High Speed Rail to Springfield

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Postby trigonalmayhem » Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:36 am

BC Eagle wrote:There's one main question this comes down to: Would people commute to Boston daily from Springfield? I think the answer is no. I'm not sure how long the commuter rail takes from Worcestor or Providence, but I would guess about an hour. I don't think there would be much demand for daily commutes longer than this.


It takes a bit over an hour. This really isn't that much slower than driving it, and with the traffic sometimes (and especially lately ;) ) it might even be faster.

I think the point of a 'high-speed' rail line would be that it would speed past all the inner suburbs and only make a few stops, keeping the trip from outlying areas fast. If they could keep the average speed up high enough a commute from springfield could theoretically be faster than one from worcester on the existing line. Of course it's a pipedream, though, since they can't even seem to get the acela running at top speed after how many years now? American prospects for high-speed rail are not good.
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Postby Cotuit » Fri Feb 04, 2005 11:52 am

BC Eagle wrote:There's one main question this comes down to: Would people commute to Boston daily from Springfield? I think the answer is no. I'm not sure how long the commuter rail takes from Worcestor or Providence, but I would guess about an hour. I don't think there would be much demand for daily commutes longer than this.


I don't really think there would ever be much demand for people coming from Springfield to Boston, I was just being cheeky pointing out that Providence was also in a seperate metro (though Worcester is not, it is part of Boston's metro, just like Manchester, NH is).

The trip from Providence takes just under an hour on an express, shorter obviously if your destination is Back Bay, and slightly over an hour on a train making local stops. Many commuters from Providence take the Acela back in the afternoon (Acela is more reliably on time outbound from Boston in the afternoon than the New York to Boston train is in the morning).

Eventually we will see service coming from south of Providence down to the northern part of South County. There are plenty of people heading to Boston from south of Providence already by car and by parking in Attleboro. The trip from south of Providence will of course be longer.

I'm sure there would be a market for service west of Worcester, but probably not all the way out to Springfield. Money would be better spent connecting Springfield to Hartford.
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Postby trigonalmayhem » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:53 pm

I'm quite curious as to what classification system you're using that considers Providence its own metro area but Worcester not?
Last edited by trigonalmayhem on Mon Feb 07, 2005 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bierhere » Sun Feb 06, 2005 8:36 pm

What person who regularly commutes from Providence to Boston takes the Acela home? Sure, maybe the person who comes to Boston once a month might, but anyone commuting regularly is not spending the money for Amtrak to get home.
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Postby trainhq » Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:55 pm

I've ridden the 5:30 Amtrak train from Boston. There are lots of commuters getting off at Providence on it.
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Postby trainhq » Tue Feb 08, 2005 1:01 pm

I've ridden the 5:30 Amtrak from Boston to Providence, and there are loads of commuters
on it. I've also ridden the 6:00 A.M. bus from
Springfield, and there are loads of commuters on
that too. I'm sure they would ride the train if the
price were the same, but I doubt it otherwise. The
bus is not all that uncomfortable, and moves pretty
fast on the MassPike.
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Postby Cotuit » Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:44 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:I'm quite curious as to what classification system you're using that considers Providence its own metro area but Worcester not?


The United States Census Bureau, the agency that makes these determinations.

bierhere wrote:What person who regularly commutes from Providence to Boston takes the Acela home? Sure, maybe the person who comes to Boston once a month might, but anyone commuting regularly is not spending the money for Amtrak to get home.


Amtrak has a 10-ride ticket for Boston-Providence trips (I believe there is a similar arrangement on the Downeaster). Providence commuters combine that with MBTA 12-ride tickets. In the morning the T is on time, and Provience is the first stop so you get a seat. In the afternoon you get a quick ride home on Amtrak. Not everyone does it, but a lot of people do. There's a premium fee to upgrade to an Acela trip, but the regular Amtrak service is still faster than the T.
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Postby New Haven 1 » Sun Feb 13, 2005 8:47 pm

For what it's worth, service to Springfield is on the MBTA's "to do" list,but, well down on that list. As anyone can come up with a ton of reasons why it will never happen, I won't bore people with any of them. I just figured it was with mentioning for those who may not know that at least the idea has been considered by the MBTA.
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High Speed Rail to Springfield

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:51 pm

Springfield is nearly 100 miles west of Boston - who in their right mind would consider that to be commuting distance? Philadelphia is about the same distance from New York City - I don't think there's quite a lot of people who would consider that to be commuting distance either.
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Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:07 pm

Cotuit wrote:
The United States Census Bureau, the agency that makes these determinations.

