Yesterday was the first day for the new 717 Franklin train, departing South Station at 4:20 PM. I'd actually planned to try to catch the 715, which had been moved to 15 minutes earlier, but wasn't able to make it. I'll try to catch it soon - possibly tonight - and report on it here.
I've been wondering just how many coaches the T will put on it. The old 715 usually consisted of five double coaches and two singles. But since they seem to have basically split the run - moving the 715 up by 15 minutes and dropping in a new train that runs ten minutes after the old time - it seemed likely that each of those two trains would have less capacity. But how much less, I wondered?
I can't speak for the new 715, but the 717 last had six flat coaches and one conductor. Between him and the engineer, that's two people to handle a train carrying 700-800 passengers. I don't know what sort of safety or union rules there are, but it's hard to imagine that a single conductor would be considered safe or adequate staffing.
The train itself arrived at Ruggles 15 minutes late. There had been trouble in the yard, apparently. The lone conductor was good about announcing the destination, fortunately; we were all wondering if this was the new Franklin train.
It was, of course, overcrowded. There were ten standees in the coach I was in, and with those old flat coaches that means that some people get pushed into the aisle, blocking traffic.
Many people were confused about the stops that the train would be making. As I noted in the last entry, the T did an awful job at alerting people about the change; I got an earlier warning than most via RailMail, and even THAT was only six days before the change!
Anyway, the old 715 stopped at every station on the Franklin line except Hyde Park and Plimptonville. The new 715 is the same. But the new 717 does stop at Hyde Park, but doesn't stop at Endicott or Islington (nor Plimptonvile). Since a lot of people were going to those stations, the train stopped at all of them - with an announcement that it would NOT be making those stops in the future.
We arrived at Franklin/Forge Park at 5:49, 24 minutes late. Not a particularly auspicious first run, I'd have to say.