Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby jbvb » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:46 am

Short stretches of single track typically aren't big operational issues. I've ridden the Eastern Route off and on for 40+ years, and you're more likely to wait at Beverly Jct. than at either end of the Salem tunnel. Waltham is at a similar level. In terms of delays and train density, the two biggest north side capacity problems are Andover St. - Wilmington Jct. and Sullivan Sq. - Oak Grove. The former is in the works, the latter could be helped a lot for not much money by making the Medford Branch running track a CTC siding and scheduling meets there. Neither is really a prerequisite for Plaistow, NH service because that isn't expected to increase the number of trains on the Western Route; they'll just have to add 15 - 20 minutes to each round-trip time. The extra capacity Plaistow needs is extending double track a couple of miles beyond the current end at the NH 121A crossing. Otherwise, freights and DEs waiting for the single track to Rockingham Jct. will have to mix it up with commuter rail between Hall and Plaistow. Regrettably, Guilford's past behaviour suggests that this will take years and platoons of lawyers to get into service, once money becomes available.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:37 pm

jbvb wrote:Short stretches of single track typically aren't big operational issues. I've ridden the Eastern Route off and on for 40+ years, and you're more likely to wait at Beverly Jct. than at either end of the Salem tunnel. Waltham is at a similar level. In terms of delays and train density, the two biggest north side capacity problems are Andover St. - Wilmington Jct. and Sullivan Sq. - Oak Grove. The former is in the works, the latter could be helped a lot for not much money by making the Medford Branch running track a CTC siding and scheduling meets there. Neither is really a prerequisite for Plaistow, NH service because that isn't expected to increase the number of trains on the Western Route; they'll just have to add 15 - 20 minutes to each round-trip time. The extra capacity Plaistow needs is extending double track a couple of miles beyond the current end at the NH 121A crossing. Otherwise, freights and DEs waiting for the single track to Rockingham Jct. will have to mix it up with commuter rail between Hall and Plaistow. Regrettably, Guilford's past behaviour suggests that this will take years and platoons of lawyers to get into service, once money becomes available.


The Medford Branch track already has crossovers for thru-running (been used when the tunnel's had flooding problems), although I don't think the track itself is in real good shape. That track continues a long way further as a derelict freight siding that peels off to about where the Carberry's Bakery is on Commercial St.. If they took down the fence that separates it from the thru tracks an upgraded passing track be extended past the Medford St. bridge to just about Oakland St., a little under a mile of total double-tracking. The ROW's wide enough to double-track fully from just outside Wellington to just outside Malden Ctr., but the Adams St. and Charles St. bridges would require a 4th berth and a little extra filling on the abutments to handle that. They look like newer bridges, so they must've been rebuilt down to 3-track at some point in the last 40+ years. Won't be an opportunity to do that unless the bridges are structurally deficient and need a re-decking in the near future. Unfortunately that's the most that can be done without cannibalizing the OL express track.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby jbvb » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:50 pm

The low-budget approach to a Medford Jct. siding has the east switch short of the Medford St. overpass, because the industrial track's bridge comes after the track starts descending, and would need abutment work to be used as a main track. The OL express track real-estate could be put to better use with commuter rail tracks through both Wellington and Sullivan Sq. I'm wondering how much effort will go into maintaining it if/when the Assembly Sq. station construction starts. I recall it being barricaded at Sullivan and unused from there to Community College for 10+ years. And regardless of how little it's been used, the track's ties will soon be 35 years old...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby sery2831 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:44 pm

Just an off topic note. The express track which now serves as a test track for shopped equipment is in service from end to end. The barricade has been removed and it's common to see sets running between Community and Sullivan now. Been meaning to find the correct thread and post that...! Any takers???

Lets keep this all CR related. Moving the CR onto more of the express track is on topic...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:44 am

Not 100% sure if this could end up being the thread for the Western Route double-track/upgrades, but seems like a good place (since we also have a thread for the Fitchburg project).

This morning there were some cranes (either rented or outside contractor) alongside the right of way at the Lowell Jct Shawsheen River bridge. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the train to see what they were doing, but it looked like maybe that work is starting up again (doesn't look like much has changed topside at least since the container was delivered and the railing put up on the bridge). Hopefully it's the start of repairs to the bridge. The slow order doesn't have a huge impact on passenger trains, but given Pan Am's tendency to squeeze freights thru the Andover single track in the short gaps in the schedule, it'll be nice to see them get back up to track speed.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:45 pm

Just bumping this thread a little to find out if they're doing any work on the double track project, or anything else for that matter.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:36 pm

Should be soon or very soon, whichever is first. Reports are the work train has been dumping materials - must be up towards Lawrence, haven't seen it from Andover south yet (not that the view from the coaches is comprehensive).

There's also been utility markings spray painted around the Essex/Pearson St. crossing in Andover - don't know if that has to do with any crossing work in conjunction with this.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby jbvb » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:23 pm

I don't see any signs of work yet between Haverhill and Andover, other than the rail they dropped last Fall between Hall and Frye. Just a new slow order by the North Andover sewage plant.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Mon May 03, 2010 11:48 am

Press release today:

http://transportation.blog.state.ma.us/blog/2010/05/mbta-haverhill-line-upgrade-moves-forward.html

MBTA Haverhill Line Upgrade Moves Forward
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas joined MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan today to announce groundbreaking of the $17.4 million Haverhill Commuter Rail Project funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

The project complements a $50 million ARRA-funded double-tracking and rail improvement project on the Fitchburg commuter rail line...
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby sery2831 » Mon May 03, 2010 11:51 am

The track to complete by Dec 2010!!! Lets see how that works out :-)
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Mon May 03, 2010 12:50 pm

Well, they've cleared some brush and planted some orange stakes in the ground at Andover. How much more could there be? :wink:
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon May 03, 2010 2:01 pm

I'm a bit confused as to the section of track being doubled. I'm probably just reading too fast or missing something. Is it the whole length north from where the Wildcat Branch meets the Haverhill Line?
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby sery2831 » Mon May 03, 2010 2:19 pm

From what I understand it will be double track from WJ to just shy of Andover Station, then either resume double track after the station or at FY to AS.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon May 03, 2010 4:00 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:I'm a bit confused as to the section of track being doubled. I'm probably just reading too fast or missing something. Is it the whole length north from where the Wildcat Branch meets the Haverhill Line?


The last I read, track was to be restored between Lowell Junction and Andover St. in Lawrence, with the current Lawrence Running Track being put back into service as a main track, but obviously upgraded to mainline standards. It used to be the Eastward main track in B&M days. I hope they get rid of that 30 MPH speed restriction at Andover St., too. :wink: Apparently, Reading to LJ will not happen in this round.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Mon May 03, 2010 7:56 pm

I won't go into some of the other versions of the plans that I've heard here, but I can say that following today's ceremony, there is a lovely section (100' maybe) of new track constructed just north of the cemetery crossing in Andover (near the detector). Also some heavy machinery and materials there, but didn't see any other evidence of work between Ballardvale and Andover.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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