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

bakgwailo

Active Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
950
Reaction score
51
Yeah, its what + 1.4 million on the metro & uban and about 1.2 million on Region vs CSA - Toronto is bigger, but, not that much bigger. I would define Greater Boston as the MSA, not CSA. Not that shocked that Pollack was against it - she really has seemed to flip 180 after joining the MBTA, and this isn't the first time she has seemingly made things up to try to shoot down projects.
 

jbray

New member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
54
Reaction score
20
Yeah, its what + 1.4 million on the metro & uban and about 1.2 million on Region vs CSA - Toronto is bigger, but, not that much bigger. I would define Greater Boston as the MSA, not CSA. Not that shocked that Pollack was against it - she really has seemed to flip 180 after joining the MBTA, and this isn't the first time she has seemingly made things up to try to shoot down projects.
I try to contextualize it as her understanding of the fiscal limitations. Her angle of attack here was on the electric subsidies in Toronto that Boston lacks as well as the service need (through population). Baker is not raising more funds for the MBTA and has been very vocal about it. Aiello asked the Toronto delegation how they have approached their mission financially, pointing out how the MBTA has allocated the money it has for the next few years. If I'm remembering correctly, Pollack pushed back against the bi-directional platforms in Newton by pointing out that they could either allocate that money to these three stations or to ten-fifteen stations over the same period. The angle is always the financial limit. That's the Baker perspective and that's her boss.

It's all about the backlog and not about how to integrate a backlog problem into a future solution.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,383
Reaction score
658
Further along in the meeting... 260 bi-levels coming in the short term, with an RFI for DMU/EMU vehicles next fall. Aiello wants to wait for the multiple unit RFI to go out before the T buys more conventional vehicles - Pollack responds that the bi-levels are needed today and they T would have no trouble selling them if they're no longer needed some day.

Personal opinion: I wouldn't bother with the DMU RFI. Electrify and then do EMUs.
 
Last edited:

jbray

New member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
54
Reaction score
20
Further along in the meeting... 260 bi-levels coming in the short term, with an RFI for DMU/EMU vehicles next fall. Aiello wants to wait for the multiple unit RFI to go out before the T buys more conventional vehicles - Pollack responds that the bi-levels are needed today and they T would have no trouble selling them if they're no longer needed some day.

Personal opinion: I wouldn't bother with the DMU RFI. Electrify and then do EMUs.
The DMU discussion contrasted so much with the Toronto question about electrification where Pollack wanted to point out that they were not fully electrifying and the woman was like, "Well, with five lines transforming we didn't want to assume that electricity wouldn't be outdated by the time we got to the last."
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
358
Reaction score
35
I'm confused what "Well, with five lines transforming we didn't want to assume that electricity wouldn't be outdated by the time we got to the last" means?
 

jbray

New member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
54
Reaction score
20
I'm confused what "Well, with five lines transforming we didn't want to assume that electricity wouldn't be outdated by the time we got to the last" means?
In the context of the Toronto delegation, they were talking about speculative technologies. They are updating five commuter rail lines in succession, not all at once. The secretary made a pointed question about why all five lines were not being electrified on the back of a question about electricity subsidies in Toronto that don't exist in Boston. Hydrogen powered trains was the example given to the secretary as an example of why the lines where they could electrify were not currently slated to be electrified. It was the exact opposite of the MBTA's "design for multiple futures" concept. Boston's was inaction so as not to spend money wastefully. Toronto's was to use best practices for current builds and to be open to transitioning if those best practices change.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
358
Reaction score
35
Ah, makes sense. I mean, not really — electricity has been powering trains for over 100 years now, and something doesn’t become outdated overnight. Even if some magical technology does come along, it’s not going to make hydro-powered electricity “bad”.

Either way — glad to hear the T listening to other agencies.
 

jbray

New member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
54
Reaction score
20
Ah, makes sense. I mean, not really — electricity has been powering trains for over 100 years now, and something doesn’t become outdated overnight. Even if some magical technology does come along, it’s not going to make hydro-powered electricity “bad”.

