North-South Rail Link Discussion

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

rethcir
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:51 am

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by rethcir » Thu May 02, 2019 4:15 pm

How bout a gondola?

User avatar
BandA
Posts: 2838
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by BandA » Thu May 02, 2019 9:04 pm

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/5 ... rcel18.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; what a great idea! and no problem with rising sea levels + save billions. wouldn't want to be in it during a nor'easter

Charliemta
Posts: 337
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:51 pm

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Charliemta » Thu May 02, 2019 11:45 pm

I'd prefer a surface light rail double track line between North and South Stations along the Greenway, preferably tying into a new Green Line tunnel from Boylston Station into the existing Silver Line tunnel.
"The penny candy store beyond the El
is where i first fell in love
with unreality.....
Outside the leaves were falling as they died.
A wind had blown away the sun."
----Lawrence Ferlinghetti

newpylong
Posts: 4265
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:32 pm
Location: NH

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by newpylong » Fri May 03, 2019 10:19 am

BandA wrote:http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/5 ... rcel18.jpg what a great idea! and no problem with rising sea levels + save billions. wouldn't want to be in it during a nor'easter
They were designed for ski resorts, they operate fine in anything but strong winds.

djlong
Posts: 714
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:29 am

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by djlong » Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 am

The whole idea of the NSRL is one-seat rides and easy transfers at North/South Stations (and the hoped-for Central or Union Station that would connect the Blue Line with CR).

The whole idea of burying the Central Artry was to stitch Boston's downtown back together with it's waterfront. They knew the Artery was a mistake when they started building it - before it was even completed, they were forced to bury the remainder of the damn thing starting with the Dewey Square Tunnel.

And it won't be another Big Dig because you don't have all the mitigation you had for the Dig - the route is a LOT simpler. The troubles will come with the stations, not the tunnels.

Arborwayfan
Posts: 864
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Arborwayfan » Mon May 06, 2019 10:34 am

There are two (or maybe three) major rationales for the NSRL:
1. Allow people to ride through from one suburb to another, either one-seat or two-seat-with cross-platform transfer. This is what subway and shuttle bus connections can't do.
2. Make the last-downtown-mile easier (and maybe even provide a new route for short trips within downtown). This is what subway and shuttle bus connections CAN do pretty well.
and maybe 3. Improve equipment utilization and downtown platform utilization by having fewer trains terminate downtown. (Maybe, because this always seems to me to be more of a side benefit than anyone's major motivation, but I could be wrong).


It seems like the T could actually test all three of these with hardly any capital investment or committment just by changing many of the southside schedules and service patterns to have trains come into S. Station and then head out on another route as fast as the crews can change ends, and changing fare structure to make it easy and economical to ride through. Why not have a train come in from Plymouth and then run out to Framingham? Needham to Middleboro? Franklin to Greenbush? They could even run Old Colony Lines to Worcester-Needham-Franklin-Providence-Stoughton without changing ends if they skipped South Station (like baseball and football trains); that seems like an awful idea an present service levels because so many people want to go to SSta, but in a hypothetical future 20 years from now when a lot of commuter rail is electrified and running higher frequencies it might make a lot of sense to send certain trips right through, skipping S. Sta.

All these trips would connect the stations along their routes faster than any other public transportation; in some cases they would even be competitive with rush-hour driving. (Bridgewater to Ruggles or Forest Hills? Plymouth to "West Station"? Middleboro to former Yawkey? Needham to Quincy?


I always kind of imagine the NSRL being used for Providence-Newburyport, Plymouth-Fitchburg, Stoughton-Lowell, or similar nearly-straight routes, but having a nearly-straight route is not necessarily vital even for suburb-to-suburb commutes and it's almost irrelevant for suburb to "outer downtown" routes

A while ago someone was talking about something like Rockport to Fitchburg skipping North Station; that makes less sense because there is no good downtown station on the route (unlike southside routes that have Back Bay), but as people pointed out it would make more sense if the trips were additional frequencies so that service to downtown didn't get worse. All these hypothetical routes make enough sense that if they don't work, the straight-through routes won't work either. And the T could try them all in the future as part of infrastructure and rolling stock upgrades they seem to be planning anyway, without having to build specific infrastructure that could turn out to be wasted. And then, if those routes proved wildly popular, our great-grandchildren might have the political pressure to add others.

octr202
Posts: 4153
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:13 am
Location: In the land of the once and future 73 trackless trolley.

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by octr202 » Mon May 06, 2019 2:18 pm

Eastern Route to inner Fitchburg line would make sense if there are new stations created along the inner Fitchburg. Add stops to serve Union Square (Green Line to East Cambridge soon), Alewife area, and Waltham around 128 and you have potential for making a very easy way to commute from the North Shore to these employment areas west of Boston. Your travel time versus typical congestion on Route 128 would be impressive. The Waltham area would of course require shuttle or local transit service (such as an enhanced 70A Bus under the Better Bus plans to split it from the trunk-line route 70 bus).

Even if these trains only ran from Beverly on the Eastern Route end, they could be attractive to commuters from further out if there are reasonable connections to branch trains. Some gaps could also be filled by stragecially timing arrivals/departures between Fitchburg and Eastern Route trains where needed at North Station (and of course allowing through ticketing to passengers where that option makes sense).
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
Photo: Melbourne W7 No. 1019 on Route 78, Bridge & Church Streets, Richmond, Victoria. 10/21/2010

rr503
Posts: 690
Joined: Sat May 02, 2015 4:13 pm
Location: North by Northwest

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by rr503 » Mon May 06, 2019 9:59 pm

Through routing using the wyes at NS or SS would cause some horrible crossing moves, no?

The rationale for suburb-to-suburb through running is not so much that you're just linking suburbs, but that you're doing so while serving the densest (ie core bound) market, and that you're making much better use of your equipment and infrastructure in the process. A lot of it just comes down to how cheaply you can build core infrastructure (NSRL wouldn't be costing anywhere near this much elsewhere on the globe) and how well you can manage land use in the suburbs -- the latter being important as job/human density near stations (something which isn't all that present today in many Boston suburbs) is strongly correlated with transit ridership.

Arborwayfan
Posts: 864
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Arborwayfan » Tue May 07, 2019 7:54 am

I am kind of doubtful that a couple of miles of tunnel, plus a couple of miles of approaches, reaching below sea level in a dense urban center, would be any cheaper to build in any country with a similar median income and similar safety standards to those in Massachusetts. But maybe people actually know that it is projected to cost more per mile than CrossRail or some other comparable project (as opposed to something in China or Chile, where labor is a lot cheaper).

rr503
Posts: 690
Joined: Sat May 02, 2015 4:13 pm
Location: North by Northwest

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by rr503 » Tue May 07, 2019 9:24 am

All 73 miles of the Crossrail project are projected to cost about 20b USD, or a few billion less than the cost of the 4 track NSRL. A more detailed breakdown of it, and NSRL, can be found here:

https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018 ... rail-link/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Union Tpke
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Union Tpke » Thu May 09, 2019 6:41 am

Dmdogs900 wrote:Could the Needham line be covered.
Extend the Orange and Green lines and remove it from the commuter rail system.

Union Tpke
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Union Tpke » Thu May 09, 2019 6:43 am

rr503 wrote:Through routing using the wyes at NS or SS would cause some horrible crossing moves, no?

The rationale for suburb-to-suburb through running is not so much that you're just linking suburbs, but that you're doing so while serving the densest (ie core bound) market, and that you're making much better use of your equipment and infrastructure in the process. A lot of it just comes down to how cheaply you can build core infrastructure (NSRL wouldn't be costing anywhere near this much elsewhere on the globe) and how well you can manage land use in the suburbs -- the latter being important as job/human density near stations (something which isn't all that present today in many Boston suburbs) is strongly correlated with transit ridership.
Not to mention allowing NEC trains to go to New Hampshire and Maine, reducing the waste that is SSX, and allowing for the redevelopment of South Station.

