Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Verso Paper Mill Assessing Damage After Pan Am Derailment

(SOURCE: Mario Moretto, BDN Staff/BDN Maine)

BUCKSPORT, Maine — After the second derailment in about as many months of a train going to or from the Verso mill, the papermaking plant is concerned.

The train that derailed early Sunday afternoon (7/29/12) was carrying paper from Verso Paper Corp. when it went off the tracks at the intersection of Route 15, said Bill Cohen, a Verso spokesman.

One car overturned in the accident, and many more derailed, tearing up Route 15 as their metal wheels dug into the pavement. The stretch of road near the railroad intersection was closed to traffic until late Sunday evening.

Cohen said he couldn’t confirm how much paper was on the train, but said Verso was working with Pan Am Railways — which owns the tracks and operates the train — to assess how much product was damaged in the derailment.... READ WHOLE ARTICLE

Dad on Right Track Designing Mini MBTA Trolleys

(SOURCE: Jill Radsken - The Boston Herald)

MBTA Ridership Hits New Record, Topping 400 Million Rides in 2012

(SOURCE:  Melissa M. Werthmann, Boston.com )

Ridership topped 400 million rides in the 2012 fiscal year for the first time in the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s history.

The announcement comes in the wake of MBTA fare hikes that took place July 1.

Average weekday ridership grew by 5.7 percent and averaged more than 1.3 million passenger trips per weekday for the the entire fiscal year, MBTA spokesman Joseph Pesaturo said in a statement.

Ridership on all MBTA modes increased: Buses by 5.9 percent, subway lines by 5.2 percent, and trolleys by 8 percent, Pesaturo said.

He said that the total annual ridership — single one-way trips — for the 2012 fiscal year was 400,185,000.
Average weekday ridership for June was 1.5 percent greater than during June of last year, marking the 17th consecutive month of ridership growth, Pesaturo said.

MBTA general manager Jonathan Davis attributed the figures to “the state’s continued economic growth, lower unemployment rates, the availability of real-time information for bus and train customers, and an overall improvement in MBTA service reliability.”

Springfield Union Station to Get $17million Grant

(Via the Trains.com Newswire)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Springfield Union Station will receive a $17 million federal grant to redevelop it into a transportation center. The 86-year-old station will host Amtrak and intercity bus service.

The grant is part of $75 million renovation of the station. HDR Architects have been hired to oversee the renovation. In addition to rebuilt platforms and extra tracks, Union Station is slated to receive a 23-bay bus terminal, and a 400-space parking garage along with retail and office space.

Construction is expected to begin sometime in the spring of 2013.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New New England Depot URL!

My main site, New England Depot, has a snazzy new official web URL:  http://www.newenglanddepot.net/!  The old one will still work, but I decided it was time to make the change.

Jonelle DeFelice

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Freshly Painted B&M/Pan Am Boxcars UPDATE

The latest batch of repainted Pan Am boxcars are roaming the rails.  The first ones spotted were simply dark blue with "BM" reporting marks.  Then I spotted one with PAN AM block lettering and an American flag.  On 7/17/12 I spotted this car, #3316 with the full Pan Am logo.  I don't know if the same style is on the other side.

#3345 with no Pan Am logos 7/6/12
#3388 with block logo 6/27/12

7/17/12 Still River MA 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Amtrak Downeaster Sets Ridership Record

According to the Trains.com Newsletter, Amtrak's Downeaster service set a ridership record in fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30. The service carried 528,292 passengers in the year, a record for its ten years of operation. An expansion is further north into Maine by extending two of the five daily round trips to serve Freeport and Brunswick.

Friday, July 13, 2012

MBTA Approves Leases For 9.1 Miles of the Bay Colony Rail Trail

(SOURCE: Boston.com)

The MBTA Board of Directors this week voted to authorize 99-year leases with Newton and the towns of Medfield, Dover, and Needham for portions of an abandoned railroad right-of-way for use as a rail trail, according to spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

The combined leases represent approximately 9.1miles of a new trail development, known as the Bay Colony Rail Trail.

The communities will be responsible for all maintenance and liability.

While the lease is at no cost to the municipality, the MBTA reserves the right to enter into licenses or leases with utility and telecommunication companies to generate non-fare revenue.

