What if North Station and South Station were connected?

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What if North Station and South Station were connected?

Postby Mdlbigcat » Sat Dec 11, 2004 7:53 pm

..............you guys in Boston managed to connect North Station and South Station commuter rail lines [like Philly did in the 80's, connecting the Reading and Penn-Central commuter lines]. How would the line parings look like? Would there be an additional station downtown?

Another question is: Did anyone in Boston thought of connecting the two stations? The concept in Philly bounced around for about 25 years until action was started in 1979. Now 20 years after the connection opened, this town can't fathom living without the tunnel.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:40 pm

What a great question! You could write a book with the reasons why we have our two "Union Stations". I'm sure you're going to get a lot of great responses. As a start ( not even the tip of the iceberg) North Union brought together the railroads that served communities North and West of the city. Increasingly they all came under the control of the Boston & Maine Railroad. The North Shore railroads included: the Boston & Maine, The Boston & Lowell, The Eastern Railroad, The Fitchburg Railroad. Actually the Boston & Maine's Station was a bit closer to downtown at Haymarket Square until it was pulled back to North Station.

South Station served the Boston & Albany, The Old Colony, The New Haven and I believe the Central New England ( please correct me here). These lines served communities South and West of the city.

There was a street running short line that connected the Boston & Maine with the New Haven. It passed close by South Station but did not connect them directly, The Union Freight steered away from South Station over the Northern Avenue bridge and went on to the New Haven's freight yards.

A North South Rail link has been proposed now for years and the destruction of the Central artery and the construction of the "Big Dig" was the time to get it done but as usual the idea was pushed aside. The Sierra Club is still advocating the plan but there is no real chance it will be accomplished. The Sierra club likes to talk about new route parings but Boston's suburbs are very much split along North Shore/South Shore lines.
If these routings have been developed I sure like to see them.

The actual distance between the stations is only about a fifteen minute walk.

Boston always manages to pull up to a screaming stop just short of logical conclusion to every project it undertakes.
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Postby Cotuit » Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:39 pm

This is from the Sierra Club. I have an old Boston Globe Magazine article from ages ago that has a similar map in it kicking around somewhere.


Postby Cotuit » Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:43 pm

Cotuit wrote:I have an old Boston Globe Magazine article from ages ago that has a similar map in it kicking around somewhere.

Here it is.


North and South Station Link

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:56 pm

A link between North Station and South Station should have been built
years ago before it became so expensive.
Even today, a lot could benefit from an underground tunnel between the
two stations.
My idea for such a tunnel would be to build a double track tunnel between
the two stations and electrify it. No revenue passenger trains trough this
tunnel by diesel power. Then I would take one north side line and electrify
it, probably which ever one is the heaviest. I would then through route
service between Providence or Attleboro and the end point of the line that
is electrified out of North Station.
Maybe an underground two track platform at North Station combined with
a tunnel instead of using the present bridge for these trains too. The
Amtrak trains could change power at some convient location outside of the
tunnel before continuing on their trip to Portland.
I know there are people on here who do not think electric power is the way to go in Boston for commuter and maybe for the most part, they are
right but I think one line through routed could be the best way to go.
I do not think running diesels through a tunnel of about a mile or more is
a good idea, the noise and especially the fumes would filter back into the
Through routing one north side and south side line would free up vital
platform space at both stations and thus increase capacity a little bit.
Sure it would cost money but so did the big dig and that accomplished less
than this might.
Food for thought.
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Re: North and South Station Link

Postby Cotuit » Sat Dec 11, 2004 11:34 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:Maybe an underground two track platform at North Station combined with a tunnel instead of using the present bridge for these trains too.

I can't remember where I saved this map from, but it shows that the proposed portals would be well south of South Station and well north of North Station. Both stations would get new underground platforms. At South Station especially the N/S Link tunnel would likely have to be quite deep to make it under the artery, the redline, and the silverline.


Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sun Dec 12, 2004 12:06 am

how come they just don't make a tunnel connecting the Grand Junction track, and upgrading that track?

BTW, where does the grand Junction track end up in the south end, i know it starts near BET (boston engine terminal), but where does it go on the south side? Southhampton st yard?
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Postby johnpbarlow » Sun Dec 12, 2004 7:33 am

The CSX Grand Jct line terminates in Beacon Park yard right under the Mass Pike. To use the Grand Jct line in Cambridge for frequent T service would require a grade separation to keep from impacting car traffic. As Cambridge is a difficult place to commute to/from the Metrowest area, using this line could be very beneficial.
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Postby jwhite07 » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:17 am

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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:12 am

I always wonder why people only want to build a two track tunnel. It seems to me that if you are going to have so many trains passing through that you would at least want a 3 track tunnel. What happends if service grows? Then you would have to dig a new tunnel. If you had a 3rd track then AMTRAK could use it. That would be a good way to get federal funds.

Postby jwhite07 » Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:25 am

I went to a few of the Rail Link Citizen's Advisory Committee meetings back around 7 or 8 years ago. There were initially something like eight or nine different scenarios being debated (2/3/4 tracks, with/without a Central Station, etc).

Apparently it has been decided in the years since I stayed up on this that only two tracks are needed. I have not pored through the posted DEIS/MIS in any kind of excruciating detail, but I think I read somewhere in there that intercity traffic is still taken into account in the two-track scenario. Looks to me as though there will be much more service still terminating at North and South Stations, and not going through the tunnel, than was once thought.
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Postby FatNoah » Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:04 pm

Has anyone ever read the book "Mapping Boston?" One of the old maps in it shows a proposed N-S rail link, but from the current Back Bay to North Station via Park Street.
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Postby CJ » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:37 pm

See a FULL link, of course would be great, but its probably never gonna happen (Its the T remember!)

What I think would be something is a monorail (or 2 monorail rather) connecting North and South Station ,elevated where the central artery used to be....

If they did it right, it would look really nice, wouldnt be an eyesour, and would be more of a symbol (kinda like the one in disney world )

Just my 2 cents!
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Postby ckb » Sun Dec 12, 2004 10:35 pm

There's no way anything elevated will ever be built in the old Central Artery area ever again. Perhaps there won't be anything else elevated in Boston at all.

But I don't see what advantage your "connecting" link has over what exists. That connection exists -- you can travel between N. and S. Station if you have to. (From Back Bay Station, its a single trip on the orange line, from South Station you do have to connect Red to Green or Red to Orange. In fact on my last Acela trip to Boston the conductors were announcing connecting trips on the Downeaster to take the Orange Line from Back Bay).

The eventual point of the link is that it isn't really easy to consider a commuter rail trip between the north and south sides anyway because you have to coordinate the train arrivals and departures .... and any "connecting" service will have this problem.

Postby CS » Sun Dec 12, 2004 10:45 pm

It's not about going from South Station to North Station, it's about connecting northern New England to the rest of the East Coast. Why should someone up in Maine have to take a train to North Station and jump on the subway to South Station (and have to make a transfer!) - that's not adequate.
Further, I think it would be cool if there was a Central Station but is there a need for one? Is South, North and Back Bay not enough? If they were thinking back in the day, they would have named Back Bay South Station and South Station Central Station as it basically is the Central Station of Boston...
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