Monday, December 31, 2012

Connecticut Rail Fare Increase January '13

(via the News Wire)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Connecticut Department of Transportation has told commuters that the second of three fare increases will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Monthly tickets on sale for January will reflect the new fares. The new fares will take effect on the Shore Line East and New Haven lines. There will be no fare increase on bus services.

“This modest fare increase is the second in eight years,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “During that time, operating expenses grew by 12 percent due to inflation. While it is never easy to raise fares in economic times such as these, the alternative — a reduction in service — would have been more difficult for Connecticut commuters.”

The series of three fare increases began on Jan. 1, 2012. Rail fares were set to increase by about 4 percent at the beginning of 2012, 2013, and 2014. As part of legislation enacted to have passengers help contribute toward the new M-8 rail cars entering service, rail fares will increase an additional 1.0 to 1.25 percent on top of the 4 percent base fare increase.

Redeker said, “The new fare structure is reasonable and will more evenly share operating costs between our passengers and taxpayers. We are also pleased that we were able to come up with this alternative to much more aggressive fare increases or service reductions.”

Fares on the New Haven Line cover approximately 70 percent of the cost to operate the service between New Haven and New York City. The balance is split between Connecticut and New York, at 65 percent and 35 percent respectively.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation also announced it has donated two out-of-service commuter cars to the Connecticut Military Department for use in disaster training drills for first responders. The cars have been delivered to Camp Hartell in Windsor Locks, Conn., where the Military Department operates the New England Disaster Training Center. The cars, which ran on the New Haven Line for almost two decades, are very similar to the cars used today and will provide “real life” experience for trainees.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Old Roundhouse Foundation Uncovered in Salem MA

Crews have unearthed remains of the roundhouse that once stood in Salem MA under a current MBTA parking lot.  The Historical Commission unearthed the roundhouse remains in early December 2012. Construction of a new parking garage on the site is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2013 and to finish in September 2014.  If you want to see these remains, better do it now before ther are covered forever!

Wikipedia roundhouse site photo 12/9/12

Aerial photos of the site from

Commuter Rail Back on Track in NH

The past few years have not been kind to those folks who believe – as we do – that commuter rail should be an integral part of the state’s transportation network: just like cars, buses and airplanes.

Thanks to the closed-mindedness of the Legislature and its colleagues on the Executive Council, efforts to even study the economic viability of introducing commuter rail into New Hampshire were blocked and resisted at every turn.

Two years ago, lawmakers first attempted to repeal and later restrict the powers of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, the all-volunteer body established by the Legislature in 2007 to oversee passenger rail service..............  READ WHOLE STORY:Commuter rail back on track in NH

MBTA Station Ground-Breaking Ceremony Today - Acton MA

The following information is from the office of Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray: 

At 2 p.m., both Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and MBTA General Manager and Rail & Transit Administrator Dr. Beverly Scott will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the South Acton Commuter Rail Station, a new state-of-the-art station at 15 Maple St. on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line in Acton.

The development of the South Action Station is one of a series of transportation infrastructure investments totaling more than $159 million along the 50-mile Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line. The South Acton Station is the busiest station on the Fitchburg Line, the state’s oldest commuter rail line.

Secretary Richard A. Davey, State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, State Rep. Jennifer Benson, Town Manager Steve Ledoux and members of the South Acton Train Station Advisory Committee will also be in attendance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2013 Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show

2013 Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show

Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds
West Springfield, MA

Saturday January 26, 2013: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday January 27, 2013: 10:00am - 5:00pm 

VT Railyard Spray Paint Bandits Busted


By ERIC FRANCIS - November 29,2012

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Two Hartford men suspected of spray painting elaborate graffiti murals, some of which included large cartoon-like characters, on as many as a hundred railroad cars and more than a dozen bridge abutments this year alone are now facing vandalism charges.

Brian Dow, 23, and Daniel Barmore, 25, pleaded innocent Tuesday to a felony count each of committing unlawful mischief with damages over a thousand dollars. Dow also entered an innocent plea to an accompanying misdemeanor charge of unlawful trespass.

