Orange Line questions

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

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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:21 pm

RailBus63 wrote:This is the Boston we're talking about - neither the MBTA nor its riders have the discipline to allow trains to get in, load up and go at the pace to support a 90 second headway. They've never been able to run the Red Line properly with one-third the trains. In New York, you get on the train when it arrives or they'll close the doors in your face. I can only imagine the uproar that would occur if MBTA operators began running their trains in such a no-nonsense fashion.

I lived in Boston for three years. I've had many a train door closed in my face. Sure, I complained about it when it happened, but I went on. I would think most people do. So the MBTA should be able to run more trains per hour if there's a need for them to do so.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:40 am

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:I pulled up the 2003 Transit MPO's cost and ridership projections for various extension proposals this week in the Southcoast Rail thread, and was floored at how high the counts were for the Reading extension. Not even new-to-mode riders, but new transit riders period despite having pretty dense stop concentration and close to max supportable CR frequency. Surprisingly modest per-rider capital cost for this rapid-transit extension (lower than the Green Line extension and bested only by the two Blue projects). And with that kind of ridership bump the per-rider operating cost was a lot better than I thought it would be for such a long-mileage extension. Really, for subway lines Red-Blue, Blue-Lynn, Green-Medford were the only ones that were more obvious slam-dunks, and Orange-Reading brings more all-new transit riders to the system than all rapid-transit OR commuter rail projects but Blue-Lynn, the North-South link, and the (dubiously high-projection) FR/NB lines. Even T being do-nothing T I'm puzzled that hardly anyone ever talks about picking this one up. Green-Needham gets more consistent active chatter than it, and even Orange-West Roxbury gets mentioned in passing as a priority more often. Their cost/ridership projections on any of those configurations pale badly in comparison.

I guess with the existing Commuter Rail service already running there, maybe they figure there's no pressing need to send the Orange Line to Reading. But if it were to attract a significant amount of new riders to the system and take them off 93, then that's something well worth considering. I mean, it's not impossible to convert the Haverhill Line to OL operation from Reading south and then reroute the rest of the Haverhill CR onto the Wildcat Branch and onto the Lowell Line for the rest of the way into North Station. Also, you might want to have OL rolling stock with more comfortable, forward-facing seating (like Philly's PATCO train) for the longer distance from Reading to downtown Boston.

At first, I questioned the value of doing a OL extension to Reading, because I didn't know what would happen with CR service between Reading and Haverhill and Amtrak Downeaster service. But since finding out that Haverhill CR service can be rerouted via the Wildcat Branch and that Downeaster trains already use it, I can see the value in having the OL take over the Haverhill Line from Reading on south.

RailBus63 wrote:I haven't looked at the data, but my first thought is that the two-track Washington Street tunnel would be quickly become a serious bottleneck. The MBTA would have to find a way to increase throughput on this line to entertain such an increase.

Why would it? Doesn't the Orange Line have excess capacity? Headways are once every six minutes. With frequencies like that, you should be able to run more trains on tighter frequencies. The Red, Green and Blue Lines do.


Haverhill trains ALWAYS used to run up the NH Main as permanent routing. Before the OL Haymarket-North opened CR on that ROW was exclusively a Reading short-turn except for occasional thru-routed trains. Absolutely positively is that supportable service. And of course the OL relocations were designed explicitly to support capacity for 128-to-128 termini with that express track, which if Reading were built would extend all the way to Oak Grove before the line went 2-track again. Southside routing would've been either Westwood/128 on the NEC or West Roxbury/Dedham or West Roxbury/Needham depending on which way they split from Forest Hills. I don't know if southside would've had express tracks (there's kinda sorta room in places but probably not enough to tear everything up and try. But at rush hour there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn't express it one direction on the northside and still keep headways perfectly well on the southside. You'd just need your yards at the termini set up to be packed with extra cars midday so they can empty with heavier uni-directional service on whichever direction's using the express track at a given commute time. None of that's a problem because they had that foresight when they built Haymarket-North.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby RailBus63 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:52 am

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:I lived in Boston for three years. I've had many a train door closed in my face. Sure, I complained about it when it happened, but I went on. I would think most people do. So the MBTA should be able to run more trains per hour if there's a need for them to do so.


I notice a definite difference between the Boston and New York subway systems. MBTA trains just seem to typically lag in the station longer compared to NYCT.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:15 pm

RailBus63 wrote:
#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:I lived in Boston for three years. I've had many a train door closed in my face. Sure, I complained about it when it happened, but I went on. I would think most people do. So the MBTA should be able to run more trains per hour if there's a need for them to do so.


