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 as a rapid transit line?

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:28 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
rethcir wrote:It seems to me that this would be a fairly obvious candidate for expansion project probably right after the Urban Ring in importance and maybe before some of the blue line work. For the sake of conversation, if you guys had to propose how to quickly and cost-effectively convert the line to Rapid Transit, what would you propose? Third rail, catenary, dmu? Are all the stations high-level and ready to work as closed-off t stops? Are the ROWs all separated from crossings? etc.


The line merges with the Old Colony routes on approach to South Station literally next to the Red Line yard tracks at Cabot. Might have to reconfigure a couple of tracks or do a small overpass/underpass to criscross the CR tracks with grade separation, but the line already is on the Cabot/Southampton property on its approach to SS so the dirt simplest thing to do is run unmodified Red Line trains on the Indigo even if it is not itself a revenue RL branch (due to lack of inbound tunnel access). Your Indigo line stop can be built onto SS when the Postal facility gets knocked down because that opens up the RL ROW for extension from the yard loop across a widened Channel RR bridge to SS proper and means for integrating it into the basement levels of the station. The Indigo terminus at SS can then serve as the provisional start for the North-South rail link's rapid-transit line whenever that gets built, or even the terminus of a Red Line "Rush Hour Express" from the south skipping Andrew and Broadway via the yard tracks. Should the N-S link ever get built this would also allow full operational re-routing of either RL branch through the Link and capacity to scale up for further extensions if there were dual downtown routings.


There's 58 01700 cars, enough for 9 6-car trains with spares. That's plenty for a starter fleet on a very short line like the Indigo. Since the line would have to be operationally set up as Red Line to share equipment they can run 100% unmodified save for an indigo paint job and some ASA installation. Besides third rail power your only "new" infrastructure is the RL car storage and small maint facility at Readville, the track work to across the Old Colony junction grade-separated into Cabot, the "extension" across the Channel and former Postal property, and the actual Indigo South Station platform itself. It's a lot of construction at Cabot/SS proper, but little anywhere else and virtually none outside of MBTA-owned non-revenue property.

Ridership would probably explode on this thing if it continued past Readville 1 stop along the NEC ROW to Amtrak/128 station where you'd get the huge park-and-ride ridership to accompany the robust local service. The way the ROW looks landscaped on Google Maps satellite looks like there's room to add 2 tracks on the existing footprint without getting the Neaponset Reservation environmentalists in a tizzy. Hell, might be the only place you ever again get to ride a Red Line car barreling along at 65 MPH in the ATO era. :-D

This is exactly what they should be doing with the Fairmount Line. Plus, it gives the line a yard to be based out of, saving on construction costs. The T could buy one common fleet for both the Red and Indigo lines. They can run the three peak-direction Franklin Line trains on weekday mornings and afternoons from Readville Junction via the Providence Line like the other Franklin Line trains. Plus, if the Postal facility is removed, it would facilitate transfers between the Red and Indigo lines. Really, this and the Medford/Somerville Green Line extension really are projects that would be fairly easy to do. I think this one should be put ahead of the Urban Ring (especially since that's going to be a bus rapid transit project to start anyway).
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Re: Fairmount as a rapid transit line?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:15 pm

Charliemta wrote:When the Postal Service building at South Station is demolished, the original underground loop track at South Station should be re-established to provide turnaround capability and a boarding area for this new Fairmount rapid transit line.


I don't know exactly how much of the old loop ROW still exists. The inbound approach tunnel is still intact because it was uncovered during Big Dig construction, but the outbound tunnel (whatever's left) swings all the way to the other side which makes it really complicated to loop back onto the Cabot side of the tracks. But you wouldn't have to use the exact same alignment. If you approached the basement shops level from the Post Office property you could hit the basement from another angle and still make use of the same space. Since Cabot is right there and that's your extra-train storage space it wouldn't have to be any more than a stub-end with maybe 2 tail-tracks long enough to store 1 OOS 6-car train each and angle the ROW in the general direction of the N-S link for continuation whenever they feel like doing that. I don't believe the shops level has been radically reconfigured since the abandoned platform was opened up for retail space...you'd just be kicking some of the retailers and offices out to build the station. I believe there's enough clearance to slip the tunnel above the Silver Line and Red Line because there'd be no way to do the N-S link otherwise and no study I've seen indicates there are any clearance issues.

Loss of the Fairmount ROW is offset slightly by the additional berths they're already planning to add to SS after the Postal facility comes down, eliminating the shared trackage where the Old Colony merges with the Fairmount, and siphoning off the bulk of the park-and-ride ridership from Amtrak/128 station. It would still be crowded, but not unmanageably so. There's lots of plans already on the books for more double-tracking of clogged lines, and just doing that will make scheduling more flexible and timing expresses on the stretches of NEC that carry multiple lines easier to swing.
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Re: Fairmount as a rapid transit line?

