Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington, MA

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Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington, MA

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue May 08, 2012 11:57 pm

Does anyone have more history on the Salem Street Station other than quick passing posts we sometimes see or the unsourced Wikipedia description?

Wikipedia:
"The only station on this line was at Salem Street and was used briefly by the B&M in the early 1960's after the Haverhill line was shut down north of Reading, eliminating the North Wilmington station (restored as a stop in 1980 by MBTA). No structures were ever built at Salem St., but the area is still paved and used for storage of railroad maintenance equipment."

Based on this, it seems that Salem St and North Wilmington were never in service at the same time, correct? If so, did Salem St operate under the name North Wilmington, or was it actually referred to as Salem Street? And lastly, a speculative question: After double tracking down to Ballardvale, would the next double tracking project be down the Wildcat, and if so, is it likely the station would come back in conjunction with such? If not sooner?



EDIT: Also, is Haverhill via Wilmington faster because there are fewer stops than via Reading, or is it still faster than an express via Reading?
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed May 09, 2012 12:59 am

Salem St. lasted under that name as a stop until summer 1967 when the Dover, NH line was cut back to a rush hour Haverhill express. Wilmington already had the Wilmington stop so they opted not to subsidize their 2nd one. Thru trains last ran north of Reading in 1959, but I'm not sure pre-'59 there was a North Wilmington stop as we know it today.

If the Wildcat had full-time CR service Salem St. would be an excellent stop, and probably would be revived as one. North Wilmington--all 1-door platform of it--is only 1.5 miles up the street from Wilmington on the Lowell Line, which has actual parking and full platforms. So it's not that attractive a stop by location other than something's got to plug the station gap on the Western Route and there are commuters from North Reading that it's most convenient to. Salem St. offers much better transit access from Tewksbury via Route 38 while being exactly as convenient to get to from North Reading via 62. And downtown Wilmington really doesn't care because they gravitate more to the Wilmington stop. So if all service were equal, Salem St.'s probably the much better-patronized of the two.

But I would think you'd need to see at least 40% of the Haverhill schedule running up the Wildcat for that to happen. There will be a lot more Anderson-Haverhill expresses whenever (Plaistow or Plan B) they get their bigger layover and can expand the schedule. Reading Line hasn't got that much extra capacity to give even if they double-tracked the last of it. Lowell Line's got lots to spare, and they can probably pack the rush hour headways tighter by trading more Anderson expresses for more Reading short-turns. And, yes, going to be double-tracked soon enough for Amtrak's peace of mind. Maybe even before Reading-Wilmington qualifies. The current work moves crossing gates and landscapes on the branch to support doubling. They wouldn't be bothering with that now if they weren't looking on imminent alert for a tack-on appropriation of spare change at the tail end of the project to patch that. Someday both routes are going to need double, so no big deal if the one of lesser immediate MBCR importance happens to get built first because Amtrak's paying for it. It'll get plenty of escalating use...and, the T is happy to spend the feds' money where the feds want it first.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby The EGE » Wed May 09, 2012 10:58 am

I'm fairly sure an Haverhill express via Reading would be just as fast as via Lowell. Pretty similar line conditions and not much difference in mileage.

Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA District is the bible of everything MBTA - bus, RT, and CR - since 1964. It gives June 30, 1967 as the end of Salem Street service.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby jbvb » Wed May 09, 2012 11:16 am

From the Mystic River to Andover St. in Lawrence via Reading, there is nothing about the old B&M alignment that restricts speed below 70 MPH. Via the Wildcat is a little longer and has a sharp curve at Wilmington, so it loses on absolute grounds. But the world has changed since the B&M employed a half-dozen crossing tenders to support high speeds across busy streets in Melrose, Wakefield and Reading, so the Wildcat will be faster in any present-day scenario with comparable numbers of stops and dwell times.

However, #212 (lv. Haverhill 0730) is the Wildcat-routed train I ride most often; it doesn't skip any stops, runs behind a Downeaster and typically has long loading times inwards from Wilmington. It's more likely to arrive late than any other train I regularly use.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed May 09, 2012 1:42 pm

Current speeds aren't that great a barometer about which line is intrinsically faster because nothing on either route is running >60 MPH, and the NH Main is hobbled further at an asynchronous 50 MPH southbound/60 MPH northbound from Wilmington which makes schedule-keeping a nightmare. If they ever get their PTC house in order and replace all that old ABS territory so all track can be signaled for 79 MPH, then having a dozen fewer crossings makes the NH Main the hands-down faster route for an express.

Ultimately it doesn't matter. They need both routes, and packing headways for increased Haverhill service is going to require more Wildcat trains to the benefit of all. Both for having flat-out extras and for exchanging some peak-hour Haverhill expresses for Reading short-turns to pack the headways tighter and seating room more spacious for each half of the route. I don't know if it's ever going to be enough to reanimate Salem St. station since Wildcat will always be the more limited-schedule of the two flanks unless there's (very unlikely) further branching or NH extensions. But current ops are not indicative of actual capacity, nor is the Wilmington Jct. double-tracking the end of a very long upgrades to-do list when the old signal system limitations are factored in.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby edbear » Wed May 09, 2012 4:07 pm

Salem Street opened June 14, 1959. North Wilmington hosted its last train (until the Haverhill revival in 1979) on June 13, 1959.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby boblothrope » Fri May 11, 2012 2:08 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Current speeds aren't that great a barometer about which line is intrinsically faster because nothing on either route is running >60 MPH, and the NH Main is hobbled further at an asynchronous 50 MPH southbound/60 MPH northbound from Wilmington which makes schedule-keeping a nightmare. If they ever get their PTC house in order and replace all that old ABS territory so all track can be signaled for 79 MPH, then having a dozen fewer crossings makes the NH Main the hands-down faster route for an express.


Will the Federal PTC mandate for passenger trains result in higher speed limits? I thought 79 mph was the limit if there *was* an ABS system, and that cab signals/PTC would mean even faster speeds.

Does the presence of grade crossings require a lower speed limit?
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby sery2831 » Sat May 12, 2012 12:57 am

While PTC may allow for higher speeds in general. Curves, junctions and busy crossings will more than likely will not make the speeds change. And with station so close, speeds above 70 are pretty unrealistic for the type of trains the MBTA operates.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby M&Eman » Tue May 15, 2012 12:54 pm

sery2831 wrote:While PTC may allow for higher speeds in general. Curves, junctions and busy crossings will more than likely will not make the speeds change. And with station so close, speeds above 70 are pretty unrealistic for the type of trains the MBTA operates.


No reason the Providence Line, with it's wide station spacing and high-maintenance level could be faster though...except for the T's penchant for ordering low-speed equipment. A 100mph or 110mph Providence line should be a goal of the T's, particularly considering the very long trip times from Wickford to South Station.
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Re: Salem Street Station on the Wildcat Branch, Wilmington,

Postby Komarovsky » Tue May 15, 2012 1:14 pm

With the new locomotives and bi-levels on order the T should be able to offer 100mph on the providence line. Whether the T will organize consists that would support 100mph operation is a different story.
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