• Why are schedules on some lines to regular and others not?

  • 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 l008com
 
I live North of Boston, so I'm used to the Lowell Line and Haverhill Line, where the trains just kinda come by whenever. I mean there is a schedule, but the times on the schedule seem more or less random.

But last night I was in West Concord and when I looked up the schedule to see when a train was going to come, the times were so regular I thought I was looking at a website error. Basically every hour on the hour, Fitchburg trains leave North Station. Almost every hours of the day, at 11 minutes past the hour, an outbound train goes by. And at 13 past, an inbound.

What is going on here? I was kinda shocked. Why are some lines scheduled with super regular times, and other lines are scheduled at seemingly random times?
  by Disney Guy
 
It could have to do with other trains sharing the tracks. The start time has to be selected so (oversimplified) a "slot" when a track is free inbound lines up with a slot that a berth at South Station (or North Station) is free lines up with a slot the track is free outbound. Scheduling is, of course, more complicated when the route or portions of the route are single tracked.

Are the "regularly scheduled" trains to Concord, Fitchburg, etc. equally punctual as the "randomly scheduled" trains to Lowell, Haverhill, etc?
  by octr202
 
Keolis has been pushing towards clock-face headways where possible in the wake of the pandemic. This is part of a push to switch to more regularly scheduled, all day service, versus service focused mainly around the 8-4 or 9-5 downtown worker. I haven't perused all of the schedules, but Lowell and Fitchburg do have pretty regular hourly service on weekdays now.

Not all lines can support this type of service - it often depends on how much single track they have, and how much traffic from other railroads they also have to work around (Amtrak, CSX/Pan Am, etc). The Haverhill Line will probably always be a bit inconsistent until phases of the double tracking which aren't even funded or planned yet (like Ballardvale and Andover stations) get done.
  by mbrproductions
 
Would double tracking that section be a worthy investment? Or is it good/adequate with the single track section remaining?
  by charlesriverbranch
 
octr202 wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 8:23 am The Haverhill Line will probably always be a bit inconsistent until phases of the double tracking which aren't even funded or planned yet (like Ballardvale and Andover stations) get done.
What's the deal with Ballardville? Brand new track has been laid that just terminates on either side of the station, and no work has been done in at least two years. I don't get it.
  by charlesriverbranch
 
The Needham line has hourly service on weekdays, and it is all single track with passing sidings near Needham Junction and West Roxbury.
  by octr202
 
charlesriverbranch wrote: Wed Aug 03, 2022 9:19 am
What's the deal with Ballardville? Brand new track has been laid that just terminates on either side of the station, and no work has been done in at least two years. I don't get it.
If they simply re-lay the former second track, the existing platforms at Ballardvale and Andover will be on opposite tracks. Andover's platform will be on the inbound track, Ballardvale outbound. So, restoring this track will require building out second platforms at each station which gets into serious money territory.

IIRC there was a plan for a redevelopment of the Andover DPW yard (next to the station) which would have partially funded the second platform there, but that project got NIMBYed to death by town politics.
  by mbrproductions
 
You're telling me that NIMBYs opposed building nothing more than a second platform for an already existing station?
My godness, thank god NIMBYs get ignored nowadays whenever they try to stop good projects, its about time, because if they could, they would suppress any and all positive changes in infrastructure.
  by octr202
 
No, the mixed-use redevelopment at the Andover DPW site was NIMBYed to death. The plans were for the private developer to pay for some or all of the station expansion, since it would be right next to it. No reason the T couldn't do it themselves, but they'd have to pay for it themselves now.
  by CRail
 
BandA wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 3:53 pm The Fitchburg Line has few or no freight customers with regular service, at least east of Fitchburg. All double-track except downtown Waltham
What!? West of Littleton there is a ton of freight traffic!
  by Lincoln78
 
Fitchburg Line: Doesn't the MBTA own Willows to Wachusett? I suspect they can keep the freight out of their way (also easier with hourly frequencies).

I wrote the T a few months ago - not sure why the meetup is scheduled between Concord and West Concord when the two stops west of W. Concord (S. Acton and Littleton/495) have means for two-way access without requiring people to cross the track. Back in the "express to S. Acton days' I saw the outbound express have to hold at Concord until the inbound completed its pickup a few times. .

IMHO Fitchburg line is pretty simple -double track except Waltham and as noted minimal freight until Willows. The former Veryfine in Littleton is receiving cars.

Lowell: IMHO also pretty simple. Minimal freight and two tracks - however there are Downeasters and some Haverhill line trains joining via the Wildcat.

Havehill - complicated. Single track near Boston. Downeasters join/exit at Wildcat and freight joins at Lowell Junction. The single track Ballardvale stretch gets a serious workout.
  by sery2831
 
Lincoln78 wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 4:32 pm Fitchburg Line: Doesn't the MBTA own Willows to Wachusett? I suspect they can keep the freight out of their way (also easier with hourly frequencies).

I wrote the T a few months ago - not sure why the meetup is scheduled between Concord and West Concord when the two stops west of W. Concord (S. Acton and Littleton/495) have means for two-way access without requiring people to cross the track. Back in the "express to S. Acton days' I saw the outbound express have to hold at Concord until the inbound completed its pickup a few times. .

IMHO Fitchburg line is pretty simple -double track except Waltham and as noted minimal freight until Willows. The former Veryfine in Littleton is receiving cars.

The meets and gaps are designed to give freight trains AND track patrols windows for track time. This offers more reliable service allowing for less single track operations where meets are scheduled.

Also the T owns to Fitchburg only. And the T does not have dispatching Willows to Wachusett.