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:

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 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

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. 

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