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East-West Passenger Rail, MassDOT

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Palmetto

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I think that Springfield will probably be the western terminus of frequent intra-state passenger rail service in Massachusetts. Springfield is the Commonwealth's third largest city. The first thing that needs to be done is put back the second track east of Springfield and west of Worcester and add a few universal crossovers. I cannot remember the number of miles, but it's in the area of 35 to 40 miles, give or take. MassDot has had that on their radar, but it seems not to be a very big blip.

Once you have the cooperation of CSX [quite a big "if"], and the double track, more frequencies can be put into the schedule for commuters, Amtrak can run the Inland Route if it desires, and the planned service between Boston and Montreal can begin when there is equipment available.

Going west from Springfield, there are only two towns between it and Pittsfield: Westfield, and Chester. But you have the long, slow climb over the Berkshires, and that could be the show stopper for any relatively quick passenger rail service between Pittsfield and Springfield. Some have suggested a bus connection, and at least now, I agree with that.

From the article: “Pittsfield doesn’t have any facilities for a train,” said Turon. It appears, Mr. Turon is unfamiliar with Pittfield. There is a small yard to the east of the station, and there is just about nothing in it. Train equipment could be stored there, with the nod from CSX, of course.
 
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lordsigma

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I went to the meeting. Lots of support, but there is some concern that the state is sand bagging by overestimating costs and underestimating ridership. The governor vetoed the study twice before allowing it and it is known that he is very friendly with Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan bus who would see competition from such a service. However there were a lot of hard hitting questions. There are six alternatives ranging from a SPG - WOR shuttle connecting to current MBTA service to a fantasy land high speed rail built on a new corridor along the mass pike. 2 involves express service all the way in to Boston separate from MBTA, 3 is the same but extends service to PIT. Alternatives 1-3 involve double tracking and improvements to the existing CSX line. Alternative 4 involves the same improvements west of SPG as 3, but builds a completely separate passenger track setup East of Springfield on the current CSX property but set away from the freight tracks and would allow higher speeds. Alternative 5 is from Springfield only and takes 4 and adds some straightening out of curves in some spots which would involve the new passenger alignment leaving the CSX right of way in spots and rejoining it. Alt 6 is the high speed corridor that would be along the mass pike out to Lee and then use an existing. rail right of way from Lee to Pittsfield. All the alternatives can be viewed on that link above.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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If your going west pass Springfield you don’t stop into the train gets to Albany-Rensselaer Station. Maintenance available, and connections available.

If you should go west after Springfield is a valid question. Do you want to serve Western Massachusetts, or not? That’s a political question.
 

west point

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I would suspect that if they get a guarantee of two main tracks Worchester - Springfield. Better still sell the route to MASS DOT eliminating property taxes and getting a tax infusion to pass on to share holders they would be willing.
 

Palmetto

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I would suspect that if they get a guarantee of two main tracks Worchester - Springfield. Better still sell the route to MASS DOT eliminating property taxes and getting a tax infusion to pass on to share holders they would be willing.
A good part of the line is already 2MT: single iron is CP45 [west of Worcester] to CP79 [east of Palmer]. then CP83 over to CP92. Springfield is at MP 98 or so. Going west Springfield to Pittsfield, there's one stretch of single track between CP109 and CP123. There was a plan to double CP45 to CP92
 

west point

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So approximately 43 miles to double to Springfield. $ 3 - 4 M = ~$150M + 5 full CPs @ 1.5 each . $160M + Any Bridges + Any crossings ?.
 

neroden

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It was definitely sandbagged. The costs are out of line with other projects. The ridership estimates are lower than on projects which go through places with less population. And they specifically pretended that there will be no transfers from the Vermonter / Northampton / Greenfield service to East-West Rail, which is obvious and ridiculous. They need to be forced to do the study properly, and whoever did the study needs to NOT BE PAID for a clearly bogus study.
 

lordsigma

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It was definitely sandbagged. The costs are out of line with other projects. The ridership estimates are lower than on projects which go through places with less population. And they specifically pretended that there will be no transfers from the Vermonter / Northampton / Greenfield service to East-West Rail, which is obvious and ridiculous. They need to be forced to do the study properly, and whoever did the study needs to NOT BE PAID for a clearly bogus study.
They also assumed very few transfers from Connecticut where I would imagine you’d get quite a few transfers from Hartford to Boston.
 

