West Station discussion

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Re: West Station discussion

Postby TrainManTy » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:30 pm

Corey, that's a great map. The reverse orientation really confused me for a minute, but I'm good now. :-)

octr202 wrote:I'll second that, but...

...Probably just want to shift it all a little bit west. Back Bay is too much of a destination to have trains skip it. Everything needs to stop there, unless it has a good reason to (such as being on the Old Colony and not going through it!). Yawkey is going to be a regular stop for a lot of trains, given the growth of the LMA. And some combination of trains will need to serve West/Beacon Park and the awfully named Boston Landing relative to the amount of jobs located near those stations. I actually think that you could probably extend the frequent local trains all the way to Natick or Framingham, and create a larger express zone for the Worcester trains. That would give better service to the inner portion of the line all the way, while helping compensate for the extra 'destination' stops on the city end.


As a Worcester Line commuter, I agree that Back Bay needs to be a stop for Worcester trains. The Blue Book only has inbound boarding statistics, but from anecdotal observation I would estimate that outbound boardings are about a third of South Station's.

Worcester express trains that make no stops between West Natick and Yawkey have no problem filling trains, even the 8-car "super set" which typically handles the 5pm outbound express.

Riders that don't go all the way to Zone 1A stations are trickier to figure out. Not only is it difficult to measure existing ridership, one also has to consider the untapped potential of people that currently drive but would switch to the train if an attractive option was available. And of course, stations that haven't been built yet. For example, commuters between Grafton and Boston Landing: they might not take the train if their only options are an all-stops Worcester local or an express to Framingham and then an all-stops local to Boston Landing.

Going off the NYC Subway comparison, what about having multiple express stations? For example, an all-stops DMU local between Framingham and South Station and express trains that stop at Worcester-Framingham, (relocated/new) Riverside, West Station, Yawkey, Back Bay, and South Station.

At Framingham and Riverside, inbound express trains could have a cross-platform transfer with inbound local trains. The express would depart first, followed by the local. You could even have a cross-platform transfer at West Station with an outbound local for commuters wanting to backtrack to Boston Landing. Outbound trains would run as the inverse: outbound locals in front that meet the outbound express train which catches up to them at Riverside and Framingham, and an inbound local that meets the outbound express at West Station.

If South Station/Back Bay/Yawkey capacity constraints are a concern, you could even short-turn some of the local trains to run West Station-Framingham and use the express trains to fill that headway gap.
EDIT: Or run some local trains to North Station and time them to meet the express trains at West Station.

octr202 wrote:..."West Station" (hopefully that name gets improved - almost as bad as "Boston Landing")...


Corey's map seems to propose "Brighton" for Boston Landing. In that vein, I'm partial to "Allston" as an alternative to West Station. "Beacon Park" could be a nice historical nod, too.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:49 pm

octr202 wrote:I'll second that, but...

...Probably just want to shift it all a little bit west. Back Bay is too much of a destination to have trains skip it. Everything needs to stop there, unless it has a good reason to (such as being on the Old Colony and not going through it!). Yawkey is going to be a regular stop for a lot of trains, given the growth of the LMA. And some combination of trains will need to serve West/Beacon Park and the awfully named Boston Landing relative to the amount of jobs located near those stations. I actually think that you could probably extend the frequent local trains all the way to Natick or Framingham, and create a larger express zone for the Worcester trains. That would give better service to the inner portion of the line all the way, while helping compensate for the extra 'destination' stops on the city end.

Sometimes we're quick to discount the benefit of terminating passengers closer to their workplace, versus other ways of speeding service. Yes, running non-stop from Riverside to South Station gets the train to South Station much faster, but if 2/3 of the commuters are going somewhere else, where's the benefit per passenger? Those stations will generate enough ridership to warrant even some Worcester expresses making the stops.

(To go tangentially for a moment, this is what makes the Grand Junction service so appealing. From a suburban commuting standpoint, North Station isn't the draw for Worcester trains - it's Kendall Sq. There's a huge employment center there, and having your train from Worcester or Framingham drop you within a few blocks of your office, rather than having to pile on the Red Line from South Station, saves you 20-40 minutes of commuting time. For non-railfan commuters, that's the difference between riding the train and putting up with the hassle and expense of driving the Pike every day.


