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 Rockingham Racer » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:56 pm

Once burned, twice shy.
Last edited by CRail on Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Unnecessary quote removed.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:36 pm

Kill it. Kill it NOW!
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby bgl » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:15 pm

Build it. Build it NOW! Just not with these horribly inflated numbers and terribly stupid alignment that is clearly meant to torpedo it (just like the Red/Blue). Nothing will be more transformative for regional transportation.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:58 pm

Again, in order to justify the multi-billion project, you need to fill that tunnel as if it was going to Penn Station, as if it were the Red Line. But it's not the Red Line, it's CR, and it's going to take years or decades to fill that pipe. And there's that fantasy that if they build a tunnel people will suddenly reverse-commute to the suburbs and they won't need a new daytime coach yard because full trains will be in perpetual-motion all day.

I'm actually warming to red-blue, if they can build it at reasonable price it can be justified. But they've never had a project come in on time or under budget, with the exception of the Ted Williams Tunnel which was pre-fabricated out of state.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:08 pm

You surmise, then, that the tunnel will, in fact, be filled eventually. So, finish it now while it's cheaper. And as to over cost: well, isn't that the job of the paying party to MAKE SURE it doesn't go over cost? Oh, wait. It's Boston we're talking about. :-)
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby bgl » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:52 pm

Filling the tunnel isn't an issue - as you already said it will happen, and, it will happen in conjunction with electrification/Regional Rail and the conversion of a more s-banh style system using low headway EMUs. Also, it isn't about reverse commuting (although that certainly could become more of a thing), and it will greatly help MBTA operations. Then again, this has all already been discussed here.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby rethcir » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:21 pm

Other than for equipment moves n-s (which can be done via grand junction) I don't really see what the tunnel buys us that we can't get by just electrifying CR to 128. People who work in the city are willing to walk from NS to SS after commuting, or can take the OL. I mean, I see what we'd get, but I don't know if it's worth a the $15 billion or so this is going to cost us eventually.

Also, the thought of making the entire CR system vulnerable to a failure on one of 2 tracks is straight up terrifying.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:40 am

I'm not so sure that this project is about ease of commuting as it is about regional mobility. If it's not advantageous for the former, it certainly is for the latter IMO. It would be great to be able to get on a train in Andover and have the possibility of getting off it in Ashland. Just one example.

The question is: what is the demand for such regional mobility and/or commuting ease, and has the demand--if any-- been measured? If not, there is really no cogent reason to do this project, much as I'd like to see it.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby jaymac » Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:37 am

Since absorbing the T, MassDOT has gotten much busier in rail activities, not always telegraphing what might be longterm goals. If the apparently conflicting aims of improving regional passenger rail and minimizing taxpayer expenditures can both be met, MassDOT might already have a plan in motion. The Charles River bridge has been rebuilt, and CSXT will no longer use the Grand Junction, so who might, besides T and Downeaster equipment moves? If there ever are moves to reestablish a quasi-State of Maine/East Wind service, routing via the Shore Line to PW and T and Beacon Park or via Springfield and CSXT/T and Beacon Park and then Grand Junction to Western Route with a shove to BON before heading to Portland or mebbe further would certainly save a few billion.

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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:09 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:I'm not so sure that this project is about ease of commuting as it is about regional mobility. If it's not advantageous for the former, it certainly is for the latter IMO. It would be great to be able to get on a train in Andover and have the possibility of getting off it in Ashland. Just one example.


Think bigger than that, even. A proper NSRL buildout with either a "central station" or a relocated "North Station Under" would instantly put every single point on the commuter rail network within a 2-seat ride of every single point on the red, blue, orange, green, and silver lines, and vice versa. Think: Andover to the Seaport with just one transfer, or Newton to Assembly Square with just one transfer, or Concord to the new Suffolk Downs developments, again, with just one transfer. Furthermore, as the areas inside 128 become even more cripplingly expensive, adding this connectivity to the city centers of Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, Salem, Lynn, Worcester, Leominster/Fitchburg, and Brockton will make affordable urban living in those areas that much more attractive of a proposition and you would likely see things improve markedly in some if not all of them.

Instantly, you've just turned commuting by commuter rail into a far, far more attractive proposition than it currently is today, while giving the system the added central capacity to add more trains on all CR lines to make it even more attractive to commuters thanks to more frequent trains. There's no other project that comes close to the amount of convenience, connectivity, and value that it adds to the T system.

And that's just a relatively conservative buildout, with dual-mode hauled consists running hightened frequencies along the current lines. If you really wanted to get crazy, a quad-tracked NSRL with electrification out to 128 on all lines running EMU's at clock-facing schedules out to suburban park-and-rides now allows you to give Boston its own S-Bahn or RER-style regional rapid transit network and essentially buys the state a whole new subway network as large and extensive as Washington DC's for the price of a pair of tunnels and a couple hundred miles of catenary. You don't even have to build it all at once, and you could easily start with electrifying Fitchburg and Rockport on the Northside and Worcester and Fairmount/Forge Park on the Southside, since those lines aren't paralleled by any subways, and if you could get Amtrak to electrify out to Anderson/Woburn you'd now have a 6-branched regional rapid transit network connecting every major satellite city inside or along 128 with the city core.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby octr202 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:17 pm

rethcir wrote:Other than for equipment moves n-s (which can be done via grand junction) I don't really see what the tunnel buys us that we can't get by just electrifying CR to 128. People who work in the city are willing to walk from NS to SS after commuting, or can take the OL. I mean, I see what we'd get, but I don't know if it's worth a the $15 billion or so this is going to cost us eventually.

Also, the thought of making the entire CR system vulnerable to a failure on one of 2 tracks is straight up terrifying.


