Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Weston Chronicles: Saga of the Central Mass. Railroad

10th in a series of chronicles about Weston people, places and events through three centuries, written by town historian Pamela W. Fox for the Weston tercentennial:    READ:  Weston Chronicles: Saga of the Central Mass. Railroad

Winchester MA NIMBY Residents "Victorious" Over Tighe/Pan Am

Once again, NIMBYs who move by railroad tracks are squaking because they are actually being used for a money making business: 

(6.19.13) WINCHESTER MA - They say you can't fight City Hall. But can you fight big business? Yes, and you can win, too.

Last night, petitioners Susan Busher and Lorraine Malloy, and residents of the Holton Street/Baldwin Street neighborhood, were victorious in their fight against Tighe Trucking and Pan Am Railway over the use of tracks on Holton Street. The Zoning Board of Appeals upheld a ruling they made previously that Tighe and Pan Am can't claim an exemption and, therefore, can no longer run freight service in the area...................READ the article HERE

PanAm East Deerfield Cleanup Meeting

DEERFIELD — Pan Am Railways will hold a public meeting on 6/20/13 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall to present its draft plans to clean up and keep clear petroleum hydrocarbons and asphalt pollution at the East Deerfield Rail Yard.

The company will present a draft Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment Addendum and a draft Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment/Phase III Remedial Action Plan Addendum for historical releases of petroleum hydrocarbons. Pan Am will also present information about disposal site conditions and ongoing site activities.

Copies of the reports will be made available at the meeting or online at eastdeerfieldrailyard.erm.com.

The town and state have been overseeing the railroad’s cleanup of contaminated ground for several years now in the area long used by the Boston and Maine railroad.

Eastern Maine Railway Acquires ex-Bangor & Aroostook Track

(via the Trains.com Newswire)

ST. JOHN, New Brunswick – Eastern Maine Railway, a subsidiary of Canada’s J.D. Irving Ltd., has purchased 28 miles of ex-Bangor & Aroostook track from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway. The track runs from Madawaska and Van Buren, Maine, and includes the international bridge that crosses the international border from Van Buren into St. Leonard. The deal closed June 17.

Eastern Maine Railway presently operates 200 miles of state-owned track, which Maine purchased in 2011 after MMA announced plans to abandon the lines. The latest acquisition will link Eastern Maine Railway’s operations and a Canadian National line on the Canadian side of the border. The 28 miles was not included in the original deal with the state. At the time of the original deal it was considered viable operation since it served the Twin Rivers paper mill in Madawaska, but since that time the mill has cut back on rail shipments. Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway announced a tentative deal to sell the line in late 2011.

“It has never stopped being in discussion,” Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway President Robert Grindrod tells the Bangor Daily News. “Any time a railroad changes hands it requires government approval. It’s taken us this long to get us through that process.”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Contracts Awarded for MBTA Wachusett Expansion

(via the Trains.com Newswire)

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has awarded a $22.9 million contract to S&R Construction Enterprises to build the Wachusett commuter rail station in Fitchburg and a $12 million layover facility in Westminster. The agency plans to extend service on the Fitchburg line about 4.5 miles west from its downtown Fitchburg terminal to the new station.

The Wachusett station will be located northwest of the intersection of Massachusetts Routes 2 and 31 in Fitchburg. When completed, it will serve as the northwestern terminus for Fitchburg Line trains on the Pan Am Southern main line, lengthening the Fitchburg Line to 54 miles. The station is expected to draw 400 daily riders and open by the end of 2014.

The layover facility will be just 1.5 miles west of the new station, but has been met with community opposition in Westminster over noise pollution. The facility will have six 1000-foot tracks and replace a similar but smaller yard in East Fitchburg.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Former Boston & Maine Waltham Tower Closes

(via Trains.com News Wire)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s former Boston & Maine interlocking tower at Waltham, Mass. (see “News & Photos,” December 2012), closed effective 3 p.m., June 1. Until 2012, the tower controlled several interlockings over a 27-mile segment of MBTA’s Fitchburg Line, operated by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad.

Since 2012, Waltham’s interlockings have gradually been transferred to the MBCR Boston West Train Dispatcher, with the final cutover occurring Saturday. Built in 1928, the two-story brick tower likely will remain in use by maintenance forces. The few remaining towers in New England primarily handle moveable bridges and small sections of track.

Connecticut Awards $8 million for Rail Freight

(via the Trains.com News Wire)

HARTFORD, Conn. – Last week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Congressman Joe Courtney and state Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, awarded more than $8 million in Rail Freight Infrastructure Program funding. The funding will be released to four regional and shortline railroads to improve and modernize the state's rail freight system. The Central New England Railroad, New England Central Railroad, Naugatuck Railroad, and Providence and Worcester Railroad will repair and upgrade rail lines, roadbeds, crossings, and culverts, as well as other related facilities.

“Improving our freight rail infrastructure is a critical component of strengthening Connecticut’s economy,” Gov. Malloy says. “Upgrades to tracks and crossings for rail freight certainly improve our overall transit system, but also create good jobs and a strong system for future commerce. These improvements will allow more freight to be moved safely at higher speeds, while at the same time ease highway gridlock and reduce air pollution.”

Annually, rail freight companies move 8.5 million tons of freight through Connecticut on more than 625 miles of tracks. 

"This competitive program specifically for freight rail companies will result in short-term improvements with long-term benefits," Commissioner Redeker says. "Freight operators are combining this funding with their own resources; this is a true public/private partnership that will have a positive lasting impact on Connecticut rail transportation.”

