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MBTA to begin trial of three-car Green Line trains, starting on the Riverside line Monday morning

MBTA General Manager Rich Davey reports the first three-car train will pull out of Riverside station 7 a.m. on Monday, with a second to follow at 8:30 a.m. In e-mail, he writes:

We're starting this up on a trial basis as personnel from the Green Line and Power Department closely monitor the performance of the train and the D branch itself. If all goes well, we plan to increase the number of trips made by 3-car trains and expand the program to the B branch. You are probably aware that the Riverside and Boston College lines are the longest branches of the Green Line. All of the train platforms on the D and B branches can accommodate 3-car train sets.

He says this is the first time the Green Line will see three-car trains in five years. What spurred the return, he says, were comments from a number of customers asking for increased capacity during rush hour, at a "Join the GM" session at Riverside last month.

He adds that in the afternoon, there'll be three-car trains at 4 and 5:40 p.m.

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Comments

I've actually found myself wondering whatever became of the three-car Green Line trains. There was kind of a big deal about lengthening platforms to accommodate them and so on, and they ran for a while (unpredictably, of course, this being the T - and more specifically the Green Line) and were very welcome when they did!

Any info on why they were discontinued?

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They stopped for the platform reconstruction at Kenmore, Copley, and etc. I guess with Copley about to be done, it is good they are finally coming back.

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I'm sure that turning those suckers around at Government Center won't get screwed up at all.

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at Government Center has the potential to really slow the service on other lines down.

Why? Because the eastbound to westbound loop at Government Center is not long enough to hold a three-car train without the rear end of the train fouling the eastbound switch, thus preventing eastbound service to North Station and Lechmere from passing while the train is waiting in the loop.

Plus, although the platforms at Government Center can accommodate a pair of two car trains (assuming the T would allow two trains to occupy the platform at the same time in the first place), it cannot accommodate a two car train and three car train at the same time, even if only one train is officially "berthing" at any given time.

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What did they do five years ago when they were running three-car trains?

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they actually ran five years ago were looped at Park Street, not Government Center.

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They were looped at Government Center when operated in the past. Unless they break down in the loop, they are usually not there long enough to block the line.

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so they always receive the signal to exit the loop onto the westbound side before a westbound train approaching from Haymarket does.

Note that the signals at the Government Center westbound switch are set up on a "first-come, first-serve basis" - i.e. the first train to reach the interlocking gets clearance. This is the reason loaded trains coming from Lechmere and Government Center normally have to wait for empty trains to clear the loop - and then must wait again to actually enter the station because of the T's illogical and capacity-restricting "one train only" berthing policy.

This signal setup at the loop is also one of the reasons that BC trains are often held at Park Street for "headway adjustment". By clearing the Government Center loop in front of other (full) trains, they are actually running ahead of schedule.

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5 cars easily fit at government center inbound. I think even 6.

As for 3 car trains....this is ONLY good if it means they're being added in addition to existing runs. Its bad if three 2-car trains will be come two 3-car trains meaning longer headways.

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next morning commute in. But I think that, at best, five cars will barely fit, and six cars will have one partially hanging outside the station.

I do know that the eastbound (outbound) platform at Government Center will not fit five cars unless one is partially hanging outside the station.

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What happens now is that the first 2-car train gets bogged down by Washington St and the one behind it goes from a 7 minute headway down to a 30 second headway. They run tandem except everyone and their grandmother packs on the first one and nobody gets on the second one. The third 2-car train starts 14 minutes after the first one and gets another chance to bog down on the 7-10 minutes worth of people on every platform as if the middle train never existed. Eventually, the front train goes express around Packard's Corner for 4 stops...

A 3-car train offers 9 doors to enter instead of 6. If it bogs down by about 7 minutes...the extended headway behind it means the next 3-car train still has 5-10 minutes worth of passengers to pick up (and ample space to hold them) as opposed to running right up the rear of the train in front of it that's picking everyone up all the way down the track.

So, I can see how 2 three's instead of three 2's is a potential improvement. Then again, this is the B Line...I'm sure there's some way to screw it up and they'll find it.

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You lost me at "What ..."

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I can't tell you how many times I've passed up a train because it's chock a block of people (I'm generally not in enough of a hurry to be crushed like a sardine in a green line car) and then had another car come up behind it with like ten people on it. A three car train has the potential to spread the passengers out more evenly so that you've got fewer people not being able to get on the first train that comes by and cars that aren't as crowded. This has the potential to make for more efficient use of the trains.

I'll also applaud the MBTA for this. I've often felt that their train queuing policy was somewhat off. The B line is one of their busiest lines, at least in terms of number of riders, but there seems to be no consideration taken of this, and the fact that rush hour might be very crowded, when they're scheduling trains.

