Monday, October 14, 2013

NS Heritage Unit #1071 Comes to MA

Photo © Jonelle DeFelice
NS Heritage unit #1071, decorated in Jersey Central Lines livery, was on Pan Am Rail in Massachusettes during late September.  Here it is canned with empty autoracks at Willows (Ayer), MA on September 27, 2013.  Behind and to the right is Ford's unloading facility.

MBTA Announces Winner of Map Redesign Competition

(SOURCE:  Boston Magazine - Steve Annear)

The new MBTA map will be phased in with some tweaks. ‘Map 1,’ the winning design, took home top honors with more than 6,000 votes.

The riders have spoken, and the winner of the MBTA map redesign contest is a guy from Moscow.

After MBTA officials launched the  “New Perspectives MBTA Map Re-design competition” back in April, a competition where anyone could create and submit their own version of the system’s layout, more than 6,000 people picked what was referred to as “Map 1.” The T received more than 17,000 votes as passengers picked between the top six entries received by the transit agency.

The winning map was submitted by Mikheil Kvrivishvili, an interactive and graphic designer from Moscow, Russia, according to a statement from the MBTA.

The public can expect to start seeing new maps in stations as replacements are needed and as new stations open. The new maps will first be placed in the Orient Heights Blue Line station when it reopens early next year, and the new Assembly Square Orange Line station when it opens in late 2014, according to T officials.

Kvrivishvili’s map includes new features that provide customers with more information and more appealing aesthetics, including all surface Green Line stations shown, all SL2 stops shown, an area of the map showing the connections between the Silver Line and the downtown subway stations—enlarged to make it easier for customers to understand how the various Silver Line routes operate—and color-coordinated labels for all of the rapid transit lines.
Officials from the T said the winning map had a “more organized look” than the current version, resulting in a cleaner map where rapid transit lines stand out.

The transportation agency received an “overwhelming response” of submissions for the contest, despite some disgruntled attitudes toward asking people to construct a new version of the map for the T, free of charge. A panel of experts, including the MBTA, academics, urban planners, and mapping aficionados evaluated each of the entries against a set of criteria and the six finalists were released to public voting, but Kvrivishvili’s map received 6,837 votes to “definitely” be named the next system map.

Kvrivishvili’s version isn’t the final map redesign, however. Officials said in a statement Monday that  with “many more” stations in the pipeline, more modifications to the map will be made, such as the addition of the first phase of the Green Line Extension.

“We are entering an exciting period of growth and change in our system and I’m pleased that we were able to work with the public to help usher in some exciting new developments,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. “As we continue to grow and improve our system, the new map will be a great symbol of the changes and updates were working on as a whole.”


Starving MBTA Will Stunt Boston’s Growth

(SOURCE :  Boston Globe - Opinion/Editorial by Paul McMorrow 9/8/13)

BOSTON IS growing at a pace not seen in the better part of a century. The city now has more residents than it has at any point since the 1970s, and has arrived at the renaissance moment city leaders have been chasing for 60 years. There’s no reason the city can’t keep up with the growth it’s seeing now, as long as it can build places for all these new people to live. 

New homes equal new residents, and new residents equal growth. It sounds like a straightforward equation, but it isn’t. Boston doesn’t control its own development fate. As tough as many of Boston’s neighborhoods can be on developers, the biggest threat to the city’s growth lies with legislators on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers are starving the MBTA of funds the transit agency needs to support the Boston region’s growth. And as long as the T’s finances remain anemic, robust growth in Boston will be unsustainable. 

Boston has been meeting the boom by adding height downtown and filling in its outlying neighborhoods. And whether it’s at the huge new Filene’s tower downtown, or on Roxbury’s old Bartlett bus yard, or at Jackson Square and Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, or at the old Boston Herald plant in the South End, or in the Seaport, the housing developments rising are oriented around the MBTA. It’s the same story in Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, Medford, and Malden, where major new housing initiatives come tied to direct subway access, and in Worcester, Lowell, Haverhill, and Brockton, where Boston-bound commuter rail lines have helped sell major downtown projects. 

This is as it should be. Boston and its surrounding communities wouldn’t be able to physically accommodate the growth they’re seeing now if every new resident arrived in a Buick. The alternative needs some serious work, though: Boston-area development is pumping thousands of new riders into a system that doesn’t work as it is. 

Beacon Hill lawmakers plugged the T’s operating deficit earlier this year, essentially level-funding an inadequate level of service, and leaving a huge list of key capital projects unfunded. The region’s economic future hinges on a transit system that’s physically incapable of meeting the need. 

Beacon Hill has two choices, then. Lawmakers can realize that a down payment on growth around the urban core will pay dividends statewide, and put some real money into new subway cars, diesel engines, track work, and buses. Or, they can let the metro region do what Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Portland, Ore., have done, and allow the Boston region to raise its own transit funds, from a regional payroll tax, new local sales taxes, or some other means. If the Boston area is going to keep growing, there isn’t a third option. State lawmakers need to get on board, or get out of the way.

Paul McMorrow is an associate editor at Commonwealth Magazine. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

CT Rail Mishap Takes $62M Chunk Out of State Economy


A recent 12-day disruption to train service between Stamford and New York City cost Connecticut's economy $62 million, according to an analysis released by the state's Department of Economic and Community Development.

First obtained by the Associated Press, the analysis by Mark Prisloe, an associate economist at DECD, concludes that the gross state product took a $62 million hit, that the service disruption resulted in lost productivity equivalent to 260 jobs, and that the state lost $2.5 million in revenue during the 12 days.

The analysis utilizes an estimation method developed by Regional Economic Models Inc.

