What if North Station and South Station were connected?

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Postby efin98 » Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:31 pm

CS wrote: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...


You are forgetting that Back Bay only served two of the three major tennants of South station, basically cut out the Old Colony Lines and the Fairmont Line in doing the renaming like that...
efin98
 

Postby SbooX » Mon Dec 13, 2004 12:30 am

Theres no need for a monorail or any other type of connector, that is not the true N-S Link because it already exists. Its the Orange Line. Take the Downeaster to North Station then hop on the Orange Line to Back Bay for all points south. (With few exceptions, and to hell with those who wouldn't have a connection. It just ain't worth the billions.)
SbooX
 

Postby Cotuit » Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:55 am

Asking people to take the Orange Line is all well and good, but it is not the way a national railway system should be run. Why should people north of Boston and in New Hampshire and Maine have to switch trains twice to reach points south that those of us south of Boston don't have to? Amtrak service north of Boston will never reach it's full potential until the two sides are connected. Are people taking a trip to New York or DC really going to want to drag themselves and all their luggage onto the subway and then onto another train, not to mention coordinating schedules? I'd be all for taking Amtrak to OOB or Portland from Providence, but the hassle is not really worth it, and I'm a rail person.

And brushing off the lines that don't connect to Back Bay is no small thing either. The potential to connect Northern New Englanders to the Cape for instance. No one is going to leave their car at home when taking a Cape Cod vacation if the alternative is 4 trains (and the same thing for those South Shore people heading north).
Cotuit
 

Postby DanDubs » Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:37 am

The most bang for the buck I could imagine is a 2-track tunnel, that branches to 4 or more tracks at the stations, and no central station. With more than one track per direction, the tunnel could be utilized at a much greater capacity. NJ transit tunnel that enters Penn Station NY. More than 20 train/hr pass under neath the Hudson, but there are many platforms to recieve the trains once they enter Penn. The dwell times of CR trains (and worse yet, intercity trains) can kill the efficiency of the tunnel.
DanDubs
 

Postby CSX Conductor » Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:46 pm

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote: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?


First off, the Grand Jct. would be totally out of the way. Secondly it is FRA Excepted track, which means no revenue service could be run over it in it's current condition.
User avatar
CSX Conductor
 
Posts: 5458
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 12:04 am
Location: Boston, Mass

Postby TomNelligan » Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:03 pm

In a perfect world, a tunnel connecting North Station with South Station would have been nice, but the only realistic chance for such a project came and went in the planning stages of the Big Dig. Given the way that ridiculous leaking money pit has swallowed billions of dollars of Federal funds, there is not the slightest chance that Congress will give Boston even more money to dig another tunnel, and certainly the state can't afford to fund it. Maybe in another generation it might happen, but not now.

Meanwhile, as a couple people have mentioned, the Orange Line link between North Station and Back Bay is fast and already in place. It will just have to do for now.
TomNelligan
 
Posts: 3180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: Massachusetts

An Idea

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:43 am

One thing that ought to be considered would be a day train leaving both
ends at a reasonable hour in the morning and operate between New York
and Portland via Worcester. It could run via the P. & W. Norwich Branch
which I believe is in reasonable shape and could probably be improved on
without spending a fortune and on to the Boston & Maine at Worcester
which again I think is in reasonable shape and could be improved on as
well.
Would there be enough market for such a train? Factor in Worcester,
Lowell and the other imtermediate stations and maybe there would be.
As for the commuter service, I think downtown Boston is adequately
served by the existing setup for commuter services out of both North and
South Stations.
I agree with Tom, nothing is going to happen at any time soon and maybe
not later either. It would be nice but I do not think it will happen.
At least by running a train over the old State of Maine route, New York -
Portland would have one seat/one train service.
Noel Weaver
Noel Weaver
 
Posts: 9330
Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 9:33 pm
Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Postby SnoozerZ49 » Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:54 am

I think when all is said and done the failure of the Downeaster to make a direct connection with the rest of the Amtrak network will prove its demise. Bus service at the South Station Bus Terminal already has a more direct link to Amtrak than the Downeaster.

Noel also brought up a good point, that Worcester is the traditional gateway to Maine for railroad passengers from the South. Wouldn't it be grand to see Union Station host such a train again? I would have said that it will never happen but if the Red Sox can win the World Series, anything could happen :wink:
SnoozerZ49
 
Posts: 438
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2004 9:25 am

Postby Charliemta » Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:55 pm

Rather than build an incredibly expensive downtown Boston tunnel, a more cost effective solution would be to build a high-speed 2 to 4 track AMTRAK & commuter rail line along Route 128/I-95, basically a surface line with full grade separation. This rail line would connect the two major AMTRAK lines: the Attleboro line with the Woburn line. This would provide the highly desired through service from Providence and New York City to northern New England, and also provide additional commuter and inter-city rail service to the Route 128 corridor.

High density development could be built at the rail stations along the route, probably at the points where the rail line intersects existing commuter, MBTA and AMTRAK rail and transit lines.
Long live the "El"
User avatar
Charliemta
 
Posts: 317
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:51 pm

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:23 pm

A circumferential transit line following Route 128, with park-and-ride lots at the intersection of major highways like the Mass Pike and I-93, would certainly be advantageous for commuters who use that road. But the practical problem with routing intercity trains over such a hypothetical Boston bypass is that you miss downtown, which might subtract as much business as suburban stations added. (Then there's the currently insurmountable money and NIMBY factor, of course, but I know this is just speculation anyway.)

In the UK, there are a number of cities (Manchester, Birmingham, and Bristol come immediately to mind) where intercity trains can be routed either through the city center station or along a bypass route that makes one or more suburban stops. But that's in a country whose rail service density both in terms of number of trains and number of routes is so vastly much greater than ours, that it's probably not a reasonable comparison.

