Orange Line shorts out, makes riders want to shout

Some sort of electrical problem at Sullivan Square means the T is now busing Orange Line riders between Wellington and North Station.

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After rush hour

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I thought it said an "immediate rail issue" but yes it is at Sullivan square. Of course the problems wait and then until they come right after rush hour. I always use the Green line nearby whenever the Orange line is turning from something minor to moderate then into a severe disaster. At least that line is still moving even though presumably somewhat slow.

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Rail of a sort

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This just in from a T spokeswoman:

There's a third rail defect at Sullivan northbound. Crews are on site making repairs.

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Since the issue is just

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Since the issue is just northbound, it would be nice in cases like this for the T to consider single-tracking through the area to keep the trains moving somewhat.

Also I bet they are wishing they still had that third track in service through here right about now!

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I'm pretty sure that single

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I'm pretty sure that single tracking this segment would mean massive delays backing up in either direction. Google says the travel time between Wellington and North Station is 7 minutes. The MBTA schedule says there's a train every 6 minutes in both directions. So you go from 2 trains every 6 minutes to only being able to barely squeeze one every 7 minutes, and one direction isn't signaled for it either. And that's assuming the crossovers and electrical systems are arranged to do this sort of thing, which it isn't over there, AFAIK. Perhaps they could install crossovers after every station and rewire the power system. Maybe that's buried deep in a budget, somewhere, after all the other problems get fixed.

Shuttle buses suck but at least they can match the frequency of the line.

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The problem

The electrical work and all that is fine. AFAIK, the signals even face bi-directionally in that area. The problem is the ATO signal system, which basically takes any flexibility out of the MBTA's operations. The trains need an override to traverse a track the 'wrong' direction, and even then their speed is electronically limited. Signal blocks will take longer to clear. Each signal block needs an override individually, I believe. It's just way to messy unless they botch the signal system and go for something better. And this is a brand new (10 years, maybe) signal system, that came at a cost of millions.

Things like this weren't a problem in the 1920's, it would have worked fine. Then again, you also didn't have the FRA back then, and you also were more likely to have human-error related accidents.

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The ATO signal system allows

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The ATO signal system allows bi-directional operation at regular speeds. During the planned Assembly Sq. construction shutdowns on evenings and the occasional weekends, they operate single track between Sullivan and Community College. Given the location of today's specific problem and the layout of the switches, they would have to operate single track all the way from Wellington to Community College. They would result in a 20-minute headway along the entire line, as the single track operation just between Sullivan and Community College results in 15/16 minute headways when they do that shorter segment of single track operation. Better to operate the bus shuttle.

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Full speed

In my experience, including the Assembly single-tracking from Community to Sullivan on some nights, they never run full-speed when they're running wrong-iron. They usually crawl along, and maybe do a mild jog at best. When I've been on a train running wrong-iron at Wellington (twice, both times there was some incident at Oak Grove), the penalty brake was tripped every few feet.

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Must Be Cautious Cats...

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I recall one or two instances of the Orange Line running relays from Ruggles to Forest Hills during very short-term trackwork at the crossovers near Camden/Gainsborough Street. Trains ran wrong-rail at regular posted speed as though it was a normal trip. Presumably they just kept it on manual bypass.

AFAIK, the signals even face

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AFAIK, the signals even face bi-directionally in that area. The problem is the ATO signal system, which basically takes any flexibility out of the MBTA's operations.

That's what I meant. They don't rely on lineside signaling on the Orange Line, so the signal faces don't matter. It would have to be manually dispatched. So yeah, even slower than 7 minutes.

Then again, you also didn't have the FRA back then, and you also were more likely to have human-error related accidents.

The FRA doesn't regulate rapid transit (thankfully).

[rant]
I also dispute that the FRA has had anything to do with preventing crashes or deaths. As far as I can tell, most of their regulation is based on historical accidents and guesswork. FRA rules have likely led to more deaths and injuries than if we adopted a modern regulatory framework like that of UIC. Here, the FRA mandates idiotic 1930s ideas like "add tons and tons of weight to passenger vehicles just in case they hit a freight train" that are so stupid that even the automobile industry abandoned them forty years ago in favor of crash energy management-type techniques. And common sense ideas like "avoid crashes by automatically stopping train if it passes signal at danger" had to wait until the tragedies built up so much by 2008 that even Congress couldn't ignore it. Even then, the FRA had to invent a special America-only term "positive train control" and it appears poised to miss its deadline of 2015.
[/rant]

I know you know most of this stuff but I'm just stating it for the record. The FRA sucks at protecting passengers. China has a better safety record than us.

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