Cape Cod Branch Connector

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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby malbojah » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:07 am

Mass coastal has the MassDot geometry car going through Semass right now
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:35 am

Mass DOT does not have its own Geometry car. Wondering if you saw MBTA Kawasaki coach 747 being delivered to the MDOT building
just south of SEMASS?

D
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby malbojah » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:21 pm

Nope, something else. Looks like a 100yd dumpster on rail trucks.

Got close enough, it's a ballast car.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:18 pm

Falmouth Secondary to Otis wrote:
Was viewing the CIP project universe proposed document and pretty much all Cape projects in all transportation divisions have the CC designation which leads me to believe that it just means Cape Cod. Could be wrong on that seeing that there is no reference code list for projects. As to the wye status who knows as these lists are far from being current with some projects being listed as proposed or under construction when in fact they have already been completed for some time already. Will have to keep an eye out for any new listings or I'll see it happening as I go by Canal junction on a regular basis to access the Canal.


The FY17-21 CIP has already been released, and while it has a large moneybomb of upgrades spread across all of the Cape-area lines the wye didn't make the cut this time.


Doesn't mean it won't eventually happen. The work they're doing to upgrade the mainline and Falmouth Branch now increases the likelihood that they'll need/want a wye in future years. It's just not the top priority while so much state-of-repair work takes first priority.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby BenH » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:47 pm

Falmouth Secondary to Otis wrote:Was viewing the CIP project universe proposed document and pretty much all Cape projects in all transportation divisions have the CC designation which leads me to believe that it just means Cape Cod. Could be wrong on that seeing that there is no reference code list for projects. As to the wye status who knows as these lists are far from being current with some projects being listed as proposed or under construction when in fact they have already been completed for some time already. Will have to keep an eye out for any new listings or I'll see it happening as I go by Canal junction on a regular basis to access the Canal.

Could be, but look at the other two-letter codes under Project ID in the document -
As example,
CM - probably means Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission
OC - probably means Old Colony Planning Council
SE - probably means Southeastern Regional Planning & Econ Dev District

It would be normal for MassDOT to ask the RPAs to submit worthy projects for consideration as part of the annual CIP process.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:55 am

Perhaps, but without an actual code reference chart who knows. As an example some Cape project designations start with R and fall into a priority rating of 1 to 3 and are in design status, while others start with CC and are in proposed status. Meanwhile here on the Cape, the Cape Cod Commission is one agency known not to endorse RR activity to say the least, especially on the Falmouth branch / Otis spur. They did a bike path study last year between Falmouth and the Canal which had as one of the options removal of the tracks ( that have active status and are in use ) and replacing it with a path. Lots of bike advocates calling for the removal option, but Joint Base Cape Cod / Otis along with the reopening of the UCRTS transfer station / Otis, continued use by the Cape Cod Central Scenic train and Mass Coastal's upcoming lease renewal will make sure that doesn't happen. As Mass Coastal Chris Podgurski said in a recent news story, Bike path advocates are living in a alternate reality if they think the tracks will be ripped up.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:21 pm

FWIW the most current project universe document containing all the proposals that didn't make the FY17-21 CIP cut is available here as a large MS Excel spreadsheet: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Informat ... Years.aspx

Easier to navigate if you set the filters on the "In_Out" header to "Out" to cut it down to just the projects omitted from the CIP, and then set the filters on the "Division" header to omit Aeronautics, highway, and RMV.


There's some pretty loopy proposals lingering on there due to past recommendations from the regional MPO's (Worcester Line extension to Springfield...seriously, Central Mass MPO???), so grade accordingly on a curve. The context to apply to this "CC-0122" proposal for a Cape Jct. wye track is that the other two Cape-region rail projects proposed but not included for the FY17-21 CIP both have to do with a full Middleboro-Buzzards Bay commuter rail extension: one proposal item # for the track improvements to support a full schedule (signalization & passing sidings...items above-and-beyond the Cape Main upgrades that did make the CIP cut), and one proposal item # for the BB station improvements (full length full-high platform, parking enhancements, etc.). So the Cape Jct. wye track appears to be mutually supporting of the BB commuter rail extension, and not something proposed by itself in a vacuum. That's important.

