MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby BandA » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:12 am

Talking about DMUs...I still don't understand why they can't used refurbished RDC's. Theoretically, an RDC with electric doors, high-level platforms, and charlie card farebox could be operated by one person off-peak.
User avatar
BandA
 
Posts: 1897
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:34 am

BandA wrote:Talking about DMUs...I still don't understand why they can't used refurbished RDC's. Theoretically, an RDC with electric doors, high-level platforms, and charlie card farebox could be operated by one person off-peak.


1) They're not up to current safety regs. You can run them grandfathered in more or less as-is condition because they used to be compatible with FRA regs, but you wouldn't be able to produce new exact replica RDC's and have them pass current crashworthiness standards.

2) There physically aren't enough of them left in operating condition to populate a robust service for a major commuter railroad. Most carriers that have them only have a handful, and use them in pretty light duty.

3) They're ollllllllllllllllld tech. Not even diesel-electric vehicles...diesel-mechanical derived from WWII tank engines. They may be pretty basic for some gearheads at a RR museum to repair using spare parts, but the "they don't make 'em like that anymore" factor inhibits maintaining uptime for a sizeable fleet.

4) Due to the ancient design in #3 they also have wretched fuel efficiency, are exhaust-belchers to an extreme, and have a lot more moving parts that can break than a diesel-electric. Fine for the museum shop gearheads and fine for excursion service, but they will tax a major commuter railroad's shops with the escalated parts wear and arguably do worse for air quality than an HSP-46 push-pulling a few coaches.


#1, #3, and #4 explain why no one has inquired about open-sourcing the design and producing updated modern variants. While they were outstanding vehicles for their era, especially on passenger comfort and ops ease, producing modern replicas still requires so many changes to the guts of the cars that the economics prove infeasible. Plus the whole need to hit Tier 4 emissions standards on any newly manufactured vehicle. I mean...the production design is 65 years old, the R&D design closer to 70 years old, and the last one rolled off the assembly line 52 years ago. Unlike PCC streetcars whose basic design and systems live on umpteen evolutionary generations later in modern LRV's being manufactured today, the RDC lineage stopped so long ago it is historical tech.


Things would be different if the Budd SPV-2000 wasn't such a lemon. Common carbody with the Amfleet and Metroliner giving Budd a single platform to base every railcar type on, modern diesel-electric engine right in line with everything used today, 6-car MU'ing, potential to pack enough horses for 120 MPH operation, configurable for commuter and Amtrak interiors. Unfortunately, they did suck as badly as the Metroliners sucked, were too high-tech for production units, and should've been R&D demonstrators worked on and perfected a few years longer instead of rushed to market in desperation. If they'd succeeded railroads like the T, Metro North, and LIRR probably would've never stopped running DMU's in the first place and the whole SPV/Metroliner/Amfleet platform would've grown infinitely modular and plug-and-play with more market penetration. But it was that bad, and the RDC's were that worn-out so the DMU generation ended. Nobody's invested the R&D into a low-cost FRA-compliant yet because the big, big manufacturers with huge production scale like Bombardier and Kawasaki are still sitting on the sidelines waiting to see if the market heats up. And the Euro imports we all thought would be ubiquitous right now have been harder to adapt to FRA regs than expected, with overcustomization driving up the unit price (again...the diesel LRV's have fared well but those are fundamentally mongrel streetcars and not commuter rail vehicles at all).



Bottom line is: do you trust the T with their purchase history and cost control history on unproven equipment...and with their institutional inertia for modernizing ops practices...to be 'THE' trailblazer for a Top 6 North American commuter railroad to successfully adopt DMU's on the sort of scale where the mode will pay off? Personally...I would be scared to death given their recent track record of handing them that responsibility before somebody else provides a similar-scale example to learn from of how to do it right. Which doesn't mean they shouldn't pursue it; fear and paralysis is a terrible way to run a railroad. I just don't want them to do their homework and not rush into something they don't fully understand yet. Or...worse...suffer another bout of Silver Line syndrome and start backpedaling from the implementation when it proves much harder than expected and the agency realizes it bit off more than it could chew. Because that would suck if it happened yet again.

