SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

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

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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby bostontrainguy » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:32 pm

Since this is a "TEMPORARY" situation, why not just go to Lakeland station and change ends and take the wye towards Taunton? Most commuters won't mind riding backwards for a bit.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:52 pm

Because the already laughably long transit times to FR/NB via that route would just become pants-on-head fruitless if you had to bake in a 10-minute pause for the reverse, then deal with the daily uncertainty of a mechanical fault on the revenue-service reverse causing additional delays.

There's no solution to this that preserves the illusion that this routing is plausible. Either they shoot their most successful I-495 belt TOD stop in the head by moving Middleboro Station north of the junction and galvanize the opposition in M'boro even further, or they make such a mockery of travel times with the reverse at the existing station that the SCR Task Force and their lackeys throw a great big I/Me/Mine temper tantrum. There aren't any straws left to grasp.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BandA » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:39 am

quad50cal wrote:
BandA wrote:What's it take to delete the electric requirement, do double tracking, and terminate in Taunton until demand is proven.

The idea of building a half baked line until "demand is proven" is a complete red herring.

The "sparks effect" is real. It's going to be how Denver of all places is going to overtake MBTA commuter rail's place as the 6th most ridden US commuter rail system in a decade. Their first commuter line (a small single tracked line) has been in service for barely a year now, and they've exceeded the ridership of VRE and Miami's commuter rail system. Denver has done this in spite of teething issues as well.


I don't know anything about Denver, which is probably OT anyway. The MBTA has the number 1 or number 2 highest costs in the country in most categories, and has a history of not being able to innovate and falling behind State of Good Repair and underinvesting in capital equipment and infrastructure so that they can plug operating and deficits and debt. So it's not a surprise if Massachusetts is falling behind, it is our own gosh-darn fault.

I'm surprised I need to repeat myself, but the congestion is towards Boston, not towards FR/NB afaik. 128 was like a "brick wall" for cars coming up US1 or MA24 or I95 or US3 even seventeen years ago. The 495 belt seems/seemed to be the outer limit of extreme congestion, so that is where the limit of where service is needed. (To the north, congestion extends well past 495 into NH, to the west the Taxxachu$$ett$ Turnpike is typically congested out to 495 but no further west with local problems around Worcester roadways, to the south please correkt my information if I am wrong). I'm calling baloney on "sparks effect" whatever that is, placing my bets on pent-up demand needing to be satisfied.

People have gone on and on in this thread about how expensive and bloated this project is. How is building a line to Taunton "half-baked"?
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:45 pm

Having driven RT 140 and RT24 for the past 35+ years, you might want to add 140 and RT24 to RT495 to that.

Coming home on RT140 late at night, you were lucky to see four or five cars a few decades ago. Everything
changed when 495 was built and these days, I got plenty of company on 140 coming home!

D
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby quad50cal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:25 am

BandA wrote:I don't know anything about Denver, which is probably OT anyway

I mentioned Denver since they had a similar choice between scaling back their plans for a new electrified route to a conventional diesel hauled bi level fleet. Denver is also similar to Boston in a good number of ways (population, economy). If Denver had decided to cutback, they would have likely created yet another conventional commuter railroad with anemic ridership.

BandA wrote:People have gone on and on in this thread about how expensive and bloated this project is. How is building a line to Taunton "half-baked"?

I'm not disputing the criticisms of the SCR implementation. It's not my state after all. However, I think the consensus is losing sight of the forest for the trees to say that the only solution is to scrap the electrification, expand with more diesel hauled bi levels. Building that half measure expansion will capture a limited amount of ridership at a still relatively high cost per rider without the growth potential of electrification. Even if SCR goes overbudget, when has electrification ever been regretted?

BandA wrote:I'm calling baloney on "sparks effect" whatever that is, placing my bets on pent-up demand needing to be satisfied.

The "sparks effect" is just a tongue in cheek reference to the well established correlation of dramatic ridership gains with electrifying passenger rail lines.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby MBTA3247 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:39 pm

quad50cal wrote:...growth potential of electrification.

As has been stated previously in this thread, there is no growth potential with electrification here. Electrification is a bald-faced coverup for the fact that the arrangement of passing sidings and double tracks makes it impossible even on paper for diesels to maintain a halfway decent schedule. As it is, electrification would require timekeeping on par with Japan for the proposed schedule to work.

quad50cal wrote:Even if SCR goes overbudget, when has electrification ever been regretted?

When it's the odd thing out that requires expensive servicing facilities to handle a small portion of the overall fleet. MARC, IIRC, is abandoning its electric operations in favor of going all-diesel.

quad50cal wrote:The "sparks effect" is just a tongue in cheek reference to the well established correlation of dramatic ridership gains with electrifying passenger rail lines.

Did ridership increase because of electrification, or was the line electrified because it already had high ridership and/or was projected to have a significant increase in ridership? I seriously doubt that there's any number of people who decide to switch from driving to taking the train because of a change in motive power, unless it was coupled with a massive increase in service.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BandA » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:54 pm

quad50cal wrote:
Even if SCR goes overbudget, when has electrification ever been regretted?
Every time they do a project I regret it. Because every project goes way over budget. Because they just add to the debt. Remember, the MBTA is insolvent and should be in bankruptcy receivership.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby CRail » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:02 pm

BandA wrote:Remember, the MBTA is insolvent and should be in bankruptcy receivership.

