D line v commuter rail

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

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D line v commuter rail

Postby NRGeep » Sat May 17, 2014 10:59 am

I know it's here to stay. Was wondering while taking the D line to Cleveland Circle (while being forced into a contortionist state durring rush hour recently), how much seating was available when the commuter rail (B&A/NY Central) ran on the line. Another time of course, but I imagine it was a more comfortable ride albeit less frequent.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby The EGE » Sat May 17, 2014 3:02 pm

I have images showing 4 cars in 1933, 3 cars in 1949, 3 cars in 1951, and 6 cars on an evening outbound in 1954. At something like 80 seats to a car, that's between 240 and 480 seats to a train.

The D Branch typically runs with two-car trains with one Type 7 and one Type 8. That's 90 seats between the two cars, for a total normal capacity of 202 people and a crush load of 468.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby MBTA3247 » Sat May 17, 2014 10:14 pm

I also read somewhere that the D Line runs more trains an hour than the Boston & Albany ran all day.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby The EGE » Sat May 17, 2014 10:49 pm

By the April 27, 1958 schedule (the very last on the line) there were 5 inbounds and 7 outbounds. With 6.5 minute headways at rush hour, the MBTA runs 9 trains in each direction hourly.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby TomNelligan » Sun May 18, 2014 3:51 pm

Towards the end, B&A passenger service on the Highland Branch was basically weekday rush hour only, but there was more frequency earlier. In 1947, for example, there were 18 clockwise (outbound via the Highland branch, inbound via the main line) and 12 counterclockwise (vice versa) weekday trains making the Boston-Riverside-Boston circuit, providing at least hourly service through the day. Weekend service was minimal.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby edbear » Sun May 18, 2014 6:31 pm

The Highland Branch trains were equipped with 96 seat, open window, cane reversible seat, concrete floors (for weight - covered of course) coaches, built by Osgood - Bradley about 1925. No restrooms, fans in the corners to blow the air around. NYC's Putnam Division had very similar cars and I believe some of them were sent to Beech Grove about 1935 to be crafted into the Cleveland-Detroit Mercury cars.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby NRGeep » Mon May 19, 2014 2:33 pm

edbear wrote:The Highland Branch trains were equipped with 96 seat, open window, cane reversible seat, concrete floors (for weight - covered of course) coaches, built by Osgood - Bradley about 1925. No restrooms, fans in the corners to blow the air around. NYC's Putnam Division had very similar cars and I believe some of them were sent to Beech Grove about 1935 to be crafted into the Cleveland-Detroit Mercury cars.


Sounds preferable to todays rush hour experience, sans air conditioning in the Summer. Big picture, no doubt we're better off with the trolleys for frequency of service, more stations etc though increased rush hour capacity would be nice.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby edbear » Mon May 19, 2014 7:15 pm

The original PCC time on the Highland Branch was 34 minutes, Riverside to Park Street.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby highwayman » Mon May 19, 2014 11:37 pm

I believe, way back in earlier decades, that the highland branch also was included in another "circuit". I seem to remember reading about a circuit running to Newton Highlands, then returning to boston on today's Needham branch, and vice versa. I don't know much beyond that; just thought I'd throw it out there.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby The EGE » Tue May 20, 2014 12:15 am

There were several interlocking circuits in that region. Highland Circuit service ran from May 16, 1886 to May 31, 1958. Needham Circuit service ran from 1911 to 1914; Dedham Circuit service ran 1926 to 1938.

A couple of really wonky circuits also ran, for reasons I don't understand. One followed the modern Franklin Line to Franklin, then via Milford and Hopkington to Ashland, and in via the B&A. Another ran to Franklin, then up the Charles River Railroad to Needham Junction and then in through West Roxbury.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby MBTA3247 » Tue May 20, 2014 10:03 am

The Needham circuit was ordered to be discontinued by the courts, citing anti-trust law.

I've never heard of the circuits using the Franklin Line. Were those set up for actual commuter service, or were they just regular local trains?
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby BandA » Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Not quite circuit, but transfer between the green line and commuter rail at Auburndale would be a win I think. And pretty trivial to build. If the Needham line were ever to be converted to Orange line (freeing up south station and NEC slots), the orange and green lines could meet at Eliot or Needham or Needham Jct.

[OT] There is a crying need for a giant loop running along 128, connecting all the spokes. Whether building it makes economic sense I don't know, but it would certainly be used. People are tired of rush hour traffic.
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby Arlington » Tue May 20, 2014 4:21 pm

BandA wrote:Not quite circuit, but transfer between the green line and commuter rail at Auburndale would be a win I think. And pretty trivial to build. If the Needham line were ever to be converted to Orange line (freeing up south station and NEC slots), the orange and green lines could meet at Eliot or Needham or Needham Jct.


Well MassDot does have a "vision" map wherein DMUs replace all CR out as far as Auburndale and then connects to the D at Riverside:
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby octr202 » Wed May 21, 2014 7:41 am

Sigh...every time I see that 2024 map, I can't understand why the Reading line and the Needham Line aren't included in frequent DMU service. Close stops, dense neighborhoods...just seems like the right place for them (in addition to the others)...

...but enough of that diversion...
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Re: D line v commuter rail

Postby The EGE » Wed May 21, 2014 12:56 pm

Well, if we're talking D Branch versus commuter rail, Needham is another CR line that should become the D Branch. Trying to support higher frequencies on the Needham Branch is simply impossible - any NEC slots are going to get snatched up by Amtrak, or SCR, or higher-frequency Providence service. It's not a good CR route; most stations are less than a mile apart. (Of all the current lines, only Needham and the Reading-in service retains anything like their original stop density)

Split the D at Cook Junction; every other train goes to Needham Heights. Bump up the off-peak headways so branchline headways are more like every 15 minutes. Riverside gets DMU service to bolster its headways; Woodland and Waban are two of the least-used stops on the D line in any case. The Orange Line gets extended to West Roxbury.
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