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

ulrichomega

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Seems like a great report. I do wonder about the interplay between their assertion that such rapid turnarounds are possible today and the assertion that we need single-level EMUs. While I think every single line of the report is worth pursuing, it looks like a huge investment in terms of electrification to get to the levels they're asking for. Definitely better than the equivalent MBTA proposals, though.
 

HenryAlan

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Their basic premise regarding equipment is that we need to buy new rolling stock anyway. Seen this way, a large purchase of EMUs reduces the need to purchase pulled cars and new diesel engines and is essentially cost neutral. The incremental capital cost is primarily related to electrification. Most of the other track work they mention, such as simplifying the South Station approaches is very inexpensive. Segregation and then improvement of one line at a time makes the bill for electrification easier to swallow.

Strategically, advocating for the Worcester line as proof of concept is a great idea. The Pike construction makes people more likely to support investment there over some other part of the system. Once the improvements are made, we'll then begin to see data supporting further investment on the other lines.
 

Equilibria

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Their basic premise regarding equipment is that we need to buy new rolling stock anyway. Seen this way, a large purchase of EMUs reduces the need to purchase pulled cars and new diesel engines and is essentially cost neutral. The incremental capital cost is primarily related to electrification. Most of the other track work they mention, such as simplifying the South Station approaches is very inexpensive. Segregation and then improvement of one line at a time makes the bill for electrification easier to swallow.
The problem with that logic, as much as I like the idea, is that EMUs require electrification to work. By definition, you need to replace one line of vehicles at a time. How do you space out your EMU orders and deliveries to account for the likely delay-ridden and long-lead infrastructure work? It's not as simple as "we need rolling stock in 2021 anyway, so let's just make it EMUs!" which is kind of how the report sounds.

Strategically, advocating for the Worcester line as proof of concept is a great idea. The Pike construction makes people more likely to support investment there over some other part of the system. Once the improvements are made, we'll then begin to see data supporting further investment on the other lines.
Again, I like the idea, but they kind of rest their vision for two-track service during Allston with a hand-wavey "find a layover yard somewhere near 128". Where do they suggest placing the yard? You're not taking tracks at Riverside and disrupting operations there, and if you took part of the parking lot you'd have to cut across the GL yard to access it. You'd have to close Recreation Road to go south of the tracks, and the tracks aren't either level or at-grade with the road and golf course, so it's probably not constructable on the west side of the Charles... if there were a way to do it, TM would have said so and not hand-waved it.
 

HenryAlan

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On the first point, I believe they are suggesting latching on to another agency's order, essentially off the shelf. Such purchases are much more feasible for FRA compliant stock, which this would be, so I don't think it's true that too much lead time would be required over any other not yet begun acquisition process. As for the the second part, I don't know enough to make an intelligent comment, but perhaps one of the Transit Matters volunteers who posts here could address the concern.
 

Arlington

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What would it take for the Worcester line to receive toll proceeds from the Pike? Imagine a Auburn-Boston congestion surcharge ($0.10 to $0.50) that was lockboxed to WOR-BOS electrification and track.
 

Equilibria

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What would it take for the Worcester line to receive toll proceeds from the Pike? Imagine a Auburn-Boston congestion surcharge ($0.10 to $0.50) that was lockboxed to WOR-BOS electrification and track.
A change to State Law. Legally, toll proceeds can only be used on the facility (Western Turnpike, MHS, Tobin) on which they are collected.

It's impossible to imagine getting Western Turnpike tolls diverted to rail. MHS... maybe.
 

stick n move

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On the first point, I believe they are suggesting latching on to another agency's order, essentially off the shelf. Such purchases are much more feasible for FRA compliant stock, which this would be, so I don't think it's true that too much lead time would be required over any other not yet begun acquisition process. As for the the second part, I don't know enough to make an intelligent comment, but perhaps one of the Transit Matters volunteers who posts here could address the concern.
Yup, trainsets like the silverliner that philly and denver use already exist and have been in use for a while. No reason we couldnt order some of them to use here.

Denver RTD

Single floor, emu’s, at high frequency, with high platforms, that are tried and tested would work great to turn our commuter rail into essentially a heavier version of heavy rail subway. If we had these on our entire CR network with NSRL it would give basically all of eastern ma a subway ride to downtown.

Sooo much potential with our existing tracks, and many more infill stations, along with within downtown, and high level platforms.
 

jklo

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A change to State Law. Legally, toll proceeds can only be used on the facility (Western Turnpike, MHS, Tobin) on which they are collected.
Pretty sure that's federal law. Either way, can't see it changing. They're still paying off the Big Dig debt, aren't they?
 

