Fairmount Line Discussion

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

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jbvb
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by jbvb » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:00 am

If the T had the capital (political and cash) and the management horsepower, I'm sure they would go for a project to electrify service on the Providence line, probably with Stoughton and the Indigo thrown in. But there would have to be enough money to buy land and build the maintenance facility, and buy enough equipment (plus 20% for spares and accident wastage). Someday there's going to be an air-quality lawsuit about the platform level at Back Bay.

The current situation, 30-year-old locos of obsolete design hauling coaches with spongy floors, isn't supportive of any expenditures beyond what political survival requires.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by Wdobner » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:43 pm

trainhq wrote:Not sure if it's that simple. If the T bought electric units for the Fairmount line, they would then run them only on that line and the NEC. Since the T's shops are on the North Side, over by North Station, they couldn't get them over there for service, so they would either have to sub out the maintenance to Amtrak or build new South Side maintenance facilities. I don't think they want to go to this much trouble. DMUs would also require special maintenance training, but at least they could do them over in the existing shops. That, I think, they could handle.
Why do they have to move under their own power to BET? Surely every so often one of the EMDs dies has to be towed up there, so why not just slap a compromise coupler on a work locomotive and tow a few EMUs up there for heavy work?
trainhq wrote:Electrification of the Fairmont line would not, in my opinion, offer a lot of regular benefits. Granted, it would allow Amtrak to bypass Back Bay in the event of breakdowns, but in terms of regular service, I don't see it being much better than DMUs. Certainly not worth $50 million just for that.
At the moment, based on the MBTA's 2002 Feasibility study it appears they're undertaking the first and maybe second packages for improving the Fairmount line. That means they're spending somewhere between 68 and 80 million dollars. Yes, 50 million dollars would be a significant increase in cost relative to the current expenditure. But that's a lot less money than converting the line to rapid transit, probably by an order of magnitude or so. It's also a lot better than going down the same road Portland Trimet did, where they paid close to 12 million dollars apiece for three Colorado Railcar DMUs and a trailer car. If we want high performance without sacrificing the ability of freight and Amtrak trains to utilize the line then it seems obvious that electrification and EMUs are the way to go.

Edit: Add Link to study

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by trainhq » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:33 am

Yes, they could tow EMUs up there if they wanted with existing equipment. It would simply add to the cost and inconvenience
of doing maintenance on the locomotives. And note that it would have to occur every time they need to have more than routine service, which is probably fairly often.
But that's a lot less money than converting the line to rapid transit, probably by an order of magnitude or so. It's also a lot better than going down the same road Portland Trimet did, where they paid close to 12 million dollars apiece for three Colorado Railcar DMUs and a trailer car. If we want high performance without sacrificing the ability of freight and Amtrak trains to utilize the line then it seems obvious that electrification and EMUs are the way to go.
$50 million is still $50 million. And that doesn't include the extra cost of buying/leasing new electric locomotives, which I'm guessing isn't cheap either. A better solution would be to simply close off the track to daytime freight and run the DMUs they have down on the River Line, which seem to work pretty well. Note also that one of the ideas was to combine the Fairmont line with the Worcester line, putting in additional track at South Station to bypass it for many runs, and turn the entire L shaped line into a new complete DMU rapid transit line. That could not be done without electrifying the Worcester line using electric service.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by #5 - Dyre Ave » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:39 pm

Wdobner wrote:How did we go from the MBTA's "DMU" to this "Make it a Red Line branch" concept? Why would you either condemn the people along the Fairmount line to either a perpetual transfer to the Red Line at Andrew, or condemn every Red Line passenger south of Andrew to increased headways by adding yet another branch? Either way you're going to spend a whole lot of money modifying the northern end of the line to accommodate the Red Line junction and at least half again the cost of catenary to install the third rail for the subway. We've already seen how well the whole FRA DMU thing worked out for Portland, so why bother going with another fly-by-night builder for an FRA compatible DMU?

The line only 9 miles long and is already a electrified along more than a tenth of its length from the junction with the Old Colony up to South Station. It would be virtually impossible for the electrification of the line to cost any more than 50 million dollars. They have their choice of EMUs and if they'd gotten going a few years ago they could have bid Kawasaki and Rotem against each other. Either way those EMUs should deliver something on the order of 2mph/s, which is almost as good as the MBTA gets out of their Red Line fleet.
I'm not in favor of making the Fairmount Line into a third branch of the Red Line because that would require a service cut on the two existing branches. But I am in favor of coverting it to a heavy rail rapid transit line based out of the Red Line's Cabot Yard. By doing this, you'd be able to have one common fleet of cars for the Red and Indigo Lines. Red and Indigo trains would only share yard trackage. They would not share revenue trackage. One other advantage is that the T wouldn't have to expand its CR yards to handle EMUs that can only run on one, maybe two lines. By making Fairmount a heavy rail rapid transit line, the T only has to spend money on building tracks that lead from the Fairmount to Cabot.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by #5 - Dyre Ave » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:53 pm

trainhq wrote: Note also that one of the ideas was to combine the Fairmont line with the Worcester line, putting in additional track at South Station to bypass it for many runs, and turn the entire L shaped line into a new complete DMU rapid transit line. That could not be done without electrifying the Worcester line using electric service.
But wouldn't that have also required closing the Worcester line down for freight if they combined Fairmount and Worcester into one DMU line? Not sure CSX would be happy over that. I saw one idea that called for starting DMU service at the Green Line's Riverside station, then have it join the Worcester line west of Auburndale station. But even then, you'd still have the freight issue. Frequency of service would also be an issue because the Worcester line stations in Newton are all wedged in next to the Pike and they each have a platform on only one side of the tracks. That would make it difficult to run more frequent service than what's currently offered.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by BostonUrbEx » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:48 pm

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:
Wdobner wrote:How did we go from the MBTA's "DMU" to this "Make it a Red Line branch" concept? Why would you either condemn the people along the Fairmount line to either a perpetual transfer to the Red Line at Andrew, or condemn every Red Line passenger south of Andrew to increased headways by adding yet another branch? Either way you're going to spend a whole lot of money modifying the northern end of the line to accommodate the Red Line junction and at least half again the cost of catenary to install the third rail for the subway. We've already seen how well the whole FRA DMU thing worked out for Portland, so why bother going with another fly-by-night builder for an FRA compatible DMU?

The line only 9 miles long and is already a electrified along more than a tenth of its length from the junction with the Old Colony up to South Station. It would be virtually impossible for the electrification of the line to cost any more than 50 million dollars. They have their choice of EMUs and if they'd gotten going a few years ago they could have bid Kawasaki and Rotem against each other. Either way those EMUs should deliver something on the order of 2mph/s, which is almost as good as the MBTA gets out of their Red Line fleet.
I'm not in favor of making the Fairmount Line into a third branch of the Red Line because that would require a service cut on the two existing branches. But I am in favor of coverting it to a heavy rail rapid transit line based out of the Red Line's Cabot Yard. By doing this, you'd be able to have one common fleet of cars for the Red and Indigo Lines. Red and Indigo trains would only share yard trackage. They would not share revenue trackage. One other advantage is that the T wouldn't have to expand its CR yards to handle EMUs that can only run on one, maybe two lines. By making Fairmount a heavy rail rapid transit line, the T only has to spend money on building tracks that lead from the Fairmount to Cabot.
As AznSumtinSumtin said in the Orange Line questions thread:
AznSumtinSumtin wrote:As far as I know, subway tracks cannot cross railroad tracks without obtaining waivers from the FRA, having certain features on the subway trains, requiring subway motormen to be FRA certified, etc. It would just be too much of a hassle. That is why the tunnel just north of Wellington was built.
These trains would not just be crossing the tracks, but actually running on commuter rail tracks. And getting to the yard seems simple enough, right? It's like, RIGHT THERE. But unless they cross the commuter tracks at grade, which would be a scheduling and signaling problem, it will be just as difficult as hooking the line up to the Red Line itself.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by #5 - Dyre Ave » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:46 pm

Is there space to build an overpass or underpass so Indigo trains can cross over CR trains to access Cabot Yard without interfering with CR operations?

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by jrc520 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:20 pm

It doesn't look like it. I haven't looked at the area in a few years, but from what I can remember, it's already pretty tight.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:31 am

jrc520 wrote:It doesn't look like it. I haven't looked at the area in a few years, but from what I can remember, it's already pretty tight.
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=&q=&ie=U ... 7&t=h&z=17

You'd have to underpass, but it's doable. The ROW once it underpasses I-93 has about 3x the dead space around it as the current tracks occupy. The side where the Cabot tracks go has a couple tree-filled medians on the opposite end. You can see on the satellite view that the Old Colony and Red Line yard tracks flyover/under with a crude box tunnel. Something like that but longer would do the trick nicely enough. It's not like this area isn't very easily reconfigurable. I want to see the Indigo become a Red Line-class heavy-rail line when the N-S link is built...interoperable with the Red but not part of it. The Link can either go a 2-track or 4-track configuration. 2 is the slimmer alternative, wouldn't have the Central Station, and would prioritize the intercity lines as thru service while others continue to terminate north/southside. 4-track is the luxurious one with Central Station and nearly every line having some thru service.

