Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

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

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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:33 am

A good rule of thumb is to look out the side window of your home. If you can't see the wall of the next house without intervening trees, fields or gardens, then the density will not support local rail. Even if you have the necessary density, the MBTA might be unwilling to build (or rebuild) anything, check out Jamaica Plain...
Gerry. STM/BSRA

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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby NH2060 » Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:49 am

The Kraft Group and the T have signed an agreement for the proposed Foxborough station (fair use quote below):
The Kraft Group and MBTA have come to an agreement regarding a possible full-time commuter rail stop to be named Foxborough - Patriot Place at Gillette Stadium.

Town Manager Bill Keegan announced on Tuesday that the two groups recently signed a memorandum of agreement, highlighting the responsibilities both sides will have if Foxborough receives commuter rail service.

http://patch.com/massachusetts/foxborou ... ail-stop-0
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:49 pm

Ryanontherails wrote:This is my first ever post on railroad.net, and what better thread than one that involves a line I've been watching for a long time!

I have lived in the Neponset Valley Area my entire life. Growing up, I looked at the Framingham Secondary and asked why Walpole and Norwood (and to a lesser extent Dedham) have public transportation links to Providence. I read all of the studies and I've been disappointed to see that none of them involve sending some Providence trains through Foxborough or even some trains going to Mansfield to allow a cross-platform transfer. More frequent train service to Walpole, Norwood Central, and Dedham Corportate Center/128 would be awesome, but under the current plan they won't even have that; trains will run express from Foxborough to Readville! I was at the town meeting and David Mohler from MassDOT literally said flat out that Walpole won't benefit. Look, I love trains as much as anyone but in my opinion this is exactly how not to do this project. There are so many flaws with this plan I don't even know where to start. There has to be a better way...


That limited express schedule works as a starter line on-the-cheap, sort of like how Cape Flyer is a prelude to real-deal commuter rail service to Bourne. If that's the first stage of a multi-part buildout it's very much justifiable. But I agree...the only way it's going to work for the long-term is if that early taster has a commitment to a stepped-out plan that results in a final build exactly like the max build in the 2010 F'boro Feasibility Study, in which all local stops to Boston are served and the line from Walpole Jct. gets a full upgrade to 60 MPH + signaled + a layover yard. The trip times on that max build clock in at a very brisk sub-hour making all stops, and the ridership draw is almost bigger at Walpole, the Norwoods, and Dedham Corporate Ctr. with all those stops getting 2x the daily service of the current Franklin schedule. Walpole station is admittedly going to be a hard modification to work in a platform serving the Foxboro fork, but overall it's a really good bang-for-buck to step it out from starter service to that max build. But all this confusing talk from MassDOT about DMU's and express schedules that aren't clear about the progression to full-blown service are obfuscating the issue bigtime. It's disappointing that they are not translating the Cape Flyer model in selling this and coming off so completely ham-fisted. And...worse...making it look like it's a brazen giveaway to Bob Kraft in the process that pits big business against the towns. And the Fairmount Line against this extension, because all those years of promises of Indigo service now look like a giant bait-and-switch to the 'burbs and Patriot Place. It doesn't have to be that way at all. If the starter service progressed to the regular local they'd be dancing in the streets of dense-ish downtown Walpole and Norwood at how much their property values and private investment skyrocket from bona fide dense transit schedules. And there is absolutely no reason this has to be telegraphed as a mutually exclusive either/or to dense Fairmount service when the line has plenty of capacity to do 16 push-pulls per day to/from Foxboro and once-every-15-mins DMU's balancing every other slot. Total failure in messaging to-date that's done little but needlessly piss off people.

We need to see who Charlie Baker appoints as new Transportation Secretary. Clearly there was a big breakdown in communication within MassDOT at the end of Patrick's term and lots of dissention/confusion in the ranks leading up to Sec. Davey's early departure. The foot-in-mouth messaging may just be an outward symptom of it all, and a little course correction can helpfully clarify the goals for Foxboro and the upper Franklin corridor. They just need to start over and come to the next Walpole town meeting saying "Hi, I'm MassDOT and I'm here to help. We've got a three-point plan to make your commuter rail service much better at a cost you'll like, and it's a lot like what we're doing in Bourne that started small with the Cape Flyer. Let me show you how..." That's all. Don't even mention Patriot Place beyond the obvious 495 park-and-ride angle...just reboot the messaging.

If you read the master plan for the Town of Foxborough, they suggest implementing a trolley similar to that of New Jersey Transit's River Line between Walpole and Mansfield, and in my opinion that is the way to go. The master plan suggests putting stops at Patriot Place, Chestnut Green, Downtown Foxborough, and the vicinity of Foxborough Boulevard. In Walpole, I could see a stop by the post office in South Walpole and then at the town owned land in the neighborhood off of Route 1A. Trolleys are smaller and quieter, so hopefully there would be less of a NIMBY issue. And the MBTA doesn't necessarily have to operate it, so it could save them some money, which they so desperately need. The biggest drawback would probably be that Foxborough riders will have to wait out in the cold in Walpole and Mansfield when switching trains. I like this idea personally.


This would not work at all. The freight on the line can't be time-separated because CSX has to run during business hours to serve its lucrative business in Mansfield and Attleboro, and has to depart Framingham right after rush to cover its overnight job to Middleboro and Braintree. Those are two of their most profitable Eastern MA locals, and they don't work as time-separated graveyard shift jobs like Conrail's non- time-sensitive RiverLINE customers.

Also, the T can't buy a specialized non-FRA compliant fleet to ping back and forth. They'd have no scale for use on the rest of the state rail system which has no possibility of freight time separation, and couldn't be moved in non-revenue service to a maint facility in Boston. A RiverLINE operation will never happen in Massachusetts (or anywhere in New England for that matter) because its applications are situational to the places where freight revenue doesn't have to be collected during business hours and places where the fleet can be scaled up in isolation. And there just doesn't by luck-of-draw happen to be any lines in New England where that's possible. There's a little bit of all-hours traffic intermixing everywhere, including the Fairmount Line right at Readville Yard.

But...like I said, the towns are being pointlessly misled. They wouldn't have to be dismayed at the prospect of expresses forever if the state would only say it up-front: "Think Cape Flyer, and the first step in a plan for full-blown locals."


Now, keep in mind...if you read the F'boro Feasibility Study that the full-build option includes building out 40 MPH track from Foxboro to Manfield Jct. and signalizing the entire line to Mansfield. And that's because Mansfield happens to be the place where the fiber optic line for signals is easiest to tie in, and because upgrading the track to heavier loading weight helps generate more freight revenue from CSX (especially when they start interchanging more goods in Taunton from Ports of Fall River and New Bedford). For purely path-of-least-resistance purposes the entire Walpole-Mansfield segment would get upgraded, which immediately offers a Providence Line bypass if there's a service disruption between Boston and Mansfield and immediately offers up improvements to the Providence-flank game day trains.

This sets up future considerations for a real Providence commuter rail trip at some point in the future when RIDOT's commuter rail network gets more fully developed out of Providence hub. It's obviously not the first, second, or fifth order of business on this build...but it's a bona fide future consideration that would be provisioned for. The towns could have that intriguing possibility to chew on as well...if MassDOT's initial messaging weren't so hopelessly mangled. All they would have to show is that build progression from the skunkworks Cape Flyer-esque express starter service to the full-build plan scoped out in the feasibility study...then the future Providence possibilities become self-evident. That's all they have to do: message the phasing of the build coherently, and you'd probably be feeling pretty bullish about the future considerations instead of dismayed.

It's a baffling mis-fire. This is such an easy sequence to verbally convey and get the interested parties stoked at the upside, but they took the most counterproductive possible tact in introducing it and now have a big backlash to clean up.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby Ryanontherails » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:42 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:That limited express schedule works as a starter line on-the-cheap, sort of like how Cape Flyer is a prelude to real-deal commuter rail service to Bourne. If that's the first stage of a multi-part buildout it's very much justifiable. But I agree...the only way it's going to work for the long-term is if that early taster has a commitment to a stepped-out plan that results in a final build exactly like the max build in the 2010 F'boro Feasibility Study, in which all local stops to Boston are served and the line from Walpole Jct. gets a full upgrade to 60 MPH + signaled + a layover yard. The trip times on that max build clock in at a very brisk sub-hour making all stops, and the ridership draw is almost bigger at Walpole, the Norwoods, and Dedham Corporate Ctr. with all those stops getting 2x the daily service of the current Franklin schedule. Walpole station is admittedly going to be a hard modification to work in a platform serving the Foxboro fork, but overall it's a really good bang-for-buck to step it out from starter service to that max build. But all this confusing talk from MassDOT about DMU's and express schedules that aren't clear about the progression to full-blown service are obfuscating the issue bigtime. It's disappointing that they are not translating the Cape Flyer model in selling this and coming off so completely ham-fisted. And...worse...making it look like it's a brazen giveaway to Bob Kraft in the process that pits big business against the towns. And the Fairmount Line against this extension, because all those years of promises of Indigo service now look like a giant bait-and-switch to the 'burbs and Patriot Place. It doesn't have to be that way at all. If the starter service progressed to the regular local they'd be dancing in the streets of dense-ish downtown Walpole and Norwood at how much their property values and private investment skyrocket from bona fide dense transit schedules. And there is absolutely no reason this has to be telegraphed as a mutually exclusive either/or to dense Fairmount service when the line has plenty of capacity to do 16 push-pulls per day to/from Foxboro and once-every-15-mins DMU's balancing every other slot. Total failure in messaging to-date that's done little but needlessly piss off people.

