Beacon Park Updates (was "Single Track Yard")

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Beacon Park Updates (was "Single Track Yard")

Postby harshaw » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:19 pm

Does anyone know the status of the work to double track the Worcester/Framingham line in Beacon Yard? Will this happen?
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:41 pm

probably nothing until the new construction of the "New Balance Station" @ CP 4...I'll advise if I hear anything...all quiet for now
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:05 pm

harshaw wrote:Does anyone know the status of the work to double track the Worcester/Framingham line in Beacon Yard? Will this happen?


Low-priority since it makes almost zero difference to current schedules. There are already interlockings on both sides of Beacon Park separated by less than a mile so the trains clear that single-iron faster than any conceivable headway density to Framingham or Worcester today. And because of the near-total lack of crossovers west to Framingham that puts a severe cap on service density to begin with. Fixing this doesn't increase capacity; that can only be done if they spend the $100M+ to re-signal out to Framingham with a bunch of additional crossover installations. Hence, the low priority.

They cleaned up some of the area and poured some foundations for new signal heads at CP3 last year. So it's not backburnered per se, but they're in no rush. That's a cheapie "when you've got free time on your hands" job for the track gangs. And recovery from this winter is not going to leave much free time on their hands, so wouldn't expect any activity this year.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:26 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
harshaw wrote:Does anyone know the status of the work to double track the Worcester/Framingham line in Beacon Yard? Will this happen?


Low-priority since it makes almost zero difference to current schedules. There are already interlockings on both sides of Beacon Park separated by less than a mile so the trains clear that single-iron faster than any conceivable headway density to Framingham or Worcester today. And because of the near-total lack of crossovers west to Framingham that puts a severe cap on service density to begin with. Fixing this doesn't increase capacity; that can only be done if they spend the $100M+ to re-signal out to Framingham with a bunch of additional crossover installations. Hence, the low priority.

They cleaned up some of the area and poured some foundations for new signal heads at CP3 last year. So it's not backburnered per se, but they're in no rush. That's a cheapie "when you've got free time on your hands" job for the track gangs. And recovery from this winter is not going to leave much free time on their hands, so wouldn't expect any activity this year.
Outbounds often hold at Cottage Farm...I would think this double track would help if the inbound was skipping Newton
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:16 am

Operationally, single platforms at stations in two track territory are more limiting than the lack of interlockings. I think we've been through this with the Lawrence situation. And since all three of the stations in question are between CP 4 and 11, I doubt another pair of crossovers--let alone a couple of pairs--is going to improve movements through the area as long as a train has to stop at one of them. Skipping the three stops will, though.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:26 am

Now that CSX is gone, is there any reason why the T can't shoehorn in full-highs? It should be doable if they're not afraid of pushing straight to the edges of the ROW, and 2-platform service through Newton to Riverside will be a must for any indigo service on that line.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby octr202 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:20 pm

Probably not, except that that level of construction would trigger ADA compliance, and then they'd have to add ramps and/or elevators. Suddenly you're talking about a huge project that has to be funded.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:31 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:Now that CSX is gone, is there any reason why the T can't shoehorn in full-highs? It should be doable if they're not afraid of pushing straight to the edges of the ROW, and 2-platform service through Newton to Riverside will be a must for any indigo service on that line.


Natick has a full-high island in final design and got all its public input last year, so yes...the clearance route restriction has been formally dropped by CSX at all stops east of Framingham Jct. (and potentially Framingham itself if they snaked a freight passing track on the grass behind the station). But even Natick isn't funded yet for construction, so until that happens the approved final design is just going in a file cabinet.

Full-highs are not all that much more expensive except in cases where there's a curve (Yawkey, which needed precision-cut pieces and that weird platform layout) or a historic station building to graft the platform in front of. For the most part it's just the concrete pegs. Because the T's dimensions are uniform the actual 800' x 12' surface is usually made of precast concrete decking lifted and affixed on top with a hollow underneath. And all their lighting, fencing, signage, shelter structures on new-construction platforms have been more or less standardized and prefab ever since the Old Colony lines opened 18 years ago. The standardization gives them pretty decent bulk discounts on fittings.