Every time you say that you should regret it, because it further drives home the reality that you've got no idea how government authorities work.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby NRGeep » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:16 am

CRail wrote:
BandA wrote:Remember, the MBTA is insolvent and should be in bankruptcy receivership.

Every time you say that you should regret it, because it further drives home the reality that you've got no idea how government authorities work.


Indeed, plus the mastodon in the room is Charlie Baker's notion under then governor Weld (who has since criticized the move along with Dukakis) to dump autocentric big Dig debt on to the MBTA. Intentional or not this poison pill has rendered an already $$$ burdened agency with increased debt it didn't create.

http://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/tackling-mbtas-debt-problem/

The Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank, backs a debt relief strategy that could relieve the MBTA of debt associated with Big Dig mitigation projects.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby quad50cal » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:39 am

MBTA3247 wrote:When it's the odd thing out that requires expensive servicing facilities to handle a small portion of the overall fleet. MARC, IIRC, is abandoning its electric operations in favor of going all-diesel.

MARC has yet to commit to abandoning electric operations. It's very likely that they're are simply trying to negotiate better terms with Amtrak who they have to pay a premium for electricity and other infrastructure usage. It also doesn't help that their electric locomotive fleet is unusually unreliable.

MBTA3247 wrote:Did ridership increase because of electrification, or was the line electrified because it already had high ridership and/or was projected to have a significant increase in ridership? I seriously doubt that there's any number of people who decide to switch from driving to taking the train because of a change in motive power, unless it was coupled with a massive increase in service.

Frequency is not the only factor that matters, quality of service matters just as much. Unless you're Amtrak making stops at 20 mile intervals, diesel hauled bilevels lose greatly on average speed from station stops. Also, If you're fond of frequency, the reliability of diesel locomotives becomes a major obstacle as they have a very low MDBF relative to electric trains. The M7 EMUs for example have a MDBF that hovers just shy of 1000000 miles while diesel locomotives typically have a MDBF of 10000 to 20000 miles.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby mxdata » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:46 pm

An article published Feb 28, 1018 on page A3 of the Dartmouth Chronicle lists the cost of Middleboro at $935 million. This is about $165 million LESS than cost estimate published by several newspapers in the region more than a year ago.

This seems very strange, can anyone confirm if it is an error, or has the state reduced the estimate to make it sound more feasible in an election year?

Does anyone know of accurate published information on the estimated cost of the annual "contribution" per town per year?

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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Bill Reidy » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:12 pm

Chapter 2 of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report released in late January states a total program cost for phase 1 of approximately $935 million, as noted in the executive summary that was handed out at the public meeting at UMass Dartmouth last night. Cost was broken down as $125M for the Middleborough secondary and $810M for the southern triangle.

The state's presentation last night highlighted a much lower cost and quicker timeline to get phase 1 done versus the Stoughton rail full build, which is estimated to cost in total $3.2 billion (inclusive of the phase 1 costs), with a completion date of 2030 or later, versus 2022 for phase 1. Folks attending the meeting were split between those who thought phase 1 was great news since it gets rail service sooner for the South Coast, versus those who said phase 2 will never get built once phase 1 is done, leaving the region with a much inferior service.

Another public meeting is scheduled Monday, March 19, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM, in the Martin Middle School Auditorium, 131 Caswell St, Taunton, MA.

The DSEIR and related documents can be found at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/southcoastrail

The public comment period for the DSEIR ends March 23rd.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:52 am

The Middleborough Main Line is an incredibly poor routing for so many reasons. Middleborough (like the other Old Colony services to Greenbush and Plymouth/Kingston) has the lowest service levels in the entire system, even lower than branches such as Stoughton, Rockport, and Newburyport. Stoughton and Rockport see 15 scheduled round-trips per day and Newburyport sees 17. Middleborough sees just 12! There's no capacity on the Old Colony trunk to add more service without taking from somewhere else, so now we split that service even further, to be at most just 6 round-trips a day to Fall River and 6 round-trips a day to New Bedford. Considering equipment availability and adding 2 hours to each round-trip, I'd imagine service levels would actually be diminished in order to accommodate extension, unless even fewer than 6 round-trips serve the South Coast end-points.
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby BandA » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:38 am

and make it difficult to extend CR to Buzzards' Bay
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Re: SouthCoast Rail Discussion Thread

Postby Bill Reidy » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:29 am

I raised both points (Old Colony trunk line capacity between Braintree and South Boston, and the negative impact on prospects for the Buzzards Bay extension) during the public comments at the UMass Dartmouth meeting. Specifically, I asked where else on the MBTA commuter rail system are four lines (Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and now proposed New Bedford and Fall River) funneled into a largely single track main line into Boston. The MassDOT/MBTA panel acknowledged they refer to the Old Colony main as the "pinch point."
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