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  #15221  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2021, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
^ Isnt this sort of an argument FOR a stylized cab car with a nose that contains crash absorption like most other bi-levels on the world market??
I would think so as well, and that's what MBTA, Caltrain, and SEPTA have started doing with their new procurements.

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Originally Posted by nomarandlee View Post
https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2021/01/19-metra-ceo-foresees-new-approach-to-scheduling-after-pandemic
The past couple of months have made me really hopeful for Metra's future after the pandemic. The agency said during budget meetings that they want to run frequent 22-minute service from Union Station to O'Hare once the A2 flyover is built, the board is considering off-peak fare pricing, they have implemented Fair Transit South Cook and are still negotiating with the CTA to include fare transfers, new coach car procurements that aren't gallery cars, and now they want to adopt regional rail frequencies.

It's possible that over the next decade Metra fully adopts the regional rail model and provides true rapid transit in the city, similar to Paris' RER, the London Overground and Thameslink, and Toronto's GO modernization
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  #15222  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2021, 10:49 PM
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hey have implemented Fair Transit South Cook
Yes, as I found out today when I took the train down to Hyde Park to go into lab for a bit. I'm surprised UChicago hasn't really announced anything about it, although we're still operating at greatly reduced capacity so maybe they don't want to talk too much about getting to campus...
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  #15223  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2021, 9:42 PM
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  #15224  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2021, 7:12 PM
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Street level renderings for the new Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn & Bryn Mawr stations:
https://www.transitchicago.com/rpm/whatsnew/

This is a pretty clean modern transit palette, nothing spectacular but the gridded rainscreen reminds me of a budget version of new metro stations in Hong Kong (https://goo.gl/maps/k9MtWndW4xPYDAkW7). And it'll probably be value-engineered down to a white glazed cement block, which I guess is okay.

They need to stop using those awful "neighborhood logos" though. It's better to evoke neighborhood character with materials and forms rather than use a concocted logo that will look awful and confusing in 10 years' time. The "Edge" logo on Berwyn is the worst offender here, it even overpowers CTA's own signage and logos.
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  #15225  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2021, 6:11 PM
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Disappointed to see them apparently using segmented box girders for the overpasses. I love continuous box girders, as in California freeway interchanges—but the segmented ones look cheap and ugly within a year.

I realize, though, that it's a staging issue. You don't want to close an east-west street for six weeks to put up falsework for poured-in-place box girders, and dropping in precast beams requires more vertical depth and probably also requires some sort of stringers to support the tracks. Surely there's a shallow precast T- or TT-beam that would work.
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  #15226  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2021, 8:53 PM
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They could do something fun and give the public something like this, but since its the cta that would be asking too much:


_


Seriously though, if you really wanted to you could spec those segmented cast girders to have a groove detail say every 6 inches or so and get that joint tolerance to match and it would look like one continuous structure. But that's all fussy and whatnot right? Proceed with the "who gives a shit it will only look like this for another hundred years" approach.
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  #15227  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2021, 9:42 PM
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Disappointed to see them apparently using segmented box girders for the overpasses. I love continuous box girders, as in California freeway interchanges—but the segmented ones look cheap and ugly within a year.

I realize, though, that it's a staging issue. You don't want to close an east-west street for six weeks to put up falsework for poured-in-place box girders, and dropping in precast beams requires more vertical depth and probably also requires some sort of stringers to support the tracks. Surely there's a shallow precast T- or TT-beam that would work.
Yeah the segmental ones can (and will) be installed using a moving gantry on the Red Line. This is important because the access to this corridor is tight - it's not practical to bring large cranes and huge beams down those little alleys for traditional steel or precast construction, and demolishing the existing gravity walls of the embankment to create more space is not cost-effective due to the sheer volume of concrete used back in 1920. As it is, they will need to laboriously chip out big sections at each pier location to drill caissons. This also means longer spans are preferable, since the cost of each pier is so high.

