The North South Connect

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Isn't shoreline east a diesel operation (though I know GCT direct trains are supposedly coming). MARC is using fewer and fewer electric locos it seems. I think once the HHP-8s are gone they're going to just be 100% diesel too.
You’re misreading my point.
All of the commuter railroads on the NEC have at least some of their routes electrified. The MBTA is the only one that has exclusively diesel operation, despite some of their routes having fully electrified tracks.
 
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west point

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MARC will always need electric to maintain separation from Amtrak. Fastest commuter operation in the USA ( 125 MPH). Of course MARC could 4ake line from north of Baltimore 4 main tracks then would only need slower trains, Got a few Billions ?
 
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MARC will always need electric to maintain separation from Amtrak. Fastest commuter operation in the USA ( 125 MPH). Of course MARC could 4ake line from north of Baltimore 4 main tracks then would only need slower trains, Got a few Billions ?

Amtrak will be retiring their ACS-64s well before their useful life ends.

I believe that this will replace any aging locomotives MARC has, and perhaps will be some of the first electric locomotives in the MBTA fleet.

In fact, MBTA officials have been touring the Stadler factory to observe the same EMU’s that Caltrain is purchasing. My personal hope is that they have a mix of both ACS-64s and EMU’s in the fleet. EMU’s have significantly faster acceleration speeds, and therefore would have an easier time on the NEC. If they can manage to electrify other routes like the Worcester Line, the ACS-64’s would be better utilized there.
 

Danib62

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I would love to see them electrify the Fairmount line and run EMUs on that before bothering with the Worcester line. I wonder if they'd be able to get amtrak to kick in toward the Fairmount line as it would provide them some redundancy and flexibility if there were ever issues on the Southwest Corridor.
 

west point

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IMO EMUs are better for MBTA as many platforms at south station are rather short limiting number of cars. No locos cannot be on some tracks beyond platforms as some train platforms have turnouts just beyond the end of some platforms .
 
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IMO EMUs are better for MBTA as many platforms at south station are rather short limiting number of cars. No locos cannot be on some tracks beyond platforms as some train platforms have turnouts just beyond the end of some platforms .

Agreed. Indeed one of the most shortsighted moves of the South station expansion is the apparently “necessary” shortening of the platforms. New Acela trains are already longer, and it would be good to run more cars on consists in general.

Double decker EMU’s would be great, so long as doors could be designed in such a way that allow for fast boarding and exiting.
 

neroden

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Personally, I don’t see the NS connect being a reasonable or wise choice for the money available (even with a possible cash infusion).

Right now, the MBTA is the only transportation entity on the NEC which has none of its routes running electric.

However much money could be spent on a connector, or GJR or any of the options people have said, it would be best to spend any number of billions of $$$ on electrification and new rolling stock.

OK, yes, like I just said -- but to make it clearer -- absolutely nobody is proposing a tunnel with diesel ventilation. N-S Rail Link *requires* that the entire system be electrifed first, because *only* electric trains will be able to travel through it. Presumably with new rolling stock. So that must happen first. At the moment, one major focus of Boston's TransitMatters advocacy group is making sure the electrification happens. (Other focuses of theirs are getting clockface 15-minute service in inner areas and clockface 30-minute service in outer areas, and high platforms everywhere.)

That alone would transform the commuter rail, and maybe even help Amtrak or any future intercity train. Then, expansion of South Station to accommodate more Acelas, and NER (especially when the new fleets arrive) would also be nice.

Sure, once you've electrified the entire system, expand it by digging the N-S Rail Link, which will add underground through platforms and therefore massive capacity. Cheaper in the long run than adding more terminating-reversing platforms next to South Station, and more effective, and frees up more land for urban development. The N-S Rail Link becomes the *final* step in the electrification program. And to be clear, it has to be last, because only electric trains can run through it.

There is already a plan in place to demolish the post office building next to South Station, and rebuild the 10 or so tracks and platforms that used to occupy the site.
Waste of money. Electrify, *which we agree on*, and then spend the money on N-S Rail Link. The whole picture looks different once you've electrified the system (it looks like SEPTA). N-S Rail Link should be thought of as the next step after electrification. Electrify *first*.
 
