North-South Rail Link Discussion

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

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Postby jwhite07 » Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:14 am

What I think CRail is trying to get at is that one of the "laws", if you will, of transportation (and this applies to any mode of transportation) is the fact that ridership is clearly and negatively impacted by the number of transfers a passenger has to make to get to their destination. Require too many transfers for a passenger to get from point A to point B and that passenger will simply give up and get in their car.

While it is true that the Orange Line can and does serve as a connection between Northeast Corridor and Maine services, it is certainly not the optimal solution. The fact that passengers - and presumably their luggage - today have a THREE seat ride, one of those rides via subway no less, between NEC and Downeaster unquestionably has a negative impact on ridership. Same applies for commuters who transfer between the North and South Side commuter rail lines. Far more people would make that same trip if it were able to be made via either a single seat ride or one transfer between trains.
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Postby ceo » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:02 pm

Well, yes. What I was (poorly) trying to get at is that a new transit link between the stations does nothing for northbound Amtrak riders or commuter rail riders other than on the Old Colony lines, and for the latter it only saves one transfer. (I'd forgotten where Weymouth is.) For southbound riders, it means you get to board at South Station instead of Back Bay. That's not much benefit for what's likely to be considerable expense.

They need to just ax that insane Silver Line Phase 3 tunnel once and for all. The money saved will likely pay for converting the Washington St Silver Line to a new Green Line branch and maybe a chunk of the North-South Rail Link as well.
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Postby Guilford Guy » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:12 pm

Sorry if someone all ready suggested this but what if you shut down the orange line and rebuilt the EL which would carry the Orange line over boston, then reroute the Commuter rail through the orange line tunnels stopping at North Station underground and then head to back bay. It may be possible although probably not to extend a concourse to make a south station stop...
This would account for many but not all south side lines. It may require DMU's or EMU's to run shuttles between back bay and south station. South Station could become a terminus for Boston Trains while North-Side trains could use Back Bay to drop passengers off. For those wishing to go to South Station they could take subway from North Station or D/E MU's from Back Bay to SS. If at all possible it would be easier to funnel all trains on the middle borough +Plymouth lines on a newly built connecting line which would bring them to Back Bay and use the Fairmount as a line for Rush hour Trains to Providence. Installing a switch where the middle-borough trains would cross the fairmount would enable rush hour trains which skip Back Bay to go directly in South Station.
Could work and would only require Widening the Orange line tunnels to accommodate commuter rail+amtrak, an interlocking in back bay, rebuild the atlantic Avenue El, an interlocking north of NS. a new line between the plymouth lines and south of back bay, and possibly instituting DMU service or shuttle service between back bay and south station,

:-D
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Postby MBTA3247 » Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:32 pm

Guilford Guy wrote:Sorry if someone all ready suggested this but what if you shut down the orange line and rebuilt the EL which would carry the Orange line over boston, then reroute the Commuter rail through the orange line tunnels stopping at North Station underground and then head to back bay. It may be possible although probably not to extend a concourse to make a south station stop...
This would account for many but not all south side lines. It may require DMU's or EMU's to run shuttles between back bay and south station. South Station could become a terminus for Boston Trains while North-Side trains could use Back Bay to drop passengers off. For those wishing to go to South Station they could take subway from North Station or D/E MU's from Back Bay to SS. If at all possible it would be easier to funnel all trains on the middle borough +Plymouth lines on a newly built connecting line which would bring them to Back Bay and use the Fairmount as a line for Rush hour Trains to Providence. Installing a switch where the middle-borough trains would cross the fairmount would enable rush hour trains which skip Back Bay to go directly in South Station.
Could work and would only require Widening the Orange line tunnels to accommodate commuter rail+amtrak, an interlocking in back bay, rebuild the atlantic Avenue El, an interlocking north of NS. a new line between the plymouth lines and south of back bay, and possibly instituting DMU service or shuttle service between back bay and south station,

Hmm, where to begin?

1. They just finished demolishing one elevated and put in a greenway, there's no way anyone in Boston will ever support a plan to rebuild the Atlantic Avenue El.

2a. Putting commuter rail trains in the Washington Street Tunnel would require a complete rebuild of the tunnel to handle longer, wider, and taller equipment. I believe that in the State/Downtown Crossing area, there isn't room for such clearances without shifting the Blue and Red Lines. There are also no obvious ways of connecting that to the existing commuter rail tracks north of the Charles River (the access road for Boston Sand & Gravel is in the way), or to connect the new Charlestown El from City Square to Sullivan Square (I doubt Bunker Hill Community College would like an el curving across its property [note: that would require some tight, speed-restricted curves], or that whoever owns the warehouses between BHCC and Sullivan Square would give them up for the same).

2b. You'd lose Orange Line service to the downtown area. The Washington Street Tunnel was built to serve the same area that the Tremont Street Subway serves. Take away the OL, and the Green Line becomes a lot more crowded.