Arlington

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Pretty sure that's federal law.
No, no federal law is at stake for Masspike tolls: While you can't add tolls to Interstates that were built untolled (e.g. I-84 or I-93), you can (as far as the Feds are concerned) do whatever you want with your tolls collected on your tollways predate the Interstates (e.g. Masspike and, by analogy, the Triboro bridge and other TBTA facilities around NYC with an interstate badge).

Famously, Nelson Rockefeller, as NY Governor, was free to take the surplus from the TBTA (most of whose bridges and tunnels are Interstate-badged) and used it to fill moneyholes of the NYC Subway by creating a state authority--the NY MTA--that would own them both. All it took was a state law. [see The Power Broker]

Most states mix it up on their lockbox laws across gas and sales taxes and tolls. The feds only care that you don't put tolls on roads freshly-built from the Interstate program.

A change to State Law. Legally, toll proceeds can only be used on the facility (Western Turnpike, MHS, Tobin) on which they are collected.
It's impossible to imagine getting Western Turnpike tolls diverted to rail. MHS... maybe.
Agreed: it is neither politically possible nor economically useful to toll west of Auburn (unless we separately discuss upgrading rail between Worcester and Springfield in the Amtrak thread)

But since "MHS* tolls" basically == "Pike between 128 and Back Bay" (I'd exclude the Ted even if the law didn't), I'd propose using Eastern Pike (east of Auburn) and MHS ...a stretch of toll road that is highly-targeted and highly-parallel to Worcester-Boston commuter rail.

..Either way, can't see it changing. They're still paying off the Big Dig debt, aren't they?
Irrelevant, since I'm proposing a rush-hour surcharge (increasing revenues above whatever's currently collected-committed)

During its rebuild the road will probably have lower capacity anyway, and rather than let it bog down entirely, a rush-hour surcharge would (1) discourage enough driving for it to flow freely (2) directly fund the very-parallel Worcester line as a reliever to the construction-hampered pike.

*MHS = Officialspeak for Metropolitan Highway System...which basically = the Tolled Inner Pike + rest areas on 128, right?
 
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Charlie_mta

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While you can't add tolls to Interstates that were built untolled (e.g. I-84 or I-93),,,,
Many states ARE doing that. They're building additional "HOT" lanes that have electronic tolling on free Interstate system expressways.
 

Arlington

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Many states ARE doing that. They're building additional "HOT" lanes that have electronic tolling on free Interstate system expressways.
Technically not: the HOT lanes (eg. VA's I-495, I-66, I-395, and I-95) are done as legally separate new facilities, and, critically, leave an unchanged number of untolled lanes (you can't "take" interstate lanes and put a toll on them, but you can take the unbuilt turf and build a toll road). Pennsylvania was cleanly smacked town when it proposed to toll I-80 (it was just a "take-and-toll" ).

Relevant here is that Virginia's share of the PPP building their HOT lanes will, in fact, be used to upgrade their commuter rail that parallels I-66 an I-95 (both untolled and HOT-tolled)
 
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jklo

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Hmm, interesting. Have to think plenty of money is being spent on the Allston rebuild to just fund that if you were to raise tolls or to do a surcharge so it may be moot.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yup, trainsets like the silverliner that philly and denver use already exist and have been in use for a while. No reason we couldnt order some of them to use here.

Denver RTD

Single floor, emu’s, at high frequency, with high platforms, that are tried and tested would work great to turn our commuter rail into essentially a heavier version of heavy rail subway. If we had these on our entire CR network with NSRL it would give basically all of eastern ma a subway ride to downtown.

Sooo much potential with our existing tracks, and many more infill stations, along with within downtown, and high level platforms.
This comes up every once in awhile, and needs to be debunked every once in awhile. No one is going to be ordering more Silverliner V's. SEPTA has already sunset those Rotem pieces of shit for its next EMU order by glomming onto NJ Transit's Bombardier MultiLevel EMU order. They have numerous design flaws including a serious truck issue that sidelined the whole fleet two years ago at crippling hit to SEPTA service levels, and lifetime maintenance offsets to keep that flaw from returning are going to blow out the operating costs for running the sets from now until retirement. The overall build quality is shoddy with the same rattles, broken plastic, and electrical shorts that plague the T's Rotem coach lemons that were built at the same factory. They're morbidly overweight, which was a factor in that serious truck issue. And Denver, which has not had the same problems with their fleet because they're lighter (no 25 Hz transformer core needed out west) and run a less taxing schedule than SEPTA, used its later system launch to invest heavily up-front for the starkly higher maintenance costs SEPTA is now taking a bath on in order to get that shock out of the way proactively. Nobody at RTD is claiming they got a "good" product...just that they did what they had to do to accommodate the only product that was readily available.

