Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

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

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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:54 am

How's the new Andover platform on the #1 track coming?
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:17 pm

Arlington wrote:How free is Pan Am to load those new trips onto the line without regard to how much congestion such trips will cause and without paying enough that the MBTA could finance upgrades from expected freight fees?


Pan Am dispatches their mainline segment of MBTA property, so they can send as many trains as they want, so long as they don't bang up commuter service "too much." But ask people how much "too much" is and no one can really tell you anything concrete — there's no performance metric with a cut off on dispatching rights or any penalties for delays. It would likely take a lot of pressure to force the MBTA's hand at seizing dispatching rights.

Also, freight fees?! The MBTA signed those away in 2010 for a six mile extension to Westminster.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Trinnau » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:07 pm

From a pure T ops standpoint, a second platform at Andover is cheaper (especially if built as a mini-high) and arguable more beneficial than a new mini-high double-track Ballardvale which would require some signal work and a new crossover at CPF-Vale to reach Andover station as it is today. A second platform at Andover extends the "pocket" that the T has now to pass trains between CPF-AS and CPF-JK all the way down to CPF-Vale, leaving a short single-track stretch (for T ops) through Lawrence station.

Before this project started, single track (for the T) ran for about 15 miles from Reading to CPF-FR in Lawrence, east of the station. All the T has gained for their ops is two passing sidings roughly 1 to 1.5 miles long - CPW-WJ to CPF-LJ and CPF-AS to CPF-JK. Only with the most recent schedule change are there now meets at CPW-WJ to CPF-LJ, and there are still no meets planned between CPF-AS and CPF-JK (probably due to Pan Am's activity level in the area). The rest of the double-track really just keeps Amtrak and Pan Am out of the T's way.

As for adding traffic, Pan Am can do this as they wish - there is no charge and they dispatch the territory. They are a common carrier and are obligated to provide service. The dirty dirt a year ago is a great example of that. As long as they don't delay passenger trains too much the T really won't care.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:01 pm

That's a very good synopsis. And moving the Lawrence station to the middle of nowhere was a very bad move that took away a two-track station operation. Oh, I know: the commuters had to cross an active track to get to the parking lot there. [The tunnel to the old station went away about 40 years ago??] But this occurs elsewhere too, with crossing signals to warn the pedestrians crossing the tracks.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby swist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:44 am

So that stairway at the end of the old platform leads to? Nowhere?
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Red Wing » Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:18 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:That's a very good synopsis. And moving the Lawrence station to the middle of nowhere was a very bad move that took away a two-track station operation.


How is it in the middle of nowhere? It's closer to downtown, New Balance is right across the street and all the Development done by the Sal Pizza guy next to New Balance. There is also better parking. There is nothing going on at the old station.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:37 pm

Figure also that City of Lawrence is pretty much tailor-made by the preexisting distribution of MVRTA bus routes to eventually be bookended with two stations: the current one, and a future "South Lawrence" by the I-495/MA 28 interchange at the other end of S. Union St. Think of that as the eventual reincarnation of Shawsheen station, but a half-mile north on the higher-demand side of the city line at a site with superior accessibility and local transit access. Put the driveway on Essex Dr. with platform right by the S. Union track overpass...station displacing the industrial properties currently residing there. 2-track island platform on the main, 4th iron added to current 3rd iron to help with the freight congestion. Side path goes underneath I-495 to Kenilworth St. on the Andover side of the city line for pedestrian linkage to the new office buildings around old Shawsheen, and MVTRA Routes 21, 32, 39A, and 75 reshaped as necessary to stop there and provide direct transfers. Expand MVTRA's Andover and North Andover presence from there with more routes and better frequencies.

Pretty much the only trigger for putting that infill on the planning board as a realistically inexpensive possibility is gaining the ability to finally increase end-to-end Haverhill schedules with a full-scale replacement for constrained Bradford layover. Combination of that and more liberal schedule-balancing with increased NH Main-Wildcat use for covering the outer-half Haverhill schedules will do the trick. If you had the layover and sheared Haverhill and Reading entirely off running all Haverhill schedules via the NH Main like its pre-1979 routing you'd probably have the gained oxygen to add both South Lawrence and Ward Hill/Industrial Ave. infills onto a schedule that clocks in at 1 hour to Haverhill. Say:

NORTH STATION <--> West Medford <-->* Winch Ctr. <-->* Anderson <--> Wilmington** <--> Salem St.*** <--> Ballardvale <--> Andover <--> S. Lawrence <--> Lawrence <--> Ward Hill <--> Bradford <--> HAVERHILL

*Wedgemere + Mishawum skipped by Haverhill; served by Lowell schedules only.
**Wilmington inbound platform shifted south for equal double-track access from junction.
***Old Salem St. stop on Wildcat reinstated as replacement for N. Wilmington down the street.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Trinnau » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:13 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Pretty much the only trigger for putting that infill on the planning board as a realistically inexpensive possibility is gaining the ability to finally increase end-to-end Haverhill schedules with a full-scale replacement for constrained Bradford layover. Combination of that and more liberal schedule-balancing with increased NH Main-Wildcat use for covering the outer-half Haverhill schedules will do the trick. If you had the layover and sheared Haverhill and Reading entirely off running all Haverhill schedules via the NH Main like its pre-1979 routing you'd probably have the gained oxygen to add both South Lawrence and Ward Hill/Industrial Ave. infills onto a schedule that clocks in at 1 hour to Haverhill. Say:

NORTH STATION <--> West Medford <-->* Winch Ctr. <-->* Anderson <--> Wilmington** <--> Salem St.*** <--> Ballardvale <--> Andover <--> S. Lawrence <--> Lawrence <--> Ward Hill <--> Bradford <--> HAVERHILL


Keep in mind the Worcester Line runs a ton of service with a 4-train layover. Service expansion is certainly not limited by the layover. Double-track from Reading to CPF-Vale would allow for it without moving or rebuilding the layover, and "true" double-tracking would offer more service at more stations - otherwise some would need to be skipped by certain trains much like the Newton stations on the Worcester Line. This would serve more benefit because that track is available 24/7 - not just a layover.

Your timing to Haverhill is off as well. Current 221 makes a 65 minute run (if you ignore the bridge busing and assume the same 13-minute schedule time from Lawrence to Haverhill as 219). With your proposed stops and infill stations, you would cut 1 stop off (Wedgemere) and add 3 (Salem St, S. Lawrence, Ward Hill) - a net increase of 2 stops and about 5 minutes of travel time, for a 70 minute run. Train 208 has similar math at 63 minutes but doesn't make Wilmington, so you cut 1 and add 4. 60 minutes won't happen without significant track speed increases or far fewer stops. 206, which expresses after Ballardvale, is scheduled for 58 minutes.

Rockingham Racer wrote:That's a very good synopsis. And moving the Lawrence station to the middle of nowhere was a very bad move that took away a two-track station operation. Oh, I know: the commuters had to cross an active track to get to the parking lot there. [The tunnel to the old station went away about 40 years ago??] But this occurs elsewhere too, with crossing signals to warn the pedestrians crossing the tracks.


Not anywhere they build new. It happens elsewhere because that's the way it's always been done there. Look at all the infill stations on the Worcester Line (between Worcester and Framingham plus Boston Landing), Fairmount Line, Wachusett - all taking great pains to not have a crossing at grade. It's a simple matter of safety, especially in today's age of people buried in their phones.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:40 pm

swist wrote:So that stairway at the end of the old platform leads to? Nowhere?


Down to Parker St., but I believe it was boarded up years before they moved the station.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:43 pm

Red Wing wrote:
Rockingham Racer wrote:That's a very good synopsis. And moving the Lawrence station to the middle of nowhere was a very bad move that took away a two-track station operation.


How is it in the middle of nowhere? It's closer to downtown, New Balance is right across the street and all the Development done by the Sal Pizza guy next to New Balance. There is also better parking. There is nothing going on at the old station.


It is not closer to downtown. In fact, it's closer to North Andover probably than it is to Essex St. in Lawrence, such as poor Essex St. is these days.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:52 am

The new platform is only 1000 ft away from the old platform. Hardly a significant move at all.

And it's just as far from Essex St as the old platform, just via Union St instead of Amesbury/Parker, while being closer to all the old mills undergoing redevelopment and having a parking garage (which is itself closer to I-495).

Definitely a superior location, probably the best you could do with the tracks on the south shore of the river.
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby jcpatten » Sun May 13, 2018 5:29 pm

So is the upgrade work on the Haverhill line finished?
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Re: Haverhill Line Upgrade Discussion (Western Route)

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun May 13, 2018 6:44 pm

For now, as far as schedules and normal operations are concerned anyway. There might still be some fine tuning of schedules, speeds, weight restrictions related to completed work, but otherwise that's a wrap.

Projects in the pipeline: eliminating the Wellington/Medford Jct tunnel by running via the surface (maybe later this summer? maybe...) and replacing the Ash St control point and spring switch with a full interlocking and dual-control switch (not until after the tunnel elimination)

Projects in the background that might make it to RFP: double tracking CPF LJ to CPF Vale, including a new Ballardvale station and redesigned/replaced CPF Vale

I have no idea where things are at as far as a new Andover station. That project has been completely silent.
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