New Bedford Service

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

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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:39 am

The commuter rail runs, unseparated, through the middle of plenty of other towns, and people deal OK with it. I'm thinking of Waltham, Melrose, Wakefield, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, ...
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Wed Aug 18, 2004 9:08 am

Ron Newman, the wye would be very difficult to build, here is a pic of the beginning of the Middleboro Secondary in Attleboro with CSX local freight B735

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... y=MBTA1050


this isn't a good picture, but the WYE would have to go to the right, through the trees, they would have to tear down buildings and build another bridge

I'll try to get a better picture today
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Postby trainhq » Wed Aug 18, 2004 3:50 pm

Well, there's no question the folks in Stoughton and Easton could deal with
it too. But can't and don't want are two different items. The Stoughton/Easton NIMBYS are very powerful and well organized (the mayors are against it too!). Getting the line through there will entail
a legal battle that will make the Greenbush struggle seem like a picnic. I don't see how they'll get it done. I still think putting in another line on
the NEC will wind up being easier, even if it has to be put on a separate
trackbed outside the existing catenary. The NEC is nearing capacity anyway; a separate dedicated non-electrified track running as far as
Fairmount for FR/NB could be used for freight too. I think in the long
run that would please the most people.
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etc

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:31 pm

I believe the problem for capacity would be between Readville and
Attleboro. The Fairmont Branch (Old New Haven Railroad Dorchester
Branch AKA Second District) could well be used as an additional two tracks
for commuter trains.
If they tried to lay a third track between Readville and Attleboro, I think
there would be a few problems mainly around Canton Junction with the
cut and the viaduct and at Mansfield. Then you still need a wye track type
connection with a very sharp curve at Attleboro.
Still think it would be better and cheaper to make the improvements on
the line between Boston and South Braintree or even Middleboro than to
try to do the corridor thing.
It would probably be easier and cheaper to build a wye connection at
Cotley Junction than at Attleboro.
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:58 pm

trainhq, there are already 4 tracks in Attleboro for about 2 miles. it would be impossible to lay another track on the Middleboro Secondary side due to lack of space.

i agree with Noel Weaver, but in the MBTA Exceutive report, they said the Middleboro line doesn't have enough commuters commuting on the line, that is why they want to go through Stoughton and Easton, etc. It said the stoughton line had high riders
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Postby trainhq » Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:13 am

Well, it's hard to say off hand which would be the better
alternative. They would have to study how much putting
in an extra track would cost between Readville and
Attleboro and between Boston and Braintree. I'm
guessing the Attleboro route would still be cheaper;
you're working in a largely rural route where you can
do what you want, wheras the Braintree route would
require land takings and cut in urban areas, which is usually very expensive.
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:25 am

yes, the Attelboro may be a little cheaper, but it would still be impossible due to houses along the tracks, catenary poles, ditches, bridges, etc. Some of the overpasses can't fit anymore tracks they are as close to the tracks as they can get.
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Postby trainhq » Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:59 am

Well, no it's not impossible; just not cheap. Widening the bridges is possible, and yes, there would be some land takings and extensive
fill in wetland areas. That's why I think the FR/NB people need to
be thinking about assembling a group to widen the NEC; FR/NB, the
upcoming South County commuter rail people, the freight lines, the
MBTA, and RIDOT. With that many groups participating and benefitting,
the cost could be spread over a much larger pool of people. I think it's
a pretty reasonable approach, and is somewhat similar to what's proposed
on the Worcester line; the T and the freight lines are getting together to
put in a triple track and increase T service. No, it wouldn't be cheap, but
examing the number of groups benefitted, I still think it's the way to go.
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Postby Paul Cutler III » Thu Aug 19, 2004 11:05 am

Geez, a lot to get to here...

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote:
I was just reading the MBTA Excutive report on the T's website about the FR/NB line and they said they want to double track the stoughton branch from Canton Center to Stoughton, that is going to be a little bit of a problem, cause some parts of the branch, you cant fit a second track, there are steep hills on the sides of the tracks, houses, etc.


It used to be double track. According to my copy of the NHRHTA's Characteristics Charts, the entire run from Canton Jct. to FR and NB was double track at least as late as 1923. And since the RR rarely if ever gives up land when single tracking a line (and you know the State bought everything that was left), it is reasonable to assume that there is room to once again double track anything they want to on that line.

trainhq wrote:
I think the Attleboro route will be the one that is finally chosen.


The Attleboro alternative has other problems. A state congressman got a law passed that tied funding for the FR/NB line to NOT building the Attleboro connection. So it would literally take an act of congress to get that changed.

