Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby jaymac » Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:03 am

...and relocate the layover from East Fitchburg to Westminster and establish full Extension service. Reopening 2 from 330 to FG will give a place for non-monstahs to hold east of 333 during non-short-turn Keolis activity.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Abe Froman » Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:02 pm

The schedule effective November 21, 2016 for Wachusett-North Station is the latest affront to sensibility. After 7 years and more than $750 million spent to rehab and needlessly extend the line a paltry 4 miles, the much ballyhooed, all too often voiced "thinking" that "we must reduce Fitchburg-Porter Square travel time to one hour" is met by exactly one train, #404 (Lv Fitchburg 6:28AM Arr Porter Square 7:28AM). A quick read of the schedule shows most trains will require anywhere between 71-77 minutes between these stops, which is ridiculous and insulting given the money spent and the prolonged duration of the project.

A cruel and continuing fiscal joke on the commuter and the taxpayer. Wonder how long before this entire project is referred to the U.S. Attorney?
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby The EGE » Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:27 pm

Where in blazes are you getting $750 million from? Total project cost was slightly under $300 million.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Trinnau » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:00 pm

$300 million as said above. And the goal was to get the express trains down to that hour time. The current schedule has both the inbound and outbound trains at that run, but the new schedule increases the outbound. That seems to have been a theme with the May schedules, in that the evening was a little tighter than the morning. Might have something to do with how long people take to get off the train.

But the reason so many trains take so long is the service demand. It was foolish to think more than a train or two would meet that mark. With the politicians holding on to ridiculous stations like Hasting and Silver Hill you'll never see time improvement. Full-service locals post May 23 only saw a 4 minute decrease in their run time with all the upgrades because you're stopping and starting so much and never getting to track speed. The express whacks 10 minutes though, from 80 down to 70. If the T had unlimited resources they could run more express trains.

Don't forget the huge upgrade in reliability, bi-directional signalling and 8 miles of new double-track on the line. Not two mention two new fully accessible stations and three major bridge rebuilds (along with 4 other rehabs). That can't be discounted - it wasn't all about speed. It's a modern line now from an infrastructure standpoint - if it had the parking it would be bursting at the seams.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby The EGE » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:02 pm

And the primary thing holding back full local-express service (with a number of Fitchburg-Porter-in-one-hour trains) is equipment issues. That's entirely separate from this project, and the project goals were defined at a time when getting +75 option-order Rotems and probably a second order of HSPs were seen as likely. Yes, it is scandalous that they're not running the promised service - but the scandal belongs to the legislature for not providing funds for more equipment, Rotem for producing bad equipment, and Keolis for failing to properly maintain what they do have.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Abe Froman » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:58 pm

The EGE wrote:Where in blazes are you getting $750 million from? Total project cost was slightly under $300 million.

Ans: I believe the budget for all construction and related activities for the Porter Sq.- Wachusett layover section, when combined and totaled, exceeds $750 million. I'll run the tables available over the weekend.

Merely consider the 4+ mile section from Fitchburg to Wachusett rang in at $93+ million (and counting-near 1/3 of your $300+ million) and the billable work remains incomplete. Somewhat further, the T deliberately, albeit unwisely, decided it would be best to eliminate several major projects and, in there place, designate smaller, less "budget-busting" projects for PR purposes, i.e. fewer bucks spent during a given period allows more favorable PR and public impression. Several earlier posts in this forum, circa 2009-2012, address or mention the budget shenanigans. Also, let's remain aware the 4+ miles from Fitchburg to Wachusett layover saw (with minimal problems) multiple East-West freight movements daily so the line and the roadbed on either track could not have been in as poor a condition as suspected and adequate signaling was in place, not the most current but certainly adequate. So, what exactly do we have that is worth $93+ million? An overbuilt concrete opportunity for asshats with spray cans at Wachusett and a layover facility which adds nothing to the speed or efficiency of anyone's commute, some tie replacement and bridge work. Speaking of which, there is a guy still working on the bridge just W of Fitchburg Station, which I pass 2 or 3 times each week. This fellow never moves...always doing something at the exact same spot on the bridge. Been there for about 18 months.

EGE also wrote "but the scandal belongs to the legislature for not providing funds for more equipment"
Comment: Perhaps so, but (no surprise) I disagree since your observation suggests the legislature should provide additional subsidy to an already heavily subsidized operation or service. Maybe, just maybe, the legislature was balking at the prospect of the seemingly bottomless trough, i.e. nothing improved, no matter what was done. If so, that remains the case.

Trinnau indicated: "Don't forget the huge upgrade in reliability, bi-directional signalling and 8 miles of new double-track on the line." Ironically, this proves the point and mentions yet another poor management decision for which we end up paying dearly. All the "bells and whistles," costing millions yield very little. 8 miles of double track which never, ever should have been removed in the first place was restored-at colossal cost and at the expense of other more worthwhile projects. Multiple millions to correct a poor decision is suddenly acceptable and reasonable?
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Trinnau » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:53 pm

Abe Froman wrote:Merely consider the 4+ mile section from Fitchburg to Wachusett rang in at $93+ million (and counting-near 1/3 of your $300+ million) and the billable work remains incomplete. Somewhat further, the T deliberately, albeit unwisely, decided it would be best to eliminate several major projects and, in there place, designate smaller, less "budget-busting" projects for PR purposes, i.e. fewer bucks spent during a given period allows more favorable PR and public impression. Several earlier posts in this forum, circa 2009-2012, address or mention the budget shenanigans.


The T is touting it at $306M in this project update from June, doesn't include the additional $20M authorized to complete Wachusett as that had yet to be done.

