Posts tagged with "Trains":

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Peek inside a model of Gehry’s extreme model railroad museum

Visitors will start in the Berkshires (North Adams's home) and head towards New York City, London, Tokyo, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. Firms the world over are contributing models to the project. Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum Inc. is leading the design and fabrication of the interior exhibitions, with Jarzyniecki as a consultant, while Gehry is in charge of the exterior. The project will anchor the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, one of nine parks Massachusetts established in the 1980s in its former industrial cities and towns to spur tourism. That park is expected to host two other museums and a distillery. The museum, a for-profit enterprise, is expected to be complete in 2021 at a cost of $65 million. Thomas Krens, the man behind MASS MoCA, brought Gehry Partners onto the project, though Krens and Gehry have a longstanding relationship: the pair worked on the Guggenheim Bilbao when Krens directed the museum's New York location.
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Gehry Partners to design Extreme Model Railroad Museum in Massachusetts

The proposed Extreme Model Railroad Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, will be designed by Gehry Partners and developed on a new site in the town. The original design by Gluckman Tang Architects sited in the town’s Heritage State Park will instead become a new Museum of Time based on the New York architect's design. The Berkshire Eagle initially revealed the appointment, and the museums have confirmed the news with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). AN has learned that Gehry is designing the train museum, adding that the project has increased from 32,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.  In addition, the project is moving out of Heritage State Park and across the river to a different site. The projects, located on an 83,000-square-foot parcel on Christopher Columbus Drive, will be located just down the street from MASS MOCA, for which Gehry provided initial designs in 1987. Gehry has collaborated several times with the director of the new museums, Thomas Krens, former director of the Guggenheim Museum. Their most notable partnership came with the Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997. Gluckman Tang’s designs had called for large, pitched-roofed, warehouse-like spaces marked with sawtooth skylights. Gehry’s designs are still forthcoming.  The Architecture Museum will display large-scale art and architecture works and installations that would never fit in museums in cramped urban contexts. The Extreme Model Railroad Museum will feature scale model trains moving through architectural dioramas created by the likes of Gehry and Zaha Hadid. According to the Eagle, the current plans will cost about $65 million, and fundraising is ongoing. Krens—always ambitious—is also proposing to build the Massachusetts Museum of Time and a distillery in the area, and he’s suggested that Jean Nouvel design the city’s master plan. In addition, Gluckman Tang is doing a master plan for the city's Heritage Park and designing the new Global Contemporary Art Museum on the grounds of the local airport. William Menking contributed reporting. 
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The MTA is circulating free e-books on the subway this summer

Instead of staring vacantly into a phone on the train, the MTA and New York City's three public library systems would like straphangers to bury their noses in e-books, gratis. Starting today, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library will be offering hundreds of free short stories, books, and book excerpts for download through each station's wireless network. Available for six weeks only, Subway Library will let you read titles in the library system as well as selects from five publishers' catalogues. And who doesn't like books? Even Governor Andrew I-don't-control-the-MTA Cuomo had kind words for the program. “I am thrilled that the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library are kicking off the summer reading season and offering free e-books to subway riders through the MTA’s TransitWirelessWiFi™,” Cuomo said, referring to the private wireless services provider for the subway system. “The Subway Library will encourage adults and children to explore new worlds through reading during their daily commute, while spreading awareness of our Wi-Fi and connectivity services underground.” To promote the program, the MTA's gone all out and decked out a real train: Inside, the promotional car is gussied up to resemble the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch on 42nd Street: The industrial grey-blue seats are transformed into faux wood benches as book-lined wallpaper edges the car, though the titles are more suggestive than substantive. Curious riders can catch the special train on the E and F lines' 6th and 8th Avenue corridors.
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Penn Station proposals fail to recognize unique opportunity to improve regional transit

The redesign of Penn Station offers not just a chance to raise the building’s roof, but is also a unique opportunity to unify the region’s disparate rail networks in a way that has not been possible in over a century. Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) don’t think broadly enough about the underlying transportation problems afflicting the station and, worse yet, they solidify its already dysfunctional setup.

