A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line (2024)

TRANSITMATTERS WINTER 2021

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line

Rapid, Reliable Transit For Chelsea, Lynn, and the North Shore

Introduction This report analyzes potential infrastructure and service We wish to acknowledge the following TransitMatters improvements for the MBTA’s Newburyport/Rockport members who contributed to this report: Line, proposing upgrades and changes along its corridor. » Peter Brassard The FMCB’s resolution in November 2019 and recent » advocacy around improving service on the Newburyport/ Rob Cannata Rockport Line have increased interest in running » David Dimiduk frequent electrified rail service on the line. Many of the » Jay Flynn municipalities on the inner route are environmental » Jason Frost justice (EJ) communities, with residents forced to decide between infrequent, costly rail service or affordable but » David Houser slow bus service. The stations along the trunk should » Alon Levy get all-day high-frequency service, electrification, fare » Elizabeth Martin integration, and additional infill stations. These changes would provide similar frequency and station spacing as » Jackson Moore-Otto the Red Line branch to Braintree. » John Takuma Moody » Matt Robare » Asher Smith » Andrew Stephens » Jack Spence

TransitMatters is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to improving transit in and around Boston by offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates, and informing the public. We utilize a high level of critical analysis to advocate for plans and policies that promote convenient, effective, and equitable transportation for everyone. Learn more & download other Regional Rail reports at: http://regionalrail.net

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 1 Current Situation

The Newburyport/Rockport Line, sometimes referred to as the “Eastern Route” or “Eastern Line”, is currently the third busiest line on the commuter rail, behind the Providence and Worcester Lines, and the busiest line on the north side of the MBTA Commuter Rail system. As of 2018, over 10,000 weekday passengers ride the line in each direction, on 67 trains per day.1 Salem is the busiest Commuter Rail station outside Downtown Boston, with 2,300 boardings every weekday. Beverly is also among the busiest, with 1,600 weekday boardings. While ridership has of course decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the historically strong demand and needs of dense communities along the trunk line suggest a swift recovery of ridership. Lynn’s station at Central Square serves a dense, walkable downtown with several bus connections.

MEDIAN INCOME IN TOWNS AND CITIES SERVED BY Newburyport/Rockport Line CURREIncomeNT AND PROPOSED BRANCHES OF THE LINE The line serves two kinds of communities: dense, walkable inner suburbs on the trunk segment from Chelsea up to Beverly (including two Gateway Cities, Lynn and Salem), and lower-density, wealthier suburban towns farther out, with the exception of Gloucester and Newburyport. Excluding River Works, the stations between Chelsea and Beverly have populations of between 4,000 and 8,000 within half a mile of each station. Of these residents, 300-600 living near each station already work close to a different station along the Newburyport/Rockport line, or near the Green or Orange lines that connect at North Station.2

Legend Newburyport/Rockport Lines Proposed Extensions Median Household Income <$20000 $20000 - $40000 $40000 - $60000 $60000 - $80000 $80000 - $100000 $100000-$120000 $120000 - $140000 $140000 - $160000 $160000 - $180000 >$180000 Stations labeled in italic or yellow are proposed infill stops

1 Except where otherwise noted, all ridership data is sourced from the Central Transportation Planning Staff’s (CTPS) 2018 Commuter Rail Ridership Counts, the most recently available data. The findings are discussed in detail in the following MassDOT presentation: “Commuter Rail Ridership Counts,” January 28, 2019. https://www.scribd.com/document/398648878/2019-01-28-Fmcb-Commuter-Rail-Ridership-Original-1 2 Analysis performed via Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics OnTheMap database.

2 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line POPULATION DENSITY SURROUNDING CURRENT AND PROPOSED STATIONS ALONG THE LINE

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 3 The line also serves several major employment centers, including Lynn, Salem, Newburyport, Beverly, and Chelsea. MassGeneral for Children in Salem employs over 5,000 people, while GE Aviation in Lynn employs around 4,000. There are also several colleges on the line, including Salem State University and Endicott College, which generate travel from both students and staff. Reverse-peak service to these areas is so infrequent today that people cannot use commuter rail to reach these destinations, but if service is better, then people will ride it in large numbers.

These densely populated communities also provide Frequent overcrowding on the 111 bus, as well as other potential for future transit-oriented development (TOD). key bus routes, can be solved with improved rail service to Lynn and Salem’s stations are both in walkable downtown Chelsea and other underserved communities. areas. In Lynn, the downtown area surrounding the train station is zoned for buildings up to ten stories tall, and one large apartment building is already being built across the street from the station, which will provide housing “With a much more robust rail system, [we’ll be able for about 400 people and also have space for shops and to] make those connections both north and south restaurants.3 that will really grow our economy and make Lynn, as it has been in the past, a gateway to the North There is currently significant unmet demand for Shore, a regional focal point for transportation and increased transit capacity in Chelsea. For the 111 bus, a more importantly, for economic development.” key bus route that runs through Chelsea, 21% of weekday passenger minutes are spent in conditions that the —Tom McGee, Mayor of Lynn (2019)4 MBTA considers uncomfortable.