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OK, yes, like I just said -- but to make it clearer -- absolutely nobody is proposing a tunnel with diesel ventilation. N-S Rail Link *requires* that the entire system be electrifed first, because *only* electric trains will be able to travel through it. Presumably with new rolling stock. So that must happen first. At the moment, one major focus of Boston's TransitMatters advocacy group is making sure the electrification happens. (Other focuses of theirs are getting clockface 15-minute service in inner areas and clockface 30-minute service in outer areas, and high platforms everywhere.)



Sure, once you've electrified the entire system, expand it by digging the N-S Rail Link, which will add underground through platforms and therefore massive capacity. Cheaper in the long run than adding more terminating-reversing platforms next to South Station, and more effective, and frees up more land for urban development. The N-S Rail Link becomes the *final* step in the electrification program. And to be clear, it has to be last, because only electric trains can run through it.


Waste of money. Electrify, *which we agree on*, and then spend the money on N-S Rail Link. The whole picture looks different once you've electrified the system (it looks like SEPTA). N-S Rail Link should be thought of as the next step after electrification. Electrify *first*.

I don’t fully agree.
Couple of points:

Of course you aren’t proposing a tunnel with diesel locomotives. No where did I say that if you read my post carefully. You wouldn’t have to electrify the entire system to have a NS link. You could simply have dual mode locomotives, much like NYP. Given that this is the future of NEC Amtrak power, it certainly could make sense.

I’m well aware of Transit matters as I started volunteering for the group not long ago, so you aren’t exactly presenting news to me. I do live in Boston you know, so these things are on my radar more than most.

Cost overruns on the NS Link will be huge. To suggest that it will be the cheaper of options is wistful thinking in my opinion

In general, I think you’re missing my point.
At the moment, money is coming but political will in Boston is not an infinite resource, especially with the lowering of i90 and the Allston interchange project. To propose and break ground on a project nearly as big, complex and expensive as the Big Dig, not even 20 years later, will run the tank of public will low.

I figure, with the 10 billion or so that is potentially in the pot for rail projects, electrify the system, and acquire new rolling stock. That alone will eat up enough money, and transform the T. Electrification won’t be such an emotionally taxing, eye soar project, and it will bring huge dividends in terms of ridership and usefulness.

we can agree to disagree about adding terminus platforms to SS.
 
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neroden

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I figure, with the 10 billion or so that is potentially in the pot for rail projects, electrify the system, and acquire new rolling stock. That alone will eat up enough money, and transform the T. Electrification won’t be such an emotionally taxing, eye soar project, and it will bring huge dividends in terms of ridership and usefulness.

Well, since TransitMatters agrees with me that building a tunnel without electrifying, using dual-modes, would be a terrible choice and a bad use of money.... we can agree on this. Electrify NOW. We shouldn't be breaking ground on a tunnel, or on extra terminating platforms, until full electrification is committed.

(If there's some weird convenient opportunity to safeguard the future tunnel by acquiring land, for instance if a parcel in the right location next to the shared MassPike/Worcester Line corridor comes up for sale, sure, safeguard the route, but there's no point in even starting to dig a tunnel until full electrification is committed.)

I think the entire political picture will look different once electrification is nearing completion. I think the political will for rail projects will skyrocket as the ridership skyrockets and the convenience of the service skyrockets. So we don't have to decide about building a tunnel until then -- and we shouldn't decide until then. The North-South Rail Link should be much, much easier than the Big Dig because (a) it doesn't need much ventilation and (b) it's significantly narrower and smaller, but you're right that the public will perceive it as Big-Dig-like at this point. There is no point in starting it until the electrification is fully committed anyway.

we can agree to disagree about adding terminus platforms to SS.
Yes, let's spend the money on electrification instead.
 
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Well, since TransitMatters agrees with me that building a tunnel without electrifying, using dual-modes, would be a terrible choice and a bad use of money.... we can agree on this. Electrify NOW. We shouldn't be breaking ground on a tunnel, or on extra terminating platforms, until full electrification is committed.

(If there's some weird convenient opportunity to safeguard the future tunnel by acquiring land, for instance if a parcel in the right location next to the shared MassPike/Worcester Line corridor comes up for sale, sure, safeguard the route, but there's no point in even starting to dig a tunnel until full electrification is committed.)

