New Bedford Service

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

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New Bedford Service

Postby mxdata » Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:44 am

Has anybody heard anything recent about the proposals for service to New Bedford? I am gussing it is still pretty dead for lack of money and the opposition to train traffic through Taunton.

Is the mayor of New Bedford still insisting the service run to the old PCB laden downtown yard so that the commuters can get their cars painted (with graffiti) while they are at work? Some on the south coast feel that going out the Watuppa branch to the area near the airport and making a new regional transportation center there would be a better solution. Better access to Route 140, I-95, and the airport.
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:44 pm

i agree with airport area also....near the harbor isn't a nice place
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Postby 498 » Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:48 pm

For some unknown reason the New Bedford administrations believe that commuter rail is going to bring wealthy people from Boston to visit the aquarium they want to build in the derelict power plant which has little parking space and would require shuttle bus service from the polluted downtown rail yard. Of course Boston already has a 1st class aquarium, so why would any Bostonians want to take the train to visit a city that consistently rates one peg above Lawrence in quality of life surveys?

Meanwhile all the money is in Dartmouth, Westport, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Marion, and lots of those folks are wearing out Route 140, Route 24, and their cars commuting to Boston. The Building 19 location (the old Continental Screw plant) has an enormous parking area and is in exactly the right place on the Watuppa next to the airport to build a Regional Transportation Center, and there are lots of vacant mills in New Bedford that Building 19 could be relocated to. But the way things go in New Bedford, none of this will ever happen.
Last edited by 498 on Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Getting the ball rolling

Postby juni0r75 » Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:48 pm

You know, I have been wondering over the past few days if it is possible to get a couple of CR trains per day down to EITHER Fall River or New Bedford via an upgrade to the track that already exists that connects FR/NB to the NEC .until funding comes about for the rebuild of the line from Stoughton to Taunton.

I understand the speed restrictions are horrible on the track on the FR side (something like 10 mph from Myrics down to Battleship Cove) and they aren't great on the NB leg either. Also, I have no idea about the level of use or the quality of track on the line between Attleboro and Taunton (or who owns it for that matter...). However, it probably would be less than the proposed costs of the Stoughton service which would rebuild 15 miles of track. Don't take me wrong, I completely agree with the T that the Stoughton rebuild is by far the best alternative because of cachment in the Easton/Raynham/Taunton area and congestion issues on the Middleborough and NEC. What I am suggesting is a very limited service to get SOMETHING going.

Here are my two proposals: Take 2 morning trains (pref. the first two trains of the morning) and have them originate from NB (using NB as the terminus for this example) serving Taunton as the only other station on the temporary line. At Attleboro, it turns north and becomes a normal train in the schedule. Do the same with the evening schedule.


Run service from NB to Attleboro as a seperate service timed to meet a Boston-bound Attleboro train. This would give the advantage of more temporary trains to NB. Two drawbacks: connecting two towns that are not end destinations and forcing customers to change trains (any delay on EITHER line causes a missed connection). I would also suggest a splitting train, but having posted this idea here before, everyone has said "it just can't be done due to...."

I know this is a long shot, but is it even remotely feasible, and if not why?

Alan :)
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Postby 498 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 6:53 am

I can see where splitting a train on the MBTA is a real problem due to the lack of nose doors in the F40PH and F40PH-2C units that predominate the south side operations. Also connecting and disconnecting the 480V jumpers takes a lot of time and effort, and these are very troublesome even in the best of conditions. Probably the only effective way to run a split train with this equipment is with one trainset facing north and one south, coupling the cab cars together, connecting the MU and train comm, but leaving the HEP separated. But running with an engine on each end presents its own set of slack control and tracking dynamics problems.

I wonder about the proposals for the Fall River service, as to how they are going to fit commuter trains into that congested waterfront area. It would seem like they would need to stay north of Battleship Cove and run shuttle busses to the city center, which is considerably uphill, and the tourist attractions. Is there any room for large commuter parking lots in that waterfront area? Seems like there is hardly enough parking space for Battlehip Cove as it is now.

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:42 am

Wouldn't a relative simple, inexpensive, perhaps temporary, solution be to extend the T's existing Middleboro service ~7 miles over CSX to a station/good sized parking that could be built at the intersections of Rte 140 and 24?
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Postby 498 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:10 am

Unfortunately there are no superfund cleanup sites in that area so it would cost far too little to do, and the politicians in New Bedford and Fall River would not get their share of the proceeds, so they would undoubtedly oppose it! :wink:

Postby mxdata » Fri Apr 16, 2004 6:27 pm

Lets just think totally outrageously for a moment, and consider putting new track on the Watuppa, which is a hole through the trees with only a handful of grade crossings between New Bedford and Fall River. Upgrade it for 70 MPH running and put a transportation center near the narrows at the south end of Watuppa pond. You could service both New Bedford and Fall River with the same trains. That would bring some money into the project for the local politicians to get their share, too.

Once you get to the point where you have to run shuttle busses around Fall River, does it make much difference whether you use the tracks at the bottom of the hill, or the tracks at the top of the hill? Of course, this could never happen either, but it is fun just for discussion purposes. :D
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Postby TomNelligan » Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:07 pm

A question and a comment....

