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

cden4

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We should be electrifying the commuter rail if for no other reason that it will have immediate health and environmental benefits to all the communities it runs through. The air pollution when a train starts up at a station has been shown to be significant, and damages the health of everyone in the area.
 

ceo

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Interesting that the presentation claims $10B for NSRL and double-tracking Old Colony from Braintree to South Station (and Grand Junction shuttle service with it). That sounds... optimistic. But it also sounds like they're not highballing the cost as they have done with so many other things.
 

ceo

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And this is the first I've heard of a Grand Junction shuttle service. If that's full urban rail, gates down every 7.5 minutes at Mass Ave, Main St and Broadway is going to be fun and excitement for sure. I wonder how hard that'll be to convert to light rail if they've already double-tracked and electrified it, other than connecting it to different things at each end and re-profiling the tracks.
 

Equilibria

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And this is the first I've heard of a Grand Junction shuttle service. If that's full urban rail, gates down every 7.5 minutes at Mass Ave, Main St and Broadway is going to be fun and excitement for sure. I wonder how hard that'll be to convert to light rail if they've already double-tracked and electrified it, other than connecting it to different things at each end and re-profiling the tracks.
It's not really much different than a signalized intersection, and a signalized intersection would stop traffic a lot more than once every 7.5 minutes.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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It's not really much different than a signalized intersection, and a signalized intersection would stop traffic a lot more than once every 7.5 minutes.
Under light rail it's not much different. On an FRA crossing it's very different indeed with longer mandatory-minimum gate timings, no ability to share phases because RR has absolute priority, and queue dumps (like DTMF switches) that are reactive rather than anticipatory and more often are less effective for one traffic direction than the other. We have a Worcester-NS study on the books with every crossing impact data point available. Any tap-dancing allowable on the technological end and any xMU vehicle choice barely puts a dent in the problem vs. what the new frequencies would further exacerbate.

Plus it is physically impossible to wire 25 kV lines under the Memorial Dr. overpass. It's way too low for safe clearance over a T bi-level. Insulated section coming off the bridge is the only solve, and with the bridge speed limit very low coming off the Allston curve that leaves gap-out potential for the train to cover. As LIRR riders know too well, it's excruciating to get stuck dead in an unpowered gap and have to wait for the backup battery to twist the wheels at walking pace to get on the other side. Multi-unit EMU might be long enough to keep enough coasting momentum, but a singlet or pair running an off-peak shift?

They've always maintained this one as a TBD pending further analysis of the problems, and a likely first cut if it starts running into a technical headwind or if throughput limits at the junctions cap bi-directional frequencies at something less than name-brand Urban Rail limits. While absolute feasibility is achievable if you twist the screws hard enough, it's just not strategic enough on that particular mode to go to the mat for when Orange/Red improvements bring the 2-seat trip to more parity and Urban Ring remains the really high-leverage option exercisable at any time.
 

Arlington

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We should be electrifying the commuter rail if for no other reason that it will have immediate health and environmental benefits to all the communities it runs through. The air pollution when a train starts up at a station has been shown to be significant, and damages the health of everyone in the area.
This is truer where trains run frequently and stops are closely spaced in dense areas--which I don't actually see many places.

At current frequencies and station spacing, it is hard to argue that Stage 3+/4 diesels are net-harmful (I'd say they are net-wins--even at double the frequency--compared to suburbanites driving themselves)

But exactly on the Fairmont, Stoughton/Providence, & Framingham/Worcester lines the case overlaps for more trains, closer/infill stations, and electrification as a matter of "all of the above reasons"
 

George_Apley

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And this is the first I've heard of a Grand Junction shuttle service. If that's full urban rail, gates down every 7.5 minutes at Mass Ave, Main St and Broadway is going to be fun and excitement for sure.
I really wish they'd drop this and focus more on how to use the Green Line on GJ to realize part of the Urban Ring. Connecting Lechmere to BU (and potentially to Harvard) provides new rapid transit service, relieves pressure on the Red Line and the Central Subway, and accomplishes the same goals as the MBCR shuttle as long as there's a transfer at West Station.
 

stick n move

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Its probably too late now tbh, glx is going to be on the opposite side of the cr tracks that go between the gj tracks and future green line tracks. The mcgrath hwy overpass is also right there. The gj tracks could go under the highway but then theyd have to link up with the college ave spur which is on a viaduct crossing the cr tracks. I mean its probably possible but itd be much better to be designed in now vs having to connect it later.
 
