Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:35 am

Natick's new ADA island final design provisions for a passing track on the north side of the ROW. That was originally a freight clearance consideration because station design was stuck in unfunded suspended animation for so many years, but now that CSX has signed/sealed a 2018 expiration of the wide exemption east of Framingham Jct. it's just a future reservation for the state to throw down a future passer for the Inland Route or express layering. I guess if they wanted a new section of triple anywhere between the New Balance passer and the Natick provision, Riverside Jct. to the foot of Wellesley Farms is the ideal place because it's at the relative midpoint and would be a decently long stretch of passer for sorting thru traffic after future Indigo Line locals turn out @ Riverside. Charles Bridge and 128 collector-distributor overpasses are already quad-width from the old pre-Pike days, and the side abutments over the 128 mainline are already triple-width, requiring only widening of the bridge deck and center abutment.

Because the wide-clearance exemption is being sunset, any new ADA'ings east of Framingham can now be full-high on 2 tracks without need for any special clearance considerations. The only thing they'd need to watch out for is platform placement vs. curvature, as it's a lot cheaper to do a tangent full-high (esp. when it's an island) rather than precision-cut curved platform slabs, a lot less likely to risk any incidental platform strikes from the lone remaining CSX daily to Everett, and future-proofed forever from platform gaps if the T happens to order any xMU's with additional non-vestibule doors at the middle or quarter-points of the car. May mean they need to shift the platform placement a few dozen feet somewhere like Wellesley Square, but all other places (Auburndale, for instance) the curves are very slight.

I thought all the renovations at BBY for air quality fixes and other necessary state-of-repair items were going to trigger raising of that platform at long last, but I don't see any specific line item about that. Doesn't really have any structural dependencies on the other work around the building, so that possibly could be a trailing tack-on item post-closeout. I guess if disrupting ped flow around that platform is inevitable for the cement pour it's better to have all other possible disruptions around the building and its other platforms safely in the rear view before tackling.

Signal system has to get replaced in order to get PTC installed, as the entire southside is being standardized on the cab signals + ACSES II pairing. Non- cab signaled Franklin and Needham are getting the treatment too, but those lines' less-archaic CTC wayside systems are a lot less of a bear to modify than the craptacular Boston-Framingham ABS. That's going to be one hell of an expensive, disruptive mess 3 years from now. Can easily see why they're burying the lede and not saying a peep about that now while other controversies are angrying up Worcester riders' blood. The backlash from all those drawn-out signal replacement service disruptions will be an epic poopshow when the time comes.

There's not one inch of expansion room at current Worcester layover, and the backup move required to access it is one of the reasons the platform turnaround is so constipated. Not only do they need the physical space for more trainsets, but they need it somewhere west of the platforms that can be fluidly accessed in a forward motion. Otherwise past a certain level of service saturation the reverse moves off the platform to an easterly layover are going to gunk up future Platform #2 too. Your guess as good as anyone's where that layover could go. Tons of real estate used to be available along Quinsigamond Ave. next to the P&W yard, but the development boom downtown has gobbled up all the most convenient parcels. They goofed by not squatting on land 10+ years ago when it was cheap and abundant downtown. You're probably casting a net up to 2 miles out now, either on P&W close to the capped city landfill (relocate the Denison Lubricants building from McKeon Rd. to next door to Intransit Container, and take Denison's parcel???), or west on the B&A (Webster Pl./Curtis Pond, and deal with environmental permitting???). Ex- Barbers Yard on the Gardner Branch wouldn't work because that's another time-chewing reverse move equally far away, so all of the ops-suitable options with sufficient storage space are costly to acquire, inconveniently far away, and require some ransom to CSX or P&W for traffic separation and dispatching slots on those layover deadheads.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:50 am

Re: Riverside, is there any talk of building a T/Amtrak station there (where the B&A used to have a station)? Could be a place to get MassPike commuters to switch to the T to complete their trips. Parking would be a challenge though ...

And re: Worcester layover enhancements for the T, FWIW CSX used to routinely park its road locomotives on one of the three P&W tracks parallel to McGrath Blvd. There's not a ton of space here but it can be accessed by simply heading west through CP-45. Maybe it could be a temporary relief valve to get one T train out of the way for another arrival (or Amtrak).
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:29 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: now that CSX has signed/sealed a 2018 expiration of the wide exemption east of Framingham Jct.


First i've heard of this. Can you cite the source?
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:39 pm

johnpbarlow wrote:Re: Riverside, is there any talk of building a T/Amtrak station there (where the B&A used to have a station)? Could be a place to get MassPike commuters to switch to the T to complete their trips. Parking would be a challenge though ...


There's always talk, and it's been mentioned as part of the Indigo extension. There are no realistic short, medium, or long term plans to add a station there.

But if....then Indigo could use the stub track between the Riverside switch and the Riverside Green Line station / complex. Connect Green to Purple there and use existing parking at Riverside (which is already at capacity, and I'm not sure what connecting Green to Purple does...perhaps folks could commute outbound from Newton on Green to Riverside and switch to faster Indigo?). The other option is to build a new Riverside station somewhere on the land vacated by the removal of toll booths at the Weston Toll plaza, but I have no idea how that would work - I've heard it mentioned but it makes no sense to me when I look at the geography. The relatively new office park between the Weston Tolls and the F-W line would have been the obvious place to put a station.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:23 am

dbperry wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: now that CSX has signed/sealed a 2018 expiration of the wide exemption east of Framingham Jct.


First i've heard of this. Can you cite the source?


http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/ ... land-deal/

11/17/2016 agreement inked w/ Harvard. Includes final payout from Harvard owed to CSX for the BP land acquisition, extinguishing of the perpetual rail easement to the ex- Romar property, and extinguishing of rights to the Houghton Chemical siding in Summer 2018 (as per separate financial assistance agreement between Harvard and Houghton). Those were the last two Plate F-accessible sidings inbound of Framingham that were still held under irrevocable rights after the original BP relocation agreement was signed. Upon agreement taking effect, the largest remaining freight customer access points reachable east of Framingham will be Plate C: the emergency route to Widett Circle/Track 61/Fairmount & Readville east of Beacon Park via South Station wye (does not impact the BBY platform raising). Grand Junction is restricted to Plate B because of the underheight Memorial Drive overpass, so CSX & predecessors never had capability of taking high-and-wides direct to Everett (Pan Am can do Plate E on its routing, so haulage agreement with PAR is the only way for CSX to increase per-car loading capacity to its Everett customers).


EDIT: The Romar siding was one of the haggling points. Harvard wants a greenway path from West Station through BP, and targeted the Romar siding and its Cambridge St. underpass as the easiest-grab ROW. CSX wielded a blocker on that ROW with the perpetual freight easement it baked into the original land sale giving them say over what Harvard could do with the path...even though the ex-Romar land is earmarked for campus buildings that'll never again host an industrial tenant. The Nov. agreement lines Jacksonville's pockets with more sweet Crimson cash (which CSX wanted) to extinguish the phantom easements and end any CSX residual rights through the real estate (which Harvard wanted). Kabuki dance a decade in the making.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:10 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:11/17/2016 agreement inked w/ Harvard...


Interesting. Does CSX need to do anything formal (like a filing with STB) to change the designation of the line? Where (i.e. what document or database) are the wide route designations maintained?
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:20 pm

They don't need to do any filings because as yard-attached sidings the Romar & Houghton tracks are governed by FRA regs for yard limits, which are so far below bottom-barrel industrial tracks on the regulatory food chain that there's virtually no formal regulation.


RE: Plate designations...that is maintained by the railroad's clearance dept. for billing and insurance. The FRA only logs the clearance one time when there's an uprate or some sort of one-time special data dump (like a Class I-on-Class I sale). So paperwork would've been filed for the B&A double-stack uprate taking effect...but all other times the FRA assumes the clearances stay the same unless told otherwise. It's a billing thing more than a regulatory thing because the railroad doesn't have to offer the maximum allowable plate size to customers unless they're contractually bound to or can make money on the rates. For example, if 97% of the carloads in a certain division are no bigger than Plate B/C/D/E, then there's little supply of Plate F cars floating around within few hundred miles to begin with and the big cars become very cost-ineffective to scramble into the region for some chintzy little customer that only needs a couple of them once in awhile. If the carrier can't make money on max-clearance moves to some place, then they don't offer it under regular rates and the customer bears the full cost premium for wanting it bad enough. At CSX they do allow for special over-clearance moves (such as electrical transformer moves or the partially-assembled jet engines that moved just last week Selkirk-Springfield and then via CSOR Springfield-Windsor Locks) if the customer pays up for all the above-and-beyond logistics and insurance $$$...similar to a special wide-load truck escort on the highway. But the rates are scaled accordingly because those kinds of ultra-special moves are so rare and difficult to stage.