But the last GJ study already gamed this out. A North Station direct is attractive on-peak because the Red and Orange Lines are overloaded. They saw adequate demand for 5 inbound morning trains and 5 outbound evening trains to/from Worcester and North Station when systemwide congestion made the transfer dance via Red and Orange hardest.

Off-peak it was a totally different situation. Orange and Red were not so overcrowded, and a transfer at Back Bay to Orange for North Station or Red at South Station for Kendall was a nearly dead-on match in total travel time vs. a commuter rail direct (I mean, nothing in the world is going to make that track go faster than a 20 MPH average with the curves, crossings, 2 tricky junctions, and a station stop in the middle). For total ridership on all non-peak hours including weekends they were much better off keeping all Framingham/Worcester service to one terminal only so that total frequencies stayed as robust as possible. The divide-and-conquer effect from continuing to split at West was much less than the sum of its parts, and continuing to run to NS on the off-peak cut the total Worcester ridership intake below what a BBY-->Orange or SS-->Red transfer would generate handling 100% of the frequencies.

And that's why the Worcester-NS service plan was just 5 peak-direction trips per each peak only. It's not because the Grand Junction had any counterintuitive reason to go quiet or have lower frequencies on the off-peak, or for lack of purely theoretical operating funds in a paper study. That was the schedule that generated the most riders and most farebox recovery, period. And the amount of additional gains to be had by simply stuffing more Framingham/Worcester South Station trains on the off-peak was so deep it would take them years and decades to saturate it enough for North Station off-peak diversions to become enough of a value-added to stop taking riders off the table. So a one-seat does not trump frequencies when the frequency disparity is quite large. Take would-be Worcester-Kendall commuter out of an abstract Q&A where "Yes, I find the idea of a one-seat very attractive" is more theory than reality and place them on a platform (any platform) in the real world where there's a choice of waiting longer for an intra-city one-seat or taking the transfer where both legs of the transfer have way higher frequencies...and in the real world this happens:

-- They're veteran-enough subway system riders to know their midday Red frequencies by heart and instantly opt for South Station.
-- They try the one-seat one time, then conclude it's gonna be a shorter overall wait next time to just get on Red. Every time after that they just hedge on South Station, and prefer more frequencies there instead of a split schedule diluting it to both terminals.

Rush hour obviously is a different story. But that's rush hour. The worker who has to go in for a few hours on a Saturday or is leaving midday or works the overnight while the corporate office in Delhi is online (lot of tech companies in Kendall have global ops requiring a second shift like that) values frequencies above all-else off-peak when commuter rail frequencies are more scarce midday and the subway doesn't have a congestion penalty for getting across town. To keep an off-peak schedule to Kendall and NS means banking on 1) the people who don't know better, 2) the people who are stepping outside the office heading for Red but by pure coincidence are in walking distance just as a Worcester train is pulling into Kendall, 3) that very small subset carrying heavy luggage or something that does need a one-seat above all else. And if it dilutes South Station frequencies, all Worcester off-peak ridership suffers as they just opt for cars.



That doesn't have anything to do with the DMU's, or the whole other thorny set of questions about whether the GJ can even handle 15-minute frequencies both directions through those crossings at all. Whole other ball of wax that has to be studied to the nines because of the alarming lack of hard data about road traffic impacts at 15 min. all-day frequencies each direction. This is strictly about Framingham and Worcester push-pulls and there place in the North Station pecking order.

But if you're figuring that doing the DMU build at all is going to enable some convenient thru-running to Framingham/Worcester as a nice side benefit...you're probably not going to find a workable service plan that's any more optimal at maximizing ridership than the prior study: a healthy number of rush hour directs when systemwide congestion makes transfers harder. And a 100% unified South Station-only routing with subway transfers to NS and Kendall at all off-peak and weekend hours when frequencies are at a premium. Off-peak would just be the DMU's with not a single push-pull running out of NS past Riverside. Maybe one token Amtrak Inland slot that's timed for a peak-hour arrival/departure from NYC and just happens to arrive/depart North Station a little bit pre-peak or post-peak, since that routing has wholly unique destinations juxtaposed from an NEC Regional that perhaps merits a little terminal variety in the daily schedule as a ridership incentive. But that's it. Diverting any outside-128 push-pulls on off-peaks or weekends harms total Framingham/Worcester ridership. That's been pretty conclusively proven. If you care about farebox recovery you throw your resources into fattening the Worcester-South Station frequencies. It's not a "Can't it be both?" question of low-hanging fruit when doing both is a significant disincentive to taking the train at all for the majority who value off-peak frequencies above all else.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby octr202 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:00 pm

