Speeding up the greenline

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

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Postby trigonalmayhem » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:36 pm

They could always run the E line up a different parellel street ...

like ...
maybe run it up st. james street with walkways between the stops.
but then they'd run into a problem just after arlington, because there's no easy through street to boylston station. I suppose running it down to stuart street at that point and then possibly linking it up to the old tremont street portal would work?

Although that seems like an awful lot of work for the blasted E line, especially if the Arborway is never restored.

Postby vanshnookenraggen » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:42 pm

I've seen the new platforms on the E and B lines (and C for that matter) and I don't think they can handle 4 car trains (except maybe Northeastern). And on the E line I think 4 car trains in the street would tie up traffic.

Upgrading the signal system and installing new traffic lights that wait for the trains should be done before anything. Then getting new cars (that stay on the tracks!!) would alow for more 3 car trains.

Another thing that would help (which I think the T is actually going to do) is installing a short connection between the loop at Park St to the eastbound track (towards GC). Right now there is only a connection between the loop and the westbound track so that B and E cars can berth. The center track going eastbound only lets cars loop or park at that short stub end. Installing the connection will allow cars to berth on both sides and allow a faster trip.

As for Copley and the E line...I think the only way to fix that is a new connection with a cross over (and new station or platform for Copley) or a new tunnel. Ive seen plans for the tunnel under Stuart St from the 40's and it was very worked out. They even had the plans on how to keep the subway running while they switched over. It wasn't build because of money and the war but I really don't think it would be that useful today.

Also I wrote up an idea on my web site about adding another tunnel (really expanding the current one). Looking at it now I can see somethings I'd change but the basic idea is there. Click me!
Last edited by vanshnookenraggen on Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby trigonalmayhem » Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:56 pm

If they were to build a new tunnel, they may as well go all out and work some kind of express train system into the central subway.

Postby SbooX » Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:27 pm

Forget express trains. If they build a new tunnel it needs to be heavy rail!

Postby BigRock » Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:14 am

What they could do is build a new heavy rail line underneath the current green line from Kenmore to Hynes; like they did in San Francisco with Muni on top, and BART below.

From Hynes to the Common, they could use the Public Alley alignment between Boylston and Newbury. This would keep disruptions to a minimum for current green line service and along Newbury Street and Boylston Street. Bypass Boylston station and around the cemetary there, under the Common and connect to Park Street. That could be Phase 1.

I haven't really looked at a possible phase 2.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:23 am

What about extending the Blue Line to Kenmore. A good alignment would be after going to Charles if would follow Storrow down to Beacon St and then to Kenmore. There might be a stop in there but even then it would be a faster ride to both the Red Line and Blue Line (or atleast GC).
After Kenmore there are a few options for another extension but it would probably be better than disrupting the Green Line.

This I just have to say: I don't like the idea of upgrading the D line to heavy rail just because of the Riverside yards. Yes you could still move the equipment but if a car breaks during the day it wouldn't work very well to have a GL car going with BL cars. My two sense.

Postby Cotuit » Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:53 am

apodino wrote: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?

I don't know if I'm in favour of a POP system, but have you never missed a train while waiting to buy a token on the Red, Orange, or Blue lines? It's the same thing. Either you get to the station, purchase your fare, and make it on, or you don't and you get the next train.

Postby jwhite07 » Wed Sep 01, 2004 5:40 pm

Is there a precedent for 4-car LRV's on street medians? Boston could be the 1st.

Nope. I know Sacramento, California does this (and they have some street running, no less!).
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Postby octr202 » Wed Sep 01, 2004 7:39 pm

I've often thought that a Blue Line extension to Kenmore, and then out the Riverside Branch, would be best. I know that the shop issue is a problem at Riverside, but there's got to be a way to work around this. Perhaps, if/when the Somerville/Medford extension is built, a new shop facility could be built somwhere on the east end -- although I know that those communities would be loathe to accept a big new shop facility (and add to the fact the political trouble of moving a huge shop from Newton to Somerville!). Perhaps another shop the size of Reservior could be put in out there, and those could handle running repairs, with heavy work done at Riverside, reached thru deadhead moves over the now-Blue Line tracks. Since the Blue Line would need more shop capacity, as its car fleet would probably double, Riverside might help take some pressure off of Orient Heights too.

Having riden the whole Riverside Line, I think that most of the stations have enough platform area, or room to expand, to allow six car platforms. Some areas might object to the mandatory overpasses, but, with AFC, you could have seperate fare collection for the inbound and outbound sides, and in some places (Newton Center, Highlands) people could use the sidewalks on existing bridges to cross the tracks.

Now I realize that this is both a pipe dream and probably a technical infeasability somewhere, but the potential is very interesting. Far less crowding for Riverside Line riders, and much faster subway service on the GL, as you'd have fewer trolleys bunching up in the tunnel. As long as the new BL tunnel crossed under Kenmore, you would have an express route from their to downtown for the remaining trolley lines too.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:04 pm

You're right, it MAY be possible to run 0600s/0700s up to Riverside, providing that the Bowdoin tunnel connects to Kenmore and then allow such Blue Operation out to Riverside. I think that's even faster too.

