Beacon Park Updates (was "Single Track Yard")

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:29 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote: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.


Pretty spacious: http://goo.gl/maps/Vo85W. Much moreso on the west side of the air rights under the multi-story garage where there's a short stretch near the portal and the WB onramp merge that's plausibly 3 tracks wide. Platform(s) would probably stretch much closer to Church St. than Centre St. because it pinches much narrower underneath the Crowne Plaza and the 1-story parking deck. At worst you'd need to widen out underneath the westernmost overpass of the Washington rotary to get a full 800 footer between the Crowne Plaza and Church...but Boston MPO has already studied a reconfig of that godawful rotary and Pike exit so chances are pretty decent if MassHighway funding is available that said overpass would get nuked and rebuilt as a wholly separate non-MBTA project and they'd be able to widen it out beforehand. That project unfortunately needs to be pegged a higher MassHighway priority than they've currently deemed it, because that's the place traffic goes to die between the Weston and Allston tolls.

Alternately, you can do it in open air east of the air rights in front of the monument. The Washington overpass has a ton of side room for staging switchback ramps. The WB exit overpass would need to be widened out underneath to fit since that has no extra room for a platform underneath. But if there are any structural showstoppers underneath the air rights that is a far more doable and less expensive Plan B to modify one 85 ft. two-lane ramp deck there vs. multiple load-bearing structures elsewhere. They'd have to go through with full-fruition plans to tame the rotary, though. Not a pleasant place to emerge at street level.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:39 pm

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.


This statement strikes me as odd. Obviously the current schedule HAS to be built around the existence of the single track, so isn't it self fulfilling to say it makes zero difference on current schedule?

Anyway, the single track DOES inhibit some aspects of scheduling of trips, and definitely creates cascading delays when anything goes wrong. Just this Wednesday, I was on inbound 506 when we were held at CP 4 waiting for a slightly late 509. If there was double track, there would have been no delay.

The problem of having station stops on only one side of the Newtons is logistically mitigated by not having any outbound trains stop in Newton before 8 AM. Not ideal, but it is a solution. So with that done (eliminating those stops from consideration for outbounds in AM), the controlling factor for scheduling before 8 AM becomes the Allston single track. For example, 505, 507, and 509 are all scheduled to get through Allston between 582 and 506. Double track Allston and you have much more flexibility to spread out the schedule to be more 'regular' instead of bunched (both inbound and outbound). Still have the leapfrogging 582 to contend with...so interlockings are still a limiting factor.

But bottom line from where I sit is double tracking Allston gives a lot more flexibility to making schedule improvements without adding sets. And double tracking Allston gives a lot more flexibility when dealing with delays and modified schedules (e.g. winter).

But then there was the time I got rare mileage into Beacon Park because CP 3 was malfunctioning...we went west into the yard and backed onto the single track main. Fun but I would really have rather gotten home on time.

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.


As I noted earlier, skipping the Newtons is the practical solution that is already implemented throughout the day. Not ideal, but the Newtons all have express buses and the Green line not far away. Don't get me wrong - there are a lot of everyday commuters from the Newton CR stations, and I would love to implement all the full high island platforms discussed above, but might not be best use of limited $$. Keeping the Newtons and adding the two new interior stations just really slows down the commute for anyone on the locals - 1 hour 40 min is already kind of ridiculous for Worcester to Boston. How about eliminate Auburndale completely? Ever since they started charging for parking, the West Newton lot is never full, and Auburndale only has 20 or so parking spots. I know it's blasphemous to suggest removing stations, and I don't think it is seriously being considered, but some days I feel like we're on a subway with the starts and stops through Newton.

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby The EGE » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:40 am

The solution to your latter point, in the near future, is a proper local-express solution at rush hour. Expresses make no stops between Yawkey and Framingham; Framingham locals make all stops. In practice you'll have to give some additional consolation stops to the Wellesley and Natick riders (whose legislators virulently oppose anything they see as a slight, including a proposed schedule last year that increased service to other stops but not them.)