The lease contains a reversion clause which allows the MBTA to take back the property at no cost, should it be needed for another transportation purpose.

This trail would also provide a safe and convenient link to the MBTA’s Needham Junction commuter rail station, backers say.

Officials in Dover, Medfield, Needham, and Newton all sent letters requesting to lease unused railroad right of way from the MBTA. It is one of several potential bike trails and paths that local bicycling advocates are pushing.

“To date, the MBTA has entered into leases with thirty other municipalities, which has resulted in over 100 miles of new or planned trails," MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis said in a statement.

"These lease agreements promote the Commonwealth’s GreenDOT policy of fostering healthy transportation choices, provide links to transit, and connect residential areas with schools and employments centers.”

Recent New England Model Railroad Announcements




CSX Subcontractor Hit With Lawsuits, Liens WORCESTER MA

SOURCE: CSX subcontractor hit with lawsuits, liens - Worcester Telegram & Gazette - telegram.com

Propane Rail Terminal Under Construction in Biddeford Maine

(SOURCE -Portland Press Herald - Gillian Graham )

A Minnesota-based company has started construction on a propane rail terminal in Biddeford.

CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company, is building the terminal in the Biddeford Industrial Park on land leased from Westfield Inc. of Kennebunk. The terminal will have the capacity to move 20 million gallons of propane annually.

The terminal will be served by Pan Am Railways and is expected to be fully operational by fall.

“This is a collaborative effort designed to help propane retailers serve New England homeowners and businesses with a safe, reliable and competitive supply of propane primarily from North American sources,” CHS Vice President Darin Hunhoff said in a prepared statement.

Biddeford officials and representatives of CHS Inc. were not immediately available for comment.

The Biddeford Industrial Park is located west of Route 1 near the city’s turnpike exit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MBTA Memorial Coach/Cab Car #1528

Man Suspected of Stealing Spikes from Providence & Worcester Tracks

(Via Trains.com Newsletter)

WAUREGAN, Conn. – A man has been arrested after he allegedly removed spikes and other metal from the Providence & Worcester Railroad tracks in Wauregan, the Norwich Bulletin reports. Jeremy J. Forcier was taken into custody after a witness called police to report he saw a man removing railroad spikes from the tracks.

The witness told police he had asked the man if he knew what would happen when a train went by after the spikes were removed. He said the man responded: “Yeah, the train would derail,” according to the police report. Police said they immediately advised the railroad to delay any trains using that section of track. Police said they found eight railroad spikes and two tie plates in a storage space in his scooter.

Forcier was charged with first-degree damage to railroad property, interfering with a police officer, and sixth-degree larceny.

Friday, July 6, 2012

WW&F Railway Turner Center Dairy Car Dedication - Wiscasset ME

On July 4th there was a dedication ceremony for the official opening of the Turner Center Dairy Car, built by the folks of the WW&F Railway Museum over the winter. The car will be on display at the the wharf along Route 1 in Wiscasset through the summer. It was built to show a historic connection to the town and inside the car show several different displays of the town, the railroad, and the Turner Center Dairy Company.

 If you would like to see more photos and info regarding the project, visit the WW&F forum at http://forum.wwfry.org/index.php?topic=1623.0

Photo Courtesy Mike Fox

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Friends of Bedford Depot Park B&M Layout

Railroad Through N.H. Provides New Path For Shale Oil

SOURCE: By JIM HADDADIN - Foster's Daily

DOVER — With an oil boom unfolding in the Midwest, petroleum producers are exploring new paths to bring the product to market, including one that runs through the middle of downtown Dover.

An official at Pan Am Railways confirmed recently that two trains, each carrying thousands of gallons of crude, passed through southern New Hampshire within the last month on their way north to Canada.

And more are likely to follow.

The trains were loaded with petroleum harvested from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, which is in the midst of a shale oil boom. They were trial runs on what is shaping up to become a busy transportation route for Midwestern crude.

The West's oil shale deposits are believed to contain more than 1 trillion barrels of oil — four times the holdings of Saudi Arabia, according to government and industry estimates.

North Dakota is on pace to double its oil production by 2015 to more than 1 million barrels a day.

