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

Brattle Loop

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Per this F-Line post from 2019 it seems like electrifying Foxboro requires one additional substation on top of the upgrades to the Sharon substation needed for Providence/Fairmount/South Station terminal area, which honestly doesn't seem like a lot to ask. And that extra substation clears the rest of the low(-ish) hanging fruit in terms of southside electrification capacity, so it'd have to get done sooner or later.

At the same time, it's a relatively short time window, and Foxboro itself is way down the priority list in terms of services (and services needing electrification). If we were in a position where electrification was ongoing, I could see the politicians (perhaps with a little financial assistance from interested parties *cough*Kraft*cough*) maybe pushing Franklin/Foxboro higher up the priority list to be able to show off the progress they've made coinciding with the World Cup (and, oh look, it'll be a [re]-election year, how convenient). It's probably not a good enough reason on its own to get a project moving, though, and not unreasonably so given the bevy of higher-priority electrification priorities. (TL;DR, it doesn't really make sense, but it's easy enough that it could be done as a "shiny object" in certain circumstances)
 

ceo

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Yeah, I don't how a project as major as electrification could possibly be justified for an event that only lasts a month.
 

HenryAlan

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Electrification and EMU service seems unlikely. But I do think it's pretty likely we'll see a full fledged Foxboro schedule by then. So, not shiny new EMUs, but frequently scheduled trains. That should really cover the kind of connectivity to Boston needed for World Cup purposes.
 

Riverside

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{Bad idea incoming...}

You could -- not probably not should -- but you could run EMU service down to Mansfield and focus on electrifying the Framingham Secondary only, rather than the full Franklin Branch to Walpole/Foxboro, and do a reverse move at Mansfield.

But. In the words of Jeff Goldblum (or one of his characters, anyway):

1655486017809.png

But I agree with @HenryAlan -- frequent diesel service seems much more attainable and would still hold significant "wow" factor to the riding public.
 

Brattle Loop

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It would be nice if the platform at Foxboro could be raised for level boarding in time for the World Cup.
That certainly seems like an achievable goal. I know the freight passing track is done so there's no clearance route conflict, would it take anything more than some money and concrete to get it done?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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That certainly seems like an achievable goal. I know the freight passing track is done so there's no clearance route conflict, would it take anything more than some money and concrete to get it done?
It's already 100% ADA-compliant with the mini-high, so it's no priority for the T given the backlog of totally non-accessible stops on the system. Some Kraft fun bux, however, could make it happen.
 

Stlin

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Today's Regional Rail Update (pdf) to the board basically confirms a couple of things:
1) the T is moving towards a combination battery EMU and in motion charging via OCS model in order to avoid low bridges and the cost of actually building the OCS. However, it looks like Fairmount will be entirely battery with endpoint charging.
2) tentative time line of 2028/2029 for first Trains on Fairmount.
3) The EJ line is getting brought out to Beverly.
4) There's potential for a pilot on Providence using Amtrak equipment from 2024 on.
5) there's an interesting mention of old Colony Double Track Study, which hopefully indicates an effort to resolve the Quincy pinch.
6) New maintenance facilities, in addition to Readville, around Lowell and Beverly?
Screenshot_20220623-141409_Adobe Acrobat.jpg
 
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themissinglink

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1) the T is moving towards a combination battery EMU and in motion charging via OCS model in order to avoid low bridges and the cost of actually building the OCS. However, it looks like Fairmount will be entirely battery with endpoint charging.
Looks like the North Station area isn't planned to be electrified with OCS, which is interesting (probably a cost-saving move).

I hope that the Fairmount line eventually gets wired up.

5) there's an interesting mention of old Colony Double Track Study, which hopefully indicates an effort to resolve the Quincy pinch.
I'm really glad to hear this, let's hope something actually comes out of it.
 

