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

tangent

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. If the N/S rail link were built. It might make land in New Hampshire and Maine more valuable since those states would then have one-seat connectivity to New York City, Baltimore, Washington D.C. etc. Right now the separation acts as a bit of resistance towards northern inter-city development. If the N/S/ rail link opens up new future electrified stretches of track north of Boston, those areas will become more valuable. Boston acts like a mini choke-point and somewhat of an apex for New England's commerce and economy. If Maine people can "Acela" right down to Washington D.C. without even having to get off a train at Boston it might make Boston a little less important. Maybe it will maybe it won't. Given Maine and New Hampshire stand to benefit they should kick in some tax dollars for the rail link to which benefit their states.
I think we are talking about value a bit closer to home. Making the commuter rail system have fewer transfers would create value around stations throughout the network especially closer to Boston where higher frequency commuter rail service has been in the planning stage for a while and Indigo service would help with capacity constraints and bottlenecks on other lines.

Although I agree that putting tracks on the Fort Point channel waterfront will make it harder to develop, since air rights developments are nearly impossible to get done without tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

South Station expansion should just be buried... not killed as a project, I mean buried underground so it doesn't require moving the post office and the platforms and tracks would be a down payment on N-S Rail.

Yes putting additional platforms underground would be a tremendous waste of money if N-S rail never happens, but the end result would be better when it comes together.
 

MjolnirMan

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Re: North-South Rail Link

What about a tunnel from Copley to Back Bay Stations below Dartmouth St. over by the Boston Public Library? Then it ties into the Orange Line too?
I always thought that Yawkey's proximity to the Green without a direct connection was frustrating:
http://i.imgur.com/RWU8EmR.jpg

If you were to retrofit Yawkey to include a new Green station on the C and D branches, you could put the platforms in the straightshot under the Pike with entrances at Yawkey and the vent building on the North side. Cost would be high and stop density in this area is already high, hard to justify just versus a quick walk to Kenmore. I really liked the proposal on this site to reconfigure the E branch to run through Back Bay as part of the Phase-3ing of the Dudley SL.
 

Arlington

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. If the N/S rail link were built. It might make land in New Hampshire and Maine more valuable since those states would then have one-seat connectivity to New York City, Baltimore, Washington D.C. etc. Right now the separation acts as a bit of resistance towards northern inter-city development. If the N/S/ rail link opens up new future electrified stretches of track north of Boston, those areas will become more valuable. Boston acts like a mini choke-point and somewhat of an apex for New England's commerce and economy. If Maine people can "Acela" right down to Washington D.C. without even having to get off a train at Boston it might make Boston a little less important. Maybe it will maybe it won't. Given Maine and New Hampshire stand to benefit they should kick in some tax dollars for the rail link to which benefit their states.
The NSRL is unlikely to promise a 1-seat ride. Most likely case is a 2-seat ride with an easy (cross-platform) transfers at Anderson Woburn to an Acela II from a Diesel-Amfleet Downeaster (which will go on to terminate at North Station Surface) or MBTA CR that has come from NH or ME and is likely to terminate on the surface at North Station (both North Station eXpansion NSX and South Station eXpansion SSX are needed)

Apparently the Amfleets, being heavy FRA-standard things, won't make the grades that the NSRL will have. To make the NSRL grades, requires either a super lightweight body or motors on every truck, or ideally both. Amfleets have neither, and the new electric locomotives don't have enough powered axles to deliver thrust to the rails.

On the NEC and other Amtrak ops (on freight lines) the grades are gentle enough that you can either have a dual-mode diesel-electric or do an engine swap (as at Washington Union Station).

But the NSRL required/assumed impossible climb-out grades of a sort that needs lots of powered axles (at least 8, not just 4)

So the NSRL will have 2 types of trains:
EMU trains with motors on most axles (like the subway or NJTransit has)
HSR trains with at least 2 power cars (4 powered axles at each end, for a total of 8)

Yes, eventually, they'll spend the billions to electrify beyond MBTA territory, but the immediate political win will be "just" the easy transfer at Woburn.
 

jklo

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Re: North-South Rail Link

I was actually going to make a post about this... Was unimpressed with the improvement to the commuter rail lines with SSX whereas NSRL largely fixes the problems that SSX intends to solve plus offers the ability to go to the other station easily. I wouldn't trust the cost estimates of NSRL though.