FatNoah
Posts: 1057
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:10 am

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by FatNoah » Thu May 09, 2019 8:28 am

Eastern Route to inner Fitchburg line would make sense if there are new stations created along the inner Fitchburg.
Back around 2001-2002 or so, I did a reverse commute from Beacon Hill to Waltham via CR. There was a pretty solid contingent of commuters that came in from the Newburyport/Rockport line, hopped platforms to the Fitchburg, and hiked out to Waltham. The Waltham Citibus was running at the time and its 8am departure coincided nicely with the train's 7:55am arrival. When the train was late, the driver would wait. There were about 15-20 of us each day on that particular schedule. I can imagine that a through train with a connecting shuttle at Waltham would get a fair number of riders.

jonnhrr
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun May 30, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Sabattus ME USA

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by jonnhrr » Thu May 09, 2019 10:53 am

It is interesting to compare the proposed NSRL with a comparable project, Philadelphia's Center City Commuter Connection.

They are both about the same length 1.5 mi vs. 1.7 mi. The CCCC was completed in 1984 at a cost of $330 Million, about $ 1.3 Billion in today's money. Compared to $12 to $21 Billion for the NSRL.

Philadelphia had a few things going for it that Boston does not, which explains some of the price differential:
- The entire system was already electrified.
- One end (Suburban Station) was already underground so it was a simple matter to extend the existing tunnel further. No ramp needed at that end.
- Major real estate development (Market East and conversion of Reading Terminal to a convention center) that gave additional justification for the project.

Made me wonder whether as part of NSRL you could eliminate the current North Station entirely, as Philly did by eliminating Reading Terminal? Ideally an underground station adjacent to the existing Green/Orange line station, with 4 tracks and platforms where all trains would be through trains. Downeaster would have to be extended at least to South Station for this to work.
Avatar Photo - P&W local from Gardner to Worcester at Morgan Rd., Hubbardston

Nasadowsk
Posts: 4003
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:45 pm

Re: North-South Rail Link Discussion

Post by Nasadowsk » Sat May 11, 2019 1:01 pm

jonnhrr wrote: Philadelphia had a few things going for it that Boston does not, which explains some of the price differential:
- The entire system was already electrified.
Actually, it wasn't. After the tunnel opened, SEPTA dropped all diesel service and started running the system more as an S Bahn than a US style commuter line. Admittingly, and a lot of Phily railbuffs don't like hearing it, but most of the diesel lines had no ridership. SEPTA in general didn't have much - they ran a lot of one/two car trains at the time. It's not like today where three car trains seem to be the minimum most of the time. Also, some electric service was cut back - they were short on equipment, made worse because the grades in/out of the CCT were killing the 30's vintage Blueliners.
- One end (Suburban Station) was already underground so it was a simple matter to extend the existing tunnel further. No ramp needed at that end.
True.
- Major real estate development (Market East and conversion of Reading Terminal to a convention center) that gave additional justification for the project.
True. Interestingly, the project had been planned since at least the 60's - I've seen artists renditions in books that old.
Made me wonder whether as part of NSRL you could eliminate the current North Station entirely, as Philly did by eliminating Reading Terminal? Ideally an underground station adjacent to the existing Green/Orange line station, with 4 tracks and platforms where all trains would be through trains. Downeaster would have to be extended at least to South Station for this to work.
Perhaps, but then it becomes a natural to pair up the system into an S Bahn type operation, which then makes electric operation almost a per-requisite. A link posted earlier suggessted that this could be done for a billion or so if the (T) could acheive French-level electrification costs. I don't see why that's not possible (It's not like the French don't have unions, environmental studies, NIMBY, or protests...). Of course, you'd need equipment. The most logical way would be electric locos until the push/pulls get retired, then buy EUMs to fill their place. There are effectively two proven locos to chose from in the US now (ALP-46A and ACS-64),and both work well enough, though they'll get blown out of the water by any competent EMU (and the Silverliner Vs)

12-21 billion for a tunnel is the (T) or politician's way of saying "we don't want to do it".

Return to “Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)”