Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NEW KIT: Maine Central Freight House

BEST has some very nice New England themed structure kits in HO scale.  Their newest is a Maine Central freight house.  Get info HERE.

DEP: 4,000-6,000 Gallons of Chemical Spilled in Bucksport ME Derailment

SOURCE: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/28/news/hancock/dep-4000-to-6000-gallons-of-paper-chemical-spilled-in-bucksport-derailment/

BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is estimating that 4,000 to 6,000 gallons of a chemical used to make coated paper spilled into the Penobscot River when several train tanker cars derailed in Bucksport on Friday................................ READ

MBTA Now Encourages Photography

SOURCE:  Trains.com Newswire

BOSTON – In a reversal of attitudes toward photography, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is now encouraging riders to take photos of suspicious activity, and has created a smart phone application to do so.

The authority also announced that it has repealed all rules against taking pictures on its property.

“It is time we lifted any restrictions on taking pictures,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “It’s almost impossible to control.” Now that most riders have cellphones with built-in cameras, MacMillan said, it is more beneficial to start encouraging their use in order to decrease crime.

With the free iPhone “See Say” application, riders can share pictures, text, and location details with a dispatcher, if they see something suspicious while traveling. The application, which is now available on iTunes.com, is part of the MBTA’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which was launched in 2003 in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Transit Security Grant Program provided funding for the app and campaign. The app can be used to report everything from a suspicious package to a sighting of a missing person. If a user does not have cell service in range, the app is programmed to send a report as soon as service is available. Users can also choose to submit a tip anonymously. The camera’s flash will automatically be disabled if a rider wants to use the app to discreetly take a picture of something suspicious.

Transit police dispatchers who receive the tip can respond to an alert with more questions. The app can also be programmed to receive updates regarding service delays or other alerts.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pan Am to Pay $500 Fine...

SOURCE: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/waterville-district-court_2012-05-25.html

"Pan Am Railways, Waterville ME, fail to equip, maintain, make rule to prevent fire, April 29, 2011, in Oakland ME; $500 fine"

Pan Am Derailment in Bucksport Maine

SOURCE:   By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff  http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/26/news/hancock/crews-still-working-on-bucksport-train-derailment-that-sent-2-cars-into-penobscot-river/

BUCKSPORT, Maine — Railway crews were still on the scene Saturday of a trail derailment in Bucksport that tore up roughly 200 feet of track and sent two tanker cars into the Penobscot River.

The 4-car derailment happened Friday evening around 7 p.m. on a stretch of Pan Am Railways tracks that hugs the Penobscot River near the Bucksport-Orrington town line. The 31-car train was headed to the Verso Paper mill in Bucksport with a delivery at the time.

The two cars that ended up partially in the river were carrying liquid latex. Initial reports had suggested that none of the latex had leaked out, but a Pan Am Railways spokeswoman said Saturday afternoon that there was some spillage.

Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president at Massachusetts-based Pan Am Railways, said the latex is nonhazardous and has a neutral pH. The extent of the leak won’t be clear until the tanks have been emptied, she said.

On Saturday afternoon, about a dozen railroad crews could be seen from a nearby property working to repair the roughly 200-foot stretch of track that was damaged during the derailment. Once the track is repaired, Pan Am will transfer the contents of the derailed cars cars into empty cars before bringing in a crane to remove the cars.

Scarano said they are still investigating the cause of the derailment but the company hopes to reopen that stretch of tracks soon.

“Right now it is shut down,” she said. “We are hoping by the end of today or early tomorrow to have the track back in service.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MBTA's Memorial Train Honors 136 Fallen Bay Staters

SOURCE: http://www.telegram.com/article/20120524/NEWS/105249802/-1/NEWS05

WORCESTER —  The MBTA's Memorial Train made its inaugural run yesterday from Boston's South Station to Worcester's Union Station in a tribute to the 136 Bay State servicemen who lost their lives during recent wars in the Middle East.

The train made its way into Worcester about 1:50 p.m., catching the eyes of commuters waiting to make the reverse trip back to Boston.

“This is really something else,” said William Costa, a 26-year-old Worcester resident who takes the train to his job at Wendy's in Westboro. “It's a good way to remember the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.”

The Memorial Train is actually a 1988 passenger coach that has been “shrink-wrapped” with patriotic imagery.

Coach car 1528 is emblazoned with red and white striping against a blue background. Along the bottom are 136 gold stars with the names of the Massachusetts airmen, soldiers, Marines and sailors who died in recent in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A plaque with the names hangs inside the coach.

