Needham Line Questions / Discussion

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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby Rbts Stn » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:41 am

On Saturday they closed Great Plain Avenue in Needham and had dug up the crossing there, just below the Needham Center Station. I also noticed ROW type vehicles on the track on the bridge above Chestnut Street, just below the Junction station on Sunday.

Anyone notice a smoother ride today?
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby lstone19 » Sat May 24, 2014 6:49 am

Travel to the Boston area and a need to get to Needham had me take this line last night. It was pathetically slow. The fastest speed I saw on my phone app was 40mph and that was in Amtrak territory. Fastest on the branch was 30 with lots of 15 mph running. 3 late at Back Bay, over five by Forest Hills, and about 15 late when I got off at Needham Center. Is this normal?
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby boatsmate » Sat May 24, 2014 8:06 am

Depends on the time of day. during the height of rush hour trains can be slowed by other trains in the opposite direction. for the most part the Need ham Branch is single track with sidings. if for some reason, the opposite train is late then the other trains will be late also. and remember the stations are only a few miles apart on that line so the train does not have enough space between stations to go faster than 30 mph's. the longest stretch with out stations is between west Roxbury and Birds hill. also these trains have a high commuter ridership which can sometimes cause delays with people getting on and off, which will slow the train down also.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby highgreen215 » Sat May 24, 2014 1:51 pm

The real shame was when they tore down the Highland station building in, I believe, the 1950's. It was classic granite block construction with a drive-through portocoachere for the carriages and a carved date stone of 1887 mounted high on the Park Street end. On the Boston end of the station platform was a tile-lined pedestrian underpass. At this time also there was still a long wooden shed on the inbound side, the double track long torn up. As kids we spent several winters dropping in to the warmth of the big round radiator in the waiting room which probably replaced an earlier potbelly stove. But there was no better railroad experience than standing on the Park Street bridge while the light Pacific struggled to start an outbound 11-car train on the curve - the noise from that exhaust would blow you away!
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby lstone19 » Sat May 24, 2014 2:52 pm

I ride the Metra Milwaukee District West line daily. While the station density is slightly less, we have a much higher average speed. MAS is 70 mph and the engineers try to get there every chance. If the distance between stations doesn't permit getting there, it's accelerate until you need to start braking, No dogging it between stations because the distance is short.

The post above mentioned the long stretch west of West Roxbury. We crawled through there at 15mph tops. No trains to meet, no extended stations stops due to loads, just plain slow running. This was the 9:15 train which had one car open with about a dozen people on the upper deck. An equivalent train on my Metra line, running slightly more frequently (hourly), would probably have 3 or 4 cars open, all loaded at least 50% (some parties sharing seats but not too many).

Anyway, it sounds like for whatever reason, MBTA has the speed limit on the branch so low, it can't help being a slow trip.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby chrisf » Sat May 24, 2014 3:17 pm

lstone19 wrote:Anyway, it sounds like for whatever reason, MBTA has the speed limit on the branch so low, it can't help being a slow trip.


The speed limit on at least some of the branch appears to be ~60 mph, but again, most of the stops are less than a mile apart. These diesel trains just aren't going to get up to that speed and stopped again in that distance.
Off peak, the Needham Line is very lightly patronized. It's really just a commuter line.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sun May 25, 2014 9:24 am

chrisf wrote:
lstone19 wrote:Anyway, it sounds like for whatever reason, MBTA has the speed limit on the branch so low, it can't help being a slow trip.


The speed limit on at least some of the branch appears to be ~60 mph, but again, most of the stops are less than a mile apart. These diesel trains just aren't going to get up to that speed and stopped again in that distance.
Off peak, the Needham Line is very lightly patronized. It's really just a commuter line.