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote:
the Attleboro route is difficult because at "Boro" this is where the Middleboro Secondary meet sthe NEC. The only way to get onto this track traveling in the direction of Providence---Boston. The switch is on Track 4 and if trains from Boston wanted to get onto this track, they would have to pull past the switch and then reverse onto the Middl. Secondary, the engine would have to switch ends of the train, but the engine would still be facing the wrong direction.


For starters, the plan was to build a 2.5 mile connection to the NEC from the Taunton line, forming a very large wye connection. This would have traveled down an existing high tension electrical RoW through some of the more sleepier parts of Attleboro/Norton, allowing trains to head down to FR/NB from Boston without reversing direction.

Secondly, why would the MBTA trains have to run around their own train? That's why they are push-pull, so they don't have to do that. The real problem is the lost time "turning" the train because according to FRA regs, a passenger train that reverses during scheduled movement must wait at least 5 minutes and conduct a brake test (IIRC). Go to Palmer and watch the Vermonter make the reversal to see what I mean.

Noel Weaver wrote:
It is hard to believe today but years ago there were a number of routes that could have been used for direct service between Fall River/New Bedford and Boston. Unfortunately, the lack of foreshight has resulted in the disappearance of a viable route.


Well, the ones that are truly gone are the Mansfield-Taunton line and the old Braintree Highlands branch. All the others (Canton, Attleboro, Middleboro) still exist as at least possibilities.

A truly sad one was the Mansfield-Taunton line. In 1953, the State, when building the Rt. 106 underpass through Mansfield (severing the line), offered to build, for free, a new RoW for the NH from the line to Taunton to the Shore Line somewhere near West Mansfield. The NH, under the management of Dulmaine, refused the offer. Oops! You can still travel the old Taunton line through Mansfield, as one part is now "Old Colony Ave." and the other is a bike path towards the Norton town line. BTW, the rest of the RoW is taken up by a large sewer main from Mansfield to Norton.

In my opinion, probably the best way out of this is to do what has to be done to double track the section between Boston and South Braintree. Can't be done?, oh I think it can...


Well, anything can be done, given enough money. :-) Look at the Big Dig. The question is, can we afford it, and are there less expensive options that would work just as well?

I would think that the addition of a dozen or so trains to NB/FR would cause the main line to reach a saturation point. Especially from Readville to Attleboro.


I dunno, Noel. I think the real bottleneck is going to be from Forest Hills to Back Bay, when you add the Needham and Franklin lines on only three tracks. Out of the city, you are really only adding one line worth of trains because all the current Stoughton jobs would continue on to either FR or NB.

I have some copies of the proposed Amtrak improvements for the NEC here on the East End for 2010 or later. One of them is to 4-track the RoW from Readville to Forest Hills, and add a third track from Readville to just west of Rt. 128. Also, if you watch the catenary towers, the spacing seems to indicate that they plan on adding a third track in Mansfield station, Sharon station and quite a bit of track going up Sharon Hill. Not as far as the old Track 4 up the hill, but a good part of it. I have also seen newspaper stories and quotes that back that up. They have already 4-tracked Attleboro again.

The nice (or not so nice) thing is that there are very few (if any) freights out here, so the slowest thing on the main these days are the 80 mph MBTA trains.

Ron Newman wrote:
Didn't the old route go through Stoughton and Easton? If trains ran there before, and nothing has been built on the right-of-way, then trains can run there again.


Yes, the old Fall River Boat trains used to run down the Stoughton line. I believe it was one of them that crashed into the ladies room in the Stoughton station a long time ago. BTW, one of the brakemen on that wreck was later a freight conductor on the freight that supposedly burned down the Neponset drawbridge back in 1959-60.

Also, there was a bridge for the main road through downtown Easton that went up and over the track. It was a real whoopee bridge, if you know what I mean (it was short yet high). The town, with the NH's permission, filled in the cut and paved it over back in the day, with the caveat that the town would have to excavate the bridge and restore it at the town's expense if rail service was ever put back in (which is another reason why the snobs in Easton are fighting it so hard).

Noel Weaver wrote:
If they tried to lay a third track between Readville and Attleboro, I think there would be a few problems mainly around Canton Junction with the cut and the viaduct and at Mansfield.


True enough about the Canton Viaduct, which is doing pretty good considering that it was built in 1835 and was originally only single track for steam going maybe 20 mph. Here it is 169 years later, double track with catenary on it for electric trains going over 100 mph. That Whistler guy was some kind of civil engineer...

But I don't know about Mansfield. What makes that so bad for multiple tracks? You'd have to add some bridge work for certain for Rt. 106 and North Main St., but the rest ought to be pretty straight forward.

