Worcester Streetcar

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

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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby typesix » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:05 pm

Modern streetcars are rated around 8-9 percent max grade.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby troffey » Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:01 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:Quickly looking at Goddard Blvd on Google Street View, it doesn't strike me as being an exceptionally steep road. There are probably sections of the B Line which are steeper. If Airport Drive is too steep for the final leg to the airport, it looks like there's plenty of undeveloped space on the east side for a light rail line to ditch street running and take a long, looping approach with moderate grades.


I'm not sure of the ownership, but there is a good amount of undeveloped land surrounding the airport.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby HenryAlan » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:59 am

RenegadeMonster wrote:What kind of grades are there in San Francisco? I bet there are some comparable grades there so we know they can come up with some kind of solution that works.

Yes, the solution is a cable towed car, which is how they handled the hills in San Francisco. The electric trolleys do not run on the steeper grades.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby RenegadeMonster » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:38 pm

Guess that explains why I have heard of them referred to as cablecars before. Never realized they were actually pulled by a cable. Great info.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby HenryAlan » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:51 pm

Yes, they are quite interesting, too. The cable runs underground and the operator of the car is called a grip man. He uses a stick that reaches down through a slot in the street to grab or release the car from the cable to achieve drive or for coasting across other sets of tracks and/or stopping. There is a museum at the facility powering the cables which is a really fascinating tour for anybody interested in urban rail or steam punk/diesel punk type stuff. Just watching the gears and cables spinning through the facility was amazing. At the end of each line is a turn table that is manually operated. A couple of burly guys literally grab on to the ends of the car and pull/push to rotate it around to the other directional track.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Komarovsky » Wed Mar 06, 2019 5:11 pm

troffey wrote:I'm not sure of the ownership, but there is a good amount of undeveloped land surrounding the airport.


A good chunk of that land is either protected or incredibly steep(much steeper than airport drive).

The Worcester Street Railway had a similar issue when it was extended down to Lake Qunisigamond, the grade down to the lake along Belmont Street was too steep to be handled by streetcars, so they ended up laying a pretty open switchback up the hill just south of where Belmont St crosses the lake.

You can see a map of it in the 1922 Worcester Real Estate Atlas: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mastateli ... 399533238/

Interestingly enough, the line's layout is still reflected in the parcel boundaries, and if you look closely you can sort of make it out on imagery.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Lentinula » Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:33 pm

have they widened the rail cut since then? I can imagine theres enough clearance behind any of those buildings to fit a streetcar?
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Komarovsky » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:18 pm

Are you refering to the cut that carries the Worcester main line or the ROW of the switchback down the hill? If you're talking about the switchback, most of those buildings postdate the end of streetcar service by a fair bit, so they were just built as close to or over the ROW. As for the Worcester main line, the cut was widened as part of the CSX yard upgrade, and the trackage has probably been reconfigured several times since 1922 and then.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Scalziand » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:22 am

According to the GE DEM, Goddard Dr maxes at 7% and Airport Dr maxes at 13%. Airport Dr would probably be too steep for light rail, but Goddard would be fine.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Lentinula » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:37 pm

Komarovsky wrote:Are you refering to the cut that carries the Worcester main line or the ROW of the switchback down the hill? If you're talking about the switchback, most of those buildings postdate the end of streetcar service by a fair bit, so they were just built as close to or over the ROW. As for the Worcester main line, the cut was widened as part of the CSX yard upgrade, and the trackage has probably been reconfigured several times since 1922 and then.


The Main Line cut, thanks!


In old pictures of union station I can never tell if the streetcars ended just in front of the station, or if they went inside (or under the elevated now P&W tracks) to have a more formal "station". Does anyone know? The station has plenty of unused space, I could see a streetcar utilizing some of it (maybe Franklin st) to have a "station".

Also, what about light rail sharing the right-of-way along the P&W from union to Webster square, before cutting up to the airport? It wouldnt run down Main street but it would only be a block or two from the busy Main corridor and the right of way is already there?
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby BandA » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:25 pm

Is the P&W row wide enough for a separate two-track trolley row? I think you would want to use a cement barrier so that the railroad doesn't have insurance issues, think jersey barriers that are extra tall with fencing on top of that, then joined together.

Is this piece of row needed for Commuter Rail layover?
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby Komarovsky » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:42 am

Lentinula wrote:
Komarovsky wrote:Are you refering to the cut that carries the Worcester main line or the ROW of the switchback down the hill? If you're talking about the switchback, most of those buildings postdate the end of streetcar service by a fair bit, so they were just built as close to or over the ROW. As for the Worcester main line, the cut was widened as part of the CSX yard upgrade, and the trackage has probably been reconfigured several times since 1922 and then.


The Main Line cut, thanks!


In old pictures of union station I can never tell if the streetcars ended just in front of the station, or if they went inside (or under the elevated now P&W tracks) to have a more formal "station". Does anyone know? The station has plenty of unused space, I could see a streetcar utilizing some of it (maybe Franklin st) to have a "station".

Also, what about light rail sharing the right-of-way along the P&W from union to Webster square, before cutting up to the airport? It wouldnt run down Main street but it would only be a block or two from the busy Main corridor and the right of way is already there?


Running through Webster Square is rough, not a lot of space for street running trackage and the traffic there is already quite bad. I could see running further west along the CSX ROW to Webster Square Plaza and then up to Main Street, but again that's a fair amount of street running on narrow roads once you get off the CSX ROW.

There's been a lot of talk about an airport connector in Worcester between 290 and Goddard, but it's been quite unpopular becuase you'd have to push it through a lot of residential neighborhoods. One would hope though that if it ever came to fruition, that there would be space reserved for some sort of transit, either light rail, or true BRT.
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Re: Worcester Streetcar

Postby benboston » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:40 am

Or a gondola...
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