• 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 Red Wing
 
You might look at Metro North or the LIRR for examples of what I speak they do well with 15 minute or less intervals as a RR. We could have that too.
  by ElectricTraction
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 8:45 ambut more people would probably oppose electrification because the wire are ugly (they are)
What? Ok, the OG New Haven electrification is a bit of a acquired taste, but on the Shore Line the electrification is a thing of beauty, and that's absurdly over-engineered and would work fine with half of the catenary poles removed, further reducing any actual visual impact.

Also, people are stupid and need to be edumacated since distribution primaries today often carry up to 23kV and in some cases up to 34.5kV phase to phase on bare wire, which isn't THAT different than railroads carrying 25kV phase to ground on a much better maintained, much better supported system.
BandA wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 5:46 pmAnalysis 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.
Carbon footprint is pretty much the most important thing. It just happens that there is no conflict, as lowest TCO, best operating characteristics, and lowest localized impacts all bring you back to 25kV/60 overhead wire. It's basically an evolution of the 1914 New Haven Railroad autotransformer system and it's still the gold standard for railroads today.
mbrproductions wrote: Thu Aug 25, 2022 8:34 pmThe 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.
Commuter rail shouldn't be trying to replace rapid transit, and we should absolutely invest in rapid transit, but commuter rail can provide much more rapid-transit like service when giant fuel-guzzling diesel locomotives that can't get out of their own way (even the best-in-class HSP46s are slow) are replaced with electrics and EMUs that can run small trains with rapid transit-like acceleration rates.

For weekend destinations, trains need 30-minute or less headways so that you don't have to plan your train like catching a flight, you just go whenever and there will be a train within 30 minutes or less. That's possible with EMUs where you can run 4-car or even 2-car sets on weekends.
  by Arborwayfan
 
The T inherited and maintains a very wide gap between how Commuter Rail works and how rapid transit works. Parts of Metro North, LIRR, NJT, SEPTA commuter rail systems look and act much closer to rapid transit than any T CR line does. Even Metra has the Electric District, with faregates and somewhat rapid-transit-like equipment. Frontrunner in Utah behaves a lot like diesel-powered rapid transit. BART acts a bit like CR in places (seating, station spacing on some lines, etc.).

And of course in London, Tokyo, and some other cities there's no gulf at all, just a continuum of equipment types and service patterns.

Is there some special reason that the T should must always choose between extending a light-rail or third-rail-subway-car service or continuing to run what are pretty much diesel powered steam trains with A/C? What's wrong with having some CR lines get a little more like rapid transit?
  by mbrproductions
 
but commuter rail can provide much more rapid-transit like service when giant fuel-guzzling diesel locomotives that can't get out of their own way (even the best-in-class HSP46s are slow) are replaced with electrics and EMUs that can run small trains with rapid transit-like acceleration rates.
This is true, we cannot run Commuter Rail like Rapid Transit with the equipment that it uses now, but I struggle to see how that is a problem or why we should spend all this money into making the Commuter Rail an FRA-grade Rapid Transit system, there is no demand for this at the moment or in the foreseeable future, so is it really needed?
For weekend destinations, trains need 30-minute or less headways so that you don't have to plan your train like catching a flight, you just go whenever and there will be a train within 30 minutes or less. That's possible with EMUs where you can run 4-car or even 2-car sets on weekends.
It is possible to run trains every 30 minutes with the current trains, and isn't every 30 minutes on weekends a bit excessive? the current trains on the weekends already barely have anyone onboard, wouldn't this just practically be pouring money into running more empty trains? I can agree with running all-day every 30 minutes on weekdays, but I am not so sure about weekends.
What's wrong with having some CR lines get a little more like rapid transit?
What's wrong is that no demand currently exists for such a transformative and expensive change at the moment, why should the MBTA spend all of this money to bring unnecessary changes to a system that already serves the needs of those whom it was meant to serve?
  by Red Wing
 
mbrproductions wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 6:02 pm It is possible to run trains every 30 minutes with the current trains, and isn't every 30 minutes on weekends a bit excessive? the current trains on the weekends already barely have anyone onboard, wouldn't this just practically be pouring money into running more empty trains? I can agree with running all-day every 30 minutes on weekdays, but I am not so sure about weekends.
You may want to check your source on this information since weekend ridership is over 100% preCOVID levels:
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transp ... th-riders/.
Though this is a chicken and egg story. If you provide more service that's convenient you will most likely get more ridership. But if you keep the same level you can say there is no demand.
  by BandA
 
Hard to justify expansion of service that requires high subsidies, forever.
  by mbrproductions
 
You may want to check your source on this information since weekend ridership is over 100% preCOVID levels
Well that certainly is good news!
Though this is a chicken and egg story. If you provide more service that's convenient you will most likely get more ridership. But if you keep the same level you can say there is no demand.
That's the thing, if you are going to add more service on a certain day/time, you need to find the best balance between ridership and operating costs, by this I mean that the MBTA's best course of action would be to find times where trains could be added to the timetable and have sufficient ridership to justify the increased cost of running more trains. Just "winging" it (lol) by having trains run every 30 minutes all day on a weekend is not a viable option for the long term, sure it could be implemented for a temporary period to see which of those trains are worth keeping on the timetable and which could/should be axed, but the only way it would make sense to have permanently is if by some miracle all or most of the trains on the 30 minute timetable had the ridership numbers to justify keeping them all on the schedule.
  by octr202
 
In terms of whether there is demand or need for greater off-peak frequencies, have folks not seen the traffic congestion on weekends? Much of 128 and the major highways and roads inside it are stopped and/or crawling for good portions of weekends, too. A gradual conversion of commuter rail to regional rail can't replace every car trip made in the region, but right now with minimal service there's often no option but driving. We're choking ourselves in traffic, and yet still debating whether it's worth doing anything about it.

As a resident of an inner suburb with commuter rail service, I can say that I regularly attempt to substitute commuter rail for trips where it's possible, but even with the schedule improvements, it's still difficult, especially if it's a trip other than just in/out of downtown Boston. A lot of that difficulty is due to limited schedules, even with the improvements.

(At the same time, we often adjust where we go, or just decide not to, due to traffic - deciding some trips are just no longer worth it due to the time spent in traffic to get there.)
  by eolesen
 
People taking joyrides in their cars on the weekends are probably not going downtown.

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  by type 7 3704
 
At minimum the Fairmount Line ought to get electrified. It functions essentially as a shitty diesel-powered rapid transit line, with rapid-transit-like stop spacings, a clockface 45 minute schedule from 5:45AM to 11:00PM, and the whole line never even leaves Boston's borders. It runs through various dense residential neighborhoods that would benefit from the elimination of diesel fumes. Electrification would also provide Amtrak an alternate way into South Station from Readville should incidents arise.
  by CRail
 
Absolutely, Providence (and Wickford), Stoughton, and the Dorchester Branch are no brainers for electrification.
  by scratchyX1
 
type 7 3704 wrote: Fri Oct 07, 2022 5:19 pm At minimum the Fairmount Line ought to get electrified. It functions essentially as a shitty diesel-powered rapid transit line, with rapid-transit-like stop spacings, a clockface 45 minute schedule from 5:45AM to 11:00PM, and the whole line never even leaves Boston's borders. It runs through various dense residential neighborhoods that would benefit from the elimination of diesel fumes. Electrification would also provide Amtrak an alternate way into South Station from Readville should incidents arise.
Enough talking about moving to funky town (with multiple studies)
Just get it over with, find a Spanish company to design build, And electrify it.
  by mbrproductions
 
The Fairmount Line shouldn't even be a so-called "Commuter Rail" line in the first place, it has the lowest ridership by a decent margin and could be extended to Foxboro, where it would actually make sense to have it running as a Commuter Rail line, and the line could have a genuine Light Rail line constructed parallel to it to replace local trips between Readville and Downtown, though simply having frequent BRT service running along the route would probably make more sense.
Providence/Stoughton Line Electrification only makes sense if it will cut down on costs of operation, so if Amtrak charges the MBTA an arm and a leg to use their electrification (which they probably would because the MBTA would be utilizing it more than Amtrak by virtue of running more trains, hence using up more power), then it would not be a good move for the MBTA to make. Although if the Commonwealth got involved in this somehow to make it cheaper and more economic for the MBTA to utilize this electrification, then I could see it being viable.
Enough talking about moving to funky town (with multiple studies)
Just get it over with, find a Spanish company to design build, And electrify it.
If only building infrastructure was that simple...
  by ElectricTraction
 
mbrproductions wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 6:02 pmThis is true, we cannot run Commuter Rail like Rapid Transit with the equipment that it uses now, but I struggle to see how that is a problem or why we should spend all this money into making the Commuter Rail an FRA-grade Rapid Transit system, there is no demand for this at the moment or in the foreseeable future, so is it really needed?
The better the system is, the more people will use it, and the more people will build their lives and property around it.
It is possible to run trains every 30 minutes with the current trains, and isn't every 30 minutes on weekends a bit excessive? the current trains on the weekends already barely have anyone onboard, wouldn't this just practically be pouring money into running more empty trains? I can agree with running all-day every 30 minutes on weekdays, but I am not so sure about weekends.
Part of the issue is cost basis. TheLIRRToday has been through this a number of times. With OPTO and EMUs that could be run in 2-car sets, the costs of adding service goes WAY down, and the number of riders needed is smaller, but more people will ride it, as its better service, quite possibly justifying larger trains on a 30-minute headway in the future.
What's wrong is that no demand currently exists for such a transformative and expensive change at the moment, why should the MBTA spend all of this money to bring unnecessary changes to a system that already serves the needs of those whom it was meant to serve?
That's looking at it totally the wrong way. It doesn't serve the people using it today very well, and doesn't serve others at all. Electrification and faster trains would serve both existing customers better and bring new customers into the system. The goal of the system should be to serve as many customers as it can, as mass transit either diverts car trips or makes new trips that generate economic activity, either of which is a public good.
Red Wing wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 6:31 pmThough this is a chicken and egg story. If you provide more service that's convenient you will most likely get more ridership. But if you keep the same level you can say there is no demand.
Exactly. Weekend service isn't very desirable until you get to 30 minute headways.
mbrproductions wrote: Sat Oct 08, 2022 9:35 amProvidence/Stoughton Line Electrification only makes sense if it will cut down on costs of operation, so if Amtrak charges the MBTA an arm and a leg to use their electrification (which they probably would because the MBTA would be utilizing it more than Amtrak by virtue of running more trains, hence using up more power), then it would not be a good move for the MBTA to make.
That makes absolutely no sense. You're saying that Amtrak shouldn't charge the MBTA proportionally for the power that they use? Or that the MBTA running more trains and paying more thus makes them uneconomical? That's nonsense. What matters is the RATE that Amtrak is charging the MBTA for power and how much it is being inflated, and how that compares to HSP46s guzzling diesel fuel. If the MBTA runs 90% of the trains (it's probably 60-70% not 90%) and pays 90% of the electric costs, it should still be significantly cheaper than fueling the diesel guzzlers.
  by ElectricTraction
 
The one area on the MBTA that's going to stay traditional commuter rail are the Old Colony Lines, due to the one-track bottleneck and the lack of density. Those probably should be last in line for electrification, and can get the newest diesel equipment in the meantime. They also aren't part of the NSRL project, so they don't NEED to be electrified like other lines.
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