Sunday, September 17, 2023

Berkshire & Eastern Begins Operations over Pan Am Southern 9/1/23

September 1st 2023 marked the beginning of The Berkshire & Eastern's running of Pan Am Southern, what was once a partnership between NS and Pan Am Railways.  With the purchase of Pan Am by CSX, a befuddling new agreement has been reached with G&W for running the west half of the old Boston & Maine as B&E...  Try to sort it all out by reading the articles below:

NEW Berkshire & Eastern RR page via Genesee & Wyoming's website:

Video Captures Amtrak Train Hitting SUV in Andover MA


An SUV was struck by an Amtrak train Saturday in Andover, Massachusetts, injuring one woman -- and it was all caught on camera.

Andover police say they responded to the incident on Pearson Street at Railroad Street around 9:20 a.m. and found a BMW X1 with significant front-end damage.

One woman was taken to Lawrence General Hospital with minor injuries, police said.

Amtrak says no passengers or crew members on the train were injured.

Surveillance video from a business nearby captured the terrifying moments as the Amtrak train slammed into the front-end of the SUV. It appears to show the driver going over the tracks as the crossing arms start coming down. The driver then backs up and continues to back up further when the train then collides with the SUV.

According to police, the driver was stopped on the tracks waiting to enter the intersection when she saw the crossing lights turn on and the gates come down. Police say she panicked and tried to back up before the front of her car was struck by the oncoming train, causing her to spin around.

Neighbors who spoke to NBC10 Boston on Saturday night said while they didn't see the moment of impact, they did see the aftermath and were glad to hear that the driver wasn't seriously hurt.

"I heard the train honking. It does that sometimes but lately it seemed like it's been more frequently and then I saw some police cars go by, so that's when I looked out the window and saw that the car had hit where the signal goes down," one woman said. "The entire engine was exposed, everything, it was just kind of compressed... It looked pretty bad."

Back in July, investigators say an 85-year-old man was killed by an Amtrak train near the Andover station. Prosecutors say the pedestrian was waiting for a southbound train to pass before being hit by a train going north -- right after the southbound train cleared the intersection.

Authorities say Amtrak police are investigating what happened Saturday in this latest incident.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Amtrak Begins Procurement for Construction of New Connecticut River Bridge


Infrastructure improvements will enhance travel on the Northeast Corridor

WASHINGTON – Amtrak announced today it will be entering into the procurement phase in early 2023 to select a contractor for the construction of a new Connecticut River Bridge, which will be delivered via design-bid-build delivery method. The bridge replacement will allow for better reliability and decreased delays for travelers due to trains traveling on more modern infrastructure. As part of a more than $500 million investment from Amtrak, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak intends to award the contract in late 2023. Construction is expected to start in early 2024.

“Building a new Connecticut River Bridge is one of several projects Amtrak is advancing that signifies we’re in a new era for rail,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery Laura Mason. “We thank our partners for their support, and we look forward to awarding the contract so we can get shovels in the ground for a project that will improve reliability of the NEC and train travel in Connecticut and beyond.”

“Necessary improvements to Connecticut’s rail infrastructure are on the way,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) “The Connecticut River Bridge is an essential part of the Northeast Corridor’s busy rail line, and in dire need of repairs. I have proudly fought for federal support of Connecticut’s rail to make these types of upgrades possible and to improve rail service for the traveling public.”

“Connecticut’s proximity to New York and Boston is one of our state’s economic strengths, but these benefits are in jeopardy after years of underinvestment in our transportation system. Finally, this is changing. A new Connecticut River Bridge will fix what’s been a major chokepoint on the Northeast Corridor, improving services and reliability while cutting down on commute times,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti said, “Thanks to the Federal Railroad Administration’s and the Connecticut Federal delegation’s continued support of Connecticut’s rail infrastructure and our ongoing partnership with Amtrak, much-needed improvements to the Connecticut River Bridge are on the horizon. This area is a critical piece of infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor, and through this project, services will improve, and speeds will increase. We look forward to working with Amtrak and all our partners on this important project.”

