Monday, December 12, 2011

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Plans Sale of Isolated Route

(Via Trains.com newsletter)

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Montreal, Maine & Atlantic has reached a tentative deal to sell the last of its track in northern Maine, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News has reported. MM&A plans to sell its 25-mile route between Madawaska, Maine, and St. Leonard, N.B., to Eastern Maine Railway, an affiliate of J.D. Irving’s New Brunswick Southern Railway.

“We have an isolated piece of railroad there that doesn’t seem to be generating a lot of traffic,” said Robert C. Grindrod, MM&A’s president and CEO. “There seemed to be little or no prospect of regaining traffic from Twin Rivers,” a paper mill in Madawaska.

MM&A sold 233 route-miles of track north of Millinocket to the state of Maine, which in turn has leased it to Eastern Maine Railway. MM&A had proposed abandoning the route on account of diminishing traffic. The 25-mile route east of Madawaska connected the Twin Rivers mill to an interchange with Canadian National. But Twin Rivers, upset with what it said was inadequate service, began trucking its paper into Canada for transloading into railcars on Canadian National.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ST/Guilford/Pan Am GP9 #52 Second Heritage Unit

Photos are starting to show up of the recent "heritage" repaint out of the Pan Am Waterville shops.  This time, it is ST #52 in dark green Maine Central livery.  ST #77 was the first unit to be painted in a retro scheme, the classic maroon and gold Boston & Maine version.  Word is there will be a third as well.  I wonder how many mis-posts there will be of these engines as "BM" and "MEC", instead of Springfield Terminal?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pan Am Railways Plans Expansion of ‘Heritage’ Locomotive Program

(Via Trains.com newsletter)

NORTH BILLERICA, Mass. — Pan Am Railways plans to roll out a GP9 in Maine Central paint before week’s end, the second locomotive to commemorate its predecessors. The company painted a GP9 in the “Minute Man” colors of predecessor Boston & Maine earlier this year.

Cynthia Scarano, the railroad’s executive vice president, told TRAINS the company decided to paint the locomotives in the historic schemes because “the railfans are really big on this kind of stuff. We thought it would be nice to bring out some of those old schemes to show on the railroad.”

Pan Am is choosing GP9s for its “heritage” program because the locomotives are in need of repainting. The railroad’s Waterville, Maine, shop is applying the new liveries.

New Commuter Train Station Opening in Connecticut

(Via Trains.com newsletter)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Metro-North Railroad will begin service to the new Fairfield Metro Station on its New Haven Line on Dec. 5. Located midway between the Fairfield and Bridgeport, Conn., stations, it was built by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Town of Fairfield. Metro-North provides train service in Connecticut under contract to the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

The station has two high-level platforms with full-length canopies that can accommodate 12 passenger cars each. Other station facilities include elevators, ticket vending machines, benches, shelters, and an enclosed pedestrian overpass. Fairfield Metro is the first new station on the New Haven Line since State Street Station opened in New Haven in 2002.

The New Haven Line carried 37.3 million passengers in 2010, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

National Heritage Museum TRAIN SHOW - Lexington MA 12/17-18/11

The HUB Division of the National Railroad Association
... will delight fans large and small with their model train display.

December 17-18, 2011

National Heritage Museum
33 Marrett Road
Lexington, MA 02421

Museum Website

Thursday, November 17, 2011

4 People Indicted for Scamming MBTA Out of Millions

(SOURCE: Foxborough Patch - By Patricia Resende)

Four people including a Foxborough woman have been indicted by a Grand Jury for their involvement in selling millions worth of illegal MBTA monthly passes to riders, according to the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Joceline Townes, 41, of Attleboro along with Susan Gillis, 46, of Foxborough, Andres Townes, 27 of Revere and Alex Saunders, 28 of Beverly were all charged with conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property.

Joceline Towns was also charged charged with receiving stolen property over $250. Gillis, who received the most charges of the group, was charged with five counts of receiving stolen property over $250.

Three of the four indicted will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.  Andres Townes remains held on $15,000 cash bail.

“We allege that these defendants conspired to illegally sell passes to the public for profit while defrauding the Commonwealth,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. “Corruption of this nature deceives consumers and undermines the taxpayers.  Our investigation with the MBTA into this matter remains ongoing.”

Authorities say that Saunders, Gillis, and Joceline Townes, individually entered into an agreement during different times since November 2007 to sell MBTA tickets provided by Andres Townes. The crew split the profits from the illegal sales, according to Coakley's office.  Prosecutors allege that Andres Townes produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes worth millions of dollars and that at least $2 million worth of those passes were never in service because the passes had been dated and activated for use as far in the future as November 2012.

The investigation began after a conductor noticed the color of a pass that looked odd. Further investigation into the card showed that, while the ticket was authentic, the MBTA database had no record of it being activated and the MBTA had not received payment for it. It was then that MBTA authorities realized that more than 400 of those passes, worth more than $70,000, were being used by passengers in March of 2011 alone.

The tickets were being advertised on Craigslist, according to authorities. For Andres Townes' role in the plan, he allegedly received thousands of dollars each month based on the crew's sales of tickets.

The investigation was initially conducted by the MBTA and MBTA Transit Police, then referred to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and brought to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.