Would it make sense to just build the tunnel anyway and just use it as part of a new subway line?

If Maine people can "Acela" right down to Washington D.C. without even having to get off a train at Boston it might make Boston a little less important. Maybe it will maybe it won't. Given Maine and New Hampshire stand to benefit they should kick in some tax dollars for the rail link to which benefit their states.
You make it sound like Maine and NH are unable to get to DC easily today.
 

Arlington

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Re: North-South Rail Link

[DigitalIslandBoy]make it sound like Maine and NH are unable to get to DC easily today.


I'd say that you've distorted what DIB was saying and that he's basically correct.

First DIB referred to the whole of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and second, most of the NEC, today, takes either a trip on limited (often expensive) service from MHT and PWM airports, or an arduous drive to BOS for only semi-competitive flying.

Or, by rail, today it is a 3 seat trip (BON-Orange-BBY) with pretty bad connecting geometry and multiple carriers (Amtrak-Subway-Amtrak or CR-Subway-Amtrak)

A cross-platform transfer Downeaster-Acela at Woburn will be timed to be fast, easy, and single-ticket / single carrier. It should be preferred at something like 10:1 to 30:1 versus today's rail, and maybe at parity with air at least as far as Philly.
 

dwash59

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Re: North-South Rail Link

What about a tunnel from Copley to Back Bay Stations below Dartmouth St. over by the Boston Public Library? Then it ties into the Orange Line too?
+1 on the Copley to Back Bay. Although, the two platforms at Copley aren't even connected right now, so you would have to go above ground one direction unless that was addressed.

Copley is where all 4 green lines meet as opposed to 3 at Kenmore, so slightly more trolleys inbound and more flexibility outbound. Back Bay has more CR lines than Yawkey along with having Amtrak and the Orange Line.
 

Proposition Joe

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Re: North-South Rail Link

She's damned right to be fanning that hope. We need to do both: expansion first and then the NSRL.
When Pollack says that the state can do both she is saying that the state will do SSX and then not do NSRL later. This is similar to the Baker administration saying that both phases of South Coast rail will definitely happen.
 

jklo

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Re: North-South Rail Link

and maybe at parity with air at least as far as Philly.
Not really. I looked, it's close to 5 hours for most trains from BBY - Philly. Flying isn't exactly cheap but it's not like the train is either. The cheap option would be like a bus or something.

I guess my point really is that people in NH and Maine... Amtrak's not even going to be on their radar and the NSRL really isn't going to change that.
 

Arlington

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Not really. I looked, it's close to 5 hours for most trains from BBY - Philly. Flying isn't exactly cheap but it's not like the train is either. The cheap option would be like a bus or something.

I guess my point really is that people in NH and Maine... Amtrak's not even going to be on their radar and the NSRL really isn't going to change that.
We've seen in BOS-PHL that it can be in play...it is near the "competitive frontier" which moves depending on competitors.

When AA/US have acted as PHL-hub-monopolist (high prices, small planes) Amtrak ridership spiked.
When Southwest entered and AA lowered prices (and up-gauged), Amtrak tanked.
When Southwest exited, and AA jacked prices up, Amtrak spiked.
When JetBlue entered, and AA matched, Amtrak tanked (where we are today)

BOS-PHL is very much "in play" even though air is currently dominating BOS-PHL, Amtrak is "tippable" into and out of the market. Acela II may tip them back in.

If you count:
Predictable drive to Lowell/Haverhill/Woburn* vs Unpredictable drive to Logan**
Cheaper Parking
45 mins saved on security
Being delivered straight to downtown (on "other" end) (particularly NYC/PHL)
Time on train gets more competitive.

And the NSRL should skate to where the puck is going:

By 2021/22 are the Acela II trainsets and upgrades to the catenary (overhead wires) in NJ that will allow 165mph running through NJ and RI (versus a mix of 135 and 150 today).

*or MBTA extended to Nashua MH, Plaistow NH line, and future regional rail to Manchester NH (which is about on the same timeline as the NSRL)

Also note that the fairly modest upgrades by Amtrak from "Metroliner" (125mph) to "Acela" (135mph), compounded by post-9/11 security at DCA and LGA were enough to raise Amtrak's share on DC-NY from 1/3 to 2/3 of the combined air-rail market. That' won't happen with the Acela IIs but fairly small changes can move things.

