3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby Arlington » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:31 pm

This thread proposes to discuss the age-old Orange Line vs Haverhill Line turf fight in light of the T's apparent new-found love of DMUs.

I know that we've covered elsewhere how Melrose's grade crossings and mode snobs thwarted the Orange Line's ambitions to reach out to Reading and Rt 128. We've also covered how, if we'd known that 40 years ago, the OL would not have been built as a 3-track operation. And we've watched the transit rails rot in place as they pass through stations like Wellington, while the Haverhill line is constrained on a single track, and CR growth beyond N. Wilmington pretty much has to get to/from North Station via the Lowell Line.

And we've watched that uneasy stalemate for 30 years now: OL has more infrastructure than it will ever need, Haverhill has less than it deserves because too many decisions were cast in concrete and kept there by an FRA that wouldn't let heavy rail and transit easily intermix.

So far, its always been concluded that it is (nearly) too expensive to change the OL to favor the CR, and CR ridership doesn't merit taking back a track.

Do DMU's change that?

What if the whole CR operation south of North Wilmington were converted to DMU? (with CR being redirected to the Lowell Line).

Could the grade-connections be severed and the railhead height be tweaked to allow DMUs to serve the unused OL platforms as their own?

Or is the real DMU on the Orange line just more Orange Line EMUs, and actually using the 3rd track for something?

Or does the population between North Station Reading just not need any more transit?
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3321
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby joshg1 » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:18 pm

DMUs don't change anything along the Haverhill line unless more trains are run in an effort to bring in more riders, and I wonder if that's your question- would DMUs mean more trains? In that case taking back the OL track removes bottle necks.

Why not convert the whole North side to DMUs over time? Let Amtrak run the loco hauled trains. I assume a EMU service using the 3d track would not run through to Forest Hills, and that turning trains around in the middle of the system would slow the OL at peaks. So I don't see that happening.

Does the population on the route merit more service? This is a chicken-egg issue with developers bringing roosters 'round and NIMBYs shouting at the chickens to lay no eggs. If I had the scratch I'd gladly buy up property near stations and build taller, denser buildings, but I doubt I'd get the zoning variances. I don't see bus feeders working in low density suburbs. More parking? In the end it all depends on higher ridership under the new contract.


I just saw the 2024 map today. Anyone counting on those chickens should notice the eggs are made of paper and filled with hot air. Off topic- although I can't to buy a ticket to Whale's Tooth. Sounds like an amusement park!
joshg1
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:05 pm

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:19 pm

Arlington wrote:This thread proposes to discuss the age-old Orange Line vs Haverhill Line turf fight in light of the T's apparent new-found love of DMUs.

I know that we've covered elsewhere how Melrose's grade crossings and mode snobs thwarted the Orange Line's ambitions to reach out to Reading and Rt 128. We've also covered how, if we'd known that 40 years ago, the OL would not have been built as a 3-track operation. And we've watched the transit rails rot in place as they pass through stations like Wellington, while the Haverhill line is constrained on a single track, and CR growth beyond N. Wilmington pretty much has to get to/from North Station via the Lowell Line.

And we've watched that uneasy stalemate for 30 years now: OL has more infrastructure than it will ever need, Haverhill has less than it deserves because too many decisions were cast in concrete and kept there by an FRA that wouldn't let heavy rail and transit easily intermix.

So far, its always been concluded that it is (nearly) too expensive to change the OL to favor the CR, and CR ridership doesn't merit taking back a track.

Do DMU's change that?


No. Because the whole point of this concept is to enhance service without dumping Titanic sums of money into capital projects. You work with the lines you've got and at bringing them up to full state-of-repair for their native capacity (e.g. new track and signal systems on Track 61 and the Grand Junction, not bridges and tunnels and 6 intermediate stops and borrowing every Urban Ring frill and trying to run a fossil fuel choo-choo on it instead). Not total makeovers creating new capacity where none existed before. That is a gross misuse of public funding when MassDOT still refuses to fund things like Red-Blue. There are not even supposed to be that many new stations built for this scheme, just mass (and long overdue) level boarding and state-of-repair upgrades to a lot of very substandard inside-128 stops. BCEC on Track 61, Kendall on the GJ, and a Riverside platform offset from the Green Line are the only three all-new stations planned (though Newton Corner should be on that list).