Speaking of the UK, the Circle Line of the London Underground is an example of a circumferential transit route that is an essential link between other lines that diverge radially. Of course a Boston equivalent would have a couple stops under the harbor. :-)
TomNelligan
 
Posts: 3180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Postby octr202 » Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:32 pm

TomNelligan wrote:Speaking of the UK, the Circle Line of the London Underground is an example of a circumferential transit route that is an essential link between other lines that diverge radially. Of course a Boston equivalent would have a couple stops under the harbor. :-)


The Boston equivilent to the Circle Line in London would be the Urban Ring, should it ever be built.* A 128 rail line is truly a gamble in terms of how it would generate ridership. Since the highway really doesn't pass through anything, but rather near towns and office parks, how are people to get to and from the train? They can drive on one end, but that's just one end. Making three and four connections per trip, whether to a personal car, the 128 train, other commuter rail or subway lines, or feeder/distributer buses, is going to make the trip time too great. remember, every time you introduce a transfer, you lose at least 25% of your ridership. This is, of course, assuming that there is no high density development created along the route -- but this is Massachusetts, I wouldn't count on that happening.

Putting the rail link downtown would probably be cost-competitive with the 128 routeing anyways, given the mileage involved. Plus, you're not making a huge land use gamble on top of it.

*Chicago also has a "Circle Line" plan floating, but given the CTA's budget, that's about all it will probably do.

http://www.chicago-l.org/plans/CircleLine.html
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
Photo: Melbourne W7 No. 1019 on Route 78, Bridge & Church Streets, Richmond, Victoria. 10/21/2010
User avatar
octr202
 
Posts: 4142
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:13 am
Location: In the land of the once and future 73 trackless trolley.

Postby SnoozerZ49 » Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:05 pm

Boston really is to small a metropolitan area to consider these huge public works projects. The big dig proves it. As a taxpayer I could not spport the idea of a rail route along the 128 corridor. It just does not make any sense, the route density is not there. Boston, the small city with a big attitude!!!
SnoozerZ49
 
Posts: 438
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2004 9:25 am

Postby BC Eagle » Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:56 am

SnoozerZ49 wrote:Boston really is to small a metropolitan area to consider these huge public works projects. The big dig proves it. As a taxpayer I could not spport the idea of a rail route along the 128 corridor. It just does not make any sense, the route density is not there. Boston, the small city with a big attitude!!!


Given the amount of daily traffic on 128, 93, and the Pike, I would argue that some sort of rail project is necessary. However, I doubt we'll ever see it.
BC Eagle
 

Postby FatNoah » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:59 am

An obstactle just as big as actually construction such a rail line would be getting the proper connecting services. Once people get off the train, they still have possible several miles to go to get to their jobs / homes.
FatNoah
 
Posts: 1010
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:10 am

Postby octr202 » Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:29 am

BC Eagle wrote:
SnoozerZ49 wrote:Boston really is to small a metropolitan area to consider these huge public works projects. The big dig proves it. As a taxpayer I could not spport the idea of a rail route along the 128 corridor. It just does not make any sense, the route density is not there. Boston, the small city with a big attitude!!!


Given the amount of daily traffic on 128, 93, and the Pike, I would argue that some sort of rail project is necessary. However, I doubt we'll ever see it.


There's just so little way to serve people effectively and efficiently by running a circumfrential route around 128....not unless 50 or 60 years from now, the corridor is in the midst of a major urban area. there's no walking environment out there. You'd need shuttle buses and vans to get people to actual destinations, and that would be very expensive, slow, and unattractive for most commuters.

The most effective way to serve suburb to suburb travel is probably to go via downtown, ironically. Will it get someone from Woburn to Waltham? No. But it will provide cross-metro area options (i.e., Needham to Woburn) at the same time as serving the core market, travel to Boston. While I won't argue that SEPTA has made the most of its tunnel or the Regional Rail system, it does make it fairly easy to make cross-city trips there, even if you have to transfer. Many times I've used it to go from the Philly airport to the Lansdale Line (north, Reading side) -- you just transfer across the platform in Center City. Doing this with the Rail Link, though, would of course have to be a long term goal, as most likely initial tunnel service would only be on selected lines that were electrified. But, once you put the tunnel and the first couple lines in, the incremental cost of expanding the system is much lower. Its not a one project and its over kind of thing -- it would take decades of committment to improving rail service. (That alone should doom it right there).

As far as the tunnel downtown goes, building it with only two tracks would probably be a mistake, unless provisions are made to install the other two later on. With trains from multiple lines making at least two stops in the tunnel, the chances for backups would seem very likely. Of course, it'd be much cheaper to simply put all tracks in at one time, rather than dig up twice, but that would require a public project favoring long term economics over short term savings -- not politically popular.

The Central Station is a good idea that shouldn't be dismissed so quickly. A huge secondary benefit of the tunnel is the ability to deliver commuter rail passengers to their destinations without having to put them on the subway. A train from Lowell that stops at North, Central (about State St.), South, and Back Bay would provide a one seat ride to just about anywhere in downtown Boston. That's an easy way to help add capacity on the subway lines, which, let's face it, don't have a long way to go to total gridlock.

With all that said, I understand fully that we have a better chance of seeing unicorns and white elephants parade down Tremont St. than seeing Massachusetts make a concerted effort to systematically improve public transit.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
Photo: Melbourne W7 No. 1019 on Route 78, Bridge & Church Streets, Richmond, Victoria. 10/21/2010
User avatar
octr202
 
Posts: 4142
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:13 am
Location: In the land of the once and future 73 trackless trolley.

PreviousNext

Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests