Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfield)

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by YamaOfParadise » Thu May 17, 2018 9:24 pm

How's the Housy fairing after the tornado-spawning thunderstorm came through?
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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri May 18, 2018 7:58 am

A few of the FB pages show a lot of trees down.
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Re: Housatonic Railroad including Danbury-Pittsfield passeng

Post by scoostraw » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:17 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BandA wrote:
Jeff Smith wrote:In the news: New Milford Spectrum
Housatonic line scrutinized after train derailment
...
Can we get rid of them on some technicality? Trafficking in stolen CT rail ties?
Nope. Their trackage rights agreement is nearly unbreakable.

The only way to get rid of them is to make the Godfather offer to liquidate Maybrook Properties and the privately-owned track.
F-line can you explain the Massachusetts purchase of their part of the line?

Mainly, what was Housy's motivation? They could have just refused to sell, right?

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by NHV 669 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:40 pm

He hasn't posted in months (9), good luck.
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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by scoostraw » Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:36 am

NHV 669 wrote:He hasn't posted in months (9), good luck.
Thanks. Someone just let me know that he is no longer on the forum.

I still wonder about the Massachusetts purchase of the line. Was the Housatonic compelled to sell it to the state? Was it perhaps something that that Housatonic was hoping for all along?

Or.....?

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by shadyjay » Sat Nov 24, 2018 12:01 pm

I would've thought that with MassDOT now owning the line, the Berkshire Scenic would've been able to resume excursion service out of Lenox.
Perhaps HRRC is still in control, or just hasn't maintained it yet to MassDOT's standards. Or just BSRM hasn't gotten around to it yet.

Regardless, its a scenic line and too bad its fallen into the state it has, in CT as well.

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by J.D. Lang » Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:32 pm

I would also think that the Berkshire Scenic would at some point be able to run again out of Lenox. Maybe after some of the upgrades now taking place are finished hopefully they will be able to resume running their trains. With Mass. owning the line I would think that they would be the ones who decide who can operate on the line. I may be wrong but I wouldn't think that the Housatonic would have much say in it other than making sure that it doesn't interfere with their freight operations. I agree that most of the Berkshire runs through some very scenic areas and that would make those runs very popular again.

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by Backshophoss » Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:00 pm

HRRC dispatch still controls the line,BSRM is bottled up in the sidings they control.
Can't figure on MassDOT Dispatching the line from MBTA dispatch in Boston.(neutral dispatcher).
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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by scoostraw » Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:16 pm

This is why I am very interested in the terms of the sale of the line to the state.

I'm guessing that one of the provisions was that after purchasing, the state would upgrade the track.

I'm also guessing (and hoping) that another provision was to allow the BSRR to operate. Myself, I'd like to see them run service out of Pittsfield to Great Barrington.

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by Arlington » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:57 am

My recollection of Mass' purchase:
1) Gov Patrick had a big package ($700m?) of goodies to go with a gas tax hike, and buying the line and talk of NYG service was something for the West part of the state (which included similar to deal to build new MBTA cars in Springfield)
2) Gov also had a vacation home nearby in the Berkshires.
3) Tired of seeing MA customers hurt/undermined as a piece of infrastructure fell to ruins.
4) General long term pattern of buying rail lines in the state.
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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by scoostraw » Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:52 am

Thanks Arlington.

You know it just occurred to me.. I wonder if MA is considering extending the Pittsfield service to Great Barrington? I know this sounds a bit bizarre as I'm typing this, but I wonder.

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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield passenger service?

Post by Arlington » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:18 pm

I found, from 4.3 and 3.6 years ago in this thread, F-Line's comments from July 2014 and Feb 2015 on MassDOT's c. 2013 purchase of the Mass. portion of the Housy (I've broken the paragraphs out for readability, and added some clarification in square-bracketed italics):

From July 2014:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Backshophoss wrote:HRRC still has the freight rights and control? Berkshire Scenic may still be blocked by HRRC,unless there
was contract language that allows Berkshire Scenic to opreate on the trackage.
HRCC still is the freight carrier with dispatching control. But since their bannination order to BSRM may have been illegal to begin with, they don't get to pull that garbage any longer with MassDOT as the landlord. The $35M in fixes seems like it is strictly targeted at addressing HRCC-negligence safety issues that were the real reason behind the B.S. "safety issues" they banned BSRM for.

And it means when repair resources get put in the hands of HRCC through grants, there has to be an accounting to MassDOT of where it's spent. Which avoids the situation they had in CT where grants for rail and crossing repairs just "disappeared". And avoids the situation where a lot of MassDOT money spent to get BSRM back up and running in 2003 didn't even net 8 seasons of operations before HRCC punked them and track conditions sank to even more deplorable state than before that money was spent.

Shine a direct light on roaches and they scurry away. That's the main upshot. This closed shop has less leverage to bilk its partners and hide its safety violations the less miles it privately owns. And if it's operating unsafe track MassDOT now gets to personally inspect it like they do with MassCentral, Mass Coastal, Bay Colony, and the big boys operating on state-owned track and sick the FRA itself on those clowns.

Now we just need CDOT to make them an offer they can't refuse for New Milford and the Maybrook to (#1) get P&W back in the game on its preferred route to Danbury, (#2) cut out all the HRCC vs. Metro North riff-raff about emergency movements and which MNRR engineers get banned from their track because HRCC doesn't like what they write on the Internet, and (#3) secure the last of the Berkshire--and the New Milford commuter rail future considerations--under public trust so they've got no rock left to hide under at abusing their partners and abusing their state aid.

