Ruggles to get second commuter-rail platform

Federal, state and city officials gathered at Ruggles station this afternoon to announce a $20-mllion federal grant to build a second commuter rail platform at Ruggles - and fix the crumbling part of the existing platform.

Officials said the project will increase capacity in Ruggles just as Northeastern and other nearby landowners even further develop the area, bringing new jobs - and increased demand on commuter rail. "Roxbury is the location of the future," Sen. Ed Markey said.

State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said the work could begin within the next 12 months. Although it's an important project, "it's not a complicated project," he said.

In addition to the platform work, the money will pay for new elevators and lighting.

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How would Ed know

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I travel every day on the commuter rail thru ruggles, people board and exit fine current. The current platform is in need of repair, but this is just stupid.

Platform will improve transit

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When Ruggles was designed then built back in the mid-80s there was no foresight on how rail might change and expand, let alone the concept of high-speed rail such as the Acela. The existing platform serving 2 of 3 tracks was deemed appropriate and the unserved track was supposed to be an express track. In the last 25 years things have changed.

Many trains coming into Boston every weekday morning are on that easterly/outer track as they come in from Canton and points south but have to switch over to the westerly/inner track to reach the platform at Ruggles. This cross over occurs at switches at Forest Hills. Often the inbound trains are a little ahead of schedule and are forced to slow down or stop just short of Forest Hills in order to wait for an outbound train to clear that area. Once clear, the switches are set by remote control, the inbound train crosses over, and then the tracks are set for the next trains to go through. This process repeats several times between 7 am and 12 noon every weekday and at other additional times daily. I know because the trains slow or stop by my house.

If the new platform is built, (and it has been on the drawing board for a number of years by the way), those inbound trains will not have to slow down and switch over at Forest Hills. They can continue inbound and stop on the track they are traveling on. This will improve schedules, reduce late trains because of having to wait for the switches to be clear, and also eventually allow for more trains to ply those tracks.

Trains, just like airplanes, have to be a certain distance apart, and that is set in federal regulations. Trains cannot leave Ruggles until the switches at Forest Hills are already cleared, and an inbound train approaching wanting to switch will have to wait for an outbound train to pass and clear before it can "cross the street" for want of a better analogy.

So this is a major improvement. It will take a couple of years to complete of course.

This concept of "infilling" existing transit and commuter systems is now happening in a number of cities. The infill station at Assembly Square on the Orange Line is another example.

The project is actually going

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The project is actually going to add a second platform that will allow more trains to stop at Ruggles and provide better and more efficient operations on the Northeast Corridor for MBTA and Amtrak.

Thanks for the clarification

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I updated the post with that and a couple of other facts. All the officials were so busy congratulating themselves and talking about the economic benefits for the area that they didn't get really heavily into actual details - and I could've sworn I heard them say they were lengthening the platform, not building a new one. But the details are here (search for "Ruggles").

access to ruggles street

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While they're building a 2nd platform, I hope they include a stairway up from the current platform directly to ruggles street. No turnstyles needed etc...

Tunnel

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The federal overview mentions something about a new pedestrian tunnel.

Wouldn't be a bad deal (for

Wouldn't be a bad deal (for me--let's be serious, this comment is enlightened self interest) if more Amtrak trains stopped at Ruggles. I usually get off Amtrak at Back Bay and then head south on the Orange Line, and hey, I'd like to save a few minutes by getting off at Ruggles and then heading a few stops south. The trains are going somewhat slowly in those parts anyway.

Somewhat slowly?!

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Those trains are ticketed for 90+ MPH through there!

Now if only the state

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would do something about the platform at Greenwood. The inbound platform is horribly short, is falling apart, and doesn't connect to either Forest Street or Greenwood Street. The outbound platform is slightly better, as it connects to Greenwood Street and the bank parking lot (former B&M station that was slightly relocated years ago to create the parking lot), but doesn't connect to Forest Street.

The reason having both of the platforms directly connect to Forest Street would be very useful is because, with the exception of six "commuter rail only" parking spaces in the bank's lot, all the commuter parking for the station is located on Main Street north of Forest Street.

Yes, I'm aware that the issues with the Greenwood Station platforms have not changed in the 24+ years I've been riding the Reading/Haverhill line daily. The only reason I'm commenting on them now is that, the construction of the new Galvin Middle School in Wakefield, which was substantially completed two weeks ago, resulted in a net loss of parking spaces for the Wakefield commuter rail station. As such, I've had to go down to Greenwood more than once recently. The good thing about the Greenwood parking - which is administered by the Town, and not the MBTA - is that the fee is only $2.00 per day (the MBTA spaces at Wakefield Station are $4.00 per day). And the Town took the time to install not one, but two, very good and proper parking machines that a) operate on the "punch in your space number" principle (meaning you don't have to slog back to your car to leave the slip on your dashboard), b) has yet to give me problems with my credit card, and (c) actually take change as well.

Forget the Markey comment

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which will undoubtedly be mercilessly mocked. The obvious question that will be asked is: "if 'it's not a complicated project" (and to my non-engineering eyes, that is how I would describe it, too) how the hell can it cost that much money?" Are there buried utilities that have to be relocated or something?

Also, I have to believe there are some signals in the subway that could be overhauled for that kind of money, resulting in a much greater productivity gain.

Also, why not lean on Northeastern to pull a New Balance (sort of - the Brighton Landing stop is going to cost substantially more) and fund this?

Just what we need

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More legalized extortion (the "Lean on Northeastern to pull a New Balance" comment) - not

My comment was kind of tongue

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My comment was kind of tongue in cheek, but at least a little more seriously, it would be the least NU could do, considering the paltry sum they that it pays in PILOT (hell, most of BC is in Newton and they are blowing NU and most others away).

Besides, Northeastern stands to benefit greatly from this - certainly more than any other individual/entity I can think of.

Seriously outdated info

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Your link is for FY11. Boston reports PILOT payments for FY13:

BC: 315,332
NU: 886,000

http://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/FY13%20Second%20Half%20PILO...

Also not fair to compare BC to tiny schools like the conservatories or Fenway colleges and say that BC is "blowing them away." BC has a huge budget, Division 1 athletic revenues, etc. Most of Tufts is in Medford and they paid more than BC.

Also, these PILOT numbers do not include so-called "community benefits" that accompany their 10-year master plans. My recollection of their recent IMP approvals was that community benefits for the two were roughly:

BC: 3 million
NU: 25 million

This info comes from having attended some of their community meetings, I can't find an official city link to confirm exact numbers. I just remember that BC seemed pretty miserly compared to other big schools.

BC is Mayor Walsh's alma mater. I wonder if he will hold them to higher standards than Menino did.

Difference is NU pays real

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Difference is NU pays real estate taxes on a lot of property and gives away tens of millions of dollars for in kind services to the city instead of cutting a check into the mystery PILOT slush fund.

Harvard Hospital

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The driving force behind increasing the number of trains stopping at Ruggles Station was actual the Harvard Hospitals community no NU.