Bay Colony Millis Line

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craven
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by craven »

Update Sat. 28 Feb. 2015

The Spur has not been plowed and has 3 - 4 feet of snow.

Island Road has been plowed but the un-loading area on either side of the tracks is still snow covered.

The snow covered 1701 shivering in her cold secluded nest by the GAF Pant.
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Narrowgauger
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by Narrowgauger »

Hmmmm Gotta wonder if shes been drained for the winter?

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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park »

Narrowgauger wrote:Hmmmm Gotta wonder if shes been drained for the winter?
Well, it's pretty much offseason anyway for Tresca needing loads so I doubt the original service plan called for deliveries between January 1 to March 15 to begin with unless they were running an acute shortage and needed a one-off restocking.

craven
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by craven »

Update Sat. 28 March 2015.

Recent warmer weather and rainfall has exposed the rail in some places.

With Dragon starting up their operation, hopefully we'll see this line active again sometime mid/late April.

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YamaOfParadise
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by YamaOfParadise »

Are BCRR's operations on the Millis effectively separate from their operations on the Watuppa Branch down on the south coast? Obviously there isn't any freight run in between them, but I'm curious if there's ever been any equipment going between the two.

And while it isn't BCRR anymore, I figure I'd ask here anyways: has the hardware of the line from Medfield Junction to Needham Junction been taken up yet? When I was last in the Boston area a couple of weeks ago I wanted to go check myself, but there was still just too much snow on the ground to bother.
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park »

YamaOfParadise wrote:Are BCRR's operations on the Millis effectively separate from their operations on the Watuppa Branch down on the south coast? Obviously there isn't any freight run in between them, but I'm curious if there's ever been any equipment going between the two.

And while it isn't BCRR anymore, I figure I'd ask here anyways: has the hardware of the line from Medfield Junction to Needham Junction been taken up yet? When I was last in the Boston area a couple of weeks ago I wanted to go check myself, but there was still just too much snow on the ground to bother.
There never was any run-thru between all the scattered pieces current and former of BCLR operations. They hitch a ride on CSX and Mass Coastal when they need to swap equipment, but that's it. The Millis crews drive out from the company offices in Dartmouth. Wattupa is at most a 3-day-a-week operation, and the staff are all part-timers.


Needham-Medfield is still connected. Though Needham has completed its trail design, so the tracks may be lifted as early as this year. The T retains the complete wye and 700 ft. past the switch to the west leg (going past the High Rock St. overpass) for storage, since the trail head uses the High Rock Park woodland path to reach the ROW. Dover is now fighting the trail by saying they don't like the design (in case you had any doubts that the proposal was nothing but a trojan horse scam to scuttle the line), so there + Medfield have several more years of rusting in place before a single thing gets done. If it ever gets done. That really cheeses Needham off since they bought into it hook, line, and sinker and will now have a trail that just dead-ends in a loop at the town line at Charles River Peninsula Park until (or if at all) Dover gets its act together.

craven
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by craven »

Dover, with its big money/political clout has blocked every effort to revitalize the line for the past 30+ years

They are content to leave the rails as they are and let nature take over.

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BandA
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by BandA »

Has Needham Junction to Curtis St, Newton Highlands (approx junction w/D - Highland Branch Green Line) been ripped up for rail trail? Someday soon (10 years from now) they're gonna wish they preserved the loop for passenger service.

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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park »

BandA wrote:Has Needham Junction to Curtis St, Newton Highlands (approx junction w/D - Highland Branch Green Line) been ripped up for rail trail? Someday soon (10 years from now) they're gonna wish they preserved the loop for passenger service.
The bridge over Route 128 is coming down this year for the road widening project, so no...there will not be a contiguous trail to Needham Heights. Since the road project was final-designed before the abandonment docket was processed on the line, they designed a complete double-track replacement bridge. Now that abandonment's been processed MassHighway cut the deck from the budget, so there will be DT-width abutments poured on each side of the highway for future considerations but no bridge deck over the highway. Somebody local has to pay to plop a bridge deck over those new abutments, which Needham said no-thanks to doing.

The plan currently is to trail in Newton out to Oak St. (Upper Falls) and the length of the long freight spur and the Charles River bridge on the spur to reach Highland Ave., Kendrick St., and the existing Charles trails on the Needham side. The T is keeping the tracks to the Webster St. grade crossing for tail storage, so there's literally nothing Needham could trail on its side of 128 except the Webster-Gould St. block. Which is so close to Highland Ave. it's not worth the effort. So the narrowest part of the ROW most critical for preservation has no immediate plans (now...maybe not forever).