Trains on the Needham branch do hit 60 mph, between, BAKER and essentially Hersey station stop. The stops are so close together, that there is no opportunity to reach track speed, which is 60 mph for most of the line mind you, except for a few speed restrictions. Also, must remember, there it the Delay In Block rule that applies to all trains once they make their station stop after passing a distant signal. For example, heading WEST, after passing the ABS distant signal 7.1 to ROX...lots of little, big rules on this little branch
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby Leo Sullivan » Sun May 25, 2014 1:00 pm

To be fair in comparison, the Needham Line should be compared to the South Chicago Line
and the Milwaukee District West Line to the Providence Div.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby ExCon90 » Sun May 25, 2014 1:19 pm

Good comparison -- also, I think the topography helps in Chicago compared to Boston.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby lstone19 » Sun May 25, 2014 4:33 pm

Leo Sullivan wrote:To be fair in comparison, the Needham Line should be compared to the South Chicago Line
and the Milwaukee District West Line to the Providence Div.


In some respects, yes. But I wasn't really speaking of slowness due to close station spacing but rather slowness due to lack of try; slowness that caused our running time to be nearly 50% longer than scheduled. It was said above that the MAS on the branch is 60 (which compares more to the Milw West than the So Chicago line) yet I never saw a speed above 30 on my speed app (and never above 40 on the Corridor between Back Bay and Forest Hills although that might have been to let an eastbound train off the branch first). Traditionally, a train was supposed to go track speed when possible; running slow because the next station is close is just an excuse to me. Losing 15 minutes in a 35 minute scheduled run without explanation is inexcusable in my book (on Metra, 15 minutes is long past the point where automated delay announcements with reasons are made on board and put on the website with text and email messages to subscribers to those services).

Tuesday, I plan to get some speed samples between some of the closer spaced stations on the Milwaukee West. There are three under a mile spots I can get speeds on my regular trains. All of them are run "accelerate until you need to start braking".
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Mon May 26, 2014 10:14 am

I'm pretty sure there were some extraordinary circumstances as to your recent slow trip on the Needham Branch. We had some traffic issues last week that resulted in multiple trains backing up on the branch. All it takes is one Approach, a meet, a Rule 241 to mess up your trip....hell, the locomotive could have been having issues itself. A Needham trip goes to schedule that is typed as long as everything on the RR is going as intended
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby The EGE » Mon May 26, 2014 4:59 pm

The Needham Line has improved during the MBTA era. I just bought a 1963 New Haven ETT the other day; maximum speeds were 35 and below for most of the line off the NEC.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby lstone19 » Tue May 27, 2014 7:41 pm

I'll accept that it must have been an off night for the train. Disappointing in that I went with the Commuter Rail train over a Green Line D-Riverside train because based on schedule, it would have been faster by a few minutes. With the 15 minute delay, I probably would have been better on the Green Line and saved $6.00 since I was already in fare control having taken the Silver Line from Logan.

lstone19 wrote:Tuesday, I plan to get some speed samples between some of the closer spaced stations on the Milwaukee West. There are three under a mile spots I can get speeds on my regular trains. All of them are run "accelerate until you need to start braking".


In all three spots (Roselle to Medinah at 0.9 miles, Mont Clare to Elmwood Park at 0.7 miles, and Franklin Park to Mannheim at 0.8 miles), we hit 45 mph before starting to brake.
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby Rbts Stn » Wed May 28, 2014 9:31 am

Rbts Stn wrote:
theseaandalifesaver wrote:I was only asking when the last time a train was on the tracks because they tracks look like they're in decent condition. It's definitely seen some action since the 50's.

Is it still used?


Not still used, but used in the past 20 years to the industrial plants beyond Oak Street.

A few other threads here talk about it in great detail. Search "Needham" and "Newton".


Noticed a couple weeks ago that all the rail from Oak Street towards the Industrial plant were gone, as well as all the rail you could see towards the river from the road was gone, with just the rail at the crossing intact. This AM there was much heavy equipment on the ROW, perhaps going further towards the river to take away more rail?
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Re: Needham Line Questions / Discussion

Postby johnpbarlow » Thu May 29, 2014 10:16 am

This just in: a couple of guys wearing FRA safety vests boarded the 10:55AM in bound train at Needham Heights and then detrained 10 minutes later. Train left Needham Heights 10 minutes late. FRA guys hung around platform after train departure. Also noticed there were half dozen other guys in safety vests congregating in the empty layover yard at N H. Any ideas what's going on?
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