The longer-term solution is a DMU-local-express split. DMUs to Riverside* making all stops. Framingham locals, running express through the Newton stops**. And Worcester expresses, running express to Framingham. That tripartite distribution gets everybody out of each others' way - Worcester riders aren't sitting at Wellesley Farms, and Wellesley Farms riders don't have a SRO train full of Worcester riders. Inside 128 with bus transfers and walkable areas gets high-frequency DMU service, and the suburbs get quality commuter rail. And you can mix-and-match service patterns to meet demand, including future possibilities of a Fitchburg Secondary branch or a limited-service spur to Webster (which comes into play when your Boston-Worcester time is barely over an hour).

* Auburndale Square will do just fine with 15-minute DMUs all day; they don't need an awkward shiv of the Green Line. Riverside is the better meeting point. It lets you turn DMUs off the mainline, and doubles the options for park-and-ride commuters at Riverside.

** There will eventually be four stops in a five-stop stretch (Faneuil will always be DMUs-only) with potential for push-pulls stopping: Newton Corner, Boston Landing, West, and Yawkey. Newton Corner gets the extended-71 direct connection to Harvard, and when DMUs can reliably beat Pike traffic it may be have the 500-series routes run there instead of downtown. Boston Landing can probably be DMU'd, but it's supposed to be an employment center as well. West is DMU-only unless DMUs to North Station actually happen, at which point it's a critical Kendall connection. And Yawkey nets you BU and the Longwood area. The solution might be to choose one of them that everything stops at - perhaps West - and then every other push pull stops either at NC and BL, or at Yawkey.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:12 am

dbperry wrote:
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.


This statement strikes me as odd. Obviously the current schedule HAS to be built around the existence of the single track, so isn't it self fulfilling to say it makes zero difference on current schedule?


Because. . .

It's the west switch where DT resumes where the trains not doing Newton have to hop over the trains doing Newton, or switch tracks when a train doing Newton goes "wrong-rail". The east switch is less than a mile away, and trains are doing 35 MPH in either direction by this point. They clear that 1 mile in less than the time it takes for any other headway to come into the picture. To pack service any denser requires solving the problems out to Framingham with the signals, lack of crossovers, etc. It buys no additional slots you can pack in that 1 mile because the trains are always going to be timing themselves around a leapfrog move at CP4 whether CP3-to-CP4 is doubled up or not. The only thing it does buy you is a minute amount of difference in recovery flexibility when something is late and blows its meet at CP4. Because when ANYTHING is late inside Framingham the lack of any crossovers except at CP4 and CP(whatever-Wellesley Farms-is) the whole inner half of the line starts to pile on itself. That DT is maybe a minute or two's recovery...but you won't notice it because you're already 10 minutes late before it even comes into play.

That's why it's low-priority. It's easy/cheap and requires no interlocking reconfiguration so they'll get it done sooner than all the kajillion-dollar other fixes they need to lick these problems, but it's not the crux of the problem.

Anyway, the single track DOES inhibit some aspects of scheduling of trips, and definitely creates cascading delays when anything goes wrong. Just this Wednesday, I was on inbound 506 when we were held at CP 4 waiting for a slightly late 509. If there was double track, there would have been no delay.


How many? 506 (outbound skipping Newton) and 509 (inbound doing Newton) is one of the moves that doesn't require a leapfrog. Yeah...maybe that's 1 minute's savings. Except that you'd have to know what platform 506 exited SS from to know if that late crossover move wouldn't have held you at BBY an equal time. Where CP3-CP4 double track makes absolutely no difference is if you're leaving work on 529 while it and 528 are switching tracks at CP4 and Wellesley Farms for the Newton hop. If somebody whiffs on their slot, CP4 or Farms are where somebody's train is going to go 20 minutes late and stop the next train behind you from leaving on-time. DT through CP3 offers zero assistance, because that's not where things went to spit: the 10 miles to Wellesley was. Wellesley is far more likely to be the culprit than any of the 3 interlockings between Back Bay and CP4, and there is nothing you can do inside the footprint of Beacon Park when ground zero for the schedule collapse is Wellesley.


It's a very small number of train pairs per day where recovery time through Beacon Park DT is even an option.

