Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

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

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby Teamdriver » Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:57 pm

Speaking of DMU's

On a separate local issue, Davey said the state does not have a timeline for putting in place diesel multiple units, also known as DMUs, along the Fairmount Line. Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration is putting out a spending plan at the end of the month. “More to come, I would say, on DMUs,” Davey said of the units that would essentially bring subway service to the commuter rail. Instead of six- to eight-car trains that take longer to start and stop, DMUs would have two- or three-car trains that move quickly. “That’s the real magic of DMUs,” he said.

“If we’re going to transform the Fairmount Corridor as a place to live and work… waiting a train every hour and a half isn’t helpful,” Davey added. Potential service every 15 minutes, along with weekend service, would make a huge difference, he said. “That could be a real game-changer. And that’s what DMUs allow us.”

http://www.dotnews.com/2013/it-ll-take- ... -st-bridge
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby trainhq » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:59 pm

Not sure how enthusiastic the T is about getting DMUs for Fairmount. The problem is,
once they get 'em there, people are gonna start wanting them for the other lines
(Worcester, Haverhill, etc.) and people will start clamoring for more frequent service
on them too, which, of course, the T has no $$$$ to provide. Don't think they're in a
big hurry on this.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:25 pm

trainhq wrote:Not sure how enthusiastic the T is about getting DMUs for Fairmount. The problem is,
once they get 'em there, people are gonna start wanting them for the other lines
(Worcester, Haverhill, etc.) and people will start clamoring for more frequent service
on them too, which, of course, the T has no $$$$ to provide. Don't think they're in a
big hurry on this.


Also...if they're high-boarding only they've got a TON of platform-raising work to do systemwide before they can use them anywhere else. Fairmount at least only has 2 stations left to settle up. Worcester has to rebuild all 3 crap-o Newton stops before a Riverside DMU shuttle is possible, and filling in the off-peak Framingham short-turn schedule with lower-capacity/higher-frequency cars is daunting until they modify every single station in Wellesley, Natick, and Framingham (presumably with a freight passing track behind the station). Ditto the Reading Line. Ditto Needham Ditto the Fitchburg Line out to Waltham or through West Concord. And the freight clearance routes--outer Worcester, all Lowell, outer Haverhill, outer Fitchburg, inner Franklin--can't take any DMU's unless they settle for a somewhat less boarding-efficient trap door version or awkwardly run them with front-door only boarding to the mini-high (would not recommend that on the Lowell Line inside 128 or Dedham Corporate at rush hour).
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:18 pm

The Boston Region MPO has authorized and initiated a study into where and how the MBTA can use DMUs on "commuter rail lines" (yes, plural language used) in "urban core areas." MassDOT is expecting the study to be forwarded to them immediately upon completion.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby BandA » Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:46 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
trainhq wrote:Not sure how enthusiastic the T is about getting DMUs for Fairmount. The problem is,
once they get 'em there, people are gonna start wanting them for the other lines
(Worcester, Haverhill, etc.) and people will start clamoring for more frequent service
on them too, which, of course, the T has no $$$$ to provide. Don't think they're in a
big hurry on this.
The real problem is the cost of the DMUs. NYC, B&M, and NH all proved that DMUs were the most cost-effective way of providing off-peak service. If they can refurbish 96 passenger RDC's for say <= $1.5M that would be good for 10 years, that would be better than blowing say $7M per 200 passenger double decker that would require a mid-life refurbishment at 15 years. (are my WAGs in the ballpark?) Level boarding + automatic doors + charlie card farebox = single operator for 1 car, single operator + 1 conductor for 2-3 cars, cheaper / faster / more accurate fare collection. How about electrically coupling the brakes, and a computerized brake self-test mode.

Also...if they're high-boarding only they've got a TON of platform-raising work to do systemwide before they can use them anywhere else. Fairmount at least only has 2 stations left to settle up. Worcester has to rebuild all 3 crap-o Newton stops before a Riverside DMU shuttle is possible
Newton is about to sell off their municipal parking lot in Newtonville, big mistake. ASSUMING the T ever adds trains, there will be severe parking shortages all along the Framingham line. As for the crap-o Turnpike $pecial stations, I don't see how they can be built unless they can wedge an HP ramp into the existing platform. Auburndale should be easy, Newtonville very hard, W. Newton hard. According to T documents, they can't have an elevator at an unmanned T station. Moving the tracks north might gain them about a foot or two, any more would require completely rebuilding granite retaining walls, Washington St, and bridges and possibly regrading and drainage. Other option is scary tunnels under the platform, which would require security cameras. Or build ADA platforms on the north/outbound side and leave the existing 50 yo platforms on the south/inbound.