Take away the option for them to operate in secrecy while they self-sabotage to sell the road for scrap...and they'll probably bugger off and sell to another freight carrier sooner. Not soon-soon, but sooner. A little enforced transparency might make the honest sale to another carrier the more palatable option than the dishonest sale stuffing their executives' coffers while they scuttle the ship.
From February 2015:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
CPF363 wrote:The Commonwealth of Massachusetts should have never even proceeded with the purchase of the Housatonic Railroad. Massachusetts doesn't even have the the money to purchase the line let alone spending $113 Million to support passenger trains.
No, that was a wise purchase. It prevents Housy from ever trying to scrap the railroad for salvage, permits MassDOT to conduct their own inspections and induce sanctions when Housy is lying about the condition of their track, and allows Berkshire Scenic to get back on its home rails so HRCC's trumped-up ban doesn't threaten their long-term viability.

It was an overpay, but overpay is what you do to acquire a public asset that was under imminent threat from a shady outfit. The passenger proposal [MA-CT-NYG via Housy] was a hysterical overreach, but not a dime has been spent on that other than [Governor] Deval Patrick's quixotic charter train to North Caanan a couple summers ago. Taken in isolation and de-coupled from the PR overhype about the passenger proposal the line purchase itself is just one of those 100-year considerations where you produce the money whenever the opportunity arises.

The screaming about this and [MassDOT's] CSX Framingham Secondary purchases being a such a TRAV-SHAM-OCKERY! because of budget misses the point that preservation/stabilization of active corridors pays back the investment over multiple decades (and in the latter case completely ignores the fact that it was the MassDOT mothership and not the vastly more debt-addled MBTA that made the buy and becomes the line owner).

Frankly, if CDOT has to make an overpay too for Danbury-New Milford and the Maybrook it's just as justifiable. Even if Metro North is not coming to New Milford any time soon. The sooner HRCC has to live up to being a tenant everywhere it runs the less crap they'll be able to get away with without having to answer to a higher authority. They had too many places to hide their questionable safety, questionable business practices, and misuse of grant aid all those years that only New Milford-state line had a public owner. This is now a much more preferable situation.
The above was written as the (current) Baker(R) Administration had just taken office (and struggling to keep transit running with 108 inches of snow), and refers back about 2 ~3 years to the purchase event itself, which came, IIRC, in the second half of Deval Patrick's (D) Administration (Jan 2007 - Jan 2015), as part of a big flurry of infrastructure buys/commitments that were bundled with a gas tax hike (c.2013?)
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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by BandA » Tue Nov 27, 2018 2:24 am

I think at the time I made a back of the envelope calculation that the ratio of the transportation cost to the whole transportation bill was almost exactly proportional to the population in the westernmost two counties to the whole state. Whoever set this up was politically brilliant to collect the support of the liberal democrats in Berkshire and ?Hampden? counties. Next time though, you buy up the tracks, then announce your passenger rail dream - less of an overpay.

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by Safetee » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:28 am

I am at a loss to understand how a passenger run up the hudson over to Pittsfield is going to be a winner for anybody. the folks from lee lenox, great barrington etc who use amtrak from hudson to penn are predictably going to save time by continuing travelling that route. Folks who live in pittsfield who want to use rail going to new york will probably be better off going to rennselaer where there is more frequent service.

I believe that the canaan sec is still a viable route that could support low volume passenger operations a couple of trains each way each day at 50 miles an hour and spots under speeds. The new haven operated at that level on the same rail that is there today. With ties ballast surfacing, bridge work, a couple of sidings the canaan in Mass would be worth a test summer or two. Unclear what would have to happen between canaan and danbury, but it doesnt sound impossibly expensive to start. of course if you want higher speeds full electrification 115 plus cwr etc etc you start talking billions and i'm not clear that there's ever going to be enough brokers in lenox to sustain it at that level.

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Re: Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfi

Post by J.D. Lang » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:58 pm

This is why I am very interested in the terms of the sale of the line to the state.
I'm guessing that one of the provisions was that after purchasing, the state would upgrade the track.
I'm also guessing (and hoping) that another provision was to allow the BSRR to operate. Myself, I'd like to see them run service out of Pittsfield to Great Barrington.
It would be interesting to see what the terms of the sale were. One important thing to understand now is that the Housatonic is now the tenant instead of the landlord. That should make a huge difference now with the state calling the shots. There is right now presently miles of new welded rail, thousands of new ties and a lot of hardware lying on the ground between Ashley Falls (state line) and Pittsfield. That’s a lot of investment if all they plan on doing is keeping the Housatonic from tipping over. They should be able to let BSRR or Amtrak run on that line once the upgrades are done if they chose to do so no matter who dispatches the line. My bet is if the Empire service extension to Pittsfield is successful there will be some sort of passenger service on that line to service the popular Berkshire towns that are there; possibly running all the way to Canaan to use the wye.
I believe that the canaan sec is still a viable route that could support low volume passenger operations a couple of trains each way each day at 50 miles an hour and spots under speeds. The new haven operated at that level on the same rail that is there today. With ties ballast surfacing, bridge work, a couple of sidings the canaan in Mass would be worth a test summer or two. Unclear what would have to happen between canaan and danbury, but it doesnt sound impossibly expensive to start.
I think you need to get a first hand look at what the track looks like from Canaan south. There is no way that can be made viable without huge sums of money. Ain't going to happen anytime soon.

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