The more overreach that gets tacked onto the Indigo, the more bloated it gets and the less likely it is to happen at all or on anywhere close to the desired scale. That's why it has to have a tight integrity of concept around tapping native capacity over creating expansion capacity. Consider this "Golden (or Indigo) Rule #1" and measure all your proposals for enhancements against it to separate out the realistic from unrealistic.

What if the whole CR operation south of North Wilmington were converted to DMU? (with CR being redirected to the Lowell Line).


That would be the ideal thing to do. Although North Wilmington would get swapped back to its pre-1965 location at Salem St. on the Wildcat Branch and not stay with Reading if thru service to Haverhill were moved. N. Will's too far from the Reading layover for headway management, too swampy to make an adjacent layover, Zone 3 is tougher to square than Zone 2, and Salem St.'s in a superior location for a station anyway.

If the T buys DMU's with a door configuration that only allows high-level boarding, they're going to be too awkward to use on the Lowell Line to begin with needing to line up to the mini-high and not being able to trainline 2 DMU's at once. So by divorcing Haverhill from Reading and doubling up Lowell with Haverhill the rush hour push-pull headways on the NH Main can natively hit Indigo levels. Even moreso than the Eastern Route which will be majority push-pull at rush...Lowell has capacity and enough growth at the ends (esp. with Plaistow + Nashua and bigger layovers serving either) for 100% peak push-pull at Indigo headways. Off-peak if they can't DMU to the low platforms they might just have to suffice flushing it full of a lot of Anderson short-turns with a short consist.

Could the grade-connections be severed and the railhead height be tweaked to allow DMUs to serve the unused OL platforms as their own?


Platforms are same height since Malden Ctr. and Oak Grove's CR platforms are build for future conversion to Orange Line. But it's way more complicated than that if you're thinking the other stations downstream are fair game. Community College is on the opposite side of I-93 from the commuter rail tracks. Sullivan is right in the middle of where the Eastern and Western co-mingle. Ripping up the OL track for a turnout is going to create new conflicting movements on both routes at the crossovers. Assembly isn't being built with a 3rd OL platform. Wellington would need expensive retaining wall reworking on the east side. And Malden Ctr. and Oak Grove are still single-track only so every stop introduced downwind makes that track all the tougher to stage variable headways around. And see golden rule above: if it requires hundreds of millions in all-new capacity enhancement construction to make work, it is way outside the scope of what Indigo was designed to do.

Furthermore, these stations are not going to get good ridership duplicating the Orange Line to such an extreme degree. I am not even sure Oak Grove is worth reopening on a DMU given duplication to Wyoming Hill and Malden Ctr. being the huge bus terminal where the transfers are going to go. Plus the single-track congestion. If people need to get to Sullivan and Assembly, fare equitability and the easy Malden Ctr. cross-platform transfer are the way to do it. Enhance Malden as a super-node. Don't try to make the DMU into the Orange Line. It's not. Nobody's going to mistake a 15 minute headway at Zone fare for a 7-minute headway at subway fare with free inter-line transfers. It is likewise an overreach of the Indigo concept to treat them the same. It's the same mistake in logic of treating BRT as a real subway line. It's intended to be the next-best-thing...not 'The Thing" itself. Enhance, complement, integrate. Don't disguise or blur the lines between modes.

Or is the real DMU on the Orange line just more Orange Line EMUs, and actually using the 3rd track for something?


FRA-compliant vehicles can never share track with rapid transit. And these must be FRA-compliant vehicles because every single DMU line overlaps with daytime freight: either right at BET for the entire northside, at Readville where the CSX freights back briefly onto the Fairmount to get into the yard, or on the Worcester Line and Track 61 where the Everett Terminal daily still goes every afternoon.

And it's not trivial to simply disconnect/reconnect that OL track. The quantity of Orange Line crossovers and signal blocks that would have to be reconfigured costs enough in itself for no service enhancement on the OL and repeats all the delays we barely just finished for that years-overdue Haymarket-north ATO upgrade. There's a good reason why they left the 3rd track alone in that arduous and ridiculously over-budget project. It's beyond their pain threshold to bother with. Doing so violates Indigo Rule #1...use native capacity to its fullest, don't invent large over-expensive projects to create capacity where there is none.

Or does the population between North Station Reading just not need any more transit?


It needs it, but it doesn't need every stop on a mode that can't move between stops as fast as an Orange train. That's why Malden Ctr. as a super-node and locus of transfers is a more important 'branding' consideration than trying to hack together one-seat rides to every other station (including Oak Grove). And DMU's just cannot beat a heavy rail train at between-stop travel time, so the mode fails the more you try to turn it into an Orange duplicate. Also...the single-tracking and fact that double-tracking requires flagrant violation of Golden Rule #1 means you may not be able to push the envelope on headways. Maybe it's not 15 minutes. Maybe it's 20-25 minutes clock-facing. Folks in Melrose and Wakefield and Reading will do cartwheels at 20-25 minutes and being able to throw their paper schedules away, so don't hold this to a standard of utter perfection. The densest headways matter more to intra-city Indigoers like the Fairmount Line than they do the first ring of 'burbs like Melrose. This is well inside the Indigo sweet spot, and true rapid transit headways will never be possible without violating Rule #1 or outright extending the Orange Line. So don't sweat it when this line can't hit 100% of Fairmount's or Fitchburg's native capacity (and well, you better be prepared to adjust your frequency expectations way way down for Track 61 through Southampton and Grand Junction through Cambridge traffic hell); exponential improvements at 'native' track capacities is exactly what Indigo is supposed to do.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7244
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby Gerry6309 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:47 am

Does anyone remember that the whole north side was operated with DMUs from the late 1950s to the early 1980s? Everything old is new again!. The MBTA made a conscious decision to go with locomotive hauled trains in the 1980s, after trying the SPV-2000, the only DMU available at the time. Technology has come a long way and DMUs may be coming back in vogue. The MBTA is right to try this technology in a small way to improve the capabilities of existing lines. If it works and the usage expands - well and good.
Gerry. STM/BSRA

The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
User avatar
Gerry6309
 
Posts: 1484
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:46 pm
Location: Boston

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby sery2831 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:03 pm

Both Commuter Rail bids proposals have sections on DMU operations and maintenance. So the T is serious about acquiring them at some point in the next 8 years.
Moderator: MBTA Rail Operations
User avatar
sery2831
 
Posts: 5136
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:15 pm
Location: Manchester, NH

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby Teamdriver » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:34 am

sery2831 wrote:Both Commuter Rail bids proposals have sections on DMU operations and maintenance. So the T is serious about acquiring them at some point in the next 8 years.

Save one for the Plymouth line, bring about a mile of track too and extend it from the wasteland it is hiding the station in down to the waterfront area , along the existing abandoned right of way still standing. Its a hidden jewel, a historyfest and good eats too!
User avatar
Teamdriver
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:18 pm

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby jaymac » Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:17 am

In the discussion of DMUs, particularly in reference to their RDC predecessors, a number of safety and maintenance issues should be considered grains of salt.
-Single RDCs were never quite enough to reliably shunt wet and/or rusted and/or sanded rail, either for crossing protection or ABS.
-Crash-worthiness on RDCs proved problematic, both for crews and for any passengers who might be in the vestibules, even not in the operating vestibule. Crash-worthiness can be designed into DMUs, but the differential in mass with standard equipment still puts the DMUs and their passengers at increased risk.
-While RDCs provided incredible flexibility for B&M operations, RDCs also provided challenges for shop crews as mileage and years accumulated. Even without the Blizzard of '78, the change to locomotive-powered push-pull RDC operation would have happened for the T because of the numbers of failures in RDC power-train and cooling systems. A B&MRRHS tour of Billerica in the late '70s included a shop manager's discussion of keeping Budd cooling systems from running dry as only part of the problems of keeping sufficient numbers of necessarily complex equipment available to maintain adequate service.
-The B&M medium-term success with RDCs stemmed in part because they were the only ponies in the stable. DMUs will be an additional capital -- not to mention maintenance -- expenditure for equipment that is not compatible system-wide.
"A white SUV with a roof antenna just might not be a company van."
jaymac
 
Posts: 3428
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:08 pm

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby Finch » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:43 pm

jaymac wrote:DMUs will be an additional capital -- not to mention maintenance -- expenditure for equipment that is not compatible system-wide.