Nobody has mentioned the fourth Newton stop - "Newton" aka Newton Corner. If New Balance and Haahvard Beacon Park get stations, Newton Corner should too as mitigation for the Watertown "A" trolley. With elevator & escalator from platform to the hotel lobby.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:17 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:The Boston Region MPO has authorized and initiated a study into where and how the MBTA can use DMUs on "commuter rail lines" (yes, plural language used) in "urban core areas." MassDOT is expecting the study to be forwarded to them immediately upon completion.


With regard to that , the studiers should look into DMU-ing the Plymouth line , having extended it further to the waterfront area , on the existing desolate and still partially railed right of way. No one wants to go there if they get dumped off at a parking lot in Kingston near a deserted mall, or if you go Plymouth, you get the same deal , dumped off behind an abandoned Wallymart , on the cusp of being in a historic cordage mill turned park that you could not discern because you are in a wasteland. A mile or two of new track, civilization , historical abbondanzas , quaint harbor sceneries , an abondance of restaurants ( including a nice pier-side fish shack that if you know your onions you would frequent, not naming names , mind you , dont want to get hit with a Wood stick ). Just wasted potential, you got to think outside the box , not everyone wants to commute to work or wander around Boston.Plymouth is a hidden jewel. And if you really want to liven things up , get the Budweiser house to get rail boxes too , they are just up rail !
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby NH2060 » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:30 pm

Teamdriver wrote:With regard to that , the studiers should look into DMU-ing the Plymouth line , having extended it further to the waterfront area , on the existing desolate and still partially railed right of way. No one wants to go there if they get dumped off at a parking lot in Kingston near a deserted mall, or if you go Plymouth, you get the same deal , dumped off behind an abandoned Wallymart , on the cusp of being in a historic cordage mill turned park that you could not discern because you are in a wasteland. A mile or two of new track, civilization , historical abbondanzas , quaint harbor sceneries , an abondance of restaurants ( including a nice pier-side fish shack that if you know your onions you would frequent, not naming names , mind you , dont want to get hit with a Wood stick ). Just wasted potential, you got to think outside the box , not everyone wants to commute to work or wander around Boston.Plymouth is a hidden jewel. And if you really want to liven things up , get the Budweiser house to get rail boxes too , they are just up rail !

Not to veer off topic, but something tells me the town would cry wolf if such a proposal ever came up. Maybe things have changed there since the late '90s so who knows. But considering the nature of the areas the ROW runs through I wouldn't hold my breath. It is a good idea though and could be done for -IMO- a reasonable cost.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:41 pm

BandA wrote:
Also...if they're high-boarding only they've got a TON of platform-raising work to do systemwide before they can use them anywhere else. Fairmount at least only has 2 stations left to settle up. Worcester has to rebuild all 3 crap-o Newton stops before a Riverside DMU shuttle is possible
Newton is about to sell off their municipal parking lot in Newtonville, big mistake. ASSUMING the T ever adds trains, there will be severe parking shortages all along the Framingham line. As for the crap-o Turnpike $pecial stations, I don't see how they can be built unless they can wedge an HP ramp into the existing platform. Auburndale should be easy, Newtonville very hard, W. Newton hard. According to T documents, they can't have an elevator at an unmanned T station. Moving the tracks north might gain them about a foot or two, any more would require completely rebuilding granite retaining walls, Washington St, and bridges and possibly regrading and drainage. Other option is scary tunnels under the platform, which would require security cameras. Or build ADA platforms on the north/outbound side and leave the existing 50 yo platforms on the south/inbound.

Nobody has mentioned the fourth Newton stop - "Newton" aka Newton Corner. If New Balance and Haahvard Beacon Park get stations, Newton Corner should too as mitigation for the Watertown "A" trolley. With elevator & escalator from platform to the hotel lobby.


First of all, there's nothing wrong with selling off parking for development at a potential high use station. That's a bonus, not a minus.

Secondly, does that mean there will be an attendant at Yawkey Station at all times? Seems wasteful. At least under near-future conditions.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:22 pm

I don't think that elevators only at attended stations rule is correct... There are plenty of outlying commuter rail stations with elevators that aren't attended, or that are only attended during limited hours (Worcester line, for example). Heck, that even applies to many subway stations. They almost all have elevators but are certainly not all attended from 5 am to 1 am.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:59 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote:
BandA wrote:Nobody has mentioned the fourth Newton stop - "Newton" aka Newton Corner. If New Balance and Haahvard Beacon Park get stations, Newton Corner should too as mitigation for the Watertown "A" trolley. With elevator & escalator from platform to the hotel lobby.


This and a turnoff/reactivation to Riverside should be priority #1 for any DMU-ification of the inner Worcester Line stops. You could even bring the trackless trolleys to the Newton Corner stop for an easier transfer to Harvard/Kendall. That, or an express [road train] running Beacon Park <-> Central <-> Union Square along Western Avenue.

Back on topic. Could it be that the T is waiting until that big 2020 procurement to take the plunge on DMU's for more than just Fairmount. It would be radical, but I could see retiring the F40's and the flats and replacing them with a massive DMU order making sense. You could run HSP's and Bilevel sets on long-distance routes during rush hour, and run 2 or 3-car DMU sets at much higher frequencies pretty much every everywhere else.


I'm sure they're doing heavy amounts of research right now. But if buying right now is going to require going in at a unit price way too high to procure any meaningful-size fleet to cover all Fairmount service or if the available models have quirks or compromises that cut against the efficiency of the service plan, they could very well opt to punt to the FY2018 procurements that would get delivered 2020-2022. The original Fairmount studies were predicated on a DMU purchase market that was supposed to be much much further along than it is now, so they have to study every detail very carefully to see if the current options even match up in every nook and cranny to meeting their original service plan. If it doesn't they may very well be better off rolling the funds over to FY18 and banking on much wider vehicle availability (hopefully with some of the big boys a la Bombardier and Kawasaki getting into the FRA-compliants game on a large scale) or seeing if the FRA follows through on its promise to codify import crashworthiness standards by 2015 to stimulate the market.

People may not want to hear that, but if the options today are compromised or so expensive that they have to make do with a skeletal fleet (or retain a subset of push-pulls on the schedule)...Fairmount is not going to meet its service goals and it's going to be years longer before DMU's can feasibly roll out on other lines. So long as they do prioritize and make good on it if they punt to the FY18 procurement, it'll be better in the long run for developing the ridership on these services if the fleet is full and flush from Day 1 and meet every performance expectation. Trying to stretch too little sooner to do too much and not end up doing anything particularly well becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy...the ridership won't take off, and further investment in Fairmount or the DMU mode writ-large gets discouraged and de-prioritized. They can't half-arse this if they want it to take off. They have to get it right the first time. If 2013-14's DMU market is too murky a prospect for reliable chances of getting it right the first time...don't rush it. Make the decision that does get it right, even if that means waiting 3-5 years before inking a purchase contract.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby wicked » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:31 am

How many units does the T need to purchase to make maintenance semi-cost effective and to adequately fill the gaps in the schedule(s)?
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby wicked » Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:38 am

Let me rephrase:

What is the minimum order the T would have to place to receive a somewhat friendly price, and how much construction would be needed for facilities to maintain DMUs?
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:29 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote:
wicked wrote:Let me rephrase:

What is the minimum order the T would have to place to receive a somewhat friendly price, and how much construction would be needed for facilities to maintain DMUs?


**Speculation alert**

Since the Nippon-Sharyo DMU is the only option out there right now, let's use that. SMART paid $6.67 million per married pair for their N-S DMU's, though they only ordered 6 sets. A more relevant price would be what Toronto Metrolinx is paying for their N-S DMU's, and it looks like they're paying C$55 Million for 12 married pairs, or C$4.6 million per set, with spares and maintenance equipment included as well as a C$22M option for 6 more sets. That comes out to roughly $4.4M USD per unit, which I'd guess is about as fair of a price as you'll get for an FRA-compliant DMU.

As for maintenance facilities, if you're talking Fairmount-only, it would make sense to build the DMU servicing facility at Readville (which right now would be pretty much your only option) so you don't have to alter BET and send unite up north for maintenance. Building a new facility would likely cost 5-20 million depending on how fancy the T would want it to be.

The problem with that is that if you roll out DMU's anywhere else on the line, it'd be a real PITA to have to service them down in Readville. Waiting for a more system-wide roll out would allow the T to consider other, better options like building a maintenance facility and layover yard at Beacon Park or Widett Circle or BET where you'd have a much more convenient central location.



Um..."let's use this because it's the only thing worth a damn out there" is not conducive to getting a roster flush enough to meet the service plan. Those Nippon-Sharyo unit prices are STEEP. SMART and Metrolinx got skewered for the money they were spending. If there's only one competent bidder for FRA-compliants there's no low-bid opportunity to be had. You pay the premium or go pound sand. Or pay the premium and cut back the vehicle order, with Fairmount headways paying the price. The fact that orders to-date have been so small also means N-S isn't devoting much manufacturing capacity to DMU's vs. its considerably larger orders for coaches and rapid transit vehicles. That keeps the price points high too.

In the act of trying to advocate for jumping now, you just made an excellent argument for watching and waiting until the market heats up. Price competition either exists or it doesn't. This T order isn't large enough to create it out of thin air. They have to see if the options are there. And if it isn't. . .
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby BandA » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:19 pm

Wouldn't refurbished Budd RDC's be an option?
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:32 pm

BandA wrote:Wouldn't refurbished Budd RDC's be an option?


No. Exhaust-belching antiques are no way to grow ridership on the Fairmount Line. There's no fresh parts supply or service expertise to be had for maintaining them. And simply amassing enough working units to field a service plan for Fairmount is virtually impossible...because there aren't enough working units for sale. So the service is half-baked and probably still majority-reliant on push-pulls all the same.

This isn't a novelty operation. It's supposed to be a near- rapid transit corridor.
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