West Station discussion

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

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Re: West Station discussion

Postby StefanW » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:28 pm

Garrett Quinn gquinn@masslive.com wrote:The MBTA announced on Tuesday that a new Commuter Rail station will be incorporated into any new development at the Beacon Park Yard in Allston.

The new $25 million station is part of the planned MassPike straightening project at Exits 18 and 20 that will reroute the busy highway and open up 85 acres for development.

The new station will be a major public transportation addition to an area that is currently underserved by fixed rail service and going through a major transition.

Harvard University, the owners of the rail yard, have not outlined a detailed vision for the huge swath of land but they have tentatively agreed to the MBTA's plans for a commuter rail station and the rerouting of the MassPike. Harvard will pay a third of the cost of the new station according to their agreement with the state. Residents of the neighborhood have been actively raising concerns about changes the redevelopment of the yard may bring to the neighborhood.

With this project we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Allston and help build a brighter future for Massachusetts," said Governor Deval Patrick in a statement.

Permitting and planning for the project is expected to take until 2017 while construction is slated to last until 2020.

The new station known as West Station will feature two platforms with four tracks, an important feature that will make the station compatible with any addition of diesel multiple unit locomotives to inner-city service. The introduction of a DMU service known as the Indigo Line to Greater Boston is part of MassDOT's five-year capital plan. DMU units run like subway cars on commuter rail style tracks in a manner similar to MetroNorth or the PATH in Tri-State area.

The new station will serve the Worcester/Framingham lines.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby StefanW » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:31 pm

Steve Annear, bostonmagazine.com wrote:On a rain-soaked Tuesday afternoon, Governor Deval Patrick joined together with Mayor Marty Walsh, MassDOT Secretary Rich Davey, and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott to announce that a new $25 million transit stop will be built in Allston's Beacon Park Yard as part of the I-90 Interchange Improvements project that's set to get underway beginning in 2017.

Tentatively called "West Station," the new Commuter Rail stop along the Worcester Line will be constructed through an agreement with Harvard University, who owns the portion of Beacon Park Yard where transit officials envision the station. Harvard has agreed to pay for one-third of the project, according to Patrick.

"Harvard is pleased to be part of a partnership that includes the Commonwealth, city of Boston, CSXT, and the general public, in helping accommodate this visionary project that will serve the region for decades to come," said Katie Lapp, executive vice president of Harvard University.

Beacon Park Yard, which was once used as a CSX freight and rail terminal, consists of 22-acres of land surrounded by the Mass. Pike, the Worcester Commuter Rail line, and the I-90 Allston Toll Plaza.

The redevelopment of the site for the new Commuter Rail stop, which will be serviced by Diesel Multiple Units, or DMUs, will happen in conjunction with the state's massive Interchange Improvements project to rebuild and straighten the loops of roadway that stem off of the Mass. Pike and connect into Allston. Besides reducing traffic congestion and confusion, the project will also bring the new streetscapes in line with the state's planned rollout of all-electronic tolls.

"With this project we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Allston and help build a brighter future for Massachusetts," Patrick said of the development, which is scheduled to open sometime in 2020, when the pending Interchange realignment comes to an end. The new stop will allow riders to get from Allston to South Station and Back Bay without stepping on the Green Line.

The announcement comes a day after advocacy groups that have been pushing for the inclusion of a new transit station as part of the Interchange shifts made guesses as to what Patrick's announcement would be about. Curiosity piqued on Monday as the governor offered a teaser that he would be on site at Beacon Park Yard along with other elected officials.

The outlook wasn't always a positive one, however.

Last May, MassDOT indicated that there wasn't enough funding to move forward with the station, which was originally included in the agency's Capital Investment Plan and vision for 2024. The sudden about-face, however, has been met by applause.

"This opportunity is much more than a highway project; it's about unlocking the full potential of this neighborhood, enhancing our connection with the Charles River, and envisioning the future of mobility in Boston," said Walsh in a statement. "This promises to be an excellent opportunity for our entire region, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to see this come to fruition."
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby harshaw » Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:03 pm

Whenever I read about plans to use the Grand junction line it is always good to refer to this map:

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/portals/ ... ssings.pdf

That's a lot of crossings. And a great opportunity for NIMBYISM (not that I could blame the folks of the PRC in this case).
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Komarovsky » Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:55 pm

Hopefully they'll bother to upgrade the signal system between Framingham and Boston at some point during this project. Hopefully all this work will mean a redoing of the west of Framingham scheduling so that the already relatively long commute doesn't stretch into unreasonable territory. With DMUs they can express more trains from West of Framingham a la 582 and 583 to keep the impact of West station and New Balance to a relative minimum on trip time.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:39 am

Komarovsky wrote:Hopefully they'll bother to upgrade the signal system between Framingham and Boston at some point during this project. Hopefully all this work will mean a redoing of the west of Framingham scheduling so that the already relatively long commute doesn't stretch into unreasonable territory. With DMUs they can express more trains from West of Framingham a la 582 and 583 to keep the impact of West station and New Balance to a relative minimum on trip time.


