Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:52 pm

Back in the CSX days, the manual activation of the Concord Street crossing gates and CP 21 signal was controlled by a push button inside a locked switch box mounted close to the east end of each platform (one for track 1, one for track 2). Conductors would sometimes let kids push the button. The manual activation of the signal is now controlled by DTMF tones keyed over the 'road' radio frequency. Conductors no longer have to hike all the way to the end of the platform to push the button, esp. when the only occupied cars are at the west end of the platform (e.g. all non-rush hour trains). I have no idea if the switch boxes are still there or if they still work as a backup / alternate to the DTMF tones. Just haven't looked in a while.

Based on my observations, having the dispatcher pull in the signal so that the inbound trains see a clear at CP-21 would not really make any meaningful changes to the schedule. The increase in dwell times due to having to punch in the DTMF codes is very minimal - maybe a minute on average. According to my info, the speed limit is 40 mph from Fountain Street to the west end of CP-22, then 30 mph from the west end of CP-22 to CP-21 (and I think all the way to Bishop Street). So with a clear signal at CP-21, inbound trains could go a little faster into the station, but I wouldn't think it would amount to more than a few seconds of schedule time.

But the real reason I wanted to post was about the high level platforms in Framingham. I recently learned at an "ask the manager" event at South Station is that there are frequent wide load freight trains from Worcester to Boston - this manager thought it was about once a month. He claims Keolis has to go out and drop the mini-highs at Worcester, Grafton, Westboro, Southboro and Ashland to accommodate these moves - hence his knowledge of the frequency. However, once the wide loads reach Framingham, they eventually go up into the North Yard where they then go out on the Framingham or Fitchburg subdivisions. This is the 'natural' routing of most freight around Framingham - the north yard is where the freight trains are assembled for the Fitchburg and Framingham subs. And departing from the North Yard, they never have to pass by the actual Framingham station platform to get where they're going. The point of the discussion that the manager and I were having is that they very rarely have to drop the mini-highs at Framingham. So a practical freight runaround for Framingham already exists - not that it would allow legal full high platforms at Framingham, but interesting nonetheless.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:57 pm

back on topic:

This past weekend, they replaced the rails on Track 1 at the Framingham station between CP-21 and CP-22.

The worker I spoke with reported that the rail replacement on Track 1 is complete from Framingham to QB 26.60 (very close to the Southboro-Ashland town line).

In addition, they have started the destressing of Track 1 between Boston and Framingham.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:53 am

dbperry wrote:Back in the CSX days, the manual activation of the Concord Street crossing gates and CP 21 signal was controlled by a push button inside a locked switch box mounted close to the east end of each platform (one for track 1, one for track 2). Conductors would sometimes let kids push the button. The manual activation of the signal is now controlled by DTMF tones keyed over the 'road' radio frequency. Conductors no longer have to hike all the way to the end of the platform to push the button, esp. when the only occupied cars are at the west end of the platform (e.g. all non-rush hour trains). I have no idea if the switch boxes are still there or if they still work as a backup / alternate to the DTMF tones. Just haven't looked in a while.


I didn't know this - thanks & glad to hear the T has gone high-tech! I had to chuckle at your "Back in the CSX days..." which was only a couple of years ago. Now back in the early '80s, Concord St crossing had manual gates operated from a little shanty next to the street. IIRC, the gates weren't tied into the track signals (CP-21 didn't exist then as the ex-NH line crossed the ex-B&A on a pair of diamonds and there were three tracks across Concord St) so the operator could lower gates when appropriate for non-stop freights v. eb passenger trains. And before the use of RDCs/Cab cars, T trains had to be turned on the Holliston Secondary wye across Waverly St (not sure that's what this line was called back in the '80s) - I don't recall if the fairly short T trains of that era fit between the wye and Concord St or not.

Thanks again for the update.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:21 am

dbperry wrote: I have no idea if the switch boxes are still there or if they still work as a backup / alternate to the DTMF tones. Just haven't looked in a while.


I looked. Little boxes still there. Conduit still connected. Boxes not locked, just closed with a wingnut. Didn't open them to see if button was still in there.

johnpbarlow wrote:I didn't know this - thanks & glad to hear the T has gone high-tech! I had to chuckle at your "Back in the CSX days..." which was only a couple of years ago. Now back in the early '80s, Concord St crossing had manual gates operated from a little shanty next to the street. IIRC, the gates weren't tied into the track signals (CP-21 didn't exist then as the ex-NH line crossed the ex-B&A on a pair of diamonds and there were three tracks across Concord St) so the operator could lower gates when appropriate for non-stop freights v. eb passenger trains. And before the use of RDCs/Cab cars, T trains had to be turned on the Holliston Secondary wye across Waverly St (not sure that's what this line was called back in the '80s) - I don't recall if the fairly short T trains of that era fit between the wye and Concord St or not.


Supposedly the Concord Street manual crossing gates were the last in the U.S. - converted to automatic on 8/20/1985. By then the third track had already been removed. Great photo album of the change-over here:
http://rjgrubin.rrpicturearchives.net/a ... x?id=10013

I remember the shack and the watchman fondly. The wye move across Waverly Street / Route 135 would always foul up traffic there, but what a nightmare if they tried to do that these days! of course they can't, since the eastern side of the wye has been removed. The railroad ROW must still exist, because there are tiny little RR crossing signs on the side of the road, even though there aren't any tracks there!
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:31 am

johnpbarlow wrote:CP-21 didn't exist then as the ex-NH line crossed the ex-B&A on a pair of diamonds and there were three tracks across Concord St


...and Robert has another great album showing the removal of the diamonds in the summer of 1983:
http://rjgrubin.rrpicturearchives.net/a ... px?id=9459
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby johnpbarlow » Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:53 am

Thanks for posting the URLs to the Framingham crossing update and diamond removal. Brought back a few memories!
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby johnpbarlow » Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:47 am

Track one at Wellesley Farms is being de-stressed at 10:45am Sunday 11/22/15. De-stressing T1 will complete eastward to CP-11 within a week.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:11 am

Komarovsky wrote:(Dave, and word on the west of Framingham class 4 upgrade?).