What the two towns talked about is making sure they keep the design compatible with a future rail-with-trail reconfig since they still want the Green Line in the future (it's still all over the Needham/Newton town plans). The 2000 ft. from the D line split to the spur split is the critical piece because the spur is trail that feeds the most places to begin with. Look at it on Google Maps. The ROW almost to 128 has little more than crappy industrial abutters and wastelands of rear parking lots. Pretty much the only NIMBY trouble spots are Chandler Pl. and those ritzy apartment towers on Needham St. The rest of the ex-industrial sprawl could be nuked from orbit at no loss to anyone.


Which is not to say it's going to be easy to reactivate, but this one isn't as daunting as others and the towns tried not to be too short-sighted. Ultimately what makes the most difference is the Needham Line being squeezed out by NEC congestion. If Needham is consigned to a future where it can never ever get better transit and may see a decline in transit because Needham trains are the perpetual odd-man-out of NEC shareholders...then it's a transit preservation not a transit expansion issue that drives the Green Line conversation. Not all 'interim' landbankings are created equal.


As for BCLR relevance...jeez, did they piss away a lot of business up here. It's one industrial siding after another on the Newton side of 128 and on the freight spur...and they lost a literal 100% of it in 2 decades of stewardship after taking over that line from Conrail due to their two-bit service. That is some high-achievement freight FAILroading right there.

GP40MC1118
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by GP40MC1118 »

Rumors are that there are 4 loads for Tresca in Selkirk...

D

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BandA
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by BandA »

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:...Ultimately what makes the most difference is the Needham Line being squeezed out by NEC congestion. If Needham is consigned to a future where it can never ever get better transit and may see a decline in transit because Needham trains are the perpetual odd-man-out of NEC shareholders...then it's a transit preservation not a transit expansion issue that drives the Green Line conversation. Not all 'interim' landbankings are created equal.
So you see the Green Line branching at Newton Highlands, running to Needham Junction then via the current Needham line to Forest Hills, where commuters would have to transfer?
As for BCLR relevance...jeez, did they piss away a lot of business up here. It's one industrial siding after another on the Newton side of 128 and on the freight spur...and they lost a literal 100% of it in 2 decades of stewardship after taking over that line from Conrail due to their two-bit service. That is some high-achievement freight FAILroading right there.
Needham Industrial Park and Newton Industrial Park seemed to suffer more from high real estate values, traffic, retail and office conversion than from poor railroading. Did BCLR have high prices & poor service? There were lots of customers up till the 1980's, but they were clearly dying even then.

Trainman101
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by Trainman101 »

How much money does bay colony make moving a car a mile down the line?

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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park »

BandA wrote:So you see the Green Line branching at Newton Highlands, running to Needham Junction then via the current Needham line to Forest Hills, where commuters would have to transfer?
Not quite. Orange Line would replace the mainline stops out to West Roxbury. Green Line would go on the abandoned ROW from Newton Highlands to Needham Heights then absorb everything to Junction. Junction to West Rox would probably be mothballed, since Highland Ave. is the far busier and less environmentally sensitive Route 128 node than Great Plain Ave. by the park/golf course/wetlands. That is more or less what's been proposed ever since 1945 and every re-study afterwards: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... ns_map.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. With present-day exception that the Dedham Ctr. Orange ROW is obliterated and no longer available.

For variety of reasons I won't get into on a BCLR freight thread it was preferable to all parties to have higher-frequencies on separate flanks following the traditional bus routes vs. preserving the desolate stretch of existing commuter rail track through Cutler Park and Hersey no-man's land. Basically, given the natural all-day orientations of Needham-Newton and Roslindale-West Roxbury the convenience of the 9-5'er direct from Needham Jct. to Downtown isn't anywhere as near-and-dear to these areas historically as you would assume just looking at a map. And all of this is predicated on pulling the Central Subway out of its massive deferred maint and obsolescence hole first. It used to be possible to take a trip on the D that didn't die a horrible death between the Fenway and Gov't Ctr., and it used to be standard practice to run rush-hour expresses on various Green branches. So you can't really predicate this branch's future ops reliability and rush-hour travel time vs. today's commuter rail and today's clownshoes Green Line conditions...but rather the aspirational target of non-optional fixes they must do for EVERY Green Line rider. In short, they've pretty confidently established that Highlands-Junction and Forest Hills-W. Rox as separate flanks off a sensible subway state-of-repair is hands-down preferable. And town of Needham has long been A-OK with that.