Either way — glad to hear the T listening to other agencies.
It seemed like Toronto considered it be just an example of future tech and not something they were actively provisioning for. It was more that they didn't specifically provision for electric, they just left that build un-tethered for now.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
5,678
Reaction score
558
It seemed like Toronto considered it be just an example of future tech and not something they were actively provisioning for. It was more that they didn't specifically provision for electric, they just left that build un-tethered for now.
Toronto's going to electrify the rest of its system someday. But wires and substations don't exactly get strung up in an instant, so they--like us--are prioritizing the highest-ridership segments first. I mean, it's not like it isn't well-understood here that some lower-ridership outskirts like Greenbush and outer-Fitchburg are going to have to wait their turn and spend some interregnum making the most of diesel service increases. Hell, the whole northside is pretty much going to be waiting its turn until three-quarters of the south is done, simply because the money goes further expanding off electrification already available. Metrolinx is stepping it out in the GO Transit district similarly. The only difference there is that their ridership scales a little more heavily zonal so they're prioritizing more total lines with their initial electrification...but aren't going to the endpoints of all of them yet. Those will be second-wave infills.

They aren't waiting for Jetsons Shit like hydrogen trains. Electrification by outside power source will NEVER be obsoleted by newfangled onboard power, because anything that has to carry its own fuel/engine around as extra weight is going to be less efficient than the vehicle that can grab traction power off the wire. Always and forever...but especially with trains because of the sheer power required. Maybe they chucked mention of it in their study, but it's a non-sequitur. And since Pollack was in full-on troll mode again today any excuse on the table to not electrify probably ended up getting more attention than it normally would.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,648
Reaction score
867
“Lynn appeals for commuter rail service at subway prices”

“With other options such as a Blue Line extension remaining unavailable and the Department of Transportation concluding this summer that traffic is growing worse, city and state officials called Monday for a service upgrade on the existing commuter rail line as a viable short-term option....”

-Boston Globe
Link
 

eber

New member
Joined
Aug 22, 2019
Messages
5
Reaction score
2
Did anybody attend the FMCB meeting?
I didn't attend but you can watch the meeting here. Rail Vision agenda item starts around 2hr 26 mins in.

Pollack did talk about how this study was done on service levels only and if and when they make decisions, that they should note that this study only can conclude things about service levels and not about greenhouse gas/de-carbonization/diesel futures/other pro-electrification issues. I don't think it was as anti-electrification as her previous stances.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,383
Reaction score
658
I didn't attend but you can watch the meeting here. Rail Vision agenda item starts around 2hr 26 mins in.

Pollack did talk about how this study was done on service levels only and if and when they make decisions, that they should note that this study only can conclude things about service levels and not about greenhouse gas/de-carbonization/diesel futures/other pro-electrification issues. I don't think it was as anti-electrification as her previous stances.
It sort of is, though, since she's arguing that there's no benefit to electrification if you can achieve the same thing with diesel. Even she, though, had to hedge that the MBTA's ability to do that is pure conjecture. It would be logical to assume from her conclusions that we should be pursuing a diesel solution because it's cheaper and results in the same ridership increase, assuming an impossible diesel service level and disregarding the clear environmental benefits of electrification, to say nothing of the supply chain for DMUs in the US, which is effectively non-existent.

DMU 15/15 service is simply much less plausible and much less beneficial than EMU 15/15 service, and MassDOT's study obfuscates that by design.
 

shmessy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
1,469
Reaction score
116
It sort of is, though, since she's arguing that there's no benefit to electrification if you can achieve the same thing with diesel. Even she, though, had to hedge that the MBTA's ability to do that is pure conjecture. It would be logical to assume from her conclusions that we should be pursuing a diesel solution because it's cheaper and results in the same ridership increase, assuming an impossible diesel service level and disregarding the clear environmental benefits of electrification, to say nothing of the supply chain for DMUs in the US, which is effectively non-existent.

DMU 15/15 service is simply much less plausible and much less beneficial than EMU 15/15 service, and MassDOT's study obfuscates that by design.

