Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

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

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Postby Charliemta » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:17 am

If freight deisels cannot co-exist with a third rail, then how about overhead electric instead of a third rail for the transit cars? The transit cars could be powered by a pantograph, so the diesel engines for the freight trains could operate on the same tracks.
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Postby octr202 » Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:37 am

Charliemta wrote:If freight deisels cannot co-exist with a third rail, then how about overhead electric instead of a third rail for the transit cars? The transit cars could be powered by a pantograph, so the diesel engines for the freight trains could operate on the same tracks.


That's what I was suggesting above -- would simply involve an expansion of the 25kV AC catenary that is already in place over the NEC/Providence Line. A new FRA-compatible EMU is even in development for SEPTA, the Silverliner V.

The primary problem with the New York area third rail is that a lot of snowplows and pilots on freight engines don't clear the third rail. Conrail/CSXT, CP, and NY&A all have units with pilots "notched" to clear Metro North and LIRR third rail. I believe on CSXT units (mostly SD-40-2s based out of Selkirk, IIRC) you'll see yellow paint on the plows.
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Postby Nasadowsk » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:32 pm

I'd wait on the S V, since:

A) Rotem's building them.
B) They're likely to be overweight like every other SEPTA railcar, and the spec weight is insane as it is.
C) NJT's specing out new Arrows.
D) Did I mention they're the first railcars being built by Rotem for the US?
E) Ever drive a Korean car?

The MBTA could go out and buy ALP-46s for the Providence line, if they wanted to. They're an excellent unit (proven to be better than the HHP-8s, by far), they could work up there (I don't know if Amtrak's signed off on them though), and they've got punch - 7100HP and traction control that's good. They'll actually do freight loco like creeping as they pull out of a station - noisy as heck.

And they can do 100.

I'm kinda surprised given the decent ridership, air quality concerns, and potential, that the MBTA hasn't looked into electrics....
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Postby Epsilon » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:40 pm

octr202 wrote:If there was catenary on the Fairmont Line, it'd be a good use for electric MUs. The Fairmont line, and also the Needham and soon to be Greenbush lines look like the type that would be a lot more cost effective today if Boston had been lucky to see the type of electrification that the NYC and Philly areas did many years ago. Two to four cars sets of MUs seem a lot more appropriate for these lines...

On the subject of Greenbush electrification, according to the project website it was considered but dropped because it wouldn't increase ridership proportionate to the cost. However, the tunnels and bridges were made to be compatible with any future electric wire operation, so maybe it could be converted if the T ever decides to go down an electric route.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:38 am

That's a good idea for Greenbush Electrification if it ever got off the ground, that could create benefits for that route, and of course the Fairmount Line as well, although Im n ot too positive if FTA-type Red Line Cars and MBCR equip can share trackage, the Red Line Fleet would have to be modified to FRA standards like the SIRTOA in New York Staten Island to run on the Fairmount.
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Postby cpontani » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:07 pm

Why would the T entertain DMU's, as it would be another type of equipment to maintain. And they won't even pick up an ALP-46 for the Providence line...it's compatible with the push/pull equipment, it's a no-brainer. Oh, wait.

I thought the plan for the Fairmont line was something like 15 minute headways when it was all said and done. There's no reason to consider anything other than existing commuter rail equipment for that.

I've never seen anything where the T would lean toward electrifying the commuter rail lines. One reason could be the harsh winters.
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Postby Ron Newman » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:55 pm

Chicago has a few electric commuter rail lines, and their winters are harsher than ours.
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Postby octr202 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:58 pm

The reason the T doesn't have any plans for electrification is cost. Amtrak, the Green Line, and the Blue Line (and many other places in the world) have proven that New England winters do not prohibit electric operations.

As it stands now, we're unlikely to see any real motivation until there is some other driving force behind electrification -- either through the need to provide frequent, fast service to a lot of closely placed urban stations (not happening), or North South Rail Link tunnels that require electric operation (even more not happening).
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Postby midnight_ride » Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:07 pm

Have there been any ridership projections for the new and improved Fairmount line? Those neighborhoods of Dorchester are woefully underserved by rail transit-- if you take any bus to Ashmont or Forest Hills from that area they are packed to the gills. My sense is once it re-opens, the line will see a huge spike in ridership-- but I think that spike is a prerequisite before the T starts talking electrification or conversion to rapid transit (though I'll admit, with a little tunneling under South Bay, it would make a perfect third branch of the Red Line, IMHO). :P
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Postby redline43 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:40 pm

The MBTA could go out and buy ALP-46s for the Providence line, if they wanted to. They're an excellent unit (proven to be better than the HHP-8s, by far), they could work up there (I don't know if Amtrak's signed off on them though), and they've got punch - 7100HP and traction control that's good.


Any pictures?
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Postby firepug » Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:52 pm

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Postby Choo Choo Coleman » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:36 am

Does the Fairmount Line dead end at Readville or does it connect to the other lines heading south? I was curious to know if any trains from the south ever use the Fairmount to get to South Station.
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:03 am

Yes, look at the Franklin Line schedule and you'll see several weekday trips in both directions labelled VIA FAIR. Or look at the Fairmount Line schedule where they are labelled VIA F'LIN.

I assume that Providence Line trips could also do this, but none are currently scheduled.

When the Southwest Corridor was closed for reconstruction, and later again when it was closed for electrification, all Franklin and Attleboro trips used the Fairmount line.
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Postby Choo Choo Coleman » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:22 am

Thanks for the info...

I rode the Fairmount Line not too long ago, and to me, there looks to be room to run an additional track on either side of the exisiting tracks. There would have to be some blasting in some spots and perhaps a little buying of land, but it looked like they could squeeze a subway line in there and have frequent service along Fairmount with more stops and lots of room for economic growth.
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Postby MBTA3247 » Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:18 pm

It is possible for trains coming up from Rt 128 to take the Fairmount line, but they either have to skip stopping at Readville or make a reverse move to reach the platform.

While one stretch was once triple-tracked, the rest of the line is only wide enough for the current two tracks.
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