Guess what...nobody's said one word about signaling.

They've all been *very* careful in public statements to limit scope of discussion to just the West Station site or just the pingback inbound from there. Which is suspicious. Beacon Park redevelopment is a big political prize; Worcester County's going to want some stops there added to various schedules just like it wanted more trains to Yawkey. And there's really no reason why they shouldn't; done right the Worcester Line should be able to support a whole blur of service patterns that offer a representative pick 'em of inside-128 stops on some schedules, fast Worcester expresses on other schedules, and everything in-between in whatever tiers you want to imagine.

But I can't imagine flooding the line with DMU's every 15 minutes without doing the signal work is going to help the current situation. It's a little bit less margin for error for hitting those train meets between Beacon Park and Wellesley Farms. And if there's going to be some regular Framingham/Worcester trains sharing New Balance and West with the DMU's...that just makes it murkier still. I've got the feeling you can count every year the DMU rollout gets pushed back in time they DON'T spend talking about the pan-Worcester Line corridor needs list. Of which the signal system out to Framingham is infrastructure deficiency #1 above all others. As long as they keep compartmentalizing this so very very precisely at the West Station site or between West Station and South Station...it's stalling on the real issues that are going to make the most difference for getting the whole spectrum of Worcester Line services to play nice with each other's schedules.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby harshaw » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:55 am

Is upgrading the signaling a particularly difficult or expensive operation? What about suspending weekend service for a month or two while reinstalling the signaling?
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby kwf » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:15 am

harshaw wrote:Whenever I read about plans to use the Grand junction line it is always good to refer to this map:

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/portals/ ... ssings.pdf

That's a lot of crossings. And a great opportunity for NIMBYISM (not that I could blame the folks of the PRC in this case).


Any info on where the Cambridge station may be located along the Grand Junction?
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby trainhq » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:24 am

The fact that they are discussing using DMUs is a good sign for the Indigo line. I think a lot of people would like to have the Indigo line turn at South Station (existing upgradable wye is there) and head over to the Worcester line, and turn it into a more or less complete DMU rapid transit level line out to about 128 (maybe put an end station with link to Riverside Green Line). Would open new destinations (and employment opportunities) for Fairmount line users to reach on the line.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:27 pm

harshaw wrote:Is upgrading the signaling a particularly difficult or expensive operation? What about suspending weekend service for a month or two while reinstalling the signaling?


It is here where it's old ABS and the cheapest thing Boston & Albany could get away with purchasing when it had to redo inside-Framingham in the mid-60's for Mass Pike construction. Some wayside-only lines that have pre-existing CTC signaling can have new interlockings installed without much fuss. They're doing that on Haverhill right now. Some lines can even have the cab signals installed over the pre-existing wayside system without too much fuss.

This isn't one of them. It's in the same boat with Fitchburg, Reading, and Rockport at being so limited and painful to modify it's better to start over rather than fight with the diminishing returns. They've looked at this...ever since Worcester service returned in 1994 the lack of crossovers between Beacon Park and Framingham has been a huge constriction on on-time performance and schedule expansion. It's too big a job to modify for the number of new crossovers they would need to make all service meaningfully reliable for long-term service expansion. They have to replace.


And they can't shut it down for the weekend because freights have to use this line every day, Amtrak has to use this line every day, and non-revenue shuttles have to use this line every day. The Fitchburg shutdowns are a relative luxury...absolutely no one uses the track inside of Willows Jct. except for the commuter rail, weekend schedules are sparse to begin with, and local buses backstop the inside-128 stops pretty well. It's a lot more excruciating to shut down Worcester in totality, and would have to be coordinated with more stakeholders. And it would take considerable number of shuttle buses to stage substitute service because weekend frequencies and weekend ridership is a lot higher here than on the Fitchburg. For example, Sox game and special event traffic causes much larger ridership spikes on Worcester than it does most other lines...so they'd have to skip weekend work every time the Sox have a Saturday matinee or something is happening at the Garden or Hatch Shell. Most likely that kind of choppiness would limit work to overnights and single-track restrictions on weekends when some signals have to be offline. But it'll take a lot longer and a lot more money to do it that way vs. the blitz job they're doing with Fitchburg. The "rip the Band-aid off" method, while having the attractiveness of brisk pace, doesn't work one-size-fits-all with lines of different traffic characteristics, different off-peak/weekend ridership patterns, or particularly mission-critical functions. Inner Worcester's right behind the NEC and maybe some of the freight-main segments of outermost Fitchburg and Haverhill that have too high a pain threshold for shutting down unless there is absolutely, positively no physical way of avoiding it.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:39 pm

kwf wrote:
harshaw wrote:Whenever I read about plans to use the Grand junction line it is always good to refer to this map:

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/portals/ ... ssings.pdf

That's a lot of crossings. And a great opportunity for NIMBYISM (not that I could blame the folks of the PRC in this case).