The Newton trio is obviously going to be the most expensive retrofits out to West Natick/Framingham because of the ADA-required ramps that would have to be built down from the overpasses. Platforms themselves wouldn't be too bad. They'd do standard islands and spread the tracks by plopping the inbound track down over the old platform to create the room. That would be the much preferable way to do it vs. side platforms because it would only require single egress ramps instead of pairs, and would insulate the platform further away from Pike road spray. Since any curves (Auburndale probably the only one that wouldn't be able to be positioned at some tangent midpoint) are slight they wouldn't have to be uniquely engineered like Yawkey, and thus the expense isn't too extreme. But until they have money to pay the going rate it's going to be a struggle.


As for the Wellesleys and Naticks...
-- Farms has pre-existing ramps down to each platform from Croton St. and Hundreds Rd., so the egresses are either pre-existing accessible or a quickie re-grading job from accessible. Platforms would have to be extended to full regulation 800' length, but there's plenty of room. The inbound/historic depot side is tricky, but they can extend the full-high west and ramp-down in front of the building to avoid needing to go near the depot with the full-high. Relatively inexpensive job.

-- Hills has level egress on the inbound side. Outbound probably needs some accessibility help from street level. Both platforms need to be rounded up to 800'. Outbound's pretty trivial. Inbound would have to be shifted away from the historic depot in similar fashion to Farms. Probably means they need to extend it under the Linden St. overpass so it ramps down and ends at the depot instead of spanning the depot out under the Cliff Rd. overpass.

-- Square is fine for level access from both side parking lots. No historic depot to contend with, so platforms can probably stay as-is with inbound being rounded up to 800' west and oubound being rounded up to 800' east.

-- Natick: design is final. Island w/ramp egress. And direct platform access to the trail that's going on the ex-Saxonville Branch if they can ever resolve the stalled purchase negotiation with CSX for the ROW. The renderings look pretty nice...clean and functional without being too opulent. Leaves room for a 3rd passing track on the current outbound platform side in case that's ever needed.

-- West Natick. Least concern because as a 1982-construction infill station it's the only one with a pre-existing mini-high. If everything else east of there goes level-boarding, using the automatic doors out to Framingham is the only reason to force a change. Track grade crossing will have to go for full-highs, so probably means constructing outbound-side ramp access to Borden Ln. May need to extend the platforms east under the bridge to keep them tangent since they currently wrap around a slight curve to the west, but there's plenty of room.

-- Framingham. Freight passing track forking off the two wye legs passing behind the station lifts the wide-clearance exception here. Amtrak will probably insist on a platform-raising if/when Inland Regionals resume since this will be the only station stop with a low platform. And it would help with freight traffic since that's 1 less stop that would need a retractable edge and crew onsite to flip it when a wide load comes through. Outbound side is already 900 ft. Inbound is only 725 ft. and would have to go a little closer to the old depot. I wonder why they never fixed that...plenty of room on the gravel patch between the new and old platforms for an extension if they moved that 1 signal head (maybe the signal was off-limits under CSX ownership?). Bottom of the ramp towers would need to be slightly reconfigured to spit out onto a high platform instead of a low. Doesn't look like a big deal. This was probably all provisioned when they built the new stop.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:05 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:-- Natick: design is final. Island w/ramp egress. And direct platform access to the trail that's going on the ex-Saxonville Branch if they can ever resolve the stalled purchase negotiation with CSX for the ROW. The renderings look pretty nice...clean and functional without being too opulent. Leaves room for a 3rd passing track on the current outbound platform side in case that's ever needed.

How would a full-high island platform have direct access to the Saxonville Branch trail?
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:19 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:-- Natick: design is final. Island w/ramp egress. And direct platform access to the trail that's going on the ex-Saxonville Branch if they can ever resolve the stalled purchase negotiation with CSX for the ROW. The renderings look pretty nice...clean and functional without being too opulent. Leaves room for a 3rd passing track on the current outbound platform side in case that's ever needed.

How would a full-high island platform have direct access to the Saxonville Branch trail?


