MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:18 pm

BandA wrote:For the Cambridge / Grand Junction, perhaps some folks at MIT could design railroad crossing and block equipment that can tell the difference between a 30MPH through freight and a passenger local that is about to stop at Kendall. A slow moving passenger train pulling out of a station only needs the gates to be down for a few moments, and certainly not during station dwell.



They don't even need fancy new technology - there are already several commuter rail stations adjacent to crossings that have something similar in place. For example, Ipswich on the Newburyport line, which is adjacent to Topsfield Rd, has the gates clear immediately after southbound trains leave the crossing, and northbound trains have to manually activate the gates by either pressing a button on an pole next to the tracks (visible right in front of the signals in this photo I took: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V9GGOSsFLPE/T ... C01260.jpg) or dialing a specific radio code.

Oddly though the other stations on the line do not have this in place, so I would guess it was requested by the town when service was restored in the late 90s. It'd be nice to have it at a couple others too (e.g. Hamilton/Wenham).
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:03 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:
BandA wrote:For the Cambridge / Grand Junction, perhaps some folks at MIT could design railroad crossing and block equipment that can tell the difference between a 30MPH through freight and a passenger local that is about to stop at Kendall. A slow moving passenger train pulling out of a station only needs the gates to be down for a few moments, and certainly not during station dwell.



They don't even need fancy new technology - there are already several commuter rail stations adjacent to crossings that have something similar in place. For example, Ipswich on the Newburyport line, which is adjacent to Topsfield Rd, has the gates clear immediately after southbound trains leave the crossing, and northbound trains have to manually activate the gates by either pressing a button on an pole next to the tracks (visible right in front of the signals in this photo I took: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V9GGOSsFLPE/T ... C01260.jpg) or dialing a specific radio code.

Oddly though the other stations on the line do not have this in place, so I would guess it was requested by the town when service was restored in the late 90s. It'd be nice to have it at a couple others too (e.g. Hamilton/Wenham).


The problems aren't mitigated enough by that:

1) Sheer frequencies on a DMU still ensure that the gates are going to be down very very often creating all-day traffic ripples cascading up/down Mass Ave., Broadway, and Main. They studied this for the Worcester-NS proposal and settled on 10 trains as a tolerable service level to avoid excessive traffic impacts. The DMU's are going to do...what, 3 times that?

2) Whether there are gate controls at an adjacent station stop, the train is still starting through the crossings from a dead stop or slowing through the crossings to a dead stop. And thus the gates are still down considerably longer than they would be at track speed. It's not 35 MPH...it's 5 MPH. This problem mushrooms intolerably if you start getting any notions of putting a stop at Mass Ave. too. It's impossible to replicate the Urban Ring on a DMU mode. It just can't be done.


I'm very skeptical this will work until we see some very detailed traffic modeling of the car queues around these crossings at the intended frequencies. If Mass Ave. traffic gets degraded to Level-of-Service D or F from the gates going up and down once every 10 minutes, it's over. Not even worth holding a public meeting on if the modeling flunks it that hard. I'm not even sure gates down twice per hour will fly, which means 30 min. headways in each direction are out of the question. They probably had the line's natural level pegged correctly in the Worcester study...a few peak-direction extras thru-routed to NS, maybe a couple daily Amtraks...and no more than 1-2 trains per hour in any direction.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby diburning » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:15 am

BandA wrote:For the Cambridge / Grand Junction, perhaps some folks at MIT could design railroad crossing and block equipment that can tell the difference between a 30MPH through freight and a passenger local that is about to stop at Kendall. A slow moving passenger train pulling out of a station only needs the gates to be down for a few moments, and certainly not during station dwell.

Waltham. The idea of rabid-transit or indiglo service to Waltham 128 or beyond termininus would generate huge development and possibly divert drivers from the $$pike, RT 2, and Alewife. But major expansions should only happen when there is some hope of eventually covering their operating costs. Transportation should be treated as valuable infrastructure, not a welfare benefit.


This somewhat already exists. I've camped out at Mass Ave, Main st, and Broadway to catch an Amtrak move with a heritage unit, and while I was there, I observed the movements.

At Broadway and Main st, the bell and flashers start going off about 20 seconds before the train arrives. The train is only doing about 5 mph. Crossing deactivates about 5 seconds after the train goes through.