With a gantry they can demolish just a few hundred feet of the gravity walls (probably at the station locations) and create drop zones where the precast segments can be picked up by the gantry and then moved down along the corridor to where they are needed.

https://www.transitchicago.com/asset...n_Drawings.pdf
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  #15228  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 7:06 PM
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I haven'y looked specifically at the COVID relief bill that's with the Senate right now, but I believe I've heard of earmarks for certain transit projects, such as the BART extension to San Jose/Santa Clara here in the Bay Area. Or maybe it's intended for the next big bill that President Biden wants Congress to take up, the infrastructure bill? Anyway, I was curious if there are any Chicago transit projects either slated for an earmark in the current COVID relief bill or would have a good chance for funding in a future infrastructure bill? (of course the specifics of the bill make a difference... plus CTA is presumably just trying to survive at the moment after a year of depressed ridership)

Seems like the red line south extension would be highest on the list of possibilities for significant funding? Is there any push right now for the orange line extension to Ford City Mall? I have long been a fan of extending the brown line under Lawrence Ave from Kimball to at least Jefferson Park (and perhaps from there to O'Hare). High capacity transit connecting Union Station/Ogilvie and Mag Mile/Streeterville (e.g. this)? Should the CTA focus efforts on required studies, environmental impact reports, etc. right now in hopes of advancing them forward with any infrastructure funding that becomes available over the next few years?
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  #15229  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 7:34 PM
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I haven'y looked specifically at the COVID relief bill that's with the Senate right now, but I believe I've heard of earmarks for certain transit projects, such as the BART extension to San Jose/Santa Clara here in the Bay Area.

Removed just this week thanks to Repub outcry, e.g. "Pelosi's Subway"... Probably wasn't the smartest move to try to slip it in there even if it could be justified as econ relief because any infrastructure project can be justified as a "jobs program" - much in the same way that the Repub's claim the Keystone pipe was some enormous lost jobs opportunity. Specifically with the BART extension, it really makes little difference though as the funding will just be in the infra bill later this year, which Repub's won't vote for either because... they love America so hard???


This probably should be in the SFBA transport thread...
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  #15230  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 7:45 PM
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Seems like the red line south extension would be highest on the list of possibilities for significant funding? Is there any push right now for the orange line extension to Ford City Mall? I have long been a fan of extending the brown line under Lawrence Ave from Kimball to at least Jefferson Park (and perhaps from there to O'Hare). High capacity transit connecting Union Station/Ogilvie and Mag Mile/Streeterville (e.g. this)? Should the CTA focus efforts on required studies, environmental impact reports, etc. right now in hopes of advancing them forward with any infrastructure funding that becomes available over the next few years?
Those are all worthy projects. But their prioritizing requires vision on the part of the Cta, something I've never been totally convinced of. I would be willing to bet the Brown Lawrence subway/O'Hare extension isn't even something that Cta planners have hanging on their office wall. Pity, but probably true. The Cta (or City Hall, whatever is most effective) desperately needs a Robert Moses type of figure to plan and deliver on radical transportation improvements focused on but not limited to transit. So much potential to create S-bahn style service on some Metra lines, through running, Cta Mid-City, Brown ext, Gray Line, Circle Line, Clinton subway, Light Rail (yes, light rail on some high ridership bus routes if the street can accommodate dedicated lanes), Carroll St LRT, Metra electrification, et al.
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  #15231  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 8:20 PM
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Anyway, I was curious if there are any Chicago transit projects either slated for an earmark in the current COVID relief bill or would have a good chance for funding in a future infrastructure bill? (of course the specifics of the bill make a difference... plus CTA is presumably just trying to survive at the moment after a year of depressed ridership)
The funding in the Covid bill is only going to projects that have received an FFGA* - essentially these are projects that are all underway or about to start. Meaning, all the planning work has been done, all the engineering has been completed, and FTA has issued a formal green light. The funding in the bill is covering the local match portion - basically it is the Federal government agreeing to fund a larger portion of the total cost than they otherwise would, freeing up valuable state/local money for other purposes.

The only FFGA project that Chicago has right now is the RPM project on the North Side. Everything else is too undeveloped. The rub there is that the local portion of RPM is funded by a dedicated transit TIF. I think legally those funds can't be used for anything else.

The upcoming transportation bill is more open-ended and could potentially benefit Chicago projects. However, our city will be harmed by the fact that we really don't have anything queued up. The cities that have been most successful with expansions of transit or roads are the ones who have developed plans ready to dust off, which in turn requires a dedicated source of funding for planning/engineering and politicians who will go to bat for transit. A dotted line on a map doesn't cut it.