3 Simon Rios, “Developers Have Discovered Lynn. What Comes Next?” WBUR, October 9, 2019. https://www.wbur.org/bostonomix/2019/10/09/lynn- housing-development 4 Gayla Cawley, “Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee Becomes Co-Chair of Commuter Rail Communities Coalition.” Lynn Daily Item, March 19, 2019. https://www.itemlive.com/2019/03/13/mcgee-named-co-chair-of-commuter-rail-communities-coalition/

4 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Line Characteristics Newburyport/Rockport Trunk Line The Newburyport and Rockport branches share a trunk Employment Density line, the Eastern Route Main Line, from Boston’s North Station to a point just east of Beverly Depot in Beverly, MA, 18.65 miles from North Station. The branch to Rockport is 16.65 miles long, for a total of 35.3 route miles from North Station, taking 72 minutes today; the branch to Newburyport is 17.55 miles long, for a total of 36.2 miles from Boston, taking 64 minutes today.

Jobs There are 40,713 jobs within half a mile of Newburyport/ Rockport line stations not including North Station, representing 14% growth between 2011 and 2017. This is faster than the pace of job growth in Boston proper Legend (7%), and not much lower than that of tech-booming Newburyport/Rockport Lines Proposed Extensions Cambridge (20%), indicating the growing importance of Half-Mile Radius Employment Density the Newburyport/Rockport line in regional job growth. Jobs/sq. mi. <2000 2000 - 5000 5000 - 25000 Interim Enhanced Diesel Service 25000 - 100000 100000 - 200000 Frequencies on the line are low relative to the density >200000 Stations labeled in italic or yellow and existing ridership, which makes the line less useful are proposed infill stops south of Salem. We believe that high frequency should be a priority for Beverly-Boston, and advocate for running 30-minute service midday as the line is being modernized.

The MBTA’s Fall 2020 schedule added more midday trips on the line, accounting for the near total loss of traditional rush-hour ridership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes nearly half-hourly service from Lynn. However, service is not quite clockface, which creates some friction. Operating half-hourly in a clockface manner between Beverly Depot and North Station - and hourly to each branch - could be accomplished with six trainsets, three for each branch.

Frequent, faster service on the EJ corridor unlocks access to a number of job centers and dense communites.

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 5 Required Infrastructure Investment High-Level Platforms Raising all platforms to provide level boarding is a priority. Depending on crowding, level boarding can cut dwell time by a minute per station. Universal high platforms also save money on EMUs, as including doors with stairs covered by removable barriers (called traps) adds costs to procurement and makes the trains slightly heavier. Excluding North Station, only four stations have full length high level platforms: Lynn, Salem, Rowley, and Newburyport; a fifth, Chelsea, is slated to have full- highs installed in 2021. New stations at River Works and Swampscott are in the early stages of planning. High-level platforms at stations like Salem (pictured) allow passengers to board and exit trains faster, speeding up Design must be pragmatic to ensure cost efficiency; overall trip times. form follows function. For example, it is obligatory to have shelter from the elements along the length of the platform, but this can be done with cheap corrugated tin; high-frequency regional rail stations in Stockholm use that, in a country famous for the quality of its public services.

It is essential to begin the process of designing full-high platforms for the line as soon as possible, particularly at Beverly, where rush hour trains are often delayed for several minutes. Normally this is about $20 million per station, but at Beverly Depot, vertical circulation (stairs or pedestrian underpass) is required, raising costs to about $30 million. Beverly Depot is one of many stations on the line without On the branches, nine out of ten stations have mini-high high-level platforms, despite its substantial ridership. platforms. The tenth, Pride’s Crossing, has only a low platform on one side (and is only served by peak trains in the peak direction). In total, the cost of full level boarding at these ten stations should be $200 million; further savings are possible if some of these are reduced to single track, based on the schedule.

6 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Electrification In keeping with the FMCB’s resolutions in 2019, the Commonwealth should immediately electrify the Newburyport/Rockport Line. Electrifying the line to Beverly would cost $40-110 million; based on recent best- practice electrification projects, wiring the full line is $120-400 million, based on comparable projects around the developed world.5

The stop spacing is 3.7 miles on the trunk line, 2.4 miles on the Rockport branch, and 3.5 miles on the Newburyport branch. Stops are already frequent on the trunk - the city of Beverly hosts four different stops - and with EMU deployment, several infill stations are warranted, Electrification enables the use of modern trains, like those used on London’s Elizabeth Line (shown above), for faster discussed below. Higher speeds and more reliable service and more reliable service. will boost already high ridership from Beverly and Salem, and greatly increase use from Swampscott, Lynn, and Chelsea. “For the nearly quarter of a million residents The frequencies we call for argue heavily in favor of living in these cities, the smell of diesel electrification, as electric multiple units (EMUs) are exhaust, the clacking of trains, and the cheaper to operate than diesel locomotives and faster, sounds of brakes and horns are all that they thanks to their better acceleration qualities. Beyond Beverly Depot, ridership falls, but the branching makes experience of the existing rail service.” it easy to combine lower frequency on each branch with —Sen. Brendan Crighton, Rep. Daniel Cahill, Rep. higher frequency on the trunk, meaning electrification is Peter Capano, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, and Rep. Donald still warranted. Wong of Lynn, Marblehead, and Saugus (2019)6

If there is only budget to electrify as far as Beverly in the near term, then the branch lines will need to be served by short-turning diesel trains at Beverly Depot. It is not possible to run diesel trains as expresses between Beverly and Boston without severely harming reliability for Beverly-Boston local service. Dual-mode multiple units do exist, but they are expensive to purchase and maintain: the cost premium over standard EMUs is high enough that it rivals the cost of simply electrifying the branch lines. Electrifying both branch lines as soon as possible is ultimately the most economical and efficient solution.