Theoretically you CAN slip Plate F's past a full-high platform at no harm or foul if it's tangent enough. The railcar dimensions are fixed at same width as a passenger coach. It's just any curvature beyond the most slight is going to snare a 60 ft. boxcar swinging out on its axle going around a curve because the car is so much longer than average, so tangent platforms are a semi-necessity. And the speed past a full-high has to be VERY restricted or else a tall car's extra allowances for lateral movement on its shocks are going to cause platform dings (extra maint, extra insurance, slightly elevated derailment risk for blowing a speed limit, etc. etc.). P&W inches autoracks past the T.F. Green commuter platform every single day because that's an undercut non-electrified track that's the only means of slipping a 19'6" rack through the station overhang. But that's on the FRIP track at sub- 10 MPH restriction on a special insurance deal with RIDOT for platform strikes. And only a temporary measure because if commuter rail is ever electrified here there'll have to be a second round of construction to lower the center Amtrak tracks by 4 ft. so the racks can finally clear the mainline wires at full speed.

For CSX and most RR's, it would be completely impractical to slow to < 10 MPH through 8-10 full-highs inbound of Framingham on a daily job within business hours and keep a fully-funded "swear jar" for incidental platform dings harming their per-carload rates. It would snarl all other traffic while tanking their bottom line for running the job, so in that circumstance they'd be overly protective of their incumbent clearance envelope. But if daily over-wides aren't in the cards, they still have ability to do a one-off 60 ft. boxcar delivery to [???] inbound of Framingham in the future if a special move is requested, so long as they ran it in the dead of night kosher with MBTA dispatch, MBTA MOW, and their own insurance rates. It would just be billed as a special move like they do those ultra-wide transformer and jet engine moves down the B&A. If that ever happens, it would work solely by its rarity. They'd never be willing to do that as a regular job, or if there were any remaining customer sites whatsoever inbound of Framingham that would ever sustain a regular job.

That's where the clearance preemption exists. It's a right-of-first-refusal legal measure backed up by interstate commerce caselaw for the incumbent freight carrier to thumbs-up/thumbs-down any outside party from building something within their default clearance envelope. If the company clearance dept. isn't using the clearances it's free to agree to whatever requests it wants and waive right to future protection unless there's a written contract with the other party stating conditions (and compensations) for a reversal. But if they get encroached against their will, they can file a complaint...and it'll always, always be upheld if the lawyers have to get involved.

In this case, the clearance dept. signed off on the Harvard deal for waiving all perpetual rights to those two sidings, so that's all that's needed. There won't be a need for filing with the FRA because the physical dimensions of the line east of Framingham haven't changed, and won't change unless/until electrification goes in-play and cuts down the vertical clearance a little. CSX can still technically do a special Plate F move through any tangent full-highs and pass on the cost premium for running ultra-slow outside of MBTA hours to the customer (but they know they'll never need to), so in the FRA's eyes nothing's different here. If CSX cares enough about that very last bit of wiggle room for a special move they can give their two cents to any platform raisings that have curvature pronounced enough to cause a strike risk on a turning 60 ft. boxcar. But unless any 2-platform redesign of Auburndale gets them chiming in with a request to shift the works a few feet east so it's a little more tangent...then they don't care and they're giving their implicit consent.

On the complaint front, CSX last saber-rattled over encroachment when the South Coast Rail Task Force presented a full-high island design on Taunton Depot station that fouled Plate F movements to Middleboro. The station design was quickly amended to include a passing track so the protest didn't result in a formal filing. That one was especially dumb because the state lists point-blank in the official T commuter rail Design Guide which routes have wide-clearance exemptions...and the M'boro Sec. is right there in plain English. The big Penn Central '73 and B&M '76 bankruptcy line buys have their perpetual strings-attached protections (at least the ones that haven't been voluntarily waived in the decades since) documented in every edition of the Design Guide. And all of the newest line buys and passenger trackage rights agreements done since the last Design Guide edition--right up to the Wachusett extension and recent Conn River and Framingham Secondary purchases--refer back to the freight protection enumerations listed in those recent STB dockets. FWIW...South Coast FAIL is also potentially running afoul of CSX clearance legalities with the stupid electrification requirement whacking the vertical clearances on the 2 branches CSX sold. The contractual entanglements from that outsource deal re: Mass Coastal developing new interchange business for them could get thrown into chaos by CSX protest if allowable Plate sizes to/from the interchange and Ports of FR/NB get compromised by the wires.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:01 pm

Am I the only one who remembers the full high cement platform at BBY on the Framingham line when they rebuilt BBY mid 80s? Then they said it was "temporary" and changed it back to low.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:05 pm

...South Coast FAIL is also potentially running afoul of CSX clearance legalities with the stupid electrification requirement whacking the vertical clearances on the 2 branches CSX sold. The contractual entanglements from that outsource deal re: Mass Coastal developing new interchange business for them could get thrown into chaos by CSX protest if allowable Plate sizes to/from the interchange and Ports of FR/NB get compromised by the wires.
[OT]] If the vertical clearances are not allowed, then gee, they cant install the wires!
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:42 am

The Army Corps didn't provide any info about bridge underclearance with 25 kV wires in the FEIR because that whole electric requirement was so slapdash. So far the only 'glitch' fixed has been the horizontal clearances (Taunton Depot snafu w/CSX, plus all other branch stations that were already designed w/passing tracks). If, by our eternal misfortune, final engineering progresses far enough that the state has to start tacking on cost blowouts for trackbed undercuts and bridge raisings...that's when all hell will break loose. And it'll be messy because the CSX outsource/interchange deal with MC threads the incumbent clearance rights through a proxy carrier, but legal precedent almost always sides with the incumbent. i.e. The state/Task Force risk having a false sense of security proceeding as if they're the incumbent who can roll over new shortline tenant MC on the clearances...when legally it's CSX holding those cards.

----- ----- ----- -----

Now, in case you were wondering what the implications are for Worcester electrification. . .

As mentioned, since there's no trackside physical property inbound of Framingham that's even zoned for a new industrial tenant CSX's Plate F rights are moot (to them as much as the T). Now and forever there's officially $0 to be made east-of-Framingham running anything greater than the Plate B's that go to Everett. Plate C east of BP hasn't been used regularly since the Boston Herald siding closed 12+ years ago, and I don't think in the whole 18 years CSX has been in New England that they've ever used their emergency route through SS wye in freight revenue service (crew qualifying moves and T equipment swaps, yeah...customer deliveries, unlikely).

For Boston-Framingham electrification:
Plate B is the same height as a commuter rail K-car, and the height difference between Plates B & F (2.5 ft.) equals the recommended clearance envelope for a 25 kV wire over a railcar. So the T can electrify to Framingham without raising any structures whatsoever between CP 3 and Framingham Jct. They just eat the height difference between Plates B & F as they're stringing up, and CSX passively co-signs the STB & FRA electrification filings. East of CP 3 the Beacon St. overpass needs mods because its low-hanging section over the tracks won't clear a K-car under 25 kV, but AFAIK that's the only one that needs major mods (and you'd need this done regardless if future Beacon Park layover takes anyone's commuter electric deadheads...including Providence's).

Framingham-Westborough:
Framingham to Westborough is still daily/all-day Plate F traffic, but a large number of those bridges were incrementally raised/undercut to 19'6" during the Conrail era in hopes of eventually getting tri-level autoracks to the now-closed Framingham auto facility. Racks are moot now that the GM plant is long closed, CSX racks have moved out to the new East Brookfield facility, and there's nowhere else in Eastern MA that will ever need >Plate F. Since difference between Plate F and tri-level autoracks is also equal to the 2.5 ft. wire clearance, they can eat those clearances for electrification to Westborough and only have a few structures left to double-check for Plate F-under-25 kV clearance. That wouldn't even be a physical change for the CSX clearance dept., as the tri-rack clearance work to Framingham was abandoned long before it ever hit finishing stages.

Westborough-Worcester:
Double-stack territory from the Mass Pike overpass in Westborough to the Worcester Union turnout is only 6 overpasses @ 20'6" clearance, needing 23' for DS-under-wires. Nat'l Bridge Inventory (UglyBridges.com search) pegs some of those structures as already that tall, and the Grafton Station ped overpass is already that tall. Any and all remainders can be trackbed-undercut with no structural mods. Can't go Worcester-Springfield with electric Inlands because it ends up >2 dozen more bridges that do need real work...but the complete Worcester Line is doable without bloat from bridge mods, even with heavy DS traffic.

Of course you'd have to triple-track Ashland, Southborough, Westborough, and Grafton stations with center passers to get full-high platforms on the outer intermediates given the all-day density of high-and-wide freight traffic, but EMU's come standard with door traps too so it's not a prerequisite.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby nomis » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:24 pm

Over the last two days the mini high at West Natick has been nearly completely demolished on both sides.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby johnpbarlow » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:44 pm

The W Natick mini-highs have been blockaded off for quite awhile - perhaps > 1 year? They were in very dilapidated shape.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:02 pm

New blog post: Spring 2017 Construction Update

Three topics:
1) West Natick mini-high platforms
2) Tie replacement project
3) Framingham parking lot

http://framwormbta.weebly.com/blog/spri ... ion-update
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby The EGE » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:54 am

Great - that new parking lot prevents the construction of a freight bypass in the infield. So now the busiest station on the line is stuck with mini-highs forever. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:30 pm

No biggie! You know as well as I do that prospects for freight east of Framingham and pretty slim. Anything going to/from the SE Mass
cluster comes out of the North Yard anyway.

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