South Station Commuter Requirements

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South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby ThinkBoston » Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:26 pm

Presuming that MONEY is an object, and producing the BEST cost/benefit outcome is your job, I want to pose this question . . .

Amtrak needs aside, what is the least amount of total platform space (length wise) that would meet MBTA peak commuter needs at South Station for the foreseeable future? We'll specify the latter as 25 years out, to the year 2040.

You all know MBTA passenger coaches are 85' in length; and let's allot 30' for buffer/bumper space at the head of each train berth. I don't find it necessary that the engine/locomotives (60' long) have platform space adjacent, but you might think otherwise (please inform).

Remember, money (and space is money) is at a premium here, the MBTA/DOT is bleeding money and the Mass. taxpayer is running out of blood to give.

So Jim, your mission, if you choose to accept it (and keep your job), is to answer this question . . .
What is the combination of MBTA commuter platforms (number and length wise) that gives us the best bang for our commonwealth buck at South Station?
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:36 pm

ThinkBoston wrote:Presuming that MONEY is an object, and producing the BEST cost/benefit outcome is your job, I want to pose this question . . .

Amtrak needs aside, what is the least amount of total platform space (length wise) that would meet MBTA peak commuter needs at South Station for the foreseeable future? We'll specify the latter as 25 years out, to the year 2040.

You all know MBTA passenger coaches are 85' in length; and let's allot 30' for buffer/bumper space at the head of each train berth. I don't find it necessary that the engine/locomotives (60' long) have platform space adjacent, but you might think otherwise (please inform).

Remember, money (and space is money) is at a premium here, the MBTA/DOT is bleeding money and the Mass. taxpayer is running out of blood to give.

So Jim, your mission, if you choose to accept it (and keep your job), is to answer this question . . .
What is the combination of MBTA commuter platforms (number and length wise) that gives us the best bang for our commonwealth buck at South Station?


800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here. That is enough for 9 coaches if the stopping spot for the locomotive is allowed to hang off the platform (that is true on every 800' installation to-date. There would be no need to have any non-Amtrak platforms at either terminal longer than that given that there'd be no non-Amtrak stops outside of the terminals longer than that, and 9 bi-levels is the longest consist their equipment purchases are predicated on as a max.

As of now the Old Colony lines can't take advantage of the 100% 800-footers on all their platforms because of the pinch at SS that limits their platforms to 600' length. That gets fixed with SS expansion. I don't believe there are any other shorties, although the pair of tracks closest to Atlantic Ave. probably is only 800'. And some of those varying-length ones may get rounded up in the expansion to the Amtrak max of 1000' ft. so the longest Northeast Regionals have more platforms to choose from.


Taking advantage of that capacity is going to mean getting the funding in place to upgrade the Providence Line stations, where 7- and 8-car trains are already common on the few busiest runs of the day. Canton Jct. inbound is only 540 ft. (6 cars...8-car sets can't open doors), Sharon is 760 ft. both sides (front-door only on 9th car), Mansfield inbound is 540 ft. (6 cars) and outbound 750 ft. (front-door only on 9th car), Attleboro is 730 ft. oubound (front-door only on 9th car) all need to be rounded up to 800'.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby ThinkBoston » Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:47 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here.


Thanks, F-Line, but the MBTA policy manual is irrelevant to my question. The new transportation CZAR for the DOT and MBTA is wiping all previous policy and planning off the board, and is starting OVER. He has come to you to get the answer to the question as posed.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:26 pm

ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here.


Thanks, F-Line, but the MBTA policy manual is irrelevant to my question. The new transportation CZAR for the DOT and MBTA is wiping all previous policy and planning off the board, and is starting OVER. He has come to you to get the answer to the question as posed.


Um...no. This is not Year Zero. And no new administration is junking the construction design manual in active use, nor is that something a Transportation Secretary or General Manager is going to micromanage. If you're going to allege the contrary, please provide a source citation.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby The EGE » Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:29 pm

By my count, there are 38 stations (once South Acton is completed) on the system with 800-foot high-level platforms, plus six (South Station, Back Bay, Ruggles, Forest Hills, Route 128, Providence) with 1050-foot Amtrak-standard platforms. Any czar would have to be stupider than this hypothetical question to scrap what's already built.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby ThinkBoston » Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:20 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here.


Thanks, F-Line, but the MBTA policy manual is irrelevant to my question. The new transportation CZAR for the DOT and MBTA is wiping all previous policy and planning off the board, and is starting OVER. He has come to you to get the answer to the question as posed.