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Yep, not to mention the benefit to central subway crowding. Longer but fewer trains in the tunnels means less chance for the whole system to get bogged down.

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Government Center inbound can only fit 4 cars.

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That would make green line trains even more like the clown cars of the MBTA. Other cities can run light rail with one operator...we can't.

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Seriously?

Big fucking deal.

Until dispatch and/or the GM does something about the poker games happening at Cleveland Circle and Reservoir, running TEN car trains won't be worth a tinkers damn.

Why?

Because if two triples come through in five minutes, and then it's thirty minutes until the next set of trains, the net result is the same: angry passengers, a crowded platform, and everyone crowding on to the front train.

This GM needs to seriously evaluate what's happening at the ends of the Green Line.

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By poker games, do you mean that T employees are hanging around the terminals past when it's time to go? That's an easy problem to solve.

If the T can punish employees when they see them via the surveillance camera letting bikes into the station 20 minutes before the end of rush hour, surely they can monitor on-time departures.

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How about they take those third cars and stick 'em on the back of the single car trains they insist on running during rush hour on the C-line? Oh yeah, that might make sense. Never mind.

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Hah! I keep writing in to complain when I see single-car trains during rush hour, and when they bother to write back they say they never do that -- well, hardly ever.

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during rush hour means that they broke up a two-car train that suddenly decided it was unable to run as two cars connected together - which is still an all-too common problem on the Green Line. That's one of the legacies of T management's short-sighted decision to go with Breda's low bid (instead of Kawasaki's higher bid) for the Type 8s and then turn around and pay Breda lots of extra money to "retrofit" the older Kawasaki Type 7 cars.

As a rider, what bothers me about this practice is that, when a two car train is separated for electrical or mechanical reasons, they invariably treat the two halves as totally separate trains for scheduling purposes. So, instead of running two single cars "back to back", the second half of the former two car train is either held for "headway adjustment" or looped at Park Street or Government Center.

And, for the poster who complained that a three car train would have three employees running it, this issue is also one of the reasons for having an operator on each car. If that train were to break down enroute and the cars needed to be separated, there would be a much longer delay than at present. Why, because an employee would have to be dispatched from a terminal to operate one of the now separated cars.

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I'm never going to forgive them after catching a T official talking to some sort of VIPs checking out a test run of the new Breda and asking him directly "So, is it my imagination or do these things have less seats than the old cars? I bet these things don't even hold as many people as the old cars too because they have stairs in the middle of them."

He sheepishly affirmed my suspicions.

The Breda cars went on to fail miserably for performance, reliability, and in just about every other way you might evaluate the purchase. Oh, but they let wheelchairs on at the platform...so they've got that going for them.

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they have fewer seats, but more room for standees. So, at least on paper, the overall car capacity is supposed to be the same as a Type 7.

The reality is that a Breda car, even filled to sardine capacity, generally has fewer people in it than a Type 7, mainly because of the stairs.

As for being able to accommodate wheelchairs, the Type 8 bridge plate system still requires the operator to leave the cab and manually activate it from the side of the car. So, there isn't a huge time savings over the old platform lifts. As I understand it, this is not for technical reasons, but is apparently T policy.

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Well, it's a good theory, but I'm not buying it and this enthusiast site seems to back me up:

Breda Type 8
Vehicle Capacity
Number of seats: 46
Number of standees (Normal Loading): 108-120
Passenger capacity: 154-166 (w/standees)
Crush load: 200

Kinki-Sharyo Type 7
Vehicle Capacity
Number of seats: 46 (Delivered with 50 - 4 removed from 36XX's for wheelchair access)
Design load: 201
Crush load: 269

Even at crush load, they're 70 less than the previous models. So, I don't know how in theory they ever thought they'd hold more given the specs on the things.

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Any readers on the D Line experience the new 3-car trains? Did it seem to help/hurt/make no difference?

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Wouldn't it make more sense to use the cars that would be added to the trains to make a three car train and run them as separate trains, making for more frequent trains while still increasing capacity?

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That idea might work in localized spots, like the D-line after Kenmore, but the central subway already has a lot of trains running. Spend some time at Arlington St. between 4:00 and 6:00 and you'll sometimes see a train come through every 30 to 60 seconds. Where is there room in that for another train? The idea behind 3 car trains is that you can spread the 30/60 to become 60/120 without reducing load capacity. Greater headway spacing makes managing the system easier and less likely to get backed up. When everything goes to three car trains, then we can probably start fitting more total trains into the schedule, which will happen once the Somerville line opens.

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Wouldn't some of this crowding also be eased by less dwell time at stations as more trains would mean less people exiting and entering each individual train allowing the trains to leave the station sooner?

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