Eastern Route questions

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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby MBTA3247 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:36 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:It can't be light rail, because PAR has irrevocable trackage rights federally protected from local seizure.

Depending on the branch's traffic level, PAR might be amenable to either selling their rights to the line, or agreeing to time-separated operations.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:59 am

MBTA3247 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:It can't be light rail, because PAR has irrevocable trackage rights federally protected from local seizure.

Depending on the branch's traffic level, PAR might be amenable to either selling their rights to the line, or agreeing to time-separated operations.


1. No, they can't. Rousselot just sank a bunch of its own money into upgrading the branch to full Class 1 status for the increased carloads at the plant it just expanded to greater capacity. The customer will fight a discontinuance of service in front of the STB, and win handily. Second, they'll sue PAR for punking them...and win handily. That will never happen. This is basic interstate commerce legalese affirmed by decades of caselaw, and the exact situation that the law protects freight carriers and/or customers from.

2. Rousselot takes deliveries during daytime business hours only. They don't have a night shift, so time separation isn't going to work here.

3. It's not a matter of "if there's a will there's a way" unless you can prove that there's a hardship payout big enough for Rousselot to accept. And with all the money they've spent on their own capacity, there isn't a hardship payout they'll accept that won't exceed the cost-effectiveness of attempting this transit build. It's a big, big gulf to close; the "Go Away" payment is fatal to the transit build.

4. The Peabody Branch is another one of the B&M-to-MBTA bankruptcy sale assets that PAR have $0 perpetual trackage rights to, and only pay the MOW fees on because it's a non-passenger line. While they have abandoned nearly all other such T-owned/freight-only lines to get out of the MOW fees, they have no incentive to dump a line that's got an active passenger proposal on it. Because if the Peabody Branch were to carry passenger traffic, they'd have their MOW costs zeroed out to Peabody Square. So of course they're going to fight the trolley that takes the branch off the FRA network when a RR dinky or proper commuter rail that stays on the FRA network lets them keep the growing Rousselot biz and escape all MOW costs east of the Square because the physical plant is now passenger-bearing. The mere existence of 'a' passenger proposal reliving them of MOW costs gives them self-interest to withhold their approval unless it's the mode they can use. So there's a bit of a conundrum here.



I still think they meant 'dinky', since it's simply too easy to get RDC-on-the-brain when most Legislators were alive when the Budds were still serving Salem. But I definitely won't put it past anyone in the General Court to pass a bill not knowing what the meaning of a trolley is, let alone realize that their own bill is meaningless in the face of all that federal preemption and mechanisms for upholding.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby cbrett » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:34 pm

Yeah, I have no idea what to make out of this proposal, are they suggesting that the study would be on a Peabody-Salem DMU shuttle? I could maybe see the appeal of faster service than the unbelievably slow local busses to Salem, but I don't see how much ridership potential it could have without becoming a one seat ride to Boston or tying in to the Malls/Danvers too. Considering that the capital costs are mostly from new equipment, a side platform at Salem, and (at least) a stop in Peabody, why not just make it an actual CR branch as planned in the last study? The only thing in favor of the shuttle over a one seat to Boston I can think of would be the lessened capacity impact on the Salem Tunnel, but without a second mainline platform the added dwell times from a cross platform transfer might be just as bad.

I know this money for the study is a drop in the bucket transportation expense wise, but it just seems so unnecessary.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby nomis » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:42 pm

Just build two more platforms at Salem, and you can run both: Peabody - Salem Locals; and a dinky+through service Peabody-Salem-xPort for off-peak and weekend services that meets trains in Salem.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:30 pm

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedFiles/Docum ... 1x17_1.pdf
Thankfully those very design docs for a Peabody-side Salem platform have been sitting in a file cabinet for 13 years! :-D

450-footer (5-car max) on a slight curve coming out the portal's Peabody turnout, cannibalizing the small auxiliary lot. Grade crossing at the hook in the driveway. Easy-peasy. They actually did a MUCH better job provisioning for the Peabody platform in the station rebuild than they did leaving a space allowance for the 2nd mainline platform. They have to eat away a bunch of hillside fill to shiv a sharp and slow-speed turnout for the northbound main platform because they put the new full-high so damn close to the portal. The way the Peabody wye + platform easement is graded leaves it almost lovingly provisioned. What a baffling choice of project management blindspot.