5 The TransitMatters white paper, in development at the time of this printing, Regional Rail Electrification: Costs, Challenges, and Benefits will explore electrification costs in further detail. 6 Crighton, Brendan, et al. “The Case for ‘Environmental Justice Corridor’ Train Service.” CommonWealth Magazine, 18 Oct. 2019, https:// commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/the-case-for-environmental-justice-corridor-train-service/

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 7 Automobile traffic is high in communities like Chelsea, harming air quality. Electrified Regional Rail both removes pollution produced by the existing diesel rail service, and provides an alternative to driving that reduces traffic emissions throughout cities along the line.

8 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Speed CURRENT AND PROPOSED SPEED LIMITS ON THE LINE’S Trip times are essentially unchanged from the steam TRUNK AND EXISTING BRANCHES locomotive era of the 1940s and 1950s. Much of the line’s low speed is due to a plethora of unjustified speed restrictions. At some places, an accident more than 50 years ago led to a slow zone; these slow zones do not improve safety in any way and are pure safety theater, and should be jettisoned. At one grade crossing, there is a complete stop requirement because there was once a noisy whistle, no longer necessary as there is modern crossing protection.

Another example of safety theater is the drawbridges, of which there are five on the Rockport branch and three on the Newburyport branch. They have a 20 miles per hour speed limit, but bridge safety is more about train weight than speed7, as the dynamical axle load of a modern EMU at 125 mph is lower than that of an American diesel locomotive at rest.

In general, the track geometry can support speeds far in excess of the current limits.8 Currently, the highest speed limit on nearly the entire line is 70 mph, but most of it is straight enough for 100 mph, while the curvier Rockport branch could still support 80 mph. Tracks may need to be banked more, but this is a routine track maintenance treatment, done by modern track geometry machines at a cost of a few million dollars for the entire line. On the North Station approach, the maximum speed should be 30 mph. With NSRL, the slow approach mandated by the stub end terminal would be eliminated, and trains could enter North Station at double this speed, reducing the below travel times by one minute.

7 While this type of practice is common on American railroads, it is generally unhelpful; in one episode from the 1970s, the Milwaukee Railroad kept operating trains on a burned-out bridge at 10 mph, but the bridge still collapsed under the heavy weight of copper ore trains; see narrative description at http://www.mrcd.org/portland_trains.html. 8 See Regional Rail Proof of Concept: How Modern Operating Practice Adds Capacity to the Commuter Rail Network (2019) for discussion of how to handle the stub end terminals in downtown Boston.

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 9 10 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Double-Tracking the Bottlenecks The trunk of the Eastern Route is mostly double-track, but a mile in Salem, including the station and tunnel under downtown, is single-track. Double-tracking the tunnel would be expensive; the most recent assessment projected a cost of $198 million. Thankfully, it is possible to boost capacity without expanding the tunnel. Here we detail a plan for how to schedule high levels of service with minimal existing infrastructure.

The maxim we follow, based on rail planning in Switzerland, calls for integration between infrastructure, Despite a single-tracked tunnel through Salem, the line rolling stock, and the timetable: we work out the desired can still achieve high-frequency service by improving schedule and propose only what is needed to meet it. infrastructure at other key locations. High punctuality levels follow, since the places where delays happen are prioritized for improvement. On the branches, meets occur 15 minutes north of Our proposed schedule permits trains to meet at South South Salem. The Rockport branch is double-track from Salem - see below on infill stations. Trains in opposite Beverly Junction until east of the Gloucester Drawbridge, directions are timed to pass each other at South Salem, including the meet site at Manchester. The Newburyport where there are already two tracks, and to alternate branch is single-track from north of North Beverly to through the tunnel, so that no doubling is needed there. south of Newburyport station. Thus, a few miles of With the frequency we propose, this is robust to delays double track are required for meets in Ipswich, including of up to 2 minutes, and to some extent even 5 minutes, through Ipswich station, which would cost $30 million which is rare with electrification and high platforms. All based on Franklin Line double tracking.9 Otherwise, the of this assumes the extensive infill we propose - if it is single-track portions of the branches could remain so, as not built then the timetabling becomes simpler. both termini are double-track.

To the north, the Beverly drawbridge may pose a constraint for operating clockface headways. During the summer boating season, the bridge tends to open as often as 20 times per day. It may be necessary to negotiate with maritime authorities to limit openings, as Amtrak and New Jersey Transit did at Portal Bridge near New York City.

