Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion plan

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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby boblothrope » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:25 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:We should be thinking Salem to Worcester, Lowell to Providence, etc. and Northeast Regionals up to Manchester and Portland, on top of thinking Medford to Yawkey, Lynn to Ruggles, etc.


Before we do that, we should be thinking Boston to Salem, Boston to Worcester, Boston to Lowell. But without any 2 hour gaps in the schedule.

Infrequent service is the biggest problem with the Commuter Rail, and the easiest to fix without huge capital expenditures.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby CRail » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:50 pm

So we should ignore the long term because there are easier problems to fix?
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby boblothrope » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:16 pm

CRail wrote:So we should ignore the long term because there are easier problems to fix?


The North-South Rail Link isn't the long term -- it's the never term.

Increased frequencies on existing routes could happen tomorrow.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby novitiate » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:48 pm

boblothrope wrote:
CRail wrote:So we should ignore the long term because there are easier problems to fix?


The North-South Rail Link isn't the long term -- it's the never term.

Increased frequencies on existing routes could happen tomorrow.

I thought the problem with increased frequencies was that South Station is at capacity.

Not to mention needing to buy more coaches, engines, etc. (Admittedly cheaper than the NSRL but still means you can't exactly do it "tomorrow")
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:24 pm

A limited amount of frequency increases could be done with the existing fleet during mid-day, when several sets are currently sitting idle.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby octr202 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:10 am

The biggest stumbling block to more service off-peak service is just simply cost. There's obviously plenty of equipment sitting around off-peak, but let's remember that's where a lot of the cuts have taken place - during the really off-peak times, i.e., weekends. It would be nice to have a true regional/metropolitan rail system, but we don't have the density of off-peak travel to support higher frequencies with the equipment we have, and we don't have the equipment or infrastructure for running the kind of service that we need to provide more frequent service. Off-peak trains with a 3000HP (soon likely to be more!) hauling 5-7 coaches while only 1-2 are in use just isn't cost-effective in the long run. Into NYC (and perhaps Chicago, my knowledge of ridership patterns there is pretty much non-existant) there is sufficient all-hours demand to warrant running railroad service with full consists much of the time, that just isn't there in Boston. Philadelphia style service could certainly be supported (I'd venture to guess that 30/60 minute headways on commuter rail, 6 or 7 days a week, would result in as much or more ridership as in Philadelphia), but without the cost advantage of MUs and possibly the legacy electrified railroad, it would take a major replacement of the fleet with something that doesn't exist on the market right now. Perhaps SMART and GO Transit will get their FRA-compliant DMUs figured out and give everyone in North America a new option, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby boblothrope » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:25 pm

octr202 wrote:The biggest stumbling block to more service off-peak service is just simply cost.
...
but without the cost advantage of MUs and possibly the legacy electrified railroad, it would take a major replacement of the fleet with something that doesn't exist on the market right now. Perhaps SMART and GO Transit will get their FRA-compliant DMUs figured out and give everyone in North America a new option, but I wouldn't hold my breath.


EMUs on the Providence line. If FRA-compliant DMUs don't exist, they will soon.

Shorter trains, with fewer employees, running more often would mean costs wouldn't increase. (What's the minimum off-peak crew size on MBCR today?) And faster turns at the city terminals would solve the capacity problem.

But none of this can happen if we lock ourselves into another 40-50 years of coaches and locos with the current equipment purchases.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby CRail » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:25 pm

1 Engineer, 1 Conductor, 1 Trainman is basically the minimum. There may be trips with only 2 crewmembers (the absolute legal minimum), but if there are they're few and far between.

Cuts are being made on routes and services with low ridership and service levels already as octr202 points out, but a good look at the service would allow for a pretty educated guess as to which services apply to the "build and they will come" logic. There are quite a few, I'd bet. The inability to cut and add to trainsets during the day is certainly a thorn in the side of the operation. What I would like to see done is a reactivation of the 25 ex control cars to be placed in the middle of a consist so it can be broken mid-day. I know that means more paperwork but it's possible, and with the reduced mileage on equipment I doubt it would cost too much more to add 25 cars to a locomotive grade S&I schedule (which control coaches are subject to). There's a relatively inexpensive (better than buying new fleets) band-aid that at least gets us a step closer and with the capital we've already got. Then once we've proven that it can be done with the older equipment, just think of what we could do with brand new cars built with that operation in mind. The up front cost and operational changes are enough to prevent that kind of movement, unfortunately, so I think it's unlikely that we'll ever see it.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby boblothrope » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:15 pm

CRail wrote:1 Engineer, 1 Conductor, 1 Trainman is basically the minimum. There may be trips with only 2 crewmembers (the absolute legal minimum), but if there are they're few and far between.


Do you have a cite? People were debating this on another forum. Someone found a federal regulation that defines what a conductor is, but nobody found a law that said "and you have to have one".

