Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

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Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby ThinkBoston » Fri May 02, 2014 5:39 pm

As there appears to be no Blue Book appearing in the near future, and the last one was in 2010, I haven't been able to get a current picture of the MBTA's commuter train lengths (in passenger cars of course) during peak hours. I searched about other topics, but couldn't find anything substantial on this.

Thus, my main question is what lengths are currently being used?

And for further discussion . . . will any growth in commuter demand increase consists lengths or, in the alternative, increase frequencies. I believe there are locomotives on order, and increasing frequencies obviously offers commuters more flexibility in departure times.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri May 02, 2014 6:29 pm

Standard consists seem to be as little as five flats (prevalent on the North Side) or up to seven bilevels (South Side only). You may see a bilevel with three flats on the North Side, but that's not usual. When the North Side has bilevels, it is typically one per consist, maybe two. The only exceptions for the North Side are when there's test trains of the new Rotem bilevels coming into service. The longest trains on the north side will be seven flats.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby TrainManTy » Fri May 02, 2014 6:37 pm

Rotem test trains are four bilevels: one cab car and three blind trailers. But being nonrevenue test trains these don't carry passengers. The South Side sometimes runs eight-car "supersets" on the Worcester and Providence lines. Usually they're seven bilevels and a flat, although I have seen eight bilevels together.

All of the information you'll be able to get on this is anecdotal. I don't remember consists being in the 2010 Blue Book, and there's so much variety now that bilevels are appearing North that it would be tough to get any sort of conclusive answer. There have been a few "camel trains" with one or two bilevels with flats in between and on either end running around this year.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby Mcoov » Fri May 02, 2014 9:05 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:When the North Side has bilevels, it is typically one per consist, maybe two.

Or that one train that's flat-Rotem-flat-flat-Rotem-flat control car. I call this the hump train.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby 8th Notch » Fri May 02, 2014 9:49 pm

There currently is an 8 car bi level set running on the south side, usually has been on 508 the last week. That's the biggest set running and probably will be as big as it gets for a normal peak hour train.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby ThinkBoston » Sat May 03, 2014 1:27 am

8th Notch wrote:There currently is an 8 car bi level set running on the south side, usually has been on 508 the last week. That's the biggest set running and probably will be as big as it gets for a normal peak hour train.


Thanks, guys, for the info on the current consists and, 8th-Notch, for the thought on the future prospects.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sat May 03, 2014 12:43 pm

8th Notch wrote:There currently is an 8 car bi level set running on the south side, usually has been on 508 the last week. That's the biggest set running and probably will be as big as it gets for a normal peak hour train.


As of Friday, there are 3 eight car sets on the South Side operating....508-708-808 are the morning trains that are assigned the sets. 508 has 8 double deckers, the other sets have a flat or 2 behind the locomotive with the rest being K/R cars

going home at evening rush hour, 527-719-819 get the respected 8 car sets going home....these 8 car sets are much needed on these trains and it has taken far too long to get these sets available...but we are all happy that they are here!! and hopefully to stay!! :)
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby daytripper1 » Sat May 03, 2014 6:27 pm

The current specs for equipment call for a maximum of 10 double deckers in a consist. The training manual for the Rotems specifically states up to 10 cars.

I can only speak to the southside sets.

There are indeed three 8 car sets in service south, two I know for certain are all K/Rotem, the other I believe is a 2 and 6 (2 flats, 6 K/Rotem). We have a few 7 car K/R sets, a few 5 car flat, and the rest are 5 or 6 , mostly a mix of flats and K/Rs. several I know have the 2 flats on the east end instead of behind the loco like they used to be (The 1528 Gold Star is in a 2-4-loco configuration.)

Regarding set makeup: prior to the original Ks, we ran up to 9 car flat sets. When the Ks showed up we would run 6 or 7 car sets, with the flats almost always behind the loco. A few years ago the switching crews were told to just throw the sets together and NOT to "organize" them, so we now have sets like a K control car, flat, K, 2 flats and a K, or other kind of goofy setups.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby BerndinMA » Sun May 04, 2014 11:24 pm

Saw the 8 car bilevel train running Sunday service with only one car open in Worcester today. Found it funny in that on the slowest day of the week they ran the largest train set.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby Tracer » Mon May 05, 2014 8:13 am

I believe the foxboro train has run about 12 cars on occasion.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby daytripper1 » Mon May 05, 2014 1:10 pm

Tracer wrote:I believe the foxboro train has run about 12 cars on occasion.


I believe they run that with two consists (double draft), so there are two locomotives. We do on occasion have to rescue a dead set with another, so we have run with say an 8 and 6 car set tied together, with a dead loco in the middle. With one compressor online, it takes some time to charge the system, and it can't exactly get out of its own way. For normal day to day operations, the published material states 10 double deckers as the max.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby harshaw » Tue May 06, 2014 12:20 pm

daytripper1 wrote:Regarding set makeup: prior to the original Ks, we ran up to 9 car flat sets. When the Ks showed up we would run 6 or 7 car sets, with the flats almost always behind the loco. A few years ago the switching crews were told to just throw the sets together and NOT to "organize" them, so we now have sets like a K control car, flat, K, 2 flats and a K, or other kind of goofy setups.


As an average Joe rider it is annoying to a) have random sets of cars and b) have the cars be in no particular order. For me I like to get in a rotem/ K car to sit at the tables. Sometimes on the worcester line there are times when you get sets with double cars (when usually there are singles), or sets with singles when you expect doubles (that's really bad), or your normal set you expect to have doubles at the front but instead they put singles at the front.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby The EGE » Tue May 06, 2014 1:06 pm

The contract with Keolis has specific wording about maintaining appropriate capacities for every train. Too-long trains will still be run, but there are substantial penalties for failing to provide consists with enough seats for each run. That should translate into more constancy as to how many cars your train will have on any given day.
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Re: Commuter Train Lengths Today and Future

Postby daytripper1 » Tue May 06, 2014 2:55 pm

There's language in the contract with MBCR that states the same. However, it's the number of seats available, not specific consist makeup as was mentioned. We have something like 38 train sets on the southside, which are responsible for hundreds of train trips per day. A six car flat set has about 640 +/- seats. A five car set with 2 Ks thrown in would be about the same number of seats, give or take. So say for example train 908 out of Stoughton ran with either set, and the normal passenger count was 550-600 passengers daily, it wouldn't matter which set was used as there are still enough seats. Certain trains have certain sets assigned (like the 8 car strings) but those are interchangeable i.e. the 2 &6 set can be swapped for the 8 K/R set and vice versa.
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