Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter Rail

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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby ts.puruz » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:15 pm

BandA wrote: I don't know what Formula Grant Funds are. So they have to identify federal grant money to make this happen. Some of the grant money would be used for rolling stock no doubt, some would go to operating subsidy?? some to the host railroad for track upgrades.


So I just asked and was told a) use the forum in the bad website that they won't hire me to redesign and b) that formula grants can't be used for operations and don't kick in until the service has been running for at least a year so can't be used for new service.

Googled:

https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/gra ... rants-5307

Now to my real clients.
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby BandA » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:35 am

Ok, what would the likely train speed be from Worcester to Lowell, Lowell to Nashua, assuming the track is upgraded? I know this has been addressed elsewhere, probably in the train from NYC to Maine thread.
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:34 am

The short section of P&W Gardner Branch from Worcester Union to Barbers Jct. is in good condition with smooth-riding CWR. Not sure if it's formally Class 2-rated or just top-quality Class 1. Wouldn't be hard at all to upgrade to an even-keel 35 MPH passenger MAS if it's not already there. However, at 2.75 miles from platform to junction it's much too short to make that big a difference in schedule time.

Worcester to Ayer is lowest-circle-of-Hades Class 1 that's in such poor state-of-repair it has few spots that would even top out at 25 MPH passenger MAS once you tally up all the speedos. Worse for passengers, though, is the barf-bag ride quality even at that sluggish speed. Freights crawling at bicycle speed have wicked harmonic rocking issues with the cars on that shot trackbed, and it's derailment-prone. When the Grand Junction is down for repairs and the Hospital Train has to take the scenic route B&A <--> Gardner Branch to Barbers <--> Worcester Branch <--> Fitchburg Line it's a 5-hour trip at today's speeds, and fully half that time is chewed up on PAR's gimpy connector.

Fitchburg Line Ayer-Willows is newly-upgraded Class 4, but it's only 2 miles from wye to junction with a complicated crossover dance required so not enough acceleration room to rev up that much. And good luck Mr. Bono paying for the T-spec PTC installation on the loco fleet that you didn't have to do in Woonsocket, paying for the MBTA trackage rights and insurance, and hashing out with PAS dispatch slots through that stretch and slots through congested/chaotic Hill Yard.

Stony Brook Branch is 8th-circle-of-Hades while Worcester Branch is 9th-circle. Class 1/25 MPH passenger. Signalized and gets more maintenance than the Worcester Branch so probably not as many speedos, but it's another barf-bag ride. The fact that 'the' Ayer-Portland freight main is operated in this condition is big reason why PAR is a national embarrassment.

Lowell-Nashua is Class 3 under the same signal system that exists south of Lowell. Heavily-weathered track since the last top-down upgrade was nearly 40 years ago when the T briefly expanded to NH...not bad-bad condition, but I doubt 60 MPH MAS is attainable when the speedos are tallied up. Especially north of N. Chelmsford Jct., which gets an order of magnitude less freight traffic than the double-iron between Bleachery and N. Chelmsford. It would most definitely be a barf-bag between North Chelmsford Jct. and Nashua at that higher Class 3 speed without some substantial resurfacing, because it's stick rail near the river with a lot of trackbed lumpiness accumulated over 35 years through that watershed. This state-of-repair work would be, relatively speaking, an inexpensive gimme of a high-ROI project if you were MassDOT...which is why MassDOT is watching Nashua's go-it-alone effort with interest. But at Bono's scale with the funding sources he's identified? He's probably going to have to leave this track nearly as-is because his money has to be rationed to making schedule elsewhere, which means stock those barf bags. Also: pay MBTA trackage rights to the state line, square access + pay them insurance for use of Lowell Station tracks, and pay Lowell Regional Transit Authority fees because they're operator of the station + garage. And figure out how you're going to stage a reverse move there under heavy MBTA traffic in a shared-dispatch zone between PAR and the T in the immediate Bleachery area. Yeah...um...maybe better think about doing a bare platform a half-mile west at the UMass-Lowell parking lots instead.