I notice a definite difference between the Boston and New York subway systems. MBTA trains just seem to typically lag in the station longer compared to NYCT.

But NYCT trains stop in between stations more often.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:18 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Haverhill trains ALWAYS used to run up the NH Main as permanent routing. Before the OL Haymarket-North opened CR on that ROW was exclusively a Reading short-turn except for occasional thru-routed trains. Absolutely positively is that supportable service. And of course the OL relocations were designed explicitly to support capacity for 128-to-128 termini with that express track, which if Reading were built would extend all the way to Oak Grove before the line went 2-track again. Southside routing would've been either Westwood/128 on the NEC or West Roxbury/Dedham or West Roxbury/Needham depending on which way they split from Forest Hills. I don't know if southside would've had express tracks (there's kinda sorta room in places but probably not enough to tear everything up and try. But at rush hour there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn't express it one direction on the northside and still keep headways perfectly well on the southside. You'd just need your yards at the termini set up to be packed with extra cars midday so they can empty with heavier uni-directional service on whichever direction's using the express track at a given commute time. None of that's a problem because they had that foresight when they built Haymarket-North.

Good to know. Running all Haverhill trains via the Wildcat Branch could be done again, freeing up the existing rail line between Reading and Oak Grove for an Orange Line extension. I think it would best to have a potential OL extension to Reading be at least three tracks, so you can have that peak-direction express service make a significant difference in travel time over a local.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:52 pm

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Haverhill trains ALWAYS used to run up the NH Main as permanent routing. Before the OL Haymarket-North opened CR on that ROW was exclusively a Reading short-turn except for occasional thru-routed trains. Absolutely positively is that supportable service. And of course the OL relocations were designed explicitly to support capacity for 128-to-128 termini with that express track, which if Reading were built would extend all the way to Oak Grove before the line went 2-track again. Southside routing would've been either Westwood/128 on the NEC or West Roxbury/Dedham or West Roxbury/Needham depending on which way they split from Forest Hills. I don't know if southside would've had express tracks (there's kinda sorta room in places but probably not enough to tear everything up and try. But at rush hour there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn't express it one direction on the northside and still keep headways perfectly well on the southside. You'd just need your yards at the termini set up to be packed with extra cars midday so they can empty with heavier uni-directional service on whichever direction's using the express track at a given commute time. None of that's a problem because they had that foresight when they built Haymarket-North.

Good to know. Running all Haverhill trains via the Wildcat Branch could be done again, freeing up the existing rail line between Reading and Oak Grove for an Orange Line extension. I think it would best to have a potential OL extension to Reading be at least three tracks, so you can have that peak-direction express service make a significant difference in travel time over a local.


There isn't room on the full ROW for 3 tracks. It starts narrowing about halfway to Wyoming Hill. Could do it with a little land-taking, but you get a goodly speedup just on the Oak-Grove-North Station express (maybe with 1 intermediate stop so it's not that necessary. The high CR platforms at Oak Grove and Malden Ctr. are set up today for an instant changeover to rapid-transit, so that was planned from Day 1 with the only major station construction required being enclosing those platforms within fare control.

It's kind of remarkable how the existing CR stops that have been there over a century have rapid-transit level spacing already. And pretty nice neighborhood density at most of them. Only major stop need here would be a park-and-ride at Quannapowit/128 between Wakefield and Reading. Most of your expense in converting is going to be running power out to the end and elimination of the grade crossings: Wyoming Hill, West Foster St., Melrose/Cedar Park, Melrose Highlands, 2 on the block at Greenwood, Broadway St., 2 on the block at Wakefield, Prospect St., Newcrossing Rd., Main/Ash Streets, and 2 on the block at Reading. Typical of B&M-original lines they picked a real random assortment of which streets to bridge and which streets to grade-cross. None are impossible, but a lot of the stops have major streets with frequent intersections running parallel to the ROW a la Malden Ctr. and would require similar elevation of the tracks at all those stops currently at crossings. Pretty sure a long, long time ago Malden Ctr. looked just like the others. The 1970's extension plan actually had the Hawker car order getting pantographs just like their Blue Line counterparts, with an overhead switchover at Oak Grove. They didn't plan to eliminate every single grade crossing initially, just enough of the bottleneck ones to safely get service started. That plan probably wouldn't fly today and you'd get the more expensive 3rd rail full grade separation.


