Fitchburg Route, Hastings, Silver Hill

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Fitchburg Route, Hastings, Silver Hill

Postby cpf354 » Sat May 26, 2007 8:03 am

Ok, just for background, I've been riding the Fitchburg Route on and off for several decades, since the B&M and shiny NEW Budd Cars, so I'm not a newbie. That being said, why, oh why, are there still stops, one at a crossing, the other in the middle of the woods, at Hastings and Silver Hill, and even more amazingly, why on Fitchburg trains! I rode out of town last night on the 735pm departure. The train was scheduled to make every stop on the route. If you look at the figures, it's incredible. It's 16 miles from North Station to Lincoln. In that stretch, there are 8 stops. The following 16 miles from Lincoln to Littleton/495 there are 4. One thing I've noticed about the Fitchburg is that South Acton local service is gradually being replaced by Fitchburg service. I think there's a real need, just for capacity purposes, to have dedicated local service back and forth to South Acton. These trains should be the one that stop at the less used intermediate stops, rather than the Fitchburg trains.
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Postby PraiseX6 » Sat May 26, 2007 9:08 am

I think they are going to disable some of those stations and fix up that line.

It's right now.. such a long trip and not all the stations are needed.
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Postby sery2831 » Sat May 26, 2007 12:51 pm

I have always been told that those two stops have been saved by very vocal influential residents. Besides the passengers, us crews dislike the stops. Engineers especially since in the fall going inbound it's nearly impossible to stop without sliding by. I don't think these stops will be taking off the schedule anytime soon.

PraiseX6, there is a plan to do some upgrades to the line, but it's the outer end. The only improvement that will be done from the Porter Sq to South Acton section will upgrading the signals to 261(set up for traffic in both directions) and that will eliminate Waltham Tower.
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Postby ST214 » Sun May 27, 2007 12:15 am

On the rush hour trains i've seen at these two stops, there is always a small cluster for Hastings. The most i've ever seen get on/off at Silver Hill is five. They are wasteful stops, but like everything else in this state, it's all politics....


The best ideal setup for the Fitchburg line would be Metro-North style, but the ridership does not justify such service outside of rush hour, and it's pointless just for that. I do believe that Worcester might have enough ridership for such service though......
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Postby redline43 » Sun May 27, 2007 9:24 am

Would you care to define Metro-North style? :wink:
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Postby PraiseX6 » Sun May 27, 2007 10:25 am

I feel thou the new rush hour improvement to that line was greatly needed and I give the MBCR credit in making that schedule change :)
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Postby ST214 » Mon May 28, 2007 2:14 pm

Same way they do it on their lines.......A train would depart North Station for South Acton, make all local stops, then terminate in SA. A Fitchburg train would depart about 10-15 min after the SA train leaves, but only make larger stops(Porter, Waltham, maybe one of the two Concord stops), then stop at SA and make all local stops from there........West of SA could also be done by a Fitchburg shuttle, but i think a lot of riders would disappear if all of a sudden they had to start changing trains......


redline43 wrote:Would you care to define Metro-North style? :wink:
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Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon May 28, 2007 3:57 pm

ST214 wrote:Same way they do it on their lines.......A train would depart North Station for South Acton, make all local stops, then terminate in SA. A Fitchburg train would depart about 10-15 min after the SA train leaves, but only make larger stops(Porter, Waltham, maybe one of the two Concord stops), then stop at SA and make all local stops from there........West of SA could also be done by a Fitchburg shuttle, but i think a lot of riders would disappear if all of a sudden they had to start changing trains......


redline43 wrote:Would you care to define Metro-North style? :wink:


In your scenario, which isn't a bad one, there'd be no need for a shuttle, since passengers getting on at a station between Boston and South Acton could transfer to the express at SA and ride further west; vice-versa for the inbound trip.

Actually, though, I believe that on the BNSF, Metra sends out trains at rush hour with the furtherst-out first stop leaving first [Rt. 59], then a first-stop Downers Grove, etc.
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Postby PraiseX6 » Mon May 28, 2007 9:08 pm

Do you agree with the fact they have made a better schedule improvement thou?
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Postby trainhq » Tue May 29, 2007 7:30 am

A couple of years ago or so, the T isssued a report on the Fitchburg line with a long list of things to be improved. Some of them included:

Consolidating Hastings, Silver Hill and (I think) Kendall Green into one stop;

Consolidating Waverly and Belmont into one stop;

New track to allow 80 mph operation;

Double track from South Acton to Ayer;

Fixing the Waltham single track grade crossing/bottleneck.

