• CSX Fitchburg Secondary Discussion

  • Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.
Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.

Moderator: MBTA F40PH-2C 1050

  by frrc
Track panel built,not installed yet, to replace the one at the Mechanic Street crossing in Leominster, as of 08/04/2015 drive by...
  by b&m 1566
So, I'm currently in Marlborough, MA and CSX looks to be be switching Ken's Foods and I've always wondered why they operate this branch with two engines? I apologize if this has been asked and answered already, I don't view this thread regularly.
  by frrc
b&m 1566 wrote:So, I'm currently in Marlborough, MA and CSX looks to be be switching Ken's Foods and I've always wondered why they operate this branch with two engines? I apologize if this has been asked and answered already, I don't view this thread regularly.
From what I've seen, they run 2 engines in the consist all the time. Sometimes when departing Leominster, they'll put an engine on each end of the string.

  by railman616
The days of splitting the power to place a unit on each end of the train for switching purposes end last year with the Train Handling Rule change that made splitting the power a rules violation. This is due to T&E personal not allowed to cut out the trains brakes on the engine by using the "Dead In Tow" feature. Only Mechanical personnel can do this to move a disabled engine. If the engine shuts down while on the rear of the train the engine brakes can bleed off due to the compressor not charging the Main Res on that unit. This would allow the engine to roll away if no hand brake was applied. The reason for two units is to cover for heave loads on the train. There are a couple of grade on the line that at 10 MPH could have the train stall with only one unit.
  by mdamico23
CSXT was up in Leominster yesterday. I've been in that area for over 5 years now and this is the 1st time I've seen a train on the Fitchburg Secondary. Two 6200 series GP40s pushing a long string of covered hoppers, tanks (including two consecutively numbered NATX tanks) and boxes south. It looks like he had about 15-20 cars. As far as I know, CSX only has one customer in Leominster (a plastics transload faciltity). If that is true, why did they take the whole train to Leominster as opposed to leaving the consist somewhere further south? He was also pushing the entire consist south across the Marguerite Street crossing in Leominster. Do they run all the way to Framingham pushing with the locomotives on the rear or do the engines run around the consist somewhere for the trip south to Framingham? Without going too far off topic, does anyone know when the rails were lifted from Leominster Center- north to Fitchburg? A few of the locals that I've spoken to seem to indicate in the mid-2000s. The "Rail Lines of Southern New England" Book states that the line was OOS from Leominster to Fitchburg since the mid-1970s, but in talking with various people across town, they seem to indicate that it was more like the mid-late 1980s when service north of Leominster ended coinciding with the closure of Foster-Grant. Up until recently, there was a still a R X R crossing sign shortly before crossing over the abandoned ROW while entering Water Tower Plaza in Leominster, off of Route 12, which I believe was also the site of the F-G plant.

  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Train runs M-F to to Clinton, which is runaround spot even when no customers are served north of Northborough. Leominster sees trains T, Th. and Leominster Yard is the runaround spot for all work past Clinton even when the Leominster-proper customer isn't served. Mid-afternoon job, and on past-Clinton days it always outlaws at Clinton. So if you're away at work you're rarely if ever going to see the train when it's in Leominster because it only pays a short visit before returning.

Not sure what the pushing is all about. All customer sidings on the line point south, so they can serve the whole trip's business by backing up, dropping from the rear, and doing a detach/reattach at the next siding for keeping the order straight when grabbing empties. Regular watchers in this thread can probably chime in as to why; there must be some logical reason for it.

It was indeed mid/late-80's when Conrail placed the Leominster-Framingham stretch out-of-service. Rails lifted sometime in the 90's because that was S.O.P. with Conrail when they were abandoning or placing lines in long-term mothballs. They stopped running when the Guilford interchange at East Fitchburg Yard closed and all those swaps were consolidated to Ayer-Worcester. Technically it is "railbanked" to Fitchburg and not totally abandoned, with CSX having reactivation rights if they ever want. They keep it in-house mainly to collect rent from the utility lines on the ROW. There was a trail proposal, but things got nasty between the towns and CSX over their asking price and the trail lobby disbanded one finger in the air. So it's probably going to remain as-is for a long time.
  by jaymac
Between 1982 and 1990, I worked for a Framingham newspaper in the industrial park near the Southboro border. For all but the last few years, Maritimes newsprint came into the siding on WAFR-22. The bills read that the interchange took place at Fitchburg, but the reality was that the cars ran to Deerfield and then to the Conn River for Conrail to then take to Framingham. The Foster Grant site had numbers of tanks with solvents and other materials head south on the Fitchburg Secondary as part of the plant's shut-down, but Foster Grant was in Leominster, as stated, and perhaps a mile-plus north of the transload at Mechanic Street, the current end of line. Whether there were any late-PC/early-CR customers in Fitchburg is probably doubtful.
  by atholrail
Teknor Apex still gets service in Leominster. There was only 2 cars in Leominster "yard" as of yesterday. The transload is way down from even 5 years ago.
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  by frrc
FWIW the local arrives in Leominster Tuesdays and Thursdays around 4:00pm - 05:00pm, and heads South around 06:00pm.

