• Hampton branch activity tracker

  • Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.
Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

Moderator: MEC407

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  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
BostonUrbEx wrote:
b&m 1566 wrote:I knew it was only going to be a matter of time. Look for the state to purchase the ROW, it will be needed in the future when the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant is decommissioned and torn down. A process from I have been told takes 10 to 20 years to complete.
When exactly WILL that be? The operating license expires in 2026, but is it likely at all that would end sooner? Is there any chance of getting another license?
They already applied last year to extend their operating license to 2050, but it's very doubtful that'll get granted now and certainly not granted this far in advance of its expiration date. The NRC's got its hands full with Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim in Plymouth, MA, and the controversial India Point plant near NYC are all 1-2 years away from shutdown if their license extensions--stiffly opposed locally--aren't renewed. If those three shut down as expected, Seabrook and Millstone in CT will be the last 2 nukes east of the Susquehana River, north of the Jersey coast, and south of the St. Lawrence River. And that pretty much tilts the momentum to ending the nuclear power era in NY/NE when those two expire (I believe within a year or two of each other).

It's specced that they have to transport the waste out by rail because they can't bring barges through the marsh capable of hauling the required tonnage, and the trucking routes (95 & 1) have much too high traffic volumes for the thousands of trucks worth of waste that'll have to get shipped with security escort. Truck is pretty much the last resort if going by rail through Portsmouth isn't feasible. Of course, how exactly they're gonna reactivate and pay for the reactivation isn't addressed so just because it's the preferred mode doesn't mean it won't ultimately be truck. But 20 years is about right for when NH is gonna want to make a big push for instituting commuter rail on the Eastern Route. I think the timing of when they start agitating for that is going to be curiously synergistic with with the timetable for Seabrook's decommissioning. Convenient shotgun marriage of fed pork will be available for that task if they make a double-barrel lobby for short-term and long-term use of the track and get to tap Dept. of Energy-related funding sources for a portion of the restoration costs. There's not many lines in the country with that extra card to play, so I'm sure the state's already duly noted this for when they revisit in 10 years and start working with the various plant stakeholders on prelim decommissioning plans.
  by Hux
 
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
b&m 1566 wrote: But 20 years is about right for when NH is gonna want to make a big push for instituting commuter rail on the Eastern Route. I think the timing of when they start agitating for that is going to be curiously synergistic with with the timetable for Seabrook's decommissioning. Convenient shotgun marriage of fed pork will be available for that task if they make a double-barrel lobby for short-term and long-term use of the track and get to tap Dept. of Energy-related funding sources for a portion of the restoration costs. There's not many lines in the country with that extra card to play, so I'm sure the state's already duly noted this for when they revisit in 10 years and start working with the various plant stakeholders on prelim decommissioning plans.
Too bad they hadn't kept things intact given the not so distant reworking of the Merrimack River bridge work and widening of I-95. You know that will cause all sorts of commuter issues, though it could benefit the Downeaster if enough folks tire of the tie ups and shoot over to Dover or Exeter to pick up the train.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Hux wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:But 20 years is about right for when NH is gonna want to make a big push for instituting commuter rail on the Eastern Route. I think the timing of when they start agitating for that is going to be curiously synergistic with with the timetable for Seabrook's decommissioning. Convenient shotgun marriage of fed pork will be available for that task if they make a double-barrel lobby for short-term and long-term use of the track and get to tap Dept. of Energy-related funding sources for a portion of the restoration costs. There's not many lines in the country with that extra card to play, so I'm sure the state's already duly noted this for when they revisit in 10 years and start working with the various plant stakeholders on prelim decommissioning plans.
Too bad they hadn't kept things intact given the not so distant reworking of the Merrimack River bridge work and widening of I-95. You know that will cause all sorts of commuter issues, though it could benefit the Downeaster if enough folks tire of the tie ups and shoot over to Dover or Exeter to pick up the train.
If the North-South Rail Link gets built in Boston and the Downeaster officially becomes an extension of the NEC, the Eastern Route is the best strategic long-term bet for HSR to Portland. Western Route through MA and NH will never support those kinds of speeds with all the congestion, grade crossings, and sharp turns in MA. Although it's likely to continue to be the Downeaster's route for awhile post-Link/NEC extension. And if the NH Main is also envisioned as an HSR branchline to Concord you're going to have serious traffic congestion out to Wilmington that won't be sustainable for too many years. Eastern Route has advantages of really straight alignment, likely (someday, everyone hopes) concurrent rapid-transit inside Route 128 to pull a lot of inner-suburb riders off the line, only a couple narrow pockets of problematic grade crossings in Everett/Chelsea and Beverly to eliminate, and the throughput to handle the traffic with a double-track fix of the Salem tunnel. You could easily do 160+ MPH from Newburyport to Portsmouth out in the arrow-straight lower density areas, hit a much larger city in Portsmouth en route, and rejoin the Western Route at a more ideal spot for bypassing the congestion. That's waaaaaaay far in the future, but enough motivation for making an interim CR push to Portsmouth in 20 years to get it back at regular-speed when the political climate in NH is going to be more supportive of passenger rail and 95/1 are going to be too choked and unfixable.


I don't think this one is at much risk of getting trailed over by NIMBY's because the Seabrook plant and lack of a working Merrimack River crossing blocks useful connections south and there's a whole lot of nothing but forest between Route 1 in Hampton and Route 1 Bypass in Portsmouth on the bulk of the route. It would make no sense whatsoever to do a paved/landscaped trail for the very low usage it would get per mile of maintained trail. Appropriate use would just be an encroachment-blocker like the trail on the NH Main west of Concord, offered up by the state in "as-is" condition with gravel, very limited maintenance and liability, free reign for snowmobilers, and no ROW lease to any sort of trail lobby and local municipality who are gonna make life difficult for future restoration. NH does seem to have more sensible policy about allowing that kind of ROW usage without ceding control to a local NIMBY's or putting themselves on the hook for maintenance bucks not worth spending. Unlike MA which routinely lets itself get bent over by local rail earth-salters and commited for perpetual maintenance money on trails that just don't make any sense for the state trail network. I have a lot more confidence in NH about keeping its strategic options open and unblocked on abandoned ROW's, provided PAR and the state play nice with each other on an orderly ownership transfer. As much as they've flopped at getting their passenger rail house in order, they've done a good job locking down, landbanking, and keeping shennanigans at bay with pretty much every abandoned ROW in their (incredible shrinking) rail network.

I definitely don't think the Eastern Route's story as a contiguous railroad is over by a longshot, and have confidence that mid-21st century transit needs are going to strongly merit its rebirth. But it's gonna be off the map and out of mind for at least 20 years before the time is right to have substantive discussion about reactivation and passenger service.
  by newpylong
 
Let's be serious, we're never going to see the Eastern entirely restored... that's pie in the sky.... Why would they want to extend the NEC to Portland, even if they could?

Nor so I ever see a North to South link using rail as no one is going to pay for another big dig. I don't think the Grand Junction really counts.
The more realistic option is another bus like the Silver line at this point.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
newpylong wrote:Let's be serious, we're never going to see the Eastern entirely restored... that's pie in the sky.... Why would they want to extend the NEC to Portland, even if they could?

Nor so I ever see a North to South link using rail as no one is going to pay for another big dig. I don't think the Grand Junction really counts.
The more realistic option is another bus like the Silver line at this point.
Did you read where I said 20+ years before it's a viable discussion topic? Nothing is pie in the sky when you're into unknown unknowables like decades deep into peak oil. The only priority today is keeping the ROW preserved safely in the hands of state of NH. Anything more can be dealt with decades in the future when long-term future becomes medium-term future.

I don't think, however, that add-a-lane on I-95 is ever going to be a serious congestion mitigation option with 2030 volumes at 2030 gas prices. Hence the priority on locking the ROW up and preserving it as a viable option. Nothing more or nothing less for all we need to care about today.
  by b&m 1566
 