The coach will be integrated into trains making runs on all MBTA commuter routes.

The Memorial Train made its debut with the 12:22 p.m. trip into Worcester.

It was introduced beforehand at a ceremony at South Station attended by state officials, including Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey, Secretary of Veterans' Services Coleman Nee and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Jonathan Davis.

“I'm happy that the state decided to do something like this,” said Mr. Costa, who took several photographs of the coach with his cellphone.

State officials said the train's crew will be made up at times of veterans who served during the recent wars.

They include conductor Christina Clark, an Army staff sergeant who became disabled in Iraq after a device exploded under the diesel fuel truck that she was in.

The coach “is a good reminder to people about the sacrifices some have made,” said Tryrone Stokley, a conductor on the trip to Worcester.

Crude Oil Test Train Runs on Pan Am

READ: Crude oil test train runs along Pan Am to Canada

Monday, May 21, 2012

Newly Painted Pan Am / Boston & Maine Boxcars Spotted

It has been reported that newly painted Pan Am boxcars, with BM (Boston & Maine) reporting marks, have been spotted.  They are in the same dark blue "dip" as the latest Pan Am locomotives.  As of now, they have no Pan Am logos.  A photo of one of the cars can be seen HERE.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Old Orchard Beach ME Considers Year-Round Amtrak Stop

SOURCE: Sun Chronicle - Old Orchard Beach ME Considers Year-Round Amtrak Stop - By Kate Irish Collins Staff writer kcollins@keepmecurrent.com

OLD ORCHARD BEACH - There’s a strong desire among business owners, town leaders and town staff to make Old Orchard Beach a year-round stop for the Downeaster train, which currently runs between Portland and Boston five times a day.

To reach that long-discussed goal, however, will take money, as well as figuring out a way to meet the requirements imposed by Amtrak, Pan Am Railways and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the train.

During a meeting last week the Town Council discussed whether it would be the best and easiest solution just to enclose the current platform, located on First Street, which is now open to the elements.

Jeffrey Hinderliter, the town planner, was also told to explore the option of having the Downeaster stop at only specific times of day instead of keeping a full-time, year-round schedule.

To have a year-round stop, the town, which owns and operates the train platform, must meet three basic requirements, he told the council.

It must provide access to Quik-Trak ticket machines from about 5 a.m. until about 9 p.m. every day; it must provide adequate parking; and it must find a way to keep the so-called exclusionary zone clear of snow and ice.

Hinderliter hopes to have the train stopping year-round in Old Orchard Beach by the fall. But, he said, stumbling blocks include the cost of meeting all the necessary requirements. Right now the town has about $25,000 left from the money it set aside to build the train platform more than a decade ago.

Despite these issues, Hinderliter said, in a previous interview, “I have confidence we will have a year-round stop by October. The Downeaster is a wonderful service and it would certainly be of great benefit to have the train stop here year-round.”

Last week he said “the primary benefit for the near future” would be the additional transportation options having a year-round train stop would provide. Going forward, Hinderliter said, it would also make it easier to promote the town as a year-round destination, instead of just a summer haven.

During last week’s council meeting he outlined the specific requirements for making Old Orchard Beach a year-round stop for the Downeaster.

In terms of the Quik-Trak ticket machines, Hinderliter said, the machines must be located in a climate controlled, protected location. Currently one ticketing machine is located at the Chamber of Commerce but that machine is removed during the winter months because the chamber is open only limited hours and the train doesn’t currently stop from November to mid-April.

This means, Hinderliter told the council, that the town would either need to retrofit an existing location or construct one that meets the requirements set out by Amtrak and the rail authority. He also said it would be important for this area to include some type of theft proofing.

In terms of parking, there must be a designated parking area for Amtrak customers, which must be cleared of ice and snow at all times.

In terms of keeping the exclusionary zone, where passengers step off and onto the train, free of snow and ice, Hinderliter said the town would need to develop a work and safety plan in coordination with Pan-Am, the rail authority and Amtrak.
This plan would include providing specialized training for all employees who would be conducting winter maintenance activities, along with providing protective equipment and written maintenance procedures.

Hinderliter told the council that the preferred option for getting rid of ice and snow would be one that other stations along the line use - a heating mat. Initial construction and materials costs would likely exceed $25,000, though. In addition, he said, there would be ongoing costs, particularly for electricity.

If the town used its own personnel for snow removal, there would be no requirement for “a significant up-front monetary investment,” Hinderliter said, but it would see an increase in its labor costs.