Railroad workers and police believe the men are part of a larger “crew” of “taggers” who began sneaking into the rail yard just south of downtown White River Junction this spring and leaving behind increasingly complex artwork on freight railcars and even some locomotives.

Scott Whitney, of the Vermont Rail System, wrote in a sworn statement filed with the court that rail workers had spotted the vandals on several occasions and tried to confront them only to have them scatter when they approached. Residents along Connecticut River Road, which parallels the train tracks, also began noticing a group of young men and occasionally what appeared to be their girlfriends parking their cars and hiking into the woods with backpacks, often until well after dark. The residents began taking pictures of the vehicles and passing them along to police.

On the afternoon of Oct. 2, Hartford Police Officer Jason Pedro, dressed in plainclothes and backed up by Officer Jon Kustafik, began a stakeout of the rail yard. He said he soon observed Barmore and Dow hanging out under the Interstate 89 bridge, which spans both the rails and the Connecticut River to New Hampshire. Pedro said he located a black backpack at the base of the bridge and could immediately tell when he picked it up that it was full of aerosol paint because of the distinctive rattle of all the “mixer balls” inside the spray cans.

The officers walked up to the pair in the rail yard and took them into custody without incident.

Back at the police station, Pedro said he searched Dow’s cell phone, which along with Dow’s boots was covered in yellow paint droplets, and he found photographs of the stylized murals the railroad had reported — including large Popeye characters and frequent images of a large “green blobby ghost” in many of the examples.

A search of Barmore’s cell phone turned up a text message saying, “I paint like every other day. Got over 100 trains already this year and like 20 walls or so,” according to the affidavit, which said Barmore also referenced painting train cars at locations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

Police counted 16 paint cans inside the backpack along with packages of blue nitrile gloves, and a further search of the trunk of Dow’s car turned up another 87 cans of paint, according to the police report.

Whitney told police that it costs the railroads approximately $9,000 apiece to refinish, repaint and reapply the necessary insignia, markings and warning labels to their railcars.

Barmore and Dow each face maximum potential penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 if they are convicted of the felony charges now pending against them.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Canton Officials Bothered by South Coast Rail's Unanswered Questions

Canton officials bothered by South Coast Rail's unanswered questions

MBTA: Government Center Station to Close for 2 Years Starting September 2013

MBTA: Government Center Station to close for 2 years starting in Sept. 2013 for $90 million overhaul

37 Hurt in MBTA Green Line Crash

37 Hurt in MBTA Green Line Crash Yesterday

One day before he was scheduled to receive a safety award, a Green Line operator at the controls of an outbound trolley slammed into a waiting trolley at Boylston Street Station Thursday. The crash sent 37 people to area hospitals with minor injuries and shut down service on the Green Line’s busiest section for about three hours, officials said.........

New England Model Train EXPO Marlboro MA 2012

New England Model Train EXPO

Saturday December 1, 2012 – 10am-5pm
Sunday December 2, 2012 – 10am-4pm

Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center
181 Boston Post Rd West (US-20)
Marlborough, MA

• Operating Layouts – All Scales
• Over 220 Dealer Tables
• Manufacturer Displays with New Products
• Railroadiana – Books – Collectibles
• Meet Santa Claus
• White Elephant Tables – Sell your old trains
• Build-a-Car Clinic – ages 8 to 14
• Boy Scout Merit Badge Clinic
• Free Parking – Food Service – Door Prizes

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trolley Accident Reported at Boylston MBTA Station

Trolley accident reported at Boylston MBTA station

Six passengers were injured and 20 others are being evaluated by rescue workers after two Green Line trolleys collided in the Boylston Street MBTA station shortly before noon today, the Boston Fire Department said.............................

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Waterville Maine Looks For Someone to Rescue Maine Central Locomotive #470

WATERVILLE -- The Old 470 steam locomotive sits rotting and rusting near College Avenue, and city officials hope to either sell it or see it restored.

It is clear, however, that the city does not have the $1 million or so it would take to fix it up, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

"It's an important part of the city's past but unfortunately, with all the other demands on the city, we don't see where we're going to have the resources to do anything with it," Roy said recently. "We hope someone out there is willing to restore it and put it someplace where it can be more appreciated."

