Cape Flyer Discussion

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

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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:46 pm

The EGE wrote:When/why did 800 feet become the T's standard? The earliest batch were all different sizes - Malden Center and Oak Grove to OL size in 1975, North and South stations to an odd mix of lengths by size constraints (NS has none longer than 800, SS has some nearly 1300), Southwest Corridor stops to 1050 feet (Amtrak/MNRR standard for 12 cars) in 1987, Lynn to an oddball 890 feet in 1992.

The Old Colony Lines seem to be consistently 800 on side platforms, same with Rowley, Fairmount Line stops, Greenbush, South Acton, etc. The center islands - Newburyport, Lynn, Anderson, Brockton - built in the 1990s are all around 840-850. Only the recent builds - Littleton, and planned Blue Hill Ave - drop center islands to 800 feet.


Early/mid-90's. The Old Colony, Worcester extension, and Newburyport extension stops were the first mass deployments of 800-footers (9 cars) on the system that starting hitting that measurement on-the-button (Providence Line and inner Worcester have long been 8-car and close enough to 800), though other earlier ones like Lynn aimed high and even went a little overboard. The Fairmount ones are all getting 800 footers so they're future proofed for any/all manner of Franklin or Foxboro thru-routing, with Fairmount itself (~730 ft.) and the ultimate relocation away from that sub-300 ft. Readville platform (which can't go full-high till they pull it out of CSX's way) last to get that treatment. The MBTA engineering standard is also universally adopted for RIDOT and the new Vermonter stops going on the Conn River Line (commuter rail future-proofing there too). If they're at a super-constrained location, the new minimum standard is 450 ft. (5 cars). Mostly for places where platforms are sandwiched between grade crossings. Otherwise they work backwards from 800 to whatever the limiting obstruction is.

Say what you will about overdesign, but at least we're not like CDOT cheaping out and building impossibly short brand new SLE platforms that won't last a dozen years before they have to be lengthened for more than 3 cars. We'll never have to touch any of these again.



If the DMU rollout really accelerates the full-high deployments we'll see an awful lot of close-but-not-quite ones get rounded up to the new standards in their renovations.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Clean Cab » Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:09 am

I agree that CDOT's platforms are a joke. Everywhere they build them, they are tiny. Except for the two most recently opened stations at Fairfield Metro and West Haven where the platforms are 12 cars (1020 feet) long. But that is only due to the huge number of passengers that use them. In the case of BB, the railroad cannot block Academy Drive or any other crossing for more than 5 minutes. That's a state law and the residents of Taylor's Point have constantly complained about the road being blocked by scenic/passenger trains at BB station. One alternate idea is to build the platform north of Academy Drive. That way the trains would not block the crossing. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see how the process of even getting commuter trains into BB before we all start designing the platforms.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GE45tonner » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:16 am

How far up can trains go to the bridge while it is open? It looks like if you extend the platform south there will be plenty of room.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Clean Cab » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:50 am

GE45tonner wrote:How far up can trains go to the bridge while it is open? It looks like if you extend the platform south there will be plenty of room.



You can fit 6 cars + one engine (Aprox 580 feet) between Academy Drive and the signal/derail at the canal bridge. there'd be no chance of spotting a longer train with the bridged in the down position as it would tie up canal traffic for too long a period of time.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:00 am

GE45tonner wrote:How far up can trains go to the bridge while it is open? It looks like if you extend the platform south there will be plenty of room.


Given that the switch to Cape Jct. is only 20 ft. from the bridge on the other side, I would guess pretty damn close. Trains in practice may have to maintain an adequate stopping distance behind, but if doing a full-high here on a slight curve requires putting in a freight passing track that passing track can go up to the literal foot of the bridge before rejoining. So that gives you a healthy amount of platform space.

Looking at the tightest curvature on other full-highs around the system, the current platform curvature at BB is almost exactly the same as Middleboro's. And nowhere near as tight as Weymouth Landing and East Weymouth on the Greenbush Line (both likewise 800-footers). The current well-offset BB platform is a little bit straighter than the old one abutting the station building if you follow the contours of the pavement's edge around the building and parking lot...but still way looser than those Greenbush stops. So if they moved the new platform back closer to the station building more or less in alignment with the pavement they can get some extra footage from the curvature while remaining well within tolerances. Tracing on Google Maps with the measuring tool I can fit 800 ft. between edge of pavement at SW corner of the station building to here at the fence surrounding that building next to the bridge (i.e. draw a straight line from the walkway to that building west of the tracks to the southernmost curb of the Canal St. parking lot and you will intersect the platform tip). If the freight passing track hooks in like 10 ft. past the platform tip, all tracks tie in with more room to spare than at Canal Jct. on the other side.


Of course, you wouldn't have to get quite that close. If they wanted to realign Academy to the Washington intersection by taking out a few trees they can buy another 40-50 ft. on the north tip.



