Diesel Light Rail?

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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:48 pm

One problem is that NIMBYs tend not to be open to rational discussion. To many NIMBYs a train is a train, and you can't convince them that there is a difference between a Stadler DMU and, say, a unit train of crude oil. Besides, you can't have trains running on those tracks -- children play there!
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:31 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote: The idea of a simple, NJT Riverline-style service with Stadler GTW's running single-track in places to keep station costs and land takings to a minimum while playing nice with pre-existing bikeways seems like a real magic bullet that could restore service to places like Arlington, Bedford, or the Central Mass Line while ruffling a bare minimum of feathers in the process.


Your basic suggestion would make sense in a more rational world, but you picked some non-optimum examples of where to implement it. The former B&M Bedford Branch right-of-way isn't wide enough to support a track alongside the Minuteman Bikeway, and there is zero chance that the trail/bike lobby would let the route be reclaimed for a rail line at this point. As for the Central Mass, the NIMBYs in Weston so hate outsiders breathing their private air that they've even blocked trail use for the dormant Central Mass. A trail might bring in Those City People, you know.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:18 pm

The problem is there just aren't enough ROW's available that could implement this without hitting an active RR ROW along the way. The hub-and-spoke model of every road and RR emanating from Boston makes it difficult to do transfers on a DLRV. Why would anyone lay track on the Central Mass ROW if it were impossible to continue inbound on the Fitchburg Line? Or the same on the Lexington Branch? The money you save buying cheap on the vehicles gets lost on the revenue by passing up freely available thru-routing at the junctions with the main RR network. That's just a waste.

The RiverLINE works because it's stringing a bunch of suburbs together to a transfer node. There isn't really a hub-and-spoke tie-in. Ditto the other operators using the lightestweight Stadlers. While there are some cheap Mattapan-style applications to consider here, there aren't many because of the way the rail network is constructed here. Not nearly enough to bank on that mode for anything more than a curiosity demonstrator. Hell...even Mattapan itself is kind of a bygone relic that should've been replaced by a proper extension of the Red Line by now.

The only kind of small diesels the T is going to buy are FRA-compliant DMU's. Because you can use those anywhere on the common-carrier network and future scalability is guaranteed. I can't think of any purely shuttle isolated DLRV applications here that would add very much. For one, because there just aren't enough available ROW's inside Route 128 where the demand for high frequencies is greatest. It's not a very high return on investment out in the sparser bedroom communities, and not a great use for intact ROW's that direct-connect to the common-carrier network.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby sery2831 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:47 am

This is a broad topic and not MBTA related... So I am moving it to the New England Forum where is it more suited.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:39 pm

sery2831 wrote:This is a broad topic and not MBTA related... So I am moving it to the New England Forum where is it more suited.


What's more, you need two things for any kind of transit expansion: Political will and a budget.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby kilroy » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:20 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:
sery2831 wrote:This is a broad topic and not MBTA related... So I am moving it to the New England Forum where is it more suited.


What's more, you need two things for any kind of transit expansion: Political will and a budget.


And both of those are in VERY short supply in the US.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby atlantis » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:21 pm

kilroy wrote:
Otto Vondrak wrote:
sery2831 wrote:This is a broad topic and not MBTA related... So I am moving it to the New England Forum where is it more suited.


What's more, you need two things for any kind of transit expansion: Political will and a budget.


And both of those are in VERY short supply in the US.


Especially in large parts of New England! :(
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby joshg1 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:09 am

From an interest in planning rather than serious proposals-

Medford Branch- lots of backyard taking
Watertown Branch, Alewife to Waltham- lots of parking lot taking
From Newton Highlands down through Needham to Medway- a "109" route
Danvers thru Peabody to Salem

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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby highrail » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:00 pm

"cheaply"? I don't think so. The least expensive thing might be the railcar. The cost of the engineering, environmental study, construction (bed, rail, ties, signals, crossings, stations, etc) would make the effort impossible. Nice daydream, but that is about all. Danvers to Salem, for example..a bus vs a few million in construction...an easy choice
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:31 pm

highrail wrote:"cheaply"? I don't think so. The least expensive thing might be the railcar. The cost of the engineering, environmental study, construction (bed, rail, ties, signals, crossings, stations, etc) would make the effort impossible. Nice daydream, but that is about all. Danvers to Salem, for example..a bus vs a few million in construction...an easy choice


Except that it's not.

1) Buses, like it or not, have a negative stigma. People like taking trains, and look down their noses at buses.

2) If the line is decently patronized, trains (even DMUs) have a higher capacity than buses, and are significantly more comfortable.

3) Salem gets pretty awful traffic. Especially during a certain month of the year, but even year-round most major roads back up pretty awfully, especially around the train station. Have you ever tried to drive MA 114 from Danvers to Salem at rush hour? Buses are subject to this traffic congestion, trains are not.

4) A branch to Danvers would have the potential to offer one-seat rides to Boston (North Station's got the capacity, though the Eastern Route does have a few congested spots) during peak hours, while I don't see any easy way to do an express bus from Danvers to Boston. Yes, this thread is about light rail, but diesel light rail and DMUs are fairly interchangeable, and hopefully even more so after the new 2015 regulations go into effect, so I think the branch would likely end up with the ability to run through service to Boston.


Of course it's expensive. No one's arguing that. But I don't think rail from Salem to Danvers should be as easily dismissed in favor of buses as you argue. And it's certainly not impossible.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:21 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:
highrail wrote:"cheaply"? I don't think so. The least expensive thing might be the railcar. The cost of the engineering, environmental study, construction (bed, rail, ties, signals, crossings, stations, etc) would make the effort impossible. Nice daydream, but that is about all. Danvers to Salem, for example..a bus vs a few million in construction...an easy choice


Except that it's not.

1) Buses, like it or not, have a negative stigma. People like taking trains, and look down their noses at buses.

2) If the line is decently patronized, trains (even DMUs) have a higher capacity than buses, and are significantly more comfortable.

3) Salem gets pretty awful traffic. Especially during a certain month of the year, but even year-round most major roads back up pretty awfully, especially around the train station. Have you ever tried to drive MA 114 from Danvers to Salem at rush hour? Buses are subject to this traffic congestion, trains are not.

4) A branch to Danvers would have the potential to offer one-seat rides to Boston (North Station's got the capacity, though the Eastern Route does have a few congested spots) during peak hours, while I don't see any easy way to do an express bus from Danvers to Boston. Yes, this thread is about light rail, but diesel light rail and DMUs are fairly interchangeable, and hopefully even more so after the new 2015 regulations go into effect, so I think the branch would likely end up with the ability to run through service to Boston.


Of course it's expensive. No one's arguing that. But I don't think rail from Salem to Danvers should be as easily dismissed in favor of buses as you argue. And it's certainly not impossible.


Except it is now. Rail trail's going in on the Danvers Branch, so that flank of the Peabody/Danvers commuter rail proposal is now eliminated.

The only rail option left out of Peabody Sq. is the other official study option on the Salem & Lowell ROW to North Shore Mall/Route 128. That one has no trail plans because of the power lines and no means for pedestrians to across the highway, and Peabody still very badly wants passenger service.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:33 pm

So take everything I said and replace "Danvers" with "Peabody".
They were both part of the same study anyway, so if Danvers is going to succumb to the trail lobby, give service to Peabody.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby highrail » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:13 pm

With all due respect, still a daydream. Do you really think that anyone would fund a project costing millions for about a three mile connection to Salem? I doubt it. In this state, that cannot afford what they have already? I would love to see rail, but really... It only took 40 years to get the new station in Salem...I worked on the committee in the '70s that discussed all of this as part of the "North Shore Transit Improvements Project."
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby joshg1 » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:40 pm

In my first post I should mention I looked at the map and picked the few lines I thought A) without enough current traffic to make time separation likely, B) haven't been completely obscured, or C) don't go through sparsely populated areas- I ruled out Framingham- Lowell for instance. D) I only considered Eastern Mass, and E) thought of these as feeders to CR or half *baked* substitutions for subways.

This is all academic- something to chew over. Whichever road or rail project you pick- there isn't enough room. Even without NIMBYs and environmental impact mitigation the cost of ROW acquisition is so high as to make buses and less destination parking more cost effective than new branch lines.
Last edited by joshg1 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Diesel Light Rail?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:42 pm

highrail wrote:With all due respect, still a daydream. Do you really think that anyone would fund a project costing millions for about a three mile connection to Salem? I doubt it. In this state, that cannot afford what they have already? I would love to see rail, but really... It only took 40 years to get the new station in Salem...I worked on the committee in the '70s that discussed all of this as part of the "North Shore Transit Improvements Project."


No. Not when we're spending $2B for a South Coast Rail project with local politicians still demanding to spend even more for electrification, and promising to give those con artists at Housatonic $300M to run a train to nowhere on the Berkshire Line. Don't tell me that $125M for a service with almost exactly the same ridership as SCR is the stuff of naive foamer fantasy. Go ask the Governor why he's proposing to spend 20 times as much to bring in fewer riders from places where people don't have a need to commute where the rails go.
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