Can anyone provide a published reference regarding the exact nature of the chemical contamination in the former New Haven RR yard in New Bedford? I was under the impression that it was diesel oil, which is a lot less nasty than PCBs, but since I'm only an occasional visitor to the city I could be wrong on that.

And as for the disparaging remarks regarding the political forces at work down there, remember that they're doing the job that the voters elected them to do, which is promote the economic interests of the city. One of the motivations for the proposed commuter service to Boston is to provide a relatively quick link from downtown New Bedford to Boston for local residents, which would both benefit local residents looking for jobs in Boston and increase real estate values in New Bedford, presumably benefitting the local tax base. A terminal at the NH yard (which would also have plenty of parking space and is just a couple blocks off of I-195) wouldn't preclude a big park-and-ride lot somewhere to the north, off of Route 140 or Route 24.

But it's all a moot point anyway, given the current economic climate. Too bad this wasn't implemented ten years ago.
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Postby mxdata » Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:25 pm

Absolutely, Tom. Just go to google search and enter "New Bedford Rail" in quotes. About the 2nd or 3rd link which will be listed is the Environmental Protection Agency New England District website, which has a very large article on the PCB contamination in the New Bedford railroad yard.

I think the title is "$800,000 consent decree issued on PCB contamination in New Bedford Rail Yard", or something similar.

They are actually planning to dig all the dirt out of the yard, ship it out, and burn it.

But there is probably plenty of diesel fuel in the ground there too!

Regarding local pols, you will need to meet some of them to appreciate our humor..... :D
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Postby 498 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:54 pm

At one time New Bedford had one of the largest capacitor manufacturing plants in the world (when capacitors were full of PCB's).

It also had (in WW2 era) the Goodyear plant which manufactured the rubberized skin fabric for the military blimps, one of the major manufacturers of machine tools in the United States, one of the major manufacturers of aircraft fastenings and special fittings, some of the largest US plants for the manufacture of fabrics for the military, and I believe also some ordnance manufacturing.

A valuable strategic target in World War Two. No wonder it had a major coastal gun installation!

New Bedford also had one of the largest manufacturers of steam toys (Weeden).

All gone now!

Postby mxdata » Fri Apr 16, 2004 10:38 pm

As Tom mentioned, too bad they did not get this service going ten years ago, but New Bedford has been messing around with that aquarium proposal for even longer than that. The aquarium more than anything else seems to keep the local thinking tied to the expensive cleanup of the downtown superfund site railroad yard. If they had been willing to settle for one of the less expensive alternative sites, they might have had the service running by now.

New Bedford let the whaleship Charles W. Morgan, centerpiece of the Mystic Seaport Museum, get away back in the 1930s. Then they missed their chance to get the battleship Massachusetts, in part because they did not want to tie up their cherished state pier, which nowadays hosts only the Coast Guard cutters and an infrequent ferry to the Vineyard that I think only runs a couple months of the year. Lots of tax money spent on the "Historic District" didn't even get it very decent signs on I-195 to let tourists know it is there. Their excellent whaling museum is not "politically correct" in the current times and seldom gets the recognition it deserves. Now they are trying to save the city with an aquarium built in a run down power plant building. They call it the "City of Progress", but the progress seems to be going backwards.
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sat Apr 17, 2004 1:51 pm

juni0r75, the Attleboro line to connect with Taunton/NB is the Middleboro Secondary. CSX owns these tracks and the level of use is low....

>one frieght during the day (M-F) in Attleboro (drops off cars)
>in taunton, the line is used during the day for service in the Cotley Junction area

Most of the speed limits (in the city cause of the grade crossings) is 10 mph. The track is not in the best condition
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Postby CSX Conductor » Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:09 pm

one freight which is anywher from 30 to 60 cars between Middleboro and Attleboro during overnight hours Sunday through Thursday nights. Most of the track is 25MPH. But as mentioned earlier, to New Bedford and Fall River each track is only 10 MPH for both passenger trains and freight.

If the MBTA wanted to rehab the existing CSX Fall River or New Bedford secondary tracks (or both), CSXT would either sell them the property or request the MBTA to fund the upgrade.
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New Beige & Fall Reeve

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat Apr 17, 2004 5:01 pm

Having lived in the area for 48 years, I too know how New Bedford (and to a lesser extent, Fall River) has shot itself in the foot. The Oceanarium
Project could be really nice considering the layout of the old power plant

You got to admit that this state has really ignored and generally tucked
it to the "South Coast" over the decades. Sometimes its not for the lack
of effort on their (NB/FR) part.

I was down in NB Yard in 1995 when Governor Weld and Mayor Rose
Tierney announced the "Attleboro By-Pass" option. I even got slides of
them walking "in the gauge" up one of the tracks in the main yard for
a press photo op!

It was all downhill after that...Taunton balked at trains running through
downtown and that group out of Norton (CCATS) raised a hornets nest.
I should know, since I had a running "Letter To The Ed" battle with them
in the NB Standard-Times! I even managed to drag the Greenbush folks
into it!

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