Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:07 am

MBTA13 wrote:Now 7 years later there is still no chance of this happening. It would be a good addition to the CR but unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen. Being 160 million in debt this isn't happening anytime soon. HOWEVER if all of these proposed cuts with the bus line in and around the northshore area go through, this could potentially happen. But that is a whole different conversation.


The project would be funded primarily by the state and likely some kicked in from the feds as well. The MBTA would just be covering the operations cost, perhaps replacing any Salem or Beverly short turns with a run to Peabody/Danvers.

I don't understand "unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen." The line has been figured out. So what is there to come up with?
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:29 am

It's ironic that the best places for a CR station (or any other public transit) that lots of pax can walk to (the smallest kind of station because needs fewer parking spaces) also have the most NIMBYs. A line in nobody's back yard is not close to anyone, so pax have to drive, which makes traffic and parking and so on.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:51 am

Peabody last year (CR was a big town issue in the mayoral election) proposed breaking the project into halves: Peabody Sq. first on rehab of the existing tracks, North Shore/128 later on the abandoned ROW. Cost specced for Peabody Sq. without purchase of new locomotives/coaches was $38M for the whole build: (tracks, signals, grade crossing + bridge rehab, 2nd platform and restored wye at Salem, repurposing of the old Salem yard tracks as a mini- midday layover. $75M if it included tack-on equipment purchase, so that's not how they're pitching it or the expected service levels at start. Peabody Sq. station would be pretty basic w/platform, small parking, and primarily serve the area bus transfers. The second leg's obviously the more expensive one because of the abandoned ROW, residential neighbors, wetland permitting, rebuilt bridges/crossings including new 128 overpass, need for a full-service layover, larger park-and-ride, and need to factor in equipment purchases for expected headways. So they want to punt that approx. $75M + inflation leg down the road to lower the barrier to entry and keep it focused now on the active track.

Peabody Sq. leg has got this going for it:

-- The tracks need rehabilitation now-ish for freight alone. The terrible flooding problems downtown Peabody suffers have washed out the tracks in spots to a bare minimal operating standard, it badly needs more grade crossing renewal, it's got 1 deficient bridge needing rehab, and it needs a lot of tie replacement and a good re-tamping. It's getting Watertown-esque.
-- Business is booming at Eastman and of late they've been getting switched twice a week, a noticeable spike from the 1 to 1.5 per week avg. they were maintaining before. The plant was just sold ahead of the Kodak bankruptcy and the new owners are refocusing the resources on higher-growth production like biotech/medicine (that's obviously an exploding component of the Metro Boston economy) to complement the steady foodstuffs biz and replace the almost-dead film processing materials. So that growth is likely to maintain at a healthy 2-3 carloads a week. This is one of PAR's most lucrative off-main/off-MEC customers. They're not watching the clock waiting for it to slip to Danvers/North Reading levels of disrepair then dump it; they need this branch and their Peabody industrial track that forks off it.
-- It's the only T-owned, freight-only line that anyone still actively operates on (the 1/2 mile Greenville Branch stub is for all purposes inside Ayer yard limits). State's got some obligation for the upkeep. And PAR has not abandoned its OOS two-thirds of the Peabody industrial because the town has not given up hope of attracting a new customer to the industrial park. Not a Danvers or North Reading situation...it'll go over very poorly if Peabody's industrial growth potential gets artificially capped by a nonfunctional rail line. That day is coming in 3-5 years when they're gonna have to allocate some funds for something more substantial than borrowing a ballast tamper.
-- You're probably talking $2M in rehab just to bump it from Exempt to Class 1 given the condition of the line. 3 bridges (largest one definitely deficient). 4 out of 5 crossings with no active protection (+ the Peabody Sq. pair, which are technically after the former junction on PAR-owned track). Flint St. in Salem the only one with flashers that looks like it's got a semi-decent surface. All of them thru streets with non-negligible traffic levels, and enough rail traffic to merit active protection installations if not the whole shebang of gates and whatnot. I can't find a priority crossing upgrade list online for any MPO regions in Eastern Mass, but if it's anything like the Montchusett region list these will certainly meet the standard for upgrade. The more crossing protection installations needed, the higher the cost.
-- The Eastern Route is probably the next one after Fitchburg and Haverhill to qualify for substantial upgrade money. The 4 movable bridges, resignaling, need for more double-track on the branch choke points, accessibility upgrades at stations, lengthening the remaining short platforms. Just those state-of-repair and higher-frequency commitments are going to merit swinging for a Fitchburg-esque grant score on this, since that's the only way to get Fed funding on a non-Amtrak route like this. And since they won't do Blue-Lynn in this lifetime or 2nd Salem tunnel in this lifetime that means they've got to shoot for some of the other top recs from the North Shore Transit Study. It's just how this works, esp. on a non-Amtrak line. There has to be one Wachusett value-added "shiny thing" in it to sweeten the pot enough to pique Fed attention span, and to set up the series of multiple small/medium-size appropriations to cover all the basic needs...a la the Fitchburg and Haverhill stream of incremental grants. Phase I-ing Peabody at $38M is a lower-impact one than the Wachusett price tag, so a little more cut-rate a "shiny thing" for the funding environment the rest of this decade than what the recent projects shot for. If that means punting the 128 stop to an I.O.U. and hope they can string enough tack-on grants to give that a start...well, they'd have to consider it.


Doesn't mean this will get front-burnered at all. Does mean they're going to have to think long and hard about how to wring max value out of the unavoidable freight improvements and Eastern Route SGR and service-level improvements try make a case for that hefty price tag. Peabody already knows this and has amped up the political cheerleading, floating trial service on fixed-up freight track akin to what Foxboro's doing now. Won't work here because of the reverse move and no station platform, but if they're going to be cooing about that around the freight fix-up it's another thing the T has to triangulate around. They'll have to think more than just ignoring that an issue exists and make a strategic choice on how to optimally proceed with their non-optional repairs and minimal funding baseline. Can't defer that too much longer. Things like half-build at $38M will be on the table when they strategize what they need to keep in-pocket to make a funding sales pitch. No predictions on outcome, but it's again how the funding grant rope-a-dope is played so they'll inventory all leverage at their disposal and all the factors feeding into it. This is one of many, 'tis all.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby MBTA13 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:44 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:
MBTA13 wrote:Now 7 years later there is still no chance of this happening. It would be a good addition to the CR but unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen. Being 160 million in debt this isn't happening anytime soon. HOWEVER if all of these proposed cuts with the bus line in and around the northshore area go through, this could potentially happen. But that is a whole different conversation.


The project would be funded primarily by the state and likely some kicked in from the feds as well. The MBTA would just be covering the operations cost, perhaps replacing any Salem or Beverly short turns with a run to Peabody/Danvers.

I don't understand "unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen." The line has been figured out. So what is there to come up with?


No one has any money to invest the $38 million that has been projected, not the state, feds, and certainly the MBTA/MBCR. Even if there was money to do this, Danvers and Peabody would both be buying for rail expiation which is why I said a route would have to be laid out that can service both Danvers, Peabody, and the other stops that have been talked about in between i.e. the malls, 128/95, route 1, and both Peabody and Danvers square. The past talk about have two different lines to service those points would never be likely to happen. Plus looking at how long and how painful building the garages in Salem and Beverly have been, a project of this magnitude would take years to plan and contract out before any work got done. So at that time the lines would be father into disrepair and it would cost more money. The only line that would be kept to lowest possible standards (PAR standard) is to Eastman.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:22 am

MBTA13 wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
MBTA13 wrote:Now 7 years later there is still no chance of this happening. It would be a good addition to the CR but unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen. Being 160 million in debt this isn't happening anytime soon. HOWEVER if all of these proposed cuts with the bus line in and around the northshore area go through, this could potentially happen. But that is a whole different conversation.


