Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby BandA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:06 pm

K i l l it. K i l l it now. Demonstrate that there are consequences, and backbones.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby NH2060 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:22 pm

Agreed, it's time to move on. I know that it's been a political football for decades but I can't see Gov. Baker being even remotely okay with keeping this thing alive.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:00 pm

As long as GLX stays dead and The North-South Rail Link...

D
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby BandA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:47 pm

Name three things about the "T" which are running a billion dollar deficit: GLX, South Coast Rail, and the employee pension plan. Oopsy!
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby jonnhrr » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:30 am

Surprise surprise. SCR will cost more and take longer to do than expected. From the Boston Globe:
The proposed South Coast rail project to extend commuter service to New Bedford and Fall River could cost $1 billion more than expected and take at least six years longer than scheduled to construct, state transportation officials revealed on Monday.

The long-discussed plan once had a price tag of $2.23 billion and a completion date of 2022. But consultants for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority now estimate it could cost between $3.3 billion and $3.42 billion and be finished between 2028 and 2030.


So now they are looking at cheaper alternatives such as routing the line via Middleborough, which they think coudl be done in 6-8 years or as long as it would take to get the permits for the Stoughton routing.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/06/27/south-coast-rail-could-cost-billion-more-than-estimated/XxpSIfNX6FdNb7hnlz630L/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=

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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby The EGE » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:03 am

Environmental permits aren't always easy to get (witness the Lackawanna cutoff) but I'm pretty sure those consultants are just making the numbers up to get money when they do the same permitting later.

There's 15 miles of former rail ROW that, while partially through a swamp, is currently high and dry and wide enough for two tracks its whole length. Shoring up the embankment or adding viaducts can be done with minimal impact to the swamp; any impact that would happen can be balanced out by wetlands restoration elsewhere for a modest fee (perhaps as storm barriers for FR and NB!). Heck, if they remove the embankment and replace it with a viaduct in a few locations to improve water circulation, the project could very easily be a net positive for the wetlands.

Then there's what? Two layover facilities, built on industrial land with modern layover design. Even if they just did this as diesel, modern layover design would allow for minimal idling. Ten or so new stations, largely on currently vacant land. And a whole bunch of minor upgrades on existing rail lines with current active use.

That's all stuff that we know how to get permits for. They already put out an EIS! It wouldn't be difficult to modify it slightly for full double track and improved station designs.

This, far more than GLX did, needs a stripping down. Cut the graft, cut the payoffs to towns, throw out the consultants who are giving out clearly wrong information - and you could probably get this down to an even billion including quad-tracking 128 and Hyde Park. But the math of the politics don't work out. As F-Line has discussed, Baker could do anything but outright cancel the GLX with minimal political fallout. But take away the South Coast's shiny toys, and three of the swingiest cities in the state will do their best to make him lose the 2018 election.

There's no good way out of it unless someone without political capital to lose can sufficiently refocus anger on the project. The Boston and Worcester newspapers are probably the only real chance of that happening - if some reporter bothered to do an honest investigation and talk to rail professionals who don't stand to make money off the project, they'd probably be able to win a Pulitzer unraveling the web of lies.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:54 am

jonnhrr wrote:Surprise surprise. SCR will cost more and take longer to do than expected. From the Boston Globe:
The proposed South Coast rail project to extend commuter service to New Bedford and Fall River could cost $1 billion more than expected and take at least six years longer than scheduled to construct, state transportation officials revealed on Monday.

The long-discussed plan once had a price tag of $2.23 billion and a completion date of 2022. But consultants for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority now estimate it could cost between $3.3 billion and $3.42 billion and be finished between 2028 and 2030.


So now they are looking at cheaper alternatives such as routing the line via Middleborough, which they think coudl be done in 6-8 years or as long as it would take to get the permits for the Stoughton routing.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/06/27/south-coast-rail-could-cost-billion-more-than-estimated/XxpSIfNX6FdNb7hnlz630L/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=