Plus, it has effectively driven Rotem from the North American commuter rail market coming on the heels of the T debacle and less-disastrous but still shoddy coach orders for TriRail and Metrolink. They handily lost the couple orders they bid on afterwards, and have now closed all their U.S. assembly factories and stopped bidding altogether. It's much like Breda taking a knee from North American rapid transit for 15 full years after they screwed up the Type 8's and MUNI LRV's nine ways to hell. If SEPTA wanted another single-level EMU of any kind to replace the ancient Silverliner IV's they would've had to start all over again with a new design because the V's (what little was salvageable) were all-Rotem design. Meaning that other than the most superficial of carbody shape, door config, and interior livery the VI's would've been yet another entirely new-from-ground-up car that would not have been able to trainline at all with the V's. They saw the folly of trying to oversee a second all-new EMU design in the span of a decade and flew into NJT's arms where the self-powered MLV would be debugged on somebody else's dime and the unpowered cab cars and spacer trailers were already extremely well-established product.

Since the MTA Kawasaki M8's and M9's are very highly specialized (and overweight) product for the New York tunnels and Montreal's nicely generic Bombardier MR-90's are sitting at too many design generations ago at 25 years old...there isn't today an off-shelf single-level make that's FRA-compliant. It's either Euro adaptations (and the T project management risks therein at managing the adaptation) or join forces with NJT and SEPTA on schlepping some MLV EMU options.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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On the first point, I believe they are suggesting latching on to another agency's order, essentially off the shelf. Such purchases are much more feasible for FRA compliant stock, which this would be, so I don't think it's true that too much lead time would be required over any other not yet begun acquisition process. As for the the second part, I don't know enough to make an intelligent comment, but perhaps one of the Transit Matters volunteers who posts here could address the concern.
The dead giveaway for ordering pipeline is NJ Transit's MLV EMU order. And the reason for that is NJT's contract with Bombardier for those cars is so ultra, super-slushy that it was clearly designed from Day 1 to be launderable to other agencies. Which has already happened with SEPTA adopting the same car for its Silverliner IV replacement in lieu of trying their hand at another all-new design. The base order is for 113 cars, but there are 636 options. But since a self-powered set includes generic unpowered MLV coach cab cars at the ends, the new powered cars in the middle, and generic MLV coach cars as mid-set spacers there's 3 different car types to order amongst those 749 total cars. Because NJT has so many existing MLV coaches and cabs, they don't differentiate any ratios in the contract as to how many of each car type would be produced. Those units would be set each time they drain a portion of the options.

Where this sets up other-agency laundering without hurting themselves is that it can be expected that SEPTA or the T can self-order the tried-and-true MLV coaches and cabs on a separate push-pull order, and then they simply phone up NJT to buy off a small portion of strictly power-car makes (and maybe a few extra cab cars, since you'd need 2 of them to run an EMU set instead of 1 cab for loco-haul). It's a miserly quantity in terms of the total number of options in the order, and so long as the receiving agencies don't overcustomize their separate generic-coach orders it'll all be plug-and-play.

Note that the T currently has its RFP out for 200 more coaches to replace the ailing single-level Bombardier fleet. Rotem's out of the market, and Kawasaki has stepped back from the generic coach market to focus on rapid transit and all its New York EMU's so is expected to have cool interest if any. CRRC is a dicey bet after all the federal saber-rattling about Chinese biz sanctions, and their SEPTA push-pull fleet is unproven new design very different from T bi-levels (plus I bet SEPTA regrets now that they've adopted MLV EMU's and can't intermix the Bombardier coach cars with their new CRRC push-pull fleet). So Bombardier bidding coach MLV's has to be considered a top-two favorite. Which would be a design break from the Kawasaki/Rotem cars unless a coaxed-along Kawasaki or some stealth bidder was willing to build to the K-car design. But...200 MLV's to plug tomorrow into the push-pull fleet would so very very easily future-proof us for electrification if the T then purchased some power cars from the arse end of NJT's order. It would even give them a generous 5-7 year head-start: settle up the critical fleet replacements now knowing the new push-pull coach purchase has forward compatibility with EMU electrification, do a proper CIP budgeting period and studies/EIS'ing for electrification, then have perfected-tech power cars on the property ready to plug around reassigned coaches from this pool.

EDIT:
The problem with that logic, as much as I like the idea, is that EMUs require electrification to work. By definition, you need to replace one line of vehicles at a time. How do you space out your EMU orders and deliveries to account for the likely delay-ridden and long-lead infrastructure work? It's not as simple as "we need rolling stock in 2021 anyway, so let's just make it EMUs!" which is kind of how the report sounds.
Does above explanation answer the question? TL;DR: (1) Order stock (no overcustomization) Bombardier MultiLevel coaches for the ongoing push-pull coach RFP for imminent order. (2) In 5 years, swap some back-end NJT slush options for the MLV power cars. (3) Reassign % of MLV coaches already in-service to electric equipment pool, as they can seamlessly operate loco-hauled or sandwiched around the EMU power cars.