Most of Penn’s issues are founded in its overloaded capacity. When the station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of eight railroads providing service into New York City. While other railroads terminated at waterfront stations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the first railroad to cross the Hudson and East Rivers. Its Midtown Manhattan station provided through service for long-distance trains and terminal service for commuter rail from New Jersey and Long Island.

This is how the station still operates today, with one crucial difference: Over the past century, all the waterfront terminals except Hoboken have been closed, and the trains that served them have been largely rerouted into Penn. The resulting congestion has been exacerbated since the 1990s by a shift in preference toward Midtown’s office district and New Jersey Transit’s decision to reroute as many lines as possible into Penn.

Today, Penn Station serves 650,000 commuters each day. That is more than twice as many at its peak in the 1940s, and three times what its initial design accommodated. Furthermore, both New Jersey Transit and Metro-North would like to bring even more trains into Penn—both from existing and proposed routes. Expanded service into Penn Station will not be possible without significantly increasing its capacity—a need that Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals ignore in lieu of retail space and glass ceilings.

Understanding Penn’s capacity limitations (and how to solve them) is critical to a good design. They exist in three forms: passenger crowding, train traffic, and systematic connectivity issues to the rest of the region. On a passenger level, overcrowding is mitigated through staged boarding, or letting passengers onto the tracks only after trains arrive and unload. This produces chaotic lines and rushed transfers, especially in the area of the station that NJ Transit uses. Images of Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals suggest that the platform width and vertical access would both remain unchanged in the new Penn Station. Preserving existing stairs to the platform level, as PAU proposes, is not enough; Penn needs more vertical access. Rather than working to preserve inadequate stairwells to the platform level, we should be fighting for more stairs and escalators.

On a track level, the station is also hopelessly congested. Incoming trains often have to wait in tunnels for ten minutes or more as other trains exit the station. This is because the station is operated primarily as a terminal rather than a through station. Trains must cross each other as they enter and leave the station. Through-running avoids this problem by scheduling eastbound traffic on southern tracks and westbound traffic on northern tracks. Each train could enter the station, unload and load passengers, and continue on without ever crossing oncoming traffic.

Penn’s present configuration makes through-running impossible because only two tracks connect to Penn from New Jersey, while four tracks connect to the station from Queens. Amtrak’s current Gateway proposal would remedy this by building two additional tracks between Penn and New Jersey.

Unfortunately, none of the schemes put forward thus far recognize this unprecedented opportunity to expand the station’s capacity.

PAU’s analysis of Penn’s lack of connectivity at the neighborhood scale only tells half of the story. As a transit hub, the most important function of Penn Station is not on foot at street level, but underground at a track level. Furthermore, as one of the two regional rail hubs in New York, a redesign of Penn Station offers a uniquely valuable position to solve numerous problems at just as many scales. The schemes put forward thus far fail to look beyond the neighboring blocks of Midtown Manhattan.

Our ReThinkNYC proposal does. By understanding the regional importance of Penn Station, we are able to use infrastructural opportunities to not just solve present day problems within the station, but to improve connectivity on a regional scale.

We would reduce passenger crowding by extending all platforms to pass below neighboring Moynihan Station, currently the Farley Post Office. Some platforms already extend under Moynihan and other platforms should be extended as well. This would increase stair and escalator access to platforms for every carrier. We would widen the platforms, reducing the current 21 tracks to 12. This potentially counterintuitive move has significant benefits: Wider platforms allow passengers to board safely and quickly at track level, much like New York’s subway service, and this would decrease the amount of time each train would need to sit at its platform. By staging this work, it would be possible to extend and widen the platforms without interrupting service. We would use the new Gateway tunnels to implement through-running at Penn, allowing trains to enter and leave the station efficiently, without crossing each other’s paths. By permitting carriers to bring more trains through the station, Penn will be able to serve a growing New York City for years to come.

Not only will these track-level changes increase passenger and train capacity, but by bringing more trains through the station, we can dramatically improve the city’s connectivity as a whole. This includes NJ Transit trains that currently only go to Hoboken, LIRR lines that need more service but have no track space at Penn, and some Metro-North cars, that would be diverted from Grand Central. Furthermore, bringing Metro-North into Penn would have the added benefit of unifying the region’s three commuter rail lines into one station.