Here's a few projects that we should expect to move forward. This is already a large and very costly list, so I wouldn't expect to see any big surprises.
  • Union Station revamp would potentially be on tap, but Metra and Amtrak's ongoing blood feud has kept the planning for that project from progressing for several years now. On the plus side, a transit TIF has also been authorized for this project so there is a good source for the local match, but the TIF still needs to be formally created by City Council.
  • Red Line extension has engineering underway and could potentially get an FFGA in 18-24 months' time. If FTA changes their standards to focus more funding on disadvantaged communities like Sec. Buttigieg has promised, it makes this project more competitive than yet another light rail project in Texas or Arizona. A transit TIF is also authorized for this, but the revenues are limited since we're talking about South Side real estate.
  • Congress Branch rebuild. The Forest Park branch of the Blue Line has been crumbling for years - it's older than the Red Line's Dan Ryan branch but has never been rebuilt. Slow zones on this line are endemic. The stations are also woefully out of date, uninviting, and not ADA-accessible. A transit TIF is also authorized for this, but the revenues are limited since we're talking about West Side real estate and I believe Oak Park/Forest Park/Berwyn are not included.
  • Metra railcar replacement. The new car design was already announced but Federal funding could speed up the timeline to replace the old bilevels.
  • CREATE projects... only Phase I of the big 75th St project is funded, so we should expect funding for the later phases of this project which will bring Metra SWS trains into LaSalle St Station.
  • Eisenhower rebuild, Central-Mannheim. This was planned/designed extensively but IDOT basically gave up because the amount of Federal highway dollars coming in was not enough. Sec. Buttigieg is throwing cold water on the idea of expanding highway funding dramatically, especially casting doubt on expansions, but Congress will certainly have different ideas. This has been a big IDOT priority for a long time and they won't give up on it easily. Maybe if they're willing to seriously consider Oak Park's long-standing desire to cap the highway, this expansion might be more palatable to the Secretary.
  • North Lake Shore Drive. Planning for this is ongoing but the wish list is pretty extensive, from bus lanes to pedestrian bridges to new lakefill. On the other hand, this might be the kind of highway project that Buttigieg can get behind for all those reasons.

* = This was actually the wrinkle with the BART project because it was in a special fast-track program and didn't have an FFGA, so it had to be removed under the Senate rules for reconciliation.
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  #15232  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 9:37 PM
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Metra should have a pretty well baked set of proposals for an A2 bridge by now that could take money. They also could also use a pile of cash to buy more Chargers. Would like to see a Rock Island electrification too.
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  #15233  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 11:04 PM
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^ I don't think anything for A-2 is baked unfortunately and the Rock Island thing is just a wishlist item at this point.

However, one thing I'd like to see out of a "climate focused" transpo bill is a new funding stream for electrification covering both buses and rail transit (and ideally excluding any existing traction systems, except to extend electrification). The availability of funding will persuade legacy systems to electrify. Right now even the East Coast systems have given up on extending electrification. And since the money could also be used for buses, that lets Sunbelt cities get in the game too with battery bus systems or trolleybuses.

Caltrain managed to electrify, but this was under unique circumstances (US' strongest regional economy, the ancient promise to voters to send BART up the peninsula, etc). I don't see other US cities rushing to electrify unless something changes, like a new well-endowed Federal program...
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  #15234  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2021, 11:26 PM
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^ I don't think anything for A-2 is baked unfortunately
Haven't they been studying it since at least 2016? They've got to have SOME idea what they want to do.
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  #15235  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2021, 5:25 AM
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The funding in the Covid bill is only going to projects that have received an FFGA* - essentially these are projects that are all underway or about to start. Meaning, all the planning work has been done, all the engineering has been completed, and FTA has issued a formal green light. The funding in the bill is covering the local match portion - basically it is the Federal government agreeing to fund a larger portion of the total cost than they otherwise would, freeing up valuable state/local money for other purposes.

The only FFGA project that Chicago has right now is the RPM project on the North Side. Everything else is too undeveloped. The rub there is that the local portion of RPM is funded by a dedicated transit TIF. I think legally those funds can't be used for anything else.

The upcoming transportation bill is more open-ended and could potentially benefit Chicago projects. However, our city will be harmed by the fact that we really don't have anything queued up. The cities that have been most successful with expansions of transit or roads are the ones who have developed plans ready to dust off, which in turn requires a dedicated source of funding for planning/engineering and politicians who will go to bat for transit. A dotted line on a map doesn't cut it.
I think it is important to state what the FTA programs are and how projects proceed through the process to get Federal funding.
Per https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/.../about-program
Discretionary & Competitive Federal Grant Program
Roughly $2.3 billion appropriated each year
Funds light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects

Eligible Projects
New Starts
Total project cost is equal to or greater than $300 million or total New Starts funding sought equals or exceeds $100 million
New fixed guideway system (light rail, commuter rail etc.)
Extension to existing system
Fixed guideway BRT system
Small Starts
Total project cost is less than $300 million and total Small Starts funding sought is less than $100 million
New fixed guideway systems (light rail, commuter rail etc.)
Extension to existing system
Fixed guideway BRT system
Corridor-based BRT system
Core Capacity
Substantial corridor-based investment in existing fixed guideway system
Project must:
Be located in a corridor that is at or over capacity or will be in five years
Increase capacity by 10%
"not include project elements designated to maintain a state of good repair"

Approval Process
New Starts
1) FTA approval: Project Development
Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into the fiscally constrained long range transportation plan
2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Engineering
Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
Complete sufficient engineering and design
3) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Full Funding Grant Agreement
Construction
Small Starts
1) FTA Approval: Project Development
Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into fiscally constrained long range transportation plan
Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
Complete sufficient engineering and design
2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Construction Grant Agreement
Construction
Core Capacity
1) FTA Approval: Project Development
Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into the fiscally constrained long range transportation plan
2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Engineering
Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
Complete sufficient engineering and design
3) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Full Funding Grant Agreement
Construction

FAST Evaluation and Rating Criteria
New and Small Starts
Project Justification:
mobility
environmental benefits
congestion relief
economic development
cost effectiveness (cost per trip)
land use
Core Capacity
Same as New and Small Starts, except replace land use with capacity needs of the corridor
All
Local financial commitment:
acceptable degree of local financial commitment including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources

Funding Recommendations
FTA’s decision to recommend a project for funding in the President’s Budget is driven by a number of factors, including:
the “readiness” of the project for capital funding
the project’s overall rating
geographic equity
the amount of available funds versus the number and size of the projects in the pipeline

Receipt of Construction Funding
To receive a construction grant agreement a project must:
Complete the Planning, Project Development, and Environmental Review Processes
Meet Project Readiness Requirements (technical capacity, firm and final cost estimate, all funding committed)
Receive a “medium” or higher overall rating
Meet all other federal requirements


My thoughts
The entire process for New and Small Starts takes nearly a decade to complete just to reach the Full Funding Grant Agreement stage. The Full Funding Grant Agreement is the last step in the process before construction can even begin. It is the point where the project is construction ready.

Core Capacity projects are hard to rank high on the evaluations mainly because state of good repair associated costs are eliminated from this grant program. The FTA expects the local transit agencies to maintain their fixed guideways with their own money. If you can't take care of what you have, why give you more of it? If what you have is in good shape but is no longer able to meet the demand in traffic, then core capacity grants can be gained. Making station platforms longer, adding platforms to stations, adding more stations, adding more interlockings, etc. Not adding brand new transit lines, nor rebuilding a station in poor shape, that is not what this program is for.

With more money being given to these programs, more projects will be allowed to move through the entire process faster. Local match percentages can be lower only because more projects with lower rankings will get funded. Transit agencies paying 10% more of the capital costs to get higher rankings above other projects will not be as common when your project will probably get funded at the 10% lower match anyways.

Last edited by electricron; Mar 6, 2021 at 5:45 AM.
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  #15236  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2021, 1:51 PM
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The availability of funding will persuade legacy systems to electrify. Right now even the East Coast systems have given up on extending electrification.
What about MBTA electrification plans?
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  #15237  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2021, 5:49 AM
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I really don't understand the hard-on that so many people get for electrification of suburban rail.

It's not really that much greener. Diesel-electric locomotives, of course, are electric locomotives that carry their generators around with them. The inefficiency of having many small generators is not dramatically different from the transmission losses suffered in sending current many miles from a central generating station. Yes, the juice can be generated by wind or solar, but surely trains aren't the lowest-hanging fruit for carbon-neutrality. Get back to me when half of our heating and aircon is done by renewables. Or even half of the auto mileage. If particulate emissions is your worry, lots of other things—natural gas or turbine prime movers, regenerative braking—could be done for a fraction of the cost.

It simply doesn't save that much time in acceleration. UP-North takes 36 minutes to make 16 stops along 14.7 miles of track (Main St Evanston to Fort Sheridan). The much faster-accelerating Metra Electric, featuring high platforms for faster loading, takes 31 minutes to make 16 stops along 14 miles of track (87th St to Flossmoor). When you're only running one or two trains an hour, those five minutes are just not that meaningful. Even if you want the acceleration possible with big electric traction motors, it's not especially important whether you're carrying the generator around with you or leaving it miles away in Dresden. Onboard batteries and regenerative braking—or even just a higher idle rate for the prime mover— can give you more tractive effort to the motors without the expense of stringing and maintaining miles of catenary.