In that case, maybe they should go back and remake those determinations. I don't understand how Manchester can be considered part of the Boston area while Providence is a separate area, despite Providence being closer to Boston.

Then again, the Census Bureau remade the NYC MSA area in 2003 to include parts of NJ and PA (Pike and Wayne Counties, I think), but not CT. That really doesn't make sense because far more people commute to NYC from CT than from PA and live much closer to the city than those who live in PA. Distance is really what matters when you consider what is commuting distance.

In that case, you could say that Springfield is within commuting distance of Hartford (only 25 miles). Yet the Census Bureau (and the FCC) classify Metro Hartford and Metro Springfield as completely separate areas (MSA's).
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Springfield

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:07 pm

With regard to Philadelphia and New York, New York is number one in
passenger count with Amtrak and Philadelphia is number three. There is a
huge market for travel between the two cities whether we regard it as
intercity or as commuter.
Boston is nowhere near the size of Philadelphia and Springfield is
relatively small, there is nothing between Worcester and Springfield that
would generate much traffic.
There is no longer a decent passenger available railroad between Boston
and Springfield either.
Let's look at the Philadelphia - Harrisburg corridor. Harrisburg is similiar
size to Springfield but there are a number of good traffic bases between
the two cities in this corridor. There is also a good passenger railroad
that is owned and controlled by passenger oriented railroading.
For a passenger railroad to amount to anything between Boston and
Springfield, it would need to be controlled by Amtrak or another passenger
oriented railroad, be capable of AVERAGE speeds of at least 60 MPH and
be double track. In other words, a passenger train would have to do at
least as well as a bus on the Mass Pike would.
In addition, local funding would have to be made available to build such a
railroad, not likely in Massachusetts today.
As I and a number of others have said, it is just not going to happen
anytime in our lifetimes.
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Postby bierhere » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:08 pm

In NJ, people are getting pretty close to comutting 100 miles to NYC. NJ Transit is looking at building a rail line called MOM. This rail line would terminate about 80 miles South of NYC. This would be conventional rail and likely require people to switch from diesel to electric engines when the line hits the NEC.

In theory, the a high speed monorail would reduce comuting times to 1-1.5 hrs which is not much more than Fitchburg, Worcester, RI, or NH by conventional rail.

I'm just pointing this out. I think the purposal is crazy given the need for more local improvement around Boston and the cost of this project. Using Seattle estimates (conventional monorail ), 250 miles * 70 million per mile
(http://www.kingcountymonorail.org/costs)

I do think for instance, that using monorail for a rapid transit line in/around Boston might make sense. For instance, it might make sense for the urban ring, or it might have made much more sense than BRT for the Silver Line.
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Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:26 pm

bierhere wrote:
In NJ, people are getting pretty close to comutting 100 miles to NYC. NJ Transit is looking at building a rail line called MOM. This rail line would terminate about 80 miles South of NYC. This would be conventional rail and likely require people to switch from diesel to electric engines when the line hits the NEC.

I know, and that's why I won't live in NJ. I don't want to endure a commute longer than an hour, an hour and 15 minutes max. No job is worth that kind of commute. Anything more than that is insane - and I know a lot of people go through that. Not me. There's also Metro-North's New Haven line which terminates 75 miles from NYC at New Haven and takes over 90 minutes to go from end to end.

I agree, more needs to be done to address commute within Boston than commuter rail service to Springfield. Oddly enough, a similar topic came up on the Metro-North Forum about running MN trains from NYC to Albany - a distance of 150+ miles. Instead of running T service there, the state (not the MBTA) should be providing subsidies to Amtrak to run more service to Springfield - like PennDOT does between Philly and Harrisburg.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, a monorail proposal should be considered for the Urban Ring. Perhaps it could take over the 66 bus route and the Sullivan-Harvard portion of route 86. Light rail would not be any faster than the two existing bus services and it will take centuries to build an underground line. Plus, an elevated monorail can take a straight shot over the Worcester rail line and the Pike, instead of the meandering route that the 66 has to take onto Brighton Ave and N. Harvard St in order to get to Cambridge.
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Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:36 pm

I agree, Noel - and that's why I don't think the T should operate to Springfield. There are far more important transportation issues (Fairmount Line, Somerville Green Line extension, Urban Ring, etc) closer to home that need to be addressed. Running the T to Springfield makes about as much sense as running Metro-North to Albany.
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