  by Backshophoss
Forgive the "dust" :wink:
  by NashuaActon&Boston
Last I visited the plastic hopper "yard" in Leominster there wasn't evidence of much activity. Roughly a year ago. Empty. Are trains still operating into Leominster with regularity/at all? If so, which days do they go all the way to Leominster?
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Tuesday/Thursday afternoon. Teknor Apex on Fuller St. a few blocks south of the yard still gets decent number of carloads, but they're the only one sustaining the job past Clinton/Sterling. Yard transloads have pretty much collapsed to just the occasional spotted car, and all other sidings in Leominster have gone dark. Shame. Such prime industrial real estate in such a rabidly anti-freight town. CSX and Leominster long ago stopped talking to each other with anything other than middle fingers in the air, so there's less-than-zero enthusiasm from any party to try to prop up the outer portion of the line. If Teknor ever falls, the 6.5 miles past the big Bestway lumber yard in Sterling (end point for the healthier M/W/F daily that doesn't go to Leominster) are going to be promptly abandoned, and CSX will retreat to just protecting its MetroWest flank from any PAR or P&W competitive intrusion at Clinton Jct. by keeping on keeping on with the Framingham-Sterling local...icky-poo low margins be damned.
  by johnpbarlow
...or any day now Hunter might put up the "For Sale" sign on the Agriculture Branch and other local freight activities on Massachusetts-owned lines emanating out of Framingham/Walpole/etc.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
I doubt it's going to be an absolute 100% extinguishing of all of Eastern MA. They have competitive reasons for landlocking the shortlines to interchanging only with them, and territorial reasons related to their bread-and-butter IM biz for not opening up any new flanks for PAR or P&W to worm their way into MetroWest and set up a Mass Pike or I-495 transload that could compete with Westborough Transflo or other transload traffic. So there will be a handful of local jobs that stay simply because they have no one to go to who CSX can outright box in 100% under their thumb. And Boston Div. can't function without Framingham because that's where all classification is done now that Worcester and Westborough are single-purpose IM and Transflo yards that lack any space for blocking. None of their interchanges can function without retaining Framingham as a sorting + general freight yard, and since Framingham must stay they've got more revenue to gain than costs to save by keeping a skeletal schedule of the higher-margin dailies that do territorially protect them.

Going by that golden rule of landlocking the interchanges at no competitive risk, these are the ones left to dish off.
-- Walpole-Franklin-Milford weekly, to G&U (ALREADY PLANNED). G&U has obtained MBTA trackage rights to run overhead from Franklin Jct. to Walpole Yard for interchange flex.

-- Attleboro-Middleboro-Braintree daily, to Mass Coastal (Middleboro Secondary + Old Colony Main + Taunton Industrial + currently dormant Randolph Industrial). Boxes in MC at Attleboro Jct. and Braintree Yard for the maximum-size landlocked territory that prevents any P&W intrusion. Reduces CSX schedules on the lower Framingham Secondary (where Foxboro commuter rail will eventually pinch slots) and NEC Mansfield-Attleboro from 2 per day to 1 per day.

-- Everett Terminal haulage to Mass Coastal. Houghton Chemical's rail contract at Beacon Park expires next summer, and CSX only has Plate B clearance on the Grand Junction while PAR can take Plate E's to the terminal. Haulage would allow CSX to keep the produce loads under thumb, seek new business at the terminal when the Harbor is dredged for bigger vessels, run larger reefers out of Worcester interchange, and retain rights to take the job back if PAR's haulage performance with that perishable produce is subpar. PAR gets a free revenue cut off the top by simply sticking the CSX loads on the back of its own Everett daily, and managing to run on-time to Worcester interchange to meet up with the Framingham local that interchanges with G&U and P&W. No need to chainsaw this one completely off to another railroad when they can keep the more strategic port revenue but get out of the need to run it.

