North-South Rail Link Discussion

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

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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:14 pm

The number of additional riders that would take a through train from Maine to New York would be what, 100-200 a day? Amtrak will go along for the ride, but won't be in the driving seat on such a project.

Money would be better spent building express tracks for the Red, Orange and Green Lines, and completing the SSX and train storage yard(s).

I can't think of any public works project in MA that has come in below budget. Oh wait, the Ted Williams Tunnel did come in on-time and under budget, but it was fabricated elsewhere.

Someone should have stood up and canceled the Big Dig when it went about 20X over budget. The difference is the Big Dig was instantly filled up to capacity - the NSRL will struggle with empty slots.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby quad50cal » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:25 am

The EGE wrote:It's a faked cost number based on unrealistic assumptions and contractor graft.

Twelve billion is absolutely off the wall inaccurate. There is no way that NSRL can cost more than East Side Access ($10 Billion) which is significantly more complicated. ESA has had to contend with Hurricane Sandy flooding, contracts cancelled for Mafia ties, running afoul of contamination from EPA Superfund site(s), construction necessitating the coordination of Amtrak, LIRR and MN and of course tunneling in and around train lines that are busy 24 hours.

ESA should be the upper bound, not the lower bound.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby ceo » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:33 am

The northsouthraillink.com site describes a number of comparable projects, nearly all of them more complicated than the NSRL and significantly less expensive than this estimate.

It's important to note that this isn't just about running Amtrak trains through; it will massively improve regional connectivity and also relieve congestion at North and South Stations.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby rethcir » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:42 am

BandA wrote:The number of additional riders that would take a through train from Maine to New York would be what, 100-200 a day? Amtrak will go along for the ride, but won't be in the driving seat on such a project.

Money would be better spent building express tracks for the Red, Orange and Green Lines, and completing the SSX and train storage yard(s).


I'd consider the ridership potential from ME/NH to Boston. If this opens the door to better frequencies and faster service from the NH seacoast to Boston (1hr or less), you essentially create a new commuter rail branch and will dramatically increase ridership. I don't know if that idea intersects with NSRL or not.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:08 pm

I think commuter rail to Portsmouth is a separate project and thread. IIRC, there is a bridge that is out, and the track would have to be somehow rerouted around the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Nobody has mentioned it recently.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby rethcir » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:05 pm

There is more to the Seacoast than Portsmouth - generally us NH types consider Exeter, Durham and Dover to be part of the seacoast region. I was referring to the existing Amtrak stops in NH in that context.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:50 am

--- post removed by author ---
Last edited by BandA on Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Arlington » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:25 am

BandA wrote:What about mitigating the water table issues? There are buildings built on wooden pilings that will be impacted. Cut & cover makes sense, actually.

Where? The NSRL needs to pass under both the Red, Silver, and Blue tunnels, which puts it deep beneath most buildings no matter how you slice it. (the approaches, from railyards, are shallow C&C, but there are no buildings there.

Also, please read the "rebuttal" published by the TransitMatters team. They fault the planners for assuming only partial electrification and having to accommodate dual mode trains (on long, gentle, expensive grades)

State’s rail link study full of flaws
Costs way overstated, benefits minimized


TransitMatters:
FLAW 1: Dual Modes & Expensive Portals
..the scope of study presumes only electrifying up to the first station on each line beyond the tunnel (with the exceptions of the Providence Line, future South Coast Rail, and possibly the Fairmount Line). In practice, this assumption of bare minimum additional improvements imposes higher operating and capital costs than an NSRL built after or concurrently with system-wide electrification. The dual-mode locomotives which would be required under this assumption are extraordinarily expensive (and built by few vendors), adding $2.5 billion to the project cost estimate. In order to accommodate these heavy locomotives and unpowered coaches, the proposed grades are capped at 3 percent or less. This constrains the alignment and limits the possible portal locations. The report’s definitive assumption of dual-mode operation strangely ignores that electrification of the system is squarely on the table for serious consideration in both the short and longer term.


FLAW 2: Assigning Fleet-Replacement Costs to the NSRL (instead of a normal "no build" fleet budget) and choosing a large, expensive fleet.
The study implies that new trains are a burden which would be imposed by NSRL and, as such, the project should carry those costs.... If anything, full electrification should reduce the cost of rolling stock: it’s cheaper to buy EMUs than to buy locomotives (either diesel or electric) and unpowered cars. Moreover, connecting the north and south parts of the commuter rail system would require fewer trains because allowing trains to continue to run in revenue service increases the possible throughput of available rolling stock.


FLAW 3: Assuming the GLX hasn't taught us how to better manage costs
Arup’s contingency assumptions appear to take as a given that MassDOT and the MBTA will be unable to manage costs.


BENEFIT FORECASTING FLAWS
- Assumption that system is still a 9-to-5 commuter system (limiting ridership to CBD employment only)
- Not doing CBD forecast correctly (not accounting for land-use changes in CBD)
- Ignoring that Fairmont *tripled* ridership when it got Indigoed

Read the whole critique. I find it compelling.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:01 pm

Arlington wrote:
BandA wrote:What about mitigating the water table issues? There are buildings built on wooden pilings that will be impacted. Cut & cover makes sense, actually.

Where? The NSRL needs to pass under both the Red, Silver, and Blue tunnels, which puts it deep beneath most buildings no matter how you slice it. (the approaches, from railyards, are shallow C&C, but there are no buildings there.
I was reacting to the post by typesix which linked an article about the red-blue connection. Which is off-topic for this thread. No way would you do a NSRL as cut-and-cover! I was talking about Cambridge St & the back of Beacon Hill water table issue, which probably can be mitigated.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:12 pm

Arlington wrote:State’s rail link study full of flaws
Costs way overstated, benefits minimized


TransitMatters:

--snip--
FLAW 3: Assuming the GLX hasn't taught us how to better manage costs
Arup’s contingency assumptions appear to take as a given that MassDOT and the MBTA will be unable to manage costs.

--snip--
That continues to be my basic assumption. We've certainly forgotten the lessons of the Ward Commission (and that John William Ward was driven to commit suicide as his reward)
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Arborwayfan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:11 pm

I am very glad to see John William Ward mentioned. His work was important and his life was too short. The closest I ever came to working for the T was a summer as a Ward Fellow (basically an intern from Boston Latin with a fancy title named after JWW) in the old EOTC -- mostly gathering data on the RTAs, not the T.
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