Java King

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Reading this report kind of makes me sad. If I live to be 90 or 100 and stay in Scituate, I "might" see something for Greenbush. LOL Why do these things take so long in the USA while Asia and Europe complete billion-dollar projects in few short years?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Today's Regional Rail Update (pdf) to the board basically confirms a couple of things:
1) the T is moving towards a combination battery EMU and in motion charging via OCS model in order to avoid low bridges and the cost of actually building the OCS. However, it looks like Fairmount will be entirely battery with endpoint charging.
This worries me. They only got 6 EMU bids in the old RFI, with only 4 of them arguably viable (Hyundai-Rotem couldn't meet Buy America requirements, and Stadler was the scarily overcustomized Caltrain FrankenKISSes instead of an off-shelf make). That's a bear market speaking, as the industry's indifference to the T contract was readily apparent. The BEMU RFI only got 5 bids (still unpublished who), and if it was the same general grouping they might have a very hard time finding a viable make. The Alstom MLV EMU's that NJ Transit is ordering also aren't likely part of these bids (understandable: they were very heavy to begin with, so likely can't take the battery bulk), since the slides mentioned that all the options are incompatible with push-pull stock (the MLV's are comprised of stock coaches around their power packs, so can be set to loco-hauled with ease).

BEMU's are also nowhere near as performance-efficient as straight EMU's because of the added battery weight that must be lugged around. This is especially worrisome given that the EMU RFI bids trended to the overweight side. There's also more failure modes associated with the extra complexity, something rotten timing has already reminded us of this week with the Orange Line.

Not wiring Fairmount at all is a big red flag. That is far and away the cheapest of all to do, because the only infrastructure involved besides the actual OCS is a single paralleling station (a.k.a. circuit breakers) lineside at about the 5-6 mile mark. Nothing else, as it chains off Sharon substation which will already be upgraded for Providence. BEMU's are going to accelerate slower, which is a schedule penalty on a very dense stop-spaced line. And the extra failure modes are going to be an OTP demerit. Seriously...it's a layup to wire that line, and they won't do it. What does that say about their commitment across the board if they're skittish about doing it here? This is "I hate my OCS dept." from bus-land all over again.

2) tentative time line of 2028/2029 for first Trains on Fairmount.
That is hella lame given that they aren't even stringing up wires. BEMU's, because they're so unproven and scarce, are going to take much longer to procure than straight EMU's. They concern-trolled about how long it took Amtrak's NEC electrification to thrash through design-build, but then they take a punt like this on the easiest line? Suspicious.

3) The EJ line is getting brought out to Beverly.
The electrification plan here is totally incoherent. I get that the branches might have some challenges with unavailability of power lines, but why is the main going un-wired through Chelsea? It's paralleled by high-tension power lines the whole way through, and there's a substation right there in Everett. Are they trying to slew-foot it with more failure modes.

Honestly, this was the dodgiest of the proposals to begin with being the only northside outpost with tons of up-front sunk cost in the terminal district. If it's fraying at the edges with kludge-fests, maybe it's time they turn their attention to something easier like Worcester or Franklin/Foxboro that chains off some pre-existing scale.

4) There's potential for a pilot on Providence using Amtrak equipment from 2024 on.
Not likely. The slide says surplus equipment comes available when the "Aveila" (Acela II) is online, but that makes no sense because that equipment is captive to the Acela only. The Regionals aren't getting their new equipment fully-deployed until second half of the decade, and the new power cars + locos will be amongst the last of the 400+ pieces of new equipment to go into service. 2026-27 seems more likely.

5) there's an interesting mention of old Colony Double Track Study, which hopefully indicates an effort to resolve the Quincy pinch.
Interesting. There hasn't been a study done on this since the MPO stinker that tried to MOAR TUNNEL everything for an absurd I-93 add-a-lane grab in Dorchester. There's several installments that would help here: 1) DT'ing the JFK and Quincy platforms; 2) Dorchester pinch fixes; 3) Wollaston-Quincy Adams pinch. Any of them would help lots.