The locomotive was the last steam engine used for passenger service on the Maine Central Railroad. It made its final trip through Waterville -- from Portland to Bangor -- on June 13, 1954.

The 470, built in 1924 by American Locomotive Co., was a gift to the city on Oct. 28, 1962, by Maine Central Railroad on its 100th anniversary.

In 2004, railroad enthusiasts tried to support an effort to restore and preserve the engine, saying it was the last representative of the indigenous steam locomotives that once powered industry, commerce and passengers throughout Maine.

The engine had deteriorated because of exposure to harsh weather, unsupervised visitors, vandals and thieves. Rust had eaten through the engine's cylinder jacks, the cab was severely rusted and it was stripped of gauges, valves, windows and its wooden interior.

Some work was done to spiff up the engine, but ultimately, interest fizzled.

Jennifer Hickey of Waterville and her sons, Ben and Jacob, were members of the Friends of 470 Restoration Committee about 10 years ago and her boys raised money for the train effort.

She said Friday that at first there was a lot of enthusiasm around helping to restore and preserve the engine.

"The people were all very well-intentioned; however, they just did not have the capability to follow through with it," she said. "Colby College kids painted it on community day and we did some greasing of valves."

Now, when she drives past the engine, which is just north of the new Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, her heart sinks.

"It just really makes me sad and really disappointed that we haven't been able to do anything and keep the train in the respect that it really deserves," she said. "It's just such a piece of history."

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan, who is helping to advertise and coordinate the sale or restoration, said the city sent out requests for proposals to have the locomotive removed or restored, with an initial response deadline of Aug. 1.

That deadline has been extended to Oct. 5, Skehan said.

Bidders were asked to send their proposals in sealed envelopes marked "470 Steam Engine" to Waterville Parks & Recreation, 6 Wentworth Court, Waterville, 04901.

The bids will be reviewed by a committee charged with determining the best and most feasible plan for the city and the engine, according to the request for proposal.

More information about the engine and other specifications is available on the Parks & Recreation page at

Skehan, a member of the Friends Committee, said the engine is in deplorable shape.

"It's dangerous and it's in awful condition," he said. "Our insurance representative from Maine Municipal was here in the spring and he said there were several red flags that went off when he saw the engine, including all the open holes in it."

Skehan said the representative said if someone stuck a finger in one of the holes, he could lose it.

The city erected signs at the engine to warn people of the danger.

"It's just a really tough economy to be trying to raise money and there are a lot of other causes and organizations out there that are very worthy," Skehan said. "It's really hard with this steam engine and we don't really see any money coming down the pipeline immediately."

Roy said the city has not put a price on the engine, which sits on property owned by the state Department of Transportation.

Skehan said he even though he has spoken to some people who have expressed interest in buying the engine and some who are interested in fixing it up, he has received no written proposals.


Aging Charles River Rail Bridge Closes for Repairs

SOURCE:  Boston Globe - Carolyn Y. Johnson

The graffiti-covered railroad span that threads diagonally under the Boston University Bridge will be closed to most train traffic for two weeks, after an inspection found some of its crossbeams need to be replaced.

Many people are unaware that the 90-year-old railroad bridge across the Charles River is in use at all, but it is a critical piece of transportation infrastructure. It is part of the little known Grand Junction Railroad, which starts in Brighton and wends its way through Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, and Chelsea, connecting train lines that go to North Station with the ones that lead to South Station.

The freight line’s tracks are also used by Amtrak and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to shift engines and coaches for maintenance.

The repair work has begun, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. In the meantime, the train systems that use the bridge have come up with alternative plans to ensure no interruptions in service.

Two weeks ago, a visual inspection of the bridge found signs of movement in its trusses, according to Scott Farmelant, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., a contractor that operates the MBTA’s commuter rail service. A bridge engineering inspection firm was brought in, and on Wednesday, Farmelant said, the bridge was closed to freight cars and locomotives. He emphasized there is no public safety threat, since passenger trains do not use the bridge, and said the closure will not affect commuter rail services.

Pesaturo said in an e-mail that seven of the bridge’s 44 crossbeams need to be replaced. Repairs are expected to take about two weeks, and the cost of the project had not been finalized.

In preparation for the bridge’s closing, Pesaturo said, a number of organizations and companies have worked together to devise solutions.

Amtrak, for example, will do routine maintenance on its Downeaster trains, which provide service to New Hampshire and Maine, at the MBTA’s facility in Somerville, and the commuter rail company will perform maintenance on some of its equipment at the Amtrak facility in South Boston.

Cliff Cole, a spokesman for Amtrak, said the bridge is used to transport locomotive engines to Amtrak’s maintenance yard, and the repair project will have no impact on Downeaster schedules.

“Amtrak has been working around the closure by maneuvering the equipment through different detour routes,” and pursuing an agreement to have equipment maintained at different sites, Cole said.

Pan Am Railways and CSX Corp. reached an agreement to “transfer freight rail trains in the Worcester area,” Pesaturo wrote.

The bridge is not completely closed; empty commuter rail coaches can still be transferred over the bridge.

But in an illustration of just how important the bridge is, Farmelant said, two commuter rail locomotives would be transferred this weekend to the ­MBTA’s Somerville repair facility by taking a roundabout route through the Worcester area.

The transfer, which would normally involve crossing the Charles on the BU span, will utilize tracks that go through Ayer and then back east on the Fitchburg commuter rail line to Somerville.

“The system ultimately is wholly dependent on aging infrastructure,” Farmelant said. “This shows how critically important these investments the governor and others keep talking about into our infrastructure are.”

UPDATE: the bridge was reportedly back in service as of 1/11/13

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lakeport NH Freighthouse Museum OPEN

On November 3rd, the Lakeport NH Freight House Museum held its grand opening.  It took the Lakeport Community Association 15 years and nearly $100,000 to restore the Freight House, upgrading all utilities and improving the structure, complying with building codes and making it handicap accessible.  A boxcar has been added on a rail siding.

Inside are memorabilia of the Boston & Maine Railroad, Annie Oehlschlaeger's railroad collection, Bob Fortier's vast memorabilia collection and scrapbooks, delicate Victorian clothing presented by the Richardson family, and all things Lakeport.

First New MBTA Double Decker Coaches Delivered to BET

The first four brand new Hyundai-Rotem double-deck coaches have arrived at Boston Engine Terminal.  The photo below was taken by David Hutchinson while off duty at BET. 

Photo by David Hutchinson

Friday, November 2, 2012

PHOTO: Union Freight Rails Live in Boston MA

The photo below was taken by Michael Wheeler on 10/13/12.  It shows Union Freight rails that still exist in Boston.  The Union Freight was a short line that connected the north and south sides of Boston.  It ran mostly at night, and in the end used New Haven power.

In the pavement on the south side of the Northern Avenue Bridge lies a real diamond. The left-to-right track is the Union Freight connection to the old New Haven RR yards, while the top-left to bottom-right track is part of the yards.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amtrak Northeast Corridor Services Canceled Monday 10/29/12

Amtrak Northeast Corridor Services Canceled Monday 10/29/12

All Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone and Shuttle services are canceled for trains originating on that date. Also Empire Service, Adirondack, Vermonter, Ethan Allen and Pennsylvanian train services suspended, along with some overnight services.

Metro North Rail Service in CT Suspended Due to Hurricane Sandy

Metro North service in Connecticut has been suspended today due to Hurricane Sandy.  Check schedule updates HERE.

HURRICANE SANDY - MBTA Service Suspended at 2pm

MBTA Hurricane Sandy Update

All service will be suspended effective 2pm today. 

Customers are encouraged to make final MBTA trips as early as possible to ensure safe arrival at their destination. 

Regularly scheduled service will operate until service is suspended.

The safety of customers, employees, and infrastructure is the MBTA’s top priority. 

Customers are encouraged to check, follow the MBTA on Twitter @mbtaGM, and check local news broadcasts for updates throughout the storm. Customers interested in receiving text or e-mail updates are encouraged to sign up for T-Alerts.

