Red Line splits, branches, and connections

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Red Line splits, branches, and connections

Postby l008com » Wed Dec 13, 2006 3:53 am

I was looking at an MBTA map today (counting how many vehicle it would take for me to get from stoneham to providence), whats the deal with the spit in the red line? At one of the stations south of boston, the 'line' on the map is separated. Whats this all about? I'm never down that way and definitely never on the subway.
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:17 am

I don't understand your question. There are two branches of the Red Line, but that's not going to matter if you're going between South Station to downtown. (And if that's all you're doing, you may as well walk.)
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Postby blink55184 » Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:25 am

To get from Stoneham to Providence, take a bus or get a ride down to alewife or davis on the red line or to the end of the orange line, and then switch to the commuter rail at south station. You are looking at the mattapan high speeed line, you dont need to go that far

Postby ags » Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:25 am

I think you're referring to the Mattapan/Ashmont branch of the Red Line, which is not served by heavy rail. It is normally served by a light rail vehicle, but has been the victim of bustitution for months now.
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:05 am

to get to Providence, just hop on the red line to South Station and catch a Providence bound commuter train, you have 2 options, either the MBTA, or if you want to pay for a quick trip, take Amtrak, but it costs like $30 versus, $8 on the T
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Postby subwayguide » Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:40 am

I think the author was asking about why the MBTA map shows the Red Line at Ashmont as having a double dot thingy. The answers that replied to this part of his message just mentioned the Mattapan Line, which isn't much of an explanation to someone not already familiar with the situation. So I'll take a shot at this one. I'll also branch out into a somewhat broader description of the Red Line structure.

The MBTA's "red line" is really THREE train lines, all drawn with a single color on the map: Alewife-Braintree, Alewife-Ashmont, and Ashmont-Mattapan.

The Alewife-Braintree and Alewife-Ashmont routes have a significant degree of commonality. Both routes use the same (heavy rail) train cars, and share the same track over a significant section of the routes (between Alewife and just south of the surface portal between Andrew and JFK/UMass stations).

Passengers going between pairs of stations between Alewife and Andrew never have to think about the fact the Red Line tracks at these stations are served by two routes. In this section, which includes all stops in Cambridge and Somerville, as well as downtown Boston and the South Station transfer point, both routes use the same tracks, same platforms, and make all stops. So trains on the two routes are, for all practical purposes, exactly equivalent to each other.

The situation is a little more complicated at JFK/UMass, even though the station is also served by both these routes. When the Alewife-Braintree line was added to the system, it was built with express bypass tracks that skipped JFK/UMass station. The split between Ashmont and Braintree tracks happens just north of the station, and the original JFK/UMass platform only served the Ashmont branch tracks, while Braintree line trains (both inbound and outbound) passed on the bypass tracks, just east of the station. Sometime later, it was decided that Alewife-Braintree trains should add this stop, and platforms were built at/near the existing express track alignment.

As a result of this history, although both Alewife-Braintree and Alewife-Ashmont trains stop at JFK/UMass, there are two separate platforms for the two routes. Not just outbound - which might seem natural to riders because the trains go to different places - but inbound as well. Due to the fact that the outbound Braintree track was physically in between the inbound-from-Braintree and inbound-from-Ashmont tracks, there was no convenient way to make these two inbound tracks merge south of JFK/UMass, or even get them to a single platform. So inbound trains at JFK/UMass can arrive at either of two platforms, and inbound riders usually wait in the JFK/UMass staton lobby, waiting for a light indicating which platform will have the next inbound train. This situation is unique in the MBTA system.

Savin Hill had the same original construction, with Alewife-Braintree trains passing the station on express tracks just east of the station, while a single platform served Alewife-Ashmont trains. That situation remains to this day (although the platform was recently demolished and rebuilt for ADA compliance). This is the only station in the MBTA system where subway trains pass a station location on an express track. (It's commonly done with commuter rail trains, but not elsewhere for subway or light rail.)

Now to the main focus on the question - what happens at Ashmont.

The Ashmont-Mattapan line is NOT similar to the other two routes marked as "Red Line", in any way. The Ashmont-Mattapan trains are light rail, most similar to the Green Line system, but using historic PCC trains. The Ashmont-Mattapan trains share no track with other routes - there is no place where you might find an Ashmont-Mattapan train or a train on another Red Line route at the same platform and track. So riders betwen the Mattapan Line (Ashmont-Mattapan) and downtown Boston (via Ashmont-Alewife) must transfer at Ashmont between two separate train routes at Ashmont station. That is what's meant by the quirky double-dot with a disconnected line on the MBTA maps at Ashmont station.

In my opinion, it would have been clearer if the Ashmont-Mattapan line was given a separate color on the MBTA system maps. That would have made the relationship of these lines evident at a glance, and it would be consistent with the general practice elsewhere that each type of train is given a separate line color.

(Some minor technical notes: The old Ashmont station had the stopping locations for the two routes adjacent at ground level, which is sort of like sharing a platform with tracks on either side, to make transfers easy. But even here, that's nothing like sharing a track - the Ashmont-Alewife tracks are in a trench with high-level platforms, while the Ashmont-Mattapan tracks were at pavement level and trains have stairs for boarding, and there was a lot of station stuff between these pairs of tracks, like fare gates for inbound riders. I don't know what the new Ashmont station configuration will be like - the station is undergoing a massive construction project related to the ADA compliance program, and the Ashmont-Mattapan line is temporarily shut down since the route's tracks into Ashmont station were demolished as part of the rebuild.)


Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Dec 13, 2006 12:54 pm

subwayguide wrote:In my opinion, it would have been clearer if the Ashmont-Mattapan line was given a separate color on the MBTA system maps.

Green would probably be the best choice. Until the other trolley lines in the area were replaced with buses, the Mattapan line was just another trolley line. Even today, motormen are drawn from the Green Line, and the PCCs get trucked to Riverside for repairs.
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Postby blink55184 » Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:34 pm

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote: or if you want to pay for a quick trip, take Amtrak, but it costs like $30 versus, $8 on the T

It is still 6 dollars

Postby Ron Newman » Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:48 pm

Goes up to $7.75 next month.
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