**and still a multi-seat ride by train even with NSRL
 
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Coyote137

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Not really. I looked, it's close to 5 hours for most trains from BBY - Philly. Flying isn't exactly cheap but it's not like the train is either. The cheap option would be like a bus or something.

I guess my point really is that people in NH and Maine... Amtrak's not even going to be on their radar and the NSRL really isn't going to change that.
I don't know that this is entirely true. Having grown up in Maine, and been in Portland as recently as last weekend, I think there would be demand.
 

Digital_Islandboy

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Re: North-South Rail Link

I think we are talking about value a bit closer to home. Making the commuter rail system have fewer transfers would create value around stations throughout the network especially closer to Boston where higher frequency commuter rail service has been in the planning stage for a while and Indigo service would help with capacity constraints and bottlenecks on other lines.

Although I agree that putting tracks on the Fort Point channel waterfront will make it harder to develop, since air rights developments are nearly impossible to get done without tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

South Station expansion should just be buried... not killed as a project, I mean buried underground so it doesn't require moving the post office and the platforms and tracks would be a down payment on N-S Rail.

Yes putting additional platforms underground would be a tremendous waste of money if N-S rail never happens, but the end result would be better when it comes together.
There's a lot under ground there.

You have the Physical basement of South Station and the Federal Reserve Bank which connects to the station. Then below that you have the Silver line level. Then the Red Line level further down, and further down you have I-93 highway and the I-90 Third Harbor Tunnel.
 
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Digital_Islandboy

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Re: North-South Rail Link

+1 on the Copley to Back Bay. Although, the two platforms at Copley aren't even connected right now, so you would have to go above ground one direction unless that was addressed.

Copley is where all 4 green lines meet as opposed to 3 at Kenmore, so slightly more trolleys inbound and more flexibility outbound. Back Bay has more CR lines than Yawkey along with having Amtrak and the Orange Line.
Regarding Copley. The two station halves perhaps could be connected if the tunnel is done below the two platforms like Park Street Station does? I once heard someone propose why not have the Blue Line act like a more rapid route to Back Bay instead of stopping at Charles MGH have it continue down Charles Street towards Back Bay somehow and perhaps stop somewhere at Mass Ave.
 
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MjolnirMan

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Re: North-South Rail Link

The two station halves perhaps could be connected if the tunnel is done below the two platforms like Park Street Station does? I once heard someone propose why not have the Blue Line act like a more rapid route to Back Bay instead of stopping at Charles MGH have it continue down Charles Street towards Back Bay and perhaps stop at Mass Ave.
Winter Street concourse is a short (500') and level connection. But going from Copley to BBY is twice that distance, and once you cross Stewart Street, the road starts to incline - that is because the Pike and Framingham CR tunnel occupies that space below the road. I don't know exactly how shallow that tunnel is but I expect the only way to have a pedestrian tunnel from Copley reach Back Bay is by sinking below the Pike tunnel, so that would be down >13' and back up again to reach the platform.

Regarding the Blue Line idea, could that even make the turn tightness required at Cambridge & Charles to accomplish that orientation? And then you have it run straight down Charles, somehow dodge the Green Line tunnel on Boylston, and then transit down Columbus or something to terminate at Back Bay (where the tail tracks would be, somehow)...? I don't think any of that would work well. To get from Blue to Back Bay, you can switch at State and travel 1.38mi. Your BLX route requires almost 2mi of travel from State.
 

Digital_Islandboy

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Based on what the Acela did for Boston Southward, I feel the growth could continue northward. As it stands now, the Downeaster Route from Boston to Maine is Amtrak's third shortest route in the country. Coming in at only 145 miles (233 km).

The only Amtrak services shorter than the Downeaster are the:
* Shuttle Service between Springfield, MA – New Haven, CT -- 63 miles (101 km)
* Hiawatha Service between Chicago, IL – Milwaukee, WI -- 86 miles (138 km)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Amtrak_routes

In comparison
* the NE Service between Boston, MA – Washington, D.C. -- 456 miles (734 km)
* the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago, IL – Boston, MA -- 1,017 miles (1,637 km)

The Downeaster is really just a stub of a route.
Downeaster + Acela's route really just rounds-out the rest of the Northeast at 572 miles total.
 