The projects funded include:
• $2.46 million for Central New England track and grade crossing signal infrastructure improvements installed between Hartford and Bloomfield on the state-owned line. Grade crossing warning devices will be installed, and surface and track improvements will be made at the Wintonbury Avenue and Mills Lane crossings in Bloomfield.
• $3.58 million for New England Central to upgrade its main line between New London and the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars. The project includes upgrading switches, making repairs to the Norwich Tunnel, and rehabilitating nine grade crossings. 
• $1.65 million for Naugatuck Railroad to repair the state-owned line between Waterbury and Torrington. Naugatuck Railroad will replace ties and worn rails, and improve a rail crossing at Frost Bridge Road on Route 262 in Watertown.
• $760,000 for Providence & Worcester Railroad to rehabilitate 26 miles of the Norwich Branch between Plainfield and the Massachusetts state line. New ties, spikes, and ballast will be installed, and rail speeds on the line will increase.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Legislators Look to Stop Ethanol Trains in Their Tracks

People are still fighting the proposed Pan Am ethanol trains into the Boston area.  READ: Legislators look to stop ethanol trains in their tracks

MBTA Fitchburg Line Rider Slightly Upset...

The MBTA station area at Ayer MA was recently covered with chalked messages telling riders to demand a refund on their passes. Apparently, the Fitchburg line will not have service on weekends through the fall. Needless to say, someone is upset that they paid full price for a pass, and is not getting service.  The T isn't even providing bus service.

The following information is from the MBTA website:

Due to track work the following Fitchburg Line stations will be closed weekends: Fitchburg, North Leominster, Shirley, Ayer, and Littleton/495. No substitute bus service will be provided. Service will run per normal schedule between North Station and South Acton.

These closures will be every weekend from June 1 through November 24, 2013 except for Fourth of July weekend (July 6 and 7) and Labor Day weekend (August 31, September 1.)

Stops Affected: Ayer, Fitchburg, Littleton / Rte 495, North Leominster, Shirley

ON THIS DAY: Boston & Lowell RR Chartered 1830

... the Boston & Lowell Railroad was chartered in 1830

Monday, June 3, 2013

MBTA's Cape Flyer Train Debuts

For people looking for a way to avoid the massive traffic gridlock heading to and from Cape Cod this summer, there is a new option.  Direct rail service from Boston to the Cape began the end of May.  The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), in cooperation with MassDOT, will operate summer seasonal service from Boston South Station to Hyannis on Cape Cod beginning this weekend through Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013.

For more information, go to the train's very own website:   www.capeflyer.com

MA OKs Plan for "Boston Landing" MBTA Commuter Rail Station in Brighton

The state Massachusetts Transportation Department's board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve plans for new commuter rail station in Brighton MA, which New Balance will pay to build and then operate for at least the first decade after the station opens.

The station will sit next to an area where the shoe company is building a massive, $500 million development project………..The station will be called “Boston Landing.” New Balance officials have said previously they hope it will open in 2014, which would make it the first completed component of the company’s large development.

The station will include a single platform, centered between the eastbound and westbound tracks of the Framingham-Worcester line, said Mark Boyle, the MBTA’s assistant general manager for development.

The conceptual plan envisions that riders will be able to access the station directly from Guest Street and Everett Street, Boyle said......... The initial schedule will include two inbound stops at the station during the morning rush hour and two outbound stops there during the evening rush hour………….Construction is estimated to cost between $14 and $16 million, he said.

New Balance will pay to design and build the station. The company will also pay all maintenance costs for the first 10 years the station is opened. After the first decade, the state and New Balance will reassess how maintenance costs would be paid for.

New Balance plans to construct a new headquarters, sports complex, hotel, up to three office buildings along with retail, restaurant and recreation space on Guest Street. The half-billion dollar development will create a 1.45 million square-foot “health and wellness district” across about 14 acres of property.

The company began demolition on the development last fall. New Balance has said it expects to complete the six-phase project within about a four-year span. The headquarters, sports complex and the hotel are expected to be completed by 2015. The office buildings are expected to be built by 2017.

B&M/Pan Am Shop Building Burned at North Billerica MA

(SOURCE:  LowellSun.com)

BILLERICA -- An old, out-of-service hydrant in Iron Horse Park did not help extinguish a Sunday brush fire, which quickly turned into a significant blaze that leveled an old storage building for the Pan Am Railroad, according to Billerica Deputy Chief Tom Ferraro……. When a fire engine responded at 4:02 p.m., firefighters used 500 gallons of water in about five minutes, Ferraro said. Billerica firefighters then tried to use the industrial park's private hydrant, but it was out of service, he said.

Firefighters had to go 1,000 feet away to connect to a working hydrant, and by the time they came back, the blustery conditions had extended the blaze into 1700 Iron Horse Park, a dilapidated old storage building owned by Pan-Am Railways, according to Ferraro.

"I'm not going to say it would have been a different story (if the hydrant was working), but it would have been a lot easier to lay 100 feet of hose instead of 1,000," Ferraro said. "We wouldn't have run of out of water.

"This was a private hydrant," he emphasized. "This was not the responsibility of the Fire Department's hydrants."

Fire Chief Tom Conway said the storage facility was a dry, wood building estimated at 200 feet long…….. There was some damage to materials in Sanford Company's yard, he said. In addition, he believes there was some heat damage to the MBTA vehicles stored across from the blaze.