BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)
and Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) today announced CapeFLYER
weekend rail service to Cape Cod and the Islands will begin Friday, May 23
through Labor Day, with an improved schedule and new station stop at Wareham
“CapeFLYER is a proven success in giving customers from the
Greater Boston area a quick, convenient and car-free option to enjoy the
attractions, beaches and restaurants of the Cape and Islands,” said MassDOT
Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “We also hope that local residents will use
CapeFLYER to conveniently enjoy all their fantastic region has to offer without
having to drive.”
CapeFLYER trains in 2014 will include a station stop at
Wareham Village to provide customers with another destination option. The new
station will be located off Main Street near the Wareham Fire Department. By
the height of the summer season, trains will include separate coaches for two of
the service’s most popular amenities: the café coach and bike racks with tools
for on-board tune-ups.
“The CapeFLYER’s goal during the inaugural season
was to provide a safe and reliable way to bring people to the Cape and Islands
without needing their cars; thereby reducing congestion for everyone coming to
Cape Cod,” said Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Thomas S.
Cahir. “The first year was a rousing success and we believe that the second
year will only be better.”
In its inaugural season, the CapeFLYER had
16,586 riders and generated $290,756 in fare revenue, while reducing traffic and
emissions for thousands of tourists heading to one of the country’s most beloved
The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the
Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. For
additional information, including a complete schedule and fares, please visit www.capeflyer.com.
OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine. – Fire officials in southern Maine believe that a
five-alarm wildfire may have been sparked by a passing Pan Am Railways train on
Thursday afternoon, WCSH-TV reports.
The blaze destroyed 10 trailers and
damaged six others at a trackside campground after some propane tanks caught
fire and exploded, according to witnesses. The fires were reported shortly after
1 p.m., not long after Amtrak's Downeaster and a freight train went
through the area.
“First we heard the passenger train go by and about
five minutes later we heard an old freighter just hauling down the tracks,”
Cindy Rowe tells WCSH. “You could see it was sparking. Almost immediately (you
could smell) a burning tire smell and we saw that some grass and stuff was on
The train was later stopped in Portland so that it could be
inspected, according to railroad officials. Photos of the fire show smoke and
flames along the right-of-way for more than a mile and, according to the local
fire chief, other brush fires were reported along the tracks in five communities
from Old Orchard Beach to Scarborough.
Because of dry conditions and warm
weather, southern Maine's fire danger is high right now. High winds may have
also helped the blaze spread, regardless of its cause.
After a Saturday afternoon pub crawl in Boston, and possibly one too
many alcoholic beverages, a Worcester man has been summoned to court
after being found "surfing" on a MBTA commuter train.
According to a MBTA Transit Police report, the unidentified
28-year-old man was detained by Southborough and Ashland police when the
train's engineer stopped the train at 9:45 p.m. between the two towns
after being told that someone was on top of the train. At the time, the
train was traveling 40 miles per hour.
The engineer told police that after climbing to the top of the
engine, he saw that the "man's body was half over the top rung of the
ladder, 'like a child clinging over a shopping cart.'"
"The engineer said the man climbed down on his own power and was
brought to Southborough MBTA Station where the police removed him,"
according to the report.
Transit police have not identified the man, who was wearing a
sombrero and poncho when he told municipal and MBTA officers that he had
been drinking with friends in Boston since 3 p.m. that afternoon. The
man's identity will be made public when he is formally charged with
The man told officers that he had become separated from his friends
and began walking car to car to find them, but he denied being on top of
the train, according to the report. Officers noted that the man's hands
"were blackened, which were consistent to being in contact with the
outside of the train." He was later released to a friend.
The Worcester-bound train arrived 24 minutes late to Union Station because of the incident, according to the MBTA.
Amtrak Downeaster passenger service has been delayed or
canceled this week because damage along the track has forced trains to slow
down dramatically in some places, said the Northern New England Passenger Rail
Authority’s top official.
click image to enlarge
Amtrak says it could take weeks to repair winter damage to
An engineer with Amtrak climbs toward the cab of a Downeaster
train in Portland
in 2009. About 65 people use the train to commute to their jobs in Boston from Portland and
from Maine train stations south of Portland.
Rail inspectors determined that harsh winter weather and
heavy snow melt had destabilized the ground under about 27 noncontiguous miles
of track between Freeport and Boston, said the authority’s executive director,
Patricia Quinn, who expects it could take weeks to repair the damage.
Winter-related track damage isn’t unusual, she said, but the
delays it is causing this year are particularly severe because the damage
occurred in places where the trains normally run fastest.
“Obviously, this is not something we’re happy about,” Quinn
The rail authority’s website said two runs have been
canceled for the rest of this week – the 686 train that leaves Portland at 2:35
p.m. weekdays and arrives in Boston at 5:05 p.m., and the 683 train that leaves
Boston’s North Station at 11:35 a.m. weekdays and arrives in Portland at 2:05
p.m. Quinn said the cancellations would prevent overlapping “delay cascades”
and give work crews more time to repair the damaged areas.
