Orange line

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Orange line

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:28 pm

For day 3 of my conference, I decided to explore the Orange line (I did Blue Monday and Red Tuesday, Green All Week). I left from Oak Grove station.

I like the condos next to the station. Parking was def an adventure. I had to park up the street and hike, but that was a smart way the MBTA added extra parking spots.

I felt like it would win the award for fastest trip downtown.

I found the ROW very interesting. At times it looked like it was a 4 track ROW and they just stuck the 3rd rail onto existing freight tracks. Several stations had what looked like abandoned track, and one had a 2 track section overgrown with weeds.

And of course, the saddness of seeing the dead, now bike trail, Saugus branch.
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Re: Orange line

Postby MBTA3247 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:54 am

When the Orange Line north of North Station was realigned in the 1970s, it used part of the existing ROW of the Haverhill Line. Others here could probably tell you how much (if any) of that line had 3 or 4 tracks before the Orange Line was put there.

From Wellington to Community College there's an express track which AFAIK has never been used except for doing acceptance testing on the #5 East Boston Tunnel cars.

The overgrown tracks at Sullivan Square went to a freight yard located at the Assembly Square redevelopment. Nowadays they are just used for storing the occasional cut of freight cars.
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Re: Orange line

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:13 am

Once outside the terminal zone, the B&M Western Route was double tracked prior to Orange Line construction in the 1970s, with a number of freight spurs. But when the Orange Line was added as far as Oak Grove, everything was shuffled around to create the current alignment that includes only a single railroad track alongside the rapid transit trackage. The railroad double track resumes north of Oak Grove and extends as far as Reading.
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Re: Orange line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:24 am

gprimr1 wrote:For day 3 of my conference, I decided to explore the Orange line (I did Blue Monday and Red Tuesday, Green All Week). I left from Oak Grove station.

I like the condos next to the station. Parking was def an adventure. I had to park up the street and hike, but that was a smart way the MBTA added extra parking spots.

I felt like it would win the award for fastest trip downtown.

I found the ROW very interesting. At times it looked like it was a 4 track ROW and they just stuck the 3rd rail onto existing freight tracks. Several stations had what looked like abandoned track, and one had a 2 track section overgrown with weeds.

And of course, the saddness of seeing the dead, now bike trail, Saugus branch.


The 2nd commuter rail track at Wellington that stays on the surface when the rest of the tracks dip in the tunnel is for a junction on the surface with the short Pan Am Medford Branch, which cuts across the ROW. The duck-under tunnel was built to preserve the junction, and had commuter rail been replaced in entirety by the Orange Line to Reading that 4th track would've remained as a very long lead track to the Medford Branch. It's still nominally active to a cold storage company and brewery a half-mile away, but hasn't seen any activity since 2010. There are additional overgrown abandoned sidings alongside the Orange Line in that area connected to the Medford Branch turnout serving other former abutting businesses and also as a means of delivering subway cars to Wellington Yard from a freight train.

Had the Orange Line been extended that commuter rail track would've become an extension of the Orange Line express track to Oak Grove, allowing Reading commuters to skip the inner stations on rush-hour express runs.
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Re: Orange line

Postby sery2831 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:28 am

The cold storage on the Medford Branch has been seeing one car a year and is still active.
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Re: Orange line

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:55 pm

sery2831 wrote:The cold storage on the Medford Branch has been seeing one car a year and is still active.

If the MBTA didn't own it, one car a year would not justify maintaining it.

Going back to the original post, the Orange Line has no bottlenecks, just an occasional ATO glitch or disabled train. I would agree that it is the fastest of the existing RT lines. The only negative is that they couldn't maintain a 17 train schedule with 120 cars. They had to cut back a train. Not enough spares with 30 year old cars. New cars are still a way off.
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Re: Orange line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:33 pm

Gerry6309 wrote:
sery2831 wrote:The cold storage on the Medford Branch has been seeing one car a year and is still active.

If the MBTA didn't own it, one car a year would not justify maintaining it.


They don't own it. That branch is still under PAR ownership. They're probably taking their sweet time declaring business insufficient to continue serving because it's so short and tangent with only a single grade crossing that they can let it fall into Watertown-level disrepair without having to get a re-railing crew warming up in the bullpen each time there's a move. And the brewery keeps talking about resuming rail shipments but never ends up pulling the trigger.
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Re: Orange line

Postby gprimr1 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:43 pm

I wonder if the Pan Am/NS partnership will push the brewery into deciding.
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Re: Orange line

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:35 am

The brewery is in Merrimack NH. Medford is a brewery owned distribution warehouse that is owned by the brewery. So it is a brewery decision, but there is also a distribution warehouse in Kingston Ma that is railside too, ( it was formerly in N Plymouth and railed back when too ) . This is controlled by a distributor L knife , who also owns the Bud house Seaboard Dist. in Danvers that had rail but no more. There is a lot of volume here, so service and cost must be of the essence , both factors , not just the money. Budweiser and its distributors run a precise operation.
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Re: Orange line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:13 pm

gprimr1 wrote:I wonder if the Pan Am/NS partnership will push the brewery into deciding.


From what people in-the-know on the PAR forum say, they're at a standoff on boxcar size. Brewery wanted oversize, PAR told them it can't because of the clearance restrictions. If they don't concede to that, it doesn't happen. And doesn't appear it matters enough to them to back off. I'm going to guess if they ultimately pass that this line goes back on the endangered list, since PAR is quite unlikely to want to maintain for once-yearly deliveries at the cold storage place after GLX slashes its operating space around BET.

Anyway, if that branch goes it would be a good candidate for a short trail connecting that neighborhood to the tunnel roof and Rivers Edge Dr. Either with a ped crossing on the lone surface track or a small footbridge. Those residents can't get to Wellington station at all without crossing 16 at dangerous Wellington Circle or taking an intimidating detour up the narrow 16 sidewalk to the WB access road embankment. It's almost as bad as having no ped access at all to a station they can literally see from the top floor of their houses.



Are there any plans for the T to upgrade that surface siding into a full commuter rail passing track? I know it's been a longstanding proposal, but is there any impetus to do it soon after the rest of the Haverhill improvements are done? Doing that + doubling-up Reading yard thru Reading station would take care of 2 of the biggest schedule pinches on inner Haverhill Line. I see they ripped out the ex-spur near Malden Ctr. fed from this track, which would seem to make it easier to fashion it into a second thru track as far as the Medford St. bridge.
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Re: Orange line

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:37 pm

gprimr1 wrote:And of course, the saddness of seeing the dead, now bike trail, Saugus branch.


Erm, I guess you hadn't seen the branch pre-trail. It was a complete disaster with encroachment coming at it from every angle. It's essentially useless as a rail line when give current politics, funding, and demand. It is now a beautiful trail which anyone can use, will tie into a commuter network, and even improve ways people can get to the MBTA. It's free of all encroachment, enabling easy rail reactivation when the need is actually there.
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