if it so chose. It's only on the legally protected routes where Interstate Commerce intervenes. Everything that's freight company-owned (B&A west of Worcester, NH Main on the NH side of the state line, Fitchburg Line west of Fitchburg Station thru Wachusett, the Downeaster) is whatever the line owner says it is...until the owner sells to the state and decides to encode it in legalese (like CSX did when it sold the outer Worcester Line in '08).

One special example also exists on the T, but out-of-state:
  • Northeast Corridor, Boston Switch, Central Falls (by state line) to West Davisville Jct. -- Autorack/19'6", high-and-wide (per 2000's Amtrak+RIDOT+P&W "FRIP Track" agreement). Encompasses the various un-electrified third "FRIP" track segments on the NEC in RI, plus some segments of electrified mainline track spanning the tri-track segments. Created via an economic development grant to enable autorack traffic between Port of Quonset Point and Worcester via P&W. Affects some T ops (south-of-Providence Station thru T.F. Green, where the T uses some un-electrified track at station turnouts) but not others (north-of-Providence Station thru Pawtucket, where the T doesn't have any access to the un-electrified track).
Do these agreements require both tracks(when two exist) to meet standards or just one?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The list of stations impacted by high-and-wide passage (i.e. those that DON'T currently have passing tracks) include:

Worcester Line
Ashland
Southborough
Westborough
Grafton

Franklin Line
Readville (Fairmount platform only)
Endicott
Dedham Corporate
Islington
Norwood Depot
Norwood Central
Windsor Gardens

Providence Line
Mansfield
T.F. Green (full-high operating under severe speed restriction, future gauntlet planned to whack restriction)

Lowell Line
West Medford
Wedgemere
Winchester Center
Mishawum
Wilmington
North Billerica

Haverhill Line
Ballardvale
Andover
Bradford
Haverhill

Fitchburg Line
Ayer
Shirley
North Leominster


Design of full-highs at any of these stations, any infills on these lines, or extensions like Lowell-NH are legally required to accommodate freight passage during the design process. As we saw with Winchester Center, quid pro quo's with the freight carrier can defer the actual construction of the freight passing solution. But the design process has to accommodate.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Do these agreements require both tracks(when two exist) to meet standards or just one?
Yes, because none of the lines listed restrict which mainline tracks the freights are allowed to run on. Indemnities for running anywhere as needed are baked into the same legal agreements.

For example...Lawrence Station's full-high platform is on a passenger-specific turnout per the Design Guide. High-and-wides are instructed by dispatcher bulletin order (in this case, the Pan Am dispatcher) to take the passing tracks so the platform doesn't get scraped, but a regular old under-dimension load can/does run there if it needs to.


The one exception to this is the P&W "FRIP track" in Rhode Island, where the NEC was retrofitted in the last 20 years for first-time autorack clearances. The only possible physical passage for a 19.5 ft. tall tri-level autorack car in certain spots is the un-electrified third track, so P&W is hard-bound to its track assignments as it bobs and weaves between Central Falls and Davisville. But that was a retrofit case cast forward by the signed agreement, rather than a grandfathering of current conditions like all the others.
 
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Tallguy

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Yes, because none of the lines listed restrict which mainline tracks the freights are allowed to run on. Indemnities for running anywhere as needed are baked into the same legal agreements.

For example...Lawrence Station's full-high platform is on a passenger-specific turnout per the Design Guide. High-and-wides are instructed by dispatcher bulletin order (in this case, the Pan Am dispatcher) to take the passing tracks so the platform doesn't get scraped, but a regular old under-dimension load can/does run there if it needs to.


The one exception to this is the P&W "FRIP track" in Rhode Island, where the NEC was retrofitted in the last 20 years for first-time autorack clearances. The only possible physical passage for a 19.5 ft. tall tri-level autorack car in certain spots is the un-electrified third track, so P&W is hard-bound to its track assignments as it bobs and weaves between Central Falls and Davisville. But that was a retrofit case cast forward by the signed agreement, rather than a grandfathering of current conditions like all the others.
So, for instance, if MassDOT takes a single track section and turns it into double track(let's use Ballardvale as an exanple), the new track could not have a high platform?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Any idea on where I could find copies of these agreements?
Surface Transportation Board (stb.gov) website would have the CSX ones from the last 20 years. I don't know if the ancient 1970's-80's ones from the Interstate Commerce Commission are archived anywhere online. They might be, since the specifics have been oft-referenced on RR.net for the CSX-Pan Am merger thread.

The T's Commuter Rail Design Guide where they list all of the affected routes (excluding Rhode Island) is on the T's Engineering Site.

So, for instance, if MassDOT takes a single track section and turns it into double track(let's use Ballardvale as an exanple), the new track could not have a high platform?
No. In Ballardvale's (and Andover's) case they already have the Mass Architectural Board exemption in-hand to build a mini-high on Track 2 when they get around to it.
 
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Tallguy

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Surface Transportation Board (stb.gov) website would have the CSX ones from the last 20 years. I don't know if the ancient 1970's-80's ones from the Interstate Commerce Commission are archived anywhere online. They might be, since the specifics have been oft-referenced on RR.net for the CSX-Pan Am merger thread.

The T's Commuter Rail Design Guide where they list all of the affected routes (excluding Rhode Island) is on the T's Engineering Site.


No. In Ballardvale's (and Andover's) case they already have the Mass Architectural Board exemption in-hand to build a mini-high on Track 2 when they get around to it.
The T trying to get out of building a full-high is not evidence that they couldn't
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The T trying to get out of building a full-high is not evidence that they couldn't
The M.A.B. has been particularly loathe to grant exemptions since the state-level accessibility regs were significantly tightened in 2005. They didn't grant a mini-high exemption for Winchester. Something in the legalese...probably related to Pan Am's enthroned dispatching authority across the Freight Main...compelled them to grant exemptions for Ballardvale and Andover. It's already settled business that those two second platforms will be built as mini-highs.


The Freight Main--Haverhill Line north of Lowell Jct. in Andover and Fitchburg Line west of Willows Jct. in Ayer--has a number of above-and-beyonds attached that the Lowell Line doesn't, because of its paramount importance to freight flows across the PAR/ex-B&M system. Dispatching authority going to PAR and not the T is but one of several such conditions levied on the Freight Main in the '76 sale. It probably does go as granular there as allowing any freight on any mainline (non-turnout) track without segregation.
 
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Tysons2

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Would it be feasible to get EMU service to Gillette by 2026 off an extended Fairmount/Providence starter service? I'm seeing a lot of "but it's actually in Foxborough" comments today regarding Boston being selected to host the World Cup. Admittedly that's mostly from DC fans bitter/despondent over Snyder and FedEx Field, but it's widely known how difficult it is to get to and from Pats games.

This seems like a good opportunity to showcase a modernized rail service to an international crowd that would expect such a thing from a city like Boston. And I think a new governor who prioritizes the project could also promote it as an EJ corridor extension. Or is this just a white elephant project in the long-term, given the difficulty of layering useful Foxborough runs onto Fairmount/Franklin service?

It's difficult as a layman to gauge what's reasonable here between the overly optimistic TransitMatters vision documents (love how they're driving conversation on electrification but...) and the MBTA Board's heel dragging posture under Baker.
 

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