Any info on where the Cambridge station may be located along the Grand Junction?


Probably between the Main and Broadway grade crossings: http://goo.gl/maps/Vq0kj. Only place there really is room for a full tangent 800 ft. high platform usable by DMU's and the occasional Worcester rush hour train, the most central location for everything in Kendall and the area buses, and can be nicely integrated into a street-facing promenade on that underutilized strip of grass.

Underneath the Main St. air rights would have the advantage of offering a sheltered platform, but the pedestrian flow is a lot more constrained, platform would be narrow, and would encourage too much loitering around that active building service driveway (which does get used when garbage trucks pull in to empty the dumpsters). As Option B's go that site's got a few too many awkward disadvantages.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby octr202 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:32 am

Unless the Google Maps Labs measuring tool is inaccurate, there's just barely 800' between Main St and Broadway. And half of that track in on a curve (complicating a high level platform if you still have to allow for freight access to Chelsea). I think the MIT section between Mass Av and Main St is the only likely area, as otherwise unattractive as it is. There's about 1200-1300' of tangent track there. The added plus is that area could allow for better walking access to/from Mass Av in addition to Main St & Kendall proper. There's a lot of new office sites going in on Mass Ave and off Albany & Portland Streets (Novartis, Pfizer, etc.).

Given the political opposition in Cambridge to the initial misguided proposal (the way it was handled, the concept was great), it's going to be a long process to open up any form of North Station service. I would caution folks to not get too optimistic about that side of "West Station" (hopefully that name gets improved - almost as bad as "Boston Landing") - be glad the state is sounding serious about making sure that the provisions for that future expansion are in place when the day comes. But it's unlikely to be right away.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby CRail » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:18 am

IMO, All Worcester trains should operate express between South Station and Auburndale (or perhaps one of the Wellesleys) with connecting DMU service to the inner stops, similar to NYC Subway style local/express connections. That way despite the 2 seat ride, the connection won't make travel times skyrocket. Here's a map I made previously that shows how ridiculous this line will become:Image
When I made the above image, Beacon Park was still an active freight yard and such plans hadn't been discussed, it was just a foresight in my mind as are Newton Corner and Riverside. So, although those haven't been formally brought up yet, here's to thinking ahead.
My Proposal:
Image
I figure a new Riverside stop could be set up to handle transfers and would be a good candidate for an intermodal transfer stop possibly including the Green Line and intercity buses. I'm being realistic showing long haul trains stopping at Back Bay, although I think that should be local only as well.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby rethcir » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:34 am

Your proposal makes entirely too much sense! :-D
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby octr202 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:09 pm

I'll second that, but...

...Probably just want to shift it all a little bit west. Back Bay is too much of a destination to have trains skip it. Everything needs to stop there, unless it has a good reason to (such as being on the Old Colony and not going through it!). Yawkey is going to be a regular stop for a lot of trains, given the growth of the LMA. And some combination of trains will need to serve West/Beacon Park and the awfully named Boston Landing relative to the amount of jobs located near those stations. I actually think that you could probably extend the frequent local trains all the way to Natick or Framingham, and create a larger express zone for the Worcester trains. That would give better service to the inner portion of the line all the way, while helping compensate for the extra 'destination' stops on the city end.

Sometimes we're quick to discount the benefit of terminating passengers closer to their workplace, versus other ways of speeding service. Yes, running non-stop from Riverside to South Station gets the train to South Station much faster, but if 2/3 of the commuters are going somewhere else, where's the benefit per passenger? Those stations will generate enough ridership to warrant even some Worcester expresses making the stops.

(To go tangentially for a moment, this is what makes the Grand Junction service so appealing. From a suburban commuting standpoint, North Station isn't the draw for Worcester trains - it's Kendall Sq. There's a huge employment center there, and having your train from Worcester or Framingham drop you within a few blocks of your office, rather than having to pile on the Red Line from South Station, saves you 20-40 minutes of commuting time. For non-railfan commuters, that's the difference between riding the train and putting up with the hassle and expense of driving the Pike every day.
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