Boston's Wildcat Branch

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Tadman » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:48 am

Today on the MBTA map I noticed the "wildcat branch". After reading the wiki article, it appears the Downeast and a few MBTA purple trains use this line to circumvent a single-track route. I'm not too familiar with B&M/north side Boston rail scene. Any reason why they haven't double-tracked the main line or simple turned the Wildcat branch into a main? Does it add to the Downeaster's running time?
Tadman
 
Posts: 8474
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby The EGE » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:37 am

There's no room to double-track the Western Route (Haverhill Line) through Malden; the 3-track ROW was to be three Orange Line tracks to Reading but was cut back to Oak Grove due to community opposition. At the time, the Reading Line terminated in Reading and (limited) Haverhill service used the Wildcat. I can dig up more dates later.

It takes the same amount of absolute time to use the Wildcat, and it allows the Downeaster to use the fully double-track Lowell main to essentially pass a Haverhill train between Wilmington and North Station as well as to serve Anderson RTC.

Additionally, the full-high platforms at Malden Center and Oak Grove restrict speeds on the Haverhill Line as the dynamic profile of trains is higher at speed. The Lowell, with mini-highs except at the station stop at Anderson, may in fact be faster for this reason.
User avatar
The EGE
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:16 pm
Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Jersey_Mike » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:23 am

Additionally, the full-high platforms at Malden Center and Oak Grove restrict speeds on the Haverhill Line as the dynamic profile of trains is higher at speed. The Lowell, with mini-highs except at the station stop at Anderson, may in fact be faster for this reason.


Yeah tell me about it. I always hate how trains on the NEC are restricted to only 110mph on tracks 1 and 4 because of all those stupid high level platforms. :p
Jersey_Mike
 
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:33 am

The Western Route to Wilmington also has a ton of grade crossings. 20 there vs. 2 on the NH Main and 4 on the Wildcat.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7218
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Tommy Meehan » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:40 am

It's also a fun trip down the Wildcat Branch. No stations and the junction at Wilmington is a real old-school railroad junction.
User avatar
Tommy Meehan
 
Posts: 3286
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 7:00 am
Location: Yonkers

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby AEM7AC920 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:34 pm

This prob belongs in the mbta forum seeing that the T owns the wildcat ;)
AMTRAK HAWK DETECTOR TRACK 1 NOOO DEFECTS OUT!
AEM7AC920
 
Posts: 2582
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Unkown.....

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby edbear » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:02 pm

The Wildcat was built as the Andover & Wilmington in the mid-1830s and eventually became the Boston & Maine. From its opening about 1835 to 1844, Andover & Wilmington/Boston & Maine trains utilized trackage rights over the Boston & Lowell to reach Boston. In 1844, the Boston & Maine obtained a charter to build from what is now Wilmington Junction to Boston through Reading, Wakefield, Melrose and Malden to its own terminal at Haymarket Square in Boston. The B & M then gave up its Boston & Lowell trackage rights and the Wildcat was abandoned. After the Boston & Maine obtained the Boston & Lowell in 1887, the Wildcat was rebuilt. Up until the 1920s, there was a minor passenger service on the line, Lawrence-Boston via Wilmington. It was upgraded when the Boston Terminal complex, North Station and freight yards, was modernized in the late 1920s. The Wildcat became the route of inbound (Boston bound) through freight to utilize the upgraded Boston freight yards. Outbound through freight continued to operate via Malden. It was freight only until 1959. In 1959 the B & M routed Haverhill-Dover-Portland trains via Winchester and the Wildcat. Service between Boston and Reading was stub-ended at Reading. This reroute allowed the B & M to cut out one trick of crossing tenders at all those crossings between Melrose and Reading. The North Wilmington station was replaced by Salem Street Station on the Wildcat, a large parking area, a few high lights and a platform.
edbear
 
Posts: 423
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:44 pm

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Tommy Meehan » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:18 pm

Maybe this should be in the MBTA Forum (I have no preference) but thank you to Ed Bear for that capsule history. I've been very curious about the Wildcat Branch since first riding it about ten years ago.

Great job Ed. Fascinating!

One more question:

How the heck did it get the name Wildcat?
User avatar
Tommy Meehan
 
Posts: 3286
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 7:00 am
Location: Yonkers

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby The EGE » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:35 pm

One would guess something to do with the town of Wilmington - whose mascot is the Wildcats.
User avatar
The EGE
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:16 pm
Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Tadman » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:29 pm

Thanks for the info. It was a tossup between Amtrak and MBTA forums, as there's 5 DE/day from Amtrak and "limited rush hour" commuter service from MBTA. Sound like equally limited use from either railroad, so I put it here (what can I say, I hear this is a fun forum... Jeff Smith rules!).
Tadman
 
Posts: 8474
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:57 pm

I agree this is probally more of a New England railfan topic than an Amtrak topic.
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
Ave Atque Vale
User avatar
gprimr1
 
Posts: 3848
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby jbvb » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:17 am

Someone recently looked up the deed records and found that the Wildcat was apparently rebuilt by the B&L before the B&M acquired it, in order to give the B&L - owned Salem & Lowell a shorter route to Wilmington and points inward towards Boston. This was the origin of the 1/2 mile of track N of the Western Route main between the present Wilmington Jct. and the point where the Western Route turns toward Reading.
jbvb
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2007 3:50 pm
Location: Rockingham Co., NH

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby number7 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:56 am

That is correct JBVB. Among other things it also allowed them to provide an alternative passenger service from their depot in N. Lawrence, through West Andover down to Tewksbury, onto the Salem and Lowell for a short ride to the old Wilmington Jct. From there the train would ride the rebuilt track over what is now the 'cat to Wilmington, get on the Boston and Lowell and into Boston that way.
number7
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:18 am

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby number7 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:59 am

It was orignally the Andover and Wilmington, then the Boston and Maine, after the B&M built it's own route to Boston because dealing with the Boston and Lowell became an issue, they no longer needed what is now the 'cat so they abandoned it. The B&L rebuilt it and used it, see my previous message, then the B&M got it back when they acquired the B&L.
number7
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:18 am

Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:25 pm

The EGE wrote:There's no room to double-track the Western Route (Haverhill Line) through Malden; the 3-track ROW was to be three Orange Line tracks to Reading but was cut back to Oak Grove due to community opposition. At the time, the Reading Line terminated in Reading and (limited) Haverhill service used the Wildcat. I can dig up more dates later.

It takes the same amount of absolute time to use the Wildcat, and it allows the Downeaster to use the fully double-track Lowell main to essentially pass a Haverhill train between Wilmington and North Station as well as to serve Anderson RTC.

Additionally, the full-high platforms at Malden Center and Oak Grove restrict speeds on the Haverhill Line as the dynamic profile of trains is higher at speed. The Lowell, with mini-highs except at the station stop at Anderson, may in fact be faster for this reason.


The MBTA could definitely double track the Reading Branch entirely without any land taking. It would just be ridiculously costly to do so. :P There's definitely 4 tracks worth of space on MBTA property, up to just shy of Wyoming.
User avatar
BostonUrbEx
 
Posts: 3603
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:55 pm
Location: Winn to MPT 8, Boston to MPN 38, and Hat to Bank

Next

Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MBTA3247 and 10 guests