Status:

Track 1, CP 4 to CP 11: to be destressed starting in Spring.
Track 1, CP 11 to CP 21: destressing complete
Track 1, CP 21 to CP 45: rail replacement complete

Track 2, CP 4 to CP 21: destressing complete
Track 2, CP 21 to somewhere (maybe Southboro?): rail replacement complete
Track 2, somewhere to Worcester: rail replacement ongoing

CP 21 = Framingham (actually just east of the Framingham station), for those not intimately familiar with the line.

I haven't heard an estimated completion date for rail replacement on track 2 out west.

I would assume they wait until both tracks are completely done before they try to get increased speed.

What is the process for that? Do they have to petition FRA or file something with the STB? Before that, do they have to do something to the signal system?

I have actually never heard or read anything formally from the MBTA that upgrading from Framingham to Worcester will result in reclassification to Class 4. I'm seen it mentioned on here, but is that officially part of the current project?
Known to Keolis and the MBTA as "Twitter Dave"
Frequently posting about the MBTA Framingham-Worcester line on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FramWorMBTA
Owner of Framingham-Worcester Blog: http://FramWorMBTA.weebly.com/
Maintainer of MBTA schedule archive: http://www.dbperry.net/MBTA/
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:04 pm

Update today from Keolis:

https://vimeo.com/160098358

Basic big message is that rail destressing is restarting with this spring construction season.

I'll have a blog post about this later today or tomorrow. A press release from Keolis is forthcoming, so this should hit the larger news media today or tomorrow. Not sure if the media will care enough to pick it up, especially since it doesn't fit the "MBTA sucks" narrative that the media loves to report on. But you get to see it here first!

Big news:

1) New interlocking planned for CP 6. No schedule provided; video is vague on details.
2) Double track through Allston. No schedule provided; video is vague on details.
3) 30,000 ties to be replaced. Starting at CP 4 going west towards Southboro on track 1 (Framingham to Southboro might actually already be complete). That is scheduled to be complete by 7/1/16. Worcester towards Boston on track 2 starting after 7/1/16.

I really think (hope?) that the first two projects have actually been funded and are past the concept stage and actually planned to happen. To me that's how the video sounded, but it wasn't clear. I have asked for clarification.

I have also asked for clarification regarding the class 4 upgrade, and if the tie replacement is for that specific reason.

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Known to Keolis and the MBTA as "Twitter Dave"
Frequently posting about the MBTA Framingham-Worcester line on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FramWorMBTA
Owner of Framingham-Worcester Blog: http://FramWorMBTA.weebly.com/
Maintainer of MBTA schedule archive: http://www.dbperry.net/MBTA/
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby GP40MC1118 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:05 pm

There were several Worcester Line Work Trains last week distributing ties. Also, a set
of 9 ballast hoppers were brought up from Rochester, which will probably be used to
dump stone behind the tie job. Look for tie cars and stone cars to be staged on the
runaround track on the Grand Jct Branch (between Memorial Drive and Mass Ave)

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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby dbperry » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:08 pm

Keolis provided these clarifications:

Upgrade to class 4 (80 mph speed limit) not part of current project.

CP 6 schedule unclear.

Double track through Allston IS part of this project and WILL be executed during this construction season. (!!!)

Also, my blog post about this topic is now posted:
http://dbperry.weebly.com/blog/spring-2 ... ion-update
Known to Keolis and the MBTA as "Twitter Dave"
Frequently posting about the MBTA Framingham-Worcester line on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FramWorMBTA
Owner of Framingham-Worcester Blog: http://FramWorMBTA.weebly.com/
Maintainer of MBTA schedule archive: http://www.dbperry.net/MBTA/
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:50 pm

What's stopping them from uprating Framingham-Worcester to Class 4? Wasn't destressing the last to-do?
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby harshaw » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:50 pm

IIRC the rail replacement project isn't touching Framingham and east. Perhaps that is required for Class 4?

I would like to see 80 mph trains through Weston / Wellesley / Natick. I assume that there would still be a speed restriction on the Wellesley curve.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:28 am

harshaw wrote:IIRC the rail replacement project isn't touching Framingham and east. Perhaps that is required for Class 4?

I would like to see 80 mph trains through Weston / Wellesley / Natick. I assume that there would still be a speed restriction on the Wellesley curve.


Framingham-east is restricted by the signal system from going Class 4, and no amount of track work changes that until they replace the signal system. Framingham-west is already cab signaled, so with completion of the track work I'm not sure what could be holding up the Class 4 uprate and opening up of some 79 MPH stretches.
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Re: Framingham / Worcester Destressing Project

Postby BandA » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:25 am

Boatload of tie bundles have been dropped along the line. CP 6, I think that's the one in Newton Corner opp. former Aquinus Jr. College. Probably another 10-15 years before they rebuild the Newton stations as double-platform high ADA compliant.
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