cu29640 wrote: Any chance of the line from WRJ to Concord NH being rebuilt? I bet it had signals as well.
No, and yes. As a practical matter, any restoration of Boston-Montreal passenger service will run via the B&A and Connecticut River line, which actually have passenger-ready track rather than grass and weeds, and there's no potential for rail freight business between Concord and Lebanon either. The line northwest from Concord was signaled into the 1960s, but became manual block shortly after passenger service ended in 1964 or thereabouts.
It's also a grade crossing nightmare with too many curves and all-around lousy ROW for sustaining decent speeds. The only reason that got thrown into the national HSR corridors conversation was to give New Hampshire a slice of the pork.
B&A-->Palmer, NECR-->Northfield, Vermonter/Montrealer route rest of the way is the current study corridor for the one daily round-trip Boston-Montreal proposal under consideration. NECR as noted is passenger-ready on the Palmer-Northfield stretch and Massachusetts is self-motivated to find some re-use for the Amherst stop. B&A/Worcester Line is the ideal place to concentrate improvements because of the commuter rail and restored Inland Regionals primary users. While the Worcester Hills will never be all that fast there's definitely big schedule gains that could be had in MBTA territory with speed improvements.
For future corridors when B&A congestion gets a little hairy and formal relocation is worth exploring, I gotta think there will be better ones proposed than the ex-Northern.
-- Speed-boosted MBTA Lowell Line to Lowell if it ever goes Class 5 to boost the Downeaster + rebuilt Stony Brook Branch to Ayer + upgraded Pan Am Southern main via Ayer-Fitchburg-Deerfield + Vermonter/Montrealer Greenfield-north. At least that's a heavily-used existing line that had prior Class 4 speeds. New Hampshire traffic transferring onto it at Lowell (main reason--along with better NH Main potential speeds--for that routing instead of sticking entirely on the MBTA Fitchburg Line out of Boston).
-- Lowell + Ayer + Fitchburg and restoring the ex-Vermont & Massachusetts RR from Ashburnham to Bellows Falls via Keene...since that's at least straighter than the Northern. NHDOT owns the entire corridor, so it's protected.
-- NH Main to Concord and ex-Claremont & Concord. Less curvy than the Northern. The only reason the Northern was chosen is because NHDOT owns it and doesn't own the ex-C&C east of Newport.
-- NH Main to Claremont & Concord until it meets up with I-89. Then graft it onto I-89 until it meets the Northern in Lebanon just outside White River Jct. I'm gonna assume this is only for some halfway-real HSR effort because of the heinous expense involved in grafting rail onto highway. And even then I'm not sure if I-89's grades would support rail.
Any which way from the cheap bootstraps to the more invasive de-abandonments is going to be better than the Northern. The Northern is just a study placeholder. And in some scenarios...so is the whole transit-apathetic state of New Hampshire.