Yes, I didn't properly preface that - that applies to rush hour commuting. Sorry.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BandA » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:08 am

By putting lots of local stops back on, we are finally providing a replacement for the green line "A" Watertown trolley.... if they also rebuild "Newton" station in Newton Corner Square. Alston Depot and Newton weren't needed back in 1962 when the "A" line was still running assuming traffic on Comm Ave and Brighton Avenue was lighter than it is today.

The Boston and Albany was supposed to spend up to $500,000 to eliminate the grade crossings on the Grand Junction, according to the Cambridge Chronicle of 1900, as part of legislation enabling the lease. Apparently this didn't happen.

I'm offended that Harvard isn't paying 100% for "West" station. New Balance is paying 100% for theirs. Perhaps Harvard could compensate by providing a free ground-level rights for a storage yard under their development (the tracks are already in place, lol, they could even avoid environmental cleanup). "T" could provide electric or battery switchers to store, service, fuel trains, taking pressure off South Station/yard. Or a loop track connecting Grand Junction to the east.

I found the extra stop at Yawkey annoying even back in the '90s. It added at least 5 minutes. With the added delays entering South Station, less reliable schedule under MBCR years, a 17 minute ~8.6m N'ville to South Station car-competitive or car-beating trip went to 30+ min; Might as well take the express bus.

The developers will want all-day transit frequent trains to their new stations, even if they lose money for the T.

Saw the outbound waiting Tue 8AM at Cottage Farm for the single track through Beacon Park. What does it take to enable the second track? Jeez....
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BandA » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:23 am

As for Riverside, that stop was removed from the main line about 1975? It is so close to Auburndale, but it is a long walk from the Riverside trolley station (do they allow pedestrians to enter riverside station from the rear?) If you had DMU's (or EMU's) running local to Riverside they could of course round the corner and run down the branch to the trolley station. But a cooler solution would be a driverless free ATO shuttle between Riverside and either Auburndale or Wellesley Farms, allowing passengers to transfer. Auburndale would be cheaper to build I think, and it would restore purpose to the traditional business district.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby The EGE » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:58 am

Riverside service ended in 1977; after 1959 it was a station without a purpose. Before then it was a useful transfer between the Highland Branch, Newton Lower Falls Branch, and the mainline. Assuming they can get the DMUs onto the branch without fouling the main too much, there's no reason they shouldn't run to the current Riverside station.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:17 pm

The idea of a new commuter rail station in the Beacon Park Yards is a great one, BUT calling it "West" station is not. That's just a bland meaningless name which has no significance and will create confusion because of the proximity of "BU West" station on the Greenline. Call it "Beacon Park" as it should be named.

Secondly, the DMU route shown might not be optimal. The T should consider this routing: Brighton Landing - Beacon Park (West Station) - Kendall Square - Sullivan Square - Wynn Casino - Chelsea Mall - Airport Station. The new Wynn Casino in Everett needs rail transportation. A DMU station connected to the airport and Sullivan Square would help greatly.

Seeing any kind of service on the Grand Junction will be very interesting.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:32 pm

BandA wrote:By putting lots of local stops back on, we are finally providing a replacement for the green line "A" Watertown trolley.... if they also rebuild "Newton" station in Newton Corner Square. Alston Depot and Newton weren't needed back in 1962 when the "A" line was still running assuming traffic on Comm Ave and Brighton Avenue was lighter than it is today.

The Boston and Albany was supposed to spend up to $500,000 to eliminate the grade crossings on the Grand Junction, according to the Cambridge Chronicle of 1900, as part of legislation enabling the lease. Apparently this didn't happen.