Do it right by doing their homework. Even if that means waiting until the fate of the FRA proposal to relax the buff strength regs goes through (we still don't know how far they're willing to bend) and the market expands with less-overcustomized Euro imports. In the meantime there's a lot of efficiencies they can gain by more precise push-pull configurations and ops nimbleness that probably can execute something like the Fairmount service plan usefully enough to generate very good ridership and prime that route--and the other speculative routes--for a larger up-front DMU fleet when those purchase options get attractive. We're nowhere near peak CR ops efficiency. Nowhere near at all...the 3 NYC-area roads still run circles around the T (out of necessity) at mixing and matching expresses and more localized short-turns on the schedule, optimizing consist length and staffing to trim excess fat, and so on. That's a productive start. Flabby ops on push-pull is going to result in flabby ops on DMU's too with headway consistency landing something short of goal and cost-per-rider remaining higher than it really should be. There's not one magic bullet like a vehicle purchase that's going to get the system executing like it's capable. It's an all-out, top-down effort that has as much to do with looking alive as an institution (well beyond even the MBCR-->Keolis upgrade) as what shiny new equipment they run.

Measuring success is going to be as much about that...or, realistically, more about that...than simply plunking down for a vehicle procurement.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7225
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby dowlingm » Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:07 am

Type 9s: the tricky part with 100% LF is that you still end up with compromises. Toronto's new 100%LF Flexity cars have some fairly awkward seating layouts where the wheels have to be accommodated by "humps" inside the car. It took a second design to get to where TTC was happy it wouldn't derail on some of the tight curve radii in our system up here.

RDCs: For anyone interested, here's the stuff VIA Rail put online when they refurbed some of theirs. Not for commuter service though.
http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail ... et-rebuild
That (refurbed DMUs) was the plan for Union Pearson Express but now we're getting new Cummins powered Sumitomos instead by buying options from the SMART order - which can supposedly be retrofitted as 25kV EMUs.
dowlingm
 
Posts: 976
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby ns3010 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:20 pm

In my opinion, the T is building up WAY too much hype over these DMU's, when they don't even exist yet. Until a contract is awarded (or at a minimum, the RFP is issued), I'll be skeptical of this whole DMU plan.

A quick easy way of increasing consist flexibility would be to do away with the 5 car minimum rule. Although more cars in a consist does indeed increase braking speeds (the braking effort added per car is greater than the added weight per car), there are no safety issues at all running a three or four car consist, despite the T's claims. Several large railroads (NJT and Metro-North come to mind) run three car consists daily, and some of the very small commuter railroads run two car consists. By breaking up just a few consists into three or four car sets that are more operationally sensible (and possibly retaining a few additional Geeps to ensure there is enough power), they could make some short shuttle sets for "indigo service."

But why try to reorganize operating practices to use current assets more efficiently when you can just invest millions of dollars in unproven technology? :)
User avatar
ns3010
 
Posts: 1961
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:53 pm
Location: MP 226.5

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby rethcir » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:13 pm

What's the bigger capital outlay: DMU's or electrifying a few lines?
rethcir
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:51 am

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:13 pm

rethcir wrote:What's the bigger capital outlay: DMU's or electrifying a few lines?


Electrification for sure. It's pricey. But electrification probably has the bigger long-term payoff because of the scale. That's a 100-year solution; so long as the line has the traffic to use it and the no-brainer growth to grow with it, it's not a matter of if the huge up-front cost is going to pay for itself but when. And it wouldn't need to be "a few" lines to achieve lots of scale because of the NEC factor. A Providence Line + RIDOT Providence-Westerly electric fleet is pretty significant scale to start with. Fairmount's 9.5 miles + 1 paralleling station's worth of electrification to install between ends of the line that are already wired; as installations go that's about as easy as it gets. It just hasn't been studied yet and considerable amount of engineering has to go into it, so a pivot today to prioritizing electrification isn't going to get it build for several more years. And DMU's aren't zero-sum...if 1 line gets electrified, all that means is the DMU's freed-up can move somewhere else like an expansion northside Indigo route.