Redesigning Penn Station is about understanding its role within the New York region as a whole. The Gateway tunnels and Moynihan Station present a once-in-a-century opportunity to make Penn a transportation hub that both serves and stimulates the entire New York region. Proposals for vaulted ceilings and inspiring spaces would certainly make the station more beautiful, but are incomplete gestures if they fail to also address the more serious issues on a track and capacity level. In Penn Station, we have a rare opportunity to create a world-class station with the capacity and connectivity that New York needs. To give the city anything less would be a detriment not just to the station, but the region as a whole.

For more on ReThinkNYC, visit their website.

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Governor Cuomo unveils MTA’s new station and subway car designs

On Monday Governor Cuomo unveiled designs for the renovation of 31 subway stations stations and hundreds of new subway cars. 1,025 cars will sport new features, inside and out, while 750 new cars will be "Open Car End" designs, so passengers flow will be enhanced but there will be no more fleeing the dreaded stink car. "The MTA is the circulatory system for the metropolitan area. If you want to grow the metropolitan area, if you want to sustain the metropolitan area, the answer cannot be that people get in their cars and commute to work. That just does not work," Cuomo said at a press conference. "The volume just cannot be handled by the current road transportation system. The MTA is going to have to increase their capacity to manage that higher volume." For those anxious that the MTA may draw on the vast reservoir of design talent in the city, worry not. The new stations and cars look sleek, but not radically so. The open-tube designs are intended to reduce crowding by more evenly distributing the number of passengers on the train while wider doors will speed up entry and exit time by one third. In addition to wi-fi and USB charging ports at stations and in cars, security is paramount: The governor highlighted the presence of surveillance cameras on platforms and inside trains. The investments are part of the agency's $27 billion, five-year capital plan. The MTA is using design-build contracts to speed up the project timeline: "We have had enough experience to know the best way to do this now is contract the entire project to a private sector developer who does this, who can design the project to your specifications, can build the project, is incentivized to get it done quickly, and is penalized if they are late. These endless construction projects, that just go on and on and on, and they seemingly have no end, have to stop. We need a different way to do business which is design-build," Cuomo declared. Stations will be completely closed during renovations to further expedite the process. The first of several Requests for Proposals for the renovations will be released this week.
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SEPTA takes 120 cars out of service due to structural defects

Over the holiday weekend, SEPTA revealed that it had taken a third of its passenger rail cars out of service due to "structural defects." 120 Silverliner V cars will be out of commission until crucial repairs are performed. According to an agency spokeswoman, the six-year-old cars were taken off the tracks July 1 after staff noticed some of the cars leaning off-center, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Due to the fleet's overnight shrinkage, some stakeholders raised concerns over commuting delays post-July 4. Those fears of long waits and crowded trains were borne out in full: With 12,000 fewer seats, some commuters are experiencing travel times double and triple the usual length. Local news outlets report riders standing between cars, and recommend alternative forms of transit. Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft are capitalizing on the SEPTA fiasco: Uber's offering 40 percent discount on rides to and from regional rail stations, while Lyft is offering $50 off the first ride for new users. For all the hassle, SEPTA maintains that the car's flaws don't threaten riders' safety, and the decision to take cars offline was done out of an abundance of caution. On most days, up to 15 percent of the system's 400 cars are out of service for maintenance and repair. New trains, including Amtrak's high-speed Acela, have growing pains. In 2010, SEPTA spent $330 million in capital funds to expand its fleet and meet growing demand for regional rail service. The cars, manufactured by a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group and assembled in Philadelphia, have been plagued by mechanical issues, namely doors don't function properly in very cold weather, since operations began:
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Contrary to popular belief, the sacred “T” in TOD may not be necessary for reduced car dependence