Um...no. This is not Year Zero. And no new administration is junking the construction design manual in active use, nor is that something a Transportation Secretary or General Manager is going to micromanage. If you're going to allege the contrary, please provide a source citation.


And above is why we have a broken system and are bankrupt in the process of creating it.
I tried, but can only take so much of the ubiquitous forum trolls.
I'm out of here.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby The EGE » Sat Mar 14, 2015 7:01 pm

The 800-foot standard is not just pulled out of thin air to suit somebody's whims. It's based on the current and projected future needs of the T, and it's one of the best decisions the T has ever made.

The basic dimension for a high-level platform is the length of your 85-foot cars, plus about 30 feet to allow some leeway in stopping distance. Amtrak (on NEC at least) and Metro-North use 1050-foot platforms, which can fully platform 12 cars. Guess what the longest MNRR and NEC trains top out at? 12 cars. The MBTA uses 800 feet, which can fully platform 9 cars. When the MBTA set the standard in the mid-1990s, that was a two-car futureproofing beyond their longest trains. MBTA/MassDOT on freight clearance routes (like the Conn River Line) is a mini-high plus a 450-foot low platform, which together fit 6 cars. Three guesses as to what the longest Vermonter consist on the Conn River Line is.

The first long high-levels on the T were Malden Center and Oak Grove (1975 and '77), which were built to Orange Line dimensions for future conversion. Back Bay, Ruggles, and Forest Hills got Amtrak-spec 1050-foot platforms in 1987; the T quickly realized the big platforms at the commuter-rail only stops were a mistake because they were too long. So when the first track-geometry-unconstrained opportunity came up at Lynn in 1992, they cut back to an 800-foot platform. That seemed to work, so it became the standard for the Old Colony Lines restoration in 1997. And it has worked perfectly since then.

Nine cars is as long as the MBTA is ever going to go; that's as much as you can functionally haul with one engine, and for very practical reasons a number of the CR lines will be hauled by diesel locomotives for a long time into the future. That's also about the apex of the demand curve; overcrowded trains are better solved with higher frequencies and local-express splitting to separate the outer-belt long-hauls (the 7/8/9-packs) from the closely-packed inside-495 stops (shorter trains with better acceleration). By around 2020 they'll probably be getting rid of the last single-level cars; a 9-car all-bilevel set can carry 1620 people seated, and that's plenty.

Standard widths are 12 feet for a side platform, 22 feet for a island. Why? Because that's what works. Any narrower, and you get situations like Park Street, where the people getting off the train can't get past those standing on the platform. The island platform at Back Bay on the NEC is a tad narrower than spec, and it gets awfully crowded at rush hour. Look at platforms anywhere, and they're about the same. Commonwealth countries tend to built wider platforms, and the French narrower.

So the 800-foot platforms are a balance between what is needed for level boarding for all trains, and the space/geometry/etc considerations of longer platforms. Unless there are underlying issues like foundation difficulties, platforms are incredibly cheap. A 400-foot and and 800-foot high-level platform probably cost about the same to built; precast concrete forms are cheap.

Once expanded, South Station will have several 1050-foot platforms for Amtrak's use, and 800-foot platforms on all other tracks. That's your optimum cost-benefit right there. Do you have any evidence to present otherwise, or are you satisfied to continue calling us trolls?
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:15 pm

ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here.


Thanks, F-Line, but the MBTA policy manual is irrelevant to my question. The new transportation CZAR for the DOT and MBTA is wiping all previous policy and planning off the board, and is starting OVER. He has come to you to get the answer to the question as posed.


Um...no. This is not Year Zero. And no new administration is junking the construction design manual in active use, nor is that something a Transportation Secretary or General Manager is going to micromanage. If you're going to allege the contrary, please provide a source citation.


And above is why we have a broken system and are bankrupt in the process of creating it.
I tried, but can only take so much of the ubiquitous forum trolls.
I'm out of here.


What the hell are you talking about? The system is broken because they have a codified platform accessibility manual that takes into account all possible future capacity needs so platforms at that spec will never have to be modified--with money--again for as long as they shall live?? Huh???