Frankly, that's unnecessary. Nobody's going Needham-Fitchburg. And few people absolutely HAVE to have a Blue Line transfer in walking distance of two CR terminals, especially one that's going to have shorter platforms that can't handle max-size intercity trains. And the worst expense bloat is going to be doing all 3 southside portals to the NEC/Worcester, Fairmount, and Old Colony.

Simplify. Make it a 2-track straight pass-through CR tunnel between terminals concentrated on thru service on the NEC to/from NH and Maine, and the B&A from points west since nearly all long-distance passengers go those ways. And then make the OTHER two tracks rapid-transit. Build a much shorter, steeper, and much less-expensive subway incline from Fairmount/Indigo. Continue north with the Aquarium/Blue and NS connector as a new subway line. And then take over the Green Line Medford branch on the northside with heavy-rail. Go as the next phase with an extension to Anderson RTC as the NH Main ROW gets rebuilt as HSR, put all local stops on rapid-transit, and net a 128-to-128 subway line. Free up the "new" NEC to speed through Boston metro with no local stops at all besides Westwood/128, Back Bay, SS, NS, and Anderson (can even permanently get rid of Hyde Park since nearby Fairmount is going to be a real subway stop). Make a new rapid-transit yard at the empty Readville and share fleets with Red. Put short-turns at North Station and South to run high-frequency service from the termini, and also run Braintree-North Station short-turns via the Red Line yard tracks as special rush-hour service.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by sery2831 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:48 am

Lets keep this discussion to the Fairmount line, not a DMU discussion or a North-South Rail Link discussion. I can't see the Red Line running the Fairmount Line ever. To me it will just be like the Needham Line with close stops.
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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by CSX Conductor » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:16 pm

#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:But wouldn't that have also required closing the Worcester line down for freight if they combined Fairmount and Worcester into one DMU line? Not sure CSX would be happy over that. I saw one idea that called for starting DMU service at the Green Line's Riverside station, then have it join the Worcester line west of Auburndale station. But even then, you'd still have the freight issue. Frequency of service would also be an issue because the Worcester line stations in Newton are all wedged in next to the Pike and they each have a platform on only one side of the tracks. That would make it difficult to run more frequent service than what's currently offered.
CSXT would be tickled pink as they don't want anything east of Selkirk,NY.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by #5 - Dyre Ave » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:04 pm

sery2831 wrote:Lets keep this discussion to the Fairmount line, not a DMU discussion or a North-South Rail Link discussion. I can't see the Red Line running the Fairmount Line ever. To me it will just be like the Needham Line with close stops.
True enough. The Fairmount Line should not become a Red Line branch. But I believe it should be heavy-rail rapid transit with subway cars built to the same dimensions as the existing RL cars and be based out of Cabot. A new fleet of subway cars can be ordered in the future and used on both Red and Indigo Line trains. This way, you don't have to buy specialized rolling stock and you don't have to build a new yard or expand the existing CR yards. Close stops will eventually warrant some kind of self-propelled rolling on the Fairmount Line.
Last edited by #5 - Dyre Ave on Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by #5 - Dyre Ave » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:12 pm

CSX Conductor wrote:
#5 - Dyre Ave wrote:But wouldn't that have also required closing the Worcester line down for freight if they combined Fairmount and Worcester into one DMU line? Not sure CSX would be happy over that. I saw one idea that called for starting DMU service at the Green Line's Riverside station, then have it join the Worcester line west of Auburndale station. But even then, you'd still have the freight issue. Frequency of service would also be an issue because the Worcester line stations in Newton are all wedged in next to the Pike and they each have a platform on only one side of the tracks. That would make it difficult to run more frequent service than what's currently offered.
CSXT would be tickled pink as they don't want anything east of Selkirk,NY.
Really? Isn't the old B&A line pretty busy with freight between Beacon Park and Albany? Even if there were no objections from CSX, I still don't think that plan to run through service from the Fairmount to the Worcester Line was a good idea. Both lines are best kept separate.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by Choo Choo Coleman » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:20 am

Isn't the whole line double=tracked? I think there would be enough room to add a third track so there could be a Heavy-Rail Indigo Line and a line for freight traffic and passenger rail if needed.

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Re: Fairmount Line Discussion (Future Indigo Line)

Post by BostonUrbEx » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:48 am

How does Worcester-Fairmount rapid commuter transit work? There's 1 track allowing a non-reversing run (ok, a somewhat easy fix) and then you have to inevitably crossover the entire 5 approach tracks including the NEC's to get from one line to the other.

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