Jon


Except for the fact that it totally can't be done because the Old Colony can't support 2 branches off a branch of a branch without destroying every South Shore commuter's rush hour frequencies forever. Even if they fixed the Dorchester bottleneck with MassDOT's idiotic "build hugely expensive tunnels for Braintree and commuter rail around Savin Hill so we can widen the HOV lanes" asphalt grift. The EIS answered this question in triplicate years ago. The SCR interests just refuse to believe that's a settled issue, because they believe their specialness is worth outright wide-scale transit frequency loss to Plymouth, Middleboro, and Greenbush commuters. "Suck it...I got mine"...nothing more, nothing less. It is not a reality-based conversation, it's navel gazing gone 8 degrees of meta.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:18 pm

my theory is what I posted a few weeks back... the massive tie and ballast project scheduled to come to the Middleboro Subdivision this fall....once completed, it is going to be hard not to go via the OC line....I can see the press release now...."look common folk that don't know sh** about the RR!!! the track is here, new rail, road bed and ties, all finished, just install Cab Signals and it is good to go to FR/NB!!!" Granted the largest problem of said project is the single track from SQAUNT Int. to GREEN Int. in Braintree. Although it is such a short stretch of single track, it a very important stretch of RR. What I propose is make some upgrades to the Middleboro Mainline.....make the Titicut siding near the MCI in the outskirts of Bridgewater a Controlled Siding, obvi with an Interlocking at each end, to free up more space with an extra window of meeting trains on the that stretch of railroad....That! THAT!! may help a wee bit in making this succeed
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:04 pm

MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 wrote:my theory is what I posted a few weeks back... the massive tie and ballast project scheduled to come to the Middleboro Subdivision this fall....once completed, it is going to be hard not to go via the OC line....I can see the press release now...."look common folk that don't know sh** about the RR!!! the track is here, new rail, road bed and ties, all finished, just install Cab Signals and it is good to go to FR/NB!!!" Granted the largest problem of said project is the single track from SQAUNT Int. to GREEN Int. in Braintree. Although it is such a short stretch of single track, it a very important stretch of RR. What I propose is make some upgrades to the Middleboro Mainline.....make the Titicut siding near the MCI in the outskirts of Bridgewater a Controlled Siding, obvi with an Interlocking at each end, to free up more space with an extra window of meeting trains on the that stretch of railroad....That! THAT!! may help a wee bit in making this succeed


It's still not going to do the trick. The amount of skip-stopping hacks and painful gaps in the schedule that would have to be laid out like landmines across the entire OC network is still going to have absolutely caustic effects on peak-hour commutes for the existing branches. Enough that the state somehow thinks dropping another billion widening the SE Expressway (and no doubt MA 3 and parts of MA 24 in conjunction) is somehow a necessary complement. The original assessment precluding the Middleboro Alternative was pretty airtight in just how big/bad a whiff it would be. So even if Savin Hill and Quincy Adams-Braintree Yard were fixed (Wollaston-Quincy Adams probably never can be) the only way to stage an SCR schedule that's do-no-harm to the existing OC schedules is make the headways to the South Coast even more useless than the unnecessarily crippled Stoughton single-track build. Plus, it continues the SCR Task Force's petty earth-salting tactics at the Middleboro-Buzzards Bay extension, which it has spent a decade trying to bury out of turf warrage. That one doesn't even require a layover construction or any new trainsets to implement, just uniform 6-car all- bi-levels at peak and redistribution of the Middleboro schedule. But the Task Force keeps trying to launch new F.U.D. campaigns to bury that one; this is just the latest.

M'boro doesn't change the game at all. It's another pathetic paper fantasy to keep the same grifters getting paid while netting an even more useless service than the officially-recommended useless service.


I could see *some* way forward if FR and NB were divided up between the Middleboro Alternative and the Attleboro Alternative one branch at a time. Say, New Bedford-only taking Middleboro with the Savin Hill and East Braintree DT fixes and Fall River-only taking the NEC with the north-facing bypass for Attleboro Jct. built and Amtrak moving up the track capacity expansion projects in Massachusetts on the NEC Infrastructure Improvements Master Plan higher on the priority order. But even that's going to be kludgy and result in less-than-awesome headways. Plus Norton and Taunton are violently opposed to the Attleboro Alternative, Taunton having a valid case because of that nutty grade crossing cluster west of Weir Jct. that presents legit burdens under a heavyish train schedule.