Boston & Maine Package Ticket

Friday, November 4, 2011

Somerville MBTA Facility Cited with 'Serious' Workplace Safety Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has imposed $130,800 in fines for 22 alleged workplace safety violations.

Saying workers were exposed to potential electric shocks, chemical burns, amputation and bloodborne pathogens, to name a few things, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has cited the Commuter Rail maintenance facility in Somerville with 22 alleged "serious" violations of workplace safety.

The Commuter Rail maintenance facility is located in the Inner Belt area of East Somerville, between McGrath Highway and Interstate 93, near the border of Cambridge and Charlestown.

According to a press release sent by the U.S. Department of Labor, of which OSHA is a part, the safety administration "found employees in the facility's diesel, carpentry, truck, pipe and coach shops exposed to potential electric shocks, electrocution, fires, falls, chemical burns, lacerations, amputations and bloodboarne pathogens, as well as to injuries from crushing, slipping and tripping hazards."

The proposed fines for these violations is $130,800, and the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad has 15 days from the receipt of the citations to pay the fines or contest the violations, according to the citations. The citations are dated Oct. 18.

The citations list a number of alleged violations, including the following:

•Workers who clean commuter train cars are exposed to potential bloodboarne pathogens and were not offered the hepatitis B vaccination.
•An exit was partially blocked with flammables storage cabinet and shelving.
•"Employees were exposed to electrical shock, electrocution and fire hazards when working on energized electrical parts without proper personal protective equipment such as voltage rated gloves and appropriate fire resistant clothing."
Read the citations here and here.

A number of the alleged violations seem similar to the sorts of risks do-it-yourselfers expose themselves to during weekend projects around the home: using improperly adjusted saw-blade guards, using extension cords with missing ground pins and plugging things into electrical outlets without faceplates, to name a few hazards.

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad statement
MBCR treats safety with the utmost seriousness. The company trains every engineer, conductor, and mechanic to make safety his or her top priority. This approach has resulted in significant improvements in workplace safety, as shown by the company’s reduction of workplace injuries by 58% in the past year. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), MBCR has the second lowest rate of workplace injury in the passenger railroad industry.

MBCR has worked cooperatively and collaboratively with OSHA over the past six months to address all safety and workplace concerns. In that period, MBCR has abated or is in the process of addressing all of the issues identified by OSHA. The company will continue to work closely with OSHA and the FRA to ensure the highest possible level of safety for employees and customers.

Name That Photo: Bradford MA

The four vintage photos below came in a lot I purchsed a few years ago.  There were no notes on the backs as to their location.  Since most everything in the lot was from New England, I was hoping these were as well.  I sent out a mass email to various rail-folks, and the result is I now know the location: Bradford (Haverhill) Massachusetts.  Now I need the rough date!  Anyone have an idea?  SEE UPDATE!!!!

Looking north-east
Note the brick buildings...
The overall area as it appears today
Note the old bridge abutment just visible at left of the current bridge
This branch track seems to be where the passengers cars were located in the first view
This seems to be the only building still standing from the bridge views

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Atlas Announces N Scale B&M MEC 'Geeps

Atlas has announced a Boston & Maine GP9 and Maine Central GP7, due the second quarter of 2012.  Models will come as DC or DCC.


Atlas N MEC GP7

Atlas N B&M GP9

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amtrak Passengers Stranded in Palmer MA Due to Rockslide

PALMER, Mass. (AP) - Amtrak officials say a train got stuck overnight in central Massachusetts with 48 people aboard and they are being taken to their destinations by bus.

Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham says the train from Chicago to Boston got stuck in Palmer about 10 p.m. Saturday. A rockslide caused by the snowstorm that slammed the Northeast was blocking the tracks.

Graham says the passengers had electricity and heat the whole time and got free food and drinks. Buses arrived about 11 a.m. Sunday to take them to destinations between Palmer and Boston. The Lakeshore Limited train had left Chicago on Friday.

The storm has forced Amtrak to suspend train service on several routes in the Northeast.

SOURCE: Storm stranded Amtrak train in Palmer WWLP.com

Pan Am Rail Sues Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports and Editor

Nov 1, 2011 - The parent company that operates a regional freight railroad covering most of northern New England has sued a small, Yarmouth-based trade publication for libel.

Pan Am Systems Inc. of Dover, N.H., has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor against Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports and its editor, Chalmers "Chop" Hardenbergh.

In its complaint, Pan Am claims Hardenbergh published untrue information on multiple occasions about the company and its former chief executive, David Andrew Fink. Both Fink and Springfield Terminal Railway Co. of North Billerica, Mass., also are named as plaintiffs.

In a reply brief filed last month, Hardenbergh and his Portland attorney, Sigmund Schutz, asked the court to dismiss the claims. They called the suit "a constitutionally impermissible attempt to silence a journalistic voice."
Pan Am Systems was founded in 1977 as Guilford Transportation Industries. It is privately owned by Timothy Mellon, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune, and shareholders that include Fink and his son, David Armstrong Fink.