The MBTA CharlieCard Store is closed Monday, October 29, 2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

South Coast Rail Permitting Given March Deadline

SOURCE:  By Marc Larocque - Taunton Gazette Staff Reporter

A March deadline for the permitting of the proposed South Coast Rail was announced during a meeting of the Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said that March 2013 is the date that Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration plans to have the permit application process completed. The permits go through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Our desire is to ensure this project is permitted by March of this coming year,” Davey said. “Write that down. That’s March 13. 2-0-1-3. ... But there’s a lot of work to do between then and now.”

Davey also reaffirmed the Patrick administration’s commitment to the project and the preferred alternative, which would go through a train station in Stoughton, bringing the train down through Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford.

“This is a priority for the administration,” Davey said about the project, which proponents claim will be an economic boon for the southeastern Massachusetts region, and an environmental benefit in terms of getting single occupancy vehicles off the streets.

Davey reminded the task force of a meeting that Patrick had last month with EPA leadership to convey “a sense of urgency” about the permitting process.

During the meeting, several task force members expressed concerns about the EPA having a serious consideration for the environmental impact of the project. And there was also some concern expressed about having enough time for public review and public input related to an environmental impact study that is being submitted to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the permitting process.

Davey said the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers would be considering all the information and would look at alternatives for the project, even though the administration strongly disagrees with any alternative except the Stoughton route. South Coast Rail Project Manager Jean Fox assured task force members that she would work to make sure there is adequate time to review the lengthy environmental impact study.

State Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, who attended the meeting, made a statement that Massachusetts lawmakers would support funding the Stoughton route through the filing of transportation bonds, but added that any other alternative could throw the project “off the tracks politically.” Pacheco said that the local delegation would be working to put together a statement on behalf of legislators who support the preferred alternative to send to the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers as they go through due diligence work.

Worcester MA Union Station Kit Due December 2012

The N Scale Architect has announced an N scale craftsman kit of the  Worcester Massachusetts Union Station.  The kit is due to arrive in December.  Information can be found HERE.

The company also offers a New Haven signal tower in N/HO scales,

Belfast ME Ends Railroad Lease in Anticipation of Pathway

SOURCE:  BDN Maine - By Tom Groening

BELFAST, Maine — The city has notified the Brooks Preservation Society, operator of an excursion railroad on the former Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad line, that it does not intend to renew the nonprofit group’s lease, which expires Dec. 1.

The city owns the 3-mile portion of the 33-mile-long right of way that lies within Belfast, which is the end of the line.

City Manager Joe Slocum told city councilors earlier this month that under the terms of the lease, the city had to notify the preservation society of its intent by Nov. 1. If it failed to do so, the one-year lease would automatically renew for another year.

The city has been working for several years to establish a pedestrian path on the railroad right of way. Though state funding for the project has been secured, Gov. Paul LePage’s recent decision to push back the selling of bonds until next year has affected the city’s plans to build the walkway.

No time has been set for construction to begin, Jennika Lundy, assistant to the city manager said Tuesday.

Slocum plans to meet with representatives of the preservation society next week to discuss terms of a new lease. Lundy said a new lease might take the form of a month-to-month arrangement, giving the city flexibility should it be possible to begin construction on short notice.

Joe Feero, president of the Brooks Preservation Society, said the move did not surprise him.

“I understand it,” he said Tuesday. “It’s not a shock to me.”

The group wants to keep operating trains along the stretch from the harbor northwest along the Passagassawakeag River because “that’s the most scenic part of our ride,” Feero said. But his group will not fight the city on the lease change.

“The goal for us has always been to work with the city,” he said.

At the same time, he said the railroad wants to run along the river for as long as it can, since the trail work has not been scheduled.

This summer, the railroad ran excursion trips on weekends from the old upper bridge area on High Street north of downtown Belfast.

Feero calculates the railroad carried 6,755 passengers this year, up from 2,255 last year. Included in this year’s count are 30 bus tours that each brought about 50 people to the city to ride the train. The total number also includes 3,000 people carried to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.

Feero cited a study that shows the railroad contributes about $1 million annually to the local economy.

Mack Page, a former employee of the B&ML Railroad who in recent years built a siding at the City Point part of Belfast where rail cars and engines are stored, is working with the preservation society, he said Tuesday. Page said he and the preservation society have discussed having the excursions leave from his siding area when the pathway is built.