Don't stomp off in a tantrum with one finger in the air...YOU asked the question: what's a platform length that serves 2040 needs. That's the official answer they came up with: 9-car trains + stopping distance slack space for fastest possible boarding. It does not cost extra; it saves money in the long run. CDOT's philosophy of only building platforms to the barest minimal present-day consists is what bleeds money over their 25-year needs. That 3-car platform at New Haven-State St. is going to have to be extended again and again and again. So are the brand spanking new renovated Shore LIne East stops that don't exceed 3-4 cars. So will most of the Hartford Line platforms getting built way too short. Which state made the smarter and more cost-effective decision?
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby BandA » Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:17 pm

If the space is available, build it long. Newtonville, for example, is marked off for at least 10 cars, albeit low and non-ada platform, and was formerly a stop for LD trains.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby diburning » Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:11 am

ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
ThinkBoston wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:800 ft. is the standard set in the MBTA commuter rail specifications guide for default platform length for new/upgraded construction anywhere on the system, so that's the one and only answer here.


Thanks, F-Line, but the MBTA policy manual is irrelevant to my question. The new transportation CZAR for the DOT and MBTA is wiping all previous policy and planning off the board, and is starting OVER. He has come to you to get the answer to the question as posed.


Um...no. This is not Year Zero. And no new administration is junking the construction design manual in active use, nor is that something a Transportation Secretary or General Manager is going to micromanage. If you're going to allege the contrary, please provide a source citation.


And above is why we have a broken system and are bankrupt in the process of creating it.
I tried, but can only take so much of the ubiquitous forum trolls.
I'm out of here.


Let me get this straight, people here are trolls because they didn't say what you wanted to hear? I think it's a little ironic that your username is "Think"Boston when you refuse to accept other people's thinking and logic.

You asked a hypothetical question that no one has the answer to (and if you do, please give it to the MBTA, they can probably use it). Also, why would it make ANY sense to build a platform of a "minimum length" as you described? They have standards today that work. If they ever revised/replaced that standard, then they'd have to do a study first. If anything, they'd probably want to build platforms longer than minimum for future-proofing purposes. Why? Because building "minimum length" platforms and then going back to extend them later (easier said than done) is essentially the same band-aid-in-lieu-of-a-real-solution way of doing things that screwed the commuter rail system in the first place.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby jbvb » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:51 am

Maxing out the capacity of a locomotive is an economic sweet spot for locomotive-hauled trains - you get good use of the track plant at peak times. If you were trying to maximize capacity overall, you'd have built the North-South connector and be using EMUs with more flexible consist lengths while avoiding the US's time-consuming train-turning procedures.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby dbperry » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:42 am

ok, you convinced me on platform length, even if the OP doesn't care any more.

What about the second part of his question - optimal number of platforms at South Station?
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby nomis » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:24 am

Consider 3 trains per hour per stub ended track, for commuter style operations ...

Amtrak operations may be sitting in the station longer, or have a longer overall dwell in BOS before going / after leaving SHSY.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:53 am

dbperry wrote:ok, you convinced me on platform length, even if the OP doesn't care any more.

What about the second part of his question - optimal number of platforms at South Station?


As many as you can shoehorn onto the property. Terminal ops require almosr an order of magnitude more platforms than through-running does. Just look at how many tracks Grand Central Terminal has compared to Penn Station, then look at their respective passenger volumes and you'll see what I mean.


If the post office ever moves out I'd hope that the T looks seriously into building out over what's now Dot ave to grab a precious few extra tracks, even if they're just short ones.

Build the pedestrian way that's sure to be all that's left of the north end of Dot ave over the channel on piers before s-turming back to meet the summer st intersection next t o the old stone and Webster building.

The real answer is to do as the Pennsylvania RR did and dig baby, dig! The N-S rail link with a 4-6 platform "south station under" leading to a "North Station Under" of sorts is the ultimate solution, with all inside-128 service and some longer-distance service upgraded to through-running EMU's, but that will also cost a pretty, pretty penny.
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Re: South Station Commuter Requirements

Postby BandA » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:04 pm

jbvb wrote:Maxing out the capacity of a locomotive is an economic sweet spot for locomotive-hauled trains - you get good use of the track plant at peak times. If you were trying to maximize capacity overall, you'd have built the North-South connector and be using EMUs with more flexible consist lengths while avoiding the US's time-consuming train-turning procedures.
If you built the north-south connector & ran all the trains all day, you'd have lots of empty seats during the day. I suppose running equipment forward from North Station to Boston Engine Terminal is easier than backing it out of South Station into Southampton St or Readville.

If you bought EMU's you'd have to of course electrify everything. Quick coupling/decoupling would require electrical control rather than air brake connection between cars.

And of course multi-billions for deep underground stations at North and South and the tunnel in between.
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