The project would be funded primarily by the state and likely some kicked in from the feds as well. The MBTA would just be covering the operations cost, perhaps replacing any Salem or Beverly short turns with a run to Peabody/Danvers.

I don't understand "unless you could come up with a line the services Peabody, Danvers, and all those points in between it won't happen." The line has been figured out. So what is there to come up with?


No one has any money to invest the $38 million that has been projected, not the state, feds, and certainly the MBTA/MBCR. Even if there was money to do this, Danvers and Peabody would both be buying for rail expiation which is why I said a route would have to be laid out that can service both Danvers, Peabody, and the other stops that have been talked about in between i.e. the malls, 128/95, route 1, and both Peabody and Danvers square. The past talk about have two different lines to service those points would never be likely to happen. Plus looking at how long and how painful building the garages in Salem and Beverly have been, a project of this magnitude would take years to plan and contract out before any work got done. So at that time the lines would be father into disrepair and it would cost more money. The only line that would be kept to lowest possible standards (PAR standard) is to Eastman.


Danvers is out. The town entered into a 99-year trail lease with the T in 2011 to trail over the line north from Peabody Sq. to the Newburyport Branch trail at Danvers Jct. Rails were ripped out this fall. That eliminates "Option B" to Endicott Plaza from the North Shore improvements study and/or doing the original (too ambitious) twin-pronged terminals at Peabody and Danvers a la Kingston/Plymouth. Danvers must be run by a bunch of BINBY's (Build It In the Neighbors' Back Yard) these days, because they then said out the other side of their mouths that they backed CR in Peabody Sq. in support of maxing their trail and bus usage.

"Option A" to North Shore Mall wholly within town of Peabody is the only one held open. Peabody started pushing the phasing option aggressively after Danvers dropped out since it was no longer a matter of debate where Phase II would go after Peabody Sq. or who would get it first. That's where all their advocacy is going. And when downtown flooded last year and the subject came up of improving flood control/prevention infrastructure in downtown they pushed the angle that the rail line repairs should be factored into that as 'critical' infrastructure. They want to stick this with as much glue possible to the inevitable freight repairs and all the stormwater mitigation/improvements work downtown badly needs, and try to get an extra-base hit with it for Peabody Sq. CR. Then make the second leg a deferred but inevitable step.


Strategically, that's about the most compelling pitch they can make with almost no leverage. The T can't totally pass up expansion opportunities. As I mentioned, to make the political case for fed funding on "unsexy" improvements there almost always has to be one shiny new thing in the sales pitch. And transit authorities are not the kinds of simple beasts that can single-task their finances: "we're not spending a penny until the debt's paid down", "only state-of-good-repair and not one penny for new builds", etc. There has to be some measured pursuit of forward growth amidst all that--and in proper proportion--or stagnation sets in and the negative feedback loop on ridership gets worse. Ask SEPTA Regional Rail how its 30 years of perpetual austerity worked out for them.

So every time there's another town meeting about South Coast FAIL glossing over the latest complications, umpteenth re-design, lowered ridership projections, and ridiculous demands from towns in no position to be making those demands...Peabody trots out "but for $38M you can have this, and the train traffic through town isn't 'theoretical' and scary to us.". And every time those epic garage disasters in Salem and Beverly get hit with another overrun and downsizing, they trot out "we don't want lots of parking...it's a downtown bus transfer, not a park-and-ride." And every time the cost projection shoots up on some expensive TOD pet project, they point to PAR switching out Eastman the second time in a week and say, "our downtown 'multimodal' doesn't need a big station development to grow more than it is." And every time they talk about initiating a study on something new that Tim Murray blurted in front of a microphone last week, "You already scoped this one in the North Shore study at considerable expense and it was a high-priority rec...hows about implementing at least one thing you know for sure before paying out another study for a Worcester-Foxboro casino train?" And so on.