Maybe they should do a test run of 0600s and test them on the D branch of the Green line at Top Speed, with 4 car trains. That would be a start to such eventual service.
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Speeding up the Green Line

Postby eddiebear » Thu Sep 02, 2004 7:09 am

The Green Line is considerably slower than when I first began making excursions on the MTA system in the late 1950s.
When the Riverside line opened on 7/4/59 with PCCs,some already close to 20 yrs old (3002-3021), scheduled time for a trip, Riverside-Park St. was 34 minutes. Other than when things got tight once in a while at rush hours, there was almost never the bunching and dragging through the trolley subway from Government Center (Scollay) to Kenmore.
The fix has always seemed to be to buy heavily on equipment, which is visible, and throw money after what seems to be a problem.
The real problem probably has been business expansion. Go back 50 years. There was no Hancock Tower next to Back Bay or a Prudential Center. Find a photo of Northeastern University or Boston University from the late 1940s. They were dinky little places. I think a good part of BU was over behind the Public Library. There was no Copley place with its trendy shops and multiplex theaters. A good many more of those buildings on Newbury, Commonwealth and Beacon were real homes, not dorms or galleries or studios. The hospitals from Brigham Circle to Brookline Ave. were much smaller.
The fix should study travel patterns and how they don't fit in with the Green Line. Fixing things might not involve all that much money. Maybe they could try making operations in the Boylston St. Subway stop to leave passengers inbound, receive passengers outbound with a big enough price penalty to discourage people from violating this regulation. Local surface service could be a rapid transit type bus operation in dedicated lanes, Kenmore to Park St. or Government Ctr. This would be a lot cheaper than boring a new tunnel and probably could be implemented a lot faster.

Postby vanshnookenraggen » Thu Sep 02, 2004 10:04 am

You have a point but I must say that adding BRT to suppliment the Green Line is not only redundant but misses the point of a subway in the first place.
I think that more cars and a signal system would be the best short term answer but long term we might need a new tunnel.

Another thing that will speed up the Green Line will be the Urban Ring. The problem with the T is that they are bus crazy. If you read some of the plans they want to build all these BRT lanes and have this crazy loop under the Mass Pike near the BU bridge. I am all for new bus routes to compliment a new RT line but to turn some very busy streets into BRT lanes and eliminate alot of needed parking is not that smart. Not to mention how much money it would cost. If they just built the Urban Ring without Phase 1 or 2 or atleast no BRT lanes then it would be ALOT cheaper.

Postby MBTAFan » Thu Sep 02, 2004 10:24 am

Ron Newman wrote: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.

Hey, after the BigDig froze the ground around South Station to tunnel under the tracks, I believe that anything is possible! That was soft ground that they thought they couldn't tunnel through.

Postby octr202 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 10:59 am

I can't imagine how Blue Line cars wouldn't fit on the Riverside Line -- after all, they clear the old streetcar tunnels downtown on the BL, and the Riverside Line was originally a double track standard gauge steam railroad.

Being able to run streetcars in non-revenue moves after hours might be a problem -- they might not clear the high level platforms as they would need to be built for the Blue Line cars.

As for the possibility of a new tunnel under the Back Bay, the PMT mentions the need for this. Not surprisingly, that document talks of a new Silver Line (surprise surprise) tunnel thru Back Bay and out to Allston Landing. One of the reasons cited for this is the need to relieve the crowding pressure on the Green Line subway. (Perhaps in some universe its known that the Silver Line is not the magic utopian fix to all transit needs -- but apparently not this one.)

A big question, though, if you run the Blue Line from Govt. Ctr. to Kenmore, north of the Green Line, is how do you connect to the Red Line. It would be a shame to start this project and miss this connection. Creating a Park St. Even Further Under would be great from a connectivity standpoint, but would require totally redoing the Blue Line at GC (or eliminating it -- you would still have a GL connection at Park St.). The other option is to go up to Charles MGH, and then take a hard left and go down Charles St. to about Beacon St. and then head west. Regardless, it'd be pretty tough to do.

If the Blue Line cars weren't so small, you could perhaps create a junction with the Red Line under Beacon Hill, run them thru Charles and Kendall, and then split off into a new tunnel towards Kenmore -- but even with fully compatible equipment, this is really up there with something beyond Big Dig complexity...
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Postby jwhite07 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 1:18 pm

Being able to run streetcars in non-revenue moves after hours might be a problem -- they might not clear the high level platforms as they would need to be built for the Blue Line cars.

Not a problem. Blue Line cars are a couple of inches wider even at door threshold level (I'd have to look it up, but 108" springs to mind) than the maximum width of a Green Line LRV (which is 104").
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