We need to see who Charlie Baker appoints as new Transportation Secretary. Clearly there was a big breakdown in communication within MassDOT at the end of Patrick's term and lots of dissention/confusion in the ranks leading up to Sec. Davey's early departure. The foot-in-mouth messaging may just be an outward symptom of it all, and a little course correction can helpfully clarify the goals for Foxboro and the upper Franklin corridor. They just need to start over and come to the next Walpole town meeting saying "Hi, I'm MassDOT and I'm here to help. We've got a three-point plan to make your commuter rail service much better at a cost you'll like, and it's a lot like what we're doing in Bourne that started small with the Cape Flyer. Let me show you how..." That's all. Don't even mention Patriot Place beyond the obvious 495 park-and-ride angle...just reboot the messaging.


Funny you should mention the CapeFlyer, as something similar is currently happening in Bourne. Tom Cahir of the CCRTA has been very open about his intentions. He has said that he has wanted to see a stop at the Bourne Bridge, that he hoped the CapeFlyer would get the state to seriously consider commuter rail service to Buzzards Bay, and that commuter rail should not cross the bridge (though I think it should be extended as far as the Bourne Bridge stop especially during the summer). Unfortunately, and while I admit there are things about it that make you go, "hmm", you still have a lot people thinking that the state is planning on extending commuter rail all the way to Hyannis.

Foxborough, on the other hand, has been different. I read both the MBTA's study and the Mirick-O'Connell study. Both show some Fairmount trains continuing on to Foxborough making stops along the Franklin line (though both option "C" of the former as well as the latter show it skipping Walpole), and now that Fairmount is going to be all DMUs, it makes sense that those trains will be the ones going to Foxborough. But if it is indeed their intention to stop along the Franklin Line, then why not say so? Better yet, if there is a reason they would be running express initially, why not tell us? Instead it's "We decided that commuter rail service to the stadium is a good idea, and that this is the best way to do it, now that we've signed a deal with Bob Kraft, it's coming, and there is nothing you can do about it!" and all we can ask is, why? If you are right, I'd be more open to it, but until someone up at 10 Park Plaza says so, I'm still opposed.

The state is also not clear on what the purchase of the Framingham Subdivision is for. David Mohler said it was strategic and could be used to send trains between three commuter rail lines. He cited Worcester-Ayer as being similar (though I can remember them using that for non-rev moves, unlike the Framingham Subdivision which I can only remember it being used once). If they are also trying to improve freight service on CSX, it begs the question of why CSX couldn't upgrade the tracks themselves.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:This would not work at all. The freight on the line can't be time-separated because CSX has to run during business hours to serve its lucrative business in Mansfield and Attleboro, and has to depart Framingham right after rush to cover its overnight job to Middleboro and Braintree. Those are two of their most profitable Eastern MA locals, and they don't work as time-separated graveyard shift jobs like Conrail's non- time-sensitive RiverLINE customers.

Also, the T can't buy a specialized non-FRA compliant fleet to ping back and forth. They'd have no scale for use on the rest of the state rail system which has no possibility of freight time separation, and couldn't be moved in non-revenue service to a maint facility in Boston. A RiverLINE operation will never happen in Massachusetts (or anywhere in New England for that matter) because its applications are situational to the places where freight revenue doesn't have to be collected during business hours and places where the fleet can be scaled up in isolation. And there just doesn't by luck-of-draw happen to be any lines in New England where that's possible. There's a little bit of all-hours traffic intermixing everywhere, including the Fairmount Line right at Readville Yard.


With regards to Walpole-Mansfield, I disagree. I work next to the tracks in Foxborough and there are only two trains between 7:30am and 8:00pm: one or two locomotives going south in the morning and those same locomotives pulling a train going north in the afternoon. I think with careful planning a conflict can be avoided with those trains. Besides, won't CSX have the same problem should commuter rail be extended to Foxborough? And who says it has to be the MBTA that owns and operates it or that the maintenance facility has to be in Boston?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Now, keep in mind...if you read the F'boro Feasibility Study that the full-build option includes building out 40 MPH track from Foxboro to Manfield Jct. and signalizing the entire line to Mansfield. And that's because Mansfield happens to be the place where the fiber optic line for signals is easiest to tie in, and because upgrading the track to heavier loading weight helps generate more freight revenue from CSX (especially when they start interchanging more goods in Taunton from Ports of Fall River and New Bedford). For purely path-of-least-resistance purposes the entire Walpole-Mansfield segment would get upgraded, which immediately offers a Providence Line bypass if there's a service disruption between Boston and Mansfield and immediately offers up improvements to the Providence-flank game day trains.