Afterwards, add 44 miles of Worcester Line under wires (probably in stages Riverside-first, Framingham-second, Worcester-third) and an outright majority of southside equipment flips to E mode. With only those 2 targeted electrifications--Fairmount and Worcester--plus the existing NEC they'd have all the scale they need. There's no other lines really even worth considering at this point until the North-South Link gets built because the payoff is so heavily weighted to just those 3 corridors. It's definitely not worth building South Coast Rail with wires. Needham, Franklin, Old Colony, and branches-to-be-named-later like Foxboro or RIDOT Providence-Woonsocket won't ever have the service density to merit it or are candidates (incl. Needham, which just loses out to NEC congestion) for xMU shuttles. And the northside has the problem of much more extreme starting costs for having no pre-existing electrification base to build out from, no electrified terminal or maint facilities, and no electrified intercity to share with. In addition to northside having much lower traffic overall by not having behemoth corridors like NEC and Worcester dwarfing all else. I can't see anything forcing that issue north until the North-South Link makes it mandatory.



But this stuff takes time. And like I said, it is no way shape or form a question of DMU's or electrification. It's DMU's, being smart about targeted electrification when the time is ripe, then shifting the DMU's around. I could see a day in some electrified Fairmount, Worcester, and Providence future where we're running EMU's or some better-proven variation of NJT's blind coach-pushing EMU power car idea where the DMU's simply relocate northside and live there running to Anderson, Waltham, Reading, and Salem/Peabody all day. Properly managed both types of cars are permanent solutions for the system and the system's scale.

It's just a LOT of careful planning for any mode that would be very very bad if they rushed, took too big a leap without a safety net, or let institutional rot nullify the benefits. Their own recent history is as much a challenge as the challenge itself.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7225
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:20 pm

The Brits have come up with some "workable" DMU designs,ALL would flunk the FRA standards,most are
"married pair" or 3 car sets,the "Voyager" class DMU's built for Virgin Trains TOC,now spread around some
of the Regional TOCs seens to work well for long distance use.
All require High level platforms. :(
However,there have been some Brit/European designs tested in the states with
not so great results
Backshophoss
 
Posts: 4627
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:58 pm

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby dowlingm » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:26 am

Shiny new (granted, unproven) Nippon Sharyo FRA DMU. Not wild about the colours Metrolinx used which make the top of it look like some weird headpiece. Hopefully SMART and WES have better design help.
Image
dowlingm
 
Posts: 976
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:13 pm

dowlingm wrote:Shiny new (granted, unproven) Nippon Sharyo FRA DMU. Not wild about the colours Metrolinx used which make the top of it look like some weird headpiece. Hopefully SMART and WES have better design help.
Image


Metrolinx's are real Frankentrains with the convoluted requirement that their guts be able to be swapped out for 25 kV electrification. Chances of that working out as planned...very poor. Chances of them eating it on cost overruns...they're already drowning in that.

SMART's cars are a little better as a reference model for other installations. Although the amount of customization they did (and temptation that the T would follow suit) drove the unit price up kind of absurdly. They're promising cars if they work out, though, and hit a decent production scale. Still would describe myself as "terrified" of the T trying to manage such an order without shooting itself 8 times in the foot Rotem-style.

I tend to doubt we're really going to see prices fall to an attractive unit point until the vendors with humongous manufacturing capacity like Bombardier get into the act with FRA-compliant generics intended for mass market orders. The fact that they haven't seen the profit motive to introduce one and are still holding it close-to-vest (I'm sure there's a ton of R&D going on behind the scenes, just not a production model and all-out PR blitz) is telling about the market's maturity still being a bit short.