The Connecticut River Bridge, first built in 1907, is located on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between the towns of Old Saybrook and Old Lyme and is used by Amtrak, CTRail’s Shore Line East, and freight trains. The project will involve building a two-track, electrified, and resilient movable bridge structure equipped with new track, signal, catenary, power, communication, controls, and security features. The new bridge structure is expected to have a useful life of 150 years. As part of the project, the selected contractor will also perform any environmental mitigation required by the permitting/NEPA process.

Interested contractors should monitor Amtrak’s Procurement Portal located here for further solicitation information, submittal requirements, and an upcoming online presentation of the project and the procurement process which will be published in the coming months. Attendance at the online presentation is not a prerequisite to submitting a proposal, but is highly encouraged. The online presentation will include a non-binding question and answer session.

This is one of several major infrastructure projects that Amtrak’s newest department, Capital Delivery, is advancing. Earlier this year, the procurement launch was announced for the replacement of the B&P Tunnel in Maryland and Amtrak will be announcing similar procurement opportunities in the coming months.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

New Push for Boston-to-Montreal Passenger Trains

(SOURCE: Wilson Ring, Holly Ramer,

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Rail advocates are dusting off a proposal for passenger train service between Montreal and Boston, riding a renewed interest in train travel to bolster a concept that has been around for more than a decade.

“It’s not a hard sell at all. A lot of people want this,” said Francois Rebello, a former national assembly member in Quebec and a consultant on the project.

Hundreds of travelers would ride a privately operated, overnight train each day if obstacles can be overcome to make the service a reality in coming years, according to a ridership study.

It wouldn’t be a high-speed affair. Promoters envision a different experience — a relaxed ride with a meal and sleep before arriving bright-eyed at the destination. The 14-hour ride would travel through Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec.

The proposal comes against a backdrop of a rail revival, and more than $100 billion in railway infrastructure funding approved by Congress.

Maine State Sen. Richard Bennett, a Republican who lives in a district where the train would pass, said there’s much work to be done.

“I’m both excited and skeptical,” he said. “I certainly support the concept and I think it has a lot of promise. I think this can be done.”

But the proposal is in the early stages and the obstacles are many.

The track on the Canadian side of the border requires more than $100 million in upgrades and repairs. The track is in good shape through northern New England but the speed is limited to about 35 mph (56 kph) for a long stretch, and there’s little hope of securing additional funding to boost the speed.

Operators would have to negotiate agreements with several private owners of the rail — the Saint Lawrence and Atlantic, CSX and others — and there could be multiple crews required for the train. Then there’s the question of clearing customs with people coming and going at multiple train stops, and finding scarce equipment.

The idea for restoring Montreal-to-Boston passenger rail service for the first time since the 1960s has been bounced around for more than a decade, and several different rail routes have been floated over the years.

This time, the proposed route would follow Canadian Pacific Railway track from Montreal to Sherbrooke, Quebec, and then the St. Lawrence and Atlantic across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where a CSX-owned rail passes through Old Orchard Beach, a popular Maine tourist destination for Canadians. The final stretch is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

Carl Fowler, a member of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council, is a rail advocate who likes the idea of expanded passenger rail service. But he said people have to be realistic about the proposal’s challenges.

“There are a lot of loose ends to be resolved,” he said. 

Proponents have engaged with the Canadian Pacific Railway and the corporate parent of St. Lawrence and Atlantic, and the Canadian government already has considered investing in railway upgrades, Rebello said. Montreal real estate entrepreneur Nikolai Ray has signed on an investor.

About 60 rail advocates, legislators, tourism officials and others gathered recently in Coaticook, Quebec, to discuss the vision promoted by Montreal-based Fondation Trains De Nuit, or Night Train Foundation, and view a proposed map. Notably absent were state transportation officials from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

But the project won’t start anytime soon. The most optimistic view is that the project would need at least two years to become a reality, he said. However, it could take longer to secure funding and rail agreements.

A motorist could get from Boston to Montreal twice as fast but rail advocates say riders would get there in style. People could have dinner, be entertained and sleep in a comfortable bed, proponents say. They’d also be spared the cost of a hotel fee, since they’d be sleeping and showering on the train, supporters said.

The project holds appeal both for older riders who are nostalgic about trains and a younger generation that’s less enthralled with cars, Rebello said.

Rail enthusiast Sarah LeBaron von Baeyer, who lives outside Boston and doesn’t drive, said she “wholeheartedly” embraces mass transit that would allow her to visit family and friends in Canada several times a year.

“I love train travel. I lived in Japan for many years. It was absolutely the best way to get around,” she said.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Federal Transit Administration Issues Directives to MBTA / Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to Correct Safety Issues

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

WASHINGTON – To improve safety for the Greater Boston Area's rail transit system, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today issued a series of special directives to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the state agency responsible for safety oversight of the MBTA's rail transit operations.

A special directive is an order from the Federal government that requires an FTA-regulated transit agency or oversight organization to take immediate action on safety issues within a specific period. The special directives being issued today—four of which are being issued to the MBTA and one to the DPU—are a result of the FTA's safety management inspection of the MBTA that began April 14, 2022, following several incidents that resulted in one fatality and several injuries to passengers and employees on MBTA’s transit rail systems. These special directives require the MBTA, the MBTA Board of Directors, and the DPU to work together to remedy safety concerns and improve the MBTA's safety culture.

"Safety is our number one priority and must be the primary focus for the MBTA and the DPU," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. "Every transit passenger deserves a safe ride. Every transit worker deserves a safe workplace. The MBTA must immediately take action to improve its safety procedures for its passengers and workers."

FTA underscores that transit riders in the Boston area should not interpret the special directives issued today as a reason to avoid the MBTA subway or light rail. Rather, FTA's actions provide system-wide measures to fix longstanding issues with the agency's overall safety program and culture.

The four special directives issued to the MBTA concern:

  • Operating Control Center staffing;
  • General safety operating procedures;
  • Delayed critical maintenance; and
  • Lapses in staff safety certifications.

Each directive includes specific timeframes – ranging from 24 hours to 35 days -- for the MBTA to provide responses and take actions.  

The directive to the DPU affirms the need for the agency to enforce the special directives to the MBTA and address outstanding safety issues from FTA's most recent audit of the DPU. The audit, conducted in October 2019, resulted in sixteen findings, of which seven remain open. Those findings concern:

  • hazard management;
  • accident investigations;
  • corrective action plans;
  • and rules compliance.

FTA will provide technical assistance both to the DPU to enhance its enforcement role, and to the MBTA to help address the agency's safety issues. 

FTA's actions direct the two agencies to adopt system-wide measures to fix longstanding issues with the MBTA’s overall safety program and safety culture, including involvement of the members of the MBTA’s Board of Directors, who are the ultimate decision-makers for the agency, along with leadership of the DPU.  

FTA issued the directives as part of its oversight role and to continue to ensure transit remains the safest mode of surface transportation. FTA's Public Transportation Safety Program regulation lays out the agency's authority and process for overseeing and supporting transit safety, including issuing special directives.

Amtrak Service Restored Between Burlington, Vt. & NYC


After nearly 70 years, Vermont’s most populous community once again has passenger rail service to and from New York City.

The newly-expanded Ethan Allen Express connects downtown Burlington and Penn Station.

Secretary Joe Flynn, who leads the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said restoring service took decades of prep work, and more than $115 million in corridor investments — using mostly federal funds.

"I think it makes Burlington more complete," Flynn said in an interview with NECN & NBC10 Boston. "I really do."

Amtrak’s CEO, Stephen Gardner, said he is seeing interest in rail travel rebound to near pre-pandemic levels.