Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

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Re: N/S Station connection track? Last time has anyone see i

Postby The MTA Blue Egg » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:53 pm

The Union Freight RR operated until 1970. It followed under the Atlantic Avenue Elevated. Urban renewal in the areas of North Station and Atlantic Avenue have obliterated any traces as far as I know. Interesting little book "The Railroad That Came Out At Night" has a short history of the line along with other stories of Boston area railroading in the '70s
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Re: N/S Station connection track? Last time has anyone see i

Postby Charliemta » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:30 pm

Here are links to a couple of great photos of the Union Freight RR that linked North Station to South Station:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4599/25617616668_4245edc897_b.jpg
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5060/5478996793_6565967ecc_b.jpg
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Re: N/S Station connection track? Last time has anyone see i

Postby RenegadeMonster » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:03 am

Great pictures. About when were they taken, 1950's?

In the second picture I love how the freight train looks like it could be found on any railroad today where as the elevated passenger cars look like a blast from the past.

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Re: N/S Station connection track? Last time has anyone see i

Postby CRail » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:05 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:The idea of sending some Worcester trains to North Station via the Grand Junction is discussed now and then, but unlikely to ever happen, for good reason.


Neither are true. Part of the West Station plan is to add service from there to North Station. There is plenty of good reason to add this service including alleviating congestion in South Station (since even post expansion will be at or near capacity with proposed South Coast service) and giving direct access to the booming Kendall Square/Cambridge Center areas. The DMU discussion has simmered a bit, but if that plan ever comes to fruition it will definitely affect the current non-revenue status of the GJ.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:50 pm

Maybe in some politicians' dreams. But for the rest of us here in reality, it's unlikely to ever happen. Shaving a few minutes off a small percentage of commuters' trips vs transferring to the red line is not worth diluting service between the two terminals for everyone else (Kendall is only one employment center - running to South Station covers Back Bay, downtown, and the Seaport much better, and combined employment in these areas likely far exceeds Kendall), is not worth blocking major streets through Cambridge during rush hour (delaying far more passengers on buses than are on the trains), and is not worth the expense of building a station in Kendall and rehabbing the branch.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby CRail » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:20 am

1.) There is no dilusion of service, especially since West Station to the Seaport is also a concept included in the plans (you don’t really think a red line test track is the end goal for track 61 do you?). Plus, there’s another driving factor which is the overcrowding of South Station, which your ever so thorough analysis ignores.

2.) Transferring to the subway alone takes a few minutes. Then there’s waiting for the train, and then there’s riding the train. Since any responsible contributor to society will allow the greatest amount of time reasonably necessary to get to work that’s an additional 20-30 minutes of commute time. The value of a one seat ride is not in the comfort and convenience of not having to get up, it’s the minimizing of how much a variable your commute time is. Certainly in my mind, uncertainty is far more a detractor in a mode of transportation than elapsed time. I’d rather know my ride will take 40 minutes than somewhere between 20 between 60.

2.) The Kendall square area is not a single employment center. It’s several adjacently placed adjacently and this corridor passes through and borders pretty much all of it. If I didn’t know the line was only for non-revenue moves, I’d think it had something to do with the area’s transformation. In fact, with enough forward thinking urban planners, it probably did!

3.) Drastically slimming automobile capacity for bike lanes and other mode of transport accommodations has a much greater impact on traffic than having to wait an extra light cycle for a train to go by 10-20 times a day. We aren’t talking long slow freights that take 20mins to pass, we’re talking short passenger trains (really short if they’re shuttles) whisking through at significantly upgraded track speeds. The up to 6 daily moves the line sees now (I understand Amtrak doesn’t traverse the line daily anymore since they have a facility in Maine now) are probably a greater impact to traffic patterns than a more fequent but less obtrusive passenger trains. It’s ridiculous to undermine the impact of the currently necessary Red Line transfer while exaggerating the impact of a bunch of grade crossing activations.

4.) Yore also only looking at the advantages from the south side. This completely ignores the fact that the city of Cambridge operates a rather expansive bus operation from North Station to that measly single employment center (which, by the way, in the last 10 years went from a few little shortie school bus bodied vehicles to a fleet of full scale 40’ transit buses). Imagine the impact this rail connection would have on the bus loads of people that currently sit in gridlock traffic on these buses every day.