If I had to guess why it was mutually supporting: having commuter trains idle and reverse direction on the platform @ 10 round trips per day places an increased premium on keeping on-Cape trains from needing to cross the bridge and go through the BB platform in order to terminate (i.e. dinner train) or reverse direction (i.e. Falmouth trash trains). The layover yard for full CR service would continue to be at Middleboro with trains not immediately reversing at BB deadheading back to M'boro (the layover was built oversize from Day 1 with a future BB extension in mind). The only storage at BB-proper will be a controlled siding for passing and short-term idling to allow an MBTA train that's just dumped its outbound passengers to scoot out of the way for an imminent bridge opening. Eliminates outright conflicts, but CCCR and Mass Coastal are still a lot more pinched for slots than they were before. For the dinner trains that may mean needing alternate accommodations for a westbound terminus if they ever want to increase their schedules, since BB platform slots will be harder to come by and probably won't allow any more between commuter slots than what they run today. So a wye leg that changes the trip itinerary to "ringing the shore" Hyannis-N. Falmouth may be the business proposition they need to reorient to for future growth if they're capped by MBTA meets on slots across the bridge to BB Station. For the trash train it's simply an operational convenience to not have to cross the bridge at all to get to Otis Transfer, and to be able to block and can freights entirely on the Cape side of the bridge for purposes of precision-timing their shots to Rochester in between MBTA schedules. Taken together, there's probably enough give-and-take to have MassDOT convinced enough that the (relatively inexpensive) wye build is a necessary counterbalance to CCCR/MC for impacts of the commuter rail extension.

The T's fiscal board just greenlit the Foxboro commuter rail pilot today, which ensures--via a now locked-down early-'19 service start and 12-month evaluation period--that that new limited service has very high odds of graduating to a 'permanent' full schedule with a second shot of later upgrades fulfilling the goals of the full-build Foxboro Feasibility Study (i.e. a full 16 round-trip all-day schedule instead of just a couple rush hour extras). Buzzards Bay, because of its inclusion in the '13 transpo bill and Town of Bourne formally voting itself into the MBTA district, under normal circumstances would've been par (or even a smidge higher) with Foxboro on priority level for a pilot. The only reason the state couldn't consider one now for them was because of all those FY17-21 programmed track upgrades to the Cape Main, which are going to take place during the Cape Flyer offseasons. That includes replacement of the Cohasset Narrows 2-track rail bridge just west of BB station, so there's enough construction interruptions packed into those fiscal years to make a Foxboro-like trial impractical for the rest 4 years. HOWEVER, Bourne's vote to join the T district and past promises made are going to make a BB pilot very high priority for the first fiscal years after construction...and now that Foxboro has earned their pilot there's too much precedent in motion for the T to deny Bourne et al. Now throw in the odds of the Foxboro pilot becoming enough success that a perma-build gets funded?. . .

. . .yeah, you could very easily see the same sequence play out: a 12-month trial of Buzzards Bay commuter service in 2021-22, followed by this trio of "PROPOSED" Cape rail line items on the spreadsheet quickly being graduated onto the next CIP revision post-FY21. Including that Cape Jct. wye leg if it truly is joined at the hip with the other line items re: commuter service to BB as necessary traffic mitigation for CCCR/MC. I'd consider the odds way better of this one graduating to future funding than some of the other "loopy" passenger rail residue littering this spreadsheet.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:50 am

Thanks for all the info ! When Bourne was having hearings on joining the MBTA for commuter rail the T said a problem in considering it was that the trains would be too long and block the crossing on Academy drive next to the existing B Bay RR Station. If you look at a 1950 / 1960's historical aerial photo of the B Bay station it had 4 sidings / platforms, so back in those days it wasn't a problem because Academy drive didn't exist back then. A bridge ( long gone ) used to go over the Rail line from the B Bay rotary to connect to Taylors point and the Maritime Academy. There is a another topic titled " Academy Drive Railroad crossing, Buzzards Bay " that has some discussion on that crossing history. Haven't heard of any news since those T meetings on how they plan to address that crossing blockage issue if / when commuter rail comes to B Bay.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:41 pm