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:25 pm

$teve25 wrote:Build a tunnel portal near or before Andrew station then build an elevated line straight down the fairmount line since a ROW already exist, your just building above the existing tracks. Commuter trains coming from out of the city still get to use it as well as freights and the moves between readville and the BET. Imagine the red line with three branches and Boston gets to have an EL again.

No, a Red Line with three southern branches would be bad. It would result in a service cut to the two existing RL branches. Unless you're planning to build two more branches on the Red Line's north end, it's best to keep the Fairmount Line as its own separate service. Besides, then you can run more frequent service on the Fairmount than on either RL branch.
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Re: Fairmount as a rapid transit line?

Postby #5 - Dyre Ave » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:52 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Loss of the Fairmount ROW is offset slightly by the additional berths they're already planning to add to SS after the Postal facility comes down, eliminating the shared trackage where the Old Colony merges with the Fairmount, and siphoning off the bulk of the park-and-ride ridership from Amtrak/128 station. It would still be crowded, but not unmanageably so. There's lots of plans already on the books for more double-tracking of clogged lines, and just doing that will make scheduling more flexible and timing expresses on the stretches of NEC that carry multiple lines easier to swing.

So the demolition of the Postal facility is definitely happening? If so, that will allow plenty of room to expand South Station. But where would the double-tracking be done? Is there room to expand the single track portion of the Old Colony lines? Is there room to add more tracks to the NEC between Readville and Forest Hills?

I think the Indigo Line cars should have padded, forward-facing seats. That would allow more seated passengers, which I think would be especially appealing both to park-and-riders getting on at 128 and Dorchester/Mattapan/Hyde Park riders who are used to overcrowded buses with hard seats.
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Re: New Station on Fairmount Line

Postby jamesinclair » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:47 am

3 years later and not much has been done....

However, according to the MBTA website, the bids for the 4 new stations should have all gone out by September of this year.

Further, according to wikipedia (I know), the MBTA has a deadline of december 31 of this year to get all the legal stff done with and a 2011 deadline for start of improved service.


Any news on if this is all happening?
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Re: New Station on Fairmount Line

Postby trainhq » Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:11 am

Is there any word on increased service frequencies? They need to do that in order to make it a workable line.
I'm assuming those won't happen until the new stations open. Ideally, what they would do would be to introduce
new trains and new stations simultaneously. That way, they could sort of do a grand "Indigo line" opening, which
would change people's perceptions of the line from a commuter line to a rapid transit line, with people using it as
such.
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Re: New Station on Fairmount Line

Postby jamesinclair » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:21 pm

trainhq wrote:Is there any word on increased service frequencies? They need to do that in order to make it a workable line.
I'm assuming those won't happen until the new stations open. Ideally, what they would do would be to introduce
new trains and new stations simultaneously. That way, they could sort of do a grand "Indigo line" opening, which
would change people's perceptions of the line from a commuter line to a rapid transit line, with people using it as
such.


I was thinking about that yesterday. While increasing service now would help people, a big new stations - new service announcement may attract more people than incremental additions would.

However, I think they should and could start some weekend service in advance of the new stations opening.
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Using the Fairmount Line for the Franklin Line

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue May 25, 2010 5:58 pm

I'm not sure if this is indeed in the works for the future, but once the construction is complete on the Fairmount Line, would it be a worthy substitute to the SW corridor? Amtrak is predicting greater than 100% capacity on the SWC by 2030 and electrifying the 3rd track because of this. What about once a fourth track becomes necessary? Isn't inevitable at the current rate? We have the Providence extension nearing completion, though I'm not sure if there will be a resulting increase in trains. But if the Southcoast Rail project goes through? The number of Stoughton Line trips will probably significantly increase. Not to mention a natural increase in trips over time anyways, assuming there will be enough equipment in the future.

I'm just wondering WHY people are so against this when it has come up in the past. Construction seems to be the biggest problem I recall. It's not like it's never going to end. ( Well, we hope it will end anyways :wink: )

It makes sense to me. And sounds like an equipment and money saver, actually...! All Franklin trips would then cover the Fairmount.
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Re: Using the Fairmount Line for the Franklin Line

Postby sery2831 » Tue May 25, 2010 7:08 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:It makes sense to me. And sounds like an equipment and money saver, actually...! All Franklin trips would then cover the Fairmount.


