Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

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Additional Track Ballardvale-Lawrence

Postby CHANGEATJAMAICA » Tue May 04, 2010 12:49 pm

Read in today's Eagle Tribue, ground has been broken to add double track Ballardvale, Lawrence. Not great, but a good start.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Tue May 04, 2010 1:29 pm

Speaking of the Eagle Trib article:

http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x500178891/State-federal-officials-tout-rail-construction

A link for everyone's convenience. With that story out, I'll add that the plans at this point do not include any station work, so the current commuter rail schedule likely won't change too dramatically. The double track is to end north of Ballardvale, and all commuter trains will use the current main (westbound main) to make the stop at Andover (as well as Lawrence), since those two platforms are on the west side, and Ballardvale is on the east. While in theory, once the Andover DPW yard moves there is ample room for a platform on the east side at Andover, I'm not sure where one would go at Ballardvale.
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 » Tue May 04, 2010 8:13 pm

octr202 wrote:Speaking of the Eagle Trib article:

http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x500178891/State-federal-officials-tout-rail-construction

A link for everyone's convenience. With that story out, I'll add that the plans at this point do not include any station work, so the current commuter rail schedule likely won't change too dramatically. The double track is to end north of Ballardvale, and all commuter trains will use the current main (westbound main) to make the stop at Andover (as well as Lawrence), since those two platforms are on the west side, and Ballardvale is on the east. While in theory, once the Andover DPW yard moves there is ample room for a platform on the east side at Andover, I'm not sure where one would go at Ballardvale.


If that's the plan, commuter rail doesn't benefit, as you pointed out. The politicians quoted in the article are over-stating the benefits to commuters, so they probably don't have a clue about the reality of the plan. No doubt a benefit to PAR and the Downeasters who'll have another track available to them, but pretty worthless to CR. IMO, the bottleneck simply moves from Andover St. south to the end of double track wherever that winds up to be. I hope the mindset doesn't become that if there's no federal funding, there won't be any improvements down the road. The locals have some responsibility to cough up a little too. Just my $.02.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Wed May 05, 2010 6:31 am

It's not a total loss. Given the number of delays due to delayed meets between commuters and Amtrak or commuters and freights, I'd say it's worth it. Especially in the mornings given PAR's tendency at times to try to squeeze freights through between commuter runs. It's not perfect, but its A) what the funding will pay for right now*, and B) what can get done quickly, since anything larger than this is going to require station construction, which will likely encounter considerable opposition and delay in Andover, depending on the plans involved. Remember that a big part of the very much not-firm plans for any changes at the Andover station involve the relocation of the DPW yard on the east side of the tracks, which is still a ways off (if it happens).

*And since it's stimulus funds, it does have to be spent quickly - that's a part of the deal with this money.
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 F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed May 05, 2010 6:01 pm

octr202 wrote:It's not a total loss. Given the number of delays due to delayed meets between commuters and Amtrak or commuters and freights, I'd say it's worth it. Especially in the mornings given PAR's tendency at times to try to squeeze freights through between commuter runs. It's not perfect, but its A) what the funding will pay for right now*, and B) what can get done quickly, since anything larger than this is going to require station construction, which will likely encounter considerable opposition and delay in Andover, depending on the plans involved. Remember that a big part of the very much not-firm plans for any changes at the Andover station involve the relocation of the DPW yard on the east side of the tracks, which is still a ways off (if it happens).

*And since it's stimulus funds, it does have to be spent quickly - that's a part of the deal with this money.


Exactly. This was fast-appearing money that needed fast action. And the reason they chose this project to get it started is that they feel pretty good about their chances of pouncing on the next opening of the purse-strings to grab the funding needed to complete the double tracking Reading-Andover and tie together the stations. I would be surprised if that were not funded within the next year. Most likely when the construction's heavily underway the project will have shifted to total double-tracking superseding the stopgap plan. Hopefully even with upgrade tacked on of the Wellington siding as a full passing track to eliminate the bottleneck on the one segment of the line that can't physically go full-double.

Also remember that to truly get some substantial capacity increases the whole line--and the Lowell and Wildcat too--need to have cab signaling installed. That's what's going to dramatically cut the travel times on the Fitchburg line and up the capacity, much moreso than the double-tracking work there. The NH main has too many competing commuter and freight interests and such active junctions that wayside signals really show their limitations at keeping all parts of the network running at max efficiently and at max track capacity at all hours of the commuting day. Here and the Worcester line to Framingham are the ones most hamstrung by the old signal system, and that one doesn't have all the multi-directional traffic converging all day like the North Chelmsford-Lowell-Andover 'quasi-rotary'.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby octr202 » Thu May 06, 2010 8:41 am

The stray current issues from the National Grid Ward Hill substation are still raging, apparently:

http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x500180335/MBTA-National-Grid-continue-to-fight-over-stray-current

MBTA, National Grid continue to fight over stray current

HAVERHILL — MBTA General Manager Richard Davey said he is fed up with what he calls a slow response by National Grid to correct a life-threatening and costly problem along the Haverhill-to-Boston commuter rail line.

The problem involves stray electrical currents that are frying electronic components and endangering railroad workers and the public.

"They've really got to step up," Davey said in an interview this week with The Eagle-Tribune. "It is up to National Grid to fix this problem. I'm not happy with them."
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 MBTA1055 » Thu May 06, 2010 3:32 pm

octr202 wrote:It's not a total loss. Given the number of delays due to delayed meets between commuters and Amtrak or commuters and freights, I'd say it's worth it. Especially in the mornings given PAR's tendency at times to try to squeeze freights through between commuter runs. It's not perfect, but its A) what the funding will pay for right now*, and B) what can get done quickly, since anything larger than this is going to require station construction, which will likely encounter considerable opposition and delay in Andover, depending on the plans involved. Remember that a big part of the very much not-firm plans for any changes at the Andover station involve the relocation of the DPW yard on the east side of the tracks, which is still a ways off (if it happens).

*And since it's stimulus funds, it does have to be spent quickly - that's a part of the deal with this money.


The town yard is supposed to relocate sometime soon, according to the Andover Townsman. They mentioned that may become additional T parking a while ago but in the last article nothing was mentioned
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Rail Replacement on the Haverhill Line

Postby MaineEasternFL9 » Sun May 16, 2010 10:14 am

When will the MBTA replace the rail on the Haverhill Line? The new rail has been sitting along the tracks for about a year rusting away. I assumed the new rail was for repacing the old rail and not for the double track project between Reading and Andover.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby diburning » Mon May 17, 2010 5:11 am

But I love bouncing up and down between Wyoming Hill and Ballardvale :wink:
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby jck » Mon May 17, 2010 8:22 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:And the reason they chose this project to get it started is that they feel pretty good about their chances of pouncing on the next opening of the purse-strings to grab the funding needed to complete the double tracking Reading-Andover and tie together the stations.


Yes. The important thing is getting improvements off the ground. If this is what could win approval/funding now, you take it, and move on to the next improvement next year.

Simply complaining that "it's not enough" doesn't ultimately lead to more funding.
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Re: Rail Replacement on the Haverhill Line

Postby octr202 » Mon May 17, 2010 9:22 am

MaineEasternFL9 wrote:When will the MBTA replace the rail on the Haverhill Line? The new rail has been sitting along the tracks for about a year rusting away. I assumed the new rail was for repacing the old rail and not for the double track project between Reading and Andover.


There's been some initial work in Andover near the cemetery crossing and the detector (off Lupine Road). There's also been brush cutting and there are survey markers in places along the first stretch. As stated before, the initial phase will be to double-track from near Lawrence station to just north of Ballardvale. Given the time frame, I'd assume that the rail that's been dropped is for this project - as some of the railroad professionals who share there knowledge here have pointed out, it was dropped where it's easiest for the rail train to drop it, and will get moved over as needed. Given that all rail sits on the ground and rusts, I doubt there's much damage happening to the rail right now where it is. ;)

Should there be funding, later phases may push the double track as far south as Wilmington Jct. where the Wildcat branch splits off - but there's no money allocated for that yet. And this would involve adding second platforms to Andover and Ballardvale (not small projects).
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 » Mon May 17, 2010 2:29 pm

One can hope they'll also do something about the slow orders: The long-standing one east of Ward Hill effectively extends the river bridge's restriction a mile west. The new one by the North Andover sewage treatment plant extends the slow zone through Lawrence a mile east. The Shawsheen River bridges add at least two minutes for trains that would skip Ballardvale.
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby jbvb » Tue May 18, 2010 9:40 am

This morning, 3 guys by the new Lawrence station. On the curve by the wye, 3 more watching a welder burn what looked like a new joint bar bolt hole in an elderly rail on Track 17 (former eastward siding).
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue May 18, 2010 12:44 pm

jbvb wrote:This morning, 3 guys by the new Lawrence station. On the curve by the wye, 3 more watching a welder burn what looked like a new joint bar bolt hole in an elderly rail on Track 17 (former eastward siding).

Wasn't it part of the plan to connect Track 17 to the main tracks at Frost?
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Re: Federal Stimulus Money For Western Rte(Haverhill Line)

Postby sery2831 » Tue May 18, 2010 12:55 pm

Yes it is. They still need to demolish the temporary station that was built on top of that track. Pan Am is supposed to be putting that track in service, not MBCR/MBTA.
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