roberttosh wrote: ↑Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:54 am
So you're suggesting that they're going to rebuild the entire Fitchburg from the ground up, clear the tunnel, close and relocate the East Brookfield auto terminal, East Worcester intermodal, Westboro transload and all the Southeastern MA customers and relocate them somewhere on the Fitchburg (most likely in MBTA territory), run a fleet of trains out of Selkirk that need to reverse ends at Rotterdam Jct to head east and all this on the a stretch of railroad that is 50% owned by your biggest competitor and that you've gone on the record stating that you want no part of in the future?
I'm suggesting at this particular moment in time, the benefits accruing to a variety of parties and the politics and the horse-trading available provides more than "never going to happen" possibility of funding a rebuild of Pan Am Southern's "Fitchburg" with the kind of infrastructure and connections that, of course, would be acceptable to all stakeholders. Suspend your disbelief and imagine what could be done with $500 million - $1 billion of funding to accomplish that, recognizing that instead of the disruptive, untenable scenarios that fuel your point of view, it would set the stage for the next 25-year evolution of the Commonwealth's freight and passenger rail network. In fact, at this point in time, I believe this possibility probably hinges more on politics than railroading.
Readville and its biggest direct traffic source is already under big-time re-development pressure while the E. Worcester intermodal facility is also a target for re-development and likely an important driver of CSX's play for PAR. You can also throw Framingham into the mix, though that might be a tougher issue. When it comes to the Westboro transload, that's easily transferred to any number of options. I could see E. Brookfield staying in place or being moved over a longer period of time. For southeastern MA/Cape traffic I can see any number of possibilities as to how you continue to maintain access to that network. Additionally, re-locations of rail facilities and rail-served facilities do not necessarily mean location onto MBTA territory, or, if so, in any way that would not be acceptable and anticipated anyways with CSX's play for PAR. Within all of this, keep in mind that such a move would not mean no CSX trains on the B&A east of CP-98, it would mean (much) fewer freight trains. On the west end gaining and improving access via the Port subdivision/CP as well as Rotterdam Jct. and/or reconfiguring blocking/train operation with PSR are not out of reach. Finally, to think that CSX would necessarily be opposed to shifting their traffic to a joint ownership, neutral operator arrangement in the big scheme of things, it's not unheard of and in practice with CSX today in at least a few examples, no?
If I were a planner who believed in the longer-term efficacy of passenger rail for commutation and intercity travel and the value of the MA E-W passenger rail project, I'd be advising the powerful Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee (overseeing tax policy with taxes on the rise and E-W passenger rail's biggest proponent) to "go for broke" in this next likely round of infrastructure economic stimulus (~$1.5 trillion soon to be announced by the White House) with a very hard look at reducing/removing B&A freight traffic east of Springfield as a possibility. Good chance CSX's continued behavior toward the PAS end of their play for PAR recognizes this, keeping options open, and if not for this particular time, possibly as a "safety valve" or with longer-term possibility. Railroading is a long game played by smart people. We'll likely have a better idea, probably sooner than later, in the next few years. "You never know!".