Fitchburg Route, Hastings, Silver Hill

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

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Postby sery2831 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:37 pm

How did it flunk in Florida? Doesn't it still run and aren't they getting the double decker ones now to try?

Here is a link I found on the cars: http://www.trainweb.org/ultradomes/dmu.html
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Postby ST214 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:57 am

Sorry, but i don't see the T buying MU's of any kind....remember that the FRA counts MU's as loco's and they must undergo 90 day inspections just like a F40 or a geep......wheras the coaches do not.....
Hoping for a rebirth of the Screamer fleet.
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Postby trainhq » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:11 am

The double-decker DMUs apparently have had problems with both power and reliability. The DMU coaches are currently mostly being towed by locomotives.
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Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:03 am

Going back to the heyday of the B&M, the Fitchburg line has always been a poor sister to the other routes in terms of ridership, service and capital investment. The bottleneck in Waltham and difficulty laying trains over at South Acton (which was the outer limit of the MBTA district) have also impacted service. Two stops between Waverly and Waltham, Clematis Brook and Beaver Brook were discontinued back in the 80s. Since then ridership has improved

The line needs some of the upgrades being discussed here, but the most important factor to consider is: Does the ridership justify the expense? One way to build ridership might be to add half hourly or hourly short turns to Waltham similar to the Readville turns on the South Side. These could stop at all the inner stations, including Clematis Brook and Beaver Brook. A station at Hills Crossing in Belmont could be added to serve the eastern reaches of that town. By serving the populated inner end of the line in this way, the Fitchburg trains could better serve the people on the outer end, running express to Waltham in most cases and through to Fitchburg in all cases. The key would be to have a siding or double track through Waltham to allow the locals to reverse there. Lightly traveled evening trips could remain on the present schedule. This effort would provide more frequent and reliable service to Waltham than is provided by the No. 70 bus alone.
Gerry. STM/BSRA

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Postby trainhq » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:26 am

Which, of course, brings us back to the DMU idea. I think everyone agrees that turning the Fitchburg line from North Station to Waltham into a semi-transit line with transit line-type frequencies makes good sense; however, not with 6 or 5 car locomotive hauled trains;
ergo, use DMUs. I hope everyone here can have the chance to try the River Line in New Jersey; this is the kind of DMU service that would make good sense on the Fitchburg line. But who knows when the T would ever get the $$ to buy the equipment.
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Postby TomNelligan » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:14 pm

trainhq wrote: I hope everyone here can have the chance to try the River Line in New Jersey; this is the kind of DMU service that would make good sense on the Fitchburg line. But who knows when the T would ever get the $$ to buy the equipment.


I've ridden New Jersey Transit's River Line a couple times and it is indeed an innovative and successful operation. Unfortunately, the all-wise and all-knowing bureaucrats of the FRA have deemed that the European-style DMUs used down there shall not mingle with conventional railroad equipment, so they couldn't be used on the Fitchburgh line unless nothing else ran at the same time. However the larger and heavier Colorado Railcar DMUs also referenced in previous postings can share trackage with conventional trains.

One other factor affecting ridership at many Fitchburgh Line stations is limited parking.
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Postby trainhq » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:05 pm

Well, that's how they do it in Jersey; DMUs by day, freight by night. Remember, they wouldn't necessarily be running DMUs past Waltham or 128. Back when I lived in Waltham, I can't ever remember a freight coming through during the day, so if only this stretch were closed to freight during the day, it still might work.
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Postby TomNelligan » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:38 pm

trainhq wrote:Back when I lived in Waltham, I can't ever remember a freight coming through during the day, so if only this stretch were closed to freight during the day, it still might work.


Freight movements through Waltham are somewhere between rare and non-existant these days, but that's not the main problem... in the current regulatory environment, DMUs that don't meet the FRA structural requirements can't mingle with the MBTA's current fleet of locomotive-hauled commuter equipment either.

The Fiat (Italian) and Leyland (British) railbuses that the MBTA briefly tried out as potentil RDC replacements back in the late 70s/early 80s period would never be allowed off the boats now!
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Postby Ron Newman » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:13 pm

Is it possible that the MBTA and Massachusetts delegation generally could lobby for a Congressional bill exempting the T from this requirement, for an experimental period?
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Postby Guilford Guy » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:52 am

trainhq wrote:Well, that's how they do it in Jersey; DMUs by day, freight by night. Remember, they wouldn't necessarily be running DMUs past Waltham or 128. Back when I lived in Waltham, I can't ever remember a freight coming through during the day, so if only this stretch were closed to freight during the day, it still might work.

Several months ago Guilford came through round noon with a couple hoppers :wink:
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Postby Choo Choo Coleman » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:08 am

Why not extend the Red Line from Alewife thru Waverly, Belmont to Waltham? You could add an extra stop or two along the way and even extend the Red Line past Waltham Center. This way, the Fitchburg line could run faster and focus on stops outside of RT. 128. CR trains could still stop every now and then in Waltham and Porter to connect to popular work destinations and Red Line.
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Postby jonnhrr » Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:31 pm

Choo Choo Coleman wrote:Why not extend the Red Line from Alewife thru Waverly, Belmont to Waltham? You could add an extra stop or two along the way and even extend the Red Line past Waltham Center. This way, the Fitchburg line could run faster and focus on stops outside of RT. 128. CR trains could still stop every now and then in Waltham and Porter to connect to popular work destinations and Red Line.


You would need room for at least 3 tracks preferably 4, like the stretch from JFK/UMASS to Braintree. Not sure there is room for that, especially at Waltham where there is not even room for 2 at the cut East of the station.

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Postby octr202 » Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:21 am

There is definitely not room for a 4-track ROW (even a 3-track ROW) continuously along the Fitchburg. Any Red Line extension would require significant tunneling in places where the population density, while warranting some sort of rail transit, wouldn't warrant the cost of subway construction.

And, it would cost an unholy fortune -- it would never survive planning review due to excessive capital cost per new passenger generated.

IF (and, as stated, it can't), but if the ROW were wide enough to share rapid transit and commuter rail tracks (in their seperate areas), then the most logical choice anyway would involve a phased extension of the Green Line past the planned Union Sq. (Somerville) terminus, if the "Beyond Lechmere" project ever takes off, but that runs into the above bottlenecks (Belmont center, Waverly underpasses, the cut in Waltham, etc.) but also a blocked path at Porter Square. But, if all of those weren't in the way, a Green Line extension would be cheaper, more in scale with the communities, and also wouldn't require the closure of the grade crossings (seven in all I believe between Union Sq. and Brandeis/Roberts) as well.
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Postby Ron Newman » Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:39 am

octr202 wrote:wouldn't require the closure of the grade crossings (seven in all I believe between Union Sq. and Brandeis/Roberts) as well.


Unless the Red Line, like the Blue, was converted to switch between third-rail and overhead catenary. Or you built Chicago-style grade crossings, with the third rail ending on either side of the crossing.
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Postby ceo » Fri Jun 29, 2007 2:27 pm

The Colorado Railcar DMUs are low-platform only, and thus are incompatible with the existing T infrastructure.
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