lordsigma

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MassDOT should monitor Amtrak’s proposal for a new corridor grant. While I think whatever proposals they put forward to gut long distance trains will be rejected, the additional corridor development grant could get some traction in Congress. If Amtrak gained such funding to help get states going on some of these corridors by covering some of the upfront and initial operating costs, this is a project that could be submitted for consideration - I personally would include some Albany - Boston trains and reinstating some New Haven - Boston service. This is probably more realistic as an Amtrak service - Pittsfield and Springfield to Boston is a long distance to operate as a commuter service and this would probably get just as many leisure trips as commuters (if not more) and so an intercity Amtrak service is probably more appropriate. An Amtrak service would be more sustainable if it extended to Albany to allow for connections to the Empire Corridor as well as Albany - Boston travel.
 

west point

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I feel that New Haven - Springfield - Boston service is important to be in operation. There will be times that the shore line is impacted by weather or a major draw bridge failure, Or in the future there will be some closures for bridge replacements. There needs to be an alternate routes for NYP - BOS and intermediate stations passengers to travel by train. Do recognize at present that enroute times are longer but still there are already some improvements and more will happen.

There might even bee Acela-2 service as they can be towed now at 40 MPH and probably faster in the future.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I feel that New Haven - Springfield - Boston service is important to be in operation. There will be times that the shore line is impacted by weather or a major draw bridge failure, Or in the future there will be some closures for bridge replacements. There needs to be an alternate routes for NYP - BOS and intermediate stations passengers to travel by train. Do recognize at present that enroute times are longer but still there are already some improvements and more will happen.

There might even bee Acela-2 service as they can be towed now at 40 MPH and probably faster in the future.
Why would they want to run an Acela in regular non-electric service? Once they are done with the testing, the nose couplers will be covered, so towing will not be so easy. Besides, it would be a waste to tow a 150+ MPH trainset unpowered at 40 MPH. Also, the Acela can not use low-level platforms, some of which are still in service on that line.
 

MARC Rider

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Why would they want to run an Acela in regular non-electric service? Once they are done with the testing, the nose couplers will be covered, so towing will not be so easy. Besides, it would be a waste to tow a 150+ MPH trainset unpowered at 40 MPH. Also, the Acela can not use low-level platforms, some of which are still in service on that line.
I don't think the previous poster was referring to Acela service. I think the idea is that Northeast Regional trains would have an alternate route to Boston via Springfield. Amtrak, in fact, used to have such service. Northeast Regional trains can be hauled by diesels, in fact, they do so between Washington and Richmond, and prior to 2000 Regional trains were hauled by diesels on the Shore Line between New Haven and Boston.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I don't think the previous poster was referring to Acela service. I think the idea is that Northeast Regional trains would have an alternate route to Boston via Springfield. Amtrak, in fact, used to have such service. Northeast Regional trains can be hauled by diesels, in fact, they do so between Washington and Richmond, and prior to 2000 Regional trains were hauled by diesels on the Shore Line between New Haven and Boston.
It appears the quote cut off, but he specifically mentioned operating Acela IIs on the line. I agree that a few NERs would make sense, especially those that already run to Springfield.
 

NES28

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For rail service to Springfield to be competitive with auto a new alignment must be constructed from the west side of Worcester to just short of Palmer to shorten the route avoiding the long route through the Brookfields built in the 1830s to minimize the grades. These don't affect modern passenger trains, especially if they are electrified. A fringe benefit would be that a shortcut to Hartford parallel to I-84 could branch off at Sturbridge, creating an inland route to New York that could be faster than the Shoreline. This was an alternative seriously considered in the NEC Future study. The short inland route in the area of the CT-RI border was selected instead. That now seems infeasible due to local opposition. Worcester and Framingham would benefit from this faster route to New York and Hartford would gain more NEC trains.
 

west point

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My proposal was just about temporary service not any thing else.