Interesting points jaymac. Just curious, what do you mean by "not compatible system-wide?" I mean, the promise of FRA-compliant DMU's is that they can be run more widely and intermixed with conventional traffic. And I'd think they could be built within the required clearance envelope to fit everywhere the commuter rail runs. Are you referring to platform heights or something like that?
User avatar
Finch
 
Posts: 834
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:44 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby TrainManTy » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:00 pm

Finch wrote:
jaymac wrote:DMUs will be an additional capital -- not to mention maintenance -- expenditure for equipment that is not compatible system-wide.

Interesting points jaymac. Just curious, what do you mean by "not compatible system-wide?" I mean, the promise of FRA-compliant DMU's is that they can be run more widely and intermixed with conventional traffic. And I'd think they could be built within the required clearance envelope to fit everywhere the commuter rail runs. Are you referring to platform heights or something like that?


Most of the DMU designs being thrown around lately are high-platform-only.
Tyler

All posts are my personal opinion. I do not speak for any organizations on this board.
User avatar
TrainManTy
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:18 pm
Location: Worcester, MA

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:02 pm

Finch wrote:
jaymac wrote:DMUs will be an additional capital -- not to mention maintenance -- expenditure for equipment that is not compatible system-wide.

Interesting points jaymac. Just curious, what do you mean by "not compatible system-wide?" I mean, the promise of FRA-compliant DMU's is that they can be run more widely and intermixed with conventional traffic. And I'd think they could be built within the required clearance envelope to fit everywhere the commuter rail runs. Are you referring to platform heights or something like that?


I think he was referring to the steep maintenance premium it took to maintain those units. That was OK when they were the only vehicles in town, but once push-pulls started getting put back into the mix with all the ex-Penn Central equipment they acquired on the southside and all the band-aid locomotives they had to buy or lease to patch the declining numbers of operable RDC's that maintenance premium became too much to bear. Today we'll never be able to go to an exclusive DMU fleet because the seating capacity demands of rush hour commuter rail is so extreme compared to the 70's that push-pulls will always have to bear the load on the I-495 and beyond routes all the 9-5'ers commute on. So the vehicles they purchase must be cost-effective enough to maintain without bleeding the agency dry like the RDCs' cost premium did.


As for crashworthines...back in the day they did meet the regs. Because the regs were looser and it took a few loss-of-life crashes in an RDC for users of the vehicles to wise up to the fact that the cabs were going to crumple in a collision and put everyone up to the first row or 2 of passengers at risk. The regs are tougher today, and the Budds are from a bygone era. They're grandfathered for heritage RR service without the FRA sticking its nose in and refurbished units are still grandfathered for very limited commuter service on shuttle routes that don't intermix with heavier freight or push-pull traffic, but they aren't an option for a standard commuter rail operator to refurbish and run anywhere. Nor can someone "open source" the design off Budd's expired patents and produce modern diesel-electric RDC's in the same shell because of those crash vulnerabilities. A new vehicle based on that design wouldn't be anywhere near FRA compliant. So in that sense the RDC's are very different from trolley PCC's that still are completely valid general-service vehicles be they refurbished, revamped, or new replicas.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7244
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby Gerry6309 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:22 pm

Crashworthy or not, Budds to Stoughton shared the tracks with Turbotrains to NYC and heavyweight consists to Providence. Most of the major local Budd wrecks were at grade crossings and bumping posts!
Gerry. STM/BSRA

The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
User avatar
Gerry6309
 
Posts: 1484
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:46 pm
Location: Boston

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby jaymac » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:41 am

