Orange Line questions

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Orange Line questions

Postby gallja02 » Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:54 pm

Hi All,
I have been riding the orange line for some time and have generated a few questions I cant quite figure out.

1) What is the third track between Wellington and Community College used for, and what was it intended to be used for? I think I have heard it called the test track on here before, but I have never seen it used for anything and considering it has platforms at all stations in between, it must have been designed for some purpose. What happened?
2) I was wondering what happened to the old north station complex when the new one was built, it seems the old station was closer to the portal then the new one, does it still exist?
3) Why is there a platform on the commuter rail line at Oak Grove? Was this ever used or planed to be used for commuter rail stops?

Thanks in advance for all the answers, I have always found this forum to be very informative.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby savebowdoin » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:04 pm

gallja02 wrote:Hi All,
I have been riding the orange line for some time and have generated a few questions I cant quite figure out.

1) What is the third track between Wellington and Community College used for, and what was it intended to be used for? I think I have heard it called the test track on here before, but I have never seen it used for anything and considering it has platforms at all stations in between, it must have been designed for some purpose. What happened?
2) I was wondering what happened to the old north station complex when the new one was built, it seems the old station was closer to the portal then the new one, does it still exist?
3) Why is there a platform on the commuter rail line at Oak Grove? Was this ever used or planed to be used for commuter rail stops?

Thanks in advance for all the answers, I have always found this forum to be very informative.


I'll try to answer ;-)

1: The third track between Wellington and Community College was originally intended to allow for an express track, for use with service from Reading / Route 128.

2: The original North Station Orange Line stop was elevated; The next one was underground in its current location with some different layouts and walkways. The original North Station Commuter Rail entrance was through the Boston Garden, now an empty lot. The original North Station Green Line stop was elevated and torn down in 2004.

3: Oak Grove was originally considered/designed to be a CR stop. The platform was kept, and is now used on occasion when OL service is disrupted or delayed (Haverhill trains will make a stop at Oak Grove in addition to Malden Center), and was also used during the DNC in 2004.

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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby danib62 » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:36 pm

savebowdoin wrote:2: The original North Station Orange Line stop was elevated; The next one was underground in its current location with some different layouts and walkways. The original North Station Commuter Rail entrance was through the Boston Garden, now an empty lot. The original North Station Green Line stop was elevated and torn down in 2004.
Don't forget the old surface level green line stub end terminal that was there and turned into a loop for the PCC days but then back into a stub end terminal and dismantled back in 1997 when they switched the EL alignment to allow for construction of the "super station" we have today.

Also last I checked the original North Station commuter rail entrance pre-existed the Boston Garden and the commuter rail! :wink:
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Postby gallja02 » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:05 pm

Great anwsers, thank you!

1: The third track between Wellington and Community College was originally intended to allow for an express track, for use with service from Reading / Route 128.



I knew there was some talk currently about extending the orange line to reading, but I never knew that was in the works back when that part of the line was rebuilt. Has the third track ever been used for anything?

2: The original North Station Orange Line stop was elevated; The next one was underground in its current location with some different layouts and walkways. The original North Station Commuter Rail entrance was through the Boston Garden, now an empty lot. The original North Station Green Line stop was elevated and torn down in 2004.


Nice summary, thank you, it seemed while the construction was being done that the old orange line station (the predecessor to the current one) was much closer to the portal than the new super station is, that must have just been an off perception.

3: Oak Grove was originally considered/designed to be a CR stop. The platform was kept, and is now used on occasion when OL service is disrupted or delayed (Haverhill trains will make a stop at Oak Grove in addition to Malden Center), and was also used during the DNC in 2004.


Was this stop ever used for regular commuter rail service besides the disruptions and the convention?


Thanks again for the great info.
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Postby octr202 » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:15 pm

The talk of extension to reading was most serious when the Haymarket North line was built...its been pretty much dead since then.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Postby jscola30 » Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:33 am

I believe the commuter rail platform at Oak Grove is being used now when the OL goes down at night for signal work. I have an old CR map somewhere I think has Oak Grove and not Malden Center as a stop.

ALso..I remember under the Green Line EL at North Station, seeing some rails embedded in the street, sticking out of the pavement. It was right on causeway st. was that a remnant of the Lennox Ave. Line?
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Postby Reddy Rocker » Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:34 am

octr202 wrote:The talk of extension to reading was most serious when the Haymarket North line was built...its been pretty much dead since then.


Actually, it died because of NIMBYs in Melrose and Wakefield. For some reason, they still don't want rapid transit there. I don't know why and think it's stupid not to build the Reading extension, but Melrose is the biggest obstacle (sp?) to that extension.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:58 am

If you saw old rails on Causeway Street, they were probably part of the surface branches that went to Charlestown (today's 92 and 93 buses). (Once upon a time, the surface stop at Canal and Causeway streets was neither a stub nor a loop.)
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Postby helium » Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:39 am

"Actually, it died because of NIMBYs in Melrose and Wakefield. For some reason, they still don't want rapid transit there. I don't know why and think it's stupid not to build the Reading extension, but Melrose is the biggest obstacle (sp?) to that extension."



I live on that line in Melrose. Even if the people who lived there before me weren't NIMBY's, there is no way another set of tracks could be laid on that ROW without bulldozing entire neighborhoods.
My house was built in 1933, as were the houses directly abutting the rail line, well before there was any thought to rapid transit being extended north.
From their back property line (with a typical back yard being about 15' back from the house) to the actual CR track is about 8 feet, then the same on the opposite to the street behind.
To add even one more track - which would be stupid for rapid transit - would involve people all the way up the line to lose a lot of their yard, and to have fast moving trains that much closer to their house.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:45 am

If I understand correctly, the original proposal wouldn't have involved building any new tracks. It would have entirely replaced the commuter rail with Orange Line service, in the same right-of-way. The Orange Line trains would have been equipped with pantographs, and the track with overhead wires, so there would be no need to eliminate grade crossings.

It's still a good idea.
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Postby helium » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:02 am

But the B&M tracks were already there, and can be used by CR trains.
Isn't the gauge different for T subway cars?

If they can run on those rails, why use pantographs instead of installing a 3rd rail?
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Postby typesix » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:11 am

T subway cars are standard gauge rail.
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Postby NealG » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:11 am

Yeah, the plan would have involved elimination of Commuter Rail service between BON and Reading with the Orange Line in its place, service to Lawrence and Haverhill would run via the Lowell Line and the Wildcat branch through Wilmington. The only issue might be freight service on the line, as I think that there are a few customers between Reading and Boston. I think there was a similar plan on the southern end of the orange Line to run to Needham.
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Postby helium » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:15 am

I hear freight going through there from time to time. Always very slow and very long, and always in the middle of the night. I've heard it's stone for the Boston Sand and Gravel coming from quarries in NH.
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Postby NealG » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:21 am

I have seen small freight trains making midday runs through Melrose a number of times. To and from where, I don't know..
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