I think the entire political picture will look different once electrification is nearing completion. I think the political will for rail projects will skyrocket as the ridership skyrockets and the convenience of the service skyrockets. So we don't have to decide about building a tunnel until then -- and we shouldn't decide until then. The North-South Rail Link should be much, much easier than the Big Dig because (a) it doesn't need much ventilation and (b) it's significantly narrower and smaller, but you're right that the public will perceive it as Big-Dig-like at this point. There is no point in starting it until the electrification is fully committed anyway.


Yes, let's spend the money on electrification instead.
We agree!
Electrification, in my opinion, should be the single most important goal of the MBTA Purple Line. Without electrification, there is no future in rail. The dinosaurs that we ride every day are really dampening the support for what could be one of the best rail systems in the country.

The MBTA could significantly cut commute times. By doing this, it will help get people out of their cars, which will help what is now the most congested city in the country. Its a real nightmare.
 

west point

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Usually electrification can mean fewer train sets needed for same number of passengers. That can mean longer trains for equipment spread to operating trains.
 
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Usually electrification can mean fewer train sets needed for same number of passengers. That can mean longer trains for equipment spread to operating trains.

While that’s true, South Station platforms at the moment are capped at an unusually short length, so MBTA train lengths probably won’t grow much beyond their usual 6 cars. With EMU’s however, you can have 15 minute frequencies, therefore voiding the need for longer trains.
 

Fenway

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Last I heard the post office has put on hold any move of the South Postal Annex. The N-S link should have been part of the Big Dig but ironically it was the Dukaslis administration that nixed it.

Massachusetts is taking a hard look at changing commuter patterns and the reality that downtown workers may never return to pre-pandemic levels.

The only plus for Amtrak is a N-S connector would allow direct service from Maine to the NEC but it would be cheaper to have a dedicated Amtrak bus shuttle between North and South stations that MBTA commuter rail passengers could use.

Using the Grand Junction RR might be revisited as the one Cambridge politician who was against it has retired but that really would not be a viable option for the NEC.

I am bemused that the city with the most Amtrak station is Boston with 3.
 

neroden

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In fact, MBTA officials have been touring the Stadler factory to observe the same EMU’s that Caltrain is purchasing. My personal hope is that they have a mix of both ACS-64s and EMU’s in the fleet. EMU’s have significantly faster acceleration speeds, and therefore would have an easier time on the NEC. If they can manage to electrify other routes like the Worcester Line, the ACS-64’s would be better utilized there.

Inner Worcester Line has a lot of closely spaced stations and tight curves; definitely needs EMUs. I actually strongly suspect that the medium-term approach will be to get EMUs for inner services and keep using diesels for outer-zone expresses.

They'll probably eventually get electric locomotives for outer-zone expresses, but the payback from electrification is lower for the outer zones.
 
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Inner Worcester Line has a lot of closely spaced stations and tight curves; definitely needs EMUs. I actually strongly suspect that the medium-term approach will be to get EMUs for inner services and keep using diesels for outer-zone expresses.

They'll probably eventually get electric locomotives for outer-zone expresses, but the payback from electrification is lower for the outer zones.
Word on the street is Providence Line will get electric locos or EMUs soon.
 

AFS1970

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I grew up visiting family in Boston and road the T (Before it had that nickname) but I am not all that familiar with some of the names of the rail lines and branches. I have made the transfer from south station to north station a couple of times, and I think what is missing in some of this discussion is how this will impact the passenger. Even if it is faster to take the T than it is to do two different Y maneuvers, it is far less impact and far more ease for the passenger to do this in a single train ride, especially if luggage is involved.

I am a little confused about the insistence that electrification has to happen before any sort of tunnel is built. I agree that electric trains are the future of rail travel and full electrification should be a workable goal, but even a tunnel designed for those trains will have some sort of shat access. Be it for maintenance or evacuation. So, in theory ventilation could be part of construction. If people are not talking about it, perhaps they should, as the tunnel project may well be DOA if it becomes prohibitively expensive to buy new rolling stock. A tunnel built for diesel can be used for electric, but the reverse is not true.
 
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I grew up visiting family in Boston and road the T (Before it had that nickname) but I am not all that familiar with some of the names of the rail lines and branches. I have made the transfer from south station to north station a couple of times, and I think what is missing in some of this discussion is how this will impact the passenger. Even if it is faster to take the T than it is to do two different Y maneuvers, it is far less impact and far more ease for the passenger to do this in a single train ride, especially if luggage is involved.