Since SEPTA has already done this with NJT options to plug a dire equipment renewal needs (albeit EMU-for-EMU over there), the mechanism for doing it is the same. MARC is another ripe candidate that could join in on the fun, since it already has a new MLV coach fleet on the Penn Line but is only on a short-term Service & Support deal for its Bombardier electric loco fleet before they need to find permanent replacements.
--------------------

RE: Layover yard for Riverside Urban Rail: there's adequate space behind Riverside. Have to use your imagination a little, but there's 4 tracks' worth of fan-out space behind the adjacent parking garage, and Urban Rail sets are going to be considerably shorter (3-5 cars) than Regional Rail sets and thus won't need the same layover acreage. Nor would they need 6-7 layover tracks like the to-capacity ones out in the 'burbs, because you don't need to stuff as many headways in the yard for a shift change or start-of-day at 128 vs. 495 before return trips end up re-balancing the supply at the shorter distance.

Also, the wider paved area behind the Green Line carhouse occupied by little storage sheds is the ex- Newton Lower Falls Branch (abandoned 1986) heading straight to the unused rail bridge over 128. You can bend 2-3 much longer tracks back there. Tight fit or split between behind-carhouse and behind-garage, all needs can be accommodated on existing T property with no property-taking or Charles Reservation hand-wringing necessary.

EDIT. . .
Again, I like the idea, but they kind of rest their vision for two-track service during Allston with a hand-wavey "find a layover yard somewhere near 128". Where do they suggest placing the yard? You're not taking tracks at Riverside and disrupting operations there, and if you took part of the parking lot you'd have to cut across the GL yard to access it. You'd have to close Recreation Road to go south of the tracks, and the tracks aren't either level or at-grade with the road and golf course, so it's probably not constructable on the west side of the Charles... if there were a way to do it, TM would have said so and not hand-waved it.
^^Make sense why they hand-waved?^^ This has been looked at before, and while the property strips behind Riverside are narrow they did check out as adequate capacity. In particular there is quite a bit of overgrowth on the far west side of the property from the parking lot to the abandoned rail bridge to move/consolidate the porta-sheds in back if they needed to clear space along the Lower Falls ROW for Urban Rail layover tracks.
 
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Tallguy

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So, the Worcester Line proposal involves four trainsets laying over. Riverside has more than enough space to fit them, and the space between BL and Cambridge st is an option for two sets at least.
 

jbray

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Stephanie Pollack at the FMCB is pursuing a line of questions that suggests she is skeptical of electrification for Boston. If I may say so, she also went out of her way to shut down the population of Greater Boston compared to Toronto by saying, "Yeah, well that includes RI and NH and greater Toronto is more populated than all of MA" which completely ignored that the commuter rail goes all the way to Wickford Junction and the entirety of Providence ridership. Also pretending that because Boston has >700,000 people that Brookline/Cambridge/Somerville/Everett/Quincy/Chelsea don't factor into the core. I am someone who appreciates her know-how and leadership, but that was trash logic to try and out-maneuver a correct comparison of like regions.
 

whighlander

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Stephanie Pollack at the FMCB is pursuing a line of questions that suggests she is skeptical of electrification for Boston. If I may say so, she also went out of her way to shut down the population of Greater Boston compared to Toronto by saying, "Yeah, well that includes RI and NH and greater Toronto is more populated than all of MA" which completely ignored that the commuter rail goes all the way to Wickford Junction and the entirety of Providence ridership. Also pretending that because Boston has >700,000 people that Brookline/Cambridge/Somerville/Everett/Quincy/Chelsea don't factor into the core. I am someone who appreciates her know-how and leadership, but that was trash logic to try and out-maneuver a correct comparison of like regions.
Re: Toronto
Not to dispute Ms Pollack but according to the Wiki Toronto
Population
Provincial capital city (single-tier)2,731,571 (1st)
• Density4,334.4/km2 (11,226/sq mi)
Urban
5,429,524 (1st)
Metro
5,928,040 (1st)
Region
9,245,438[a]
and Boston
Population
(2018)[2][3][4][5][6]
City694,583
• Density14,344/sq mi (5,538/km2)
Urban
4,180,000 (US: 10th)
Metro
4,628,910 (US: 10th)[1]
CSA
8,041,303 (US: 6th)

Note the "Region" is an entirely artificial construct as there are pieces of that which probably interact more strongly with cities in the US than with the core of Toronto

On the basis of recognized demographic geography [with which you would hope MS Pollack would be conversant]
Toronto City is about the Same as Boston City + all the stuff inside Rt-128 aggregated together
Toronto Metro is larger than Boston Metro -- but smaller than MA [6,902,149] and much smaller than Boston CSA [aka "Greater Boston" which includes some of RI and NH]
 

bakgwailo

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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

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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.
 

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