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote:
i agree with Noel Weaver, but in the MBTA Exceutive report, they said the Middleboro line doesn't have enough commuters commuting on the line, that is why they want to go through Stoughton and Easton, etc. It said the stoughton line had high riders


I think they meant "ridership potential", and that has to do with Back Bay. Back Bay is possibly just as popular a destination as South Station for Attleboro line riders, if not more so. It certainly seemed that way when I was commuting. It makes sense then that any service that hits Back Bay is going to be more popular than service that only hits South Station.

trainhq wrote:
I'm guessing the Attleboro route would still be cheaper; you're working in a largely rural route where you can do what you want, wheras the Braintree route would require land takings and cut in urban areas, which is usually very expensive.


I dunno about "rural", more like suburban, really. New houses are being built along the tracks all over this neck of the woods.

But the real item is that the NH had actually planned to electrify and 4-track the PRO-BOS corridor waaay back in the day, but never got around to it due to 1) financial scandals with J.P. Morgan and Mellen, 2) the Great Depression, 3) World War II, and 4) post-war business losses. The recent Amtrak electrification engineering crew actually studied the NH plans before they designed theirs.

So, the RoW is there for the taking. For example, take a look at the East Foxborough overpass (that still says "New Haven" on it). It is a three track bridge on a four track abutment (with only two tracks on it).

The problem is that with the catenary towers position as they are, it would be extremely difficult to add tracks, now. There was room for four tracks, but not necessarily for four tracks with the outer one or two outside the catenary towers.
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Postby trainhq » Thu Aug 19, 2004 11:27 am

No doubt about it; putting track outside the catenary would cost big $$$$.
(May be a good route for shorty DMU's there, Mr.Cutler! Ho! Ho!)Folks, no matter what alignment you choose, there will be major problems. It may
be a very long time before commuter rail reaches FR/NB. Maybe the FR/NB folks down there should buy themselves some hydrofoils and run 'em up the canal!
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Fall River - New Bedford

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Aug 19, 2004 1:45 pm

When I said there were other routes, a check of a Lines East timetable map revealed the following:
We all know Stoughton, Mansfield and Attleboro.
There were four connections off the Boston - Middleboro line and these
were at llBraintree to Stoughton, Junction; Matfield to Easton; Middleboro
to Taunton (the track that exists today) and Middleboro to Myricks.
In addition, at Rayham one could go directly to Taunton or to Whittenton
Junction and then Taunton.
Incidentally, Whittenton Junction is shown separately from Attleboro
Junction and shows the Attleboro Line joining the OC at Attleboro Jct.
Interesting stuff, interesting subject.
Back in the late 50's, the state really goofed when they decided to let the
Old Colony passenger servici slip away. A whole generation needlessly
went without this vital service and it is now restored or being restored but
at an awlfully high cost. TOO BAD!!!!!!
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:06 pm

wow Paul Cutler III, you explained everthing :-)
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Postby BenH » Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:07 am

Here's a new web site for those of you who are interested in the seeing MBTA Commuter Rail service extended to Fall River and New Bedford, Mass.

http://www.fallriverchamber.com/southco ... /index.htm
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:00 pm

Many areas of the stae no longer can muster the political strength to get any attention from the "big shots" on Beacon Hill. Communities on the South Coast not only have to fight for resources with Boston interests they also have to fight with affluent NIMBYS and BANANAs ( build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything). Powerful (i.e. rich) Boston suburbs routinely try to squash any development that will effect the "quality of their lives". As another example the North Central part of the state is effectively choked off by a horrible route to Boston ( Rte 2) which is horrendous to negotiate and discourages develoment in areas past Littleton.

As far as the operational possibilities on the Fall River/ New Bedford lines, maybe DMU cars could be used to run combined sections for Fall River and New Bedford?

Here is my question. Do all commuter rail expansions have to include full ADA compliant platforms the entire length of the station platform? While mini high level platforms are helpful the costs associated with full length platforms help contribute to the astronomical cost estimates for commuter rail projects. The days of experimental service with paved platforms seems to be over. The majority is held hostage again by a vocal minority interest. Please correct me if you think I am wrong.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Wed Jan 19, 2005 6:36 am

Here is my question. Do all commuter rail expansions have to include full ADA compliant platforms the entire length of the station platform? While mini high level platforms are helpful the costs associated with full length platforms help contribute to the astronomical cost estimates for commuter rail projects. The days of experimental service with paved platforms seems to be over. The majority is held hostage again by a vocal minority interest. Please correct me if you think I am wrong.

Not necessarily, actually. It all depends on freight train traffic, for example, the new Stations in the Worcester Line all had to be a mini-ADA platform because of long freight trains while the Old Colony Lines are all full-length high platforms since there isn't that much freight traffic.
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