5.) I’m evidently not the only one that sees it this way. Currently the GJ only accesss yard tracks on the Cambridge end, the switch to the main tracks is already at the junction waiting to be cut in. This is part of the GLX project, but it would be foolish to think it isn’t also a provision for currently impossible service expansions. Passenger service on this corridor has been included in several different project plans which initiated with a busway and have thankfully morphed into talks of rail service. This includes West Station proposals and the long talked about “Indigo” service. You might think it’s a non-starter, but you’re apparently outnumbered by those who actually have a say in the matter.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby Diverging Route » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:49 am

CRail wrote:1.) T

4.) Yore also only looking at the advantages from the south side. This completely ignores the fact that the city of Cambridge operates a rather expansive bus operation from North Station to that measly single employment center (which, by the way, in the last 10 years went from a few little shortie school bus bodied vehicles to a fleet of full scale 40’ transit buses). Imagine the impact this rail connection would have on the bus loads of people that currently sit in gridlock traffic on these buses every day.


Quick correction, CRail -- the EZRide service from North Station to Cambridge is managed by the Charles River TMA, and operated by Paul Revere Transit. Funding is by the users -- MIT and participating businesses whose employees have ride privileges -- not the City of Cambridge. MIT also funds EZRide to provide on-campus shuttle service during the midday hours. I've used the service since it started, and it's an excellent alternative to taking the Red Line / Green Line from Kendall to/from BON.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:40 am

I think the recent delaying of West Station until 2040 throws some significant amount of cold water on any attempts to expedite passenger use of the Grand Junction. For one thing, the shuttle concept announced by Gov. Patrick on his 2024 Indigo Lines map (a.k.a. un-serious overture to the International Olympic Committee) was never subject to any sort of formal study, so there's still a lot we don't know about the traffic modeling for a 15-20 min. headway bi-directional shuttle through there. It's a big increase from the Worcester-North Station commuter rail study for 5 peak-direction only round trips with an intermediate stop at Kendall, and there simply hasn't been any formal study to quantify the effects of the scale-up in service from the very limited service profile they originally looked at. Things like this just don't proceed to a real thing without a thorough number-crunching effort, and the fact that the state hasn't put money behind that (or for every Track 61 scheme) should throw caution about the intent behind what keeps spilling out of pols' mouths.

The Worcester study did chart fairly severe gate delays to car AND bus/bike/ped traffic at the Mass Ave. and Broadway crossings, though within tolerances for the limited and unidirectional nature of the service (i.e. because inbound/outbound trains have different speed profiles at each crossing coming in/out of the MIT curve and Kendall stop, and A.M was all-inbound while P.M. all-outbound, Mass & Broadway individually traded off which shifts they got hit harder with gate delays meaning daily disruption was asynchronous on any given shift and balanced by the opposite shift). The all-mode road delays cited are not a trivial problem to fix scaled up to bi-directional service, because the #1 + CT1 buses carry as many daily riders as two-thirds of northside commuter rail combined, and every gate queue that has to get dumped at Mass Ave. worsens service on a much more consequential transit route. The bike counts (this being the heart of MIT) are also nearly as high as any train shuttle ridership could be. Now, there's plenty of mitigations you could throw at those crossings and the adjacent blocks of traffic signals to help with the all-day and bi-directional drag that goes above-and-beyond the WOR-BON study...but what are they and what steps is the state going to pay for on city-controlled roads to implement that mitigation? Those have to be studied and the fixes fully-documented not assumed, because gumming up Mass & Broadway is a showstopper for City of Cambridge when it's way more than just the cars taking the hit.

The second wrinkle highlighted with the WOR-BON study...less a problem than a stark reminder of priorities...is the fact that they did not project much in the way of off-peak ridership to Kendall and NS from MetroWest because total travel times did not differ much on the midday on the direct train vs. taking the normal Orange/Red transfers to NS and Kendall from Back Bay or South Station. The tippy-top upgrade speeds of the Grand Junction + meandering trip through the NS terminal district were not that zippy, especially with the Kendall intermediate included as a station stop. Peak demand swelled because Orange and Red took so much longer under peak load, while off-peak at normal functioning the two-seat trip only ended up a couple minutes' difference to each destination from the one-seat. That highlighted the problem of diluting headways, especially on the off-peak. And also how much all manner of transit is being kneecapped by Orange & Red's performance collapse under load.