6) New maintenance facilities, in addition to Readville, around Lowell and Beverly?
Probably the Billerica Shops property since they already own it and it's configured as a yard. Not sure exactly what they'd need that sooner for if the Lowell Line isn't going to be wired. Do they really want to trust a BEMU that might be ailing to make the trip up there? Beverly/Peabody has very little space. That one seems especially dodgy since the rolling stock would have to traverse the stupidly unwired Chelsea stretch of mainline. And how in the hell can you not wire Fairmount if Readville is going to be the southside center of the self-propelled universe???
 

Riverside

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In principle, I find the idea of discontinuous electrification intriguing. The question of wiring on the inner miles notwithstanding, using batteries on the branch segments could be an interesting solution to de-dieselize Lynn. But...

Why oh why oh why does American transit continue to look for bleeding edge untested solutions to problems that have mature, tested, reliable solutions deployed worldwide? (He asked with rhetorical drama.)

I agree with @F-Line to Dudley: the lack of wiring along Fairmount is a huge huge huge red flag, and local politicians should raise all hell over it. Without wires, there's literally nothing to keep the T from just redeploying diesel push-pulls whenever they want -- and no commitment to guarantee the arrival of multiple-unit service at all. Delays will cascade into delays, all the while that residents of Dorchester will continue to live with the pollution and poorer service entailed by diesel push-pulls.

BEMUs for outer Rockburyport at least has a use case that looks somewhat reasonable on paper. There's no such justification for Fairmount. And this brings me back to the rhetorical question I asked: at best, this is a short-sighted spending choice to (appear to) reduce upfront costs; at worst, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to sandbag electrification while appearing to make "progress". And that dynamic plays out constantly, across the US, when it comes to transit spending, and it shouldn't be tolerated.

@datadyne007, I don't know if you are still active with TransitMatters, but I hope you and the team will call out the short-sightedness of this proposal, and "rally the troops" among local politicians: this seems pretty unequivocally like an attempt to saddle Boston's poorest neighborhoods with the promise of less reliable service using unusual equipment, with less public investment in terms of both dollars and built infrastructure.

On a lighter note...
Not likely. The slide says surplus equipment comes available when the "Aveila" (Acela II) is online, but that makes no sense because that equipment is captive to the Acela only. The Regionals aren't getting their new equipment fully-deployed until second half of the decade, and the new power cars + locos will be amongst the last of the 400+ pieces of new equipment to go into service. 2026-27 seems more likely.
"This is the MBTA Acela service to Providence, making stops at Back Bay, Ruggles, Readville, Westwood/128, Canton Junction, Sharon, Mansfield, Attleboro, South Attleboro, Pawtucket, and Providence. MBTA Acela to Providence, making all stops, Acela to Providence. Please have your fares and passes out and ready for validation by a conductor. MBTA Acela to Providence."

(While I doubt its operational feasibility, it would be fun in a rather ridiculous way.)
 

The EGE

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There are 28 Avelia trainsets on order, versus 20 Acela sets. Perhaps some Northeast Regional trips will be replaced with Acela trips, thus freeing up Sprinters?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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BEMUs for outer Rockburyport at least has a use case that looks somewhat reasonable on paper. There's no such justification for Fairmount. And this brings me back to the rhetorical question I asked: at best, this is a short-sighted spending choice to (appear to) reduce upfront costs; at worst, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to sandbag electrification while appearing to make "progress". And that dynamic plays out constantly, across the US, when it comes to transit spending, and it shouldn't be tolerated.
BEMU's for Stoughton also isn't bad, as the whole "will-they/won't-they" on South Coast Rail Phase II makes substation siting a dicey proposition. Unless the phase breaks were aligned such that Stoughton electrification could begin its life chained to Sharon sub and then easily transition later to a South Coast Rail sub somewhere in the Stoughton-Raynham stretch they pretty much have to get their Vision Thing in order on SCR II before making any decisions here. BEMU's would be a punt, but a justified one.