Working backwards (and building on Bramdeis' post), the notion of this tunnel being only two tracks is idiotic, and it's equally idiotic to not do all four while opening up the earth once. Just look at Philly and ask SEPTA if the Center City Tunnel could work with a 50% capacity reduction.

Secondly, downtown distribution is a very real problem which limits commuter rail usage, especially at a time where "downtown" is spreading out. What do you think is a major cause of "under-performance" of Northside lines relative to Southside? North Station is within a reasonable walk of the Government Center and upper Financial District, but that's about it. Walks, shuttles, or subway connections to the Seaport, Back Bay, Kendall, LMA? That's a deal-breaker for a lot of people when their time from exiting the commuter train at the terminal to their office starts to rival or exceed their commuter rail travel time.

And this is before we talk about how the rail ink will reduce the impact on the subway system at it's most congested points. It'd be interesting to know how many short hops clog downtown stations just to get to/from commuter rail terminals. The Orange Line badly needs breathing room - if commuters to the LMA could stay on commuter rail right to Ruggles (even if it means an in-CR system switch) that buys capacity for other Orange Line riders, just to cite one example. You could see similar help for the Red Line on both ends as well.

Remember, these benefits are in addition to the regional inter-connectivity gains.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:30 pm

octr202 wrote:
rethcir wrote:Also, the thought of making the entire CR system vulnerable to a failure on one of 2 tracks is straight up terrifying.


Working backwards (and building on Bramdeis' post), the notion of this tunnel being only two tracks is idiotic, and it's equally idiotic to not do all four while opening up the earth once. Just look at Philly and ask SEPTA if the Center City Tunnel could work with a 50% capacity reduction.

That's why Philadelphia insisted on a 4-track commuter connection. The Munich S-Bahn, which SEPTA studied in detail while planning their tunnel, works fine with just two tracks through the city center (and approximately 3-minute headways hour after hour), but SEPTA's decision to go with 4 tracks has been amply justified in practice. It's undoubtedly also relevant that Munich has 1) all high-level platforms and several sliding double-stream doors per car, and 2) wide center platforms for boarding and alighting and side platforms for alighting only, with escalators going up only from the side platforms and down only to the center platforms; with all doors open on both sides, dwell times are far shorter than can be experienced in either Philadelphia or Boston. U. S. maintenance standards would render a double-track tunnel an unacceptable risk.

As to Brandeis' post above, it should be noted that in most cases expansion of expressway systems has resulted in demand rising to meet supply, and there is no reason to expect expansion of a rail system to have a different result. Allow ten years or so after opening of the tunnel and travel patterns will be quite different from what they are today.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby MACTRAXX » Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:14 pm

EC90: Interesting topic comparison with Philadelphia - The Center City Commuter Connection was
planned with future service expansion in mind. Back in the "bad old days" of the early 1980s what
was the commuter operations of both the PC and Reading was suffering from many problems and
at one point was threatened with a possible permanent shutdown after a significant ridership loss
resulting from a round of 1980 fare increases (three totalling more than 50 percent) a major factor.

Unifying SEPTA RRD beginning in November 1984 turned out to be the move that not only saved
the system (RRD use bottomed out earlier in 1984) ridership would gradually and continuously
grow over time to what it is today.

There could be significant Boston Commuter Rail growth with this proposed N/S route unification.

MACTRAXX

P.S. I noticed two (total three) duplicate posts from EC90 on this topic. I had problems of my own
posting on another topic at about the very same period - was it a site glitch at the time?
EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby Trinnau » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:15 pm

octr202 wrote:Secondly, downtown distribution is a very real problem which limits commuter rail usage, especially at a time where "downtown" is spreading out. What do you think is a major cause of "under-performance" of Northside lines relative to Southside? North Station is within a reasonable walk of the Government Center and upper Financial District, but that's about it. Walks, shuttles, or subway connections to the Seaport, Back Bay, Kendall, LMA? That's a deal-breaker for a lot of people when their time from exiting the commuter train at the terminal to their office starts to rival or exceed their commuter rail travel time.


While I concur North Station is not ideally located, I think you're missing that the geographic area the South Side serves has more population. In addition, about 2/3rds of the system is on the South - in terms of trains, lines and trackage. It also has had the more modern system, with 3 new lines since the late 1990s and the high-speed Northeast Corridor as a trunk for the rest of it's service save the Worcester Line. So the South is going to consistently "out-perform" the North. Despite the drawbacks you describe, it pulls it's respective weight in terms of ridership. If you modernized the balance of the North Side and increased parking I think you would see it's potential realized.
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Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Postby jbvb » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:16 pm

In my Northside commuting days, I regularly walked Park St. to North Station in ~12 minutes ("shall we walk, or do we have time to take the T?") and didn't have to play "Government Center car roulette". Boylston is enough farther that I would have gambled on the T more often, Arlington & points west I probably would have used my folding bike in tolerable weather. Accepting a job (or renting space for my company) on or beyond Mass. Ave was Right Out. For a while I had one employee taking Commuter Rail/Orange Line between Malden and West Roxbury, but if he couldn't travel in rush hour, he usually worked from home rather than suffer through sparse CR mid-day and evening schedules. The stubbornest employee I ever had rode an express bus in from Waltham, then CR back out to 128 and walked the last 1.5 miles.

North-South Rail Link, if it's ever built, will completely change the map of "where can I live, where can I work" for large segments of Boston & suburbs. I expect this scares downtown real-estate owners, which I believe also caused the demise of the original rail Urban Ring. And then there's the money. I would not be at all surprised if NSRL ultimately manifests as a 2-track elevated viaduct over the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
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