Urban planning credo states that, through design and policy interventions that improve access to public transportation, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reduces car dependency and encourages individuals to walk, bike, bus, or take the train to their destination. Well, maybe. A University of California, Berkley study suggest that, for rail, the T in TOD may not be necessary to reduce car travel in neighborhoods that are dense and walkable, with scarce parking. fig1 In a study of rail transit's impact on travel patterns, Daniel Chatman, associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, challenged the assumption that easy access to rail leads to less reliance on cars (and subsequently lower rates of car ownership). Were there other factors at play, like narrower streets, good parking, wider sidewalks, and nearby destinations? Chatman received over 1,100 responses to a survey he sent to households living within a two-mile radius of ten New Jersey train stations, within commuting distance to Manhattan. Chatman asked residents about what type of house they lived in, on- and off-street parking availability, travel for work and leisure, residential location preferences, and household demographics. 30 percent of respondents lived in housing that was less than seven years old. Half lived within walking distance (0.4 miles) to rail, in TOD-designated and non-designated developments. Controlling for housing type, bus access, amount of parking, and population density, among other markers, the availability of on- and off-street parking, not rail access, was the key determinate in auto ownership and car dependence. The study asserts that "households with fewer than one off-street parking space per adult had 0.16 fewer vehicles per adult. Households with both low on- and off-street parking availability had 0.29 fewer vehicles per adult." Living in a new house near a train station, moreover, was correlated with a 27 percent lower rate of car ownership compared to residents further afield. Bus access was also key in determining car use. The number of bus stops within one mile of a residence is a good indicator of public transit accessibility, and there are usually more bus stops in denser areas. The study found that "doubling the number of bus stops within a mile radius around the average home was associated with 0.08 fewer vehicles per adult." Compared to areas with poor bus access and plentiful parking, car ownership was reduced by 44 percent when strong bus access converged with poor parking availability. To reduce car ownership and use, municipalities don't necessarily have to invest in rail. Reducing the availability of parking, providing better bus service, developing smaller houses (and more rentals), and creating employment centers in walkable, densely populated downtowns may accomplish the same objective, at considerably less expense.
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OMA selected to design The Factory, a major arts complex in Manchester, England

After fending off  Rafael Viñoly, Zaha Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Haworth Tompkins Limited and compatriots Mecanoo, OMA's design for "The Factory" will become Manchester's new art house. Lead by Rem Koolhaas, The Factory will be in the British city's center and is touted to cost $166 million with a further $13.5 million-a-year to run. Funding will not be an issue for Koolhaas' building as U.K. Chancellor George Osborne has pledged $117.5 million to the project with the view that The Factory will become the "Northern Powerhouse" showpiece. The project's name supposedly comes from the home-grown Factory Records, an indie record label launched in 1978 that produced notable bands such as Joy Division and Happy Mondays. Koolhaas has designed what essentially is an art-box that will host a wide range of artistic events in Manchester, with an aim for the facility to become the cultural focal point of the region. The venue is dedicated to theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, and scientific advancements and will have a combined capacity of 7,200—2,200 seated and 5,000 standing. This will be OMA's first major public development on British soil, aside from a few minor forays into London, Glasgow, and the south coast. “The importance of the Factory cannot be overstated," Manchester council leader, Sir Richard Leese, told the Guardian. "It will be of international significance, the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond. It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created.” Koolhaas' project in Manchester is set to break ground next year with the aim to finish by 2019. According to the Guardian, "Those behind the project have predicted that within a decade it will help create the equivalent of 2,500 jobs adding nearly $211 million to the local economy."
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Japanese government to fund a maglev train line between DC and Baltimore

You can do a lot in fifteen minutes: cook some surf-and-turf, blast through paperwork, star in a mediocre crime drama, or travel 40 miles between major East Coast cities. Well, not yet. Given the excruciatingly slow pace of infrastructure modernization in the U.S., there will be a wait on that last one, probably for decades. Yet, the U.S. is taking small steps towards twenty-first century transportation. Last week, the U.S. Transportation Department granted $27.8 million in Federal Railroad Administration funds to the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to conduct feasibility studies for a maglev train line that will run between DC and Baltimore.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoffwhalan/16578045553/in/photolist-6ZNtXq-bkjuSb-byeyp6-qdzcUH-u8F6rc-9DN21-byeq9i-bkjwuj-7sUSTT-4TEqye-qZoBxP-78WXSR-7ya8wK-rfWPnB-7sYQD7-7sYQLS-ziKfWR-6pTxyU-4SpKK-21THR5-4jpRM-Ab3VT-aans1n-aansdz As the above video illustrates, Maglev trains move very, very fast, reaching speeds up to 375 miles per hour. If built, the DC-Baltimore maglev train would be a 40 mile demonstration project to determine how to best bring maglev trains to the United States. Overall, the track will cost an estimated $10 billion to build. Japanese transportation companies and the Japanese government are keen on spreading their products and expertise to the United States, a potentially lucrative market. This spring, Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn rode on the Yamanashi Maglev Test Track. The Japanese government has committed $5 billion to the project, and the train operator, the Central Japan Railway Company, will not levy licensing fees for the technology. Stateside, The Northeast Maglev, a private investment group, will also contribute to the project. For those who can't delay gratification, ferroequinologists the world over love to share their love for ultrafast trains.  
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21 Winners Chosen for Federal Transit-Oriented Development Planning Grants

