• COMPASS RAIL: Pittsfield / Springfield / Boston East-West Passenger Rail

  • 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: sery2831, CRail

  by charlesriverbranch
jbvb wrote: Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:16 pm One of the issues with Springfield - Boston and Springfield - Pittsfield or Albany on the old Boston & Albany is that passenger speed apparently wasn't a priority for the New York Central. Employee's Timetable #7, April 24 1960 shows a mix of speed limits: 65 MPH from Beacon Park to Millbury, then 50 or 55 to E. Brookfield, then 65 to just short of Springfield. West of Springfield, there was a little more 65 MPH track through Westfield, then 45-55 MPH till just west of the State Line tunnels. In 1956, the B&M's route through the Hoosac Tunnel had been basically a 70 MPH railroad, except for the 10 mile grade west of Fitchburg and the 24 miles along the Deerfield river up to Hoosac Tunnel. This is understandable, as shorter timings the B&M might offer were of little importance compared to difficult connections between Troy and NYC through trains at Albany. But it does mean Mass. DOT will have to move a lot of dirt to beat the 1957 'Beeliner' RDC time of 2:15 between Springfield & Boston.
I have a 1954 timetable that shows some NYC trains making the Springfield - Boston run in two hours flat. Is that not an unreasonable expectation for the route?
  by jbvb
I cited the 'Beeliner' RDC timing because it was a better match for the politically founded service MDOT will likely provide. The closest Official Guide I have to '54 is '57. Its NESL stopped only at Back Bay, Newtonville, Framingham, Worcester and Springfield, taking 2:16. The RDC 1:10 behind it added Warren and Palmer, but made the trip in 2:00 flat, probably because of the RDC's faster acceleration. Lacking a corresponding ETT, I can't say if speed limits were faster in '57 than '60.

It will be difficult for MDOT to match the RDC, because there's nothing non-electric available in the US which can accelerate/brake like one. And it will be hard for MDOT to skip the Brookfields and Charlton entirely. There will also be pressure for a suburban stop or two with better parking than Newton and less congestion than Framingham.
  by ExCon90
Plus, I think there were still 4 tracks as far as Riverside so that all-stop locals could stay out of the way of trains for Framingham and beyond not stopping before Riverside. Today you'd have to find slots for Springfield trains to thread their way through the locals.
  by nomis
From my professional experience, the eastbound LSL can regularly do SPG-WOR in 60 minute and WOR-FRA-BBY-BOS in another 60 minutes if the stars aligned and they had a slot to run in with weeknight or weekend commuter schedule.
  by BandA
The B&A had sold the Highland Branch to the MBTA in 1958, and was hinting about more sales. Presumably they were negotiating the sale to the Turnpike Authority, so the main line inside Riverside was probably in minimal maintenance mode in 1960. Plus they were trying to merge.
  by BandA
Rockingham Racer wrote: Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:47 am What a poorly written article. Some snippets:

"Charlie Baker spent the brakes once, crossing a legislation once...."

"West-West service."

And there are more. I was so taken with the malaprops that I couldn't get into the message. :-D :-D
The article cited was on newsdirectory3.com, but at the bottom apparently the author was [email protected]. So probably ripped off from a boston globe article by a non-native speaker.
  by caduceus
Here is the original online...seriously, how hard is it to rip off a web page?

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/20 ... story.html
Last edited by CRail on Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary nesting quotes removed. Do not use the "quote" button as a reply button.
  by Komarovsky
nomis wrote: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:25 pm From my professional experience, the eastbound LSL can regularly do SPG-WOR in 60 minute and WOR-FRA-BBY-BOS in another 60 minutes if the stars aligned and they had a slot to run in with weeknight or weekend commuter schedule.
The Heart to Hub express is scheduled from Worcester to Landsdown in 55 minutes, Back Bay in an hour and South Station in 1:06, and this is a decently well kept schedule based on my 3 year old experience with that particular train. I'd say it is entirely doable for a future express even with current infrastructure, maybe adding an additional 5 min to serve Framingham.