While that was a MetroWest and not intra-city centric study, there are a couple big conclusions to draw. First and most obvious: Orange and Red are slowly killing us, and we have to fix them or everything gets systemically distorted. Second most obvious conclusion: be careful about forking B&A service until the main spine to SS has been significantly strengthened to robust all-day headways and has an off-peak that's firing on all cylinders, because a service fork is a tertiary priority to the Worcester Line's (and intra-128 Indigo/urban rail on the Worcester Line's) bread-and-butter needs. The WOR-BON study ID'ed a very robust and viable slice of demand at peak, but the inconclusiveness of the off-peak demand hinted at a lot of other pieces of the puzzle needing action first on that corridor. And I'm not sure a West-BON dinky is going to be a top-priority puzzle piece...probably Indigo/urban rail SS-Riverside pegs way, way higher. That prioritization may be why the GJ shuttle hasn't gotten funding for that formal study to fill the numbers gap: they've got a major backlog of things they haven't formally quantified in study about the mainline itself, like assigning full numbers and schedule workups to that Riverside "Indigo" service to prime the pump for all else. Maybe we'll get some action on that after the CR Future recommendations get dropped in 2019, but it's quite likely there's going to be bigger preliminaries to tackle with urban rail on the mainlines before the GJ or Track 61 fit neatly into that picture. That could be a reason for the temp delay on West Station and lack of specific study action on all that non-revenue trackage...though it would be nice if the pols were honest about preaching patience until the numbers were quantified instead of mouthing off to the Globe 5 times a year about how West & 61 dinkies are going to be an immediate thing.


Bottom line: there's still a lot we don't know about how these proposals fit in, and all the political talk in the world isn't going to expedite them until real money gets allotted to studies detailing lots and lots of math about how these service schemes fit into the big picture and how some of the square-pegs like the crossings can be mitigated. It's boring paper bureaucracy, sure, but you can't expedite the Grand Junction to build without showing how every queue count at the crossings is going to be handled on a bi-directional shuttle schedule and have to show the time-of-day comparisons between one-seat and two-seat demand vs. travel time to get an appropriation. The fact that one is confident any problems can be smoothed out (and they probably can) doesn't mean all that proof of math is skippable on assumption. It still has to be documented and analyzed, and they haven't started that study process. Political intent and prognostication doesn't translate to action until they put real money forward to fund a start of that study & quantification process. I'd be very wary of believing any pol who says revenue service on the GJ or 61 is somehow right around the corner if they won't immediately answer point-blank what study funds they've lobbied or voted for kicking off the process and what calendar year that study kick-off formally commences.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:18 am

CRail wrote:1.) There is no dilusion of service, especially since West Station to the Seaport is also a concept included in the plans (you don’t really think a red line test track is the end goal for track 61 do you?). Plus, there’s another driving factor which is the overcrowding of South Station, which your ever so thorough analysis ignores.


West Station to the Seaport is an even bigger joke than using the GJ! Come one, do you seriously think it's possible to get a train from Back Bay to Track 61 without absolutely fouling everything? Track 61 joins the Old Colony lines facing south. Building a wye there so trains could turn north instead would be nearly impossible due to the South Boston Bypass and the red line shops being right there. Then to get to the wye connecting to the NEC you'd have to cross all of the Old Colony and Fairmount, plus Amtrak moves to and from Southampton St. Then to get to the Worcester line tracks, you'd have to cross the NEC at grade. Using Track 61 for a Seaport - Back Bay shuttle (which is what I've heard proposed instead of West Station) would require either fouling the entirety of the south station approach, or massively disruptive construction to build a tunnel or giant flyover. Because you have to cross EVERYTHING.

And a far better solution for access to the Seaport is just improving the existing Silver Line, which is already a nice easy transfer at South Station.

And no, I didn't mention South Station, because I wasn't writing a "thorough analysis". (I'm also pretty tired of you acting like you're "God of the MBTA" on here and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. This post is full of such unnecessary condescension. I know it's hard, but it is possible to disagree with someone without snarkily insulting them!)
South Station is irrelevant here. Sending a handful of Worcester line trains to North Station via the Grand Junction will do absolutely nothing to relieve congestion at South Station, which will still need to be expanded. Say you send a generous 4 Worcester trains to North Station. Okay, now you've opened up 4 slots at South Station. Hardly a meaningful expansion.