I am a little confused about the insistence that electrification has to happen before any sort of tunnel is built. I agree that electric trains are the future of rail travel and full electrification should be a workable goal, but even a tunnel designed for those trains will have some sort of shat access. Be it for maintenance or evacuation. So, in theory ventilation could be part of construction. If people are not talking about it, perhaps they should, as the tunnel project may well be DOA if it becomes prohibitively expensive to buy new rolling stock. A tunnel built for diesel can be used for electric, but the reverse is not true.
In theory you are right about it being possible, but it’s silly to suggest it to be the case. there is absolutely no way that non electric (must be at least hybrid) trains will run underground in this day and age (or for that matter, the last hundred years).

If you look at even partially underground stations like Cleveland Tower Union Terminal, they would do a complex switch of locomotives before they entered the station that ended up being so inconvenient that trains would bypass the otherwise beautiful and convenient station altogether on the road to Chicago.

fully underground stations like NYC stations electrified a hundred years ago and never looked back.

By no stretch of the imagination will they let full diesel locos into a possible underground Boston station.
 

NES28

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An important thing to keep in mind is that bi-mode trains, able to operate with or without wires, are now becoming regular production items. Note the recent Amtrak order for a large number of regional trains.
 
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An important thing to keep in mind is that bi-mode trains, able to operate with or without wires, are now becoming regular production items. Note the recent Amtrak order for a large number of regional trains.
Amtrak accounts for a very small percentage of the train operating out of South or North station.
 
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I am a little confused about the insistence that electrification has to happen before any sort of tunnel is built. I agree that electric trains are the future of rail travel and full electrification should be a workable goal, but even a tunnel designed for those trains will have some sort of shat access. Be it for maintenance or evacuation. So, in theory ventilation could be part of construction. If people are not talking about it, perhaps they should, as the tunnel project may well be DOA if it becomes prohibitively expensive to buy new rolling stock. A tunnel built for diesel can be used for electric, but the reverse is not true.
If you want to see what Diesels in a tunnel is like, check out Back Bay station in Boston sometime. 🤢
 

neroden

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I grew up visiting family in Boston and road the T (Before it had that nickname) but I am not all that familiar with some of the names of the rail lines and branches. I have made the transfer from south station to north station a couple of times, and I think what is missing in some of this discussion is how this will impact the passenger. Even if it is faster to take the T than it is to do two different Y maneuvers, it is far less impact and far more ease for the passenger to do this in a single train ride, especially if luggage is involved.

I am a little confused about the insistence that electrification has to happen before any sort of tunnel is built. I agree that electric trains are the future of rail travel and full electrification should be a workable goal, but even a tunnel designed for those trains will have some sort of shat access. Be it for maintenance or evacuation. So, in theory ventilation could be part of construction. If people are not talking about it, perhaps they should, as the tunnel project may well be DOA if it becomes prohibitively expensive to buy new rolling stock. A tunnel built for diesel can be used for electric, but the reverse is not true.
Soooo, the ventilation requirements for a diesel train tunnel are pretty massive. Lots and lots and lots and lots of ventilation shafts. And even then they end up not-so-great. See Back Bay Station (Worcester Line Platform), as AmtrakMaineiac mentioned, which is actually open to the air at one end and still has problematically bad air.

By contrast, the ventilation requirements for an electric train tunnel are much smaller. Very roughly speaking, much less than half as many ventilation shafts needed, and much smaller fan requirements.

So when you're digging under historic downtown Boston, cutting the number of shafts needed in half or more is a very big deal for constructability, construction time, cost, land acquisition, everything.

If you're considering adding ventilation for diesels to the tunnel, it would actually be cheaper just to electrify the system, and electrifying the system has a bunch of other benefits anyway. (Faster acceleration and deceleration, better air quality, cheaper operations.)

And yes, there are dual-modes so you could run diesel in the outskirts and electric in the center. Electric is much better for closely spaced stations.
 

west point

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Even if there i two tubes ventilation shafts are required every 800 feet so passengers can get to the surface especially if there is only one tunnels bore for 2 trcks.
 
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