9 https://www.mbta.com/projects/franklin-line-double-track

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 11 Fare Structure A MassINC report finds that housing and Today, the fare structure follows the unfortunate transportation costs account for over 45% of Lynn paradigm that commuter rail primarily serves commuters residents’ annual expenses. Reduced fares are thus from the suburbs to downtown. The means two things: an important means of reducing financial burdens.10

1. Commuter rail charges a premium fare beyond zone 1A, which only includes Chelsea. People beyond have to pay $6.75 to ride commuter rail to Downtown Boston, but if they ride slow buses they only pay $2.40. A six-month pilot began in July 2020 adding Lynn to zone 1A, and must be made permanent. 2. There are no free transfers. Even from Chelsea, commuter rail riders who connect to a bus or subway service at North Station have to pay a second fare. Best industry practice is to integrate the fares, so that neither of the above problems exists. Fares must depend solely on where one travels: all trains and buses must have equal fares within a prescribed area, such as a flat fare within the Route 128 ring, and transfers must be free. The reason this has not been done in the Boston Under the current fare system, the same journey from area is that historically, transportation planning was downtown Lynn to downtown Boston costs nearly four times unequal, segregating middle-class commuter rail from as much using commuter rail versus by bus and subway lines. working-class buses.

Free transfers are particularly critical for inner areas of the Newburyport/Rockport line, for a number of reasons:

1. This line segment runs in an urban area in an ideal setting for bus transfers, with riders likely to transfer from buses. 2. At the city center end, the line only serves North Station, and so requires further connections to buses or the subway to reach Back Bay, the Seaport, Kendall Square, and most of Downtown Boston. 3. The residents of Chelsea and Lynn have low average incomes, making them more sensitive to differences Under the proposed fare system, traveling the same distance in fares between modes of transportation. costs the same, regardless of mode used.

10 Corley, Tracy A, et al. “From Transactional to Transformative: The Case for Equity in Gateway City Transit-Oriented Development.” MassInc, May 18, 2020. https://massinc.org/research/equity-report/

12 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Station Access Modern station design doesn’t need to emphasize park- and-rides and automobiles. Quality attention to bus connections can be enhanced with bus shelter, good wayfinding, and timed connections. Good pedestrian and bicycle access does not need to be costly.

Station access along the line will benefit from a series of local infrastructure projects focusing on pedestrian and bike access in these towns. Salem has improved pedestrian access and protected bicycle lanes along Essex Street with a grant from the Shared Streets & Lynn station includes a busway that allows for passengers to Spaces Program. Dedicated bike lanes in Chelsea have easily transfer between rail and local bus routes. been funded by the same program and the City of Beverly is submitting an application to reconstruct the 1.3 mile Nearly all stations have retail, services, and/or Bridge Street. These improvements will further boost employment centers in walking distance. This is true pedestrian and bike access to MBTA commuter rail even in the suburbs, owing to the placement of stations stations along the line. in or near historic town centers, though the far outer Newburyport branch, Montserrat, and Prides Crossing Station walkability and bikeability can yield large have few; only West Gloucester has none. Extending increases in potential ridership. A recently developed the Newburyport branch to the historic core would 11 tool by MIT researchers illustrates this potential: the reach substantial retail and job locations. This suggests number of potential riders in walksheds or bikeshed can significant potential to capture trips beyond those double if local pedestrian and bicycle accommodations ending at Boston’s downtown, not only within the trunk are improved. line, but in the branches as well.

11 http://boston.transit-access.com

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 13 TRANSIT CONNECTIONS, PARKING, AND AMENITIES NEAR STATIONS

14 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Local Walkability Farther out, there is less development near each station, Several stations are located near key local services and but there are still destinations to visit for non-9-to-5 regional attractions. Lynn Central Square is located in commuter ridership: the heart of downtown Lynn, within walking distance not » Manchester-by-the-Sea has Singing Beach. just to many apartments and retail but also the following institutions: » Gloucester is close to its waterfront activities and the Cape Ann Museum. » Arts: LynnArts and the Lynn Memorial Auditorium » The popular tourist spots of Rockport are close to the station. » Education: Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and the North Shore Community College » Ipswich is not walkable to the beach, but there is a seasonal bus connection, which should be run » Civic buildings: the Lynn Public Library, the year-round with timed connections to the train. District Court, and the YMCA. » Downtown Newburyport has a waterfront However, the station has wayfinding issues, with poor area and a main street; we propose reactivating or confusing signage leading visitors in the wrong rail service to downtown, in lieu of today’s directions out of the station. Downtown Salem is also operations, which stop a mile short. very accessible from its station, with amenities such as its waterfront, the Peabody Essex Museum, and several historic buildings.

Newburyport’s downtown and waterfront would be served Rockport’s beach and Main Street are a short walk from the by extending the existing line to the north. rail station.