CRail wrote:The inability to cut and add to trainsets during the day is certainly a thorn in the side of the operation. What I would like to see done is a reactivation of the 25 ex control cars to be placed in the middle of a consist so it can be broken mid-day. I know that means more paperwork but it's possible, and with the reduced mileage on equipment I doubt it would cost too much more to add 25 cars to a locomotive grade S&I schedule (which control coaches are subject to).


That's a great idea.

It always bugs me when we're told to limit our driving, carpool, and combine short trips to save fuel, while transit agencies haul around half-closed trains all day.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby jscola30 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:16 pm

South Station expansion needs to happen, South Station is home to more commuter rail lines and way more Amtrak trains. I commute to South Station, one train I take is the 4:31 out of South Weymouth sometimes, we always have to wait at least 5-6 minutes for the track to clear, and yesterday, I got a particularly loud earful from a passenger about that and poor Worcester line service. I personally believe the time for the Rail Link has already passed, and if we want to connect the two, we're going to have use another way. I do like the idea of the cab car in the middle. I think the infrequency of commuter rail trains is hindering and hurting it's growth, coupled with higher costs. On the Plymouth/Kingston line, 2 trains were cut during the tie replacement project and never restored. Therefore in the after noon from South Weymouth, there's a train at 12:40, (cut train left about 1:40) next train is 2:57. The other cut was a mid morning train between the 9:06 and 11:20 departures (I believe it was about 10:40).
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby Mcoov » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:17 pm

CRail wrote:

What would the cost of towing those empty cars to and from BET be, and how would it affect an already crowded BON?
Or would you simply leave the empty cars on the platform like they used to?
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:49 pm

boblothrope wrote:
CRail wrote:1 Engineer, 1 Conductor, 1 Trainman is basically the minimum. There may be trips with only 2 crewmembers (the absolute legal minimum), but if there are they're few and far between.


Do you have a cite? People were debating this on another forum. Someone found a federal regulation that defines what a conductor is, but nobody found a law that said "and you have to have one".

Crew size, AFAIK, is regulated by union agreements and operating rules, not federal law. The railroads had to wage a big fight with the unions back in the '70s or '80s to reduce crew sizes from 5 to 2.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby CRail » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:09 pm

I guess "legally" isn't the right term. I'm not sure if it's an FRA mandate or what (it may be a mandate that unions fought for, but it's certainly a mandate of some sort, or companies would be pushing for single person crews), but a train cannot operate without a conductor. Most trips have at least an assistant conductor (non-revenue trips excluded), but I do believe there are a couple exceptions to that. Someone on the inside there would know better than I.

The logistics of cutting cars would have to be figured out. Outside point set ups like Fitchburg and Bradford are perfect for that. A train does a trip out, pulls into the yard, cuts 3 (or so) cars, and goes back into the station to do the inbound trip short. I think the Budd track at Rockport can hold two cars which would give you one more short set, but Lowell and Newburyport would have to be handled in town. I'm not familiar with all of the outside points on the south side, but Pawtucket is set up well for this, as is Franklin and Needham.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby sery2831 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:35 pm

boblothrope wrote:
CRail wrote:1 Engineer, 1 Conductor, 1 Trainman is basically the minimum. There may be trips with only 2 crewmembers (the absolute legal minimum), but if there are they're few and far between.


Do you have a cite? People were debating this on another forum. Someone found a federal regulation that defines what a conductor is, but nobody found a law that said "and you have to have one".


As of the beginning of this year, Conductors are now required to be Certified like locomotive engineers. Every train needs to have to have a minimum of two certificates(one engineer and one conductor) to operate. Union contracts require an assistant conductor. With the fare structure and the lack of 100% high level boardings, it is unrealistic to operate with less than a 3 man crew.

boblothrope wrote:
CRail wrote:The inability to cut and add to trainsets during the day is certainly a thorn in the side of the operation. What I would like to see done is a reactivation of the 25 ex control cars to be placed in the middle of a consist so it can be broken mid-day. I know that means more paperwork but it's possible, and with the reduced mileage on equipment I doubt it would cost too much more to add 25 cars to a locomotive grade S&I schedule (which control coaches are subject to).


That's a great idea.

It always bugs me when we're told to limit our driving, carpool, and combine short trips to save fuel, while transit agencies haul around half-closed trains all day.


Right now, the MBTA requires 4 cars for braking reasons. The trainsets are 5,6, and 7 cars with the exception of the two 8 car sets that do not see off peak service.
Adding and cutting cars requires a full mechanical staff to break the cars and do the paperwork. Conductors do not break apart coaches unless there is an emergency. A electrician is required to do all the cables in between. You will also need a carman, and a machinist... And they work under the authority of a mechanical foreman. It's a lot more work than just operating the sets as is. Plus exactly when do you propose to do these cuts? These take time and most train sets keep operating on tight turns with the exception of the trains that put up in outlaying points.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby MBTA3247 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:41 am

There's a joke somewhere in there about how many union employees it takes to couple cars together vs non-union.
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