The city must initiate the process of railbanking before removing rails and ties and building a pathway. That process is undertaken through a provision of federal law, seeking approval from the Surface Transportation Board.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

MassDOT Board Brings Commemorative Train to N Adams MA

SOURCE: - Phil Demers, email

NORTH ADAMS -- The city will host a public Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors monthly meeting today, and state transportation officials are trekking west with a special vehicle in tow.

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) Gold Star Mem orial Train, bearing the starred names of more than 150 state service men and women lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will be on view today at Building 4 at Western Gateway Heritage State Park from 9 to 9:45 a.m., Mayor Richard Alcombright said.

"Our own Michael DeMarsico is now represented on that car," Alcombright said Tues day. "It's a great tribute to have that car and DOT come out here."

Spc. DeMarsico was killed Aug. 16 by an enemy improvised explosive de vice in Afghanistan.

The gold star train was completed before Memorial Day this year, according to MBCR. Since then, it's visited municipalities all along the commonwealth's railways as a tribute to the state's fallen soldiers.

The board meeting, scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, kicks off with questions and concerns fielded from attendees.

"Right at the beginning, there will be a public comment period," Alcombright said. "It's a great opportunity for people to come watch government in motion."

Agenda items include comments from Alcom bright and Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, a presentation from Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, a
report from MassDOT CEO Richard A. Davey and reports from other MassDOT division managers.

MassDOT's visit, ac cording to their website, is connected to an initiative pushed by the Legislature to collect information about transportation needs throughout the commonwealth and prioritize various projects based on available funding. On Thurs day, Davey and other MassDOT representatives will visit Pittsfield Public Library for a public forum from 6 to 8 p.m.

"They didn't forget us throughout Tropical Storm Irene, and they've been receptive to most, if not all, of what I've asked for over my three years," Alcombright said. "DOT's our friend."

MBTA Rail Washer - Ayer MA 10/5/12

MBTA Rail Washer - Ayer MA 10/5/12

MBTA GM Davis Thanks Belmont Students for Alewife Art

SOURCE: MBTA GM Davis thanks Belmont students for Alewife T stop art

Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis was at the Alewife T Station in Cambridge Friday to thank a group of Belmont students for their new public artwork installation.

Students in the Belmont After School Enrichment Program painted 324 tiles that have been arranged in two large designs permanently installed on two bus-way panels at the Alewife Station.

The month long project was lead by the after school program’s Emily Reed and the student’s work is part of the MBTA’s permanent public art collection that consists of more than 70 artworks on five different transit lines in Greater Boston.

Friday, September 28, 2012

1871 Fitchburg Railroad Pass

1871 Fitchburg Railroad Pass... an Ebay item I would have liked to have added to my collection!

Greenberg Train Show: Wilmington MA 11/17-18/12

The Largest Train and Toy Show in the Northeast!

November 17-18, 2012
10:00a - 4:00p

Shriner's Auditorium
99 Fordham Rd, Wilmington, MA 01887

Nashua Looks at Buying Two Pan Am Railways Parcels


NASHUA — City officials have recently negotiated with Pan Am Railways to acquire two railroad parcels near the East Hollis Street fire station.

According to Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire, Nashua has $280,104 available in federal funds to buy the parcels for the city’s ongoing Rail Trail Parcel Acquisition. The two sites currently belong to Boston & Maine Corp, a subsidiary of the Pan Am Railways network. Pan Am owns rail line from Manchester south into Boston.

Wilshire explained that the enhancement fund requires a 20 percent local match, meaning the city would be obligated to contribute slightly more than $70,000 for the acquisition, which is supported by Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

Lozeau is recommending that the city’s contribution be funded with prior year escrow money.

On Monday, the aldermanic Human Affairs Committee was introduced with proposed legislation that — if approved by the full Board of Aldermen — will enable the purchase of the two parcels north of East Hollis Street between Mason and Commercial Streets.

Nine aldermen are co-sponsoring the proposed legislation, which was supported by the Human Affairs Committee. The aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee will review the proposal Oct. 2, and the Planning Board will study the recommendation Oct. 4.

The city, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Transportation Advisory Committee, has used transportation enhancement funds for previous projects, Wilshire said.