The problem of having station stops on only one side of the Newtons is logistically mitigated by not having any outbound trains stop in Newton before 8 AM. Not ideal, but it is a solution. So with that done (eliminating those stops from consideration for outbounds in AM), the controlling factor for scheduling before 8 AM becomes the Allston single track. For example, 505, 507, and 509 are all scheduled to get through Allston between 582 and 506. Double track Allston and you have much more flexibility to spread out the schedule to be more 'regular' instead of bunched (both inbound and outbound). Still have the leapfrogging 582 to contend with...so interlockings are still a limiting factor.


Newton has garbage service to begin with, so you will never get their OK to make the service even more garbage. This isn't the first time that idea has been floated as a "solution". No easy answers. They need more crossovers, need more crossovers in the worst way. Not just in Newton, but also between WF and Framingham because plenty of schedules go to die in that stretch too. They've studied it every which way...and that particular signal system just doesn't offer any non-torturous way of doing it.

But bottom line from where I sit is double tracking Allston gives a lot more flexibility to making schedule improvements without adding sets. And double tracking Allston gives a lot more flexibility when dealing with delays and modified schedules (e.g. winter).


Except...when it doesn't. And you can pair off all kinds of trains--weighted more heavily to the PM commute because of the higher number of "wrong-rail" moves--where it doesn't do anything. Hence, the "easy but not real meaningful" nature of the job and definite justification for the track gangs putting it off while they've still got post-winterpocalypse recovery work to do elsewhere on the system.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby harshaw » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:06 pm

Thanks F-line for the detailed (as always?!?!) response.

I get from a systems point of view it doesn't make a big difference. It is a bit odd to see them tear up part of the yard in what looks like work to start doing the DT, only to see the work stall. The one advantage of all the snow we have had is that you could see ( as a know nothing commuter) which tracks are actually used, even at very low frequencies.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby emannths » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:13 pm

The EGE wrote:In practice you'll have to give some additional consolation stops to the Wellesley and Natick riders (whose legislators virulently oppose anything they see as a slight, including a proposed schedule last year that increased service to other stops but not them.)

Hey now. As a cranky Wellesley rider, I'd like to clarify that the griping was primarily due to the proposed 65 minute gap in outbound trains departing between 5:35 and 6:40pm.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby The EGE » Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:12 pm

Yeah, you definitely posted about that when it happpened, and it's a legitimate complaint. Could have sworn a saw a news story also complaining about not getting more service, though, as well.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Mar 28, 2015 3:02 pm

harshaw wrote:Thanks F-line for the detailed (as always?!?!) response.

I get from a systems point of view it doesn't make a big difference. It is a bit odd to see them tear up part of the yard in what looks like work to start doing the DT, only to see the work stall. The one advantage of all the snow we have had is that you could see ( as a know nothing commuter) which tracks are actually used, even at very low frequencies.


Well...like I said. There's some good to finishing the job. And they will finish the job, because they already started the job last year with a little cleanup in that area. It's just not--especially at PM rush where Newton's a much trickier dance than it is in the AM--a meaningful number of slots per day that would feasibly be helped or bailed out by a second running track through BP. So as long as the track gangs have more important things to do (and boy do they ever right now) there's no real urgency to assign man hours to BP for sake of finishing it. It's such a small job to begin with they can knock it out in a few weeks when there's a temporary lull in other major ongoing projects and spare hands available. We'll see it within a year or two because it's trivial $ and trivial scope. But until the last phase of the Fitchburg Line rebuild is complete at end summer's end and all the long-term damage from Snowpocalypse is fixed, there's plenty of time-sucks than can and should be occupying the track gangs' attention way way ahead of this one. I would even say if there's mop-up work Framingham-west on eliminating the last ex-CSX summer heat restrictions and other closeout work to wrap before the FRA officially blesses the track class uprate to Class 4/79 MPH...would make a far bigger difference to overall Worcester Line reliability and by all rights should take full precedent if they're close (which it seems like they are).
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby csor2010 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:17 pm

In case anyone wanted another reason to dislike the Newton bottleneck, here's an interesting move I witnessed this afternoon:

I passed 522 making its stop at Auburndale around 15:10 (~10" down). As I drove past CP-4 around 15:20, 521 was sitting on the single iron, and presumably had been since shortly after leaving Yawkey 15 minutes before. Additionally, when I have ridden 528 we will often get held at CP-11 until 529 is west of us, presumably waiting for them to finish their work at Auburndale before heading east.