The company's Pan Am Railways division owns subsidiaries that include Boston and Maine Corp., Maine Central Railroad Co., Portland Terminal Co., and Springfield Terminal Railway Co. It operates a network from Schenectady, N.Y., to Mattawamkeag, Maine, and has lines in New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.

In its complaint, Pan Am cites what it calls factual allegations made in past issues of Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports. It cites stories dealing with operating safety, service and Fink's departure from Pan Am management earlier this year.

"The substance of the lawsuit is plainly set forth in the complaint," Pan Am's lawyer, Thad Zmistowski of Bangor, said in a written statement. "My clients have alleged that they have been defamed in print by the defendants on numerous occasions and that their reputation has been wrongfully attacked. We look forward to our day in court."

The complaint says Hardenbergh published defamatory information, and the coverage caused economic damages and harmed the plaintiff's reputation. It seeks an award of unspecified punitive damages.
In his response, Hardenbergh says the railroad and its chief executive are highly visible figures and that the plaintiff's claims of malice would fail, "because they do not allege any facts sufficient to raise a plausible inference of negligence."

Hardenbergh said in a written statement released by his lawyer that "Pan Am has not produced any facts showing that any of the statements are false."

He pointed to one instance, a December 2010 statement that Pan Am failed to station a locomotive or a crew in Concord, N.H. "This is completely true. I just published an article last week saying they still have not stationed a locomotive or a crew there, even though they promised in 2009 to do that."

Other statements are "pure opinion," said Hardenbergh. "One merely calls Pan Am's service 'bad.' That's an opinion. It's still a free country."

Hardenbergh started his weekly newsletter, which covers freight railroads and ports in New England and eastern Canada, in 1994. It now includes a website and e-bulletins and has 350 paid subscribers.

Hardenbergh has extensively covered Pan Am and has long expressed critical opinions about its service and operations. In an interview today, he declined to characterize his relationship with the company or speculate on what triggered the lawsuit, citing the advice of his lawyer.

In his latest newsletter, Hardenbergh said he is facing substantial legal fees, even if the case is dismissed. He has set up a legal defense fund at the Preti-Flaherty law firm and is soliciting contributions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ayer, Littleton at Odds With Pan Am's Stormwater Management System

AYER -- As construction of Pan Am Railway's expansion of a rail-to-truck automobile-transfer facility nears completion, state and local officials are concerned about the standards of Pan Am's stormwater-management system.

The automobile unloading facility sits about 8 to 9 feet below the surface of the Spectacle Pond aquifer, Ayer and Littleton's drinking-water source.

In January 2010, Pan Am completed construction of an 800-car facility off

Willow Road
. By Thanksgiving, Pan Am hopes to complete the expansion of the facility, which will be able to house about 1,500 vehicles, according to Pan Am Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano.

Ayer has asked the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency for technical assistance in looking at the effectiveness of Pan Am's stormwater-management system for Phase 2.

MassDEP has told Pan Am that improvements need to be made to the system.

"In looking at the proposal that Pan Am has offered, we believe that work needs to be done to the stormwater-management system," said MassDEP spokesman Joe Ferson.

He said Pan Am needs to make changes to its plans to put the same level of protections in place that the railroad had with the first phase of its project.

In Phase 1, Pan Am used Stormceptor devices to manage runoff. Now Pan Am has installed Water Quality Outlet devices, said Scarano.

She said only the brands are different, but the standards are the same.
MassDEP disagrees.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Daniel Nason is pressing for Pan Am to use the same brand of stormwater-filtration devices for the sake of uniform construction, maintenance and crisis-management protocols across the Pan Am offloading facility, he said at a Board of Selectmen meeting in July.

Both DEP and the EPA signed off on the Stormceptor system during the first phase of construction.

This latest disagreement between the town and Pan Am is the latest in a line of clashes. The town fought with Pan Am in federal court over permitting in Phase 1, which resulted in a settlement that allowed the town to monitor construction of the automobile-transfer facility.

Scarano said the facility is used to transfer Ford automobiles from the rail lines to trucks, so the cars can be delivered to dealerships throughout New England. The expansion of the facility allows its capacity for transferring vehicles to increase.

The proximity of the facility to the aquifer is what has state and local officials concerned.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas will hold a meeting to address growing concerns with Pan Am's expansion.

"It's important that the concerns raised by Ayer and Littleton residents regarding Phase 2 of this project are heard and addressed," Tsongas said in a statement. "That is why I will be hosting a meeting that will bring together all of the affected parties and authorities involved in this matter including the EPA, DEP, Pan Am, town officials and other elected officials."

Local activists in Littleton and Ayer held a meeting to rally local and state-level support with the premier of ABC's television series, "Pan Am," a drama that revolves around the Pan American World Airways during the early 1960's.

"For people in Ayer and Littleton, "Pan Am" means oil spills and not the glamorous brand it was associated with back then," said Beverly Schultz, Spectacle Pond Association president.

In 2009, a Middlesex Superior Court jury convicted Pan Am Railways of failing to report a hazardous spill and contamination on its railyard property in Ayer in 2006. The conviction resulted in the company being fined $500,000.

State Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, attended the meeting held by the Coalition for Aquifer Protection last month.

"The concern now is that Pan Am is not upholding their end of the bargain in terms of the water-monitoring equipment," he said.

