Thursday, April 26, 2012

Boston Trolley & Transit Meet 2012
The Boston Tradition Continues! Dozens of exhibitors & vendors; workshops; presentations; and attendees of all ages will celebrate New England's rich traction and transit history. We hope you'll join us for a truly memorable weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Maine Man Killed by Amtrak Downeaster Had Ear Buds On

(SOURCE: By Leslie Bridgers / Portland Press Herald, Maine)

BIDDEFORD, Maine -- The wife of the man who was killed by an Amtrak train Monday said he was wearing ear buds as he walked home from a convenience store and couldn’t hear the Downeaster coming when he was hit on the tracks near their home on West Cutts Street.

An Amtrak spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that Sean Page, 40, was the victim, but didn’t respond to requests for other information about the investigation into the fatality. Biddeford Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk declined to comment on the investigation because it is open, she said.

Residents of West Cutts Street said Wednesday that they think the passenger train should slow down through the area, which is close to the train station in Saco. They said people often cross the tracks behind their homes, just off Main Street, and students walking home from Biddeford High School often play "chicken" with the train.

Fisk said police aren’t aware of that happening.

"We see it all the time," said Keith Desrosiers, the Pages’ neighbor.

Valerie Page said she was upset by reports that investigators said her husband was trespassing on private property, which isn’t marked -- something she wants to see changed.

"I want signs put up. I want fences put up," Page said. "If it’s a law, they should enforce it."

Pan Am Railways, which owns the property and also is investigating, could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Investigators have said little since the Downeaster, headed from Portland to Boston with 55 passengers, struck and killed Page about 3 p.m. Monday. No one else was injured.

Valerie Page said she learned of the accident when she got home around 4 p.m. Monday, but didn’t learn until hours later that her husband was the victim. Ultimately, she said, he was identified by his tattoo of their 8-year-old son’s name -- Davin.

Ernie Bouras, manager of the Boston Connection convenience store on Elm Street, said Sean Page bought cigarettes there just before the accident, as he did every day. As usual, they said hello to each other.
"He was a nice guy," said Bouras.

Others who knew Page described him Wednesday as a talented artist and a devoted father. In addition to his son, he had a 17-year-old stepdaughter, Shandi Tergesen, said his wife.

Page grew up in Brunswick and graduated from Mount Ararat High School in Topsham.

His wife said he mostly had odd jobs until he starting working at Coopa Creations Fine Art Tattooing & Body Piercing on Main Street in Biddeford, where he learned to be a tattoo artist. She said he worked there for about four years and left a couple of years ago.

She said he was opening his own tattoo shop in downtown Brunswick.

Jessica Orifice, who still works at Coopa Creations, said Page was "a great artist" who liked to do graffiti-style drawings and anything with a Halloween theme. He was the first person she tattooed -- with a rose on the back of one of his legs.

His love for his son, who used to come into the shop, was evident, she said. "They were really cute together."
Valerie Page said she met Sean online in 2001 and they got married six months later near Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth.

She said he loved to be by the ocean and felt a deep connection with nature. He had the energy level of a child, a goofy sense of humor and a knack for making people laugh, she said.

Page said her husband’s character could be summed up by the name he planned to give his tattoo shop -- All Heart.

"That’s what he was, all his life," she said.

Fare Hikes Approved in New MBTA Budget

(SOURCE: Gadi Cohen - Brown Daily Herald)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority voted 4-1 to approve a new budget in early April that will raise public transit fares by an overall 23 percent starting July 1.

According to the MBTA — which operates bus, subway, commuter rail and ferry services in the Boston metropolitan area — the fare increases were necessary in order to help close a $185 million gap in next year’s budget.

The new plan increases most bus fares by 25 cents, subway fares by 30 cents and commuter rail tickets by an average of 29 percent. These changes will increase the cost of commuter rail tickets between Providence and Boston.

“We understand that even these moderate changes we are proposing today will have a significant impact on some of our customers, and we appreciate that,” wrote Richard A. Davey, Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Jonathan Davis, acting general manager of MBTA, in an open letter to MBTA customers March 28. “But we have an obligation to balance our books and to be honest with each of you about the cost of service.”

MBTA officials considered proposals that would have increased fares by a larger percentage and cut weekend and late-night service between Providence and Boston, but they ultimately settled on a less severe option that will not fully alleviate the organization’s budget deficit.

Critics of the fare increases have argued that the Massachusetts legislature should have intervened in the MBTA budget to prevent the fare increases.