I would assume when push-comes-to-shove and the Needham Line's days as a viable NEC branch are over (think 2040 SuperDuper HSR plan making a 2030's rapid transit conversion a prerequisite), they would probably do it in stages:
-- Spur Green from Newton Highlands to a Needham Heights turnback. Either a temporary station a few feet away from the normally-operating commuter rail station, or truncating commuter rail to Needham Ctr. and the layover yard so it's only displaced at Heights. No changes to CR ops when it opens.
-- Digest the cost, and fund Phase II Heights-Junction separately. You can, of course, lay utility lines, clear ROW for the second track, and erect trolley poles while commuter rail is still operating on a normal schedule.
-- Truncate commuter rail to Junction, use the surviving Millis tail tracks that'll extend a distance past the west wye as idling spot (basically, the way Stoughton's tail tracks work). Up 59 frequencies between Heights and Junction during the track outage. Blitz the conversion of the tracks from Heights to Junction (this is thankfully not too hard when the low platforms are trolley height). The trolley loop and mini-yard cannibalize the wye, but the station would be where the DPW lot is in the middle of the wye and not the current depot building on the Millis mainline.
-- Begin similar ROW grading, bridge deck, and utility work FH-W. Rox while commuter rail is still running. Can even do the new station platforms commuter rail-usable Malden/Oak Grove style, since the only difference between an Orange platform and a commuter rail full-high is that Orange has an extra platform-edge jut bolted on for the narrower car with.
-- Inaugurate light rail service from Heights to Junction, suspend FH-Junction commuter rail for good. 59 bus extends to Great Plain Ave. for benefit of the (light) Hersey patronage that get orphaned for the needs of the many. Start blitzing Orange construction.
-- Inaugurate OL service. Assume that the new W. Rox station is behind the Shaw's supermarket a little west of the current platforms is the new stop, and that the layover yard is by the Baker St. electrical substation a block west. This does permit a +1 extension west to 128 and/or Junction if they see a future need, but it would never be something they'd build out the gate. Just keep in mind that they can still do it if they want to.
-- Interim paved rail-trail Junction-W. Rox as extension of the Millis trail. That would be a really well-patronized rec route the way it links Hersey grade-separated to Junction, bridges the 128 divide, opens up Cutler Park, and dumps straight into the city in easy reach of some of the Olmstead parks along the parkways. Again...if it's a must-have you can always extend Orange in the future. There's no shortage of space in Cutler Park to move the trail off to the side of the ROW embankment next to the power lines.



Needham Industrial Park and Newton Industrial Park seemed to suffer more from high real estate values, traffic, retail and office conversion than from poor railroading. Did BCLR have high prices & poor service? There were lots of customers up till the 1980's, but they were clearly dying even then.
By 1982 BCLR had amassed all of the following Conrail dispersals:
-- Newton-Millis
-- Framingham & Lowell from end of Conrail territory at South Sudbury to roughly the Acton/Chelmsford town line. With B&M/Guilford interchange on the Fitchburg Line in West Acton
-- Greenbush Line from Conrail's Braintree Yard to the old military spur in Cohasset
-- Plymouth Line (all, out of Braintree interchange)
-- Hanover Branch forking off Plymouth Line in Abington
-- Cape Cod: Middleboro-Hyannis, Falmouth Branch to downtown Falmouth, old mainline to South Dennis
-- Dean St. Industrial Track, Taunton
-- Wattupa Branch

Greenbush went kaput in '84. F&L was kaput before '92. South Dennis was cut back to Yarmouth transfer station, Falmouth cut back to Otis AFB, Wattupa slightly cut back from about the 195/24 interchange to the 195/88 interchange all around '90 give or take. Plymouth was mostly OOS by the time the T began commuter rail construction in '95. Hanover was kaput by decade's end. Newton was kaput by '02. They lost the MassDOT contract renewal on the Cape and Dean St. lines in embarrassing fashion in '07 to an outfit (Mass Coastal) that didn't even exist as a freight carrier at bid time. And the GAF plant in Millis closed in ('09?).

25 years...all gone. All of it except 2 anchor customers--a brewery and a scrap yard--and 1 or 2 marginal customers on Wattupa. And now this Tresca thing for however long it lasts.