Since the Peabody switch was/is several dozen feet inside the tunnel free movements are possible onto that platform (w/ adequate buffer for a 6-car train that can't platform the 6th car on the 450-footer) while the mainline platform is occupied, allowing for very close-packed meets of a Peabody vs. a Rockburyport not currently possible with the two branches that have to use the mainline platform. This build actually becomes the easiest vector for service increases on the whole Eastern Route, because to do more Rockburyports you not only have to dig out that hillside for the northbound platform but add more passing sidings to the Newburyport branch and/or go to war with the Rockport NIMBY's over expanding Rockport layover. Here you just have to build that 450-footer and throw down the switch. It's too easy to just keep on going to Peabody Square and rework the municipal parking lot on Railroad Ave. for single side 800-footer, but theoretically you could just stub out at Salem if add'l frequencies now/soonest/cheapest was the only goal. Layover yard can be at North St. freight yard, Pan Am accommodated for its loss by constructing a second runaround track on the South Peabody Branch between the Allens Ln. and Summit St. grade crossings (3000 ft.) for canning the Rousselot job. That's equivalent storage to the 3000 ft. of operable track currently at North St.

This is why the locals want the branch so bad. They know from the studies that this wasn't just a linear extension, but a substantial service increaser at Salem that also makes the existing bus lines a hell of a lot more useful, interzone commutes a hell of a lot more useful, and downtown Salem a hell of a lot more useful a hub. Compelling other complimentary investments like the South Salem/Salem State U. infill station.


So I guess this study bill can be useful for forcing the issue that's been tabled ever since the '04 North Shore Transit Improvements final recs all went unimplemented (except for the slovenly parking garage expansions). Pretending it's going to be an RDC shuttle is a crude, but not necessarily ineffective, attention-getting scheme to finally get someone at MassDOT to return their phone calls after 13 years. Could've been worded a whole lot less cumbersomely, but the intent is completely consistent with the loud advocacy for the branch + associated service increases that's amped up to fever pitch last couple local election cycles.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby cbrett » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:03 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
So I guess this study bill can be useful for forcing the issue that's been tabled ever since the '04 North Shore Transit Improvements final recs all went unimplemented (except for the slovenly parking garage expansions). Pretending it's going to be an RDC shuttle is a crude, but not necessarily ineffective, attention-getting scheme to finally get someone at MassDOT to return their phone calls after 13 years. Could've been worded a whole lot less cumbersomely, but the intent is completely consistent with the loud advocacy for the branch + associated service increases that's amped up to fever pitch last couple local election cycles.


Ok, thanks for explaining it more, just going off the site its hard to read between the lines and see any of the politics behind it.

The 2004 study was based on regular equipment, but I wonder if DMUs would make sense for the Peabody/Danvers branch from the start without any infill or significant frequency improvements. If the line is built for MUs from the start would the T save any money on track/station infrastructure? IMO it makes sense considering that the potential endgame is to have Peabody/Malls serve as the end of local service with clockfacing MU's making several infill stops and potentially continuing through the link as part of an Indigo Line, but the inability of the T to acquire MUs for existing lines like Fairmount or follow through with the proposed Indigo Line might justify building for push-pull and starting with standard equipment.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:06 am

There's no difference between P-P and MU in terms of how track infrastructure is maintained. It's passenger service on the FRA network all the same. You'd need to upgrade it to >Class 1 to do more than 15 MPH, gate all the unprotected grade crossings, replace most of the track & ties, and shore up the roadbed because it's very lumpy from decades of groundwater. A dinky pinking back and forth between Peabody Sq. and the off-main Salem platform could run without signals or PTC like the NJ Transit Princeton Dinky does. In that case the line operates as one block signal, and the lone vehicle occupying the line never cedes the block (so long as it is the one and only vehicle on the line). Therefore on-line frequencies wouldn't matter, as it could just ping back and forth however often it wants.