"There needs to be proper enforcement by the DEP and federal government to make sure those protections are there," he added.

The Littleton Board of Selectmen are also pledging its support to enforce stronger standards in Pan Am's stormwater-management system.

Town Administrator Keith Bergman said there is great concern for the quality of water in the aquifer with the expansion of Pan Am's facility.

Bergman also noted that the term "rail-roaded" comes from the fact that American law grants a special status to the railroad.

DEP and the EPA do not regulate the railroad, it is overseen by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Schultz said there is an immediate concern to ensure the storm-water management system is up to standard because Pan Am has almost completed its construction.

"There is more work to be done and we're highly concerned because they're about to pave," she said. "We would have a system that might contaminate the water."

Schultz said that contaminated water would not only affect residents, but businesses like Nestle and Cains that use water from the aquifer.

"They area all coming here because we have the cleanest water in the whole area," she said. "They could leave Massachusetts if there was a contamination in this aquifer."

But Schultz did say that Pan Am has been cooperative in meeting with the town, although they are not required to have any local approvals.

Scarano said that residents shouldn't be concerned about the protections that are in place.

"We have committed to a state of the art facility and we will continue with our commitment," she said.

SOURCE: The Lowell Sun / By Sarah Favot, sfavot@lowellsun.com

CSX: Heavy Snow, Fallen Trees Slow Service in MA, Northeast

CSX Service Bulletin: October 30, 2011 - 4:30PM

Heavy snow, fallen trees slow CSX service in Massachusetts and Northeast

October 30, 2011 – 4:30 p.m. – CSX freight service operating in Massachusetts and other areas of the Northeast has been slowed significantly today by the weekend’s severe weather. Customers with traffic that originates, terminates or passes through this region should expect delays of 24-48 hours as crews clear lines of snow and fallen trees.

Widespread commercial power outages also are impacting service. CSX equipment and personnel have been deployed across affected lines to restore service as quickly as possible.

Family Says Passing Acela Caused Woman’s Death

(via Trains.com Newswire)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The family of a Rhode Island woman who died after falling on a train station platform has sued Amtrak, the Associated Press reported. The family of the woman says she was knocked to the ground by the force of a passing Acela train that resulted in her death 11 days later.

The survivors of 91-year-old Ruth Tomlin Gronneberg, who died June 28, filed the complaint Oct. 26 in U.S. District Court in Providence. The lawsuit says she was hospitalized June 17 after a blast of air from a passing Acela knocked her to the ground as she waited for her granddaughter on the Kingston station platform.

An Amtrak spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Amtrak to Replace Two Bridges on Northeast Corridor November 5-6, 2011

(via Trains.com Newswire)

WASHINGTON – Amtrak will replace two bridge spans on its Northeast Corridor at Stonington, Conn., next week. All through service between New York and Boston will be suspended from 4 p.m. on Nov. 5 through noon Nov. 6.

During the outage, Amtrak will replace the spans, which are more than 100-years old, using barges to remove the existing structures and float in the new bridges. This marks the final stage of a multi-year $22.1 million project, funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Amtrak said it will not provide alternate transportation, and recommends passengers reserve space on trains that will operate prior to the corridor closing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Man Killed by MBTA Commuter Train in Acton MA


A man was struck and killed by a commuter rail train tonight near a station in Acton, a transit official said.

Lydia Rivera, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said in an email that an unidentified white man was struck at about 6:45 p.m. by MBTA train #431, which was heading outbound from North Station on the Fitchburg commuter rail line.

She said the victim was struck about 1 and 1/2 miles north of the South Acton station, and about 50 passengers were later evacuated from the train.

She said five to seven shuttle buses were called to take passengers to the remaining outbound stops on the line.

Rivera would only say that Transit police were investigating when asked if the man’s death appeared to be a suicide or at all suspicious. She said authorities were investigating how the man got onto the tracks.

Rivera said outbound trains were running on schedule to the Ayer station tonight, where buses were carrying riders to the remaining outbound stops.

Further information was not immediately available.

SOURCE:Person struck and killed by train in Acton

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ATV Rider Faces Charges After MBTA Crash

(Gloucester Times 9/20/11)

An MBTA commuter train collided with an all-terrain vehicle on the tracks just north of the Route 128 Extension overpass in Gloucester this morning. But the rider, a Gloucester man who jumped from the vehicle, escaped injury.

According to reports, the man — now identified by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as Robert Hovis, 40, of Warner Street, Gloucester — was riding his ATV on the tracks at around 10 a.m. then tried to bring his ATV up onto an adjacent hill, only to have the vehicle slide back down.

Hovis then jumped off the ATV as the train approached, and the train slammed into the ATV.

The train, which was inbound from Rockport and carrying about two dozen passengers, was detained for about an hour, and the MBTA posted that riders could expect delays of between 45 minutes and an hour on the Rockport line. But service has now fully restored.

Gloucester police established a command post on the southbound side of the Extension just south of Blackburn Circle, and MBTA security police also responded to the scene. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Hovis is being charged by transit police with trespassing on a railroad right-of-way; he is also expected to face charges from Massachusetts Environmental Police.

