Newburyport Line extension

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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby b&m 1566 » Mon May 25, 2009 2:30 am

I can't speak for RI but if NH ever wants to get commuter trains in this state they at least need to give MA a heads up about the Eastern Route and the M&L branch and keep them from building trails and or paved bike paths.
Also the main reason there is no path on the Eastern Route in NH is because of the power plant. If it does get built the rails can stay in place, after all it was a two track corridor at one time and only one track currently occupies the line, minus the sections where the track has been removed completely.
Last edited by b&m 1566 on Mon May 25, 2009 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Mon May 25, 2009 7:32 am

I crossed the Rt. 1 bridge early in the demolition of the embankment, but it looked like the idea was to ramp the trail down to ground level and reach Cashman Park upstream of the tracks. Logical as a trail design, just that much more major earthmoving right next to the condos built on the Caldwell's Distillery site to get trains running again.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue May 26, 2009 10:24 am

For every anti-rail NIMBY there's an anti-trail NIMBY. And the worst are the ones who oppose both and buy, build, or squat over the routes. Those are the real ones to fight.

For every person conspiring to block rail service by building a trail, there are dozens upon dozens of trail advocates who want trails to ride on, nothing more. Trail advocates who want trails on key routes for future expansion nearly all want them for the same reasons people on the forum see them as key routes for expansion: they go where the people are, in a reasonably straight way. Especially in suburban areas (like all of eastern Mass), long, connected trails are the difference between a skinny park for light recreational riding and a real route for light recreational riding AND serious cyclists, people touring, commuters, etc. Those last three are pretty small right now, but they are real and they have a lot of growth potential. Another phrase for them is "alternative transportation"; they are much closer to commuter rail advocates than to highway advocates. Hating trail builders and demonizing them and assuming they're all plotting to kill rail service can end up preventing real cooperation that should take place. Sure, watch out for and expose actual conspiracies and bad design, but then mostly work with other people who are likely to be on your side when it comes to building better sidewalks, putting bike racks in commuter rail cars and at stations and on buses, using gas taxes for something besides more highway lanes, etc.

Constructive ideas for Newburyport project:
Write to T and town of Newburyport to lobby for good bike racks at Newburyport Station, possibly with a roof and/or with bike lockers. (Ogden, UT, has coin-operated bike lockers at its new Frontrunner commuter rail station. The Dutch have good bike-train/transit connections, and we could too, especially when there are condos a one-mile ride away from the station on a safe, direct route.

Pester local bike rental places to rent bikes to tourists at station. Pester town of Newburyport, Chamber of Commerce, etc., to put up bike racks and designate bike routes through town, to make Newburyport a train + bike destination. Can you bike out to the shore from the station? Pester MBTA to market BON-Newburyport train+bike outings. Anything that keeps up ridership is good.

Constructive ideas for other projects:
Get in touch with those groups, especially if you also like to ride a bike. Talk about how to build a trail that will still be safe and intact if a line of railroad is ever rebuilt. Point out the possibility of connecting trails to active stations so that cyclists can come by train or passengers can go by bike and lock up. (I've written to the Rails-to-Trails conservancy about this; they can be infuriating in their magazine, which will do something like tell about the great places you can bike from Burlington, VT, without menthing that you can go their by train with your bike pretty cheaply. Talk to selectmen, city councillors, etc., about the potential for integrated intermodal transportation (trails and trains working together).
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Tue May 26, 2009 8:21 pm

Appreciate and understand the constructive ideas for Newburyport, as I do love to mountain bike, etc., but the little train fan in my head thinks it would be more fun to line up the NIMBYs and have them watch as we dig up the rail trails and once again lay down new track... then have all the NIMBYs lay down on the new rails and you can visualize the rest... :-D

Hopefully MA and NH will get some common sense about all these things before its too late.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Tracer » Tue May 26, 2009 8:31 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
b&m 1566 wrote:This paved bike path project might not be limited to just that section. For a few years now at least, there has been a group in NH that has been trying to get a bike path built in Seabrook and the dormant half in Hampton (I’m not sure if Salisbury is included in the project). With Pan Am waiting the STB's approval to abandon the Hampton to Portsmouth section we may see the entire line in New Hampshire become a bike path.


