SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby parovoz » Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:01 pm

Last Tuesday, I noticed extensive trackwork in Fall River near the Battleship Cove. I wonder if it's related to the MBTA extension project.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:12 pm

That's related to the Braga Bridge work. The entire I-195/MA-79 interchange is being redone, and some trackage is being upgraded out of it all.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:36 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:That's related to the Braga Bridge work. The entire I-195/MA-79 interchange is being redone, and some trackage is being upgraded out of it all.


More like trackage had to be physically removed to get in there and do the bridge demo work so there was no choice to but to re-lay it new lock, stock after everything was stitched back together. The decks are stacked on top of each other and stacked over the ROW like pancakes, so there's no easy way to do it without getting down into the ROW cut with heavy equipment. Rail at the port was OOS for several months last year while they did the main thrust of the demolition. I drove by there last weekend and looks they're moved onto some big and new phase of the project now. May mean another short-term rail outage + track re-laying while they work below on a different segment.

Big project, but 1000% unrelated to zombie SCR. City of Fall River will be way, way better having rid itself of that crumbling steel monstrosity and daylighting the whole area below. MA 79 was always one of the more superfluously under-capacity highways in the state begging for a teardown, so it's a very good thing for them that it's finally happening.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby YamaOfParadise » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:02 pm

Here's some good comedy for y'all. The Fall River Herald News decided to get a little inventive with their title for the article they wrote about the Boston Surface Railway Company (the private commuter rail Providence <-> Worcester guy): "Could this be the link to South Coast Rail? Company plans to offer first private passenger rail in years".

The article is incredibly short and doesn't mention SCR at all, so it was probably some guy higher up who tacked it on at the end... but it is still hilarious nonetheless.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby bostontrainguy » Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:12 am

YamaOfParadise wrote:Here's some good comedy for y'all. The Fall River Herald News decided to get a little inventive with their title for the article they wrote about the Boston Surface Railway Company (the private commuter rail Providence <-> Worcester guy): "Could this be the link to South Coast Rail? Company plans to offer first private passenger rail in years".

The article is incredibly short and doesn't mention SCR at all, so it was probably some guy higher up who tacked it on at the end... but it is still hilarious nonetheless.


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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Palmer5RR » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:28 am

It's great to see work on The South Coast Line

Great detailed article in http://www.constructionequipmentguide.c ... ity/25944/
“We are thrilled about the three Fall River bridges and the Wamsutta Bridge in New Bedford. These are solid investments that will provide immediate benefit to the expanding freight rail sector, along the same route as the future South Coast Rail commuter line,” said Jean Fox, project director of MassDOT.

and another in http://taunton.wickedlocal.com/article/ ... /150817314
A hundred-foot length of Massachusetts Coastal Railroad track extending across Dean Street — at a spot mere feet from where Route 44 begins and ends in Taunton — was ripped out and replaced with new track-line segments.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby The EGE » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:51 pm

Regardless of the fate of the rest of the boondoggle, these appear to be solid eat-your-peas freight items. I believe Dean Street has one customer north of it.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:22 am

The EGE wrote:Regardless of the fate of the rest of the boondoggle, these appear to be solid eat-your-peas freight items. I believe Dean Street has one customer north of it.


They were artfully packaged as "SOUTH COAST RAIL IS HAPPENING!" projects, but they were really freight weight upgrade I.O.U.'s in the CSX line sale and transfer of local freight rights to Mass Coastal. If Massport has plans to eventually dredge FR and NB harbors for bigger ships, CSX wanted to be able to receive 286K cars in interchange from MC to make dishing those lines off worth its bottom line in the form of higher-margin interchange biz over time. Those 4 bridges are the primary limiters to the weight uprate. When the time comes for those ports it's just lengths of ties and rails to get a contiguous 286K route back to Framingham since the NEC is already rated for it Attleboro-Mansfield and the state obviously was lusting after the Framingham Secondary for separate reasons.

There were half-a-dozen chess moves reflected in this otherwise very mundane package of bridge repairs. And a lot of cred-fluffing to both the political interests in the region and the feds for the TIGER grant to coat it in as much South Coast Rail marketing spin as possible. But it's a freight project, and quid pro quo for all that labyrinthine set of rights and property swapping with CSX stretching back a full decade in negotiation. If SCR never happens, Massport's and the freight carriers have still got skin in the game as far as those 4 bridges are concerned.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:18 am

I love a freight-first plan, that'd mostly be about CSX freight trains, but potentially give NB (and Hyannis) direct summer weekend trains from NYP or New Haven (via Attleboro), as well as CapeFlyer style service from BOS via Middleboro. THAT would be a real tourism stimulant (in a way that sucky CR service would not)

And we'd soon see that we should be spending $ to unpinch Middleboro and turn it into a powerful bus-train-car hub, which might mean going one stop southeast from Middleboro for an awesome park and ride near 24.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:54 pm

And you could spend the money saved by killing the Stoughton-> Taunton reactivation on eliminating as much of the single track between Braintree and Boston as possible, allowing for Worcester/Providence service frequencies on the OC lines, including those potential extensions to NB and FR.

Hell, without the spectre of FR and NB trains running through Easton Center, you might even get support for a modest extension of the Stoughton Line to Easton or even Raynham or Taunton.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BandA » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:59 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:And you could spend the money saved by killing the Stoughton-> Taunton reactivation on eliminating as much of the single track between Braintree and Boston as possible, allowing for Worcester/Providence service frequencies on the OC lines, including those potential extensions to NB and FR.