My points were not meant for any Acela-2 regular service. There is always the definite possibility that the shore line will be closed temporally due to weather , bridge failures , high tides, or other reasons. Then and only then if the passengers on the shore line cannot be taken the temporary towing the Acela-2s thru Springfield may be warranted.

By the way the 40 MPH I listed is the MAX speed FRA allowed for the -2 ferry to the test track. The max towed FRA speed finally allowed after testing at Pueblo may be much higher. That max speed number will of course establish if towing the -2s is revenue feasible. There certainly will not be enough regionals to cover any shut down of the shore line. Locos may be a problem as well. Electrification NHV - SPG is probably too far in future.

The service NHV - SPG - BOS does need service anyway so Amtrak crews will be qualified on both routes.
 

lordsigma

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Why would they want to run an Acela in regular non-electric service? Once they are done with the testing, the nose couplers will be covered, so towing will not be so easy. Besides, it would be a waste to tow a 150+ MPH trainset unpowered at 40 MPH. Also, the Acela can not use low-level platforms, some of which are still in service on that line.
In a couple years the only remaining low level platform on the SPG line will be track 8 at Springfield. Windsor is scheduled to get small high level platforms with construction starting this summer I believe and a completely new and relocated station for Windsor Locks is in the design phases. Springfield just opened up a high level island platform between tracks 4 and 6 that now sees most of the trains. Due to Springfield’s status as a turnaround station where equipment is stored when not in use, some trains depart from the old low level platform on track 8 when the equipment is stored on that track. (The lake shore also uses a low level platform that is on the CSX mainline)
 

jis

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My proposal was just about temporary service not any thing else.

My points were not meant for any Acela-2 regular service. There is always the definite possibility that the shore line will be closed temporally due to weather , bridge failures , high tides, or other reasons. Then and only then if the passengers on the shore line cannot be taken the temporary towing the Acela-2s thru Springfield may be warranted.
Why wouldn't you simply use Regional sets if they must be diesel hauled on the inland route? Why go through the trouble of using Acela 2 sets when other more easily done alternatives are available?
 

west point

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Why wouldn't you simply use Regional sets if they must be diesel hauled on the inland route? Why go through the trouble of using Acela 2 sets when other more easily done alternatives are available?
Just where are you going to find enough train sets to use Regionals ? At present there are 10 Acela-1 round trips and 9 regional round trips. Can we estimate that it will take at least 5 complete regional train sets to cover NYP <> BOS by the inland route ? 8 car regionals = 40 cars . + 16 locos that would be needed anyway if towing Acelas.

Once enough Siemens cars in service transferring the cars Siemens replaces might work ?
 

jis

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There is almost zero chance that you will maintain even a third of the service frequency over the inland route, so the question is entirely moot about finding enough sets. You will simply cancel all the Acela service and run the Regional service the best you can. That is what will happen. Where will you find all those additional diesel engines anyway?
 

lordsigma

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There is almost zero chance that you will maintain even a third of the service frequency over the inland route, so the question is entirely moot about finding enough sets. You will simply cancel all the Acela service and run the Regional service the best you can. That is what will happen. Where will you find all those additional diesel engines anyway?
Very true the best we will get out of the inland route is double track from New Haven to Worcester with some triple tracking on the MBTA portion East of Worcester. With that capacity and all the CSX freight and MBTA commuter traffic you are not running anywhere near full service from NYP - Boston. You’d probably see them replacing whatever Springfield to Boston corridor trains start up with full fledged northeast regionals in the same time slots.
 

west point

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All the above is true. My concern is that for the foreseeable future the regionals and Acelas are limited in length due the restrictions of length at the servicing facilities at South Hampton yard. Now if the 39 train per day limit on Amtrak on the shore line is lifted cause of this limited length then what ? The trains are now almost always nearly full so the push may come soon to up the number of shore line trains. The biggest problem getting more Amtrak trains is the months that the various MNRR draw bridge replacements in CT will funnel all trains down to 3 main tracks and just 2 for shorter times.

BTW It may be Amtrak is not prepared to add more trains on the shore line or thru Springfield until the needed Siemens "Brightline type" cars are entered into service. Also more chargers.
 
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