Digital_Islandboy

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Re: North-South Rail Link

I'd say that you've distorted what DIB was saying and that he's basically correct.

First DIB referred to the whole of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and second, most of the NEC, today, takes either a trip on limited (often expensive) service from MHT and PWM airports, or an arduous drive to BOS for only semi-competitive flying.

Or, by rail, today it is a 3 seat trip (BON-Orange-BBY) with pretty bad connecting geometry and multiple carriers (Amtrak-Subway-Amtrak or CR-Subway-Amtrak)

A cross-platform transfer Downeaster-Acela at Woburn will be timed to be fast, easy, and single-ticket / single carrier. It should be preferred at something like 10:1 to 30:1 versus today's rail, and maybe at parity with air at least as far as Philly.

Is Amtrak actively looking at a transfer point at Woburn?
~D
 

Digital_Islandboy

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Winter Street concourse is a short (500') and level connection. But going from Copley to BBY is twice that distance, and once you cross Stewart Street, the road starts to incline - that is because the Pike and Framingham CR tunnel occupies that space below the road. I don't know exactly how shallow that tunnel is but I expect the only way to have a pedestrian tunnel from Copley reach Back Bay is by sinking below the Pike tunnel, so that would be down >13' and back up again to reach the platform.

Regarding the Blue Line idea, could that even make the turn tightness required at Cambridge & Charles to accomplish that orientation? And then you have it run straight down Charles, somehow dodge the Green Line tunnel on Boylston, and then transit down Columbus or something to terminate at Back Bay (where the tail tracks would be, somehow)...? I don't think any of that would work well. To get from Blue to Back Bay, you can switch at State and travel 1.38mi. Your BLX route requires almost 2mi of travel from State.
Just dawned on me I shouldn't have mentioned that Blue Line point under this thread.
Correction. From what I recall I don't believe the person was referring to Back Bay Station itself, Just that instead of the Blue Line turn-around being at Charles MGH (instead of Bowdoin) that it would continue down Charles Street somewhere. onward to the Back Bay neighborhood. I would think the full 360 degree turn-around at Charles MGH would be tighter than extended tunnel segment that continued beyond MGH Circle.
 

MjolnirMan

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Just dawned on me I shouldn't have mentioned that Blue Line point under this thread.
Correction. From what I recall I don't believe the person was referring to Back Bay Station itself, Just that instead of the Blue Line turn-around being at Charles MGH (instead of Bowdoin) that it would continue down Charles Street somewhere. onward to the Back Bay neighborhood. I would think the full 360 degree turn-around at Charles MGH would be tighter than extended tunnel segment that continued beyond MGH Circle.
My understanding for virtually any elaborated Red/Blue at Charles/MGH was to have underground tail tracks extending beyond the circle (a la Alewife) due West, with those leaving the door open for future extension down Storrow to Kenmore. Loops like the Green trolleys use are not usually possible for heavy rail and certainly not in the constraints of Leverett Circle. And regardless, turning sharply at Charles & Cambridge appears to be a tighter turn than the Harvard curve, which is already problematically limiting.

But in any case - who is this serving? Why is running the Blue South on Charles St (walkable to Red at MGH and Park, Green at Arlington/Boylston/Park) preferable to running Blue down Storrow to link Charles and Kenmore (& the #1)?
 

Arlington

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Re: North-South Rail Link

Is Amtrak actively looking at a transfer point at Woburn?
~D
Well, no, but that's were it was when any planning by anybody off.

I'll admit I've never read an official statement, but F-Line described it (and he's usually read the whole docs) it was often implied as a subtext (as, for example, it is in the spaghetti map, below, where the "NEC Line" terminates at ATC Woburn).

Even without an explicit statement, engine changes tend to go at points where:
- There's yard space to store & service both an electric fleet and a diesel fleet (essentially double the normal space demands)
- The strong market and dense service demand electrification

Woburn has the travel demand, the future service density, and the yard space. Being able to serve both the Haverhill/ME and Lowell/NH markets makes it an ideal place to collect demand from all northside markets.

Haverhill would have demand too, and if Woburn was cramped and Haverhill had yard space, Haverhill would be a natural terminus. But Haverhill directly fails the yard space test (the MBTA has struggled to site a new yard, I don't see Amtrak having an easier time)

Beyond Haverhill, you fail the demand & service density tests

=
 

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