And still...present a sane and non- artifically crippled Stoughton alternative that bakes in all the necessary Forest Hills-Canton Jct. capacity improvements and doesn't senselessly preclude end-to-end double-track...and that's still the only route that can accomplish ALL service goals to their fullest. This "debate" is entirely artificial and fueled by wholly manufactured crises. The Army Corp's single-track mandate is defective by design, the M'boro Alternative is defective by design, the Attleboro-only Alternative is defective by design, and the Attleboro/Middleboro mix-and-match is moderately defective by design. The great farce in all this is the game of pretending that this whole lot of @#$%-sandwich Alternatives aren't patently defective by design and would lead to bad, non-useful transit. All so the Army Corps can get away with rank corruption by arbitrarily precluding the only alternative--full DT Canton-Taunton--that was functionally effective by design so they could blackmail a billion in completely unnecessary electrification money. Electrification only improves schedules by hitting the impossibly narrow margin-of-error for train meets on that single-track for the peak-hour skip stops; there's almost zero difference in actual travel times diesel vs. electrification. Its only justification is this wholly-manufactured crisis of single-tracking. Blackmail by any other name.


Honestly, other than disbanding the SCR Task Force and locking down control under MassDOT HQ the best move they can make for actually sorting out signal-to-noise and finding out what a corruption-free build would cost is if they formally challenge the findings of the Army Corps with the feds. Possibly even lawsuit-worthy if they can prove motives were blatant enough to call for financial damages. They have a strong case to make that the previous AC administration made an egregious and possibly illegal overreach by cooking the books on the EIS, and they'd have decent grounds for negotiating a federally-funded EIS do-over in the settlement as penance to right the wrong. At least then the electrification malarkey--and the minimum $1B tied up in that--comes immediately off the table, there's an honest up/down assessment on contiguous DT, and they can peg real costs with an honest real-world answer on swamp trestle vs. embankment. It's unknowable and un-evaluatable without first nailing the Army Corps to real consequences for their transparent overreach. Even if the end result still gets a not-recommended rating, we only know what's up and what's down by throwing that EIS in the trash and holding the feds accountable to an honest job. State needs to play that procedural leverage just for its own peace of mind, and so the Army Corps' corrupt behavior is never repeated on any other projects.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby BandA » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:49 pm

Good post by F-line!

Rt 128 forms a "brick wall" for commuters driving up 24 or 95 (or at least it did a few years ago). So the interim goal should be to get lines like Stoughton past the heavy traffic, out to big park-and-ride area, possibly Taunton? Where does the traffic become light/moderate? Then express buses from NB & Fall River to the interim terminal to prove the business. This has been suggested before but I thought it was worth repeating. Would a bus from FR/NB to Middleborough be time competitive?

Middleborough needs to be extended to Buzzards Bay before even contemplating linking to FR/NB
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby BandA » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:54 pm

Oh I forgot, South Station is full. Shouldn't be extending lines until BOS is expanded.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby Frode » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:14 am

Shouldn't be extending lines until they can adequately run what they've got and the equipment shortage is addressed. The Taunton extension makes sense in the long run and can probably feed off of the existing Stoughton schedule with some tweaks. A big park and ride in Taunton with connecting express buses is a good idea. But as I recall, Easton and Raynham are adamantly opposed to the extension and Easton will likely try to demand some Hingham-like mitigation, although there is already a tunnel under North Easton center (although it's filled in). But I can't see any logical ridership scenario that makes the extensions from Taunton to FR and NB viable and the electric traction requirement just adds unnecessary cost to the project as F-Line notes above. Kill it now and revisit it later.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby highgreen215 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:56 pm

There was a long ago direct connection between Middleborough and Myricks. What is the state of this original ROW? Any chance it could be reactivated or is it gone forever? This would be the only route that would make any sense, not the zig-zag, time wasting route from Middleborough to Taunton and back to Myricks.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:47 pm

highgreen215 wrote:There was a long ago direct connection between Middleborough and Myricks. What is the state of this original ROW? Any chance it could be reactivated or is it gone forever? This would be the only route that would make any sense, not the zig-zag, time wasting route from Middleborough to Taunton and back to Myricks.

Gone forever, I think. There's a few places on Google Earth that look like they could be remnants of the route you're thinking of, but much of the ROW has been built over and there's two major highways blocking it as well.
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Re: Fall River Improvement Project & South Coast Rail

Postby The EGE » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:03 pm

That former branch only saves about 4 miles versus the active branches. It also branched off north of Middleborough/Lakeville station, so you still have the fundamental branching problem (especially given that Buzzards Bay CR could happen right now at negligible cost).
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