I'm offended that Harvard isn't paying 100% for "West" station. New Balance is paying 100% for theirs. Perhaps Harvard could compensate by providing a free ground-level rights for a storage yard under their development (the tracks are already in place, lol, they could even avoid environmental cleanup). "T" could provide electric or battery switchers to store, service, fuel trains, taking pressure off South Station/yard. Or a loop track connecting Grand Junction to the east.

I found the extra stop at Yawkey annoying even back in the '90s. It added at least 5 minutes. With the added delays entering South Station, less reliable schedule under MBCR years, a 17 minute ~8.6m N'ville to South Station car-competitive or car-beating trip went to 30+ min; Might as well take the express bus.

The developers will want all-day transit frequent trains to their new stations, even if they lose money for the T.

Saw the outbound waiting Tue 8AM at Cottage Farm for the single track through Beacon Park. What does it take to enable the second track? Jeez....


Well, no. Right now it doesn't replace anything whatsoever on the A. Because Riverside isn't happening at all until they spend the fortune on the signal system and crossovers and recalibrate the Zone fares at the Newtons which escalate very oddly. You can't even get to Riverside Jct. from the outbound track...you have to run wrong-rail from Beacon Park to reach the switch that's only on the inbound side.

The only thing they are talking about here for DMU service is downtown terminating at West. Riverside's one of the ones on the 2024 fantasy map that they're not sure they can do for a long time. In part because they are totally silent on the Worcester line's inside-Framingham physical plant. Newton Corner doesn't even appear on that 2024 map.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby diburning » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:15 pm

I also hope that they don't keep the name of "west station". West of what? It's still in Boston! It should be called Allston or at least Allston-Beacon Park (to preserve the name of the location). Honestly, I'm not too thrilled about Brighton being called Boston Landing either, but I suppose it goes OK with Boston Landing being a new "neighborhood" that the station will be in.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:23 pm

While I don't like the name West Station either, I think their [flawed] thinking is that it would be the transit hub connecting the city to points west, and that it will be on the west side of the city, a la North and South Stations.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby diburning » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:23 pm

I suppose that makes sense if they ever get the Grand Junction up and running with passenger service. I can now see why they would want to name it West station as opposed to North and South Stations. But unless they build a station taking up a quarter of the yard, I don't see what they can do to make it a transit hub. It would parallel the green line. If they decide to change the route of the 57 (doubtful), they'll have maybe 3 bus connections, and that's about it.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:47 am

diburning wrote:I suppose that makes sense if they ever get the Grand Junction up and running with passenger service. I can now see why they would want to name it West station as opposed to North and South Stations. But unless they build a station taking up a quarter of the yard, I don't see what they can do to make it a transit hub. It would parallel the green line. If they decide to change the route of the 57 (doubtful), they'll have maybe 3 bus connections, and that's about it.


In addition to service to both North Station and South Station, it could *potentially* be a terminating point for the Haverhill Line and Newburyport/Rockport Line, with a stop in Kendall. I can imagine a Reading-West Station and Salem/Beverly-West Station in the morning, and then a return in the evening. It depends just how much they want to make this a mini-hub.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:21 pm

Okay, I kind of see the thinking behind a North Station - South Station - West Station setup, although "The Dukakis Transportation Center" ruins the whole concept! But it can't be a good mini-hub without decent rapid transit service, can it? It's only going to be a couple of platforms in the middle of nowhere with no subway and little bus service if any. Not much of a transportation hub.

Not sure, but maybe a new West Station located at Riverside would make more sense. Right off the highway, Greenline and express buses already there, taxis and NYC buses there too. Lots of parking. The MBTA already owns the property. It's west of the city.

PS. So does this mean that Airport Station is going to be renamed "East Station"?
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby ohalloranchris » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:53 am

Please see pasted below an Editorial from today's Boston Globe. One question I have, why is it that any photos we see of potential DMU's have full cab fronts and lack ability for a passenger or conductor to go from one car to another? Seems to me that the good old Budd RDC was a better design in that regard. But perhaps MBTA specs will include such provisions.

<<Little engines hold key to future of transport, but where are they?