The egresses. The island is going to shift the platforms a little bit west so they span the Spring St.-Main St. block instead of just the Main-Washington block. Spring gets a new pedestrian bridge replacing the closed/condemned one and the Middlesex Ave. side of Spring gets a complete do-over from dirt road into considerably more attractive access point. Both extreme ends of the platform would have egresses: one up to Main, one up to that rebuilt Spring overpass. The rail trail would ramp up to street level...hang a left at the path's terminus to ramp up behind Pizza Plus to the Main/North crosswalk directly across the street from that station entrance, hang a right at its terminus to snake behind the autobody shop and reach Spring at the ped bridge for that station entrance. The Spring path entrance would be the full grade-separated path access point for bikes, the Main entrance the "popular" one that traps the most foot traffic. Path ramps would also allow for grade separated access spanning the Spring-Main block, since Middlesex only has sidewalks on one side of the street.

The path ramps are add-ons outside of the station project scope because, of course, CSX is still holding out for ransom on the ROW so the whole trail extension south of Natick Mall is in limbo.


Whole setup also provisions for an air rights cover-over of the Main-Washington block and conversion of the utilitarian egress into a nicer headhouse later on and busway on the cover-over plaza for the routes that currently stop about a block south of the station. That part of it also beyond scope of the MBTA project and a future tack-on to be initiated separately, but it's all baked into the design including dropping the trackbed enough to maintain clearances under the future decking. All told they did a pretty good job on the design making it the centerpiece of downtown, expandable on the parts they can't afford up-front, not too ludicruously over-designed, and very smooth community input process for a richie-rich town (compared to, say, the screaming in South Acton over that station's design). McMahon Associates was the design firm that did it; only cost the town $80,000 to get the study funded. They really ought to get some more work out of this, because it netted such a future-flexible and generally drama-free final design here.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:22 pm

Now that CSX has left,wasn't the plan to use 1 of the yard tracks to become the 2nd main thru Beacon Pk yard?
Masspike has rumbled about that yard as well for some land for curve removal. :(
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:08 am

Rockingham Racer wrote:Operationally, single platforms at stations in two track territory are more limiting than the lack of interlockings. I think we've been through this with the Lawrence situation. And since all three of the stations in question are between CP 4 and 11, I doubt another pair of crossovers--let alone a couple of pairs--is going to improve movements through the area as long as a train has to stop at one of them. Skipping the three stops will, though.
Imagine this scenario: it's evening rush hour, and an inbound local with 10 people on board is approaching Newton (Newton Corner - hotel over the Pike), while a Worcester express with 1600 souls is leaving Yawkey. They're probably going to delay the Worcester train for 5+ minutes at Cottage Farm (aka BU Bridge - east of Beacon Park) because it needs to switch tracks twice, while the Boston local is on the right track.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:20 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Bramdeisroberts wrote:Now that CSX is gone, is there any reason why the T can't shoehorn in full-highs? It should be doable if they're not afraid of pushing straight to the edges of the ROW, and 2-platform service through Newton to Riverside will be a must for any indigo service on that line.
...The Newton trio is obviously going to be the most expensive retrofits out to West Natick/Framingham because of the ADA-required ramps that would have to be built down from the overpasses. Platforms themselves wouldn't be too bad. They'd do standard islands and spread the tracks by plopping the inbound track down over the old platform to create the room. That would be the much preferable way to do it vs. side platforms because it would only require single egress ramps instead of pairs, and would insulate the platform further away from Pike road spray. Since any curves (Auburndale probably the only one that wouldn't be able to be positioned at some tangent midpoint) are slight they wouldn't have to be uniquely engineered like Yawkey, and thus the expense isn't too extreme. But until they have money to pay the going rate it's going to be a struggle.
I don't think they can do islands in West Newton or Newtonville. Adding the second "outbound/westbound" platform would be trivial for any of these three stops; No elevators needed, just gentle ramps and stairs. So I think two side platforms would be a cheaper and better solution for these three stations.

Auburndale: I think there is enough room for ADA access with ramps. Pike embankment probably has to be cut & new retaining wall built. Looking at the map looks like 550'-600' of tangent track before the curve. If this is important, the platforms would have to be shifted 200'+ east, under Auburn St bridge. Don't know how this would affect stairs and ADA ramps. There is supposedly a plan or a study on the shelf for ADA accessible station for Auburndale.

I like my idea of extending the green line on the existing single track to Auburndale and using Auburndale for transfer between the Framingham-Worcester Line & the D-Riverside line. This would restore some of the traditional transit-oriented nature of Auburndale Sq.