The people would be upset since the Fairmont Line bypasses Back Bay. There is no way that can be done!
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Re: Using the Fairmount Line for the Franklin Line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue May 25, 2010 7:31 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:I'm not sure if this is indeed in the works for the future, but once the construction is complete on the Fairmount Line, would it be a worthy substitute to the SW corridor? Amtrak is predicting greater than 100% capacity on the SWC by 2030 and electrifying the 3rd track because of this. What about once a fourth track becomes necessary? Isn't inevitable at the current rate? We have the Providence extension nearing completion, though I'm not sure if there will be a resulting increase in trains. But if the Southcoast Rail project goes through? The number of Stoughton Line trips will probably significantly increase. Not to mention a natural increase in trips over time anyways, assuming there will be enough equipment in the future.

I'm just wondering WHY people are so against this when it has come up in the past. Construction seems to be the biggest problem I recall. It's not like it's never going to end. ( Well, we hope it will end anyways :wink: )

It makes sense to me. And sounds like an equipment and money saver, actually...! All Franklin trips would then cover the Fairmount.


It's because the Midland route doesn't hit Back Bay. That's critical. I don't think it would fly if all Franklin trips were re-routed over it. There's been reluctance to do more than even the few rush hour trips on the Franklin that are through-routed over it.


It actually is in the Amtrak plans to get the former 4th track reactivated from Forest Hills to Readville as a full-service track separating Franklin trains from NEC trains. The ROW still has an empty berth underneath the catenary towers for that track, which was ripped out during the SW Corridor reconstruction (although it remains in derelict form past Hyde Park until the line split crossovers). Track could be re-laid right this second as a miles-long siding up to the Hyde Park stop, where the outer platform sits on the 4th track berth. Amtrak's plan has Hyde Park being reconstructed to allow 4 thru tracks. Readville would then have its Franklin platforms reconfigured for 2 tracks (there's a conspicuously large gap at the line split where that platform clearly used to be). The line-split double-tracking is a shorter-term MBTA capital improvement need for future stimulus money since the 1-track split is one of the southside's top bottlenecks and is short, unobstructed, and relatively cheap to fix. If both the T's Readville split double-tracking and Amtrak's NEC 4th track reactivation were done Franklin trains wouldn't mix in traffic at all with NEC trains past Forest Hills, cutting the shared trackage in half and making traffic management much easier (Ruggles and Back Bay being the only stops where all lines use the same tracks). The NEC isn't tapped out of capacity Boston-Canton Jct. by a longshot. SS-Forest Hills is the only portion carrying multiple lines that is unexpandable with additional track (a constriction, but not a big one at all if you substantially open up the capacity down the line up to the junctions).
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby MBTA1052 » Fri May 28, 2010 8:45 am

I'm Surprised the T doesn't comsider buying some M8s from Kawaski or some used M7 from Bombardier I believe they would work out on those lines. :P
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby obienick » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:39 pm

I was flipping through the channels and had WGBH on my radio while I was driving and heard a spot for a program (or a meeting -- I forget) featuring updates about the Indigo Line. Did anybody catch this or does anybody know of any recent plan changes? I know they have had plans to add several stops. Thanks!
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby Wdobner » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:34 pm

How did we go from the MBTA's "DMU" to this "Make it a Red Line branch" concept? Why would you either condemn the people along the Fairmount line to either a perpetual transfer to the Red Line at Andrew, or condemn every Red Line passenger south of Andrew to increased headways by adding yet another branch? Either way you're going to spend a whole lot of money modifying the northern end of the line to accommodate the Red Line junction and at least half again the cost of catenary to install the third rail for the subway. We've already seen how well the whole FRA DMU thing worked out for Portland, so why bother going with another fly-by-night builder for an FRA compatible DMU?

The line only 9 miles long and is already a electrified along more than a tenth of its length from the junction with the Old Colony up to South Station. It would be virtually impossible for the electrification of the line to cost any more than 50 million dollars. They have their choice of EMUs and if they'd gotten going a few years ago they could have bid Kawasaki and Rotem against each other. Either way those EMUs should deliver something on the order of 2mph/s, which is almost as good as the MBTA gets out of their Red Line fleet.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby trainhq » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:08 am

Not sure if it's that simple. If the T bought electric units for the Fairmount line, they would then run them only
on that line and the NEC. Since the T's shops are on the North Side, over by North Station, they couldn't get them
over there for service, so they would either have to sub out the maintenance to Amtrak or build new South Side
maintenance facilities. I don't think they want to go to this much trouble. DMUs would also require special maintenance
training, but at least they could do them over in the existing shops. That, I think, they could handle.

Electrification of the Fairmont line would not, in my opinion, offer a lot of regular benefits. Granted, it would allow
Amtrak to bypass Back Bay in the event of breakdowns, but in terms of regular service, I don't see it being much
better than DMUs. Certainly not worth $50 million just for that.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Postby MBTA1052 » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:07 am

If the T got EMUs or DMUs for the Fairmount Line couldn't they expand the Readville Shops??? :P
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