They include the 1.3-mile Heritage Rail Trail, as well as the construction of the Nashua River Rail Trail, a former railroad right of way that travels more than 10 miles into Massachusetts and is used by bicyclists and pedestrians.

“I am all for this,” said Alderman Daniel Moriarty, Ward 9, while looking at a map of the two parcels. “I was surprised that we own all these easements as it is.”

“It has been an ongoing process to acquire these,” Wilshire said.

There was no discussion as to what would be done with the two railroad properties if they are acquired by the city.

The mayor has said that two train stations could be built in the Nashua area to accommodate a future rail system.

She believes that a multi-modal transit center could be constructed off a newly formed Exit 36 just south of Nashua at the Massachusetts border into Tyngsborough.

A study investigating that option is under way.

She has also said a second, smaller train station could be built somewhere in the downtown area, possibly on land near Crown Street or East Hollis Street.

Explosion at Irving Oil Refinery in New Brunswick

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — An explosion at Canada’s largest oil refinery has sent one man to hospital with minor injuries, officials said Wednesday.

Fire platoon Chief Brian Wilson said a tank exploded at the Irving oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Wilson said the explosion involved a 1,100-barrel tank of potassium hydroxide, which is a caustic substance.
He said the injured man was blown to the ground and suffered some scrapes and bruises. He said crews from Irving are cleaning up the scene.

Irving Oil issued a statement saying the tank was undergoing scheduled maintenance work at the time when it became over-pressurized. The company said there was no other damage. Normal operations at the refinery resumed less than an hour later.

The refinery produces more than 300,000 barrels of petroleum products per day.

Amtrak Downeaster Rolls to Brunswick, Maine


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Amtrak's Downeaster is ready to roll northward to Freeport and Brunswick with the service kicking off on Nov. 1, ahead of Thanksgiving travel and holiday shopping, officials said Wednesday.

Banners announcing the new service and schedule adjustments were installed in stations along the route on Wednesday, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. Tickets for the new service go on sale on Oct. 1.

"It's a huge milestone," Quinn said Wednesday. "Really, the service expanding to Freeport and Brunswick was always part of the plan. When we inaugurated the service in 2001, it was supposed to happen in a couple of years. To make it finally happen is pretty exciting."

The Downeaster is coming off a record year with 528,292 passengers.

Initially, two of the five daily roundtrips between Portland and Boston will travel to Brunswick. The expanded service is expected to add 36,000 more passengers each year, Quinn said.

Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said the expanded rail service "coincides with record ridership demand on both the Downeaster and rail travel throughout the country."

Expanding the Downeaster northward to Freeport, home to L.L. Bean's flagship store and outlet shopping, and Brunswick, home of Bowdoin College, required improvements to more than 30 miles of rail, rehabilitation of 36 crossings and construction of two station platforms. Remaining track work will be completed in weeks.

Most of the track upgrades were funded through $38.3 million in federal stimulus dollars.

"We are proud to deliver this expanded service on schedule and on budget," said Martin Eisenstein, chairman of the Northern New England Rail Authority's board, who praised the partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, Pan Am Railways, Amtrak and the Maine Department of Transportation.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, who helped secure the original funding that got the rail service started, said the project will be nearly complete with the expanded service.

"This route will be an indispensable economic boon for Maine," she said.

The Downeaster serves eight communities in addition to Boston and Portland: Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Wells in Maine; Dover, Durham and Exeter in New Hampshire; and Haverhill and Woburn in Massachusetts.

Plan For CT Rail Line Could be Boon for Berkshires

PITTSFIELD -- It’s a concept at this point, but if Am trak’s plans for a new high-speed rail line through Con necticut come to fruition, it could benefit the Berkshires should passenger service to Pittsfield becomes a reality.  

Amtrak has released an ambitious plan to construct a high-speed rail line between Washington, D.C., and Boston that would bypass the traditional route along the Connecticut shoreline by bisecting that state diagonally.  

The plan calls for high-speed express trains traveling be tween those two eastern cities to rocket through Connecticut without stopping, but second-tier ex press service would stop at three Connecticut cities: Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford.  