But there isn't enough demand for a dinky pinging back-and-forth because the existing bus routes already duplicate the line. The bus routes don't run very often, but a frequent-running dinky isn't going to fix that problem to any extraordinary degree because the mainline frequencies to Salem on the Eastern Route remain flat. As a second-seat transfer, its fortunes are shackled to running more trains to Salem...especially on the off-peaks. And as per last post, you can't really do that on Rockburyports alone without digging out the hillside to double up the mainline platform and (A) adding Newburyport Br. passing sidings, (B) addressing very limited Rockport layover capacity, or (C) both.

So...the only way you can solve the frequency pinch without spending a ton of $$$ is to run to that Peabody-side platform out of the tunnel turnout that avoids the $$$ of solving the pinch on the Rockburyport side. And if you're going to reinstate the Peabody turnout and stick a mini-layover at North St. Yard to solve for the frequency piece...you might as well keep running +1 stops to Peabody Sq. to reverse direction and do away with the dinky altogether because you'll get all the ridership of the two-seat transfer dinky and then some by running contiguous at greater frequencies, the buses will pick up the slack to the Rockburyport transfers @ Salem now that the overall spread of transit options is much richer, and it'll cost less to operate the trains as one service instead of two.

That's the endgame here. Get this thinkpiece of a dinky study going so the FCMB actually takes up the what-if at a meeting, then proceed directly to the Captain Obvious conclusion "why don't we just increase service and run it as a branch?" It's topical conversation for the FCMB now that Sec. Pollack has said out loud that they're re-thinking the Zone fare structure at the inner stops. Salem frequencies with a third branch get halfway to Indigo if there's less of a dropoff on the off-peak, so if the Zones get revamped for better intra-128 service Salem and/or Peabody turns become hugely more valuable. That's where the DMU's can eventually come in if it 'graduates' to Indigo frequencies once the T gets its house in order on full rollout of that service scheme (obviously in the meantime there's plenty frequent ramp-up you can do with regular old push-pulls on a revamped fare system).

I don't doubt for a second that the timing of this bill and that statement about rethinking Zones are NOT coincidental; that's Peabody's opening. Pitching it as a dinky (or "trolley") is the weird, beating-around-the-bush part. But it can serve as means to an end to get the thing they've been screaming about since the '04 study on the board as a priority if their talking points intersect the ongoing frequencies-to-Salem and fare revamp conversations.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby jbvb » Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:19 pm

Why would more passing sidings be needed on the former Eastern to Newburyport? The west end of Ipswich siding is less than 6 miles (1 intermediate stop) from the end of double track east of North Beverly. Then it's a bit more than 7 miles (2 intermediate stops) from the east end of Ipswich to the beginning of double track at Knight's Crossing (Hay St., MP 34.7?) in Newbury. Current schedules have some meets in Ipswich, but I don't think I've ever seen one, scheduled or not, between Knights' and current Newburyport (MP 36)
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:17 am

The '04 North Shore Transit Improvements Study specced new passers at Ipswich and Rowley for purposes of adding additional frequencies: +2 morning peak N'prt frequencies, +1 evening peak N'prt frequencies, and hourly service each direction in the off-peak. The two sidings were the infrastructure improvements the study said were necessary for that level of service increase. Rockport got matching increases in the proposal, contingent on an expanded layover as its infrastructure requirement.

These schedule increases were the max possible peak-period service increase feasible through the single-track Salem platform. Peabody not affected as the tunnel turnout escaped that capacity pinch and left the new branch bound primarily by North Station capacity and terminal district congestion as its frequency limiter. The one caveat was that the whole day's schedule on both Rockburyport branches had to be completely rebooted with revamped departure times to cram it all around the Salem meets, so was TBD how that would affect schedule spacing of the rush hour trains and how palatable that would be for riders.


Since the study summary didn't publish the traffic modeling of exactly what kind of departure times they were looking at on that revamped schedule that maxed out the tippy top of the Salem single's capacity, we can only guess what kind of peak meets were to happen at Ipswich and Rowley requiring those sidings. All we know is that they were confident enough it was necessary for the peak service increases to graduate those sidings into the final recs.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby jbvb » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:55 am

I could see extending Ipswich's second track past the platform to a new turnout E of Washington St.; ability to do meets during station dwell times would add considerable capacity. But then it's ~4 miles from the east end of Ipswich to Rowley, and then 3 mi. from Rowley to Hay St. I suspect a negotiating point.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:38 pm

Yeah, I suspect they were over-padding the passer infrastructure since the study's breadth didn't allow for the kind of precision modeling that goes into a design-build. All of that placement is TBD until they publish a refreshed study appendix showing the modeled meets.