Building an island platform would probably require replacing one or two or three pike bridges.


West Newton:Track looks quite tangent. I *think* there is enough room for ramps, but I am not sure. It would be awkward in any case. An island platform would probably be hard to design.

Newtonville:Track looks tangent enough. "Outbound/westbound" Boston & Albany or New York Central low-level platform still exists and is just sitting there unused (without stairs) for past fifty years. Much better construction than the new platform. "Inbound/eastbound" platform varies in width, is just barely wide enough for present use. Not sure if ramps can be built, even elevators would be problematic. Building a center island would require major work, possibly one or two Pike bridges, grade changes, or even drainage changes. Washington St has a buttload of utilities under it, so pushing back the granite retaining wall would be quite an undertaking. A tunnel would work but would be a security risk. I'd like to see a pedestrian bridge recreated across the middle of the platforms, carrying the ADA ramp or two elevators, allowing passengers to be dropped off on either side of the Pike.

Newtonville was once an important LD stop as it had baggage service and was on route 128 (before the present 128/95 was built in the 1950s.) Existing platform is long enough for Amtrak, and new high-levels could also be long enough.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:42 am

BandA wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Bramdeisroberts wrote:Now that CSX is gone, is there any reason why the T can't shoehorn in full-highs? It should be doable if they're not afraid of pushing straight to the edges of the ROW, and 2-platform service through Newton to Riverside will be a must for any indigo service on that line.
...The Newton trio is obviously going to be the most expensive retrofits out to West Natick/Framingham because of the ADA-required ramps that would have to be built down from the overpasses. Platforms themselves wouldn't be too bad. They'd do standard islands and spread the tracks by plopping the inbound track down over the old platform to create the room. That would be the much preferable way to do it vs. side platforms because it would only require single egress ramps instead of pairs, and would insulate the platform further away from Pike road spray. Since any curves (Auburndale probably the only one that wouldn't be able to be positioned at some tangent midpoint) are slight they wouldn't have to be uniquely engineered like Yawkey, and thus the expense isn't too extreme. But until they have money to pay the going rate it's going to be a struggle.
I don't think they can do islands in West Newton or Newtonville. Adding the second "outbound/westbound" platform would be trivial for any of these three stops; No elevators needed, just gentle ramps and stairs. So I think two side platforms would be a cheaper and better solution for these three stations.

Auburndale: I think there is enough room for ADA access with ramps. Pike embankment probably has to be cut & new retaining wall built. Looking at the map looks like 550'-600' of tangent track before the curve. If this is important, the platforms would have to be shifted 200'+ east, under Auburn St bridge. Don't know how this would affect stairs and ADA ramps. There is supposedly a plan or a study on the shelf for ADA accessible station for Auburndale.

I like my idea of extending the green line on the existing single track to Auburndale and using Auburndale for transfer between the Framingham-Worcester Line & the D-Riverside line. This would restore some of the traditional transit-oriented nature of Auburndale Sq.

Building an island platform would probably require replacing one or two or three pike bridges.


West Newton:Track looks quite tangent. I *think* there is enough room for ramps, but I am not sure. It would be awkward in any case. An island platform would probably be hard to design.

Newtonville:Track looks tangent enough. "Outbound/westbound" Boston & Albany or New York Central low-level platform still exists and is just sitting there unused (without stairs) for past fifty years. Much better construction than the new platform. "Inbound/eastbound" platform varies in width, is just barely wide enough for present use. Not sure if ramps can be built, even elevators would be problematic. Building a center island would require major work, possibly one or two Pike bridges, grade changes, or even drainage changes. Washington St has a buttload of utilities under it, so pushing back the granite retaining wall would be quite an undertaking. A tunnel would work but would be a security risk. I'd like to see a pedestrian bridge recreated across the middle of the platforms, carrying the ADA ramp or two elevators, allowing passengers to be dropped off on either side of the Pike.

Newtonville was once an important LD stop as it had baggage service and was on route 128 (before the present 128/95 was built in the 1950s.) Existing platform is long enough for Amtrak, and new high-levels could also be long enough.