A DTMF switch is what's used when a platform lies within the track circuit for crossing protection but there's a need for overriding the auto-triggered crossing protection while the train is safely idling at the station stop. In that case the train engineer can punch in a manual override on the console that sends a simple coded radio signal to the crossing protection, and manually override the protection status in the gates-up or gates-down position. More primitive versions (or backup systems if the radio send fails) involve stopping and leaning out the engineer's window to push a button, which is how the aging and soon-to-be-replaced Route 28 crossing protection at Hyannis Yard currently works.

That way an MBTA or CCCR train stopping at Buzzards Bay can preempt the Academy Dr. gates from staying down during the whole duration of a station stop or on-platform layover, but the gates can equally be configured so a Mass Coastal trash train coming off the bridge onto the mainland gets automatic gates and not need any engineer intervention to cross. Usually DTMF switches are only installed at crossings where they're absolutely needed because it takes a little bit of signal system modification to work them in fail-safe. On other parts of the commuter rail that have DTMF'd crossings, there's an approach signal before the crossing that defaults to stop as a prompt for the engineer to punch in the DTMF code, and the signal only changes after the engineer has sent the code (example: Worcester Line @ Framingham Station + Concord St. crossing gates). In some cases the triggers are different depending on whether the train is traveling in the inbound or outbound direction.

Academy would be a priority crossing for DTMF...and theoretically could be done today by wiring it into the adjacent signalized territory for the bridge approach and Cape Jct. However, because a full-blown commuter rail extension would also install an interlocking at BB for passing and short-term layovers on the double-iron just west of the station and absorb the isolated stretch of bridge-approach signals into central dispatch it would end up more cost effective to do in one fell swoop with full signalization of Middleboro-BB for a full-blown commuter rail extension...rather than install it once locally, then have to reinstall when the line gets fully signalized. Which value proposition ends up higher will depend on how Foxboro-like negotiations go with Bourne about trials and/or full service after all this construction work is done in 3 years.


As for fitting consists, they'd have to decide on how much they want to reconfigure BB to fit a regulation-size full-high. 800 ft. (9 cars) is the MBTA's standard, and there's *barely* enough room between the crossing and the bridge derails to shove that in. So they could end up going with 550-600 ft. (6 cars + loco) instead as a concession. However, the Old Colony platforms at South Station are currently capped at 6 cars + loco, so nothing longer than that currently runs on any of those 800 ft. Old Colony platforms. The official M'boro-BB extension feasibility study concluded that the 6-car -capped M'boro consists won't need extra cars at all to absorb the ridership surge from +2 extension stops at Wareham and BB...so long as they ran as 100% bi-level consists and purged all flats to other lines. The 6-car restriction will be solved by South Station Expansion opening up more breathing room for full-size platforms, but the BB extension study had the capacity angle covered in the event SSX never happened by the all- bi-level mandate.

Alternately, a little more $$$ to reconfigure the layout of BB can probably come up with the extra space before the bridge for a full 800-footer. A little curve-straightening between crossing and bridge can come up with the extra footage, and MassDOT may even look at a realignment of the Academy crossing altogether so the intersection + traffic light is squared with Washington Ave. on the other side...provided the marina is willing to donate about a half-dozen parking spaces to the road-straightening cause. Those kinds of considerations will get hashed out in that companion MassDOT line item for station amenities + parking on the above spreadsheet.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Safetee » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:41 am

There has been some talk about replacing the the crossing by the BB station with a bridge.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:08 am