New Hampshire has the first right of refusal (it might even be a law) for any ROW being abandoned by a railroad. Since the state already owns from 101 to the state line, I can guaranty you they will be purchasing the rest from Pan Am.
Does anybody know the exact miles being abandoned?
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
b&m 1566 wrote:New Hampshire has the first right of refusal (it might even be a law) for any ROW being abandoned by a railroad. Since the state already owns from 101 to the state line, I can guaranty you they will be purchasing the rest from Pan Am.
Does anybody know the exact miles being abandoned?
Sounds like all of it except the small Eastern Route portion immediate north of Portsmouth Yard (which technically isn't under the Hampton Branch designation...industrial track or grouped in with the Portsmouth Branch). STB doesn't have a filing posted on its website yet listing the mile posts.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
riffian wrote:http://www.seacoastonline.com/
Link to the article: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/ ... sitesearch

Confirms that NH does have right of first refusal on buying the line, and PAR's general counsel says they will offer the line for sale. Community meetings to be scheduled in a couple weeks and will be on the agenda at the next Rockingham Planning Commission meeting. NHDOT is already doing cost-benefit analysis. Doesn't appear there'll be any major complications to an orderly ownership transfer.

Note that the trail lobby this article is about is not some local thing, but the national East Coast Greenway group making a statement that they would support the Hampton Branch as part of their network. Significant because they can tap additional national funding sources and and also because they aren't some two-bit NIMBY earth salting operation, usually stressing rail-with-trail coexistence on major Greenway branches to not preclude other uses. I sorta doubt this is going to be a high-priority trail build because of the Seabrook plant and the Merrimack River crossing making it very difficult to connect to the rest of the Greenway network. But if you want a trail done right and non-maliciously the Greenway Alliance is the most competent outfit around.

The public statements seem to be pretty balanced about keeping the options open and not rushing into anything that would preclude future commuter rail or be a financial drain on trail plans. The magic of low expectations from other regional ROW theatrics makes this process so far sound refreshingly sane and civilized by comparison.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Hampton selectman opens mouth, stupid flows out. . .
Wilson noted that in one of the Route 1 Corridor studies completed over the past several years, the town of Hampton had urged the conversion of the rail right of way to a one-way road going north to Portsmouth. He said Hampton was interested in finding an alternative to the traffic bottleneck that takes place at the intersections of Exeter Road and Route 1 in that town.
http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/ ... -107150368

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  by BostonUrbEx
 
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
He said Hampton was interested in finding an alternative to the traffic bottleneck that takes place at the intersections of Exeter Road and Route 1 in that town.
Rail service to reduce car volume? Nahhhh.


Next thing you know, it will probably be a divided, high speed, controlled access 2 lane highway.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
newpylong wrote:1 way road, lol.
All the better to flee Hampton screaming. Somehow I don't think Mr. Selectman thought through his cunning plan too carefully.
  by artman
 
Pan Am has formally requested abandonment according to the Portsmouth Herald - http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/ ... -110909946

"HAMPTON — Pan Am Railways has officially asked the federal government to authorize the company’s abandonment of the 10-mile stretch of railroad line it owns running from Portsmouth to Hampton.

Hampton wants to use its portion of the rail line property because the town could make drainage improvements there, while North Hampton officials are interested in a portion of the property in that community in order to make traffic improvements.

Rob Culliford, general counsel for Pan Am, said the company as a general rule makes abandoned lines available for sale and would do so in this case.

Welch said he expects the federal government will sign off on the abandonment within 90 days. When Pan Am decides they want to dispose of it they have to send a bill of sale to the state, who will then have 120 days to respond if they want purchase it,” Welch said.

Bill Boynton, public information officer for the N.H. Department of Transportation, said the state is performing its “due diligence” to be in a position to decide whether the purchase is in the state’s best interest if the opportunity presents itself.

For his part, Welch said Hampton would like to gain use of that land to improve the drainage in the area. “We have had some flooding issues there,” Welch said.

North Hampton selectmen have expressed interest in securing the rail land that runs through that community so officials may address traffic safety issues -Selectman Phil Wilson noted the current configuration of North Road, because of the rail line, creates a dangerous situation.

One group has had its eyes on the railway for years. Eric Weis, the trail program coordinator with the East Coast Greenway Alliance, said the alliance would like to convert the rail into a recreational trail."
  by BostonUrbEx
 
I hope they don't butcher the thing if they're going to be cutting it up for drainage...

And if that East Coast Greenway happens, kiss a Portsmouth extension of the Newburyport Line goodbye. *rolls eyes*
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