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 15 Infill Stations

The urban characteristic of the inner section of the line Revere Center - Winthrop Avenue (Revere Beach argues in favor of a stop spacing similar to that on the Parkway) & Route 1A Fairmount Line. This requires electrification, because Revere has heavy demand for north-south transit service it boosts acceleration and allows trains to make many on the buses and the Blue Line, which is located near stops without unduly slowing down. It also requires fare the ocean on an old railroad right-of-way far from where integration, as passengers in Chelsea, Revere, and Salem most people live. A station at Winthrop Avenue would would otherwise stay on slower but cheaper buses. provide a better connection to the center of Revere than the Blue Line. There are 1,947 jobs within half a mile of Sullivan Square (East Somerville) this location. Sullivan Square connects to the Orange Line, permitting faster trips to Wellington and Malden than going via River Works (Lynn) North Station. It also has two key bus routes, one of This station already exists, but only for the use for which serves Kendall Square, and is near dense urban workers at the General Electric factory nearby, and is development in East Somerville. There are 6,041 jobs only served by a few trains per day. However, it is slated within half a mile. to open for the general public, contingent upon the opening of an already-permitted development to the Everett - South Broadway/Everett Junction east, adding 1,260 apartments and 7,800 square feet of A stop near South Broadway and Sweetser Circle would retail in six buildings.12 This is on top of the existing 4,582 intersect with multiple high-ridership buses and a jobs within half a mile. proposed BRT corridor covering buses 104, 105, 109, and 110. This site is close to Encore Casino, the Gateway South Salem - Ocean Avenue and Broadway Center mall, and a proposed pedestrian bridge to South Salem would serve destinations far from the Assembly Square; there are 3,621 jobs within half a mile. downtown station, including El Punto and Salem State University. There are three possible locations, but Wonderland - Revere Street Ocean Avenue is the most attractive as it has the most A Wonderland stop would connect to several bus routes residential development in proximity and would better and serve planned and potential development. Either one serve the university. It has 2,386 jobs within half a mile, of these stations could be constructed in Phase One. The and would also generate student travel. density of people and traffic is such that two separate stations are justifiable, one to the south at Winthrop With bus or shuttle connections, North Shore Medical Avenue or VFW Parkway and one to the north at Revere Center would be accessible as well; currently, the hospital Street or near Wonderland. Revere Street would be can be accessed via the 450 bus route, but service is closer to dense housing than the Blue Line. There are infrequent. also 1,060 jobs within half a mile.

12 https://www.bldup.com/projects/lynn-gear-works-redevelopment

16 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Bus Connections Trains must operate as part of an integrated transit system alongside buses, rather than as two separate systems. This means the following reforms:

» Fare integration: buses and trains should charge the same fare within a specified zone (such as within 128, or in farther out fare zones for the suburbs), with free transfers.

» Renewed focus: Bus route changes to encourage feeding the train stations, both the existing stations and proposed infill.

» Schedules for timed transfers: The trains The Silver Line 3 BRT route provides service to downtown should run every 15 minutes all day, not counting Boston, Logan Airport, and the Seaport, and connects to the Peabody Branch restoration, and so buses should Newburyport/Rockport line in Chelsea. run every 15 or 30 minutes and connect with short transfer windows.

This represents a shift away from the current paradigm. BUS CONNECTIONS AT LYNN STATION AND THE PROPOSED In today’s form, commuter rail is only for the middle WONDERLAND STATION class, and buses outside of the most central parts of Boston and Cambridge are left for the poor. To transition to Regional Rail, the Commonwealth must break this way of thinking and make sure that people in Lynn can get on a commuter train the same way they would on a bus, depending on what gets them to their destination faster.

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 17 Thankfully, the existing and proposed stations on the On the branch lines, there already are some timed inner Newburyport/Rockport line already intersect connections, at Newburyport and Gloucester. However, with many bus routes. In particular, Chelsea provides a these routes have low frequency and few riders. connection to the Silver Line 3 (SL3) BRT route, and the Improving this situation will require the MBTA and current station is in close proximity to the 111 bus route, regional transit authorities (RTAs) to add buses and one of the busiest in the system. drivers on these feeder routes. Although the center of Beverly has generally good access from Beverly Depot, The North Shore’s main bus hubs are Salem, Lynn, many key local destinations are out of reach, calling for Chelsea, and Wonderland. Our optimized rail timetable improved shuttle connections. For instance, Beverly allows trains to serve Salem, Lynn, and Chelsea in such Hospital is on the edge of walkability from Montserrat time that buses running every 15 minutes could provide Station. fast connections and turn around quickly. In all cases, it matters that trains serve the station in both directions at similar times, 2-4 minutes apart, so buses can be scheduled to connect to trains in both directions.

Bus Connections at Bus Connections at Chelsea Salem

Legend Newburyport/Rockport Lines Legend Proposed Extensions Newburyport/Rockport Lines Silver Line Proposed Extensions Bus Route Headways Bus Route Headways <15 <15 15 - 30 15 - 30 30 - 60 30 - 60 >60 >60 Employment Density Employment Density Jobs/sq. mi. Jobs/sq. mi. <2000 <2000 2000 - 5000 2000 - 5000 5000 - 25000 5000 - 25000 25000 - 100000 25000 - 100000 100000 - 200000 100000 - 200000 >200000 >200000 Stations labeled in italic or yellow Stations labeled in italic or yellow are proposed infill stops are proposed infill stops

18 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Service Restoration One disused branch of the Eastern Line network is a strong candidate for restoration: the 4.6 mile Peabody/ Danvers Branch to Danvers Square. We also recommend restoring a mile of the historic Newburyport branch into downtown Newburyport. Both restorations would fit within the above-described schedule of timed meets at South Salem.

Newburyport The Eastern Line originally served Newburyport’s walkable core en route to New Hampshire and Maine, until service was truncated to Ipswich in the late 1970s. Tracks and service were restored north of Ipswich in the late 1990s, but the terminus was again truncated to a park-and-ride off of Route 1 in Newbury, a mile south of Downtown Newburyport. However, the right-of-way is intact through Newburyport as a popular bike/pedestrian trail, which is wide enough to accommodate tracks and an altered trail. The existing station, which already has a full-high platform and hosts the branch’s yard, should be kept in service and renamed Newburyport-Route 1 to serve park-and-ride demand and planned development. Service can be provided to Newburyport’s downtown at one Service restoration to Downtown Newburyport fits the of these possible locations, by extending the line alongside proposed timetable, only cutting the turnaround time an existing path. from 16 to 14 minutes, still enough time for the driver to rest as needed, turn the train, and recover from delays.

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 19 Peabody Branch Peabody has expressed interest in commuter rail service in recent years, and has proposed several developments near potential future stations as part of its housing production plan.13 Hundreds of housing units are being proposed for an area within a 10-15 minute walk of the proposed station site in Peabody’s historic core. We recommend that an extension serving Peabody and Danvers begin as soon as possible as part of a broader Regional Rail transformation. The 2004 North Shore Transit Improvements (NSTI) study14 also supported restoring the Peabody branch.

The Peabody Branch would require reactivation of the junction at Salem and track restoration through Peabody Square, across the Waters, Crane, and Porter Rivers into Danvers Square. The NSTI study also examined an alternative route, from Peabody Square to the North Shore Mall. This alternative should be explored as well, particularly if the right of way to Danvers cannot be Downtown Peabody could receive new service using a reactivated rail branch through Peabody to Danvers. activated; that section was recently converted to a rail trail and may require right of way expansion. In November 2020, the City of Salem selected a As the branch to Peabody warrants a rush hour train developer to add a mixed-use development within the every 15 minutes, natural interlining lets trains run every station complex. While we applaud the addition of new 7.5 minutes between Salem and North Station, giving housing and amenities near transit, there is a danger that high frequency to the dense trunk line. Peabody trains construction of this building could jeopardize access would serve the same station complex as the current to the Peabody branch from the main line. It is critical Salem station, but on a new platform; thus, it is still to safeguard the route to permit trains to run through possible to run a train through the single-track mile-long unimpeded in the future; the development should go tunnel every 7.5 minutes in both directions and meet at next to the tracks, but not on them. South Salem.

13 A memorandum from the Peabody planning department to the City Council discusses this project: https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/ salemnews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/0f/30f8afb8-ea16-11e9-8f79-2fe7f96ba1e8/5d9d06013cb51.pdf.pdf 14 https://web.archive.org/web/20130116090507/http://mbta.com/about_the_mbta/t_projects/default.asp?id=1012#project

20 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line Train Scheduling PROPOSED FREQUENCIES FOR EACH BRANCH Trains should operate between 5 am and 1 am, 7 days a week. Scheduling should be consistent with recurring Station Segment Peak Off-Peak clock face intervals (e.g., on a 30-minute headway, if NORTH STATION - SALEM 7.5 MIN 10 MIN a train departs Gloucester at 1:14, the next train in the SALEM - PEABODY/DANVERS 15 MIN 30 MIN same direction will be at 1:44, then 2:14, repeating). Frequency should be the same for both inbound and SALEM - NEWBURYPORT 30 MIN 30 MIN outbound trains. SALEM - ROCKPORT 30 MIN 30 MIN

Fleet Requirement Half-hourly service to each of Newburyport and Rockport requires four train sets per branch, or eight in total. At full buildout, quarter-hourly service to Peabody requires another six train sets, for a total of fourteen (a train every 7.5 minutes) on the shared segment to Salem.

PROPOSED TRAVEL TIMES WITH IMPROVED REGIONAL RAIL SERVICE

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 21 PROPOSED TIMETABLES FOR EACH BRANCH, COMPARED WITH EXISTING SERVICE

NEWBURYPORT ROCKPORT Station Proposed Current Station Proposed Current NORTH STATION 0:00 0:00 NORTH STATION 0:00 0:00 Sullivan Square 0:04 -- Sullivan Square 0:04 -- S. Broadway/Everett Jct. 0:06 -- S. Broadway/Everett Jct. 0:06 -- CHELSEA 0:08 0:12 CHELSEA 0:08 0:12 REVERE CENTER 0:11 -- REVERE CENTER 0:11 -- WONDERLAND 0:13 -- WONDERLAND 0:13 -- RIVER WORKS 0:16 0:19 RIVER WORKS 0:16 0:19 LYNN - CENTRAL SQ. 0:18 0:21 LYNN - CENTRAL SQ. 0:18 0:21 SWAMPSCOTT 0:20 0:26 SWAMPSCOTT 0:20 0:26 South Salem 0:24 -- South Salem 0:24 -- SALEM 0:26 0:33 SALEM 0:26 0:33 BEVERLY DEPOT 0:28 0:37 BEVERLY DEPOT 0:28 0:37 NORTH BEVERLY 0:31 0:41 MONTSERRAT 0:30 0:41 HAMILTON/WENHAM 0:33 0:45 PRIDES CROSSING 0:33 0:45 IPSWICH 0:38 0:51 BEVERLY FARMS 0:35 0:46 ROWLEY 0:41 0:57 MANCHESTER 0:38 0:52 NEWBURYPORT-ROUTE 1 0:46 1:04 WEST GLOUCESTER 0:42 0:58 Newburyport Center 0:47 -- GLOUCESTER 0:45 1:04 ROCKPORT 0:49 1:12

PEABODY/DANVERS Station Proposed Current NORTH STATION 0:00 0:00

Equivalent service as the proposed Newburyport and Rockport timetables above, making all stops between North Station and Salem.