There were a number of other options discussed as well. Now, how much of this will get done is doubtful;
I'd say, just getting the new/double track would be the biggest improvement, and it wasn't all that expensive.
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue May 29, 2007 9:45 am

Consolidating Belmont and Waverly into one stop (presumably between the two) would be a very bad idea. The two stops serve dense commercial and residential districts, where many people can walk to the stations. They also have bus connections. A stop in between would be totally at odds with current ideas of "transit-oriented development".
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Postby ST214 » Tue May 29, 2007 2:08 pm

I know the shuttle would not be needed. I was just throwing it up there as a off-peak option to trains with lighter ridership. I think this kind of plan would raise ridership, as the trains would be faster, but i don't see it happening anytime in the next 20 years......




Rockingham Racer wrote:
ST214 wrote:Same way they do it on their lines.......A train would depart North Station for South Acton, make all local stops, then terminate in SA. A Fitchburg train would depart about 10-15 min after the SA train leaves, but only make larger stops(Porter, Waltham, maybe one of the two Concord stops), then stop at SA and make all local stops from there........West of SA could also be done by a Fitchburg shuttle, but i think a lot of riders would disappear if all of a sudden they had to start changing trains......


redline43 wrote:Would you care to define Metro-North style? :wink:


In your scenario, which isn't a bad one, there'd be no need for a shuttle, since passengers getting on at a station between Boston and South Acton could transfer to the express at SA and ride further west; vice-versa for the inbound trip.

Actually, though, I believe that on the BNSF, Metra sends out trains at rush hour with the furtherst-out first stop leaving first [Rt. 59], then a first-stop Downers Grove, etc.
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Postby B&MYoshi » Tue May 29, 2007 6:10 pm

trainhq wrote:A couple of years ago or so, the T isssued a report on the Fitchburg line with a long list of things to be improved. Some of them included:

Consolidating Hastings, Silver Hill and (I think) Kendall Green into one stop;

Consolidating Waverly and Belmont into one stop;

New track to allow 80 mph operation;

Double track from South Acton to Ayer;

Fixing the Waltham single track grade crossing/bottleneck.

There were a number of other options discussed as well. Now, how much of this will get done is doubtful;
I'd say, just getting the new/double track would be the biggest improvement, and it wasn't all that expensive.


Yes, it was a nice $300 million plan to improve the Fitchburg line. Some ideas were very logical, others were a bit of a pipe dream. Among other things you didn't already say was a full line upgrade to complete high level platforms and 3 new bilevel coach sets with new locos. An idea I thought had some promise was an upgrade of Littleton 495 into a mega park & ride like Anderson RTC. North Leominster station has been getting very good traffic with this sort of setup in relation to its apparent importance.
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Postby octr202 » Wed May 30, 2007 7:30 am

In a perfect world, there would be room for a large park & ride where the line crosses 128 (near route 20). The area from Somerville (Union Sq.) to 128 in Waltham is fairly dense, and could easily support more service. Waltham Center and Waverley Square in particular, also sections of Cambridge and Somerville could benefit from a frequent service, and if combined with stops near Bentley (east side of Waltham) and Brandeis (existing stop) and a park & ride (to relieve pressure on Alewife and Riverside), you would probably have sufficient ridership to justify regular headways with short MU consists. Now all you need is viable DMU's or electrification (hey, I warned you this was a pipe dream!).

As someone who semi-regularly uses Waverley, I'm always amazed at how many people are using the station, considering its always being touted as an "unnecessary" stop with little ridership. 10-15 person counts per train at rush hour seem to be normal at times. I know that's not going to add up to a lot, but then again, there's only 4 morning inbound rush hour trains (with a huge hole from 7.25 to 8.35) and 4 evening rush trains (maybe three -- a lot of people can't make a 4.00 pm train). I haven't ridden the train enough to know if the fare hike has driven people off in favor of the bus, but the 73 does seem a lot more crowded with people coming right from Waverley right around 7:00 am (near when the first inbound leaves), so this might be happening. With the pass costs so skewed ($59 versus $135) I suspect ridership will be suppressed -- but that's an artificial force, not a reflection on a lack of demand for more service.
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Postby trainhq » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:35 pm

Yes, this line would be well suited for DMUs. The DMU issue will have to wait 'til we see what happens on the Fairmount line; that's where the T would probably introduce them first. However, that also means getting an FRA-compliant DMU, or closing the line to freight during operational hours. Too bad the CRC DMU seems to have flunked its operational test in Florida; I was really hoping it would come through. That will make it that much tougher to get DMUs going up here.
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