Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rails Reeling From Effects of Storm - Railfan &

(via Railfan & Railroad - )
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

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New "NEMCO" Switcher Arrives at Ayer MA Plant

NEMCO #1000, the long time switcher for the New England Milling (now Horizon Milling) plant in Ayer MA, has been replaced by this SW1500.  I do not know what reporting marks the unit has, but as you can see, the road number is 13.  Hopefully it will not have bad luck!

©2011 Jonelle DeFelice 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Athearn Portland Terminal Chip Hoppers in HO & N Scale

Athearn has announced Portland Terminal 40' wood chip hoppers in both HO and N scale. The cars should be out in about February of 2012.

Amtrak Sues Trucking Company After Fatal Downeaster Crash

NORTH BERWICK, Maine -- Amtrak is suing the Massachusetts company that owned the truck hit by the Downeaster passenger train last month in North Berwick, Maine.

The driver of the truck owned by Triumvirate Environmental Inc. of Somerville, Mass., was killed in the July 11 collision.

Amtrak claims the driver, 35-year-old Peter Barnum, of Farmington, N.H., ignored railroad crossing controls and warnings while crossing the tracks. Four passengers on the train suffered minor injuries.

The lawsuit claims Barnum drove the tractor-trailer around the lowered crossing gates, despite flashing lights and the train's horn.

It claims Triumvirate failed to properly train and negligently hired Barnum, who the lawsuit claims was "unqualified to operate the Kenworth tractor-trailer."

Amtrak says the damage exceeds $3 million, not including the loss in business during the cleanup.

Barnum was carrying a load of trash to an incinerator.

Amtrak has declined to comment on any pending litigation, and their attorney John Bonistalli said the lawsuit speaks for itself.

Bonistalli won't comment on why the lawsuit was filed before the investigation into the accident was completed, but he did say it's not uncommon.
Officials at Triumvirate Environmental have yet to return calls from News 9.

The suit was filed in federal court in Massachusetts.

SOURCE: Amtrak Sues Trucking Company After Fatal Downeaster Crash - New Hampshire News Story - WMUR New Hampshire

Pan Am Railway Loses its Court Appeal

At $500,000, it was touted as the largest corporate criminal fine in state history.
And so it came as no surprise that Pan Am Railways and its subsidiaries, Springfield Terminal Railway, Boston & Maine Corp. and Maine Central Railroad, would try to appeal a precedent-setting case that unfolded in Ayer.
But that attempt was derailed following Tuesday's ruling handed down by the Appeals Court, affirming the convictions on all counts.
Each rail subsidiary was fined $125,000 for its share in the Aug. 8, 2006, diesel-fuel spill from a freight locomotive in Ayer. The companies were collectively found guilty for not reporting the spill in a timely manner as required by MassDEP regulations, but also for an active attempt to cover up the spill.
As part of their sentencing on March 30, 2009, the corporations were also placed on three years probation. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey also ordered that there would be no bonuses greater than $100,000 awarded to executives at any company in a 12-month period until the criminal fines were paid to the state. The fines were paid into escrow jointly held by Pan Am and the attorney general's office pending the outcome of the appeals.
"We are pleased the Appeals Court supported our position that corporations must be held accountable for violating Massachusetts' environmental laws," Attorney General Martha Coakley told Nashoba Publishing.......  READ WHOLE ARTICLE: Pan Am Railway loses its appeal - Nashoba Publishing Online

Feds Dive Into Big Dig Sinkhole Saga

Photo by Matthew West
.......  DePaola has blamed the suspected sinkhole under the tunnel and the compression of soil under train tracks serving South Station — an ongoing problem that has forced rail workers to prop up the track beds with 8 feet of ballast in recent years — on a greater than anticipated degree of settlement of the soil as it thaws out after a massive ground freezing project in 2000........  WHOLE ARTICLE: 

Maine Eastern FL9 #488 Running Around its Train at Rockland, ME

©2011 Jonelle DeFelice

CSX/Pan Am Train POSE at Ayer MA 8/27/11

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Housatonic Railroad Derailment in Stockbridge MA
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (WWLP) - At least 12 rail cars of a 2,000 foot-long freight train tipped over after a derailment in Stockbridge Friday night (8/12/11).

Stockbridge Police officer  Bruce Stringer said some 600 feet of track was damaged when the train left the tracks a little after 6:30 p.m. 

Officer Stringer said the Housatonic Railroad train was hauling trash from Canaan, Connecticut to Pittsfield............ READ WHOLE ARTICLE: Housatonic Railroad Derailment in Stockbridge MA -

Friday, August 12, 2011

Newly Painted ST #77 at Freeport ME 8/13-14/11

Pan Am has repainted 'geep #77 in Boston & Maine maroon/gold.  The unit was brought to Freeport along with the Pan Am business train for display alongside the Amtrak museum train.  People were allowed to tour the business train.  One railfan was told that #77 unit doesn't run, but others say it will be back in East Deerfield yard as hump switcher once again.  Time will tell! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mechanicville Railyard Work is Back on Track

(Michael P. Farrell/Times Union)

HALFMOON -- After several delays, construction work on the $40 million intermodal railyard here is moving along, with a new bridge to carry truck traffic over the tracks nearly complete.

Construction on four buildings is expected to get under way this autumn, said Steve Watts, chairman of the Halfmoon planning board.

The project should be complete by early 2012, said Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern Corp., a partner with Pan Am Railways in Pan Am Southern, the joint venture that will operate the yard.................WHOLE ARTICLE: Mechanicville Railyard Work is Back on Track - Times Union

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amtrak Downeaster Wreck Moved From Maine

Monday August 8th saw the movment of an Amtrak "hospital train".  The train transported the recently wrecked Downeaster trainset from Pan Am's Rigby Yard down to Boston, onto CSX, and beyond.  Below is a photo of the train taken by D. Hutchinson.  As you can see, the burned locomotive and coach have been wrapped for the trip...

©2011 David Hutchinson

New Grafton & Upton F Unit...

The Grafton & Upton railroad is now in possesion of ex-Finger Lakes EMD F7A...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Concern Over Rail Transport of Ethanol Prompts Revere Ballot Question

A plan by Global Partners to begin shipping ethanol by rail to its Revere terminal is drawing concern in the city, where it is the focus of a nonbinding ballot question.

According to Fire Chief Gene Doherty, the Waltham-based oil distributor is planning to transport ethanol from Albany, N.Y., to its Revere facility on
Lee Burbank Highway
(Route 1A). Between Devens and Revere, he said, the trains would travel by night, in at least some places using commuter rail tracks that are used by the MBTA during the day.

The shipments would be made every three to five days with 60-car trains, according to Doherty, who has spoken with the company. Each car would contain about 29,000 gallons of ethanol, for a total load of 1.74 million gallons. Pan Am Southern would do the shipping for Global Partners............ READ WHOLE ARTICLE: Concern over rail transport of ethanol prompts Revere ballot question - The Boston Globe