SALEM 0:26 0:33 Peabody Sq. 0:29 -- Danvers Sq. 0:34 --

22 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line What is Regional Rail? A highly functioning Regional Rail system includes five critical components: MBTA Commuter Rail operates as a mid-20th century service » Systemwide electrification and the purchase of high- with a mid-20th century business model. It reflects out of date performance electric trains. biases about where people and jobs are located, and about how people desire to get from one place to another. Many » High platforms, providing universal access and people no longer work on a strictly 9 am to 5 pm weekday speeding up boarding for everyone. schedule, and many more want convenient and frequent train schedules that respond to the needs of their daily lives. » Strategic infrastructure investments to relieve bottlenecks.

“The current Commuter Rail paradigm costs way too » Frequent service all day: every 30 minutes in much money for way too little ridership.” the suburbs and every 15 minutes in denser neighborhoods. — MBTA FMCB Chairman Joe Aiello, 11/20/17 » Free transfers between regional trains, subways, and buses, and fare equalization with the subway in the Our current approach to Commuter Rail, as a business model, subway’s service area. fails to offer its rider/customers the service they want and need. As a result it contributes to the region’s worsening And one useful component that will complete traffic congestion, keeps Gateway Cities isolated during cross-region mobility: most of the day, and exacerbates income inequality since the inadequate service compels many to drive – for lower income people, the high cost of owning, maintaining and driving an » While not critical to implementing a Regional Rail automobile can have a crippling effect on their ability to make system, the North-South Rail Link (NSRL) between ends meet. North and South Stations, allowing service between any two stations with either a direct trip or a Public transit must be frequent all day, not just at rush hour. A single, seamless transfer, would be a highly useful Regional Rail system would have trains running at least every enhancement providing the flexibility and connectivity half hour all day in the suburbs and at least every fifteen to which many riders and potential riders would be minutes in Boston and other Inner Core communities. drawn.

Regional Rail requires both frequent all day service, MORE INFORMATION AND REPORTS AVAILABLE AT: accessible platforms and smarter equipment to provide HTTP://REGIONALRAIL.NET the service. That means high-level platforms at stations to simplify and speed up boarding and alighting. It also means REGIONAL RAIL FOR METROPOLITAN BOSTON WINTER ‘18 electrification of the system, enabling use of Electric Multiple REGIONAL RAIL PROOF OF CONCEPT FALL ‘19 Units to replace the current push/pull diesel fleet. EMUs will REGIONAL RAIL PHASE 1 SUMMER ‘20 be more reliable and less expensive to maintain, will provide PROVIDENCE/STOUGHTON LINE SPRING ‘20 riders with speedier trips, and will provide better service FAIRMOUNT LINE FALL ‘20 without polluting the air around them. NEWBURYPORT/ROCKPORT LINE wiNTER ‘21

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line 23 Photo Credits

» “Unit 345007 at Shenfield 7th July 2017 05” by Sunil060902 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

» “Lynn station, April 2015” by Pi.1415926535 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

» “MBTA route 111 bus at Haymarket, July 2015” by Pi.1415926535 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

» “Beverly Depot (MBTA station)” by Fletcher6 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

» “Salem Station New Platform” by Fletcher6 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

» “Newburyport” by Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism is licensed underCC BY-ND 2.0.

» “Beach in Rockport, Massachusetts” by Ben+Sam is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

» “Chelsae Station arrival shelter” by Arnold Reinhold is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

» “Inbound train at Salem station (3), December 2018” by Tdorante10 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

» “Soldiers and Sailors Monument, October 2020” by Fletcher is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

» “MBTA route 426 bus in Lynn station busway, April 2015” by Pi.1415926535 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

24 A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line MBTA REGIONAL RAIL PROPOSED PHASE 1 IMPROVEMENTS TRANSITMATTERS.ORG

NEWBURYPORT LINE HAVERHILL LINE 100% increase 300% increase in trains per hour LOWELL LINE in trains per hour 300% increase ROCKPORT LINE in trains per hour 100% increase in trains per hour IPSWICH FITCHBURG LINE LAWRENCE 300% increase ANDOVER GLOUCESTER in trains per hour N. BILLERICA HAMILTON/ WENHAM WILMINGTON BALLARDVALE

NORTH BEVERLY READING MONT KEY 5 SERRAT 140% increase BEVERLY in trains per hour ELECTRIFICATION SALEM SOUTH SALEM UPGRADE TRACKS AND SIGNALS CONCORD SWAMPSCOTT REMOVE SPEED RESTRICTIONS/ INCREASE SPEEDS PORTER SQ. WALTHAM LYNN DOUBLE TRACK SECTIONS RIVER WORKS CHELSEAREVERE TRIPLE TRACK SECTIONS

PASSING TRACK NORTH SWITCH UPGRADES, WEST STATION STATION IMPROVE ACCESS POINTS & INCREASE SPEED ON ARRIVAL, BACK BAY DEDICATED PLATFORMS AUBURNDALE SOUTH STATION STATION ROSLINDALE NEW STATION