Turbos and RDCs did share the Shoreline, but DMUs and far-more-frequent Acelas? Mebbe AMTK will OK DMUs, mebbe not. Whatever the other compatibility issues of DMUs might be, there remains the utilitization issue. Currently, if a locomotive-propelled coach needs extra service, it can be removed from the consist, and a spare -- if available -- gets added. For runs that might have DMUs, how many spare DMUs will be available for protection? Will protection DMUs be standard-consist compatible so they can serve as replacement coaches for standard-equipment runs? It's been a good length of time since I've seen any utilization charts, but one of the selling points to B&M and advertising points to other possible Budd customers was the ability of one set of equipment to cover multiple runs on different routes, aided in no small part by the time-savings of push-pull operation. There were also pronounced cost-savings because of the reduction of terminal switcher crews. The bean-counting continued even further with the placing into service of the 6900s, whose engines were there more for hotel power than for propulsion. Eventually, before Boise, the Budd fleet became functional 6900s to reduce the expense of service on worn-out 6-71s and their equally tired support systems.
One thing that DMUs will have is complexity. Beside propulsion complexities, there will be control complexities and braking complexities. Complexities produce both front-end and later costs. The more complex an entity is the more failure points it hosts, and -- not too great a leap in logic -- the more likely failures are to occur.
The Rotem experience/experiment should serve as a present and a future caution, both on the front of complexities and on the front of vendors eager to make sales.
"A white SUV with a roof antenna just might not be a company van."
jaymac
 
Posts: 3428
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:08 pm

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:41 am

jaymac wrote:For runs that might have DMUs, how many spare DMUs will be available for protection? Will protection DMUs be standard-consist compatible so they can serve as replacement coaches for standard-equipment runs? It's been a good length of time since I've seen any utilization charts, but one of the selling points to B&M and advertising points to other possible Budd customers was the ability of one set of equipment to cover multiple runs on different routes, aided in no small part by the time-savings of push-pull operation.


No DMU's on the market today are standard-consist compatible. No EMU's on the market today are standard-consist compatible. And doing so on motorized Budds violated the warranty in the old days. Running dead trailers on an RDC consist used to require buying special demotorized RDC's, same as every EMU and DMU make today has lookalike dead trailer versions of itself that are the only valid option for trainlining non-powered cars. Budds-as-coaches was just an end-of-life hack they pulled off to squeeze another 8 years out of the carbodies on otherwise deader-than-dead vehicles. The cars weren't hibernating in wait for some future rehab where they could be effortlessly re-motorized; that was just their literal last extra reprieve from the scrappers. They were D-U-N done by that point.

There aren't even DMU's on the market today here or in Europe can even trainline with non-alike DMU models without some steep performance compromises. At least one system in Britain does this in real service, but limits the exposure of non-alike DMU's to each other to minimize the performance penalty of running a mixed consist.



Maybe things would've been different in a world where the SPV-2000 proved a smashing success and the SPV/Metroliner/Amfleet carbody family grew together into a de facto interoperable standard that everyone copied. But alas...both the SPV's and the Metroliners were infamous lemons. So no vehicle purchase the T makes now or probably in their second-gen DMU order will likely ever be able to intermix with the push-pull fleet. Segregated service, with a lot of precision required as to where to apply costs on each vehicle class for the most bang-for-buck.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7244
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: 3-Track Orange Line in a DMU World

Postby jbvb » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:22 pm

Historic notes on RDCs: First, the B&M allowed single units to run full speed if "excitation equipment" was functional. I've never seen a technical description of exactly what this did, but I recall many trips where 6300 or 6302 passed all the grade crossings between Ipswich and Newburyport West at 75 MPH with perfect function. And there had been no train on that damp, salt-exposed 85 lb rail since the RDC went the other way that morning or the previous evening. Second, the RDCs were reasonably reliable in the winter of 1976/77. But in the summer of '77, someone in authority ordered the motor housings removed. I was told this was to reduce fire hazard. I have always wondered at how convenient it was that the GP-40s delivered that year left the B&M with enough idle GP-7s to go push-pull the moment there was need...

Regarding the original question: I haven't ever looked closely at the Mystic River bridge. But if it follows the pattern of the road bridges near Malden, the Orange Line spans were not built to take RR axle loadings. At Pleasant St. and Rt. 60, OL bridge spans have about half the crossbearers that the RR does.

The cheapest thing you can do for more Sullivan - Wyoming track capacity is signals & a power switch for the Wellington siding. But IMO you get the most bang for the buck by extending that siding to a switch just E of Pleasant St., doubling the track through Malden Center. This can be done without taking any land or moving the existing OL tracks, and would also let the Malden RR platform be extended to a reasonable length. This avoids the uproar and $$$ required to address the stretch between Pleasant St. and Winter St. where there isn't room and buildings are right up against the E side of the RoW.
jbvb
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2007 3:50 pm
Location: Rockingham Co., NH


Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests