Speeding up the greenline

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Speeding up the greenline

Postby jumbotusk » Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:27 am

It takes just as long to go from Brookline to Park Street as it takes to go Alewife to Park Street. The difference is Alewife is alot farther away.

What can be done to speed up Greenline service? Both infrustructure and service improvements?

Expressing trains is hard with single tracks. What about building a new tunnel from say Kenmore to Park that is express. Or upgrading the current signal system? Or upgrading the track and interlockings where its painfully slow.


I'd like to hear people's ideas about improving the green line's painfully slow pace sometimes.
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Postby Diverging Route » Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:57 am

This is the nature of the beast.

The green line was built as a streetcar line, designed to have stations close together and provide local service. It has mostly single cars and double car trains, holding at most a few hundred passengers. Automatic block signals that lack safety devices (i.e. "trippers") require slower speeds and frequent starting and stopping in the central subway.

The red line was designed as a rapid transit line, with stations farther apart -- meant to compliment, but not replicate local bus service. It has up to six car trains, holding well over five hundred passengers at crush load. Automatic Speed Control and associated safety systems permit faster speeds.

The only way to "speed up" the green line on the branches without major infrastructure overhaul or capital cost would be to close a number of stops, and add parallel bus service for local passengers. But that defeats the benefits of rail. Furthermore, the central subway is close to capacity during rush hour, so there would not be much benefit.

The easiest, and cheapest way to increase capacity - and also reduce travel time on the green line is to add more three car trains. Three car trains require less station dwell time, since with less crowding, passengers can embark/disembark more quickly. And to a first approximation, three car trains can run at the same frequency as singles and doubles. The cost, of course, is in equipment (capital purchase and operational expenses) and personnel to operate them.
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue Aug 31, 2004 9:44 am

Are platforms long enough to run four-car trains?

I'd add automatic signal pre-emption, so that a train can approach a traffic light at full speed and be assured that it will turn green exactly when the train reaches it.

And proof-of-purchase fare system, so that all doors are used at all stops.
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Postby trigonalmayhem » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:23 am

Although I'm sure it would make a lot of people angry, they could use the loop for c&d trains at kenmore (not sure what to do about Bs) and run the shorter trains as shuttles between the ends of the branches and kenmore, then run longer (3-4 cars?) trains in the central subway where all the platforms are longer.

The E line presents a problem here, though. And I don't know if Boylston's platforms are long enough for a 4 car train, are they?


Plus I imagine anyone who lives on one of the branches would be a little angry about having to transfer for what used to be a one seat ride.
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Postby Pete » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:50 am

Dwell times could be decreased using a POP fare system, which would take advantage of the quick loading possible on low-floor cars with all doors open. But the T has all but dismissed it, like most innovations, as "too hard."
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Postby jwhite07 » Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:07 am

The newer subway platforms (Boylston Street Subway, Huntington Avenue Subway, Kenmore Extension) are certainly long enough, but the original Tremont Street Subway stations might be an issue.

Government Center eastbound would be okay, but although you could probably fit a 4-car train in the GC westbound platform, it looks like the first car might have to spot the head end in the tunnel beyond the platform in order for the rear door on the fourth car to be on the platform. If that is the case, it would be impossible for the motorman on the first car be able to see his doors - the intertrack wall on the west end of the platform would be in the way, and it's hard enough for them to see their doors on that tight curve as it is.

Park Street, having been so heavily rebuilt and expanded over the years, is not a problem, except that you could no longer berth two trains on each track at the same time.

Boylston eastbound looks okay as long as the motorman pulls all the way up to the starter's booth, but I believe the westbound platform is shorter, so I don't know if a 4-car train would fit unless everything behind the rearmost door was hanging beyond the platform.

Some of the street-level stops on the B and C might be too short as well. Don't think any stations on the D would be a problem. On the E all of the stops in the median reservation look long enough, but you couldn't use the crossover at Brigham Circle without poking out into the street intersection to clear the switch - not good. Also, you couldn't lay over at Heath Street without one or both ends of the train hanging out into the street (I don't think there's room enough for even a 3-car train to lay over at Heath Street). Generally the fixed plant constraints on the C and E lines

Other issues... signal block spacing? Blocking cross streets at surface stops? Traction power capacity? (Not long ago, it took a major upgrade of the traction power system to even allow operation of three car trains).
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:53 am

if i am at Boylston and i want to go to Park St., that would be inbound, correct?
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Postby apodino » Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:48 pm

The problem with POP payment as I have discussed is the incompatability with the rest of the subway system to offer free transfers. I have always been opposed to POP systems and I will never be a proponent of POP systems. How would you like to be the person rushing to catch the train when it is stopped at a station only to not have time to buy a ticket, and then get slapped with a $500 fine for not paying? I don't think the means justify the ends here.

FYI, I am actually thinking about doing a research project on the Green Line to study the dwell time caused by only the front door, and compare it to the outbound ride. I want to see how much time would really be saved by this. If anyone wants to help me out, let me know.
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Postby DanDubs » Tue Aug 31, 2004 1:06 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:Although I'm sure it would make a lot of people angry, they could use the loop for c&d trains at kenmore (not sure what to do about Bs) and run the shorter trains as shuttles between the ends of the branches and kenmore, then run longer (3-4 cars?) trains in the central subway where all the platforms are longer.

The E line presents a problem here, though. And I don't know if Boylston's platforms are long enough for a 4 car train, are they?


Plus I imagine anyone who lives on one of the branches would be a little angry about having to transfer for what used to be a one seat ride.


In the famous PMT proposals, the 4-car green line trains were outright denied because with the Green Line's current signalling system, operating 4-car trains would lead to less throughput per hour, overall. Paris' line 14 operates 6 car trains every 105 seconds, and is capable of operating 8 car trains every 85 seconds with a moving block signal system. If the T put, god forbid, cash into something, we could see significant improvement in the green line.

What I would do is upgrade the signalling system, run 4-car trains from Riverside to at least Park St., loop the B and C lines at Kenmore, and still let a few E line trains sneak into the central subway, unless there is cash to build a loop for E line at copley. POP and the street-running lines would be great, and 40 4-car trains an hr. through the central subway would double the capacity of the green line...and Boston could put off building a new tunnel in the Back Bay Fenway area for maybe another 50 years, if the population trends and commuting patterns continue as the do.
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Postby apodino » Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:44 pm

DanDubs wrote:What I would do is upgrade the signalling system, run 4-car trains from Riverside to at least Park St., loop the B and C lines at Kenmore, and still let a few E line trains sneak into the central subway, unless there is cash to build a loop for E line at copley. POP and the street-running lines would be great, and 40 4-car trains an hr. through the central subway would double the capacity of the green line...and Boston could put off building a new tunnel in the Back Bay Fenway area for maybe another 50 years, if the population trends and commuting patterns continue as the do.


Loop the E line at Copley? If you are proposing that, you might as well be against arborway restoration and in favor of continuing the 39 bus, because they are pretty much the same, except one has a steel flanged wheel and runs on rail. People have been fighting for years to get Arborway restored so that they could have a one seat ride into downtown, now you are proposing a wasteful loop at copley? Arborway restoration would be a waste of money because then they wouldn't get the one seat ride if the T wastes money on a copley loop.
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Postby parovozis » Tue Aug 31, 2004 6:58 pm

How would you like to be the person rushing to catch the train when it is stopped at a station only to not have time to buy a ticket, and then get slapped with a $500 fine for not paying? I don't think the means justify the ends here.

All you have to do is to come 1 min. earlier. This adds 1 min to your personal travel time, but it shaves off 1 min of everybody else's travel times. Also, most of the time passengers are waiting for a train. Why not use this time to buy a ticket. In an unlikely case when you miss a train, you can always get on the next one. Too bad, but how ofthen does this happen? Last, but not least, frequent travelers have weekly and monthly passes and don't need to worry at all. They are the core of the T passengers, and they will benefit most from the POP system.
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Postby MBTAFan » Tue Aug 31, 2004 7:10 pm

apodino wrote:Loop the E line at Copley? If you are proposing that, you might as well be against arborway restoration and in favor of continuing the 39 bus, because they are pretty much the same, except one has a steel flanged wheel and runs on rail. People have been fighting for years to get Arborway restored so that they could have a one seat ride into downtown, now you are proposing a wasteful loop at copley? Arborway restoration would be a waste of money because then they wouldn't get the one seat ride if the T wastes money on a copley loop.