MBTA Advertisers Getting a Free Ride

Trolleys, trains and buses have been allowed to circle the city wrapped in eye-popping ads that the companies stopped paying for months before, assuring them of a free ride on the MBTA’s dime, a Herald review found.

The cash-strapped T vowed yesterday to rip the ads off on time rather than forfeit ad revenues worth hundreds of thousands of dollars after an inquiry from the Herald.

“It’s months of free advertising,” said Robert Young, a marketing professor at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, adding that the lenient contract enforcement sends a message to advertisers not to buy more time since their ads won’t come down immediately anyway. “The MBTA is losing revenue by not getting somebody new to do it.”

READ WHOLE ARTICLE: Advertisers ride free, thanks to T  (http://www.bostonherald.com/)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Western MA Rail Improvements Will Cut Travel Time Between CT & VT

Jeff Brown Photo
GREENFIELD – Improvements on the Pan Am Rail line from Springfield to Northfield in the next two years will allow the Amtrak’s Vermonter line to move back to its original route, reduce travel time and restore passenger service to Northampton and Greenfield, the nation’s top railroad official said Thursday.

“It will cut 30 minutes off the trip. These improvements will attract more passengers and contribute to local economies,” said Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Rail Administration.

Szabo joined U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, along with state and local officials Thursday on Miles Street near Greenfield station being built on Olive Street for the ceremonial replacement of the first two of 75,000 railroad ties that will be replaced along the 50-mile stretch of Pan Am’s route from Springfield to Northfield...............
READ WHOLE ARTICLE: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/10/western_massachusetts_railroad.html

MA Lt. Gov. Murray, FRA's Szabo announce Knowledge Corridor Project

Friday, October 21, 2011
 
Yesterday, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and U.S. Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) joined federal, state and local leaders to announce plans to revitalize the “Knowledge Corridor” along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts.

Funded by $73 million in federal stimulus grants, the project calls for improving the Connecticut River mainline of Pan Am Southern L.L.C., a joint venture railroad controlled by Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern Railway. On June 30, MassDOT signed agreements with the Federal Railroad Administration to proceed with the Knowledge Corridor project to revitalize the Connecticut River line, which runs from Connecticut through Massachusetts to Vermont. The project will restore Amtrak’s Vermonter service to the line to provide a more direct route, faster service, and restored access to the cities of Greenfield and Northampton, Mass.

Revitalization of the Knowledge Corridor route will restore the original route of the Vermonter traveling between St. Albans, Vermont and Washington, D.C., Massachusetts officials said. The work also will improve freight service for customers along the line and within western Massachusetts, according to a prepared statement from Murray’s office.

The project is scheduled to begin in 2012 and be completed in two years.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has designated the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Design and Construction Department to oversee the project’s implementation through final design and construction. The department has entered into a construction agreement with Pan Am Southern to construct the project.

“By partnering with the Obama administration, our congressional delegation and New England states on the Knowledge Corridor project, we are working toward a significantly improved transportation service for both passengers and freight service in this region,” Murray said in a prepared statement.

SOURCE:Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Murray, FRA's Szabo announce Knowledge Corridor project High Speed Rail Updates

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grafton & Upton Opens New Bulk Transload Terminal

(Trains Newswire - Published: October 6, 2011)

WEST UPTON, Mass. — Short line Grafton & Upton has begun accepting truck shipments at its Envirobulk Terminal at West Upton, Bulk Transporter has reported. The 38-acre site, located adjacent to Interstates 90 and 495, will offer liquid, dry bulk, and pellet transfer between railcars and trucks.

G&U restarted operations last year after two decades of being mostly shut down [see “News,” July 2010.]

The site boasts flexible hours, online inventory systems, facilities to handle transfer of commodities at any temperature, and a bulk-pellet bagging site.

Amtrak Vermonter Returns to the Rails

(Trains Newswire - Published on October 6, 2011)

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — Amtrak’s Vermonter resumed normal service this weekend following service interruptions due to track work and washouts, the Windham (Vt.) Commons has reported.

Federal high speed rail funds paid for repairs to Vermont Rail System’s infrastructure for a faster, smoother ride. Amtrak elected to bus Vermonter passengers north of Springfield, Mass., to reduce interruptions for track crews. Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on the line in August, delaying reopening.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Horizon Milling Grain Train 9/21/11

The first grain train arrives at Ayer MA with two BNSF and two Pan Am units.  Half of the unit train has been left at Fitchburg, and the crew has left the train.  The grain is destined for Horizon Milling, at the start of the Stony Brook branch.

© 2011 Jonelle DeFelice


Tab for MA Transit Fixes Soaring

(Via the Boston Globe)

More than $15 billion in repairs and replacements are needed to keep the state’s aging highway, bridge, and transit network in sound condition, an independent advisory committee warned yesterday.

In the Boston area alone, the day-to-day costs of operating the city’s decrepit subway, rail, and bus lines are so overwhelming that riders should expect a substantial fare increase, the first in five years, the top transportation official in Massachusetts said.