Twenty one planning projects have been awarded over $19 million between them by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in a bid to boost transportation infrastructure funding. According to the two federal agencies, "public transportation doesn’t just move people; it moves communities." A post on the DOT website goes on to say: "And we believe that when communities invest in new transit options, they can connect their citizens to jobs, education and opportunity. However, creating that connection to opportunity doesn't happen by accident. It takes planning." The aim of the project is to "help communities plan for housing, jobs and services centered around transit lines" which will hopefully enable cities to grow economically with transport links connecting workers and tourists. "Our goal at FTA is to help these and other communities make the most of their investment in new transit services and harness greater benefits for residents." As America's population looks set to grow by a quarter in the next three decades, there will be greater demand for travel options between "home and work, school, the doctor, shopping, and recreation–all while maintaining a good quality of life." Here are examples of other projects selected:
  • The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh will receive $1.2 million to encourage transit-oriented development along a corridor connecting downtown Pittsburgh to neighborhoods on the east side of the city. The redevelopment authority, along with the Port Authority of Allegheny County and local partners, has begun initial planning and environmental review of a bus rapid transit project proposed for the corridor.
  • The Sacramento Area Council of Governments will receive approximately $1.1 million to work with local partners to develop a toolkit of policy and regulatory changes to encourage transit-oriented development in the areas surrounding the planned Downtown Riverfront Streetcar project.
  • GoTriangle (formerly Triangle Transit) in Durham, NC, will receive approximately $1.7 million to support efforts to implement transit-oriented development along the Durham-Orange Light Rail project, a light rail line the agency is developing between Durham and Chapel Hill.
A  complete list of the winners and their grants is available on the FTA website.
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Open data from Transport for London spurs 3D axonometric plans of the Tube so passengers can mentally map their next trip

Now you can strategize your next rush-hour skedaddle through the labyrinthine London Underground ahead of time—and choose all the right shortcuts. Transport for London (TfL) has released a series of 3D axonometric maps of the world’s oldest tube network, following a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request by Londoner Georges Vehres. While revealing the sheer intricacy of the Underground’s tunnels and the country’s longest escalator at north London’s Angel station, the set of 124 maps documenting stations A through W are not to scale, as becomes obvious by the unrealistically steep stairwells. Passengers can now devise a mental map of their most frequently-used stations. TfL’s release of a trove of public transport data following the FoIA spurred London-based visual developer Bruno Imbrizi to create 3D maps of his own that display the movements of all trains in the London Underground in real-time in brilliant color. Technically, the data is real-time accurate only from the moment you load the map, as it represents a prediction from TfL for the next 30 minutes of activity. Trains take the shape of shifting rectangles along a lace-like lattice of tunnels, disappearing and reappearing behind orbs representing each station to the tune of a soothing underground soundtrack.
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Take a tour of Chicago’s newest Green Line stop, Cermak-McCormick Place, designed by Ross Barney Architects

Chicago commuters transiting through the South Loop and Chinatown have had a new stop since early this year, when the Chicago Transit Authority opened its newest train stop: Cermak-McCormick Place. Designed by Ross Barney Architects (the team behind West Loop's lauded Morgan stop for the Pink and Green Lines), the new station employs brawny steel trusses and sleek, curved surfaces. Via the architects, here's a gallery of images from the new station, shot by Kate Joyce Studios: