Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby csor2010 » Mon May 08, 2017 5:11 pm

What look to be new dwarf signals (covered and not yet in service) have appeared at CP-3. I imagine these will come online when CP-6 is cut in - anyone know if this will match up with the 5/22 start of service to Boston Landing?
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Mon May 08, 2017 9:47 pm

Last I had heard was that CP 6 would not become operational until later this year - after Labor Day. Long lead time on some components was reason I was given. I'm not sure if that is still true. I'll find out. I don't know anything about dwarf signals at CP 3 - the signal system is functional on both tracks in both directions in the CP 3 to mile 6 automatic area as far as I know. Some trains call clear of mile 6 but that makes sense since the dispatcher can't see any detail on track occupancy from CP 3 to CP 11 with current system.

There is a temporary stop sign eastbound near automatic 6 (at least on track 2 but probably both tracks) for the CP 6 construction area. It is a bulletin order rule 135 stop sign. I don't know if there is anything westbound but I would presume so.

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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Tue May 09, 2017 9:33 am

dbperry wrote:the dispatcher can't see any detail on track occupancy from CP 3 to CP 11 with current system.
Wow! And that won't get fixed until they rip out and replace the signal system, I imagine.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby nomis » Tue May 09, 2017 9:54 am

csor2010, No new signals near CP3, but lots of bagged temporary speed boards and signs on both sides of the interlocking.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue May 09, 2017 11:46 am

BandA wrote:
dbperry wrote:the dispatcher can't see any detail on track occupancy from CP 3 to CP 11 with current system.
Wow! And that won't get fixed until they rip out and replace the signal system, I imagine.



Yup. No continuous track circuits, so occupancy is only tracked intermittently. That is precisely why the Boston-Framingham signaling is so cheap and limited, with low speed limit and too-low service density.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Tue May 09, 2017 2:29 pm

Intermittent occupancy tracking? That seems unsafe.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Tue May 09, 2017 2:33 pm

...Also seems unlikely to have intermittent detection, since there is continuously welded rail, which would easily make the entire block a continuous circuit. Perhaps amplifiers are needed periodically for such a long block, but I would think they would be (relatively) inexpensive.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue May 09, 2017 4:23 pm

BandA wrote:Intermittent occupancy tracking? That seems unsafe.

It's not unusual at all. Old pole line systems still extant on a shrinking portion of the northside don't always transmit continuously through the running rails, either. You have isolated track circuits at the block boundaries same places where the wayside signal heads are plugged into the pole line. Some really old ABS, like what used to be run on the Fitchburg Line out of Waltham Tower, is so primitive it can't do any train detection at all and relies entirely on regular human-to-human radio squawk to ascertain position and make dispatcher decisions. None of it is inherently unsafe because of the great precautions taken through the rulebook. But non-constant tracking comes with obvious tradeoffs for MAS and how densely you can pack trains on the line. Fitchburg's schedule used to be so irredeemably awful less because of the S. Acton-Willows single track than the fact that the whole of Somerville-Ayer was bound-and-gagged by signaling techniques virtually unchanged from 1910...and all margin for error was chewed up and gone before having to stage meets around the single iron mid-line.


The drag effect on the inner Worcester Line is self-apparent. 59 MPH MAS where the track and geometry are plenty good for 79 MPH and would easily hit 79 inside Route 128 on the schedules that skip Newton. Lots of fudge factor required in the schedule because of the lack of tracking precision, giving the line its excruciatingly long end-to-end travel times through excess padding and contributing to its infamous near-daily cascading delays when one late train fouls the margin-for-error for everything behind it and every planned meet inside-128. And the max achievable train spacing with that inflexible block/detection layout leaves an artificially low ceiling for service density, inhibiting much additional schedule expansion. Low enough that the addition of CP6 crossovers and fixing the Newton single-platform pinches are no-way/no-how enough by their lonesome to serve up slots for layering Indigo-Riverside service...and probably not even enough by their lonesome to serve conventional Worcester service growth beyond another 5-8 years of incremental schedule backfill. This despite Worcester being the least capacity-constrained by South Station terminal of any southside line, owing to its conflict-free platform assignments on the far Atlantic Ave. side. And this despite Worcester being the only southside schedule besides Fairmount that doesn't have to play branching games on the NEC or amongst itself.

Continuous track circuits the likes of which you find on every wayside-only line (excluding pole line ABS Rockport and Western Route on the Wyoming-Reading double-track) fix those handicaps through gapless tracking. The cab signal layer--which bootstraps on top of the bottom-layer continuous track circuits--adds the speed regulation. And then the ACSES PTC layer on top works in conjunction with the cab signals to slam shut the last one-in-a-million safety loopholes and--if programmed to-task--fine-tunes the train spacing to dynamically pack 'em as close as whatever desired tradeoff of speed vs. density/meets is optimal for the layer cake of services they want to run. But it all starts at the base, which is why the signal system has to be cleanroomed to punch through the service ceiling currently imposed. ACSES can/will operate without cab signals and be able to backfill the functions of that missing second layer...albeit at more up-front cost and complexity and fewer recourses for avoiding draconian stops and speed restrictions in event of a chance signal dropout. But since ACSES is only designed to augment the lower signaling layers, not supplant them...the achievable service density is still limited by the lowest common denominator. Dispatch gets a little bit more computer-brain assistance on decision-making for managing those cascading delays, but there still aren't avenues for implementing "layer-cake" exponential service increases or stamping out the existence of the cascading-delay vulnerability inside-Framingham without the $$$ of a full-on replacement. Meaning, no perma-fix...no Indigos...no overlapping service layer cake until you trench 20 miles of brand new fiber for continuous track circuits, cab signals, and the type of cabbed ACSES the NEC has and Old Colony main will quickly have for threading their much greater overall schedule loads.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Wed May 10, 2017 4:47 pm

I believe the signal cabling through Newton was replaced just before/after the state purchase as the telegraph poles were cut down. Hope they provisioned at that time for a new signal system.

Is there a project or timeline for replacing the signal system?
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed May 10, 2017 7:25 pm

BandA wrote:I believe the signal cabling through Newton was replaced just before/after the state purchase as the telegraph poles were cut down. Hope they provisioned at that time for a new signal system.

Is there a project or timeline for replacing the signal system?


12/31/2020 or they have some 'splainin to do to the FRA?
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby emmccand » Thu May 11, 2017 12:35 pm

Looking for some help and advice here:

I live outside of Hartford, CT and have new job in which I'll be primarily working from home but need to commute to Boston once a week. Looking at all my transportation options (or I should say, my few transportation options) my best bet seems to be to drive the hour to Worcester and take the commuter rail to South Station -- a 15 min. walk from my office.

Having never taken the commuter rail before, I would love advice on what to expect (parking, crowds, etc.) and if this is indeed the best option for my situation.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby Trinnau » Thu May 11, 2017 2:18 pm

The signal system on the Worcester is continuous and the dispatcher can see occupancy. There just isn't a lot of precision, they can see the train is somewhere in this block, but that line on the screen might be 4-6 miles in the field. But that's about the extent of it, and that is typical for most signal systems. Newer systems are setup with breaks on the dispatcher's screen that mirror blocks in the field separated by automatic signals.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby BandA » Thu May 11, 2017 3:56 pm

At least the signal poles and boxes are freshly painted.
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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby dbperry » Fri May 12, 2017 10:55 am

emmccand wrote:Looking for some help and advice here:

I live outside of Hartford, CT and have new job in which I'll be primarily working from home but need to commute to Boston once a week. Looking at all my transportation options (or I should say, my few transportation options) my best bet seems to be to drive the hour to Worcester and take the commuter rail to South Station -- a 15 min. walk from my office.

Having never taken the commuter rail before, I would love advice on what to expect (parking, crowds, etc.) and if this is indeed the best option for my situation.

Thanks in advance!


Parking is available at Worcester; I don't hear reports of the garage filling up. The ride from Worcester is long even on the express trains. Many Framingham-Worcester trains are quite crowded, but by getting on in Worcester you are assured a seat and a good choice seat.

Commuter Rail performance is still not as good as it could be, but it is getting better. And there has been a boatload of money invested on Framingham-Worcester over past few years that will help with reliability.

Before you commit to monthly passes or parking permits, I would encourage you to try the CR vs. driving at least a few times to see what works for you. I would prefer you use transit but I won't push you to that if it doesn't work for you...

Feel free to poke through my blog (link below) and contact me directly if you have other questions.

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Re: Framingham/Worcester Line Questions

Postby nomis » Sat May 13, 2017 2:39 pm

As one that does this commute 5 days a week, you are looking at clear sailing on 84+90+290 right into Worcester station area. You only need to worry about leaving traffic on 290 in Worcester at the height of rush hour 7am & 4pm time frames. Either Worcester or Grafton is nearly equidistant in time, and both have parking available @ $4/day, and the same CR zone. My wife would occasionally drive into Riverside for her day a month in the LMA area, even though the drive time was more erattic, that was approx 2:15 in commuting time each way. She can't read or do work on the train, so it is lost time just like driving.

No matter what, you are looking at a 2.5 hour approx trip from HFD area to South Station via either Worcester, Franklin or Providence lines.
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