No, "that project is more wasteful than mine" is not in and of itself a winning argument. They'll have to evolve it with a much stronger case for why it's not going to bloat its cost vs. X, Y, Z other projects. But as long as the T is getting raked over for their political lard protection racket on projects they're going to be exposed on this by any party that makes a bang-for-buck counterpoint vs. a list of very messed-up spending priorities. Peabody's signaled they're ready to do that till they're blue in the face. If it's not clear by now after weeks of town-by-town meetings, the agency and Beacon Hill are gonna have to come up with a lot better than a blanket answer for what they think is worth spending money on. Bless 'em if Peabody sees an opportunity here to help themselves, but build or no build they're asking one of the tougher questions that needs to be asked in legislative hearings: "Which of your constituents are worthy of spending money on?" It's clear some of them are more than others, and the reasons have little to do with who needs it most or what's most cost-effective.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby ziggyzack1234 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:33 pm

Is this expansion still on the table in any shape or form? The MBTA dumped many of the project pages when they revamped the website, so now it's only things that are currently ongoing or ready to go.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby rethcir » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:38 pm

Almost certainly not. Strange that the North Shore/Cape Ann doesn’t have the state political pull that the South Coast seems to have.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby RenegadeMonster » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:14 am

Though Peabody keeps asking for it and they keep doing studies.

So while it's not currently on the table, it is still wanted.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby jonnhrr » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:08 pm

It bugs me how simple no brainer projects like this or red-blue connector never get any traction, yet something like South Coast Fail with its bloated price tag is still considered viable.

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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby Charliemta » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:44 pm

I doubt the South Coast Rail will happen, at least in the next 20-30 years.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:05 am

Danvers and Peabody are close enough to other commuter rail stations that they probably don't need their own line.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby newpylong » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:57 pm

Charliemta wrote:I doubt the South Coast Rail will happen, at least in the next 20-30 years.


Not likely to be anywhere near that long, however foolish. it's on the front burner now.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby dieciduej » Sun Oct 28, 2018 5:51 am

Charliemta wrote:I doubt the South Coast Rail will happen, at least in the next 20-30 years.


Right now it is getting harder and harder to build housing in the greater Boston area that isn't $$$$$$$$$. Using the "Field of Dreams" adage "if you build it, they will come" doing the South Coast Rail project will spur a housing building boom, increase a tax base for an area that is to say the least depressed. So I agree with newpylong this will be more front burner than back at this time.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby RenegadeMonster » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:36 am

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Danvers and Peabody are close enough to other commuter rail stations that they probably don't need their own line.


Maybe, but it's not walking distance. You need to to drive or take a bus.

If I understand right, the waiting list for Beverly Depot parking passes is in the years. So unless you have someone to drop you off, parking is an issue.

While Salem has plenty of Capacity for parking, you can often find gridlock during the busy times of the day. I live in Salem, but 2 miles away from the train station so I drive. There have been more than enough occasion where I not only miss the train I was shooting for in the morning, but the one after it as well because of traffic / unexpected Utility Work making a 10 minute commute take 40 minutes. Whenever I drive through Peabody down Boston Street, or 114 to Danvers I can hit some pretty bad gridlock as well.

So while there may be other commuter rail stations close by, parking might not be available or you have to fight with traffic and unexpected delays if you drive or take the bus.
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Re: Danvers/Peabody Commuter Rail

Postby atlantis » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:09 am

Also, if I'm not mistaken, the bus service to Peabody and Danvers do not run on Sundays or holidays. A first step, imo, is improving the connecting T bus service to Salem station from these places. Use that as a basis for a future rail shuttle service. Interestingly, there is some talk of a "hi trailer" type shuttle service to Peabody in an article on the Patch from last April. I don't know how to link it here but a search can be done.
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