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Old 11-22-2013, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
5,944 posts, read 6,740,447 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
The Fairmount / Indigo line was a branch line of the Old Colony Railroad. Until some point in history--don't know when--it provided commuter service for Dorchester residents into Boston. Then it became a little-used freight line. In the 1980s during the Southwest Corridor construction it was upgraded so that Amtrak passenger trains could use it while the mainline through Roxbury and the South End was rebuilt. When Amtrak returned to the mainline, the T Commuter Rail started running limited passenger service on the Fairmont. The route runs through Uphams Corner and then southwesterly between Washington St (Dorchester) and Blue Hill Ave, stopping at Mattapan, Hyde Park, and a few other places.

What people in those areas could really use is what Newton and Brookline got, over 50 years ago, from a very similar situation-- a little-used branch line of the Boston & Albany RR. When the railroad terminated passenger service in 1958, the MTA acquired the line and turned it into the D-Riverside division of the green line. Instead of an infrequent commuter train you have regular light-rail service that connects into the subway system. The difference between the two is that Fairmont serves poor neighborhoods whose residents haven't got the clout that affluent Newton and Brookline folks have. Also the logistics of connecting the Fairmont to the subway system aren't nearly as easy as they were for the Highland Branch, and the state's resources aren't what they were then. Unable to afford the costs of making it a regular T line like Riverside, they keep it going as a commuter rail line that isn't all that useful to neighborhoods along the way.
I wonder if the city isn't putting budget into this because they see this as a tool for these areas eventually gentrifying?
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:00 AM
 
1,097 posts, read 1,404,256 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
The difference between the two is that Fairmont serves poor neighborhoods whose residents haven't got the clout that affluent Newton and Brookline folks have.
That isn't the reason. It might be a contributing factor, but it isn't the main reason.

The crucial difference here, is that the Fairmount line is used for overflow from the NEC/CR and is the only freight route into the port (unused for that at the moment, but planned to become important and not something anyone is willing to give up). Both of those are going to remain uses of the line.

Typical LRV's do not meet safety standards for operating with heavy trains. Typical Subway/Rapid transit cars are also not allowed to be operated with heavy trains. If it were just freight, they can split time (meaning only one or the other is ever operating, not both), but the Commuter Rail traffic means that isn't an option.

So in short, typical LRV's (green line cars, or NJT Riverline for a diesel example) and typical Subway cars are both banned from the Fairmount Line and always will be.

So they need FRA-compliant (US basically has tougher/stranger regulations than the rest of the world, no one makes cars that are legal for use in the US) DMUs which are a form of railcar that basically doesn't exist in the US at the moment. The market is starting up (as the MBTA isn't the only one with plans) and designs are starting to come out, but there's basically nothing to even buy.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:19 AM
 
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What is a DMU?
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:29 AM
 
1,097 posts, read 1,404,256 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdLincoln86 View Post
What is a DMU?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_multiple_unit

They're self-powered cars. They can be run individually (or in a pair/whatever) or combined together. So you don't need a separate locomotive, they start up and stop faster than a conventional train, etc.

They're what the plan is for the Fairmount Line in the end (and the governor just announced something to that effect), and almost certainly is eventually coming to some other areas like the Framingham/Worcester line (to serve new stops added inside of Newtonville, the first of which is going to be New Brighton Landing/New Balance).

Basically, they're exactly what you need for Fairmount, or any other similar operation, which you want to be like rapid transit in terms of frequency and functionality. Just right now, US-legal ones are in their infancy. (they're a proven technology elsewhere in the world, just previously mentioned regulations mean companies have to design new ones for here).
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:32 PM
 
1,690 posts, read 3,210,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millerm277 View Post
That isn't the reason. It might be a contributing factor, but it isn't the main reason.

The crucial difference here, is that the Fairmount line is used for overflow from the NEC/CR and is the only freight route into the port (unused for that at the moment, but planned to become important and not something anyone is willing to give up). Both of those are going to remain uses of the line.
Thank you for the inside scoop, millerm277. That makes a lot of sense. Also, I see that the Fairmont line was not Old Colony but the Midland Division of the Boston & Providence RR, later a subsidiary of the New Haven (in case the provenance makes a difference to anyone.)

Last edited by missionhill; 11-22-2013 at 01:06 PM..
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:32 AM
 
Location: New England
623 posts, read 796,064 times
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Back in the pre-MBTA commuter days, there were self-propelled diesel passenger cars, the old Budd RDC's:
http://www.railpictures.net/images/d...1206306000.jpg

They could run singly or as a train. There are still a couple sitting derelict outside North Station (and why is that eyesore not cleared up?) and another one that's had its appearance restored, at the Bedford depot.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Boston, MA
1,684 posts, read 3,204,770 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amontillado View Post
Back in the pre-MBTA commuter days, there were self-propelled diesel passenger cars, the old Budd RDC's:
http://www.railpictures.net/images/d...1206306000.jpg

They could run singly or as a train. There are still a couple sitting derelict outside North Station (and why is that eyesore not cleared up?) and another one that's had its appearance restored, at the Bedford depot.
RDCs fell out of popularity probably because it takes just as much work to service/repair one as an ordinary locomotive. Of course systems around the country didn't realize it costs more for an ordinary locomotive to drag more cars along at the same speed as a DMU until recently.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:36 AM
 
1,690 posts, read 3,210,291 times
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I remember the "Buddliners" on the B&M routes out of North Station. But not fondly Now, if they electrified the Indigo you could have good service with self-propelled electric cars, like all the subway and green line cars. Clean, no exhaust, quick acceleration...
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