A crossing realignment or if possible a new bridge over the tracks would in the long run be the best possible scenario. When the Polar Express runs from B Bay to the SEMASS area for its run during the Holidays it blocks the entire RR Crossing on Academy Drive while loading it's passengers. The residents of Taylors Pt. complain all the time about that issue during it's season because it is the only access road to that area and they can't get through, along with any emergency response vehicles. So if Commuter rail comes to B Bay I'm sure the Town would require clear access to Academy Drive while the train is loading at the station, seeing that there is no other way to get out to Taylors Pt.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:31 pm

Academy Drive had a bridge over the railroad tracks until sometime in the Penn Central period when most of the trackage in the station area were torn up, the CTC removed and operations were a wayfreight maybe 3 to 4 days a week or so. Up until all this happened there were three platform tracks, interlocked switches at both ends and the bridge over the tracks instead of the grade crossing. Yes I know all of this is gone, it might be possible to return some of it but it will cost money to do so. The CTC was never controlled from Buzzards Bay but the station tracks, switches and signals were controlled from BB and the tower had a good size maching inside to control the switches, signals, bridge locks etc. The tower is one of the very last former New Haven signal towers still in any kind of use today but I think they have a much smaller but more modern maching inside. Buzzards Bay was quite a railroad location years ago.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:22 pm

The Middleboro schedule isn't dense enough to require a bridge here if the line is extended, and it's prevented from increasing by much until they start chipping away at the Dorchester and Quincy single-track to open up more mainline capacity. The locals might desire a bridge, but honestly a light reshaping of the platform + a DTMF switch is probably all that's needed to make it work in do-no-harm fashion. The challenges will be what realignments can cram a T-regulation platform length between the crossing and the bridge derails (+/- safe buffer between each) so a full-size T consist can fit there and any dinner trains terminating at the revamped station will no longer overspill the crossing. That probably entails some minor track realignment and something slightly different than an in-situ raising of the current Cape Codder-era low + mini-high platform, and most definitely removal of the ped grade crossing that slices right through the current platform and installation of a sidewalk on Academy's northbound side for reaching the south parking lot. The Academy/Main intersection stinks to begin with since it's so close to the rotary and offset from Washington Ave., so there's a lot of fodder for reconfiguration of that light...especially if any of the station parking is going to be spread around the lots south of the crossing. In that case you could probably hook Academy 50+ ft. west to square-up the intersection, the only casualty being this decorative rock in front of the marina and maybe a couple of their parking spaces. Squared-up intersection light + MassHighway improvements to the rotary's flow then solves the traffic situation around the commuter station, DTMF switch at the crossing solves the gate timings during station stops, while the slight relocation of the crossing opens up more space for a full-length platform before the bridge derails.

Not expensive, and wholly reasonable without having to resort to the extreme overkill of a road bridge. It'll just require a sane debate on which moving parts of the whole layout to shift around to strike an ideal balance.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby BenH » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:36 pm

I know that we're getting off-topic here, but this is all very interesting...

If you look on Google Maps (see the snipped image below) you can see that the current railroad property (now owned by MassDOT I assume) runs to the bridge AND it forks in a direction that runs along the canal — past the old station building — for a distance of just over 0.7 miles. My understanding is that this piece of property was the main right of way for the tracks that led to the Cape, before the current vertical lift bridge was build.

For service "just" to Buzzards Bay MassDOT could re-lay the track on this piece of the property and install a platform of some length behind the fire department or G&S Marine property. There might also be enough room, past the platform, to store a train set overnight, if MassDOT was so inclined.

With all that said, I could also image that the people who own the houses on the north side of this property on Canal View Road would scream loudly if someone where to suggest that the state might use this land for trains again.

This link takes you to this point on Google Maps, where you can clearly see the property lines.
https://www.google.com/maps/@41.7443029,-70.609956,17.11z
Attachments
Buzzards Bay, Mass..JPG
Buzzards Bay Station area
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:42 am

All that land you have mentioned is taken up by a new parking lot the Corps built for canal recreational access a few years ago and the Town of Bourne is currently building a large town park next to the train station where the Scallop festival used to be held so I would say nice idea, but not likely to happen.
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