All other runs are expected to take an average of 35 to 45
minutes longer than normal because rail officials have issued “slow orders” for
the damaged areas. The orders require the trains, which normally run as fast as
80 mph, to slow down to as little as 10 mph.
Delays likely will continue for another week or two but
become shorter each day as damaged areas are repaired, Quinn said.
She said she is not certain whether the cancellations will
continue into next week. “It’s my hope that we won’t be in a position to have
to cancel trains next week,” she said.
Brian Beeler, manager of passenger services for the rail
authority, said he has received dozens of telephone calls and emails from
passengers who have been affected by the delays.
“We’ve certainly seen some very irate customers, and then
there are those who are taking it in stride and saying they understand why this
is happening,” he said.
Beeler said repairs are being handled by the track’s owner,
Pan Am Railways, which is responsible for maintaining the 138 miles of rail
between Brunswick and Boston. The line runs for 116 miles between Portland and Boston.
Amtrak owns and operates the Downeaster trains, and the
Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority manages the transportation
Beeler estimated that 65 people use the Downeaster to
commute to their jobs in Boston from Portland and from Maine
train stations south of Portland.
In New Hampshire, 150 to 180 people use the
train to reach their jobs in Boston.
Wayne Davis, chairman of the passenger-rail advocacy group
TrainRiders/Northeast and a volunteer at the Downeaster’s Brunswick
station, said commute times for the trains running between Brunswick
and Boston have
been extended by as much as 53 minutes since the weather damage was revealed by
a geometry car, an automated track-inspection vehicle.
“Nobody wants to ride the train if they’re going to be 53
minutes late,” Davis
said. “You’re going to be late for work, and you’re going to be late getting
Bill Lord of Kennebunkport,
who used to ride the Downeaster to his teaching job in Boston, doesn’t ride the train regularly any
longer, but he serves on the board of directors for TrainRiders/Northeast.
He said it’s good that repairs are being done now, before
the tourist season.
“Too many times, we get caught up in getting to work on
time. No one wants to be delayed, but people need to realize that this is a
safety issue,” Lord said. “It is not going to be a quick fix. The reality is,
these things take time.”
The Downeaster’s on-time performance in March was 81.3
percent, and its 12-month average was 74.9 percent, according to Amtrak’s
website. About 1,400 passengers ride the Downeaster on a typical day, Quinn
The Downeaster’s ridership has grown steadily since it
started running between Portland and Boston in 2001. Service
was extended to Freeport and Brunswick in 2012.
In the service’s most recent fiscal year, which ended June
30, ridership increased about 5 percent over the previous year, with a total of
about 550,000 riders.
WESTFORD MA -- The May 6
meeting between local officials and Pan Am Railways will go beyond the
Feb. 19 train derailment, and also focus on the need for track repairs
and herbicide spraying, Town Manager Jodi Ross said.
Ross said she doesn't want the meeting to focus on the past, but
on how to move forward and improve communication with the
Billerica-based rail company.
"I think that in that communication improvement, we'd like to
know exactly what products are being transported through the town and
also understand the condition of the rails," Ross said. "We've heard
they're in poor condition."
Further, Pan Am will start spraying near Stony Brook from May 1
to July 1 to "control nuisance vegetation" in the ballast portion of the
railroad right-of-way and also near switches and signals.
"We don't use pesticides according to our town policy," Ross
said, "but we don't have any jurisdiction on what the rail does on their
Relations have been tense between local officials and the company
since five cars carrying liquid petroleum gas hopped the tracks. Town
officials were not notified, and learned about the incident when Fire
Chief Joe Targ drove by the next morning. Ross has said she and Targ
were threatened with arrest for trespassing at the site.
She said she has not heard from Pan Am since that day.
Pan Am has been cited with a wide gauge track issue which
typically carries a $5,000 fine from the Federal Railroad
Administration. The state Department of Environmental Protection has
ordered the company to evaluate whether Stony Brook was contaminated.
The meeting will include the town's representatives on Beacon
Hill, state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell, and Rep. James Arciero,
D-Westford. plus representatives of U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth
Warren, and Rep. Niki Tsongas. Markey's spokesman, Eben Burnham-Snyder,
said Pan Am responded in a timely manner to their requests for
scheduling the meeting in Westford.
"I'm certainly hopeful getting all the necessary parties around
the table we can come up with a game plan and understanding as to how
these incidents will be handled," Donoghue said. "This last incident
underscores the need for that."
In a statement to The Sun, Tsongas said she and her colleagues want Pan Am to discuss this matter in a more "open manner."
"The goal is for transparency and open communication to assuage
lingering public safety concerns related to derailment, as well as to
give the community a chance to address all its questions about the
overall health, environmental and safety impact of the Pan Am line," she
Arciero added he is pleased to have the opportunity to express his "strong concerns" face-to-face with Pan Am next month.
"It's clearly unacceptable that such an incident as serious as a
train derailment would not automatically trigger notification of state
and local officials," he said. "Protection of public safety and water
supply of the residents of the town is a non-negotiable point."
The meeting with Pan Am will be held on May 6 at 3 p.m. in Town
Hall. Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to email Ross
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.