This sets up future considerations for a real Providence commuter rail trip at some point in the future when RIDOT's commuter rail network gets more fully developed out of Providence hub. It's obviously not the first, second, or fifth order of business on this build...but it's a bona fide future consideration that would be provisioned for. The towns could have that intriguing possibility to chew on as well...if MassDOT's initial messaging weren't so hopelessly mangled. All they would have to show is that build progression from the skunkworks Cape Flyer-esque express starter service to the full-build plan scoped out in the feasibility study...then the future Providence possibilities become self-evident. That's all they have to do: message the phasing of the build coherently, and you'd probably be feeling pretty bullish about the future considerations instead of dismayed.

It's a baffling mis-fire. This is such an easy sequence to verbally convey and get the interested parties stoked at the upside, but they took the most counterproductive possible tact in introducing it and now have a big backlash to clean up.


I did read that about Foxborough-Mansfield. And yeah, RIDOT is doing some interesting stuff down there, including building an intermodal hub like the WRTA did in Worcester. I'd love to see Providence Commuter Rail. However, I used to count passengers on the train for a living and while there are only two trains a day serving Providence during the morning rush-hour (6-9am) and three leaving during the afternoon rush-hour (3pm-6pm), it was only about 80 people taking the commuter rail to Providence with about 50 of them originating from Route 128 on down. I've long speculated that the main reason the Neponset Valley Area doesn't have public transportation links to Providence outside of the Providence Line is lack of demand, which is one reason I back the trolley idea or Foxborough commuter rail lines serving Mansfield: it's a side-effect of something being used for another purpose.

Yeah, MassDOT is not doing a good job with communicating with people. Let's see how the new administration changes things. Hopefully it will be for the better!
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:40 am

Ryanontherails wrote:Funny you should mention the CapeFlyer, as something similar is currently happening in Bourne. Tom Cahir of the CCRTA has been very open about his intentions. He has said that he has wanted to see a stop at the Bourne Bridge, that he hoped the CapeFlyer would get the state to seriously consider commuter rail service to Buzzards Bay, and that commuter rail should not cross the bridge (though I think it should be extended as far as the Bourne Bridge stop especially during the summer). Unfortunately, and while I admit there are things about it that make you go, "hmm", you still have a lot people thinking that the state is planning on extending commuter rail all the way to Hyannis.


Eventual goal. Not a current one. There are too many towns that would have to be voted into the MBTA district to go to Hyannis. For Buzzards Bay or a Sagamore stop across the bridge all you need is Bourne, and that town is actively preparing for such a vote.

Foxborough, on the other hand, has been different. I read both the MBTA's study and the Mirick-O'Connell study. Both show some Fairmount trains continuing on to Foxborough making stops along the Franklin line (though both option "C" of the former as well as the latter show it skipping Walpole), and now that Fairmount is going to be all DMUs, it makes sense that those trains will be the ones going to Foxborough. But if it is indeed their intention to stop along the Franklin Line, then why not say so? Better yet, if there is a reason they would be running express initially, why not tell us? Instead it's "We decided that commuter rail service to the stadium is a good idea, and that this is the best way to do it, now that we've signed a deal with Bob Kraft, it's coming, and there is nothing you can do about it!" and all we can ask is, why? If you are right, I'd be more open to it, but until someone up at 10 Park Plaza says so, I'm still opposed.


The "Option C" build was to balance the Foxboro schedules 1:1 with the Franklin schedules: 16 per day to/from each terminus, as locals. So for the mainline stops that means an outright x2 of service levels at Endicott, Dedham Corporate, Islington, Norwood Depot, Norwood Central, Windsor Gardens, and Walpole* (assuming they found a way to modify the platform setup for service to either direction, which the 2010 study did not take a gander at). The study also didn't speculate on what the Fairmount schedule would be...other than 16 trains per day to Foxboro would be making all Franklin main and all Fairmount stops. Anything "Indigo" filling in the headway gaps on the Fairmount was out-of-scope as far as F'boro service is concerned (plenty of capacity for it all).

It's just wretched, wretched messaging on MassDOT's part. That messaging was soooo bad I'm not sure it's even an accurate reflection of the real plans, which probably DON'T contradict the study as much as their statements would lead you to believe. But they stuck foot-in-mouth and made it look like an involuntary giveaway to Kraft, and you and everyone else is quite justified in being pissed about that and demanding answers. Like I said...they just have to take a complete do-over on the public outreach and start from scratch.