Based on these observations, would I be correct in guessing that Newton is effectively single-track when a train is working stations? I'm presuming that this has something to do with the fact that 521 works Newton from the outbound track (passengers would be crossing in front of 522 to board). In other cases, I've seen trains take turns at Ayer and West Natick to avoid issues with the pedestrian crossings, but holding 521 all the way back at CP-4 seems a little strange; in the other cases the second train would hold just outside the station for the first to finish. Additionally, while it makes some sense for 521/522 (which both make Newton stops), why hold 528 at CP-11 for 529 when it usually takes the north track through Newton, not touching any of the platforms and not making any stops?

It seems that they have a way around this for 582 to run around 504 in the AM, but otherwise it looks to be another scheduling hurdle for getting more trains through the area.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Fri May 01, 2015 9:21 am

[Just to baseline our discussion, track 2 = right next to Mass Pike, with the platforms. Track 1 = 'north track,' no platforms, away from Mass Pike (at least through the stretch where the stations are - things 'flip' east of Newton Corner, where the tracks go under the Pike and then Track 1 is closer to the Pike. But there aren't any stations on that stretch.)]

csor2010 wrote:Based on these observations, would I be correct in guessing that Newton is effectively single-track when a train is working stations?


Kind of, if I understand your meaning. It isn't 'single track' in the sense that they only use one track for moving trains. But it is single track in the sense that only the trains on track 2 can make station stops. For example, from 1600 to Midnight, there are no trains that make inbound stops at the Newtons. But there are plenty of trains making stops in the outbound direction. And while those trains are making outbound stops in Newton, there are trains passing them inbound on track 1. 528 runs inbound through (and past the stops in) Newton on track 1 from 1744 to 1759, while 531 is making Newtons from 1746 to 1808 on track 2. So there is an example of single track in terms of station usage but double track in terms of moves.

csor2010 wrote:It seems that they have a way around this for 582 to run around 504 in the AM, but otherwise it looks to be another scheduling hurdle for getting more trains through the area.


Yep, everyone agrees that stations on only one side of double track territory is a problem for scheduling. They do make good use of what they have in the PM with 583 running around 529 (granted, it runs wrong track from CP 11 to Framingham, not through the Newtons), similar to what you mention about 582 passing 504.

I'm still sticking with my contention that the single track through Allston is a significant problem, esp. when trains start to get delayed. And I understand and agree with the points others (esp. the very knowledgeable F-Line) make here. But I have seen many times when delays start to develop that then a 'race' to that single track occurs - and then delays start to increase or affect other trains as a result of waiting at either end.

I haven't and won't dig really deep into the schedule to try and develop an argument that an Allston double track could accommodate more trains on a completely rebuilt schedule. There are too many other factors affecting that - maxed out slots at South Station, maxed out equipment / fleet, the politics or need of adding more trains that would skip the Newtons (at least in the PM), and yes, lack of crossovers between Boston and Framingham.

So, to come back to something more useful than ending on a debate about a dead horse...

1) Are there any publicly accessible studies on alternate track configurations for the Worcester line? What is the ideal spacing of crossovers? While we're at it, let's triple track that section through Wellesley where the bridges and ROW are wide...

2) Earlier this week, there was a bunch of people gathered at CP 4 in the AM. Appeared to be workers. Later in the day a train was delayed due to "track work." Wonder if this was work on the Allston double track project?

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby GP40MC1118 » Fri May 01, 2015 9:35 am

There once was a plan when Conrail was still around of having interlockings at
CP6, CP10 (replacing CP11), CP16 between Beacon Park and Framingham.

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Fri May 01, 2015 9:57 am

csor2010 wrote:why hold 528 at CP-11 for 529 when it usually takes the north track through Newton, not touching any of the platforms and not making any stops?


