Most of the MBTA rail system, except for the Old Colony lines can and should be true regional rail, not just commuter service like it's 1985. It could serve a lot more people's needs with frequent and fast electrified service.But by how much would ridership increase? And would it justify the massive upfront cost of putting up Catenary and the following annual costs of maintaining it? The "Build It and They Will Come" wishful thinking philosophy is a risky way of justifying expensive infrastructure projects.
That's not at all what you saidActually, it is what I said, though I could have worded it better, but regardless, let's look at what I said again...
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.
BUT if Amtrak is jacking up the price of electricity by a factor of several times, then that problem needs to be dealt withAnd I agree, but that's not something the Commonwealth or the MBTA have any power or say over as Amtrak is directly owned by the Federal Government.
Have you looked at the price of diesel lately? It's not $0.89 anymore. Accounting for the efficiency of diesel engines, diesel costs several times more than electricity on a per unit basis. I don't know what the per kwh cost of electricity is in bulk, and how that compares to retail pricing after the infrastructure is accounted for, but it's certainly a fraction of what diesel costs.Diesel may be expensive at the moment, but prices are dropping, granted its not as fast as the prices of Gasoline, but they still aren't nearly what they were a few months ago, and the government certainly won't allow such a key resource that powers essential industries in the country (trucking, freight trains, ships etc.) to remain expensive in the long term.
Providence-Stoughton and Worcester have a lot of density.Looking at satellite imagery, most of the stations on the Providence Line seem to be surrounded by single family housing, which isn't known for its high density, the only stops outside of Boston that seem to be high density are Attleboro, the future Pawtucket/Central Falls, and of course Providence.
As for the Worcester Line, stops before Framingham outside of Boston appear to have subpar housing density around them at best, with all the stops beyond Framingham (excluding Worcester) having nothing more than a few single family houses around them, and their own park-and-ride lots.
Photo by Alan Thomas: NYNH&H I-4 Pacific #1372 proudly thunders through Forest Hills as it makes its way to Providence R.I.