Some of it was because these pickups were already on their last legs when Conrail dumped them and there was nothing any shortline could've done to stop 'em from going abandoned. Certainly the closure of the military installation in Cohasset was beyond their control. As was a lot of the on-Cape atrophy. But most of the losses were because BCLR was far and away New England's worst-run shortline. That's way too impressively large a squander in way too short a time to simply be the result changing industrial demographics in that many towns on that many lines. Poor customer service, missed deliveries because they barely had any working power, not exactly enamoring themselves to their Class I interchange partners who got sick of dealing with scatterbrained amateurs, too high a reliance on part-time staffing leaving them crew-short too much of the time. Plymouth/Hanover and Newton were definitely inexcusable squanders given what they started with. The Wattupa atrophying to current levels was inexcusable; Mass Coastal could probably get 2 or 3 more Dartmouth customers easy if it took over. Real estate may have jumped, but there's a reason why all those industrial park buildings with freight sidings went 100% office conversion in such a short period of time: there was no value in having a rail connection when the rail connection was so unreliable.


They're owned by a holding company in Florida that also owns the far larger/healthier Seminole RR. So I doubt there's anything relative Wattupa stability and this Tresca thing are going to do to keep their owners from throwing in the towel and liquidating sooner or later. They're too tiny and remote a business unit to retain when Seminole has such higher upside. I seriously doubt they'll be around in 5 years. The GAF plant is so rundown it's basically unusable, so whoever buys the property is probably just going to knock it down and build commercial there. The 70,000 sq. ft. GAF warehouse at the end of the line is a decent prospect if that ever gets rented out to an interested rail tenant. But how are they going to attract a new rail tenant when they don't even have a sales staff? And only 3 operating locomotives spread across 2 lines 30 miles apart. There's no way up with their present scale.

Mass Coastal will happily buy them out on the Wattupa when the home office in Florida decides to shut down the BCLR unit. And now that MassDOT owns the Framingham Secondary if Tresca needs business assistance to get optimal local deliveries instead of trucking from Walpole or Framingham the state now has the wherewithal to install a team track at Medfield Jct. near one of the dirt patches accessible off W. Mill St. or Ice House Rd. and square things with CSX to keep deliveries going if the Environmental Dr. loading area is no longer an option. There's no service that BCLR provides that can't be 100% absorbed by another willing partner, so we're basically just waiting until the absentee owners see liquidation and consolidation as the bigger cost-benefit than continuing to operate.

It really is amazing how many route miles died under their watch entirely in the post-Staggers Act era. They were overachievers at anti-overachieving.

GP40MC1118
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by GP40MC1118 »

As far as the Watuppa Branch goes, please don't heap this on BCLR. Conrail
and CSX did little MW or went after traffic. CSX finally bailed when the track
got so bad, they had had it (prompted by the infamous derailment between
Hixville Rd and Faunce Corner Rd). Don't discount the benign neglect by
the Class I's in most of SE Mass. BCLR proceeded to fix up the line little by little
and at least stabilzed that aspect of it.

Colonial Beverage bought out JJ Taylor and consolidated operations in the
JJ Taylor warehouse, but traffic continued to dwindle. Both JJT and Colonial
played the trucks vs rail game. Theft of product at Cotely and poor transit
times from the Class I's didn't help. Colonial barely gets any boxcars of beer
anymore, a waste of a nice double siding.

The former Colonial Warehouse (which was built in 1974) was bought by Harvey
Industries and they had no interest in rail or product rail worthy to bring in. They
even sealed up the doors! They do allow BCLR to use the siding from MW storage.

DBS (Dartmouth Building Supply) was a new addition by BCLR. Mid-City Scrap
traffic is subject to which way the wind blows in the scrap industry. Hot and
cold.

I doubt Mass Coastal could attract new customers to the line give the land-use
along it. Dartmouth probably would not be in favor anything too big to attract rail
use (I know, I live here). The only possible areas are the farmland between
Hixville and Faunce Corner, but good luck on trying to do something there.
West of Hixville is mostly wetlands and untouchable. The Reed Rd area is
already filled up as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, Mid-City had wanted to
get rail back west of RT88 to the old Westport Drive-In site, where they set up
a steel distribution center. Even got a few flatcar loads which was unloaded at
their scrap place. Nothing ever materialized and the extension or rehab to the
site would've been very expensive and involve wetland issues. Plus the track
actually sank into the swamp.

Oddly enough BCLR is installing crossing protection at Reed Rd and Faunce
Corner.

D

Watchman318
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Re: Bay Colony Millis Line

Post by Watchman318 »

Maine Eastern moved at least one NAHX PD car westbound yesterday morning (04/02.) I didn't catch any car numbers, but thought those could be headed towards Millis.
The snow on sidings is going away up here, so I hope it's almost gone from down your way, too. ;-)

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