Sorry, I forgot to address that question. I agree with you, if schedule is working normally, no reason to hold 528 at CP-11. The only PM rush hour train that is scheduled to run "wrong track" between Boston and Framingham is 583, which runs on Track 1 from CP-11 to CP-21, from approx. 1745 to 1800. During that time, in that stretch, both track 1 and track 2 are lined westbound (529 is on track 2).

If 583 or 531 are late, 528 will almost certainly get stuck at CP-4 awaiting the single track. But even with that schedule delay, no reason to hold 528 at CP-11.

PM single track occupancy, I think:
1637: 525 westbound
1712: 527 westbound
1713: 526 eastbound
1727: 529 westbound
1742: 583 westbound
1747: 531 westbound
1758: 528 eastbound
1817: 533 westbound
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri May 01, 2015 2:23 pm

The outer half of the line has crossover pairs (east-to-west, moving outbound) at:
MP 21.3 - Framingham Jct.
MP 21.7 - Nevins Yard, west side
MP 24.6 - before Ashland station
MP 28.2 - after Southborough station
MP 33.2 - before Westborough station
MP 43.3/43.7 - CSX Worcester Yard, before Union Station (staggered 1/2 mile apart). The one at MP 43.7 is where inbounds on the platform siding switch onto the mainline for the trip to Boston. The one at MP 43.3 is used almost entirely by freights.
MP 44.3 - after Worcester Union when the platform turnout merges back. Used by Amtrak to reach the platform turnout from the inbound side.

And then one solo crossover at MP 39.0 after the Grafton & Upton interchange in Grafton that's only usable by running inbound wrong-rail on the outbound track. Only used by freight locals to back up and hit the sidings on both sides.


The Conrail plan sounds logical. MP 16 is between Wellesley Sq. and Natick, the current one at MP 11.4 is between Auburndale (MP 10.2) and Wellesley Farms (MP 12.5) and just needs to be shifted back before Riverside Jct. (MP 10.8).

Inside 128 you'd need more if Indigo frequencies and infill stations are in the cards.
-- Back Bay (MP 1.2) and Yawkey (MP 2.5) sandwich between Cove interlocking (split with NEC/South Station leads at MP 1.1) and a set at MP 3.1. That one probably has to get shifted 0.1-0.2 miles further west when the yard gets ripped out so the Grand Junction can split straight off the mainline, but functionally it's the same as before.
-- West station and New Balance station would sandwich between that set at MP 3.x and the set at MP 4.8. Looks like on Google they'd be almost right in the middle of the platforms, so that probably gets shifted slightly to MP 4.9.
-- If Newton Corner is a a future infill you'd likely need a new set between Newtonville (MP 8.1) and West Newton (MP 9.1). There's an intermediate signal at MP 8.2...that's probably the spot.
-- Then the one in the Conrail plan between Auburndale (MP 10.2) and Riverside Jct. (MP 10.8).

So 1 per every 2 stations inside of 128 on area of likely heaviest passenger traffic, 1 per town to Framingham after the Indigoes turn out...and then 1 per town Framingham-Worcester heavily shaped by freight turnouts after the Framingham locals drop off.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Fri May 01, 2015 3:52 pm

dbperry wrote:... But it is single track in the sense that only the trains on track 2 can make station stops....
At Newtonville at least, there are boards between the rails so that you board a train on track 1 by crossing track 2. I assume this is for when track 2 is oos for maintenance, as it seems dangerous.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby csor2010 » Fri May 01, 2015 4:25 pm

521/522 meet at CP-4 every day, and they both make Newton stops, which would indicate that 521 consistently boards on Track 1. As far as "single track," I'm referring to the idea that trains cannot meet on that stretch when one train is working the Newton stops. For example, once an eastbound stops at Aurburndale, anything westbound is held at CP-4 until they clear Newtonville, vice versa for westbound locals. This is why I think 528 gets held at 11 for 529 to clear Auburndale. However, they do seem to have a workaround for 504/582 since I'm fairly certain that they pass in this stretch.

Also, regarding 522's trackwork delay on Wednesday- it wasn't due to anything at CP-4, no workers there when I drove by and 522 was already late when I passed them at Aurburndale.
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