-- Possible customer relocations to nip/tuck other territory. For example, the last tiny building materials customer in Stoughton is a real pain-in-butt to serve. A little incentivizing to relocate to a shortline like they did with Romar @ Beacon Park and the other Stoughton customer would let them get out of needing to run any further south on Amtrak dispatch than Westwood and the huge/profitable Home Depot Warehouse job.

-- Framingham North Yard. They don't need 3 yards anymore...just 2. North is coveted by Town of Framingham and Framingham State U. for downtown redev, and a sell-high opportunity. CP Yard is bigger than North, and has a dormant connection to the Framingham Secondary for staging runs. They've already sketched out what scenarios they'd be willing to sell North...and it's pay the asking price and pay for some "pimp my yard" upgrades to re-equip CP to handle all of North's activities and then some.

-- Sterling-Leominster. Because it's dying fast, the daily has to outlaw before returning home the days it goes to Leominster for one stinking customer, and they hate dealing with Town of Leominster. Surefire abandonment.

These, however, they have no reason to ever get rid of:

-- Framingham Nevins Yard.

-- One of the other Framingham Yards (as above, North has $$$ value that CP doesn't, so despite the minor inconvenience of needing to use the grade crossings to pass between Nevins and CP they've got their backs covered).

-- Upper Framingham Sec. rights and Walpole Yard. It's the diverging point for all other Eastern MA locals, and they need it to interchange Plate F loads with MC at the relocated Attleboro Jct. interchange.

-- The Walpole-Mansfield-Attleboro local. Can't give this to MC because it gives P&W a possible exploit on the East Junction Branch to poach some interchange biz. There's pretty healthy biz here in the industrial parks and they can tack on the MC interchange for more efficiency, so consolidation without outsourcing works for them.

-- Walpole-Readville, Readville Yard. Strategically the zigzag routing was deemed the "new" mainline to Boston after the BP relocation. They have Plate F clearances to Readville and new customer sign-ons there. They have 286K to Walpole now, and with the upper Franklin Line programmed for 3 bridge replacements there are only 3 more bridge replacements Walpole-Dedham to fund before 286K goes all the way to Readville (purely incidentally for MBTA state-of-repair). Potential for something bigger if City of Boston and Dept. of Conservation & Recreation stop strangling the ex- Stop & Shop warehouse with clueless redev proposals and truck bans on the parkway to Route 128.

-- Readville-Westwood. Home Depot Warehouse is huuuuuuge.

-- Readville-Widett Circle, Old Colony to Braintree, Track 61/South Boston. Readville-Braintree Yard becomes the new routing for the Fore River interchange if MC gets the rest of the South Shore (poss. means for MC to interchange some non- Plate F carloads here instead of Attleboro). Can be combined into the short overnight to Widett Circle. Massport has plans post- Harbor dredging for serving up CSX biz at Marine Terminal on a silver platter, can be folded in with the Braintree nightly. Fairmount Line is 286K-weighted and only needs that incidental uprate on the Franklin Line to Readville to get a formal uprate, increasing capacity for port biz. This doesn't exist yet, but the state is doing all the heavy lifting so of course they'll take the free money. They still need this territory in order to interchange with Fore River.

-- Framingham-Sterling. They have to protect Clinton Jct. because the PAR Worcester Branch becomes 'the' mainline for them and their next buyers after NS swallows the Patriot Corridor. Therefore CSX pulling out of the Fitchburg Sec. exposes a flank for PAR or P&W-via-overhead-rights to dive into MetroWest to the I-495 and Mass Pike industrial parks and size up their transload options. The highway access is superlative for a carrier that gave a crap. CSX may not give a crap, but they're not going to expose themselves to somebody who will. Sterling-Leominster may be toast, but they'll prop this one up forever to make sure nobody exploits the loophole at Clinton Jct.
  by Knucklehead
I am willing to bet that any short line would love to own this trackage (if $$ could be made available to rehab the pathetically-maintained line). There are so many dark sidings on this line now - customers that became fed-up with CSXT's interpretation of one of its six "core values": "It starts with the customer". Suburban Propane in Marlborough used to get 1-2 cars a day; now trees are growing rather large between the gauge. Hardly a boxcar polishes the rust on the rails at Mass Container in Marlborough any longer - now up to six over-the-road trucks are piled in the parking lot waiting for the two-door loading dock to open up. Carloads of plastic pellets are hardly ever seen spotted in Leominster. The list goes on and on along the line. It won't be much longer that CSXT ticks off their major customer on this line, and Ken's foods starts trucking product in too.

Speaking of rehabbing the line, at least two years ago, a contractor's truck dropped off new sections of CWR and piles of ties at most grease crossings...nothing has happened since, except the crossings have deteriorated even further...
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