Hell, without the spectre of FR and NB trains running through Easton Center, you might even get support for a modest extension of the Stoughton Line to Easton or even Raynham or Taunton.
about 13 years ago travelling route 24 north to 128/95/93 was like hitting a brick wall, so extending Stoughton Line to Taunton gets you out to 495 where you can probably build a sufficient park-and-ride.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby YamaOfParadise » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:21 am

It helps that a good deal of the line south of Stoughton is still actually extant: you wouldn't completely be starting from scratch like with the Greenbush Branch in that respect. Rebuilding that track though is definitely one of the biggest parts of the project, though... asides from the whole electrification thing, it's easily one of the least modest parts of the project as far as major construction work. But, at least running to Taunton first would allow some breathing room to works kinks out on that portion first before extending all the way out to NB and FR. Getting commuter rail service out to the South Shore is definitely is something that should be pursued... but in due time.

Now, a question: was the line south of Stoughton to the current end of track in South Easton ever formally abandoned? Or is it more akin to the long out-of-service Central Mass. Branch up on the B&M half of the CR system, and the line between Fall River and the former Sakonnet River Bridge?

And to try and piece the information about that portion of the line together (from the discussion of it about a page back), the ETT I have dated 10-31-1965 still has it as "Stoughton and Whittenton Junction"; so the line through the swamp was abandoned by then, but it still was at least a through route via the Whittenton Branch in 1965. By the ETT in 05-12-1968, it was just "Stoughton and Easton", just 6.01 miles, less than half of what it was beforehand (12.35 to Raynham, 15.80 total from Stoughton to Whittenton Junction).
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:57 pm

YamaOfParadise wrote:It helps that a good deal of the line south of Stoughton is still actually extant: you wouldn't completely be starting from scratch like with the Greenbush Branch in that respect. Rebuilding that track though is definitely one of the biggest parts of the project, though... asides from the whole electrification thing, it's easily one of the least modest parts of the project as far as major construction work. But, at least running to Taunton first would allow some breathing room to works kinks out on that portion first before extending all the way out to NB and FR. Getting commuter rail service out to the South Shore is definitely is something that should be pursued... but in due time.

Now, a question: was the line south of Stoughton to the current end of track in South Easton ever formally abandoned? Or is it more akin to the long out-of-service Central Mass. Branch up on the B&M half of the CR system, and the line between Fall River and the former Sakonnet River Bridge?

And to try and piece the information about that portion of the line together (from the discussion of it about a page back), the ETT I have dated 10-31-1965 still has it as "Stoughton and Whittenton Junction"; so the line through the swamp was abandoned by then, but it still was at least a through route via the Whittenton Branch in 1965. By the ETT in 05-12-1968, it was just "Stoughton and Easton", just 6.01 miles, less than half of what it was beforehand (12.35 to Raynham, 15.80 total from Stoughton to Whittenton Junction).


I'm having trouble finding it, but a few pages back the abandonment dates were traced out. Dean St. to Whittendon Jct. went first and re-routed thru traffic over the Whittendon Branch. Whittendon to Easton Depot (Route 106) went second. Then some freight in Stoughton and North Easton lingered last into the Penn Central and *maybe* very very early Conrail era before it dried up. Most of the remaining intact trackage was OOS at the time of the state's purchase of it in 1973, but it was "non-abandoned" at least as far as Easton Depot/Route 106 (where tracks are mostly intact to this day).

It was only because the formal abandonment paperwork on so many NYNH&H branchlines was backed up several years and a mile high at the ICC by the merger into Penn Central and immediate bankruptcy that these were still available for purchase in "non-abandoned" status despite traffic ceasing years, if not a decade, earlier. The paperwork backlog and urgency for the bankruptcy courts and ICC to settle it all up got the states granted a sort of proto- landbanking status on all the lines they bought out of the bankruptcy into public ownership. All of the 1973-purchase southside lines they plucked from Penn Central and 1976-purchase northside lines they purchased when B&M bankruptcy-restructured are considered fully chartered transportation corridors, despite the fact that those sales preceded the federal landbanking law by 10+ years. That was one of the primary motivators for MA, RI, CT, NY, etc. to splurge on so many rail lines even if majority of them (still) have no reactivation potential: they could scrape up a bunch of RR charters that would appreciate in value instead of just linear strips of land, and the feds bent the normal rules on that for expediency's sake.

Therefore, it's only in the places that were abandoned-abandoned before all ICC abandonment transactions got impounded by the bankruptcies that are considered "all-new" corridors because of the lapsed RR charters. For Stoughton that means state only has control of the Whittendon Branch as a transportation corridor; the mainline gap down to Dean St. lapsed into private ownership and still has to be settled up (no biggie...it's nothing but barren unused sand pit). And that was all the trouble they had on Greenbush because east of the Cohasset military spur (which was freight-active until '84) out to Greenbush was an earlier NYNH&H abandonment with fully lapsed charter...and thus considered new-new construction subject to all kinds of NIMBY Operation Chaos. They've got a much easier time of it in Raynham-Taunton because the ownership gap is small, unpopulated, and not where the wetlands are. If it weren't for the Army Corps playing politics with the stinking wires and swamp the mainline restoration would be more straightforward than the branchlines, where the SCR Task Force is running up the costs lining its pol pals' pockets. At least Taunton-north is entirely within the MBTA district and doesn't have to layer the extra Task Force bureaucracy on it like the branchlines.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:40 pm

From what I've seen of the stoughton extension South of the town center, it's in roughly the same shape that the Lexington/Bedford line was when I was a tiny kid in the late 80's, before the bikeway.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Gerry6309 » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:56 pm

The liaison for South Coast Rail did a presentation for the BSRA tonight. They want to do 25 kV AC electrification for environmental reasons. Might as well erect a marker in the cemetery of dead projects for that one!
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