Study pegged the combined branch infrastructure costs for the increased service at $62M in '04 dollars, most of that tied up upgrading Rockport layover for 9 trainsets. Unfortunately Town of Rockport fought that tooth and nail and got the station/layover upgrades postponed in 2011, so that's a constriction towards making it happen. Would've increased Rockport schedules from 30 daily trains to 39 while the Newburyport passers increased that schedule from 34 to 39 per day...a net gain of 14 daily trains on the existing un-upgraded mainline. Then throw Peabody on top with a near-match branch schedule...Phase I to Peabody Sq. estimated at $72M in '04 dollars. Costs variable by how much parking there'd be at the Square (study tended to overdose on it way more than real-world utilization supports), and whether Phase I would get a temp layover at North St. or go without one until the $55M ('04 $$$) Phase II to North Shore Mall/128 installed one at end of the line.

110 mainline trains per day, 55 round trips? That's pretty much Indigo headways right there if the off-peaks are balanced, even if peak still escapes the formal "Indigo" definition by requiring a paper schedule to time the minor gapping/bunching variances in the branch schedules. For a ~$135M ('04 $$$) package in branch-only upgrades with no major mainline upgrades required (though add'l SGR and capacity mgt. investment Somerville-Salem certainly helps for backstopping reliability of that dense a schedule). Very high ROI. These should've been no-brainer builds, but the only things the state actually implemented from the study over the next 13 years were those two white elephant garages.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:31 pm

jbvb wrote:but I don't think I've ever seen one, scheduled or not, between Knights' and current Newburyport (MP 36)


The current schedules have at least one meet between Knight and Port.

And yes, the double track east of Beverly Jct is inadequate. It isn't as bad as Lowell Jct to Vale in Andover, but it would be beneficial to improve things. The most bang for your buck would be upgrading Bagley (and shifting slightly west), eliminating Ipswich West, upgrading the siding to Rule 261/CTC signalling, and extending it down to the ABS signals at 23.9/24.0. It may also be desirable to throw in a new ABS at roughly 25.5 (Appleton Farms). There would be zero public or signaled crossings involved, minimizing costs.

Another cheapie would be to extend double track from Knight down to the ABS at Red Gate Rd. It would require one interlocking and an upgrade of Hay St. It would be less effective than the Ipswich siding, but if the goal would be to avoid replacing stations (for now), it is very simple.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue May 02, 2017 10:59 am

Hopefully you folks are able to access this URL: https://files.slack.com/files-pri/T0A32 ... _19_am.png

It is an idea about eliminating the awkward grade crossing at Arlington & Sixth in Chelsea and replacing it with a simple pedestrian crossing. Without doing this, we will have a six-way intersection (including busway) with a railroad crossing through it. Things to note would be that both Arlington and Sixth Streets would primarily become one-ways, most likely, and that the commuter rail station is already slated to be moved over behind Mystic Mall.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby leviramsey » Tue May 02, 2017 2:12 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:Hopefully you folks are able to access this URL: https://files.slack.com/files-pri/T0A32 ... _19_am.png


You need to have a transitmatters email address in order to sign into the slack channel and see the file.
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Re: Eastern Route questions

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue May 02, 2017 3:01 pm

Good idea, but I'd shoot for outright elimination with a slim-profile duck-under ped ramp given how heavily residential the area is. Something akin to Sacramento St., Somerville would probably fit the bill for short money. Still a dangerous crossing with the two side-by-side modes on an 80 ft. wide ROW, and the Route 1 underpass providing restricted sightlines from eastbound buses on the busway.

And barricade off 3rd St. crossing while they're at it, since that's going to be too close to the new platform for optimal safety and will encourage too many shortcutters hopping the barrier at platform's end. The only reason that wholly redundant low-traffic crossing still exists is because Peter Pan lobbies to keep it as a back driveway shortcut for their bus yard. Time to close the loophole.
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