3. No one would support building a whole new line across Back Bay. It would almost have to be underground or in a trench, and in several places would have to go under stuff that cannot be demolished or taken out of service (Southampton Street Yard and I-93 come to mind).

Given how pricey your idea is, you might as well build a whole new tunnel between North and South Stations. It would probably be easier to do, too.
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Postby Guilford Guy » Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:49 pm

With all the utility lines beneath the city I cannot imaging how far down you'd have to go...
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Postby CRail » Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:03 am

Very interesting concept, but as Derek pointed out it doesn't work out too well in reality. Especially the public support of an elevated structure, as nice as that would be.

MBTA3247 wrote:There are also no obvious ways of connecting that to the existing commuter rail tracks north of the Charles River


Uh, how about where the flyover is??? Extremely simple connection to the Haverhill and Rockport/Newburyport line. Fitchburg trains could S around BET and meet up with the new tracks on the other side of the Lowell Line. Lowell could meet up in the same place although the current right of way there would have to be destroyed.

All of your other points were right on though, just that one kinda slapped me in the face.
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Postby ags » Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:50 am

Right now, North and South Stations are above ground. I don't see how it's possible to build a rail link between the two without burying the platforms for both.
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Postby Guilford Guy » Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:23 pm

There is all ready an Orange Line North Station so what I'm saying is a multi-level North Station...
It probably would be easier to build a new tunnel but had the EL remained then they could have bored a Commuter rail tunnel where the Orange line is now...
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Postby Charliemta » Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:37 pm

The easiest and most economical solution would be to simply build a two-track elevated rail structure from South Station to North Station along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The elevated rail structures of today look nothing like the ones built in 1915. If you ever ride on the Skytrain in Vancouver, BC, you'd be very impressed with the sleekness of the elevated structure and the quietness of the trains.

Image

What I would do is build the elevated line and tie it into an upgraded Fairmont line, converted to heavy rail transit. Freight trains could still use the Fairmont line if overhead catenary is used to power the transit line on that route. The Fairmont Line could continue on an elevated structure from South Station to North Station, with a mid-point station at State Street, and even continue up the proposed transit extension to West Medford, currently proposed as a Green Line extension. This could be extended to the Anderson rail station in Woburn to give excellent connections with the regional commuter rail and AMTRAK lines there plus at North and South Stations.
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:34 pm

Forget it. No matter what they look like, nobody here will accept new elevated structures in downtown Boston. We've been steadily taking them down since 1975.
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Postby trainhq » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:43 am

I just rode the Vancouver skytrain last week. It is quiet, but those are new, special 4 car electric trains, not MBTA diesels, which would be much noisier. At any rate, as stated above, elevated will never happen again in Boston.

A few years ago, I proposed having the T design a special fleet of DMU/EMUs that could fit in the Orange Line tunnels. Overall, this would be much cheaper than rebuilding the tunnels. It would obviously be limited by Orange Line usage; however, as I pointed out, if done properly, these units could actually function as substitute Orange Line trains, or even be used to create new lines by say, connecting to the Fitchburg, Worcester, or Haverhill lines, where DMU service to Waltham or Route 95 could have significant ridership.

This would not be the best solution; however, I believe it would provide acceptable service. In particular, a DMU/EMU through running Downeaster could be implemented, as well as (limited) through running on the commuter lines with special trains. It's an idea that a lot of people will dismiss now; but 20 years from now, looking at more than 10 billion for a new N/S rail link, it may look like a good idea.
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Postby MBTA3247 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:58 am

Such EMU/DMU trains would need fold up ramps at the doors to bridge the gap between their OL-sized carbodies and the commuter rail platforms, and possibly traps as well.
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Postby l008com » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:56 am

Has there ever been a "real", "serious" plan/proposal for a surface level North South link. The more I think about it, the more I see that its almost perfect. South station might need some major reworking, but north station wouldn't. And just put the tracks right through the middle of the new park. You'd have to reconfigure lots of the new streets & intersections, and I know it won't happen the way people seem to hate trains these days, but as gas prices go up you never know. The alternative, of a 3 or 4 mile long tunnel and separate, DEEP underground platforms juts seems like a waste. Its such a short stretch, that you could probably even single track it now that I think about it, and still have enough capacity to run a good amount of trains through boston so you could go, for example, lowell to fallriver. Plus amtrak could run through. And hell even freight could run through, though i doubt it ever would.
Its too bad the google maps of boston are so old, I'd like to see what the area looked like on satelite now, with the highway completely hidden.

Also, i'd hate to be the one driving through the new 93 tunnel when a TRAIN falls through the roof... 12,000lb tiles are bad enough
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Postby Charliemta » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:47 am

Windows Live Local has more up to date aerial photography than Google does of the Greenway area.
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Postby l008com » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:00 pm

Charliemta wrote:Windows Live Local has more up to date aerial photography than Google does of the Greenway area.


I don't see any aerial photos at all on that site? Just an old school mapquest style street map. Am I missing something?
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