If the N-S rail link gets built that's when you'll really see the impetus for this. The NH Main will get electrified for NEC trains heading off on both the Haverhill/Downeaster and Lowell/Capitol Corridor routes, and when that happens it makes little sense to keep running diesels to Haverhill via Reading when you can just go all-electric on one consolidated route with HSR trackage. A lot has to happen before we're there, but that's what's ultimately keeping the OL extension on the table. They aren't going to electrify CR to Wilmington Jct. via Reading. It makes no sense when they can just extend the OL electrification.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:43 pm

If the line narrows near Wyoming Hill, then what stops would be skipped? Would the stations between Oak Grove and Community College be reconfigured to side platform layouts or would expresses just highball through selected stations? Railroad crossing eliminations will certainly help speed things up. For that, they should focus on the major streets where possible.

Quannapowit/128 would be a very good place to have a park-and-ride station.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby MBTA1052 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:47 pm

I'm not sure if this was asked already but why is the Orange Line and Blue Line are the only lines operating with a 1 person crew onboard per train but the other lines like the Green Line and Red Line run with a 2-person crew is this a way to be more efficient in service??? :wink:
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby AznSumtinSumtin » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:05 pm

MBTA1052 wrote:I'm not sure if this was asked already but why is the Orange Line and Blue Line are the only lines operating with a 1 person crew onboard per train

The logical answer: One person train operation(OPTO) cuts down on labor costs by halving the amount of employees on trains. The cost savings are not immediately evident, because existing conductors were retrained as either train operators or inspectors. However, when train operators and inspectors retire, no new employees will need to be hired. Thus, the T will save money in the long run.
The more popular answer: The MBTA is in an evil conspiracy to mislead the public into thinking it is saving money, when in actuality, it is spending even more money and intentionally slowing down commutes by a life-altering 5 seconds per station to give the appearance of spending less money.

MBTA1052 wrote:but the other lines like the Green Line and Red Line run with a 2-person crew is this a way to be more efficient in service??? :wink:

The Green Line requires 1 person in each car to operate the doors and collect fares at the surface stops. The Red Line doesn't have the necessary platform equipment installed to ensure safe OPTO.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby danib62 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:37 pm

The red line trains are also about 27 feet longer. I suspect if OPTO on the orange line works out you will see it coming to the red line within the next few years.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby sery2831 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:18 am

We have an OPTO thread... hint hint :-)
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:35 pm

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:If the line narrows near Wyoming Hill, then what stops would be skipped? Would the stations between Oak Grove and Community College be reconfigured to side platform layouts or would expresses just highball through selected stations? Railroad crossing eliminations will certainly help speed things up. For that, they should focus on the major streets where possible.

Quannapowit/128 would be a very good place to have a park-and-ride station.


Probably would skip Oak Grove since the express track would start before the station (i.e. the current arrangement of OL tail tracks + the CR track = 3 tracks), stop at Malden since that's highest ridership stop, skip all else. Or swap Malden for Wellington, whichever works best for peak commute time. They could do it pretty much any way they wanted. They could probably just speed through with the typical ATO auto slow-down through the actual stations themselves like you get today on the Red Line when it's got a train running express to correct FUBAR'd headways. Probably easiest to go with thru tracks on the outside, center track the bi-directional express (sort of like the Southeast Expressway HOV zipper lane). They had the preferred configuration planned out when Haymarket-North opened, and assuming orderly extension of the track to Oak Grove they'd probably just need to straighten the outer track out a little bit at the Community College switch to make that your thru outbound track without any slowdown. Nothing would need to be done to any of the existing 3-track stations.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby sery2831 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:43 pm

My question is why did all the stations get platforms, wouldn't it have made sense to have had stations with just a track right through the middle. The T never allows trains to go full speed through stations when being expressed.
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby CRail » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:19 am

sery2831 wrote:The T never allows trains to go full speed through stations when being expressed.


ATO Doesn't allow this. I doubt there is any rule which states this, just that all station tracks are 25 codes so the trains can't go full speed through. I'd be interested to see what happens on the blue line, although I doubt trains are expressed very often on the blue.

If expressing trains were a common (regular) practice, I think they'd make people get used to trains passing at 40mph. Larger trains pass station platforms much faster than that on the NEC, so what's the difference here?
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Re: Orange Line questions

Postby sery2831 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:11 am

I forgot about the ATO slowing trains down at stations. But on the Blue Line when a train is out of service or being expressed, they always slow down and blow the horn as they pass through stations.
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