Maine Rail Review Prompted by Quebec Train Explosion Finds Safety ‘Adequate’

(SOURCE - BDN Maine - By Nick Sambides Jr)

AUGUSTA, Maine – A state rail safety review Gov. Paul LePage ordered in response to a Canadian rail disaster that killed 47 people in July found no significant safety flaws in Maine’s 1,150-mile rail system, officials said Wednesday.

“It appears that existing rail safety practices are adequate, and that a tragedy like Lac-Megantic should not occur in Maine if the private railroad operators follow their own safety practices and those of the [Federal Railroad Administration],” the 16-page report states.

LePage ordered the report after a parked and unmanned Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train hauling crude oil from the Midwest lost its brakes and derailed on a sharp curve in Lac-Megantic, Quebec on July 6. The train’s detonation destroyed the center of the town and spurred safety reviews on both sides of the border.

The Maine Department of Transportation’s report is the first to be released. LePage said he was pleased with its findings.

“When that horrible event in Lac-Megantic happened, we increased the focus on the safety of the rail system in Maine,” LePage said in a statement. “But I continue to be optimistic about the steady growth of this industry, which provides good jobs and contributes to the state’s economy.”

MaineDOT, which will closely monitors the investigation into the cause of the Lac-Megantic tragedy being conducted by Transport Canada, will continue to work closely with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure that there are timely safety inspections of Maine’s rail infrastructure throughout the state, officials said. The FRA is also conducting a review and assisting with the Canadian investigation. 

Federal law governs rail activity. The FRA oversees enforcement of railroad safety regulations regarding tracks, grade crossings, mechanical and rail equipment, operating practices and procedures, and the movement of hazardous materials, officials said. Maine transportation officials assist them with this.

Prior to the Lac-Megantic tragedy, there were 1,021 FRA observations performed in 2013 from January through June on railroads in Maine. Since Lac-Megantic and LePage’s order, FRA and state inspectors made 581 additional inspections of the state’s five privately owned freight rail carriers, including MMA.

Inspectors found defects, but none that warranted rail line shutdowns, officials said. Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said the defects ranged from excess foliage blocking signage to cracks in rail lines.

He did not have a count of the number or type of defects. That information, he said, is FRA data that his agency is not allowed to release. All concerns and defects observed were sent to the railroads and FRA for correction and follow up, he said.

Ed Burkhardt, president of MMA parent company Rail World Inc., did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday. MMA President Robert Grindrod was in court in Canada on Tuesday, a representative from his office said.

Historic Rutland Railroad Coach Finds a New Home

(SOURCE: - By Ali Freeman)

RUTLAND, Vt. -  "It's pretty interesting to see them lift a train -- and to rotate it," said Rutland resident Donna Zeller.

Zeller was among dozens of spectators who gathered on West Street in Rutland Sunday to watch a crew move a 51-ton railcar. The sight of the 60-foot car being moved drew a crowd -- and so did the railcar itself.

"This is the original 1913 passenger rail car that came in and out of Rutland and throughout Vermont every  single day.  So passengers were really coming in and out on the train you see, and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Tom Donahue with the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The railcar was donated by the Vermont Rail System -- and thanks to $5,000 in donations from the Vermont Country Store and Omya, the train was restored and moved to its permanent location next to the Vermont Farmers Food Center.

"It's one of the most visible places in Rutland. It's a very well traveled road -- it's virtually two blocks away from downtown Rutland," said Food Center's Greg Cox.

Cox said every Saturday more than 2,000 people flock to the site for a farmers market, so it will be a great place for people to enjoy a piece of Rutland history. "We want to have this as a public treasure, open to the public as often as possible so people can see and really touch and feel what the train history of Rutland was," he said.

Cox said they will be building a shelter around the train and will be open for public viewing October 22nd. The railcar will be free for everyone to explore. Donahue says railroads are a significant part of Rutland's history -- both freight and passenger trains have been rolling through the city for over a century. "It is a very, very important -- not only part of our history -- but a part of our future. Rutland is still a major switching yard for the entire State of Vermont," he said.

And although some locals were just there for the heavy machinery, others say they can't wait for it to be stationed in the city permanently. "This is good. There are a lot of people that comes to the farmers market. Trains are really important to Rutland history, so having it here is really pretty cool,"  Zeller said.
Bringing back a 100-year-old railcar, to take the city into the future.


MM&A Sale Could be Completed in 2013

(via Newswire)

BANGOR, Maine – A bankruptcy court sale of the beleaguered Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway could be completed in December, The Canadian Press reports. The sale would hinge on the establishment of a process to award compensation to victims of the July 6 derailment in Lac-M├ęgantic, Quebec that killed 47 people and damaged much of the city's downtown.

Court filings indicate interest from eight potential buyers as of Friday, the report says. Seven had signed non-disclosure agreements to receive confidential data.

Under a proposed sale schedule, expressions of interest would be due to the court on Oct. 31 and a lead bidder would be chosen Nov. 15 to start the process. A formal auction would be held Dec. 13 with court approval in Maine and Quebec on Dec. 16.

Interested buyers would be able to bid on the road's entire assets or just those in the Canada and U.S., but must be prepared to continue rail service.

The railroad's total assets are estimated between $68 and $118 million dollars. The railroad's $25 million insurance policy would also supplement the sale price for the victims' fund.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New MBTA Diesel Headed to P&WRR

Brand spankin' new MBTA diesel #2001 is reportedly on it's way to the Providence & Worcester railroad for final setup. Will we soon see it plying MBTA rails??

10/14 UPDATE:  The unit should be on P&W property as I type.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Micro-Trains Factory Weathered B&M Boxcar

Micro-Trains has released for mid-September an N scale factory weathered Boston & Maine boxcar.  Item number is 031-44-440, MSRP $26.70.