It costs a bloody fortune to string and maintain all those wires. Ontario's study of electrifying the Toronto suburban network found a payback period—even with cheap government borrowing—of a century, longer than the useful life of the asset.

Change my mind.
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  #15238  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2021, 1:35 PM
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I really don't understand the hard-on that so many people get for electrification of suburban rail.

It's not really that much greener. Diesel-electric locomotives, of course, are electric locomotives that carry their generators around with them. The inefficiency of having many small generators is not dramatically different from the transmission losses suffered in sending current many miles from a central generating station. Yes, the juice can be generated by wind or solar, but surely trains aren't the lowest-hanging fruit for carbon-neutrality. Get back to me when half of our heating and aircon is done by renewables. Or even half of the auto mileage. If particulate emissions is your worry, lots of other things—natural gas or turbine prime movers, regenerative braking—could be done for a fraction of the cost.
This is essentally the same argument used against EVs to defend internal combustion and it's just wrong every time. ICEs will aways and forever be much less efficient than tapping the grid. EMUs are way cleaner environmentally and so much quieter than even modern diesel locos not to mention screaming F40s just idling at notch 8.

Quote:
It simply doesn't save that much time in acceleration. UP-North takes 36 minutes to make 16 stops along 14.7 miles of track (Main St Evanston to Fort Sheridan). The much faster-accelerating Metra Electric, featuring high platforms for faster loading, takes 31 minutes to make 16 stops along 14 miles of track (87th St to Flossmoor). When you're only running one or two trains an hour, those five minutes are just not that meaningful. Even if you want the acceleration possible with big electric traction motors, it's not especially important whether you're carrying the generator around with you or leaving it miles away in Dresden. Onboard batteries and regenerative braking—or even just a higher idle rate for the prime mover— can give you more tractive effort to the motors without the expense of stringing and maintaining miles of catenary.

It costs a bloody fortune to string and maintain all those wires. Ontario's study of electrifying the Toronto suburban network found a payback period—even with cheap government borrowing—of a century, longer than the useful life of the asset.
This whole argument presumes that Metra keeps its increasingly ancient exlusively peak centric scheduling approach until the sun burns out. Cutting 5 minutes from a run is very material if you want to have more frequent service and I suspect you could improve upon that in an EMU railcar with more than one fucking door, a non ancient gallery layout, and likely better motors. As for using railroad assets for a century or more...well we would never do that in America now would we?
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  #15239  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2021, 2:19 PM
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Apparently the MBTA electrification plans are limited to (1) one double track southern line towards Providence and (2) one double track northern line that branches into mostly two single track lines at Beverly. The southern line is already electrified thanks to Amtrak. Although some improvements will probably have to be made to the electrical infrastructure for increasing capacity. The two northern lines are lines with few, if any, freight customers remaining, especially after leaving Boston itself. So hanging catenary wires overhead less than 24 feet above top of rail should not cause any interferences with double stack container trains. I'm not even sure who owns these lines heading north. But if double tracking the remaining single track segments is needed to increase the corridor's core capacity, Federal matching funding might be easier to qualify for.

I never understood why MBTA was not already using electric locomotives on the Providence line? It was already owned the the State, and already electrified. All MBTA basically needed was buying or leasing some electric locomotives, and electrifying their yards. I guess politics, having electric lines from North Station also, was the problem all along.

Back to making it easier to qualify for some Federal matching funds, maybe MBTA should look at converting the northern lines to light rail or metro lines, opening up the possibilities of getting new starts grants? It's not like they do not already have light rail or metro lines.
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  #15240  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2021, 2:25 PM
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This whole argument presumes that Metra keeps its increasingly ancient exlusively peak centric scheduling approach until the sun burns out. Cutting 5 minutes from a run is very material if you want to have more frequent service and I suspect you could improve upon that in an EMU railcar with more than one fucking door, a non ancient gallery layout, and likely better motors. As for using railroad assets for a century or more...well we would never do that in America now would we?
Last I checked, Metra is not in the business of running trains in order to keep urbanist fanboys happy.

Running a whole bunch of trains off peak so that we can watch empty rail cars go in and out of downtown are probably not the best use of Metra’s limited resources, especially in the Covid “I work from home and I like it that way” world.

Electrifying Metra is not a priority nor should it be. At least for a very long time.
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