“We should be talking about at least a modest fare increase,’’ Secretary of Transportation Richard A. Davey said yesterday, with the MBTA facing a projected $161 million deficit for the coming year. “Unfortunately, it’s likely that it won’t be modest to close the gap.’’
................ READ WHOLE ARTICLE: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/09/22/tab_for_massachusetts_transit_projects_soars_to_15b/?page=full

MBTA Workers Could Lose Free Rides

BOSTON -- Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority employees could be paying to ride the buses and subway cars under a proposal being considering by state lawmakers.
The Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation heard testimony on a bill Thursday that would prohibit MBTA workers and retirees from taking rides free of charge on the T subway cars and buses for personal travel, as they have for decades.

The proposal comes as the agency faces a $161 million deficit in its operating budget and officials search for new ways to boost revenues, such as selling advertising on its website and licensing T merchandise and clothing, to avoid fare hikes.

The employee pass is part of each employee's wages and benefits package negotiated with the MBTA. The agency has labor agreements with 16 unions, and the bonus of free rides do not come without a cost to employees in other areas, union leaders say......... READ WHOLE ARTICLE: MBTA Workers Could Lose Free Rides - WCVB Boston

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Grants for MA & CT

SPRAGUE, CT - Providence & Worcester Railroad Willimantic branch, $5.3 million to upgrade track on the Providence & Worcester’s Willimantic Branch. The upgrade will allow an increase in speed from 10 mph to 40 mph.

BOSTON MA - The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has won a $32.5 million grant to expand and upgrade South Station in Boston. The U.S. Department of Transportation grant will pay for environmental reviews and preliminary engineering on the upgrade.

Plans for the upgrade call for a new location for trains to lay over, improvements to existing track layout, and improved platforms. An adjacent U.S. Postal Service building will be demolished to make room for the upgrades. The redesign also calls for improvements to the streetscape, connections to transit, and the reopening of Dorchester Avenue for public use.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pan Am Railway Train MOED at Buckland MA 9/3/11

Vermont Railroads Work to Restore Service Post-Irene - TRAINS Magazine

(VIA Trains.com Newswire - by Kevin Burkholder 8/30/11)

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont Rail System and New England Central had planned an inspection trip today to show off upgrades made to their lines as part of a recent high speed rail grant. Instead, officials from the two railroads were inspecting damage from Tropical Storm Irene, which dumped heavy rain on the region over the weekend.

With water and mud receding since yesterday, the railroads were able to more accurately gauge just how bad the damage is.

Vermont Rail System Project Manager Steve Mumley reports that since water levels receded on the Clarendon & Pittsford’s route between Rutland, Vt., and Whitehall, N.Y., the route has been cleaned up and deemed safe for passage. The first revenue run should occur tonight with train 264 from Whitehall to Rutland. Likewise, the Vermont Railway’s Northern Subdivision should be open this afternoon from Rutland to Burlington. Between those two routes, service can resume between Burlington and Whitehall, N.Y., with important interchange with the Canadian Pacific Railway at Whitehall. Water levels have also receded at Florence, Vt., and the large Omya Inc. manufacturing mill there will see service restored by this afternoon.

Mumley reports that the Green Mountain Railroad was hardest hit of all of the Vermont Rail System subsidiaries. The railroad is assessing damage between Rutland and Bellows Falls, with the first 17 miles of inspection revealing 42 washouts of varying depth and length. Several bridges have been washed out on both ends, while Bridge No. 114 at Milepost 11 of the Bellows Falls Subdivision is “hanging on by a thread.” The Proctorsville Black River Bridge adjacent to Route 103 has the most extensive washout damage on both ends of the bridge, and repairs will involve extensive earthwork and riprapping. The railroad estimates it’ll take two to three weeks, and perhaps longer, to reopen the line.

Vermont Rail System's Washington County Railroad’s Connecticut River Division survived mainly intact, with a few small washouts between White River Junction and Newport, Vt. The railroad is making repairs today and expects to restore service soon. The main problem location on the Connecticut River Division is the three-span bridge in White River, where the bridge continues to slowly sink into the river after a support pier shifted from its position. Continued high water and fast current is furthering the erosion.

The Washington County Railroad’s Montpelier & Barre Subdivision is reportedly in good shape, and service may be restored to that route as early as Aug. 31. This route could become key again to move granite riprap should the decision be made to use the materials already staged at the quarry. Mumley reports that there are no plans to use the granite at this point; however, plans are still taking shape.

Service restoration on New England Central Railroad's Roxbury Subdivision between White River Junction and Essex Junction may take up to six weeks or longer, according to Charles Hunter, director of state relations-east for RailAmerica. Hunter says the railroad has so far identified 51 problem spots between West Hartford and Williston, Vt., ranging from significant washouts to mudslides covering the rails. At least two major bridges have had significant damage to their supports/approaches at Randolph and Royalton. Several sections of more than 1,000 feet of rail are currently suspended in the air along the Roxbury Subdivision. Only one serious problem spot was identified on the Palmer Subdivision near Bellows Falls, where a mudslide impacted the route, but that is being cleared.

New England Central's lines will be intact from White River Junction south to Palmer, Mass., by Sept. 1. However, repairs north of White River Junction will require rebuilding that will bring the line back to service in sections. Complete through service between Essex Junction and White River Junction will not likely be in place before that six-week estimate, Hunter says. Continuing assessment and more damage discovery could lead to a much longer out-of-service period.

Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express between Rutland and New York City should be restored on Aug. 31 via the Vermont Rail System’s Clarendon & Pittsford trackage. The Vermonter service on the New England Central, already suspended for track work, was to resume on Sept. 18. Contractors from the rebuild project have been redirected toward recovery work. The Vermonter’s return has been suspended indefinitely.

Both Mumley and Hunter report they are looking at detour and alternative routes and means of serving their customers. Hunter says that New England Central is currently negotiating with the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways regarding possible detours.

SOURCE: Vermont railroads work to restore service post-Irene - TRAINS Magazine

Pam Am Railway Seeks to Abandon Portsmouth to Hampton NH Rails...

HAMPTON — Pan Am Railways has officially asked the federal government to authorize the company's abandonment of the 10-mile stretch of railroad line it owns running from Portsmouth to Hampton.

Area officials have been eager to learn of Pan Am's intentions toward the land, as the state has the right of first refusal to purchase it should it become available.

Hampton Town Manager Fred Welch said Pan Am's request to the feds doesn't necessarily mean the company will end up selling the land.

Officials from several towns for various reasons have expressed interest in the state buying the portion of the rail line property that runs through their respective communities.

Hampton wants to use its portion of the rail line property because........
READ: Pam AM seeks to abandon railroad SeacoastOnline.com

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shore Line Trolley Museum Hit by Irene

The Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven CT was hit hard by Irene.  Click the link below to read about just what happened.  The good news is that they have re-opened on a limited basis. 
READ WHAT HAPPENED: http://www.bera.org/irene.html  
DONATE: http://www.bera.org/donate.html


Photo by Dennis Pacelli


Hoosac Tunnel East Portal Bridge Washout Repaired 9/3/11

© 2011 Jonelle DeFelice

Friday, September 2, 2011

Washout at East Portal of Hoosac Tunnel

Gary Senecal took this photo of the washout at East Portal of Hoosac Tunnel in Florida MA.  This happened after the storm Irene in late August.  As you can see, the bridge has room for the old second track that once went through the tunnel.  The wash out unearthed some wooden beams.  There are many thoeries floating around as to what these beams are doing there.  Perhaps they were added when the bridge was built, as fill to get the grade right before the bridge.  But would they still be intact after 100+ years?  Maybe they were added more recently, after similar weather hit the area and the grade had to be built up.  What I want to know is, how important are they to the anchoring of the bridge itself?

Photo by Gary Senecal


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rails Reeling From Effects of Storm - Railfan & Railroad.com


(via Railfan & Railroad -  http://www.railfan.com/railnews/ )
August 30th, 2011:  Heavy rains from Hurricane Irene have caused widespread damage to the rail system in the Northeast.

Many routes of the Vermont Railway System have been affected, with multiple large washouts and bridge failures. After the water receded on Tuesday, the Rutland to Burlington and Rutland to Whitehall, N.Y. lines were found to be safe for movement. The well-known Bartonsville covered highway bridge adjacent to the Green Mountain Railroad main line has been washed away and completely destroyed, and the GMRC has many washouts and several damaged bridges. The Washington County Railroad's former Boston & Maine bridge over the White River at White River Junction is slowly collapsing as one pier of the three-span structure has been undermined, severing the route to St. Johnsbury and Newport. Traffic for this line will be routed over the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic and it will be serviced by the WACR out of Newport.

The New England Central reports that it is operating from Burlington, Vt. north to Swanton and will open this afternoon from White River Junction south to New London, Conn. The railroad is closed between Essex Junction and White River Junction because of extensive washouts and three heavily damaged bridges, two of which may need to be completely replaced. NECR estimates that repairs could be completed in six weeks. Fortunately due to the ongoing welded rail project, NECR has plenty of manpower and equipment at hand.

The Pan Am Railways main line across Massachusetts between Mechanicville, N.Y. and Ayer, Mass., has been hit with washouts along much of the route, including at Charlemont, Mass., and at the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

The Capitol District of New York near Albany was also hit hard; the CSX Water Level Route is out of service between Selkirk, N.Y. and Buffalo, with major damage in the flooded Mohawk River valley, including an extensive washout at Lock 10. Consequently, there is no Amtrak service between those points.

The Schuylkill River had flooded the CSX main line in Philadelphia, severing the route to North Jersey. However, the Raritan River has receded at Bound Brook, N.J. on Conrail Shared Assets, allowing Norfolk Southern to access the New York Terminal from the west.

The Delaware River reportedly has washed out large sections of the Susquehanna's former Erie Delaware Division between Binghamton and Port Jervis, N.Y., as well as part of the main line in New Jersey.

Passenger, Freight Trains to Resume in Vermont (8/31/11)

Vermont Rail System expects to run a freight train north from Rutland to Burlington today, its first on that track since Tropical Storm Irene struck Sunday. The train will deliver fuel.

Amtrak passenger service resumes today from St. Albans using Premier Coach buses as a substitute for the Vermonter train for the trip south to Springfield. A train will be available from Springfield to New York. Amtrak officials have yet to announce when the Ethan Allen would run again between Rutland and New York, but a Vermont Rail official said the service was scheduled to resume Thursday.

