• Commuter Rail Electrification

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by R36 Combine Coach
 
As you might know, LIRR concluded a one year battery pilot study with one retrofitted M-7 determining that costs
were too high to justify. This would likely be more feasible with future MU orders.
  by rethcir
 
If Elon Musk was serious about solving transit problems he would set the Tesla battery engineers to work on train battery electrification instead of boring useless car-width tunnels.
  by scratchyX1
 
But, as he admitted, He just wanted to create doubt in the HSR, to sell more teslas.
Last edited by CRail on Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed. Do not use the "Quote" button as a "Reply" button.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
The T's absolute dismissal of the idea of overhead electrification on almost any of their services (with the notable exception of the Blue Line) is an interesting pattern. They are so completely revulsed by the idea that these services might be operated using anything other than a diesel engine, despite perfectly reasonable alternatives having existed throughout the world and within their own network.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I suspect it comes of thinking of the Commuter Rail lines as necessarily low-frequency (or mostly-rush-hour), low-passenger-count services like the ones the T inherited, instead of potential high-frequency, high-passenger, all-day services. (I know there are midday trains, but many fewer and not really emphasized.)

Not having the money to pay for electrification probably also plays a part.

And the politics of CR probably feed that, too. Out in the suburbs, a lot of people who don't use CR clearly wish it would go away; a few people near terminals might welcome electrification because it would eliminate diesel idling, but more people would probably oppose electrification because the wire are ugly (they are), because electrification probably means more trains and therefore more instances of noise even though each train is a little quieter, because more trains esp in a regional rail pattern means closer ties to the city and "more of those people from the city coming out here" and because they are afraid of the electricity in the wires (I remember this in Rozzie and Hyde Park in the 1990s when Amtrak electrified). Meanwhile, in the city (Boston, Quincy, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Revere, Medford, Everett, maybe a couple other cities and towns in the generally urban rather than suburban zone) a lot of people would see commuter rail electrification as a waste of money that should go to transit instead, and a way to make the CR tracks through their communities uglier and more dangerous (see comment about Rozzie in the 1990s). So I suspect the T's leaders just don't see a political or passenger-count possibility of electrifying.

It kind of goes along with how, at least as far as I know, the T doesn't really advertise all the cool weekend destinations you can get to by CR, except maybe via the ski train to near Mt. Wachusett. What would it cost to put up posters in the subway stations advertising x trains per day to Lowell in walking distance of its National Park; x trains a day to Rockport, where you can walk to a fun little beach and a bunch of shops and restaurants and get shuttle buses to other places in town; x trains a day to Providence (well, maybe Mass would disapprove of that one); Newburyport?
Concord incl Walden Pond not so far from the station? Scituate? Even Needham Ctr is a cute little town center with nice places for lunch that feels very different from the city and makes an easy CR excursion when the weekend trains are running.
  by west point
 
It would be very interesting to have a complete analysis of the energy efficiency of various methods.
Straight diesel
diesel - battery
battery charging
OCS electrification
All these need to measured from original energy content( fuel, ) To energy to operate equiipment.
so what is all the "line: loss.?

25 kV line loss is a lot less than 3rd rail 600 - 1200 DC volts. Converting commercial AC to charge DC batteries will leave to others for those figures.
  by BandA
 
Analysis should be on cost, "total cost of ownership" over the lifespan of the equipment. Stop worrying about "carbon footprint" and worry about the cost (or availability) of energy sources & equipment.
  by mbrproductions
 