Within the last six years, North Dakota has risen from the nation's ninth-leading oil producing state to the nation's No. 2 producer, second only to Texas.

However, the industry has been constrained by limited capacity to transport the product to refineries in the east and on the Gulf Coast. Proposals to build new pipelines across the country have been met with controversy because of concerns about the potential environmental impact of an oil spill.

Some environmental groups are also opposed to the techniques used to extract oil from shale formations in North Dakota. Shale contains fossilized algae, an immature form of oil that never received enough heat or pressure to produce liquid crude. It must be heated above 500 degrees to release a petroleum-like liquid.

To date, six major oil pipeline projects have been proposed to help move crude out of the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota. The projects include TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL project, a controversial Canada-to-Texas pipeline that would also carry up to 100,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota and Montana.

That project and others have been placed on hold while government officials review the proposals and weigh objections from environmental groups.

In the interim, rail is proving an appealing mode of transportation for the petroleum industry.

About one-quarter of North Dakota's daily oil production is now being shipped by rail, Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, told The Associated Press recently.

Some is also moved by truck, due to the lack of pipeline capacity in the state.

One major destination for shale oil is the Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick, Canada. To reach the refinery, which is more than 2,000 miles away, petroleum producers are tapping three major railroad paths, according to Kevin Burkholder, editor of Eastern Railroad News.

The southernmost route utilizes a rail line that cuts across the southeastern corner of New Hampshire. After departing from North Dakota, the trains head to Chicago, then on to Rotterdam Junction in New York. From there, the trains are handed off to Pan Am, which drives the locomotives across the Hudson River and through Massachusetts, entering New Hampshire via a bridge over the Merrimack River.

The route extends northeast through Newmarket, Dover and Rollinsford, following the path used by Amtrak's Downeaster commuter train.

The route is already used to ship a variety of petroleum products, but trains rarely carry shipments as large as the ones that began heading east in the last few weeks, according to Kit Morgan, administrator of rail and transit services for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

Last month, the Portland Press Herald reported a so-called "unit train" pulling 104 tank cars of crude from North Dakota made the inaugural journey through New Hampshire and Maine on its way to the oil refinery in New Brunswick. The train reached Maine during the weekend of May 25, according to the Press Herald.

Burkholder said he was tipped off about the trip by sources in the railroad industry, and managed to photograph the train as it crossed the border into New Hampshire.

The second large shipment to pass through the Granite State took place in the last two weeks, according to a Pan Am spokeswoman, who declined to divulge the exact date.

Burkholder said the second train was scheduled to pass through Dover between June 13-15, based on information he's received from insiders. Oil companies have been reticent to discuss the shipments, which they deem "very sensitive moves," Burkholder said.

Morgan didn't know about the 104-car crude shipment until he read the story published by the Portland Press Herald.

Neither did Rick Berry, a staffer in the state Department of Environmental Services who works in the division tasked with monitoring petroleum and hazardous waste.

"I saw the same article," Berry said. "Basically, that's all I know about it."

Berry said there is no requirement for railroads to report the cargo they move to state officials, since the federal railway administration controls rail policies.

New Hampshire law does impose reporting requirements for any oil spill that occurs in water, or any spill of more than 25 gallons on land, he said.

Burkholder said railroad shipments of Bakken crude have been ramping up since fall 2011. In addition to the path through New Hampshire, there are two other prominent routes being explored for crude shipments by rail, he said.

One travels through Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, and dips through a corner of Maine to reach the refinery in New Brunswick. The third route is located entirely in Canada, passing through Quebec on its way to the east coast.

To prepare for an influx of new tanker cars, Burkholder said, Irving is building new load-out tracks at its New Brunswick facility, hoping to be able to unload more train cars, and to do it faster.

"They can get oil from as many different routes as they can possibly get," he said.

Two representatives from Irving Oil did not return calls seeking comment.

Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president of Pan Am Railways, declined to discuss the routes used by trains laden with Bakken crude.

However, she confirmed two such trains have utilized the track in southeastern New Hampshire in the past three weeks.

For Pan Am, moving the crude doesn't require any special accommodations, Scarano said. In many respects, it's easier to transport than a train full of mixed freight cars, since a train dedicated to one type of cargo doesn't require handling along the way.