High-boarding vs. high/low-compatible is another thing they have to straighten out. It's probably easier, cheaper, and requires less customization to buy a DMU for all-high platforms. But then you give up the ability to run on the clearance-route Lowell Line where even invasive station rebuilds, passing tracks, gauntlets, etc. aren't going to allow for full-highs at a high-ridership stop like Winchester Ctr. up atop the viaduct. Or run with any kind of desireable efficiency better than front door-only boarding at the mini-highs for a dwell time penalty. Every other potential inside-128 candidate line is fair game for all-high platform retrofits (not like the DMU's have any need ever roaming on the Franklin, outer Worcester, outer Haverhill, or outer Fitchburg). Can't help but wonder if this purchase would be a lot easier if they just cut Anderson from the service plan, compensated by relocating the outer Haverhill back to the NH Main to 2x the push-pull frequencies to a reasonable facsimile, and applied the vehicle cost savings to mass platform-raisings at currently unplanned (i.e. not-Back Bay Worcester platforms, not-Chelsea, not-Fairmount/Readville) stops to make the vehicles fair game everywhere else on the inner system. e.g. rebuilds or platform retrofits at the Newton trio, Swampscott, Wyoming Hill thru Reading, Porter thru Brandeis to make them all set for a slow-churn expansion of Indigo service to new routes.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7225
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby dowlingm » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:03 pm

I think the Metrolinx conversion is a bonkers idea but was politically motivated - original concept was always DMU, first RDC then new build but then the "dirty diesel/world class cities do electric" crusade began. They are diesel hydraulic so it's not like they are even DEMUs with electric drive notionally plumbed in. Am hoping sense prevails and they are resold or redeployed with purpose built EMUs replacing them.

That said, DMUs are becoming quite modular and I wonder if NS are mounting their power equipment on "rafts" as Rotem did with Irish Rail's 22000 class, with the intention that the panto will be mounted on new middle cars (Metrolinx airport consist length maxes at 4, current order for 3/set) and new power rafts. NS can then compete for future EMU and DMU projects in high floor territory on a shared platform, if they get their costs and Buy America supplier mix right.
dowlingm
 
Posts: 976
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby rethcir » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:25 pm

rethcir
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:51 am

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:10 pm

rethcir wrote:http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/09/30/mbta-allston-west-station-project/
Looks like the West Station plan is back on the table.

This is really good news (and adds pressure to the MBTA to plan more frequent service (whether DMU or not)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3305
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby enterprise11 » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:54 am

I think the way the T and media are representing the Indigo Line in on that graphic is rather misleading. It would appear to a layperson that they are constructing all new tracks for a light rail/subway type system, when in actuality the DMUs will be commuter rail equipment running on CR ROW.
enterprise11
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:33 pm

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby rethcir » Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:20 pm

The map is meant to represent available service in an abstract form, not specific infrastructure.
rethcir
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:51 am

Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby djimpact1 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:54 am

Aside from the vehicle procurement process/selection (to which I understand the T's on-and-off history of being successful at it), what necessarily is bad about DMU implementation?

My personal opinion is have DMUs running weekdays (exclusively) during off-peak service for the 3 lowest-ridership lines: Fairmount, Greenbush & Kingston/Plymouth. Concerning weekends, DMUs would run exclusively during all hours of service for all lines that don't see at least 2,000 riders per every Saturday & Sunday: Needham, Fairmount, Greenbush, Middleborough, Franklin, etc.

Why bother using the same resources for peak ridership (a diesel engine, a single & a few bi-levels) as for non-peak & weekend ridership, especially considering the numbers can be drastically different? If you know a line might see 500 - 700 riders in an entire weekend, it seems foolish to operate a full set that I can otherwise understand seeing during weekday commutes. At least DMUs seem like they'd save some miles for the "big fleet" needed for those high ridership lines/days, while still giving a ridership option to folks looking for that off-peak commute to Boston.

Thoughts? (F-Line, go easy on me brother!)
A non-foaming rail enthusiast.

Member of a yet-to-be-determined transit social group
Do what you do, do it often, do it well....
User avatar
djimpact1
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:02 am
Location: Weymouth, MA

PreviousNext

Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests