rethcir wrote:It seems to me that this would be a fairly obvious candidate for expansion project probably right after the Urban Ring in importance and maybe before some of the blue line work. For the sake of conversation, if you guys had to propose how to quickly and cost-effectively convert the line to Rapid Transit, what would you propose? Third rail, catenary, dmu? Are all the stations high-level and ready to work as closed-off t stops? Are the ROWs all separated from crossings? etc.
The line merges with the Old Colony routes on approach to South Station literally next to the Red Line yard tracks at Cabot. Might have to reconfigure a couple of tracks or do a small overpass/underpass to criscross the CR tracks with grade separation, but the line already is on the Cabot/Southampton property on its approach to SS so the dirt simplest thing to do is run unmodified Red Line trains on the Indigo even if it is not itself a revenue RL branch (due to lack of inbound tunnel access). Your Indigo line stop can be built onto SS when the Postal facility gets knocked down because that opens up the RL ROW for extension from the yard loop across a widened Channel RR bridge to SS proper and means for integrating it into the basement levels of the station. The Indigo terminus at SS can then serve as the provisional start for the North-South rail link's rapid-transit line whenever that gets built, or even the terminus of a Red Line "Rush Hour Express" from the south skipping Andrew and Broadway via the yard tracks. Should the N-S link ever get built this would also allow full operational re-routing of either RL branch through the Link and capacity to scale up for further extensions if there were dual downtown routings.
There's 58 01700 cars, enough for 9 6-car trains with spares. That's plenty for a starter fleet on a very short line like the Indigo. Since the line would have to be operationally set up as Red Line to share equipment they can run 100% unmodified save for an indigo paint job and some ASA installation. Besides third rail power your only "new" infrastructure is the RL car storage and small maint facility at Readville, the track work to across the Old Colony junction grade-separated into Cabot, the "extension" across the Channel and former Postal property, and the actual Indigo South Station platform itself. It's a lot of construction at Cabot/SS proper, but little anywhere else and virtually none outside of MBTA-owned non-revenue property.
Ridership would probably explode on this thing if it continued past Readville 1 stop along the NEC ROW to Amtrak/128 station where you'd get the huge park-and-ride ridership to accompany the robust local service. The way the ROW looks landscaped on Google Maps satellite looks like there's room to add 2 tracks on the existing footprint without getting the Neaponset Reservation environmentalists in a tizzy. Hell, might be the only place you ever again get to ride a Red Line car barreling along at 65 MPH in the ATO era.