This latest presentation from July outlines some of the possibilities of upgrading the line to improve speeds: https://www.mass.gov/doc/7-23-19-east-w ... n/download

Of interest is that with limited restoration of double tracking between SPG-WOR and no improvements WOR-BOS they estimate 1:55 for a SPG-WOR-BOS train.
  by charlesriverbranch
The last NYC passenger timetable, December 3, 1967, has the newly unnamed train 27 (formerly the New England States) leaving BOS at 4:00 PM and arriving at SPR at 6:15, and train #405, a Boston - Buffalo run, leaving BOS at 10:15 AM and arriving at SPR at 12:29, one minute faster than #27 despite making an extra stop in Palmer.

I remember walking down to the Wellesley Farms station as a child with my grandfather to watch #27 go by, but I never saw #405.
  by New Haven 1
Lots of interesting discussion going on here. I don't see anyone arguing that what we have now for east-west transportation infrastructure is simply not sufficient. I agree that obviously ridiculous ideas like laying tracks in the Mass Pike have to be thrown out there because, yes, save for the few politicians whose care extends beyond their salaries and political positions, a lot of them are too stupid and self centered to see what I just mentioned in the previous sentence. You have to rub their noses in it before they realize what they are shoveling stinks.

From personal experience, every few months with another journey coming up in the beginning of December, I have to drive my girlfriend from Western Mass to see a specialist in Boston. I have done this several times with appointments being anywhere from the mid morning to later in the afternoon meaning I have had all too much sampling of the Mass Pike traffic at many different times. The one thing I can count on is sitting in traffic jams. Not because there is an accident, bad weather or, any other condition that would be the icing on the cake, but, it just is the way it is with a road that was designed and built when there was only perhaps 25% of the vehicles on the road that there are now. I am no mathematician but, travelling at 65MPH sure sounds better than the stop and go 15 to 20MPH I have to deal with for several miles each time I travel the Mass State Parking Lot.

I like Charlie Bakers notion that East-West rail should be the price of MBTA funding because last time I checked, the tax dollars being spent on the MBTA aren't being only collected from the people who now benefit from it. Not that this is the T's fault. It's just that the 20th Century ended about 2 decades ago and it is about time we move our transportation infrastructure into the 21st century. I fail to see why Massachusetts struggles to see what most of the rest of the industrialized world including several other states already know that if you want people to stop driving their cars everywhere you need to give them another efficient way to get around.

Yes, it costs money and it doesn't turn a profit. To those who would be quick to point this out I would ask who pays for airports and all of the FAA personnel who manage them? Who pays for all those TSA agents? Trucking and bus companies benefit from the nations highway system, but what is the actual percentage of taxes they pay towards the maintenance of these roads compared to the damage they incur during the use of them? Care to guess who pays for the vast majority of this? All you need to do is look in the mirror!

I am simply trying to put things into perspective. We can't pave our way out of this one. My wish is that those who are "Studying East-West Rail" should be required to travel the Mass Pike every day as a part of their study thus being required to "Smell" as I mentioned above.

Just my nickel. ( used to be two cents , but, had to adjust for inflation ) :-D
  by charlesriverbranch
Traffic congestion in the greater Boston area is nothing short of obscene. Of course there should be an east-west rail option; but how to build it a) in less than a decade; and b) without spending billions of dollars?

While we're at it, why can't I ride a train to Manchester, Concord, or Lebanon, NH from Boston?
  by jbvb
"While we're at it, why can't I ride a train to Manchester, Concord, or Lebanon, NH from Boston?"

There are a fair number of people (many spoke at the Plaistow Station/Layover hearings) who are afraid to ride a train (or, for that matter, a bus) lest they meet a member of a group they're afraid of. It would appear they are more common in NH than MA, perhaps less so in ME and RI. I have some hope that, as time passes, this PoV will evaporate away, but it's done plenty of damage and will do more in the next decade.
  by TomNelligan
charlesriverbranch wrote: Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:36 pmWhile we're at it, why can't I ride a train to Manchester, Concord, or Lebanon, NH from Boston?
For Manchester and Concord, it's because the MBTA can't operate outside of Massachusetts without financial support from the neighboring state (as Rhode Island currently provides), and the New Hampshire legislature has historically been unwilling to fund rail commuter service.

For Lebanon, it's that plus the fact that the B&M line north of Concord was abandoned more than thirty years ago.

BTW, anyone seriously interested in the subject of traffic congestion in greater Boston should check out the recent three-part study in the Boston Globe that examined the issue in detail.
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