My God. How can such a forward-thinking, technologically advanced region like Boston/Cambridge be saddled with such Luddite political leaders???????

.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
5,678
Reaction score
558
It sort of is, though, since she's arguing that there's no benefit to electrification if you can achieve the same thing with diesel. Even she, though, had to hedge that the MBTA's ability to do that is pure conjecture. It would be logical to assume from her conclusions that we should be pursuing a diesel solution because it's cheaper and results in the same ridership increase, assuming an impossible diesel service level and disregarding the clear environmental benefits of electrification, to say nothing of the supply chain for DMUs in the US, which is effectively non-existent.

DMU 15/15 service is simply much less plausible and much less beneficial than EMU 15/15 service, and MassDOT's study obfuscates that by design.
Diesel equipment can cover the service levels as a matter of record, including when that's a boring old 1980's F40 pulling a few boring old 1980's single-level coaches. Indeed that was one of the smelliest things about their past claims about "Well, we have to buy DMU's first before we can even begin to entertain implementing the Fairmount service levels we promised"...which was just a naked ploy to never implement the service. But, yes absolutely, the inefficiency starts to show with repetition and the year-in/year-out diesel subsidy is going to run much higher at Urban Rail headways than any form of electric, even with the up-front capital costs of installing the infrastructure. It's ridiculous on a "LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" level to pretend that scaling distinction not only doesn't exist but isn't 'the' driving force behind most of these same big-picture decisions everywhere in the world. Give Pollack credit for being a loyal foot-soldier in trying to bullshit for her boss. She has to know full well how ridiculous she sounds, but when a sandbag needs a salesman. . .

Diesel's role in the whole mix--at least for the inside-128 Urban Rail services--is holding down the fort until electrification comes. The upcoming 200-coach order and some easy-grab loco lease opportunities (i.e. Amtrak having 50-75+ worn but reliable GE Genesis P42's about to be replaced by a new Siemens order arriving 2021-24) means they can quite easily set aside the pretty good-condition Pullman single-level fleet and a few of the least-crap Bombardier or MBB cab cars to put together a dozen-plus 4-car Urban Rail sets. Perfect for starter service because the price is right, the guesswork is minimal, and buying literally anything else--DMU or EMU--is going to take longer to arrive and longer to alleviate the equipment shortage. But you most definitely get those Fairmount and Riverside wires strung up as quick as possible so the diesel bridge era is short-lived as possible, because you want those services to move closer in the direction of sustainability with time. Ridership increases will help, but in Pollak-speak it's forever tying one hand behind back to call that "good enough" and nevermore. Were it not knowingly bullshit, frozen-in-time higher-than-average ops cost would be a deeply bizarre 'feature' to stan for. Moving in the direction of sustainability means getting the EMU's down south, then shifting those beater sets up north for additional Urban Rail frequency expansion to continue their job as short-term sercice seeders. Eventually up there you're going to want DMU's, because it's pretty clearly established that northside electrification isn't going to be a thing until you've got the southside at least 75%+ wired (i.e. all except for the Dorchester-pinched Old Colony and South Coast-dependent Stoughton Line, which have other big-picture question marks to answer first). You'll probably get at least a full pre-rebuild's lifespan out of that north DMU fleet before all 4 mainlines have been wired up at least to 128.


In a way I find it refreshing that they're just throwing new shit at the wall each meeting to try to scuttle this. The fact that the talking points have to keep changing like this means they're grasping at staws at both the fiscal and technical levels to make their objections stick and are getting antsy that they haven't ID'd any/enough allies on the board willing to swallow it hook/line. That doesn't mean RER or electrification are any more likely to happen in this (unlikely to run 3 terms) Administration. But it's clearly got traction with the public and within enough corners of State Gov't that they're too risk-averse to just go right out, nuke it, take their ball, and go home...instead choosing to bitchily play along. That's good. Even if there's a short-term setback the proposal's achieved staying power.
 

