• Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfield)

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

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  by Jeff Smith
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:59 pm While of course it's very open if South Kent School will have an Alumni Weekend next year. It would be my 60th , and God willing I'd like to go back. After all, they love those "Lumbux".

As Mr. Smith notes, New Milford-Canaan is the "dead zone", and I hardly expect the 75 or so car Northbound (that during Winter, I could see from "The Hill") to go by about High Noon, let alone the "two a day" passenger "three a day Weekends".
You know, now that I've said that and you've concurred, it brings a few questions to mind:

1. What, if any, customers are there in the "dead zone" between Canaan and New Milford?

2. Would it make sense to put the "dead zone" into an OOS status? Could Housy interchange in Danbury with P&W to serve Oak Ridge and KC, and any others?

3. Could/should they sell the online business at the southern end to P&W?
  by J.D. Lang
 
There are no customers in the dead zone and the rural nature of the Housatonic valley there are no prospects in the future. KC north to Becton Dickerson south of Canaan is the area. That said they can make the run from Canaan to New Milford in a little over 2 hrs. They "usually" have NX-12 leave Canaan around 6AM work New Milford and return to Canaan around noon with the outbound cars from the south end. Meanwhile NX-11 switches Canaan and Sheffield and gets their outbound cars ready for NX-13. NX-13 usually goes on duty around 3:PM picks up all the outbound cars and forwards them to CSX in Pittsfield.

So the cars picked up in the southern end off the RR in the morning are "usually" in Pittsfield by evening for pickup by CSX Q425. Routing to PAS or PW at Derby would make no sense to me.
  by Greg Moore
 
Two thoughts:
I pretty much agree, but I think a creative marketing/business develop person could change that.

That said, I think really, CT still should work with MTA (and basically ignore HRRC) and go ahead with the plans/thoughts to do a Friday train up from GCT (or NYP) to Canaan (and if Mass wants to play, to Pittsfield) and back on Sunday.
Maybe a run on Saturday down and back for the "country folks" to spend a day in the city.

I still maintain, despite Wassaic being where it is, there's an additional market for a weekend train.
But, other than giving them the benefit of faster track, leave HRRC on the sideline. I don't think they're in a position to try to run passengers, at all.
(I do wish though they had kept their fall foliage trains, I did enjoy rolling through "my backyard".
  by Jeff Smith
 
2 hours from Canaan to New Milford. Wow.

I agree about PAS. And once, and if, PAR gets sold, it will be interesting to see what happens to their rights across from Berlin to Waterbury and Derby.

Not sure why you think it doesn't make sense for P&W to take the southern portion below the "Dead Zone". They're already running up to Tilcon, just beyond Oak Ridge. If HRRC could sell off that 15 miles or so north of Danbury, or even the Maybrook down to Derby, I think they'd jump at it. More questions:

1. Would P&W want the rights?
2. Would they buy that portion of the ROW above Danbury?
3. They already pay for overhead rights southeast of Danbury on the Maybrook; could they come up with a deal for the couple customers down there?
4. Would HRRC part with that business in order to forego maintenance of the CtDOT portion, which basically is, the "Dead Zone".
5. And what of their portions of the Maybrook, which they own, and could no longer access?
  by Jeff Smith
 
More regarding the "Dead Zone". What happens to it if HRRC truncates at BD below Canaan? Could BSRM run excursions again? Would weekend service be worth it, say, up to Kent? For the portions in MA, I'd expect that to run south from Pittsfield, not north from Danbury.
  by J.D. Lang
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:22 pm 2 hours from Canaan to New Milford. Wow.

I agree about PAS. And once, and if, PAR gets sold, it will be interesting to see what happens to their rights across from Berlin to Waterbury and Derby.

Not sure why you think it doesn't make sense for P&W to take the southern portion below the "Dead Zone". They're already running up to Tilcon, just beyond Oak Ridge. If HRRC could sell off that 15 miles or so north of Danbury, or even the Maybrook down to Derby, I think they'd jump at it. More questions:

1. Would P&W want the rights?
2. Would they buy that portion of the ROW above Danbury?
3. They already pay for overhead rights southeast of Danbury on the Maybrook; could they come up with a deal for the couple customers down there?
4. Would HRRC part with that business in order to forego maintenance of the CtDOT portion, which basically is, the "Dead Zone".
5. And what of their portions of the Maybrook, which they own, and could no longer access?
Jeff, just my thoughts on some of those questions:
1) Yes I would definitely think that P&W would love to have rights over the Maybrook from Derby to Danbury.
2) I would think that they would buy that portion IF HRRC wanted to sell but see my thoughts on #4
3) The only customer that I’m aware of is/was Rings End Lumber down in Bethel
4) I don’t think that HRRC would want to lose those southern customers. They actually own the reload center in Hawllyville and there are other customers besides Oak Ridge. Pharmco in Brookfield, Rand Whitney Container in Newtown, and a lumber yard in Botsford come to mind. As for maintaining the “dead Zone” the state helped upgrade the track from South Kent to just north of Kent center. That area now has welded rain and the track appears to be at least Class II or possibly Class III. There was a wooden trestle in Falls Village that was just replaced with a steel and concrete bridge which I would think was a state founded project. I’ve also seen HRRC crews do spot tie replacements along River Rd. in West Cornwall although a lot of that area still is rough track