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George_Apley

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Its too late now tbh, glx is going to be on the opposite side of the cr tracks with the mcgrath hwy overpass right there. The gj tracks could go under the highway but thats where the glx tracks are on a viaduct to get over the cr tracks and in the video the college ave tracks go straight with the union sq tracks on the opposide and curving downward. Basically itd be the biggest shit show of all time trying to connect gj to glx.
I think it can definitely be done, but I'll let @F-Line to Dudley weigh in, because I'm pretty sure I've seen him explain this before.
 

stick n move

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It probably can idk, but it would just be better to design it in now vs finagle it in later because I imagine both gj tracks would have to go up a viaduct and connect to the college ave spur, because the union sq viaduct is on the opposide side. F-line would definitely know better how the switching of both directions of gj track with both college ave tracks would work Im not familiar with that much track being crossed like where the northbound college ave track would have to cross the southbound track to get to the westbound gj track... it seems like a shitshow. I just think if they are considering it at all later, it would be better to design in the future expansion now vs making it work later.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Its probably too late now tbh, glx is going to be on the opposite side of the cr tracks that go between the gj tracks and future green line tracks. The mcgrath hwy overpass is also right there. The gj tracks could go under the highway but then theyd have to link up with the college ave spur which is on a viaduct crossing the cr tracks. I mean its probably possible but itd be much better to be designed in now vs having to connect it later.
Nothing whatsoever to do with feasibility or timing. Shovels-in-ground GLX is plunking a bi-directional junction on top of a football field's worth of commuter rail tracks, and is switching sides of the Lowell ROW once on the Medford Branch. The underside of the McGrath overpass is enormous. You trench an open-cut duck-under of the Fitchburg tracks from the GJ trajectory, and send under the Union Branch tracks in a flying junction until each of them inclines-up on the east side of the overpass. Easy...single $2-4M expenditure at most. You don't have to design it now because there's no other infrastructure to shift around and it isn't necessary at all to mount until the mode change is fine.


I do not, however, know how you're going to snake BRT busways through there as a different-mode Urban Ring alternative, because there definitely is a space problem with 3 modes instead of 2 + a graft-on. Most of the UR-referencing renders I've ever seen (both old and more recent recycled bits) have the bus crossings between the GJ and Brickbottom going much further afield to make that connection.
 

stick n move

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Ahh gotcha... sry bout the crappy map draw app, but basically this? Gj passes under cr and glx tracks.
 
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ceo

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I don't know that I share your confidence... looking at the piers they've built, the inbound Union Square ramp starts ascending more or less right at the McGrath overpass, so I don't think your GJ duck-under is going to be able to meet it. That's assuming, of course, that that's where you want it to go. If you go out the Urban Ring route instead, you kind of have to build a connecting station there and I've no idea how you'd do that.
 

George_Apley

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I don't know that I share your confidence... looking at the piers they've built, the inbound Union Square ramp starts ascending more or less right at the McGrath overpass, so I don't think your GJ duck-under is going to be able to meet it. That's assuming, of course, that that's where you want it to go. If you go out the Urban Ring route instead, you kind of have to build a connecting station there and I've no idea how you'd do that.
I don't know that I see a problem. The GJ branch would have more ascending to do to meet the Union Branch, but why would the way it's being built block connection?

Why do they have to build a connecting station? Lechmere is the connecting station. It'd be a bummer that riders from Union would need to go to Lechmere and then backtrack, but that's the best option.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I don't know that I share your confidence... looking at the piers they've built, the inbound Union Square ramp starts ascending more or less right at the McGrath overpass, so I don't think your GJ duck-under is going to be able to meet it. That's assuming, of course, that that's where you want it to go. If you go out the Urban Ring route instead, you kind of have to build a connecting station there and I've no idea how you'd do that.
The state long ago confirmed that in meeting Q&A's as the tie-in point if the UR were ever converted to light rail. That answer came after the GLX scoping studies settled on the 2-branch extension currently being built, with the configuration of Brickbottom Jct. more or less stet. There isn't any official doubt about that feasibility. Also, we're not talking a tunnel flyunder, but an open cut with retaining walls overpassed by a tiny Fitchburg Line bridge and then inserting itself under the Union tracks in a box structure. The incline space required isn't large from a 12-15 ft. depth, and with the Grand Junction curve needing to merge onto the GLX side instead of the Fitchburg side at wider angle they'll be cutting through the tip of the Somerville Elder Services parking lot (which sits on a RR easement) to get on-alignment before the first bridge piling rather than follow the current single track.
 

