Atypical Rail Service (trains NOT to Boston)

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

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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby rethcir » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:47 pm

The idea is to give people from the suburbs a direct shot to Cambridge, since commuting to Kendall by car is by all accounts a hellish nightmare.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Hux » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:00 pm

Not a bad idea given the growth of industry there.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Yellowspoon » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:25 pm

You can't run trains from every town to every other town. That is not a productive use of resources, even if the tracks are already there.

The number of people that want to get from the north shore to the western suburbs are insignificant. And if you only run one train a day, nobody is going to take it. The primary advantage of rail service is to get large numbers into/OutOf high density areas. For the few that want to get from Newburyport to Fitchburg, the frequency of service to North Station would be faster than the once-a-day direct train. If a connection between Waltham and Rockport is built, it will only be used by freight.

Here's an case in point: Long Island is the most populated island in the USA having almost eight million people. That's more than all of Massachusetts or Manhattan. There is little doubt in my mind that hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people would love to go from Long Island to Philadelphia, Albany, or Connecticut without changing trains. Tracks already exist to each of these locations, but there no direct rail service is available to any of these locations from Long Island. (As a side note, Amtrak does run several trains a day from Connecticut to Philadelphia via Long Island, but the trains do not stop on Long Island)

As a second example, once a week or so I go from Waban to the courthouse at Lechmere. Tracks already exist. If every green line train went to Lechmere, it would be a waste of resources, so I have to change trains at Park Street.

This is the same reason that I believe any funds for a north-south connection or a red-blue connection would be better spent elsewhere.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:57 am

Just wondering: have you ever driven I-495 between Haverhill and Lowell during a rush hour?
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Trinnau » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:41 am

While the perimeter roads are indeed congested (not quite to Boston levels but still very busy), the larger problem lies with first mile/last mile connections. Most suburban dwellers drive to a train station, take the train to Boston then get on the core system or walk to their place of employment. Not only do they avoid the crazy traffic congestion going in to Boston, but they avoid having to get around downtown, finding a place to park and paying for said parking then still need to get to their office. Their overall commute is at worst comparable in terms of time door-to-door whether they drive or take the train. In a lot of cases the train is better. It also serves a large employer base in a very dense area in proximity to the terminals.

The sprawling suburban work areas are designed for people to drive to and have ample, free parking. Many are not situated anywhere near a train station and have no good connection to those stations in terms of transit. In a lot of cases only the trunk highway of the commute is clogged for a segment, but that's it. Getting to or from the highway is easy.

Taking your Haverhill-to-Lowell example, it's about 9 rail-miles from Ballardvale to Lowell. With no additional stops other than existing stations, and assumed 60mph running minus some slowdowns at Lowell Junction and Lowell itself, it will take about 11 minutes to go Ballardvale to Lowell. So that's a Haverhill-to-Lowell time of 35 minutes using train 206's existing schedule times. Google with no traffic says that same drive is 28 minutes, but on a Monday morning it say 30-50 minutes worst case departing Haverhill at 7:45am. If you start to factor in place of employment and place of residence and take away any negatives for parking fees and suddenly things swing back in favor of driving, despite the additional time it takes on the highway.

By comparison, Haverhill to North Station is 70 minutes on train 204, picking a worst-case local, and Google says 65-110 minutes at the height of the rush, departing Haverhill at 7:30am.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's going to take more than just running trains. There has to be a good transit network to deliver people at the end, and time can't be the only factor when car vs train is comparable. I think what the companies in the Littleton area have done is an example of this, but it's just a drop in the bucket.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:33 pm

That's a good synopsis. The interconnectivity issue has always been a problem for rail travel, save in very large cities like Boston.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby BandA » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:00 pm

You don't mention that interstate highway exits are spread apart, like train stations, and large businesses tend to cluster near those exits. But the MBTA's operating costs are so high that they need impossibly high passenger density to justify service.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby benboston » Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:15 am

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.06.35 AM.png


This would be reasonable service. Worcester is a city that is quickly revitalizing, Providence is already a pretty big city, Lowell has a lot of people and college students (like Worcester) overall lots of people commute to and from those three places. Additionally, people in between (Ayer, Westford, Clinton, ect.) these cities have a large population and commute to these places. A train link would be greatly beneficial because I-495 and other highways get extremely congested, and the solution to congestion is supplementary rail service. Massachusetts has enough demand for rail service that goes to places that aren't Boston that it could support lots of routes that don't terminate in Boston.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby HenryAlan » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:55 am

@benBoston

There actually is a private company planning the service you've outlined. Strangely, the name of the company is Boston Surface Railroad, but there is no Boston service in their plans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Surface_Railroad

http://www.bsrc.com/
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:18 am

If ever there was an application begging for a handful of refurbished RDCs...

I like this concept a lot, but it's going to live or die based off of service frequency and the convenience that comes with it.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:52 am

Part of the route is on PanAm, and you can bet they'll want a load of capacity improvements, which are needed for decent service. Was the Worcester Main ever a double track railroad? Or the Stoney Brook?
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:08 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:I like this concept a lot, but it's going to live or die based off of service frequency and the convenience that comes with it.


More immediately, it's fantasyland stuff until and unless the state allocates a big bag of money from its transportation budget at a time when there are already funding issues for the existing MBTA system, in particular the aging infrastructure. It's easy to connect cities on a map, a bit harder to make it happen when you're looking at expensive upgrades to slow freight trackage, new equipment costs, and ongoing operating funds.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Lentinula » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:36 pm

benboston wrote:
Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.06.35 AM.png


This would be reasonable service. Worcester is a city that is quickly revitalizing, Providence is already a pretty big city, Lowell has a lot of people and college students (like Worcester) overall lots of people commute to and from those three places. Additionally, people in between (Ayer, Westford, Clinton, ect.) these cities have a large population and commute to these places. A train link would be greatly beneficial because I-495 and other highways get extremely congested, and the solution to congestion is supplementary rail service. Massachusetts has enough demand for rail service that goes to places that aren't Boston that it could support lots of routes that don't terminate in Boston.


Interestingly I know a fair number of people in Worcester's Biotech industry who commute from Lowell and would love a rail option. I also know many many Worcesterites who travel to Providence regularly. Not to mention, as you suggested, the benefit to all the folks in Clinton who commute to Worcester and Lowell.

Only real problem I see is Worcester would need to significantly step up its bus network to provide last-mile service, WRTA is a disaster right now.
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby rethcir » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:59 pm

Pardon me for being a buzzkill but this 495 stuff seems a little off topic

Mod Note: Solved :wink:
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Re: East-West Rail Link

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:04 pm

Yes, you're right. It's actually Northest-Southwest, isn't it. :wink:
Last edited by CRail on Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Unnecessary quote removed.
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