Irene hit rail lines across the state as hard as its roads, causing hundreds of washouts and extensive damage to bridges.

"We are still in the assessment stage," said Charles Hunter, assistant vice president for government relations at New England Central Railroad. Having identified 51 problem areas, he said, "We are having rock crushed, and we are mobilizing contractors."

NECR, which operates a line from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts border, hasn't had a train -- freight or passenger -- on its tracks since Friday, Hunter said. He didn't expect there would be any trains on the tracks south of St. Albans for the rest of the week, he said.

NECR has been undertaking a $74 million reconstruction of its rail line, but Irene brought the project to a halt, Hunter said. "We are going to have to concentrate on getting the railroad back in service."

Amtrak's Vermonter runs on NECR's track, but the train has been replaced for much of the summer by Premier Coach buses to allow the track replacement project to move faster. The buses were scheduled to replace the train until Sept. 18, Hunter said.

Vermont Rail, which operates several lines across the state, expected to phase in service on most of its tracks this week. Late Tuesday, the first freight was scheduled to travel between Rutland and New York.

Mary Anne Michaels at Vermont Rail said the most damaged line is the Green Mountain Railroad operating between Rutland and Bellows Falls. It runs through the area hardest hit by Irene's deluge. Vermont Rail officials identified at least 50 washouts on the line, she said.

The good news was that a helicopter surveillance flight Monday showed two critical bridges still intact, although they could be damaged, Michaels said. "We were happy to see they were there."

Vermont Rail Systems Shut Down Due to Storm Damage (8/30/11)

... The state's rail network also took a hit. The New England Central Railroad and all of the state-own railroads were shut down due to flood-related damage. Four rail bridges in the state were impassable and Amtrak service in Vermont has been suspended until further notice...

SOURCE: 8/30/11 http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011108300301

Freight Trains Have Impact on Vermonters’ Daily Lives

Vermont drivers can thank trains for the rock salt that public works crews across the state spread on icy roads each winter.

At the Burlington rail yard adjacent to the headquarters of Vermont Rail Systems, Perry Martel showed visitors an enormous shed that he estimated housed at least 100 train cars’ worth of road salt — ready and waiting on a recent summer day for snow to fly.

Road salt is just one of the many commodities that Vermont Rail System hauls over the 350 miles of track it leases or owns in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

“We haul about 25,000 carloads a year on our system,” said David Wulfson, president of the company his father founded in 1964. Most of rail freight affects Vermonters’ daily lives, yet they don’t realize their dependence, Wulfson said.

It’s the gasoline in their cars and trucks, the fuel for their furnaces, and the feed and fertilizer for the farms producing the milk and cheese in home refrigerators, he said. Vermont Rail, for example, hauls a “gas train” to Burlington every day — averaging 15 tanker cars.

“People don’t realize how important rails are. They don’t realize at all,” said George Barrett, co-owner of Barrett Trucking Co. Barrett imports the rock salt that is stored at the Burlington rail yard as well as sheds in Rutland, North Clarendon, White River Junction, Rochester, Ely and Stark, N.H.

Barrett chuckled when asked if the rock salt could come by truck instead.

“The cost would go right out of this world,” he said. “We can ship 100 tons of salt for under $2,000. Probably closer to $1,500,” he said. One tractor-trailer load would haul 25 tons and cost $800 to $900.

“If it wasn’t for rail, there would be another 100 trucks a day, maybe more, on 22A all winter long,” Barrett said. “Without rail, I don’t know what we would do.”

Joseph Flynn, rail director at the Vermont Agency of Transportation, noted the interdependence of passenger and freight rail lines. “In Vermont, every passenger train runs on somebody’s freight railroad, so we can’t ever forget the importance of freight.”

The railroads operating in Vermont — Vermont Rail Systems and New England Central Railroad — have supported the state’s efforts to secure federal funding for track upgrades for passenger service because those improvements also benefit freight hauling.

Railroads especially want to see investments that strengthen bridges because that is what prevents freight cars from being loaded to capacity. Throughout Vermont, the top weight per car is 263,000 pounds while the national standard is 286,000 pounds.

“So lumber arrives maybe two stacks short,” said Christopher Parker, executive director of the Vermont Rail Action Network.

The $74 million improvement project under way on the New England Central Railroad line running from St. Albans to White River Junction and then south to Massachusetts includes 37 bridge upgrades. When the work is completed in the fall of 2012, the entire 191 miles will be able to carry 286,000 pound cars.

“It will enable us to market ourselves as a way to move heavier loads,” said Charles Hunter, assistant vice president for government relations at New England Central. NECR hauls about 35,000 carloads of freight a year, including wood chips to the McNeil electric generation station in Burlington, LP gas to Montpelier and a lot of grain for the farms in Franklin county.

Back at the rail yard in Burlington, Martel, with 22 years invested in a railroad career, offered up the virtues of rail that he acknowledged most Vermonters have forgotten or never knew.

“A truck may get it there quicker, but by rail, it will be cheaper,” Martel said. And greener, he added. “We move a ton of freight 500 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel.”


SOURCE: Freight Trains Have Impact on Vermonters’ Daily Lives - Burlington Free Press burlingtonfreepress.com