2.) Transferring to the subway alone takes a few minutes. Then there’s waiting for the train, and then there’s riding the train. Since any responsible contributor to society will allow the greatest amount of time reasonably necessary to get to work that’s an additional 20-30 minutes of commute time. The value of a one seat ride is not in the comfort and convenience of not having to get up, it’s the minimizing of how much a variable your commute time is. Certainly in my mind, uncertainty is far more a detractor in a mode of transportation than elapsed time. I’d rather know my ride will take 40 minutes than somewhere between 20 between 60.


Trust me, I know. I used to commute from the north shore to Kendall (commuter rail, green line, red line, shuttle bus). Having to transfer sucks. HOWEVER, commuter rail to red line at South Station is one of the easiest possible transfers. Red Line trains are the most frequent of all the subway lines, running every 4.5 minutes at peak, and it's only one transfer. If that's so brutal having to transfer, then why aren't you crying about the north side needing direct access to Kendall, since getting there from North Station requires 2 transfers? We'd all prefer a one seat ride. We'd all prefer our commute times to be as predictable as possible. But you have to balance the needs of the few with the needs of the many, and if someone commuting on the Worcester Line works in the Seaport (for example), switching their train to go to North Station instead makes their commute now require several transfers instead of one. And anyone going to Back Bay is now going significantly out of their way to transfer to the Orange Line.

So essentially in your quest to give Worcester riders a one seat ride to Kendall, you've taken away the one seat ride to Back Bay or downtown (it's a 20 minute walk from North Station to State St - I do it on foot, but I know plenty of people who hop on the Orange for 2 stops), and changed the Seaport from a two seat ride to a 4 seat ride (CR -> OL -> RL -> SL). Kendall is only one of many final destinations in Boston, and more people are better served by sending trains to South Station and having Kendall passengers transfer.

3.) Drastically slimming automobile capacity for bike lanes and other mode of transport accommodations has a much greater impact on traffic than having to wait an extra light cycle for a train to go by 10-20 times a day. We aren’t talking long slow freights that take 20mins to pass, we’re talking short passenger trains (really short if they’re shuttles) whisking through at significantly upgraded track speeds. The up to 6 daily moves the line sees now (I understand Amtrak doesn’t traverse the line daily anymore since they have a facility in Maine now) are probably a greater impact to traffic patterns than a more fequent but less obtrusive passenger trains. It’s ridiculous to undermine the impact of the currently necessary Red Line transfer while exaggerating the impact of a bunch of grade crossing activations.


No it really, really doesn't. The majority of new bike lanes going in are not taking away any vehicle capacity. This is a tired claim that's been repeated ad nauseam and is patently false. As for "other modes of transport accommodations", you'll note I was talking about the impact on BUSES, not private automobiles.

6 daily moves is fairly generous for the GJ right now. I'd say 4, tops. And of those 4, 2 are usually in the middle of the night (Keolis), and CSX runs one way at night, the other way during the evening rush (assuming they're not running late, which they usually are). The existing movements are irrelevant because they're at night, not during rush hour.

And no matter how much you upgrade the tracks, the gates are still going to be down for at least a minute for each train, which is still going to noticeably delay the buses on Mass Ave and Cambridge St. Couple this with how much it increases trip times for anyone NOT heading to Kendall, and I guarantee you've lengthened more people's commutes by a greater factor than you've saved anyone's.

Finally, if you're talking about shuttles rather than Worcester trains, you've completely undermined your previous point, because you're still requiring people to transfer! They're just transferring to a shuttle instead of to the red line. Still a one seat transfer, only marginally faster than today. Although this does eliminate the downside of forcing everyone else to go to Kendall too.

4.) Yore also only looking at the advantages from the south side. This completely ignores the fact that the city of Cambridge operates a rather expansive bus operation from North Station to that measly single employment center (which, by the way, in the last 10 years went from a few little shortie school bus bodied vehicles to a fleet of full scale 40’ transit buses). Imagine the impact this rail connection would have on the bus loads of people that currently sit in gridlock traffic on these buses every day.


Of course I'm only looking at this from the south side! Because we're talking about Worcester trains! The E-ZRide shuttles are irrelevant, unless you're now suggesting removing the Kendall stop and proposing everyone destined for Kendall ride to North Station then backtrack on a shuttle? That would be significantly longer than riding to South Station and taking the red line! And I fail to see how this would relieve any congestion on the E-ZRide shuttles, unless you want people who arrive at North Station from north side trains to then transfer to an outbound Worcester line train to go the one stop to Kendall? Those would have to be awfully frequent trains to make that more appealing than the existing E-ZRide shuttle, which would be impossible given the single track on the Grand Junction.

Also, it's worth noting that E-ZRide is very poorly integrated with the T. I would have loved to ride it when I was doing my North Station-Kendall commute a few years ago. Would have saved a lot of time. But if your employer doesn't join the program (which costs money - and my employer didn't join), then you have to pay $2 each way to ride it, exact cash only. That would have meant I needed to make sure I had 4 $1 bills every day when I left the house, which would basically have required me to go find a convenience store that would let me make change every couple of days and carry around a giant wad of $1's. I deemed it worthwhile to save myself the hassle and the $4 a day and take the T instead (since it's included in my commuter rail pass anyway). I suspect that many other people do the same.

5.) I’m evidently not the only one that sees it this way. Currently the GJ only accesss yard tracks on the Cambridge end, the switch to the main tracks is already at the junction waiting to be cut in. This is part of the GLX project, but it would be foolish to think it isn’t also a provision for currently impossible service expansions. Passenger service on this corridor has been included in several different project plans which initiated with a busway and have thankfully morphed into talks of rail service. This includes West Station proposals and the long talked about “Indigo” service. You might think it’s a non-starter, but you’re apparently outnumbered by those who actually have a say in the matter.


I'd say you're not the only one who sees it that way, but that doesn't mean it's actually going to happen. Lots of people would like to see lots of infeasible things. If people "who actually have a say in the matter" (by the way - do you?) really do want this, why have we never gotten anything more than a politician talking about it or a brief throwaway feasibility study? Kendall has been booming for 20 years now. If this were actually a good idea then it would have moved forward by now.

I'll believe it when I see it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

EDIT: I know you (and other people) like to complain about F-Line's "novels", actually read his post. He probably does an even better job of breaking this down than I do.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby GP40MC1118 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:57 am

North Station has just as bad capacity issues, so adding Worcester Line trains would compound a bad problem.

D
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:32 am

GP40MC1118 wrote:North Station has just as bad capacity issues, so adding Worcester Line trains would compound a bad problem.

D


That too. WOR-BON Study was light enough a schedule to fit within the limits of NS terminal district, but it's a very different matter at this shuttle proposal's frequencies. There isn't so much as one official traffic-modeling commissioned to see if it'll work within current limits. None of the northside Indigo routes have been modeled.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby RenegadeMonster » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:40 am

Could they ever add tracks 11 and 12 at North Station?

It looks like a little tight to another building and they would have to reclaim a parking lot.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby JPoland » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:09 pm

[quote="GP40MC1118"]North Station has just as bad capacity issues, so adding Worcester Line trains would compound a bad problem.

D[/quote The "new" ]North Station has unused tracks that were never put in service
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:29 pm

JPoland wrote:The "new" ]North Station has unused tracks that were never put in service


That doesn't mean Tower A and the drawbridges have the capacity, or that reassigning trains to different platforms is going to work without increasing the congestion at Tower A. You need to have a full study with traffic modeling to peg the effects and whether it breaches a threshold requiring upgrades to the terminal district, because guesstimates don't tease out all the unintended consequences to other traffic.
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Re: Grand Junction Branch (The North/South Side Connection)

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:04 am

North Station itself doesn't have any unused tracks. Believe me, I wish it had
few extra tracks because once 2PM rolls around its a near constant in and out.
Mainline 1 out to FX would be nice, but in the end you still have 10 tracks. When
you think about it, Amtrak occupies one of them, so you have 9 to work with.
And Amtrak wants to add another round trip?

Add boat season with numerous openings except for closed periods, the last
thing we need is Worcester Line trains.

BET doesn't have the capacity. Unfortunately the full build out of Yard 14 to
9 tracks never happened. Another opportunity lost to real estate developers.

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