Out in the suburbs, a lot of people who don't use CR clearly wish it would go away
We have a word for those types. NIMBYs
but more people would probably oppose electrification because the wire are ugly (they are)
I agree, but this doesn't really make a good case to be against it.
because more trains esp in a regional rail pattern means closer ties to the city and "more of those people from the city coming out here"
hmm, what ever do they mean by "those people", surely it couldn't be something based purely on their class or appearance, such as, god forbid, the color of their skin!
Meanwhile, in the city (Boston, Quincy, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Revere, Medford, Everett, maybe a couple other cities and towns in the generally urban rather than suburban zone) a lot of people would see commuter rail electrification as a waste of money that should go to transit instead, and a way to make the CR tracks through their communities uglier and more dangerous
Now this is where I can relate, I am a resident of one of the towns that you listed (not specifying), and I feel that Commuter Rail Electrification, for the time being, would be a massive and wasteful investment, especially when the MBTA is in massive debt and its Subways, a larger source of revenue for the them, is falling apart and is inching ever closer by the day to becoming more of a hazard than a service to the people of Boston and is in desperate need of a costly overhaul. The Commuter Rail is in fine working order and is not in any dire need for investments as large-scale as electrification, what should be done for now is an increase in frequency and more advertising as well as any other means to attract more riders.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
BandA wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 5:46 pm Analysis should be on cost, "total cost of ownership" over the lifespan of the equipment. Stop worrying about "carbon footprint" and worry about the cost (or availability) of energy sources & equipment.
Well of course if you deny climate change then a huge reason for electrifying (or offering better service) goes out the window.
  by HenryAlan
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 8:45 am Meanwhile, in the city (Boston, Quincy, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Revere, Medford, Everett, maybe a couple other cities and towns in the generally urban rather than suburban zone) a lot of people would see commuter rail electrification as a waste of money that should go to transit instead, and a way to make the CR tracks through their communities uglier and more dangerous (see comment about Rozzie in the 1990s). So I suspect the T's leaders just don't see a political or passenger-count possibility of electrifying.
It might be seen that way, but a lot goes in to how it is sold to the public. As a resident of the urban area you've outlined, and also living within walking distance of a CR station, I'd see electrification + 15 minute headways as an investment in urban transit, rather than as a direction of funding to suburban commuters. Others might well get this concept, too, if described properly.
It kind of goes along with how, at least as far as I know, the T doesn't really advertise all the cool weekend destinations you can get to by CR.
I think this is not so much the case anymore. The advent of the $10 unlimited weekend pass has lead to quite a bit of weekend CR use promotion, especially to the destinations you have in mind.
  by BandA
 
They could run a pilot project with diesel equipment such as RDCs or a switching locomotive + 2 coaches, with 15 minute headways & accepting charlie card, find out what the demand is before blowing money on battery powered equipment or copper + substations.
  by mbrproductions
 
I think the MBTA should run the current trains they have at 30 minute headways on each line where possible, 15 minute headways using diesel will cost too much to run and maintain and really doesn't make sense for a service like the Commuter Rail, where demand for it doesn't exist. 30 minutes in itself is more than enough for Commuter Rail service and will ensure a solid "Regional Rail" system for Boston with decreased waiting times for passengers and without the MBTA having to string up anything or even buy new trains.
  by BandA
 
With the destruction of the streetcar network, the trackless trolley network, the upcoming reductions of express bus routes, and increasing road congestion, there is increasing pressure on Commuter Rail. The "D" Riverside Highland Branch used to be Commuter Rail, was electrified & given high frequencies and low fares. The Framingham, Fitchburg, and Fairmont lines all would have similar ridership if they had been given the same high frequency / low fares.
  by Red Wing
 
15 minute headways from say 128 in would work quite nicely. After all look at all the studies that said extending the Blue Line to Lynn good idea, Orange line to Reading Good idea, Red Line to Lexington good idea, Orange and Green Line to Needham all good ideas.
With 15 minute headways the ridership would be there and the will and need to electrify would be there.
  by mbrproductions
 
The "D" Riverside Highland Branch used to be Commuter Rail, was electrified & given high frequencies and low fares.
The Highland Branch was a short line, which is why it made sense for it to be turned into a trolley line. Most lines, with the exception of the Needham and Fairmount lines are too long for trolley service to make sense.
The Framingham, Fitchburg, and Fairmont lines all would have similar ridership if they had been given the same high frequency / low fares.
A train every 30 minutes is high frequency, and is a massive upgrade over the current schedules on the Fitchburg and Worcester Lines, as well as all other lines excluding the Fairmount Line, where it would only be a small upgrade over the current 45 minute headways.
After all look at all the studies that said extending the Blue Line to Lynn good idea, Orange line to Reading Good idea, Red Line to Lexington good idea, Orange and Green Line to Needham all good ideas.
With 15 minute headways the ridership would be there and the will and need to electrify would be there.
Then why not follow those studies and build those extensions instead? Except the Orange Line to Needham, that can be kept as Commuter Rail and rerouted over the former Millis Branch ROW to Millis or Medway. Rapid Transit will always be better for bringing people who already aren't too far from the city into the city, because that is what it is designed for, hence the lines being shorter and the cars themselves sacrificing comfort for high capacity. The reason the Commuter Rail doesn't do this is because it is designed to bring people from further suburbs into the city, which is why lower frequency makes sense on Commuter Rail. The problem isn't that the Commuter Rail isn't doing something it wasn't designed to do, the problem is that our Rapid Transit system is failing to meet current demands for service, and we need to focus on investing in and expanding them if we want to bring people who live within Route 128 into the cities more efficiently.
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