Increasingly, the Patrick administration has offered a three-letter magic solution to a variety of transportation challenges in Greater Boston: DMU. Short for diesel multiple units, DMUs are essentially little trains, which can use the same tracks and stations as big commuter rail locomotives, but would be quieter, cleaner, cheaper, and more suitable for frequent service on routes with stations close together. The recently announced plan for a new “West Station” in Allston is the latest project that relies on such trains. State officials foresee frequent DMU service connecting every corner of Greater Boston, and even set aside a portion of a $252 million section of the capital investment plan last year to pay for them.

The pesky problem, though, is that no US transit agency of the MBTA’s size uses DMUs, the only company that makes them to American standards has a shaky history, and it’s unclear how Massachusetts will get the trains that plans in South Boston, Dorchester, and now Allston are counting on. That’s not a reason to slow down planning, and the Allston project should certainly go forward, since conventional trains will still be able to stop there too. But the next governor and MassDOT secretary will need to devote more attention to the nitty-gritty task of actually finding the DMUs needed to make full use of the new station and fulfill the promises made to improve service on the Fairmount Line in Dorchester.

DMUs are common in Germany, Australia, Sweden, and other countries with less demanding railway safety laws, but have virtually disappeared in the United States. Federal regulators set such high safety standards because the trains would be sharing tracks that are also used for freight rail shippers. Because the market for passenger trains in the United States remains tiny — about 5 percent of the world total — foreign manufacturers haven’t traditionally viewed designing a US-compliant vehicle as a priority. American companies have tried to pick up the slack, with discouraging results; one domestic manufacturer, Colorado Railcar, went bankrupt in 2008 after an Oregon transit agency was forced to bail them out, even picking up the tab for the CEO’s $37,000-a-month salary. The company that emerged from Colorado Railcar’s bankruptcy is the one a T spokesman supplied this week when asked where the agency might find its DMUs.

T officials are moving ahead, putting out a request for technical information recently from potential manufacturers. Massachusetts is likely to be an early adopter of DMUs among big American transit agencies. Someone needs to go first, and that shouldn’t scare the state off; the new vehicles could allow transformative new uses of existing rail lines. Still, there are risks involved — especially in light of the T’s experience with Hyundai Rotem, which delivered the agency’s new double-level coaches behind schedule and only after much drama. And with every step like the West Station announcement, the greater the burden on the state to lay out how and when these much-touted new vehicles will materialize.>>
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:24 am

Eh...that's a little garbled by The Globe, but I get the logic of why they're asking.

-- People want to know about the service frequency and convenience (i.e. fare portability).
-- The state is only talking about station concrete and new vehicles.
-- People want to know why Fairmount has been promised extra service for so many years, and yet in a tight budget environment they're bringing back Greenbush weekend service before so much as adding 1 more Fairmount train any day of the week.
-- People want to know with all this West Station hype how they're going to implement that service plan out there when they can't seem to on Fairmount.
-- People can't understand why the existing equipment can't start closing that gap and why all the focus is on DMU's. A train is a train, right? And other commuter rail lines run a whole lot more frequent with "just trains" than this. So logically the type of vehicle doesn't start to matter until you're approaching tippy-top service levels.
-- The only reference point MassDOT is serving up is DMU's, DMU's, DMU's! So the public assumes it must be something about the vehicles.
-- Google "DMU" and you get a lot of articles and discussion about Colorado Railcar, FRA compliance, and why no one today is using them (despite a couple pending rollouts). And also can see that SMART, Pearson Express, etc. are way way different than the MBTA...so where are the other commuter rail carriers?
-- This ends up confusing the issue even more because now we're really just talking vehicle specs, and the only thing people want to know is are they going to be getting service for all the money the state wants to drop on this.
-- Globe writes Editorial following ^this^ exact sequence of logic, and it's just as garbled and off-target as you'd expect.


That's how mangled the optics are on this. The state won't talk about service, just the stations and vehicles. It creates a ton of confusion and trust issues. We can be annoyed the Globe didn't do more homework (though I'm not sure these days expecting much-diminished newsrooms to do their homework is realistic), but as a reflection of public opinion it is an "accurate" view of the confusion, frustration, and manhandling of the message. If somebody at MassDOT even cares enough to pay attention it's a leading indicator that their PR offensive has gone awry and that people aren't buying it. Even if the vehicle != service confusion is completely murking it up to the point where it's nearly impossible to articulate the confusion.
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