Abe Froman wrote:Also, let's remain aware the 4+ miles from Fitchburg to Wachusett layover saw (with minimal problems) multiple East-West freight movements daily so the line and the roadbed on either track could not have been in as poor a condition as suspected and adequate signaling was in place, not the most current but certainly adequate. So, what exactly do we have that is worth $93+ million? An overbuilt concrete opportunity for asshats with spray cans at Wachusett and a layover facility which adds nothing to the speed or efficiency of anyone's commute, some tie replacement and bridge work.


The problem stems from a couple things. Yes, there was existing double-track in decent shape and an OK signal system. But there were no interlockings, only two tracks from CPF-335 to CPF-FG, a few automatics and the Fitchburg Station track on the North Side. Because of freight clearances, curve, property and road access the Wachusett station track needed to be built on the south side of the right of way. So you need to build new interlockings and thus upgrade the entire signal system. Where there used to be CPF-335, CPF-GL and CPF-FG, there is now CPF-335, CPF-334, CPF-333, CPF-330, CPF-GL and CPF-FG. It's all about the need to get from a station track NORTH of the two main lines to a station track SOUTH of the two main lines. And CPF-335 was completely rebuilt for layover access.

Why move the layover? Several reasons. The Fitchburg Layover is a converted yard, difficult to work between trainsets and the 5 tracks could not accomodate a set longer than 6 cars. It was, essentially, at capacity with no room for growth. The new yard has 6 tracks each capable of storing a 9-car trainset, and the tracks are paired with driveable access to aide in ease of inspection. It will also be separated from Pan Am's yard operations at Fitchburg.

Additionally, leaving the layover at Fitchburg would require additional crew time to operate from Fitchburg to Wachusett. So an extra 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening for 5 trains a day (2 on the weekend) or 14.5 hours of crew time per week - likely all at overtime. Not to mention fuel burnt and extra mileage on the equipment while not hauling passengers. Instead, the new layover is about the same distance from the endpoint station as it is today.

Finally, the ability to pull through the final station will make a difference. They need to allow at least 15-20 minutes for a train to turn out of Fitchburg and clear CPF-FG before the next one comes in - no matter if it's headed to layover or back into Boston. A train heading to layover after stopping at Wachusett will clear the station in a matter of minutes. This has the potential to improve future train headways coming into Wachusett as service is increased on the line.

Abe Froman wrote:Trinnau indicated: "Don't forget the huge upgrade in reliability, bi-directional signalling and 8 miles of new double-track on the line." Ironically, this proves the point and mentions yet another poor management decision for which we end up paying dearly. All the "bells and whistles," costing millions yield very little. 8 miles of double track which never, ever should have been removed in the first place was restored-at colossal cost and at the expense of other more worthwhile projects. Multiple millions to correct a poor decision is suddenly acceptable and reasonable?


Those bells and whistles yield plenty, passengers just don't see it all. Day 1 of the new double track they had an express overtake a disabled train in the morning rush - which would have previously killed the entire rush hour. Most passengers are oblivious to this. All they care is they get where they're going.

No doubt the decision to remove the double-track was poor and without foresight, but it was the fault of the B&M, a private entity, who made that determination - not the MBTA. Those decisions, unfortunately, were made across the country as railroads struggled in the 1970s and railroads were bailing out of the passenger business. And many places they ripped it out they're putting it back at enormous cost - it's not just here in Massachusetts. Who at that time could have honestly said, with the prevalence of the automobile, that we'd be kicking ourselves 40 years later. So you're questioning a decision made 40 years ago about the immediate future, but you're also questioning the immediate results of a project that clearly has the long term in mind. Can't have it both ways.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby johnpbarlow » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:12 am

Hopefully, Pan Am dispatching of freight ops between CPF-333 and CPF-WL will consistently provide delay-free passage of T trains during morning and evening commutes.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:25 am

This is essentially impossible with meets scheduled west of CPF WL. Having two tracks available in the right spots for the right meets seems to be too much to ask. Short of selectively adding a third track in spots, the delays will continue regularly so long as passenger meets occur in Pan Am territory.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Red Wing » Thu Oct 27, 2016 5:59 pm

Mr Sausage King of Chicago,

A few of observations, There may have been track there previously that was good enough for freight activities but for passengers the speeds were a little too slow for a few miles.

The workman you saw on the bridge could equate a detail officer, keeping people doing work safe from moving trains through the area.

We didn't get all the "bells and whistles" The original plans called for cab signals and we didn't get that, which would have given higher speeds.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:42 pm

Is this streach of double track controlled by MBTA dispatch or still by PAR(ugh!) dispatch??
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:55 pm

PAS.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:21 pm

That's not any better than PAR dispatch,that still creates a chance that a "Doglawed" train will crap out(Can) on the
double track section. :(
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:54 am

Yes, but it comes with the likelihood of Pan Am dispatch getting replaced by Norfolk Southern dispatch. Who may not be any kinder to commuter trains, but at least "The Pony Don't 'Can".

Hope is a good thing? Maybe? I got nuthin'.
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Re: Fitchburg Line Upgrade Discussion

Postby jaymac » Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:14 am

Following a WB freight temporarily stalling on both sides of CPF-330, but clearing about an hour before the first revenue run of 401 west of Fitchburg, PAS has kept freight moves well clear of the 401/410 turn. When the full Extension schedule gets implemented, that practice should continue, but 2 should also be available again between 330 and FG, so PAS moves won't be frozen during commuter hours. The real concern would seem power reliability.
I wouldn't be too surprised if there isn't some kind of performance stipulation, as well.
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