Really, though...there's no "off-shelf" BEMU's to be had. Pretty much any application is going to be experimental as hell, and that's an absolutely terrifying prospect to task the MBTA to manage. It sure does look like they're leaning into it to make not doing it a more likely outcome.

"This is the MBTA Acela service to Providence, making stops at Back Bay, Ruggles, Readville, Westwood/128, Canton Junction, Sharon, Mansfield, Attleboro, South Attleboro, Pawtucket, and Providence. MBTA Acela to Providence, making all stops, Acela to Providence. Please have your fares and passes out and ready for validation by a conductor. MBTA Acela to Providence."

(While I doubt its operational feasibility, it would be fun in a rather ridiculous way.)
Oh, that would get some foamers bubbling, that's for sure. But it's hugely impractical; Acelas have no door traps and cannot board at low-platform stations. There's absolutely no way in hell that all of the Providence Line mini-highs are going to get raised by the end of the decade with what passes for design-build schedules at this agency. They have to wait until some share of the Siemens Sprinters get freed up by the newfangled Regional equipment...and that's pretty firmly decade's-end.
 

Riverside

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BEMU's for Stoughton also isn't bad, as the whole "will-they/won't-they" on South Coast Rail Phase II makes substation siting a dicey proposition.
Yes, I agree. In general, I could buy using BEMU's for most medium/long-distance routes where there will be an electrified inner core with more frequent service and a longer tail where electrification is harder to justify -- basically in cases where otherwise the service will be run with diesel.

But that's the rub: BEMUs should replace diesel service to expand the reach of an electric network; they shouldn't be used to build a threadbare electric network.

And yes -- MBTA Acela service is a fantasy. Maybe RIDOT could be convinced to purchase/take custody a couple of them and subsidize a revived Beacon Hill supercommuter service from Westerly (or New London, if they can convince ConnDOT to tag along) and South County and contract Amtrak to run them express-ish from Providence/Pawtucket (e.g. 1 arriving in Boston for a 9am start-of-business and another one that leaves South County at a more reasonable time and gets you into Boston mid-morning).

Of course, Westerly also lacks a full-high, but presumably passenger volumes would be modest enough that a mini-high with selective door-opening could fly.

But yes -- the Acelas aren't a great fit for our needs here.
 

Stlin

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Does anyone have an idea of the bridge clearances currently on Fairmount? It would help understand how reasonable the Ts reluctance to touch them is, as the southern end of it does have quite the density of Road-over-Rail bridges. That said, per the verbal information, apparently a battery pack from a battery electric bus is good enough to get a train from Boston to Newburyport. On the scale of a train, that wouldn't be particularly heavy, and for the 9 miles of Fairmount would seem to be fairly nominal for something fully battery.

Also, the MBTA is likely not to be the first US mover in BEMUs - evidently that's Metra out of Chicago who actually has an RFP (97728-PP) out for Battery Trainsets.

And yes -- MBTA Acela service is a fantasy. Maybe RIDOT could be convinced to purchase/take custody a couple of them and subsidize a revived Beacon Hill supercommuter service from Westerly (or New London, if they can convince ConnDOT to tag along) and South County and contract Amtrak to run them express-ish from Providence/Pawtucket (e.g. 1 arriving in Boston for a 9am start-of-business and another one that leaves South County at a more reasonable time and gets you into Boston mid-morning).

Of course, Westerly also lacks a full-high, but presumably passenger volumes would be modest enough that a mini-high with selective door-opening could fly.

But yes -- the Acelas aren't a great fit for our needs here.
Lol, the crazy pitch of the MBTA taking the Acelas was one of my very first posts on this site. Suffice to say it was thoroughly broken as an idea. That said, the Amtrak slide mentions "potential modifications required to connect coaches."