Ironically, I looked for examples of sub-800 ft. full-highs. And other than the constrained North Station platforms and 2005-construction Lawrence which inexplicably falls a little short (unless this dirt grade crossing was temporary and they tacked on another 125 ft. later), there aren't any. Every single full-high on the system is an 800 footer. Which makes me think that if BB commuter rail is a real deal they'll go hard at trying to make it conform to standard.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:32 am

The Cape Cod Times had an article on the Buzzards Bay commuter rail forum in its January 17th issue:

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140117/NEWS/401170316/-1/NEWS06

MassDOT Rail and Transit Division deputy administrator Jody Ray was present at the meeting and specifically addressed questions on the Academy Drive crossing and platforms at Buzzards Bay. According to Mr. Ray, the Old Colony Middleborough line runs six car trains. His preliminary review indicates there is just enough room at Buzzards Bay to fit a six car train with locomotive and not foul either the crossing or the derail for the bridge.

Mr. Ray noted if an additional platform track is built, it would likely not be lined up to the bridge, but rather swing away. This could provide considerable more room for longer commuter trains. As the project progresses, more detailed engineering work would be done to further explore options for the Buzzards Bay platform layout.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Clean Cab » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:34 pm

Great news. Now let's see how long the process takes. Since the article says the tracks to BB are in good shape, it wouldn't cost as much as other rail expansions. But would the project include a wayside and/or cab signal system? Would interlockings need to be installed? Would there be just one track for MBTA trains at BB? How many trains would originate at BB? Would trains be stored at or near BB station? I guess we'll all just have to wait to find out.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby highgreen215 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:45 pm

In the old days Academy Drive did not exist so there was no crossing there. The present day crossing is right where the long station awning was located. Access to Taylor Point was by a bridge over the tracks up by the rotary, the street side abutment is still there. I doubt it would be possible to reactivate the original bridge - a marina on the other side of the tracks was dredged and constructed sometime after the bridge was deactivated.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby The EGE » Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:53 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Ironically, I looked for examples of sub-800 ft. full-highs. And other than the constrained North Station platforms and 2005-construction Lawrence which inexplicably falls a little short (unless this dirt grade crossing was temporary and they tacked on another 125 ft. later), there aren't any. Every single full-high on the system is an 800 footer. Which makes me think that if BB commuter rail is a real deal they'll go hard at trying to make it conform to standard.


I realized that I started a thread about MBTA platform lengths last year; my thoughts are here.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby BenH » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:57 pm

Seems rather amazing that a 300-foot high-level platform will be built this spring in Wareham, for the CapeFLYER service. It will be be interesting to see if a similar platform will be built this spring in Hyannis -- a location that really could use such a platform length.

MassDOT will be building a new station in Northampton this spring in support of the reroute of the Vermonter via the Connecticut River line.. The last plan that I saw called for a 300 feet of platform surface -- 255 feet of low level boarding and 45 feet of high level boarding.

One might wonder whether some of the political powers that be are building the infrastructure for an extension of MBTA commuter rail to Buzzards Bay, in anticipation of the formal approval of the project.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Clean Cab » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:36 pm

I've heard talk that a second track and longer platform will be installed in Hyannis before the Cape Flyer starts running in 2014.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Arlington » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:30 pm

Clean Cab wrote:I've heard talk that a second track and longer platform will be installed in Hyannis before the Cape Flyer starts running in 2014.

What good would a second track do? Train meets?

Seems to me that sending a train back north to Middleboro and never leaving two trains there is cheaper than sinking the capital costs into two tracks.

Is the peak so sharp that two trains must follow each other so closely that both are worth sending to the end and holding there?
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby dowlingm » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:44 pm

Arlington wrote:
Clean Cab wrote:I've heard talk that a second track and longer platform will be installed in Hyannis before the Cape Flyer starts running in 2014.

What good would a second track do? Train meets?
Wasn't there an instance (more than one?) where loading the CCCR dinner train was held up by a late departing Flyer? Maybe the 2nd platform is to keep everyone happy?
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Clean Cab » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:21 pm

Yes, the CapeFlyer did delay some of CCC's trains, so that is what is motivating the idea of a second track in Hyannis. I was in the yard a few days ago and saw no signs of any track work, but it is the dead of winter.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:45 pm

So to summarize, here's the list of improvements I hear planned for the Cape Flyer for the coming season from the news media, this thread and the Buzzards Bay meeting last week:

-- a new Wareham stop.
-- Improvements at selected grade crossings, including Academy Drive in Buzzards Bay, per Jody Ray at the Buzzards Bay meeting, and
-- a possible second track at the Hyannis terminal to minimize Cape Flyer impacts on Cape Cod Central operations, per Clean Cab.

Any word on the Cape-side stop near the Bourne Bridge CCRTA administrator Tom Cahir proposed last fall? Cahir wanted this stop added to shave up to 20 minutes off the shuttle bus connections to Falmouth and the ferries at Woods Hole, compared to connections via Buzzards Bay.
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