He also pointed out to the council that the Old Orchard Beach train stop consists of both an upper and lower platform and he’s unsure whether both must be kept clear of snow and ice.

He suggested one option for the council to consider would be using manual labor to remove ice and snow for a test period of two to three years to determine if a year-round station is needed and economically feasible.  

“Doing this will not require the initial upfront costs and would allow time for more thorough planning to address long-term needs,” Hinderliter said.

“As much as I am in favor of a year-round station, I believe the council must look at how realistic it is, including a cost-benefit comparison,” he added.

National Train Day Events MAY 12, 2012

May 12th is National Train Day!  Check out the official website and see what events are planned throughout New England!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SHIRLEY MA - Dog Pulls Unconscious Owner From Freight Train's Path

(Source: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/31027600/detail.html)

SHIRLEY, Mass. -- A pit bull named Lilly is being hailed a hero after she pulled her unconscious owner from the path of a freight train last weekend.

An engineer of a westward-bound freight train saw a dog pulling a woman away from the tracks in the early hours of May 4 in Shirley. The engineer tried to stop, but couldn't avoid hitting the 8-year-old dog.

The woman, identified as Christine Spain, wasn't hurt, but the train's wheels sliced through Lilly's right foot, fractured her pelvis in multiple locations and caused other internal injuries.

When EMTs arrived at the scene, Lilly was covered in blood but still standing guard over her owner, who had collapsed next to the tracks while walking home from a friend’s house.

The dog was initially taken to an emergency animal hospital in Acton, and she was then taken by Spain's son, Boston police Officer David Lanteigne, to Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

Lanteigne said he had adopted the dog for his mother three years before, and Lilly's companionship helped curb her drinking.

"Lilly's recovery from this horrific ordeal is my top priority right now and I'll do everything possible to get her back home to us," he said.

Lilly is undergoing extensive treatment at MSPCA-Angell. To make a donation to Lilly's care and treatment, click here.

Amtrak Vermonter to Benefit from New MA Transportation Center…

Eastern Railroad News:  Amtrak Vermonter to Benefit from New MA Transportation Center…

Massachusetts Backs Berkshire Scenic Railway in Dispute

(via Trains.com newswire)

LENOX, Mass. – The recent breakdown of negotiations between the Housatonic Railroad and the Berkshire Scenic Railway to continue passenger excursions has drawn fire from Massachusetts officials, the Berkshire Eagle reports.

Responding to inquiries from the Eagle, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation placed blame for the impasse on the Housatonic Railroad, even while citing the value it places on “the public-private relationship” it has with the privately owned railroad.

In a statement released by the agency’s press secretary, Sara Lavoie, the department cited letters it has written to support Housatonic’s effort to win a $23 million grant to develop proposed passenger service between Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn., with a link to the Metro-North commuter rail line in Brewster, N.Y. The project, estimated to cost around $200 million, has not moved forward because of a lack of public and private funding.

The DOT statement expressed support for the “nonprofit work of the Berkshire Scenic [Railway] group and recognizes [the scenic railway rides] as a significant tourist asset for the region.” Last year, Berkshire Scenic trains carried 16,000 passengers on runs between Lenox and Stockbridge, Mass., but its agreement to use Housatonic’s tracks expired Dec. 31, 2011.

Colin Pease, a Housatonic Railroad vice president, has told the Eagle that the line does not intend to renew the agreement now or in the future. No specific reason was given. Housatonic Railroad officials have spoken privately of alleged safety violations by Berkshire Scenic Railway.

The state agency shot that notion down, declaring that “no evidence of safety violations with the Berkshire Scenic’s operation has been presented to us. We are disappointed that we have been unable to reach an agreement.”

Two years ago, Housatonic Railroad extended an expired seven-year accord with Berkshire Scenic after the state spent $3 million for track upgrades and related improvements.

Berkshire Scenic, through its attorney and volunteer Pamela R. Green, said “since we began operating over the Housatonic Railroad’s tracks in 2003, no one from the line has ever inspected, asked to inspect, or questioned Berkshire Scenic’s safety or regulatory compliance. It never asked for records or any other paperwork.”

Last August, Green said, the museum received an email claiming that a Housatonic employee “heard something wrong” with a locomotive wheel. The wheel was inspected, no issue was discovered, and Berkshire Scenic responded with that information, Green said.