At Mass Ave, trains have to stop and trigger the crossing (trigger is at the sidewalk) as well as watch for cars before crossing it. The bell and flashers stop immediately after the train clears the sidewalk on the other side.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:06 am

I was going to ask a really naïve question - why not elevate the Grand Jct line over the street crossings in Cambridge to avoid the whole traffic mess but then I looked at Google satellite maps to see that MIT or someone has used air rights over the RoW for a major building adjacent to Main St. So, never mind!

But how about plan B: the T terminates some Framingham line commuter trains at the Mass Ave crossing? This might address the needs of most Metrowest commuters trying to get to jobs at MIT and Kendall Square area, at ~1/2 mile distant (this is currently a terrible rush hour commute by car). No road crossings are required. Only some track work/signaling and a platform wedged into the tight confines next to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse would be needed. Obviously this proposal doesn't facilitate a high frequency N-S rail link between BON and BOS but Amtrak riders and metrowest commuters can currently get to/from BON via Orange Line at Back Bay.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:42 am

johnpbarlow wrote:I was going to ask a really naïve question - why not elevate the Grand Jct line over the street crossings in Cambridge to avoid the whole traffic mess but then I looked at Google satellite maps to see that MIT or someone has used air rights over the RoW for a major building adjacent to Main St. So, never mind!

But how about plan B: the T terminates some Framingham line commuter trains at the Mass Ave crossing? This might address the needs of most Metrowest commuters trying to get to jobs at MIT and Kendall Square area, at ~1/2 mile distant (this is currently a terrible rush hour commute by car). No road crossings are required. Only some track work/signaling and a platform wedged into the tight confines next to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse would be needed. Obviously this proposal doesn't facilitate a high frequency N-S rail link between BON and BOS but Amtrak riders and metrowest commuters can currently get to/from BON via Orange Line at Back Bay.


And where would they go? Board the godawful #1 bus and get stuck in traffic?

That's a nonstarter. Elevating the GJ is a nonstarter. If the GJ can't handle DMU traffic, the GJ is a nonstarter for everything except the light Worcester and/or Amtrak schedule previously studied.


The fact that the state is adopting DMU's is not an excuse to try to pass a kidney stone between every piece of standard-gauge rail inside Route 128 regardless of whether it can handle it and regardless of how senselessly useless the service is. The entire point is path-of-least-resistance utilization of RR ROW's up to their native capacity at full state-of-repair. Anything that tries to force-fit square pegs into round holes doesn't work. Any track upgrades that a full commuter rail schedule out to the 'burbs can't also be enhanced to the max by are throwing money down a rabbit hole. Think Worcester speed/signaling improvements, mitigation for the grade crossing speed restrictions on the Eastern Route, a double-track Readville station that increases the flex for thru-routing more Franklin or future Foxboro trains, double-tracking Reading station and upgrading the Wellington-Malden freight track to a full-service passing siding, building that 128 superstation at Exit 26 on the Fitchburg Line, fixing the funky stop spacing on the Lowell Line with a downtown-accessible Woburn infill and throwing in the towel on Mishawum while quad-gating that problematic West Medford grade crossing: those kind of high return-on-investment upgrades that every schedule can tap.

Mass Ave. station is bonkers for traffic management AND useless for commuter rail. If they can't find high enough Worcester and Amtrak upside to go along with it, doing anything with the Grand Junction is probably surplus-to-requirement for the limited money they have to play with. When that native capacity is very low, accept it or move on. The Grand Junction's is very low. Track 61's may end up too low to be more than a bit player. It's the 6 non-NEC, non-Old Colony mainlines that have the capacity to tap and the most overlapping schedules to share in the benefits. Use the economy of scale argument as a brain filter for prioritizing the rollout in your brainstorming. That kind of thinking-outside-the-box can hit a lot of unproductive and infeasible dead-ends if obsession about using every piece of rail period trumps the need to get a high return. It's about the utilization ceiling of the track, not about which track has the highest increase in utilization. Some are starting at zero utilization for very good reasons.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby nomis » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:50 am

Quick question: is the GJ Class 1 track with a 5mph MAS, or Exempt track with a 5mph MAS ?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:02 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
johnpbarlow wrote:I was going to ask a really naïve question - why not elevate the Grand Jct line over the street crossings in Cambridge to avoid the whole traffic mess but then I looked at Google satellite maps to see that MIT or someone has used air rights over the RoW for a major building adjacent to Main St. So, never mind!

But how about plan B: the T terminates some Framingham line commuter trains at the Mass Ave crossing? This might address the needs of most Metrowest commuters trying to get to jobs at MIT and Kendall Square area, at ~1/2 mile distant (this is currently a terrible rush hour commute by car). No road crossings are required. Only some track work/signaling and a platform wedged into the tight confines next to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse would be needed. Obviously this proposal doesn't facilitate a high frequency N-S rail link between BON and BOS but Amtrak riders and metrowest commuters can currently get to/from BON via Orange Line at Back Bay.


And where would they go? Board the godawful #1 bus and get stuck in traffic?




Are you suggesting that commuters won't take 10 minutes to walk a 1/2 mile or less from an urban terminus to their office?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:03 am

nomis wrote:Quick question: is the GJ Class 1 track with a 5mph MAS, or Exempt track with a 5mph MAS ?


It's Class 1. As an unfunded and non- deadline-specific IOU from the CSX sale the state was going to install gates at all the ungated crossings and do trackbed work around Mass Ave. to speed it up a little and reduce the vibrations from the freights passing through MIT. The stop-and-protects at the crossings and fact that the freights go so slow the engine has to rev at max instead of coasting are the main problems causing all the noise and subsonic vibration in that area. A consistent 10 MPH would make it a lot better. Class 2 with welded rail would pretty much eliminate those impacts altogether.

If they're running passenger traffic over it they would probably shoot for Class 3 just as maintenance standard, even if the passenger trains never exceed Class 2 speed. But it would have to be signaled as I don't see how they can do appreciable frequencies or keep a disabled or much-delayed train from fouling the opposing headway without putting the Cambridgeport passing siding into service with automatic switches. Plus the current PTC exemption limit is 6 trains. Even if that gets relaxed to 8 or 10 trains it's not nearly enough to support the daily schedule of that previous Worcester-NS proposal, let alone DMU's.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:11 am

johnpbarlow wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
johnpbarlow wrote:I was going to ask a really naïve question - why not elevate the Grand Jct line over the street crossings in Cambridge to avoid the whole traffic mess but then I looked at Google satellite maps to see that MIT or someone has used air rights over the RoW for a major building adjacent to Main St. So, never mind!

But how about plan B: the T terminates some Framingham line commuter trains at the Mass Ave crossing? This might address the needs of most Metrowest commuters trying to get to jobs at MIT and Kendall Square area, at ~1/2 mile distant (this is currently a terrible rush hour commute by car). No road crossings are required. Only some track work/signaling and a platform wedged into the tight confines next to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse would be needed. Obviously this proposal doesn't facilitate a high frequency N-S rail link between BON and BOS but Amtrak riders and metrowest commuters can currently get to/from BON via Orange Line at Back Bay.


And where would they go? Board the godawful #1 bus and get stuck in traffic?




Are you suggesting that commuters won't take 10 minutes to walk a 1/2 mile or less from an urban terminus to their office?



Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. The number of people coming in from Framingham who work in a 10 min. radius of that one stop is impossibly small. Mass Ave.-proper doesn't have as many employment destinations in the immediate couple blocks of the station area as Kendall doesn. And try walking over the Mass Ave. bridge in the middle of winter when the Charles is frozen. That's lunacy. If there's going to be a Kendall-area stop with the Red Line a block away that's the stop they'll all use and they'll take the Red Line or the CT2 to go upstream.

Again...don't invent things that don't have multiple stakeholders to tap just because there happens to be rails and ties there. A Worcester train can generate demand at Kendall for a Red Line transfer, and that in fact was an option in the prior study. It can't at all at Mass Ave. That's an Urban Ring stop, not a commuter rail stop.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:33 am

In my experience commuters will walk several minutes to their work place when that commute option is better than the alternatives. WRT to how small the commuter population is that could use the Framingham line to get to Mass Ave, I'm thinking of the knowledge workers who live in Framingham, Natick, Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Southboro, Westboro, Milford, etc and work at growing # of pharma/biotech/high tech firms in the Kendall Sq area. I don't have any stats but I do know of one such worker who had a bear of a daily drive from Holliston to Kendall Sq that was unfortunately better than taking mass transit for at least a portion of that route.

So run that DMU between Riverside and Cambridge making all the existing Newton stops and adding a mini "change at Jamaica" across platform transfer with Worcester-BOS trains at a new Newton Corner stop (bus hub and offices).
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:47 am

johnpbarlow wrote:In my experience commuters will walk several minutes to their work place when that commute option is better than the alternatives. WRT to how small the commuter population is that could use the Framingham line to get to Mass Ave, I'm thinking of the knowledge workers who live in Framingham, Natick, Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Southboro, Westboro, Milford, etc and work at growing # of pharma/biotech/high tech firms in the Kendall Sq area. I don't have any stats but I do know of one such worker who had a bear of a daily drive from Holliston to Kendall Sq that was unfortunately better than taking mass transit for at least a portion of that route.

So run that DMU between Riverside and Cambridge making all the existing Newton stops and adding a mini "change at Jamaica" across platform transfer with Worcester-BOS trains at a new Newton Corner stop (bus hub and offices).



I strongly disagree. And this is exactly the sort of mission creep that sinks the DMU proposal before it ever gets implemented. It's about maximizing the existing lines. The ONLY new stations not already planned (i.e. New Balance/Allston and the Silver Line-relocated Chelsea) that would be built with this are BCEC on Track 61, Kendall (which was of course studied in the Worcester proposal), and the Riverside add-on of the CR platform to the existing facility. With Newton Corner arguably being a must-have plan revision when all's said and done.

That's it. This is not intended to be a blank check to start adding infills willy-nilly. Especially ones that have never been studied in any way, shape, or form and have no demographic or ridership hard data whatsoever beyond individuals' pure conjecture about "in my experience...".

I realize this is fertile ground for boundless brainstorming, but there ARE boundaries to how far this can go. It has to stick to enhancing the current infrastructure or it's unfundable and collapses under its own mission creep. Grand Junction is by far the shakiest of any included lines in the proposal, and if there has to be a first cut that's almost certainly going to be the one that get downsized or swapped out of it (and if that means they're compelled to substitute an official Waltham or Reading proposal in trade, that's a net gain).
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:06 am

I didn't know one's commentary on this particular "discussion" thread was bound by only what was studied. Uncle.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby joshg1 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:18 pm

I see the Indigo Line in terms of subway substitute. The T/Commonwealth can't or won't pay for new subway lines and this plan is an admission they won't even try to get blood out of Washington's stone. So how to achieve the goal of getting workers to and from the places that are growing without more road traffic? Bodge something together on railroads with DMUs. DMU- the hottest three letters in American public transit! This is covered above as utilization and native capacity, but I didn't see a subway link.

Indigo to Lynn is the Blue Line extension that won't be built. BCEC to "West" then back over the Grand Jct is another. Riverside via the B&A was proposed for light rail 70 years ago. Indigo to Anderson doesn't fit; neither does Salem.

A Cambridge station, not necessarily rightat Mass Ave, is a good concept, if impossible for lack of money and land. As available space around Kendall fills up, developers are moving west down Vassar and Albany, renovating large and replacing low commercial buildings. Oddly, businesses of a similar nature cluster together- Financial District, medical science around MIT, hospitals in Longwood. It's almost as if people like to work near similar people- as if they might learn something from each other. This is anecdotal evidence, as is my belief that MetroWest is the most popular part of suburbia for biotech/science workers and businesses.

Unfortunately I don't see how mixing modes along the Grand Junction would work because of the narrow ROW, and high value of buildings along the line. Rapid transit in any form would displace the regular old fashioned railroad operations. Unless a subway was built and now I've gone full circle.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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

On behalf of all Lowell Line users between North Station and Anderson, we'll take the DMUs at exactly the stations we have. Sold. We'll take it, no questions asked. ;-)

And at that rate, I bet Winchester will find a way to either do structured parking at either Winchester Center or Wedgemere (or a long skinny structure hugging the embankment between them), and somebody will look into Transit Oriented Development at Mishawum (I'm looking at you, owners of Woburn Mall, parcels north, and Industrial Parkway ;-)
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby joshg1 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:13 pm

I read the scant paragraph in the report about the Indigo line as diesel rapid transit, and think Salem remote but running up to Anderson may have Alewife potential- depends on zoning and the RE market. Has anything concrete on frequency of Indigo service come up? What about length/capacity of trains? I think it important to differentiate between-

DMU- diesel rapid transit, because we're not going to extend or build any subways

and

DMU- a different type of CR train that runs at the the same frequency with the same stations as current loco hauled trains.
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