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but both T and Amtrak loco hauled services use standard AAR couplers, and what I would assume are standard HEP connections and standard trainline comm systems for things like door logic and cab cars. Implicitly, wouldn't things like Sprinters, HHP-8s, even the AEM-7s would presumably need no modification at all to pull a rake of MBTA coaches over the same territory?

Now, what are the chances that what Amtrak is proposing is a modification of the Acela power cars into coach hauling locomotives? It's also a fairly common, yet extremely impractical foamer idea, but it's the only thing I can come up with that jives with the mentioned increased availability with avelia arrivals. I know they have a standard AAR on the front, but I believe their rear is a semipermanent drawbar. 20+ years after they were built, it might not be too major surgery to change that to an AAR and adapt the gangway to fit a standard low-level.
 
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Tallguy

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In principle, I find the idea of discontinuous electrification intriguing. The question of wiring on the inner miles notwithstanding, using batteries on the branch segments could be an interesting solution to de-dieselize Lynn. But...

Why oh why oh why does American transit continue to look for bleeding edge untested solutions to problems that have mature, tested, reliable solutions deployed worldwide? (He asked with rhetorical drama.)

I agree with @F-Line to Dudley: the lack of wiring along Fairmount is a huge huge huge red flag, and local politicians should raise all hell over it. Without wires, there's literally nothing to keep the T from just redeploying diesel push-pulls whenever they want -- and no commitment to guarantee the arrival of multiple-unit service at all. Delays will cascade into delays, all the while that residents of Dorchester will continue to live with the pollution and poorer service entailed by diesel push-pulls.

BEMUs for outer Rockburyport at least has a use case that looks somewhat reasonable on paper. There's no such justification for Fairmount. And this brings me back to the rhetorical question I asked: at best, this is a short-sighted spending choice to (appear to) reduce upfront costs; at worst, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to sandbag electrification while appearing to make "progress". And that dynamic plays out constantly, across the US, when it comes to transit spending, and it shouldn't be tolerated.

@datadyne007, I don't know if you are still active with TransitMatters, but I hope you and the team will call out the short-sightedness of this proposal, and "rally the troops" among local politicians: this seems pretty unequivocally like an attempt to saddle Boston's poorest neighborhoods with the promise of less reliable service using unusual equipment, with less public investment in terms of both dollars and built infrastructure.

On a lighter note...


"This is the MBTA Acela service to Providence, making stops at Back Bay, Ruggles, Readville, Westwood/128, Canton Junction, Sharon, Mansfield, Attleboro, South Attleboro, Pawtucket, and Providence. MBTA Acela to Providence, making all stops, Acela to Providence. Please have your fares and passes out and ready for validation by a conductor. MBTA Acela to Providence."

(While I doubt its operational feasibility, it would be fun in a rather ridiculous way.)
Yes, this is under intensive discussion at TM.
And if you all sitting down.....I completely agree with F-Lines posting;)
 

Tallguy

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The fundamental problem is that BEMUs cost 2x what EMUs do....and the same battery issues our climate puts on battery buses will affect battery trains. The T is just HOPING that battery tech will magically improve. And Amtrak coasts across numerous bridges on NEC. T trains could do the same.
 

Riverside

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The fundamental problem is that BEMUs cost 2x what EMUs do....and the same battery issues our climate puts on battery buses will affect battery trains. The T is just HOPING that battery tech will magically improve. And Amtrak coasts across numerous bridges on NEC. T trains could do the same.
I can’t speak to the feasibility of coasting, but the point about hopes for magical improvement is spot-on.
 

sneijder

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I know I'm ranting a bit, but this kind of makes me lose faith in the MBTA adopting true EMU regional rail in our lifetimes. As if they are just saying "here you can have your electric train so the transit and climate advocates can stop bothering us" rather than an actual consideration of making trip times competitive with driving, or creating an equitable, sustainable system that will attract legitimate ridership and solve the housing/transportation crisis.

Guess we're stuck with car congestion for at least a decade still. Boo.
 

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