HERSEY NEW HIGH LEVEL PLATFORM

2ND PLATFORM ADDITION

JFK/UMASS NEEDHAM LINE NEW ELECTRIC TRAINS FRAMINGHAM 300% increase in trains per hour 15 MIN. SERVICE FREQUENCIES FAIRMOUNT LINE TO SPRINGFIELD QUINCY 30 MIN. SERVICE FREQUENCIES WESTBOROUGH 300% increase Improvements will 5 CENTER enable faster service to CENTER in trains per hour Springfield DEDHAM CORP. CENTER

WORCESTER LINE CANTON GREENBUSH LINE NORWOOD CENTRAL JUNCTION 300% increase 300% increase in trains per hour in trains per hour SHARON CANTON CENTER

MANSFIELD 500% increase ATTLEBORO in trains per hour NORFOLK FOXBORO STOUGHTON S. ATTLEBORO LINE PLYMOUTH LINE 250% increase 500% increase PROVIDENCE in trains per hour in trains per hour all day hourly FRANKLIN LINE KINGSTON LINE service added 300% increase 250% increase in trains per hour in trains per hour PROVIDENCE LINE all day hourly MIDDLEBOROUGH/ service added 5 LAKEVILLE LINE 300% increase in 300% increase in trains per hour trains per hour

TO FALL RIVER / NEW BEDFORD TO THE CAPE Improvements at JFK and Quincy Center will enable more capacity and increase reliability for trains to the South Coast and the Cape. MBTA REGIONAL RAIL | PROPOSED PHASE 1 IMPROVEMENTS

IMPROVEMENTS

INCREASE IN PEAK & • 15-minute all-day frequencies on Early Action lines OFFPEAK SERVICE • 30-minute all-day frequencies everywhere else by 2026 UNIVERSAL IMPROVEMENT • Increased span of the frequency (frequency is higher all day) • Frequency will be the same inbound and outbound

ELECTRIFICATION NEW HIGHLEVEL PLATFORM Adding electric power infrastructure to a line. Building platforms that line up with most or all of a train.  Faster service and decrease in CO2 emissions  Faster trips (less time at the station)

UPGRADE TRACK AND SIGNALS Renewing signalling and infrastructure on a line. 2ND PLATFORM  Faster, more frequent, and more Add platforms on opposite side reliable service of single platform stations.  Faster, more frequent, more accessible, more reliable service REMOVE SPEED RESTRICTIONS/ INCREASE SPEEDS DEDICATED PLATFORMS Eliminate outdated speed restrictions. Assign specific terminal platforms to all lines  Faster, more frequent service or groups of lines. For example, currently Providence/Stoughton, Franklin, Needham, and Amtrak all share platform groups. PASSING TRACK  Faster and more reliable service Adding second tracks to single-track segment.  More frequent, more reliable service IMPROVE ACCESS POINTS AND SAFELY INCREASE SPEEDS DOUBLE TRACK SECTIONS NEAR TERMINAL STATIONS Add segments of double track. Increase speeds from 10 to 30 mph.  More frequent, more reliable service  Increased system capacity and faster service, more frequent service

TRIPLE TRACK SECTIONS NEW STATIONS Add segments of a third track. Building new stations along current lines.  Faster, more frequent, more reliable,  Serving Gateway cities, universities and more accessible service hospitals, access for low income populations

SWITCH UPGRADES NEW ELECTRIC TRAINS Replacing and upgrading switches. Buying electric multiple unit (EMU) trains.  More frequent service, more reliable service  Faster service, more frequent service, more reliable service, decrease in CO2 emissions OUTCOMES A more resilient network More reliable service More frequent service By adding more o-peak service that better Electric trains are up to 25 times more reliable Frequent all-day service means the train works aligns with healthcare workers and other than our current diesel fleet, this means around your schedule, not the other way around; essential workers, Regional Rail becomes a dependable, reliable service and lower this also means less crowding as riders have service that is more resilient in future pandemics maintenance costs. more choice on which train to take. or health emergencies. By moving toward zero-emission vehicles with more open layouts, Decrease CO2 emissions Better connect gateway cities and the MBTA better protects these workers by More frequent service, even on diesel trains environmental justice communities cutting pollution that makes people more draws commuters out of single-occupancy The current system either passes by these vulnerable to disease and giving riders more vehicles; new electric trains emit no pollution in communities or provides inadequate service, space for social distancing. the communities they run through. Regional Rail means more equitable transit that Faster service More accessible service serves all. Electric trains enable faster service, which means Moving to high-level platforms enables all with valuable time saved and more trains throughout reduced mobility to access the train—whether the day. you use a wheelchair, have a stroller, or just heavy luggage—it makes life easier. 62 SUMMER ST, BOSTON, MA 02110 TRANSITMATTERS.ORG | @TRANSITMATTERS

A Better Newburyport/Rockport Line (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Last Updated:

Views: 5319

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Birthday: 1992-06-28

Address: Apt. 413 8275 Mueller Overpass, South Magnolia, IA 99527-6023

Phone: +6824704719725

Job: District Real-Estate Facilitator

Hobby: Letterboxing, Vacation, Poi, Homebrewing, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Mrs. Angelic Larkin, I am a cute, charming, funny, determined, inexpensive, joyous, cheerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.