Steve Damiano ’12 travels to Boston twice a week for an internship. For his trips, Damiano takes the commuter train from Providence to South Station before boarding the Red Line to Cambridge. “The fees seem like they will only convince more people not to use public transportation and to drive in to work instead,” Damiano said. “If I was still in high school and had a similar internship opportunity in Boston, I might have second thoughts about taking it due to the increased cost of the monthly pass.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Massachusetts Wins Freight Rail Expansion Project Grant

(SOURCE: WAMC - Lucas Willard)

(WAMC) - The money is part of the Federal Railroad Authority's Rail Line Relocation Grant Program. Massachusetts secured the funding to expand and improve the Patriot Corridor - a rail line operated by Pan Am Southern that stretches from Mechanicville, NY, to Ayer, MA.

The project will involve removing 19 overhead obstructions along 155 miles of track that prevent double-stacked freight lines to pass underneath.

Massachusetts' Congressmen including Representatives John Olver and Richard Neal, and Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown applauded the grants to the Massachusetts rail system.

Hunter Ridgeway, spokesman for John Olver, says that the grant program was extremely competitive.

The grant which was awarded earlier this month, will allow the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to work with Pan Am Southern to develop the preliminary steps in engineering ways to clear the overhead obstructions.

The single largest portion of the project is to increase clearance in the Hoosac Tunnel, located in Florida, Massachusetts, outside of North Adams. Currently, the 4.75 mile tunnel built in 1875, has a ceiling height around 19 and a half feet. The project could look at a way to either clear extra room by cutting away at the ceiling of the tunnel, or digging down to allow a double stacked train to pass underneath.

By modernizing the Western Massachusetts freight line, State Senator Benjamin Downing hopes that more investments will come to modernizing passenger rail as well. Downing said that moving transport from roads back to rails is a benefit to the economy of Massachusetts.

The $2 million in funding will add to over 87 million in private investments on the rail line.

MassDOT's State Rail Plan shows that increasing freight rail capacity will provide more alternatives for shipping and make transport more efficient. Currently, 90% of transport in the region is done by trucking. MassDOT also anticipates the project will benefit freight rail throughout New England.

Pan Am Southern is a part of Boston & Main, and a joint venture between Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern Railway. An engineering team will be hired to study all necessary environmental and structural aspects of the Patriot Rail Corridor before construction plan will be developed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fall River Massachusetts to Test Market for Dinner Train

(via the Newswire)

FALL RIVER, Mass. – The Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry is partnering with Cape Rail Inc. to test the concept of a dinner train running out of Fall River. Cape Rail runs scenic excursions and dining trains on Cape Cod.

The Fall River Dinner Train will run April 12. Depending on its success, the train could become a new addition to the area’s tourist industry. “We have been talking about doing something like this for years,” Robert Mellion, the chamber’s chief executive officer, told South Coast Today.

Cape Rail is bringing a passenger train to the city for the “Hobo Express,” an hour-long excursion operating April 14-19, departing each day at 9:45 a.m. The chamber seized on the train’s availability to contract the railroad for the dinner train event, he said.

The two-hour ride will depart near the Fall River Line Pier at 5 p.m. and head north toward the Myricks/Taunton area, traveling close to the Taunton River for much of the way. A sponsor of the event, Leo’s Ristorante of Bristol, R.I, will cater the train.

Tickets for the event will be $25 and can be purchased at the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce, 200 Pocasset Street, Fall River. For more information, call the chamber at 508-676-8227. For information on the “Hobo Express” go to

Connecticut Southern opens new shop office building

(via the Newswire)

HARTFORD, Conn. — RailAmerica’s Connecticut Southern Railroad held a grand opening yesterday to mark the opening of its new shop and office building in Hartford. The new shop replaces an outdoor facility in East Hartford. “The office portion of the building is about 3,500 square feet, while the attached car repair and locomotive facility is about 10,500 square feet,” Connecticut Southern General Manager James Bonner said. The railroad’s office previously was located in an industrial park.

The shop building has two tracks, one with a pit that will be used primarily for locomotive repair, the other for car repair. Construction on the shop began last fall adjacent to the Amtrak main line though Hartford. The shop has room for four cars or locomotives.

Connecticut Southern serves freight customers along the Amtrak ex-New Haven line between Springfield, Mass., and North Haven, Conn.  The railroad makes a daily  through freight run between Springfield and CSX's Cedar Hill Yard in North Haven: One crew takes the train from Hartford to CSX's yard at West Springfield and back, and another crew takes it from Hartford to Cedar Hill and back. Other CSOR local freight crews cover customers along the Amtrak route.  CSX handles local customers on the southernmost six miles between North Haven and New Haven. The railroad also has several short branches. Bonner says the railroad currently has seven locomotives in its fleet, an SD40-2, two B39-8s, and four GP38s.

The railroad began operations in 1996 under short line holding company RailTex and was acquired by RailAmerica in February 2000