Here’s where the idea could affect the Berkshires. The Housatonic Railroad Co. is exploring the idea of restoring passenger rail service between Danbury and Pittsfield. If that service is restored, and Amtrak is able to build its new high speed rail line, Berkshire County passengers would be able to connect directly to high-speed rail in Danbury, instead of taking Metro North trains from that southwestern Con necticut city to New York City................ READ WHOLE ARTICLE 

Audit Finds $100M Discrepancy in MBTA's Fare Collection System

BOSTON (FOX 25 / – An audit of the MBTA's automated fare collection system highlighted several inadequacies in the protection of fare money, including revenue variances of more than $100 million between the system's records and the actual money collected, missing keys to fare boxes, and incomplete tracking of fare box cash.

The audit which was announced on Thursday did not find any evidence of lost money or theft; however, without a properly functioning fare collections system, there is no real way for the MBTA to know that theft, loss or misuse is not occurring.

"The MBTA cannot properly safeguard revenue it may not know it has," State Auditor Suzanne Bump stated in a release.

Since its inception in 2005, the automated fare collection system has not been able to properly record the intake of cash or communicated electronically with the MBTA central accounting system. Accordingly, fare box collections have been manually counted and cannot be reconciled with any of the system's revenue reports.

From July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2011, actual fare box cash receipts deposited were $123.8 million whereas the AFC system recorded over $225.5 million in fare box cash receipts. This variance of more than $101.7 million demonstrates significant reliability problems in the MBTA's collection and control of cash revenue.

The audit also found that the MBTA reduced the amount of testing required to ensure that all machines were fully functional. It also found that the MBTA had inadequate control over keys to fare box cash. At the time of the audit, 12 keys that provide access to fare box cash were missing and 1,313 keys that were unnumbered and cannot be tracked.

The audit also found that cash boxes were not properly tracked during removal, deposit, and reinsertion. As a result, MBTA management is not provided with reliable tracking information regarding the removal and deposit of fare box cash.

"Especially at a time when the MBTA is facing a major fiscal crisis and increasing fares, it needs to do all it can to assure its riders and taxpayers that it is protecting and maximizing public funds and holding its contractors accountable," Bump said.

Bump has called on the MBTA and its vendor to immediately implement corrective actions to address software and hardware deficiencies and has recommended that all revenue locking systems be replaced.

The audit is available online at

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Three Bridges, Greenfield MA

This vintage image shows the three bridges that once spanned the Deerfield River at the Cheapside section of Greenfield MA.  Railfans know this area well as it is down the road from Pan Am's East Deerfield yard.  Massive flooding in March 1936 swept away many area bridges, including the covered bridge at the lower left corner of the photo. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old Town Maine Railroad Station Sign

This vintage Old Town Maine station sign is on display at the Boothbay Railway museum.

Dragon Products, Maine Eastern RR Push for Tax Help

(SOURCE:  By Stephen Betts, BDN Maine Staff)

THOMASTON, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, voiced her support Tuesday for the extension of a federal tax credit that allows local railroads to invest in their tracks and equipment.

Collins heard about the importance of that tax credit during a tour of Dragon Products cement plant in Thomaston and a presentation by Maine Eastern Railroad.

The Republican senator is a co-sponsor of the tax credit for so-called short-line railroads.

Wes Weis, the president and chief executive officer of Morristown and Erie Railway, which is the parent corporation of Maine Eastern, said the credit allows the company to reinvest money into construction and maintenance of rail lines. The credit returns 50 cents for every $1 invested.

Dragon Products is the largest user, by far, of the Maine Eastern Line that runs from Rockland to Brunswick, noted Maine Eastern Vice President Gordon Page.

Maine Eastern employs 25 people, he noted, but it’s impact goes well beyond that. Dragon Products uses the railroad to ship cement to the Rockland waterfront, where it is put on a barge and shipped to Boston. Cement also is shipped south by rail to Yarmouth, where it is then sent to Canada.

The second-largest user of the railroad is Dicaperl Corporation in Thomaston, which processes raw perlite ore, mined from New Mexico. The perlite is used to produce filter aid that is used by FMC in Rockland, which manufactures the food stabilizer carrageenan.

The senator was given a tour of the cement plant, including a ride to nearly the top of a 340-foot tower.