The proximity to the Pike is problematic if you're raising those platforms to 48". They already get too much road spray raining over what passes for "shelter", which only gets worse when raising the platforms +4 feet. The Pike loses its breakdown lane in front of each stop which already doesn't help the proximity to road traffic, and further complicates constructing a taller sound/spray wall between highway and platform when there's no breakdown lane buffer cushioning the fence against vehicle crashes.

Second, the ADA ramps have to be built any which way: island or inbound-side. They're more space-intensive than the current stairs, which makes building them on the same narrow footprint as today's side platform more problematic. If there is any way to shoot for the added width of a center island for dropping the ramps down (esp. if they have to be mid-air switchback ramps), they're well advised to seek it and any shifted location that affords the lateral room for it. It'll be cheaper that way to not have to play space-saving games with the ramps...while only needing to build one platform. Just looking at Newtonville I have no idea how they could drop a switchback ramp onto the current platform from Walnut St. on the same footprint as those rickety old stairs. You'd have to shift the entire station like 500 ft. east to keep the ramp grade gentle enough to avoid a switchback from there, and that starts pinching the Harvard St. ramp to the point where its kinda-sorta OK footprint for a switchback is no longer OK.


The outbound tracks at all 3 have pretty generous side clearances vs. retaining walls and bridge abutments for wide-load freights, no longer needed. It might take a little creativity on where they shift the locations (which they have to do anyway to stay tangent for 800+ feet), but they can move the outbound track out to minimum clearance and inbound track onto the old platforms to create enough space for a regulation island.


Doodling with the Google Maps measuring tool, the derelict ex-B&A outbound platform at Newtonville affords +10' of extra clearance space on the outbound side that could be cannibalized. That leaves 1100 ft. spanning underneath Walnut to play with before the Washington St.-side retaining walls resume in either direction. Inbound side has more generous room for shifting if you dump more ballast on the roadbed and raise the Pike jersey barrier. That'll probably work for shivving in an island.

W. Newton's got switchback stairs right now on both overpasses, so the Pike-side buffer is a little more generous. No derelict platform to claim, but looser overall fit than Newtonville if you swap the footprint of the switchbacks to the center instead of side.

Auburndale's got the curve, but no stone retaining walls to the west and the Pike is starting to peel away. If they can minimize the amount the platform has to shift around the curve they can do anything they want to west of the Auburn St. overpass. If it has to shift east to the Auburn-Comm Ave. block, more invasive landscaping work on the embankment side.

There is definitely no way you are bringing the Green Line out here. There is no place for a turnback or pocket track without having the station well west of the Woodland Rd. overpass, so you can't send all D headways out there to begin with. That puts probable headways not much different from an ideal Indigo Line 15 min. headway, so the extra expense--which also kills any possibility of the Riverside DMU in the process--doesn't buy as much as you'd think it would in utility. The location of the GL stub would be a 1500 ft. walk from the Auburn St. station entrance to get to "Auburndale", while the Woodland Rd. side is already 3000 ft. from the Riverside station entrance. That's the same kind of neither-here-nor-there location compromise that killed off the original Riverside commuter rail station on the Charles overpass in the late-70's. If there's a transit problem here, that's one a Riverside-originating local bus scooping up pieces of the 558 express's route can solve without the whole bundle of unsatisfactory compromises of trying to brainstorm a non-crippled way of getting GL revenue service out here.


Nobody said this was going to be cheap. The Turnpike Authority grabbed every inch of width Boston & Albany let it back in '65, so everything is tight. That's why the current stations are such dregs-of-the-system awful. But they don't really have a choice. The Worcester Line doesn't work right until they're all replaced with double-track stations...and shifting stuff around is unavoidable for making double-track stations. If center islands are impossible, then they're impossible. But they'd be well advised to seek center islands whenever possible because the inbound-side ramps are going to be so problematic. At all 3 it's probably going to be less expensive to do embankment/retaining work and laterally shifting platform locations to carve out the width for an island rather than trying to fit ramps and platforms in an equally narrow footprint inches from screaming Pike traffic.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:04 pm

What about Newton Corner? I have no idea what things are like space-wise underneath the hotel, etc, but I'd imagine that given all the proposed development at Arsenal, etc, that a Newton Corner infill would end up being a must for any DMU-ification of the inner worcester line.
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