The state is also not clear on what the purchase of the Framingham Subdivision is for. David Mohler said it was strategic and could be used to send trains between three commuter rail lines. He cited Worcester-Ayer as being similar (though I can remember them using that for non-rev moves, unlike the Framingham Subdivision which I can only remember it being used once). If they are also trying to improve freight service on CSX, it begs the question of why CSX couldn't upgrade the tracks themselves.


They can send trains between all lines, although I wouldn't overstate that importance. The Framingham Sub and the Worcester Branch aren't used very often for that purpose.

CSX never spends money it doesn't have to. That's the whole story of the huge package of upgrades they got to relocate out of Beacon Park to Worcester, sell the Worcester Line to the state, and get double-stack clearances west of Worcester. In that case the public investment was justified; the increased freight revenue from all those moves is going to pay itself back to the state handsomely. What the Framingham Sub enables is better thru freight capacity to the ports the state wants to develop. The route to Readville is needed for Marine Terminal in Southie if that is to become a container-to-rail facility, and the Mansfield-Attleboro-Taunton route is where CSX would interchange with MassCoastal RR for goods out of ports of Fall River and New Bedford once the weight restrictions are lifted on those branches (with or without South Coast Rail) and the shipping channels dredged. It's less a slam-dunk case like the Worcester Line / Beacon Park transactions because the merits of the port upgrades themselves are debateable. But if the state is intent on developing rail business out of those 3 shipping ports, then the Framingham Sub is the common link to all 3 and will likewise pay for itself in the increased revenue coming out of those ports (albeit not as quickly as the CSX mainline investments will pay back).

In this case it's a Massport initiative to get that business jump-started, not a CSX one. They're happy to take the loads if the loads are there, but this is not their cause. Therefore the Framingham Sub isn't really their cause to upgrade. But still...it carries a fair number of carloads per week, and that $29M purchase is forever. The cost will amortize itself over time...there's little doubt about that. It was a fair asking price for the asset's value.


With regards to Walpole-Mansfield, I disagree. I work next to the tracks in Foxborough and there are only two trains between 7:30am and 8:00pm: one or two locomotives going south in the morning and those same locomotives pulling a train going north in the afternoon. I think with careful planning a conflict can be avoided with those trains. Besides, won't CSX have the same problem should commuter rail be extended to Foxborough? And who says it has to be the MBTA that owns and operates it or that the maintenance facility has to be in Boston?


That's not how the FRA rules work. The line has to be totally clear of freight trains buffered by a couple hours at the end of the service day to qualify for the time separation exemption. 7:30am freight and 8:00pm freight means you do not get passenger service AT ALL for the A.M. rush, and have a uselessly truncated P.M. rush. Them's the rules. There is not enough time separation to be had to qualify for a RiverLINE-like exemption, and these are not CSX slots that can be rescheduled.

And this is way too low-density a line to purchase equipment that cannot be used ANYWHERE ELSE on the system. Total, ridiculous waste of money. As is a remote maintenance facility serving only that line. Only push-pull and FRA-compliant DMU's with roaming capability across the system can go here...because co-mingled freight is a fact of life. Foxboro will have a layover yard...but a maint facility? Despite that being whispered for this stupid DMU express service that's highly unlikely because it's 25 miles away from where the rest of the DMU's would roam. That's another mangled thinking-out-loud bad messaging that's really hurt them here.

There will be NO freight conflicts on Option C. The study spells that out. Headways are fully adequate, Gillete will have a freight passing track (only way they can upgrade the current platform to a full-high, because it's a wide-clearance freight route), and freight will be able to do 40 MPH from Walpole Jct. to Foxboro on the ~5 mile overlap with passenger service and 25 MPH from Foxboro to Mansfield Jct. under the Option C build. Much faster than the 10 MPH they do today. It's zero potential for conflict.

I did read that about Foxborough-Mansfield. And yeah, RIDOT is doing some interesting stuff down there, including building an intermodal hub like the WRTA did in Worcester. I'd love to see Providence Commuter Rail. However, I used to count passengers on the train for a living and while there are only two trains a day serving Providence during the morning rush-hour (6-9am) and three leaving during the afternoon rush-hour (3pm-6pm), it was only about 80 people taking the commuter rail to Providence with about 50 of them originating from Route 128 on down. I've long speculated that the main reason the Neponset Valley Area doesn't have public transportation links to Providence outside of the Providence Line is lack of demand, which is one reason I back the trolley idea or Foxborough commuter rail lines serving Mansfield: it's a side-effect of something being used for another purpose.


In due time. The RiverLINE idea--amongst other impossibilities with that plan--is not going to make Providence grow any faster as an intermodal hub. That has to happen on its own pace...with intrastate commuter rail to Westerly and Woonsocket, the new Pawtucket station, ever-increasing Providence Line frequencies, the studies RIDOT has committed to pursuing about Providence-Worcester and Woonsocket-Franklin-Boston after Providence-Woonsocket service is well-established. And so on. Those are the biggies for them, as is building out the RIPTA bus transfers from their intrastate stops. If Westerly is a 5-7 year target and Woonsocket is an 8-10 year target...then, really, a Foxboro flank is going to slot behind a big 15-year capstone target like Providence-Worcester. That's when you start getting a critical-mass hub to think about other local trips in easy reach. But not sooner.

Rest assured, if/when the demand is there RIDOT will consider it. I don't think there's any question about that...especially since there'd be little to no infrastructure upgrades required and the T has free reign through both states.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby charding » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:46 am

I grew up in Walpole and spent many of my formative years at the Union Station. At that time, the Framingham-Mansfield line ran all the way to the ports of New Bedford and Fall River [in fact, the old days, the line ran all the ran to Lowell?]. I hauled out Ron Karr's Lost Railroads of New England book after I vaguely remembered that this line was severed between Mansfield and Cranes on the Taunton line. According to Ron, the line was severed in 1965 for a length of 8.5 miles [page 123 of his 1996 edition]. Of course, hindsight is 20-20, but in planning on using the Framingham-Mansfield line to get to Fall River and New Bedford, sure would be nice if this link still existed - am sure now much too late to take back the right-of-way. Also going to be interesting if there ends up to be a Walpole stop for the Foxboro trains since the trains, like the Patriots' trains, have to use the Lewis Wye to go from the Foxboro line to the Franklin line. Nothing is impossible. Was back in Walpole this week-end and there were lots of cars in the Walpole yard - nice to see.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby nomis » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:59 am

Temporal Separation does not need several hours of 'time' as a buffer. It needs a clear routing for the complaint railcar though the Light rail sections, to be able to mingle in traffic besides non-compliant railcars. Positive blocking also needs to occur, this could either be by "Trip Arm" for the RL DMU's, split switch derails for the Freight, or even potentially PTC. The whole RiverLine There are short periods of commingling during daylight hours as CR needs access across the River Line tracks and can get it fairly easily.

I wouldn't personally say the a near-compliant DMU is the solution for this Passenger service though, but if tracks are designed correctly and long sidings for freight trains to duck away out of commingling track, you could have a functioning service for the AM commute with the hot-shot freight heading down the line (read: double / tripe track ROW)

Also needed for commingling operations are: common dispatch office, common railroad rule-book, equivalence in training (commensurate with railroad practice), compliance with all 'non-waived' FRA safety standards for the equipment/personnel (horns, bell, lights, even HoS for operators).
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:10 am

charding wrote:I grew up in Walpole and spent many of my formative years at the Union Station. At that time, the Framingham-Mansfield line ran all the way to the ports of New Bedford and Fall River [in fact, the old days, the line ran all the ran to Lowell?]. I hauled out Ron Karr's Lost Railroads of New England book after I vaguely remembered that this line was severed between Mansfield and Cranes on the Taunton line. According to Ron, the line was severed in 1965 for a length of 8.5 miles [page 123 of his 1996 edition]. Of course, hindsight is 20-20, but in planning on using the Framingham-Mansfield line to get to Fall River and New Bedford, sure would be nice if this link still existed - am sure now much too late to take back the right-of-way. Also going to be interesting if there ends up to be a Walpole stop for the Foxboro trains since the trains, like the Patriots' trains, have to use the Lewis Wye to go from the Foxboro line to the Franklin line. Nothing is impossible. Was back in Walpole this week-end and there were lots of cars in the Walpole yard - nice to see.


Walpole has other problems than just the wye. It's an extremely short mainline platform and proximity to the station building makes an ADA retrofit brutally difficult. There's idle discussion that they may have to move the the platforms away from the station house to settle up ADA on one of the southside's busiest stations. And that could potentially mean doing it a few hundred feet north ahead of the junction...although nobody has any idea what the possibilities might be.

Regardless, it's a tough tough layout to work with and modern station accessibility may be what forces the issue moreso than Foxboro. Would be a letdown to have to move it away from that building, but if that's what's required for accessibility and opening all doors at a very busy stop...so be it. They may not have a choice. I would just imagine that if ADA is a highest priority for Walpole whatever solution they come up with (and it could be anything) will involve Foxboro route provisions baked in as part of the package.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby charding » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:55 pm

…as I remember, back in the day, Walpole had a freight station that was just north of the Elm St bridge right before Gilmore's - if there were a station here, would be able to service both the Franklin and Foxboro lines. Of course, the Union Station is so historic - would be a shame not to be able to use it - I know folks in Walpole are trying to get it on the National Historic Registry…the waiting room has two sections - one for the Franklin line and the other, although not used as such since the 1930s, for the Mansfield-Framingham line. Wonder if any thought has been given about having a stop at the South Walpole post office which, again, back in the day, was the railroad station on the Mansfield-Framingham line…however, not much room at/around the post office.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby BM6569 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:35 pm

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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby charding » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:24 am

Read the letter from Joe Kennedy - did I miss something in the translation? Commuter service through Medfield? Thought the issue is commuter service from Foxboro/Gillette through Walpole and then on the Franklin/Fairmount line to Boston. I guess I didn't realize that the Walpole thru Medfield to Framingham line was being give any serious thought.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:04 pm

It's not. You can't do anything passenger-useful on that track the way Framingham Jct. points away from Boston, and it's better to drive or take a bus 4 miles down Route 27 from Medfield Ctr. to pick up a Franklin or ("Option C") Foxboro train at Walpole with much higher frequencies than what pittance would bother turning north. The MPO did a study a couple years ago of connecting buses down Routes 27 and 109 from Medfield-Millis to Norfolk or Walpole for the commuter rail transfer. That's probably going to become a good thing indeed if both lines end up stopping at Walpole.

Kennedy's district only overlaps the Framingham Secondary in Medfield-proper, Foxboro, and Mansfield. He doesn't have any of Walpole, so the only part of his district the passenger trains will cross is 2000 ft. from before the Route 1 overpass to the Gilette Stadium platform. Since not one single train gets added to any schedule in any part of his district where voters actually live, I suspect this was the knitting club at Medfield Retirement Home writing an angry letter to their Congressmen about something they approximately-remember reading something about in the news...then Kennedy's secretary sending a form letter to the STB so they could say they responded. I mean...look at the text of that thing. It pretty much says as little as substantively possible for 1 page mostly full of text. Pretty sure that was by design, as he electorally doesn't really have a dog in this fight. The howls emanating from Walpole are Steven Lynch's problem.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby Ryanontherails » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:17 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that the Walpole station needs to be redesigned. Once the Natick Center station becomes ADA-accessible, Walpole will become the busiest station in the system that won't be. My proposal is on this Google Map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... AhI6c4i1s0.

The first thing I should note is I am not trying to be professional here. Also, the MBTA property lines are approximate and in the case of the southern parking lot include part of the Framingham Secondary that is now CSX.

charding wrote:…as I remember, back in the day, Walpole had a freight station that was just north of the Elm St bridge right before Gilmore's - if there were a station here, would be able to service both the Franklin and Foxboro lines. Of course, the Union Station is so historic - would be a shame not to be able to use it - I know folks in Walpole are trying to get it on the National Historic Registry…the waiting room has two sections - one for the Franklin line and the other, although not used as such since the 1930s, for the Mansfield-Framingham line. Wonder if any thought has been given about having a stop at the South Walpole post office which, again, back in the day, was the railroad station on the Mansfield-Framingham line…however, not much room at/around the post office.


F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Walpole has other problems than just the wye. It's an extremely short mainline platform and proximity to the station building makes an ADA retrofit brutally difficult. There's idle discussion that they may have to move the the platforms away from the station house to settle up ADA on one of the southside's busiest stations. And that could potentially mean doing it a few hundred feet north ahead of the junction...although nobody has any idea what the possibilities might be.

Regardless, it's a tough tough layout to work with and modern station accessibility may be what forces the issue moreso than Foxboro. Would be a letdown to have to move it away from that building, but if that's what's required for accessibility and opening all doors at a very busy stop...so be it. They may not have a choice. I would just imagine that if ADA is a highest priority for Walpole whatever solution they come up with (and it could be anything) will involve Foxboro route provisions baked in as part of the package.


I don't know what the standard dimensions are for an ADA-accessible platform, but I looked at Bridgewater as an example of a new station and Norwood Central as an example of an older one and when I measured both using the measuring tool on Google Earth they were both about 820' long and 9' wide. I started it shortly after the branches merged and put in a short walkway that began right before where the walkway up from Route 27/Elm Street crosses the Lewis Wye and goes along the tracks a little ways. Yes, it moves the station away from the head house, and yes, it would be a shame not to use it; Walpole, Forge Park/495 and (I believe) Franklin/Dean College are the only stops on the Franklin Line with a large waiting room (Norwood Central has an indoor area but it only fits a small bench). But I don't think the head house is too far away from where my proposed platform would be.

The good news about where that freight depot is is that it is owned by the MBTA and that it fronts Route 27/Elm Street. Walpole's Master Plan suggests exploring three improvements: 1. making the crossing of West Street safer (I'll get to that later), 2. finding new parking (that won't be easy), and 3. relocating the station and/or platform closer to downtown (which this does). The only thing I didn't like was putting it behind Gilmore's.

The only thing that's left are the other proposed improvements. The bus shelter (which wouldn't be more than a covered platform) would be in that section of the new parking lot. The 34E currently ends there and it is a shame that a) the bus/train connection is such a long walk and b) not all 34E busses go all the way downtown, but with a new relocated platform, a walkway connecting the two, and expanded service, that would hopefully change. The bus shelter would also be useful for any busses going to Medfield or if Walpole is served by a "last-mile" transit service and/or an RTA. As for the walkway and bridge across West Street, currently some passengers going to the parking lot on Spring Street cross using either of the railroad bridges. This would allow them to get over there without crossing West Street.

charding wrote:Read the letter from Joe Kennedy - did I miss something in the translation? Commuter service through Medfield? Thought the issue is commuter service from Foxboro/Gillette through Walpole and then on the Franklin/Fairmount line to Boston. I guess I didn't realize that the Walpole thru Medfield to Framingham line was being give any serious thought.


There seems to be some confusion there with that. Recently the Mirick-O'Connell study proposed not only Foxborough Commuter Rail but improved Providence game day service and new Worcester/Framingham game day service as well. That appears to have been misinterpreted as new commuter rail service through Medfield.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby The EGE » Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:37 am

MBTA standard platforms are 12x800 feet for a full-high side platform, 22x800 feet for a full-high island platform, and 450 feet of low platform for a mini-high. (That often gives you some clues as to future intentions; for example; Rowley has a 22x800 side which is then to become an island if double track is re-established.)

Walpole will never be a full-high as it will always be a freight clearance route, so a 450-foot low with a ~6x50 foot mini-high is plenty. If the MBTA backtracks a bit on rhetoric and comes at Walpole with the promise of a shiny new accessible platform, more trains that serves their residents, and perhaps more parking, the issue will disappear entirely. $5M in improvements will net a lot.
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Re: Foxboro Commuter Rail Extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:02 am

Actually, Walpole can go full-high so long as it steers clear of fouling freights on the NE leg of the wye. Freights only go through the diamond Framingham-Mansfield, through the NE leg Framingham-Readville, or (for now...not for long) Framingham-Franklin through the NW leg. There's no thru mainline freight Readville-Franklin passing the platform, and no Readville-Mansfield freight going through the SE leg. And even if there were, Walpole Yard is the linchpin of diverging freight ops there so they're going to pull into the yard for a pause whichever direction they're going. It's only if the whole platform has to move onto the inbound/Readville side of the junction where the mini-high exemption is unavoidable concession to a full-length platform.


The main problem is still platform length more than width/height. You can't do a mainline platform at the station house any longer than the current 360-footer within the confines of the junction. You can do it full-high and full-width. You can do it full-high and full-width pretty easily and a lot more cheaply if you were to shift the mainline track and diamond a few feet onto the old #2 track berth to carve out the slack space in front of the building for ramping-up to the high platform without squeezing the building. But you'll never be able open more than 3 cars there on an outbound trip with the locomotive having to stay clear of the diamond, or at most 4 cars on an inbound trip. You could do more on the Foxboro leg if you straightened the track to the curvature of the sharpest Greenbush Line full-high and sacrificed the station grade crossing for a pedestrian plaza with reworked access. At least a 600-footer between the edge of the West St. overpass and where it merges into the mainline platform.

But the mainline platform's still going to be a problem when rush-hour Franklins routinely are six-packs. Even if Foxboro service x2'ed the frequencies at Walpole I don't think that's going to lower train capacity out to Forge Park...those seats get re-filled by a new influx of riders attracted by the beefed-up frequencies. e.g. Those proposed Route 27/109 buses from Millis/Medfield, much bigger walk-up crowds at the Norwoods, Dedham Corporate taking a slim lead over Westwood/128 in park-and-ride patronage, etc. Foxboro's upside to the mainline towns is less about Foxboro itself than the load-shift it brings...clearing the decks in Walpole of people who don't need to be using Walpole so the doubled-up frequencies can absorb more local patronage and influx of people from the transit-deprived communities north on 27. You might see some relief in the seating crunch on Forge Park trains for the first couple years, but the 'native' ridership is going to catch right back up in due time (albeit better geographically-distributed) when they flock for the frequencies. Throw in the fact that that the mainline still has *moderately* realistic 2-decade service extension potential to Milford and/or Blackstone/Woonsocket an ADA 360-footer--despite being a large improvement over current accessibility--is not going to be anyone's idea of a permanent solution. Even if Forge Park stays long-term static it's at most a couple-decade punt before rush hour dwell times start at that platform become an acute issue again.
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