As has been talked about in the past here and in the MN forum the ideal solution in the south end would be for the state to buy the whole Danbury cluster and the Maybrook. HRRC would be able to keep their customers and P&W would be able to get to Danbury from Derby. Of course that would allow MN to bring badly needed commuter rail to New Milford.
More regarding the "Dead Zone". What happens to it if HRRC truncates at BD below Canaan? Could BSRM run excursions again? Would weekend service be worth it, say, up to Kent? For the portions in MA, I'd expect that to run south from Pittsfield, not north from Danbury.
I would think the BSRM would be able to return to the Mass portion because Mass DOT now owns the track from state line to Pittsfield. Their plan is to upgrade that whole route to Class III. New welded rail has been dropped on most of that area with lots of new ties dropped. This spring they awarded the first phase of the rehab to a company called Railworks to do the section from just south of GT. Barrington up to Lee. I don’t think HRRC would have any kind of say whether BSRM runs the Mass portion. If the state were to buyout the HRRC’s south end and do some more upgrades to the line up to Kent then I think MN could run some experimental weekend runs up to Kent once they’ve established commuter rail to New Milford
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Yeah. Rah, Rah, Mr. Lang.

So if I'm able to go back for "my 60th" next year at SKS (if they even hold it), that rail, which has been on the ground for the last two quintennial reunions is atop the ties?

Next, did HRR come up with the loot to replace the crossties?

FRA Class 3, someone dig out a New Haven ETT and check that the speed was 40, P&F, back in those days. I know it was 40 through a curve on the North end of Hatch Pond - well at least since the "spill" during '41.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Mr. Lang, good thoughts. I forgot about the facility in Hawleyville. Nice to see upgrades happening, especially to Class III standards. I toured a good portion of the line up to Canaan a few months back. I can tell you, it looked like a lot of work was needed in New Milford. I'd certainly agree they could use a passenger train or two to that point, daily, and perhaps Kent Center on the weekends. Nothing fancy; a Stadler would do.
  by J.D. Lang
 
Yes Mr. Norman in my replies to Jeff’s post it does sound like I’m a cheerleader for the Housatonic. Many posts have been made about dubious things about HRRC management and practices. I’m sure there are reasons that some of the stuff said is valid. I don’t know but they definitely did rotten things to BSRM and tried to sell the passenger train revival so the state would upgrade the tracks. That said I think one has to stand back and think how hard it is for a small independent RR to survive in southern NE.

Yes the relay rail that came off MN that had been sitting in the mud for several years is on top of the ties from Bulls Bridge Rd. north toward Hatch Pond. If you look south at the crossing it’s the same old rickety track. It was a 1.4 mill state grant that got the ties and ballast and probably a company to do the rail installation. I’m not an FRA track inspector so it’s only a guess on my part that redone section might be rated Class III.

Anyway I hope you’ll be able to make your 2021 reunion at SKS.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I've made more than a couple snide remarks as well, generally concerning maintenance, derailments, and the proposed HRRC passenger service. For a while, they didn't have a good "track" record, pun intended. I've also remarked that it's a small Class III, with a good amount of mileage to maintain, and that cost decisions have to be made. It's also important to remember that before HRRC, that track was sitting dormant. ConRail wanted out. It might still be sitting dormant, if rail-banked.
  by Greg Moore
 
A big part of their issue is their public relations. Some of the locals who have had interactions have come away less than impressed.

I think overall, the HRRC does ok, but under different management, could be even better.
  by NaugyRR
 
I'm pretty friendly with the guys in the engine house, and they're very cool people. They get a bad rep for equipment upkeep, but again, they're kinda stuck with the cards management deals them. My old man taught me a phrase he learned in the Army, "you can't make cookies out of cat s***"... that fully applies here.
  by Jeff Smith
 
That's going to be my new personal motto.

I follow the Fans of Housy FB group, and they have a pretty good rep there (the workers at least).
  by Maybrook fan
 
I know things change over time but back in the early 90's Housatonic bought the whole Maybrook line just to get access to the business south of New Milford. After a short while they were going to abandon the NY section but the MTA bought that. So unless something forces their hand I doubt Housatonic will be in any hurry to get rid of any trackage.
  by Ridgefielder
 
For what it's worth, the lack of customers on the middle 30-40 miles of the Housy between New Milford and Canaan is something that probably dates well back into New Haven Railroad days. While this is a scenic part of the state, it's hardly dynamic: some of these towns are smaller today than they were in 1880. I'm willing to bet that the last substantial outbound business from a place like Cornwall Bridge disappeared when milk shipments switched to truck in the 1930's.
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