Scarano said the company sees the new Bakken crude shipments as a potentially lucrative development.

"We're looking for new business everywhere, but this is definitely promising," she said.

Outcry Halts Sale of Historic Stoughton MBTA Station

SOURCE: By Christine Legere / Boston.com

STOUGHTON — The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority recently put the 130-year-old railroad station in downtown Stoughton up for sale, much to the surprise of town officials.

State legislators, on behalf of the town, have since secured a temporary halt to the sale process, but the fate of the historic granite station remains uncertain. The station carries a price tag of $350,000, which many in Stoughton argue is too high.

The town has been interested in owning the railroad station for more than a year. Acting Town Manager Joseph Feaster called the building “a linchpin property in terms of what we want to do in the downtown.”

Feaster said a master planning committee is working on revitalizing Stoughton center. “We want to have site control, and we plan to do everything in our power to make sure the town will own the station property,” he said.

The train station, built in 1888 of rough-hewn native granite, is one of only two Stoughton buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Well-known Boston architect Charles Brigham designed the building in Classical Revival style. Its 62-foot stone tower is the last of its kind in the state, according to a 1967 report prepared by Architectural Heritage Inc.

The firm called the station “one of Brigham’s best designs.”

While Stoughton officials have complained they were blindsided by the T’s marketing of the station, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail that Stoughton had been offered the property first.

“The MBTA advertised for bids after the town decided not to bring the proposed purchase to the May Town Meeting,” Pesaturo said. He said rail officials were then contacted by “parties interested in the property” and therefore put it out to bid.

Feaster argued the state approached the town too late to include funding for the purchase on the annual Town Meeting warrant. He said he explained to rail officials “any discussion would have to be in the future.”

The acting town manager said he was therefore surprised to see “for sale” signs on the train station and an advertisement posted on the transportation authority’s website.

Feaster contacted Stoughton’s state legislators. Senator Brian Joyce was able to get the bid process halted.

Pesaturo said rail officials are now “working with Senator Joyce in an effort to find a resolution.”

Whether the town and the state can agree upon a price remains a tough question. Massachusetts law stipulates state-owned properties must yield market value, in this case $350,000.

To make the deal more palatable, state Representatives Louis Kafka and William Galvin have sponsored an amendment to the state Transportation Bond Bill, currently before the Legislature, that would provide Stoughton with $175,000. The town would be required to match the amount.

Many in Stoughton argue the town shouldn’t have to pay anything for the station, since residents raised $1 million in 1988 and refurbished the building for its centennial celebration.

“The sentiment exists that failure on the part of the MBTA to maintain the building after the centennial money was put in should mean the building should revert to us,” Feaster said.

Stoughton historian Howard Hansen said the town should have taken ownership of the station 50 years ago, when the state took over the rail properties abandoned by private corporations.

“Legally, the station should have gone into the hands of Stoughton for unpaid taxes,” Hansen said.

Hansen said the town leased the station for about 20 years and paid for heat and some minor repairs even after the lease expired. The station has been closed for the last few years. “They’re asking $350,000, but I think they should credit the town for the maintenance we did over the years,” Hansen said.

Selectman John Anzivino takes it a step further. “My personal opinion is the state should not only give us the building, they should renovate it first,” the said.

Anzivino called the station “a key piece of downtown redevelopment,” but his colleague, Selectwoman Cynthia Walsh, said her “vision isn’t so grand as to pay money for this.”

Walsh worries the station could become a money pit. “Right now, there’s plastic over the train station windows, no heat and no working bathrooms,” she said. “I’m not in favor of purchasing it until I know what it would cost to bring it up to code.”

Walsh pointed out some stations have been reused as restaurants, but rail officials are including only 25 parking places with the station sale. “That’s not enough to run a successful business in that building,” she said.

“Easton turned their rail station into a museum, but we already have a museum in another historic building,” Walsh said. “How many museums can a small town support?”

A New Yahoo! Group for Pan Am News...

For years, Gary's Guilford/Pan Am Sightings Yahoo! Group has been a major source of info for railfans.  But its main focus is on sightings.  A new group has been started to cover sightings, as well as a broader scope of topics & discussions.

Visit the new group at New Pan Am Rail (http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/newpanamrail/)