whittle

Active Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Messages
241
Reaction score
17
The presentation shows the Reading urban rail line having it's terminus at a new station next to 93. Does anyone else feel this is fairly redundant in addition to Anderson (which is probably the only station for which the "unrestrained parking" assumption is truly accurate)? If there's a desire to have a park and ride stop on the line it would make more sense to me to put it on 128.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
5,678
Reaction score
558
I
The presentation shows the Reading urban rail line having it's terminus at a new station next to 93. Does anyone else feel this is fairly redundant in addition to Anderson (which is probably the only station for which the "unrestrained parking" assumption is truly accurate)? If there's a desire to have a park and ride stop on the line it would make more sense to me to put it on 128.
The 93 stop approximates the old steam-era Reading Highlands stop that lasted to the mid-50's...which was important less for its population catchment (mediocre) than the abundant land for yards and engine shops. It's reappeared from time to time as short-lived crayon doodles, and wouldn't be a bad fetch because land is still fairly abundant by that exit to do it cheaply.

But unless it's a package deal with the loudly/consistently demanded Quannapowitt/128 infill it's not answering any demand question that Anderson hasn't already spoken for. The Quannapowitt site currently occupied by car dealerships has huge redev potential complementing an already fast-growing business park across the street, nearby retail, a nearby legacy residential neighborhood, and direct bus tie-ins in addition to the onsite offramp. Very well-rounded mix very likely to hit on its TOD potential because it's unusually multifaceted for an offramp site in a fringe beltway 'burb. P'nR capacity as a 128-side alternative to Anderson is great...but only a part of the mix Quannapowitt has going for it.

Reading Highlands has nothing around it, not even as much as Anderson which is denseish but a bit skewed to industrial. You're never going to densify it enough to be anything more than a parking sink. That's OK if the pecking order says Quannapowit is a more multi-dimensional prospect whose car owners need to be spending more of their money at all that TOD and Reading Highlands is just the pure-commuter reliever lot affording that 128 TOD more room to breathe. That makes logical sense because you can do Reading Highlands cheap and barebones without deigning it "Regional Transportation Center"-level investment importance like Anderson. As a strictly complementary piece it's an easy grab that doesn't act too redundant.

As a mutually-exclusive alternative to Quannapowitt...fully agreed, it's a baffling choice. Like...they took an honest look at sitings, what could be done with them, and how they played off Anderson and said "No...that one" as pure binary choice??? I almost have to wonder if they're trying to tank Urban Rail line-by-line now by pitching it as un-impactful as humanly possible on the tax bases of the host 'burbs. Wakefield's going to blow a gasket over the shade that just got thrown at one of their most promising growth districts.

It really must be terrifying having to live inside Pollack's head these days when this is the bleakness she has to wake up and try to sell every day on her boss' behalf.
 

The EGE

Active Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2013
Messages
707
Reaction score
68
Reading Highlands was at Mineral Street; it got dropped pre-1964 (even before the small yard there was gone, I believe) because it was so close to Reading. There's never been a stop between there and North Wilmington because it's all low-density and mostly swamp. Maybe you can put a station with a little bit of parking at Lowell Street, but there's zero room for Anderson-style parking sink. Might be a worthwhile parking reliever for downtown Reading, but probably only with local parking permits required.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,383
Reaction score
658
Yesterday's presentation:


From CommonWealth - Pollack now floating that they'll have to extend Keolis to allow time to plan a more radical rethink. Extending Keolis is a bad, but it's a sign that she and Baker understand that they've lost.


Also impressed that Mohl is presenting the costs without shocked emoji language. They're big numbers, but they get smaller when you consider that this isn't one project but a whole suite of them over two decades or more. For context, the MBTA is budgeted to spend $8.3 billion on capital projects from 2020-2024, in 2019 dollars, or about $49 billion discounted from 2030 at 4% over a 20-year period.

Not to mention that the "all-in" solution is, well, all-in. Tho other capital spending would be expected that isn't within that $28B. That's not true for some of the more limited alternatives, since they don't include some station improvements, NSRL, GJ, etc. Next to about $50B in total spending, $28B for a completely new rapid transit system (which would account for all CR capital spending over a multi-decade period - including the whole of NSRL) doesn't look too bad.
 
Last edited:

Top