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.

State Legislator Could Lose Rights to NH Railroad Line

(Source: Union - By MARK HAYWARD)

Long under scrutiny for his use of a state-owned railroad line, a Peterborough state representative could end up losing access to the 18 1/2-mile line, which runs between Wilton and Bennington.

Peter Leishman, owner of Milford-Bennington Railroad Company, said he’s currently using the track without the blessings of state transportation officials.

They even returned payments he tried to send them last year, said Leishman, a Democrat from Peterborough.

In the meantime, another company — possibly Pan Am Railways — could end up winning a state contract that would give it control of the track, challenging Leishman’s ability to use it.

Leishman uses the line to transport stone from a quarry to a Milford concrete business.

“None of this makes any sense,” Leishman said. For 20 years, he had an exceptional relationship with the state Department of Transportation, he said.......... READ WHOLE ARTICLE

Sunday, September 2, 2012

MBTA Testing for Bio-hazards on the T - MBTA Testing for Bio-hazards on the T

(NECN: Jackie Bruno, Boston) - The Department of Homeland Security and the MBTA are working to test a system of newly developed biological detection sensors at MBTA stations in Cambridge and Somerville this summer. 

The effort, to detect and minimize any impacts from an attack or accident involving hazardous biological materials in a mass transportation system, is being coordinated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Cambridge Public Health Department, and the Somerville Health Department, with support from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

It's important to note that the materials they're using are safe and will not harm people... but they are conducting biological tests in the T this week... to see how fast a biological terror attack could spread. 

Davis Square was tested Tuesday night. 

Harvard Square and Porter Square will be tested this week... and they're doing this overnight... when people aren't on the trains. Earlier this year, the department of homeland security and the MBTA installed sensors to help officials identify and contain biological terror attacks. 

These tests will make sure they work. While these tests won't harm anyone, the threat of a biological terror attack is real.

NECN Reporter Jackie Bruno asked people who ride the trains if that's something they think about and are worried about. 

"When you're stuck down there in the little tube you worry about a lot of things, but you can't let it stop your normal routines for the day," South Boston Resident Scott Luther said.

"I don't necessarily think about it. I think it's a good idea that they take these initiatives to do the testing and make it for a more safe community," Arlington Resident Joe Opalinski said.

This is one of the first subway systems in the country that is being tested with this equipment. 

If it works, it could be the model for other transportation systems throughout the nation. 

MA Lawmakers Announce Conn River Rail Construction - Mass. lawmakers announce rail construction:

State and federal lawmakers from Massachusetts have announced efforts to restore passenger rail service along the Connecticut River valley.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray joined Democratic U.S. Reps. John Olver and Richard Neal as well as Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse on Monday to look at a potential site for the city's passenger rail platform.
They also announced that on-going construction will replace 20,000 rail tiles from Greenfield to the Vermont border to bring rail service to Northampton and Greenfield in 2014.
The project is funded through a $73 million federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The construction would relocate Amtrak's Vermonter passenger train lines back to its prior route on the Pan Am Southern Railroad. The line runs from northern Vermont to Washington D.C

Middlebury-Pittsford Vermont Rail Spur Project on Hold Indefinitely

Middlebury-Pittsford, Vt., rail spur project put on hold indefinitely - A proposed $32 million rail spur that would be used to alleviate truck traffic between marble processor Omya Inc.'s quarry in Middlebury and its calcium carbonate plant in Pittsford has been put on hold indefinitely...............

Numbers Show Maine Rail Traffic Has Tripled on Local Lines

Numbers show rail traffic has tripled on local lines: Aug. 29 edition: ST. JOHN VALLEY - Local rail traffic has been on the rise in the past year, according to the Maine Department of Transportation. The state-owned rail lines that run from Grindsto...