Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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

(VIA 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

No comments:

Post a Comment