Nashua-Manchester is Class 2, signalized. Freight traffic drops way down north of Nashua Yard so Guilford/PAR has let it heavily decay since the T re-truncated from Concord to Lowell in '81. I don't know what kind of speedos there'd be at present-day passenger speed because there's been no passenger trains for 36 years and Bow coal trains are the only freights that aren't podunk little locals run short-distance out of Nashua. But it would definitely be rough track in need of dozens of $M's in capital assistance just for SGR at its present track class, let alone get it up to the Class 3 that would make travel times to the airport minimally tolerable. This is why NH's political unwillingness to invest in any infrastructure whatsoever except raiding all other coffers to pay for I-93 add-a-lanes makes Manchester such a reach. The very minimal SGR costs the state and/or City of Nashua would have to line up to get from the MA border to downtown Nashua are doable. And well within Bono's reach if he hadn't bit off 100x more than he could chew trying to engage the Worcester Branch + Stony Brook. But Nashua-Bedford is a couple orders of magnitude tougher on the SGR rollback, and a cost sink they certainly aren't going to be able to afford after all the energy expended to get across the border in the first place.
Last edited by MEC407 on Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: unnecessary quoting
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby Komarovsky » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:39 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BandA wrote:Ok, what would the likely train speed be from Worcester to Lowell, Lowell to Nashua, assuming the track is upgraded? I know this has been addressed elsewhere, probably in the train from NYC to Maine thread.


Worcester to Ayer is lowest-circle-of-Hades Class 1 that's in such poor state-of-repair it has few spots that would even top out at 25 MPH passenger MAS once you tally up all the speedos. Worse for passengers, though, is the barf-bag ride quality even at that sluggish speed. Freights crawling at bicycle speed have wicked harmonic rocking issues with the cars on that shot trackbed, and it's derailment-prone. When the Grand Junction is down for repairs and the Hospital Train has to take the scenic route B&A <--> Gardner Branch to Barbers <--> Worcester Branch <--> Fitchburg Line it's a 5-hour trip at today's speeds, and fully half that time is chewed up on PAR's gimpy connector.



I used to live along the line north of Barbers Crossing, aside from the decrepit track, the bridges, at least from Worcester through Clinton are in astonishingly bad condition. I would imagine that part of the track upgrades would have to be at the very least repairing the bridges where the rusting rebar is visible through the spalled concrete, which would probably not be cheap..
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby MaineCoonCat » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:53 pm

Just wondering if Mr. Bono et al. have looked back on the fun and games that ensued with Guilford. Amtrak, NNEPRA etc. trying to establish the Downeaster.. I'd be a bit surprised to learn that PAR/PAS suddenly welcomed additional passenger traffic..
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:21 pm

If the $$$ for track repairs comes from some else's pocket,PAR/PAS would be interested to a point,but not a full blown passenger service
track rebuild,they are "happy" at 25 mph MAS.
Figure on PAR plugging up any passing sidings with "canned" trains on a regular basis! :(
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby ts.puruz » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:53 pm

BandA wrote:Ok, what would the likely train speed be from Worcester to Lowell, Lowell to Nashua, assuming the track is upgraded? I know this has been addressed elsewhere, probably in the train from NYC to Maine thread.


Ok they are calling me a railfan spy now!

Anyone who wants to see an actual copy of the business plan and model and estimates can private message me their email and BSRC will reach out and send an NDA.

OKtoPostForTodd.png


Two notes : 1) Te numbers are in thousands in the attachment 2) one of the guys logged into the forum and here and wanted to point out that RIDOT chased BSRC for two years (matter of public record) to rent the Depot here so whoever said that it was a real estate squatting play is mistaken
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby MaineCoonCat » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:07 pm

ts.puruz wrote:
BandA wrote: I don't know what Formula Grant Funds are. So they have to identify federal grant money to make this happen. Some of the grant money would be used for rolling stock no doubt, some would go to operating subsidy?? some to the host railroad for track upgrades.


So I just asked and was told a) use the forum in the bad website that they won't hire me to redesign and b) that formula grants can't be used for operations and don't kick in until the service has been running for at least a year so can't be used for new service.

Googled:

https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/gra ... rants-5307

Now to my real clients.


Lots'a luck trying to use that forum! Try "registering"... Nope! Sure doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about this operation...
Seen behind the motorman on the inside wall of a PCC departing "Riverside" many years ago: "Pickpockets are on duty for your convenience."
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby BandA » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:14 am

Interesting...and those segments have three-letter acronyms, do those correspond to historical station codes?

I'm sure PAR would love someone to come in and redo their railroad to passenger standards using grant money! They may be more accommodating than P&W which is apparently in decent shape.

No way they pay trackage fees to the MBTA or for Lowell station. They will get that for free, at least for some period of years. Because if the MBTA had to run the service it would be at a deficit. And they are adding all those passengers at Lowell so that train will be overcrowded & the conductors won't be able to collect the added fares :-D They have to pay the host railroad PAR and/or P&W, and if they go inside Providence station they would have to pay Amtrak (I suggested previously they build a barebones platform outdoors adjacent to the station)

They will need some type of liability cap to protect the host railroads. May require legislation? Otherwise the insurance would be too expensive.

They will presumably buy/lease rolling stock & hire an operator. Can be literally any railroad that is interested: PAR, P&W, MC, GU, CSRX, MNGRR, Alternative Concepts. Probably don't want to hire Keolis, Amtrak, Whosatonic, or that one in NH that PAR hates. Someone to fix/maintain the rolling stock such as P&W.

Interesting the speeds. I imagine the year 3 speeds would only be sufficient for rush-hour service. I was wondering if those track speeds account for curves? What are the historical speeds on these routes?

So, are there enough federal grants to make this happen in a reasonable timeframe? And how to cover the operating deficits for start-up period?
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby MaineCoonCat » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:27 pm

MaineCoonCat wrote:
Lots'a luck trying to use that forum! Try "registering"... Nope! Sure doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about this operation...


UPDATE: I actually finally did get a "password reset" e-mail last night around 11:20 pm. I can now log in to the forum..

I hearby rescind my "Lots'a luck" statement.
Last edited by MEC407 on Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: excessive quoting
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:54 am

BandA wrote:No way they pay trackage fees to the MBTA or for Lowell station. They will get that for free, at least for some period of years. Because if the MBTA had to run the service it would be at a deficit. And they are adding all those passengers at Lowell so that train will be overcrowded & the conductors won't be able to collect the added fares :-D They have to pay the host railroad PAR and/or P&W, and if they go inside Providence station they would have to pay Amtrak (I suggested previously they build a barebones platform outdoors adjacent to the station)


That's not how it can feasibly work at Lowell Station, because of the way pulling a reverse there will constrain MBTA ops and gobble up parking spaces at an LRTA garage that already teeters at-capacity. That makes the public-subsidized transit services more complicated to run, so the only fair way to square that is fee collection overhead be that can be directly applied to day-to-day congestion management. And LRTA is probably the one who's going to drive a harder bargain because this service increases the load on Lowell garage while the straight-on BOS-NAS MBTA extension would've eased the parking crunch by taking diverting commuters coming from the north on US 3 via the proposed North Chelmsford/Vinal Square stop (significant multimodal node for LRTA buses on the west end of their route system) and the state-line South Nashua parking sink.

They will need some type of liability cap to protect the host railroads. May require legislation? Otherwise the insurance would be too expensive.