The line dips inside the fence of Seabrook nuclear power plant when it crosses by there, so unless any path deviates off the line around there it's unlikely it could continue south to the state line. Other thing is that when Seabrook is decommissioned (scheduled 17 years from now) they'll need the rail link to transport the waste offsite as part of the nuke plant mothballing process, so any attempts by Pan Am to abandon will likely result in the state stepping in to railbank the branch. NH does desire that this ROW remain preserved for future commuter rail use, but the Seabrook nuke issue gives them more practical leverage to step in and stop one of those NIMBY rails-to-trails-so-it'll-NEVER-AGAIN-go-back-to-rails sleights of hand from happening here.

Newburyport...that's another matter. It was the NIMBY's who got the line terminated way on the outskirts of town when restoration happened. Demand over time for a downtown station likely would've gotten it extended eventually back to where it used to go, so trailing it now is a way for them to throw up a potential roadblock. The T isn't going to ram it across the river and through Salisbury again until NH goes ga-ga for Portsmouth/Kittery service, but an extension to the actual population center of the line's namesake would've been a nice small-scale improvement (ditto the Plymouth-Line-that-doesn't-really-stop-in-Plymouth) actually do-able over the next few years.



MBTA has got to be careful about what kind of trails it agrees to on its own owned ROW's, because it's not a coincidence that some of the most active trail lobbying efforts are on lines with long-term CR extension potential or on infrastructure that deep in the future may be needed to alleviate capacity crunches. Massbike.org has lists of all the trail proposals, some hotter than others, some more ongoing than others (lot of 404 Errors on the advocacy sites for ones that have lapsed). Check out some of the strategic ROW's in question that they're getting lobbied to trail over:

-- Lawrence-Methuen to state line - NH is actively studying restoration of service on that branch to Salem and Londonderry as a long-term goal after they get commuter service up, running, and grown on their portions of the active Lowell and Haverhill trackage. This is currently looked at as their first foray into a real restoration of an abandoned ROW, first leg to Salem even preceding the deep long-term goal of bringing the Eastern Route fully back to Portsmouth. Very active lobby going on for the trail on the T's < 3 miles of trackage inside MA, which would effectively kill the whole CR corridor for NH (and south of the border obviously isn't going to care about north of the border's future here)
-- Grand Junction branch - Various permutations of the stupid busway proposals have the ROW alongside getting pathed up. One proposal has it trail + rails, but cannibalizing the empty berth on the BU Bridge making it impossible to ever double-track the line for light rail. This would be a GOOD idea for a path if it didn't ruin rail capacity like some of the designs intentionally do.
-- Saugus Branch - Various permutations of stupid busway proposals with paths alongside.
-- Wakefield-Lynnfield-Peabody -- Already being pathed up, so they gave it away. Was the only remaining track connection between the Haverhill and Newburyport/Rockport lines outside of North Station, one of the only intact ROW's that paralleled 128 (basically 1/5 of the way).
-- West Roxbury - T has owned the former Needham Line-to-Franklin Line connecting bypass ROW, abandoned 1941, since its inception. This was the planned extension route for the Orange Line teased during the SW corridor reconstruction...was to continue to Rozzie and West Rox along the Needham line, then peel off down this ROW to Dedham Ctr./Mall. MBTA's been trying to outright sell this ROW off for a trail, but has found no buyers because the Dedham NIMBY's are ready to rumble.
-- Central Mass - Waltham-Berlin stretch proposed for a trail; last studied for CR restoration mid-90's. Weston NIMBY's fighting the trail so nothing moving. Waltham-Sudbury stretch + intact CSX Lowell Secondary track Framingham-Sudbury the only extant North-South linking ROW's anywhere between Grand Junction and Clinton-Ayer. Also one of the only potential overcrowding bypasses for Worcester Line still in-hand as a long-term option. Considering there's proposals being floated for Back Bay-Newton/Riverside DMU service, Northborough/Southborough CR service branching off Framingham Jct., a Fed-designated high-speed corridor from Boston-Albany, and some massive Worcester-area freight upgrades planned...odds are pretty high that in the next 30 years they'll need to run Metro West service from the northside too to alleviate the extreme congestion from SS to the Framingham Secondary.
-- Millis line - Medway-Bellingham past the end of the active trackage being considered for trail. This is the only ROW still in-hand that could provide a bypass to choked Franklin line capacity. An option--just like the remaining Central Mass--the state's well-advised to keep railbanked if ridership growth vs. on-time performance goes beyond critical on the Franklin, the Fairmount expressing option disappears to Indigo line, a Milford extension is desired, etc.
-- Fall River Secondary - Recently purchased from CSX. Trail lobby has run hot and cold here...sale was so recent they haven't really has time to take another run at it. Only connecting trackage between Fall River and New Bedford, only way to hit both cities from a Providence train if RIDOT were to desire South Coast service. Fairhaven Secondary already lost to trails so already no possible way to go direct Providence-FR-NB-Cape like most South Coast commuters already do on the I-195 corridor.


That's pretty much all of them you could see ANY potential passenger service on in the next half-century getting targeted by the trail lobby. I don't think that's a coincidence. NIMBY's have more than one play in their playbook than simply screeching and stamping their feet. I'd especially hate to see NH's and RI's nascent efforts at interstate CR get cut off at the knees by MA lackadaisically bartering away the few measly miles of trackage rights it holds most critical to its neighbors' probable ridership patterns.


Impressive write up f line, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby l008com » Thu May 28, 2009 12:01 am

There is another thread all about extending north side MBTA lines into southern new hampshire. The bottom line seems to be, if NH can cough up the money, it will happen. The lowell line up through nashua is the primary target because it's the easiest, trains still go there. Personally I think the M-L has the most potential for ridership. But in an idea world, yeah NH would have money and all the lines would be extended. I'd hope on in Winchester and hop off in Derry and theres one less vehicle on 93.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby RedLantern » Thu May 28, 2009 4:31 am

l008com wrote:There is another thread all about extending north side MBTA lines into southern new hampshire. The bottom line seems to be, if NH can cough up the money, it will happen. The lowell line up through nashua is the primary target because it's the easiest, trains still go there. Personally I think the M-L has the most potential for ridership. But in an idea world, yeah NH would have money and all the lines would be extended. I'd hope on in Winchester and hop off in Derry and theres one less vehicle on 93.


Unless it went up the Wildcat, you'd have to go into Boston to switch trains since the M&L split off in Lawrence just before the old station.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby l008com » Thu May 28, 2009 11:36 am

RedLantern wrote:
l008com wrote:There is another thread all about extending north side MBTA lines into southern new hampshire. The bottom line seems to be, if NH can cough up the money, it will happen. The lowell line up through nashua is the primary target because it's the easiest, trains still go there. Personally I think the M-L has the most potential for ridership. But in an idea world, yeah NH would have money and all the lines would be extended. I'd hope on in Winchester and hop off in Derry and theres one less vehicle on 93.


Unless it went up the Wildcat, you'd have to go into Boston to switch trains since the M&L split off in Lawrence just before the old station.

Well yes I'm assuming that would be the chosen route, since the lowell line is all double tracked, and hits bigger, more useful stations, like Anderson. Seems more logical to me to go that way, than down the haverhill line the whole way.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu May 28, 2009 9:23 pm

l008com wrote:
RedLantern wrote:
l008com wrote:There is another thread all about extending north side MBTA lines into southern new hampshire. The bottom line seems to be, if NH can cough up the money, it will happen. The lowell line up through nashua is the primary target because it's the easiest, trains still go there. Personally I think the M-L has the most potential for ridership. But in an idea world, yeah NH would have money and all the lines would be extended. I'd hope on in Winchester and hop off in Derry and theres one less vehicle on 93.


Unless it went up the Wildcat, you'd have to go into Boston to switch trains since the M&L split off in Lawrence just before the old station.

Well yes I'm assuming that would be the chosen route, since the lowell line is all double tracked, and hits bigger, more useful stations, like Anderson. Seems more logical to me to go that way, than down the haverhill line the whole way.


That's how it used to work in the pre-MBTA and early-MBTA days. There was separate service that short-turned at Reading on the Haverhill trackage, and a lot more of the thru trains went up the higher-capacity Lowell line before branching off onto the Haverhill. The Reading service more or less ended when the Orange Line came up that ROW and mitigated need for it. A few rush-hour trains still do that Haverhill-via-Lowell move. Making greater use of that would give the Haverhill all the expansion capacity it needs north of the border because the Lowell has fewer stops before the junction and better station spacing, only 2 grade crossings right next to each other at West Medford and zero anywhere else (as opposed to bunches of them on the NS-Wilmington Haverhill leg from Wyoming Hill station on), and full double-tracking vs. lots of single track. Actually, the Orange Line Haymarket-North extension plans that were kicked around from the BERy days until the T scaled back to Oak Grove from Reading to avoid the grade crossing situation had the OL outright cannibalizing the Haverhill trackage to Reading and forcing full CR abandonment on that leg in favor of the express track. Haverhill line would've permanently branched off the Lowell. CR tracks wouldn't have been needed because every station would've been served by the OL and North Wilmington could've shifted a quarter-mile to the other end of Shady Lane to the Lowell-Haverhill junction trackage.