I agree, this is not a good idea.

An alternative would be to widen Copley and create a better station, something similar to Kenmore or Boylston with 4 tracks. The inside tracks would be the regular central subway and the outside tracks would be the E line. The E line tracks would then go under the existing central subway tracks and avoid delays by removing the switch that crosses over the inbound tracks. Part of the reason the MBTA bitched and moaned about Arborway restoration was because increasing the number of trains coming from the E line would increase the amount of delays at the Copley/E line switch. They should have designed it better in the first place - that switch is the only one of it's kind on the system and certainly causes delays.
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Postby apodino » Tue Aug 31, 2004 7:39 pm

parovozis wrote:
How would you like to be the person rushing to catch the train when it is stopped at a station only to not have time to buy a ticket, and then get slapped with a $500 fine for not paying? I don't think the means justify the ends here.

All you have to do is to come 1 min. earlier. This adds 1 min to your personal travel time, but it shaves off 1 min of everybody else's travel times. Also, most of the time passengers are waiting for a train. Why not use this time to buy a ticket. In an unlikely case when you miss a train, you can always get on the next one. Too bad, but how ofthen does this happen? Last, but not least, frequent travelers have weekly and monthly passes and don't need to worry at all. They are the core of the T passengers, and they will benefit most from the POP system.


Ok, the problem with coming one minute earlier is that the Green Line may be on a set schedule, but it isn't published publicly. There really is no way for a passenger to know exactly what time a train is going to be at a particular station. And at some of the busier stations on the D line (Brookline Village, Longwood, Reservior, Newton Centre) they already run the show and go program I believe, where pass holders can enter via the middle doors of a car. The other problems are, Ticket machines could break down, at which point you have no redundancy really, barrier free transfers to other lines, plus at a lot of the busier stations there are a lot of passengers who pay on the train. Would you like to be waiting behind a line of five passengers, and have to wait to buy a ticket when the train comes rolling in? All for the sake of saving an insignificant amount of time. Like I said, its just not worth the headaches in my opinion. And with the need for T police in other areas, plus the number of fare cheats as it is, I don't think its practical. Plus it would sure be a hell of a lot more expensive with the salaries you have to pay to all the new fare inspectors, and they would be paid a lot with the unions at the T. Then the T has to raise fares again. I just don't think its worth it, I am sorry.
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Postby DanDubs » Tue Aug 31, 2004 9:17 pm

apodino wrote:
DanDubs wrote:What I would do is upgrade the signalling system, run 4-car trains from Riverside to at least Park St., loop the B and C lines at Kenmore, and still let a few E line trains sneak into the central subway, unless there is cash to build a loop for E line at copley. POP and the street-running lines would be great, and 40 4-car trains an hr. through the central subway would double the capacity of the green line...and Boston could put off building a new tunnel in the Back Bay Fenway area for maybe another 50 years, if the population trends and commuting patterns continue as the do.


Loop the E line at Copley? If you are proposing that, you might as well be against arborway restoration and in favor of continuing the 39 bus, because they are pretty much the same, except one has a steel flanged wheel and runs on rail. People have been fighting for years to get Arborway restored so that they could have a one seat ride into downtown, now you are proposing a wasteful loop at copley? Arborway restoration would be a waste of money because then they wouldn't get the one seat ride if the T wastes money on a copley loop.


For now, keep the E line....it has it's useful place. But for the central subway to operate most efficiently in the future, I don't see the E line playing a part, unless 4-car trains run on the street lines. Is there a precedent for 4-car LRV's on street medians? Boston could be the 1st.
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:15 pm

Copley is not the only crossover switch. There's also one where outbound D trains cross inbound C trains west of Kenmore.

Back Bay is landfill and that may seriously limit the ability to build multi-level tunnels.
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