DOWNEASTER through reservations now possible

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Superliner Diner

Conductor
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Finally, after the Downeaster has been in business for 14 months, comes the news that you can now book a reservation to or from Downeaster points from the rest of the Amtrak system. The problem was that the computers could not figure out the gap between the two Boston stations served by the Northeast Corridor & Lake Shore Limited (Back Bay and South Stations) and North Station.

The solution is the issuance of a worthless "Self-Transfer" ticket, which has its own run number much like a Thruway bus. This ticket bridges the gap between Back Bay (not South!) Station and North Station. It probably tells the user to take the MBTA Orange Line, which runs between those two points. Amtrak passengers still have to pay the $1 fare to ride the subway. Amtrak and NARP are negotiating with the "T" to allow this ticket to be accepted as fare on the subway.

For example, if I put into the reservations system a trip from New York Penn Station (NYP) to Portland, ME (POR), it now lets me do it. The first such trip it shows has me on Acela Regional 190 from New York to Back Bay Station, then 2683 from Back Bay to North Station, and then Downeaster 683 from North Station to Portland. The 2683 represents the worthless transfer. At least the public is now able to book a trip that until now had to be split up into separate reservations. Hopefully that transfer ticket has ample instructions on how to get from one station to the other, so that people are not looking for a bus or a connecting Amtrak train.
 

EmpireBuilderFan

Lead Service Attendant
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Aug 24, 2002
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Hopefully, there will be enough demand for a connection between the NEC and the Downeaster that Amtrak decides to replace the dummy 2683 connection with a Thruway bus connection. A better plan, of course, would be to build an actual rail connection between Boston North and Boston South, and have the Downeaster stop at both, but that takes money that Amtrak doesn't have and Massachusetts probably won't be willing to spend.
 

Viewliner

Conductor
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EmpireBuilderFan said:
Hopefully, there will be enough demand for a connection between the NEC and the Downeaster that Amtrak decides to replace the dummy 2683 connection with a Thruway bus connection. A better plan, of course, would be to build an actual rail connection between Boston North and Boston South, and have the Downeaster stop at both, but that takes money that Amtrak doesn't have and Massachusetts probably won't be willing to spend.
...despite the large cost of the big dig...

As practical as the connection would be, It isn't going to happen. At least its nice to see some sort of connection.
 

Amfleet

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Aug 24, 2002
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Never say never. If a proposal ever goes through for rail service to New Hampshire and extended service into Maine, the conection may be possible and needed. Also, the cost of the Big Dig is coming mostly fedral money, not state.

Building the rail tunnel may not be as big of a problem as the plan is to tear down the existing central artery where the connection could be layed in it's place.
 

Superliner Diner

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Amfleet said:
Never say never. If a proposal ever goes through for rail service to New Hampshire and extended service into Maine, the conection may be possible and needed. Also, the cost of the Big Dig is coming mostly fedral money, not state.
Building the rail tunnel may not be as big of a problem as the plan is to tear down the existing central artery where the connection could be layed in it's place.
Amfleet,

I don't think anyone in Boston will go for a surface-level rail line. The promise before and during all these years of mess was that there would be a linear park built on the surface, to replace the elevated roadway. That suggests unimpeded access to the site from all directions, a place people can hang out, bring their kids to play, etc., as the traffic runs on the new depressed artery beneath the surface.

If anything, a North Station-South Station rail link would be built one level below the depressed roadway. As the new road nears completion, I hope that provisions were made to incorporate a rail line beneath the road. I'm not sure how difficult it would be to build a rail line that deep underground with the highway already below the surface. The plans I have seen would include a deep-underground "Central Station" in the vicinity of the Blue Line Aquarium station, to serve that area and offer rapid transit transfers and another possible connection for Logan Airport. Doing this would take away from some of the current surface trackage from both North and South stations, as the depressed trackage would stop underground under each station and then rise to the surface beyond the station.

But following the model of a suburban rail tunnel in Philadelphia, through operations would mean less congestion in both stations, with fewer trains stored on the station tracks. Many new markets would be opened up, both MBTA commuter routes, and through operations that would mesh with the DOWNEASTER and other possible intercity lines north of Boston.
 

Amfleet

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That's what I meant, build it below the new park, but above the new vehicle tunnel. There is already the existing central artery tunnel which is going to be filled in anyway.
 

battalion51

Conductor
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Aug 23, 2002
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Well couldn't the connection be run on the Orange Line with the Downeaster running to Back Bay?
 

Amfleet

Conductor
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Well you can't run a regular train in a subway tunnel, there's not enough room. Now you would need a map of the entire "underworld" of Boston to see if building a rail tunnel next to the orange line would be possible. Even so, Back Bay would most likely have to be expanded and that can't be done since the tracks run bellow street level with roadway on either side (a.k.a. a tunnel without the roof). Right now one can't even picture the connection with the Big Dig mess going on.
 
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