I could still see this happening as a permanent re-route if either of these two scenarios happens: 1) the Lowell line gets upgraded to a high-speed corridor for Boston-Montreal and high-speed Downeaster and NH service per the Feds' vision, in which case--yeah--you get big benefits on the Haverhill by branching off the higher-speed tracks instead of going through grade crossing hell, and/or 2) the Medford GL extension gets extended north to Woburn or Anderson RTC along the original BERy proposal and a lot more of the local stops get eliminated (note that this line has a future-proofed heavy-rail conversion option by branching off the OL at Community College instead of Green at Brickbottom, or by using this as the northside leg of the N-S link's rapid-transit line...likely Indigo).

Either way you might see a revival of the Reading/Wilmington short-turn if the Haverhill goes Granite State, because they'll definitely want to run all that interstate service as a branch off the Lowell to keep travel times reasonable.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby l008com » Thu May 28, 2009 9:49 pm

I'm going to keep saying it until it sticks:
Tunnel the blue line under the charles into somerville, and run it up the lowell line between the commuter rail tracks, all the way to anderson! That would be an expensive upgrade, especially in winchester. And you'd need at least one or two flyovers or tunnels. But that would be great! Forget the green line. Let that go to union square, and bring real "subway" to the north!

Oh and what number comes after a trillion, is it quadrillion? :-P
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby djlong » Fri May 29, 2009 6:59 am

l008com wrote:Oh and what number comes after a trillion, is it quadrillion? :-P


To use it in a sentence, I think the term would be "It will cost a metric buttload of money".
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Fri May 29, 2009 9:48 am

The current Newburyport station is (after 11 years) a total loss as a business or development focus. They can't find anything to do with the $1M station building, not even staff it with retirees for Tourist Information in the peak summer months. Nothing has been built in the area that in any way orients to the train station. The convenience store that used to sell tickets has folded. Pedestrian access was improved a bit by a few signs early on, but there is still a big gap in the sidewalk and no plowing. The bike path is presently bare dirt.

Haverhill seems to be the shining star of transit-focussed development, at least on the parts of the system I'm familiar with (viable downtown businesses, residential conversions of mills). Salem went with a condo monoculture, Lawrence might someday have something besides a pile of dirt next door, Newburyport is surrounded by swamp, industrial park and a little US1 strip development.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby l008com » Fri May 29, 2009 1:29 pm

djlong wrote:
l008com wrote:Oh and what number comes after a trillion, is it quadrillion? :-P


To use it in a sentence, I think the term would be "It will cost a metric buttload of money".


So that would be what, like 1.683747 imperial buttloads?
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Fri May 29, 2009 5:56 pm

jbvb wrote:The current Newburyport station is (after 11 years) a total loss as a business or development focus. They can't find anything to do with the $1M station building, not even staff it with retirees for Tourist Information in the peak summer months. Nothing has been built in the area that in any way orients to the train station. The convenience store that used to sell tickets has folded. Pedestrian access was improved a bit by a few signs early on, but there is still a big gap in the sidewalk and no plowing. The bike path is presently bare dirt.

Haverhill seems to be the shining star of transit-focussed development, at least on the parts of the system I'm familiar with (viable downtown businesses, residential conversions of mills). Salem went with a condo monoculture, Lawrence might someday have something besides a pile of dirt next door, Newburyport is surrounded by swamp, industrial park and a little US1 strip development.


The more obvious answer is the Newburyport station was allowed to be built out in middle of nowhere, hence the current poor economic results) whereas the Haverhill station is right downtown within walking distance to most of the local retail. The newburyport station should have been downtown next to the bridge in its original location then you would have similar situation to that of haverhill. That said the advantages of commuter rail should be a mix between suburban and city based stations to attract both people that love their cars and those that know how to walk or live in a city type setting.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Dick H » Fri May 29, 2009 7:56 pm

The Downeaster has also been an asset to Haverhill development near the station. There were 25,332 passengers in and out of Haverhill in 2007 and 36,056 in 2008, even though there is no Quik-Trac ticket machine there or any enclosed shelter. Haverhill has its own page in the Downeaster Schedule/Travel Guides.

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