A letter from Housatonic followed, Green added, “alleging all of our equipment was defective.” She stated the railroad conducted its own inspection, carried out by the railroad’s owner, John Hanlon, “without notice or cause, according to multiple sources.” Green said that a letter followed Hanlon’s visit from Housatonic Railroad’s lawyer, alleging serious violations. “We were quite stunned to receive the letter because after so many years of cooperative work with the Housatonic, it seemed unwarranted and a draconian act to take,” she said.

According to a document from the Federal Railroad Administration obtained by the Eagle, Berkshire Scenic had no derailments, equipment failures, or personnel injuries. According to the documents, Housatonic Railroad filed a complaint against Berkshire Scenic. A resulting inspection on Aug. 12, 2011, uncovered no violations, and only suggested minor repairs to two locomotives.

Despite the impasse, Green emphasized, “We have always maintained our professionalism and willingness to work with them. Our organization, while volunteer-staffed, consists of not just railroad ‘buffs’ but career, professional railroaders with just as much, if not more, experience than many of those working for the Housatonic,” she said.

Portland Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad to Move to Gray

(via Trains.com newswire)

PORTLAND, Me. – The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum, which operates 1.5 miles of track along Casco Bay in Portland, will move to Gray, about 15 miles north of the city, museum President Jerry Angier said.

The museum is on property of the former Portland Co., which built locomotives and cars, but the owners of the property have it for sale. In addition, the museum’s railway, the former Grand Trunk route from Quebec into the city, is owned by the State of Maine, which may exercise a 30-day notice to vacate the property if proposals for light rail mature.

Angier reported that negotiations for a section of the former Portland-Lewiston Interurban right-of-way at Gray are proceeding, as are talks leading to acquisition of land for terminal facilities. The museum has engaged a consultant to assist in raising the estimated $3 million the move and development may cost.

The Maine Narrow Gauge and Museum has been at its current site since 1993, when it acquired and moved to Maine the bulk of the Edaville Railroad collection of Maine two-foot gauge equipment. The museum owns fou original Maine two-footer steam locomotives, as well as original passenger and freight rolling stock.

WW&F Completes Narrow Gauge Replica Cream Car

(Via Trains.com newsletter)

SHEEPSCOT, Me. – A replica of a cream car once used by an on-line industry of the Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railway, one of the legendary Maine “two-footers,” is nearly complete.
During the WW&F Railway Museum’s annual Spring Work Session, volunteers assembled a pair of arch-bar trucks, completed interior painting, and lettered the car, which was built from scratch in the museum’s shops over the winter months.

The original car was rebuilt in the WW&F’s shops from a 1905 Portland Co. car in the first decade of the 20th century to transport cans of cream picked up along the railway’s line for delivery to the Turner Centre Dairy operation in Wiscasset. It was insulated with sawdust and fitted with both an ice bin and a stove to maintain an even temperature year-round. The windows were added later so an attendant could ride inside the car to collect and drop off cream cans at stations along the line.

The replica car, while fully operational, will be placed at the public wharf in Wiscassett (site of the Turner Centre Dairy) with display materials about the Turner Centre Dairying Association and the WW&F Railway and its museum.

During the work session, in addition to work on the cream car, volunteers also performed a variety of track maintenance projects, prepared footers for a new restroom building, continued restoration of locomotive No. 9 (Portland 1891) and reroofed the Sheepscot station. More than 75 volunteers participated.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DOTX Geometry Train Inspecting New England Railroads

(via Eastern Railroad News)

The schedule through the first 10 days of May 2012 includes:
  • May 1: Willimantic, CT to Plainfield, CT and on to Worcester, MA; Worcester, MA to Pawtucket, RI – Valley Falls Yard (Providence & Worcester)
  • May 2: Pawtucket, RI to Worcester, MA; Worcester, MA to Barber, MA (Providence & Worcester); Barber, MA to Ayer, MA – Hill Yard, via Clinton, MA (Pan Am Southern / Handoff to the Mass Bay Commuter Railroad)
  • May 3: Ayer, MA to Boston, MA (via Littleton, MA [CPF-Willows]; Acton, MA and Somerville, MA); Boston, MA to Newburyport, MA and return (Mass Bay Commuter Railroad)
  • May 4: Boston, MA to Haverhill, MA (via Wilmington, MA and Lowell Jct.) (Mass Bay Commuter Railroad / Handoff to Pan Am Railways); Haverhill, MA to Portland, ME (via Exeter, NH)
  • May 5-13: DOTX 216 will be receiving preventative maintenance and will not be testing

MBTA Opens New Wickford Junction RI Station, Announces Smartphone Ticketing

READ: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority opens new Wickford Junction station, announces smartphone ticketing system - TRAINS Magazine