ulrichomega

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The state long ago confirmed that in meeting Q&A's as the tie-in point if the UR were ever converted to light rail. That answer came after the GLX scoping studies settled on the 2-branch extension currently being built, with the configuration of Brickbottom Jct. more or less stet. There isn't any official doubt about that feasibility. Also, we're not talking a tunnel flyunder, but an open cut with retaining walls overpassed by a tiny Fitchburg Line bridge and then inserting itself under the Union tracks in a box structure. The incline space required isn't large from a 12-15 ft. depth, and with the Grand Junction curve needing to merge onto the GLX side instead of the Fitchburg side at wider angle they'll be cutting through the tip of the Somerville Elder Services parking lot (which sits on a RR easement) to get on-alignment before the first bridge piling rather than follow the current single track.
https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/files/projects/glx/contract/glx-technical-proposal-second-half.pdf (I'm referencing 4-174, about page 34).

Looking at the official proposal, it's going to be really tight. I'd be surprised if the GJ tracks don't branch off immediately after the EB Union Square Viaduct hits. I'm sure it will work in practice, but wow is that a tight margin.
 

whighlander

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

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Sorry -- But -- Electrification has to be sold on its benefits outside of the nebulous environmental benefits

Today and for the foreseeable future Natural Gas burned at the Power Plant [the dominant source of electricity in the region] is not much different from compressed natural gas burned in a bus or a train -- once you move away from using oil-fueled diesel engines its mostly a wash. If the vehicles go to hydrogen power -- you can argue that the direct vehicle motive power [either burned or fuel cell] is cleaner than the mix of electric generation now that we've abandoned so much of the nuclear generation [about 3,000 MW of nuclear left out of about 20,000 plus MW of generation inside New England] *1

As of 3:30 PM EDT 10/09/19 ISO New England was showing total System Load of 13307 MW -- supplied as follows:
10/09/2019 15:33NaturalGas7099
10/09/2019 15:33Nuclear3312
10/09/2019 15:33Hydro655
10/09/2019 15:33Coal28
10/09/2019 15:33Renewables [Sum] *770
10/09/2019 15:33Wood+195
10/09/2019 15:33Refuse+362
10/09/2019 15:33Wind+165
10/09/2019 15:33LandfillGas+29
10/09/2019 15:33Solar+19
10/09/2019 15:33Other2
total Generation and long term purchases 11,094
short term purchases [spot market] 2,213

*Note all the sources marked + are summed to give the Renewables marked [Sum]
 

Vagabond

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Sorry -- But -- Electrification has to be sold on its benefits outside of the nebulous environmental benefits
The core environmental benefit isn't from the fuel-switching of the train, its from the population switch in transportation mode. Electrification would mean more reliable, rapid, frequent, (and hopefully more connected) transit, which causes an increase in ridership. Especially with a connected N-S station the benefit is in the regional alteration of the housing dynamics as well, and the increased ability to live along transit lines to reach employment centers. The reduced need for long-distance, traffic clogged, SOV travel is an amazing public benefit. Personally, I'm dying to see what the GLX will do to the travel patterns of Somerville residents. Then project that change to the greater region.

Side-note... I love that you're taking the energy-grid perspective, but looking at a snapshot of the current electrical grid is mildly disingenuous - if the electrification of the transit system is looking ahead 20 years, then look ahead in the future of the power grid too. The Quebec Hydro line will already be complete, the offshore wind market will be thriving, and battery technology will eliminate most peaking plants. If there is any lesson to be learned, look at how quickly technologies can take over. Gas power exploded over the last 20 years, and renewables paired with customer demand changes will be just as impactful. Quick presentation of the ISONE grid interconnection queue if energy is anybody's thing... https://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2019/04/offshore_wind_conference_mcbride_presentation_april_10_2019_final.pdf
 
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bigpicture7

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The core environmental benefit isn't from the fuel-switching of the train, its from the population switch in transportation mode. Electrification would mean more reliable, rapid, frequent, (and hopefully more connected) transit, which causes an increase in ridership. Especially with a connected N-S station the benefit is in the regional alteration of the housing dynamics as well, and the increased ability to live along transit lines to reach employment centers...
This x1000. This is about enabling a greater number of people to give up cars by means of validating previously invalid housing/commuting schemes. This is not primarily about trainset to trainset environmental performance comparisons.
 

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