This, unfortunately is the immovable object that ends up KO'ing so many efforts at shoestring private ops. It's one thing if you're a museum operating on a very lightly-used branch. This is all- PAR freight main between Hill Yard limits on the Worcester Branch and Lowell, with 2 very congested convergences of MBTA traffic, freight main traffic, and MBTA/PAR dispatch handoffs at Ayer-Willows on the Fitchburg Line and Bleachery in Lowell. The going insurance rate for needing to travel straight through the nerve center of a few of New England's most congested and mission-critical interlockings isn't going to be easily discountable. These are inherently higher-risk spots, not just for collisions (which the equally pricey PTC installs pretty much take care of) but also for severity cascading freight + passenger delays when somebody has a breakdown or derailment at those interlockings. It can't not be premium insurance, because when something goes wrong every player takes a pricier-than-average financial hit from the ensuing chaos.
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby Trinnau » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:35 am

Don't forget, the MBTA actually owns the line beyond Lowell all the way to the state line. It's not just the station, it's track miles too. MBTA can "flip the switch" so to speak and do a self-starting extension to the border as F-Line referred to without really any obstacles. That alone would practically kill this in the New Hampshire corridor without significant double tracking. F-Line is absolutely right that MBTA would charge a new private operator to use their track and station space in Lowell. If they didn't, it would be a very bad precedent in turning away "free" revenue which in the current political climate won't fly.

There is more to this than just raising track speeds. Capacity and PTC are certainly issues, and Pan Am may require additional double-tracking so not sure what other capital costs might be needed other than simply upgrading tracks. The signal system in New Hampshire is old, and doesn't exist above Manchester. The Pan Am Worcester Main also has no signals. This is severely limiting in the PTC era - which requires PTC with more than 4 revenue trips in areas without signals. If you add signals, you can jump to 12 like the Downeaster. Whoever operates will need PTC equipped locomotives/cab cars to operate on MBTA and Amtrak territory, so that's a given. I can see a long siding on the Worcester being required, re-activation of the Merrimack Siding and possibly closing the gap between CPF-312 and CPF-309 since the auto yard at Ayer effectively eliminates the double-track there. And the Hill Yard is a big question mark, that is a very busy area as it sits today. I'm not as familiar with the P&W territory so can't comment there.

It looks like the attachment above is average track speed (not train speed). Most of these territories were historically 40mph freight, so 60 is easily achievable and 79 is probable in many spots to counter any restrictions that might be necessary.

And insurance would be a must. CSX may also be involved as an insured entity due to the proximity of CP-45 in Worcester.

This is an interesting concept but has at least two private entities who can stonewall it plus MBTA and Amtrak to deal with, who will likely be more receptive but will limit the operation a bit in terms of station and track slots. You can bet neither of them will be willing to change their current operation to grant station slots - at least not initially. Just look how long Pan Am took to let the Downeaster finally run and how much work (and money) it took to upgrade the 80ish miles from Massachusetts to Portland.
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby The EGE » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:09 pm

And once again, nowhere in those incredibly rosy costs do they account for having to add an interlocking to access platform tracks at PVD, or spend probably an equal amount for any kind of useful station.
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby ts.puruz » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:56 pm

Can I cross post these questions to the BSRC forums? Better yet would one of you guys post them there? I'm wearing out my welcome!

Three replies :

Insurance:

"BSRC has budgeted a 300 million dollar liability policy overall, even though NH and RI have 75 million dollar caps on railroad liability as state statutes. MA has a cap but it is only for the T. The federal cap is 290 million and Amtrak requires that on the northeast corridor. The carrier will discount the premium based on miles in each jurisdiction".

Other Capital Costs:

"The excel snippet we made for you was to address track speed as an average as dictated by track geometry and for a given FRA track class. Nykki shouldn't have included the money column but the capital costs associated with it are for track class improvements only and do not account for other needed (major) repairs to bridges, construction of crossovers and interlocks (one at Orms St in RI in conjunction with RIDOTs shoefly of their gauntlet), 6 initial passing sidings or signalization".

Lowell :

"Lowell station sucks, yes we know, yes it will cost a lot and yes there is a plan and no I'm not talking to you about it now".
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Re: Boston Surface Railroad: Worcester-Providence Commuter R

Postby BandA » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:07 pm

CSX shouldn't be involved at Worcester -- the tracks are separate, the platforms are separate, and I assume there would be no reason for BSRR to use CSX track.
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