• How Did B&M Get the State to Buy the Suburban Track?

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by Engineer Spike
I have been involved with politics for some time, and know how slow the wheels can turn.How did the B&M get the Commonwealth to get this accomplished? Did Alan Dustin and the trustees pitch it that the company would totally fold, if the tax burden was not relieved? Did they threaten abandonment of non essential lines, if some sort of subsidy was not enacted? I can see how the threat to the commuting mode for thousands of constituents would make a politician jump. The part that would be hard would be to get someone who represents somewhere like Chester to bite. We all know the political divide of the western part of the commonwealth. Like my cousin from Longmeadow always says, he is from the State of Western Massachusetts.

Another question is about if the sale of the Western Route was separate. Is this true?

About the same time, Conrail could not come to terms on the ex B&A, and New Haven Southside lines. How were they able to get out? They were stuck with commuter service elsewhere, like New York, Jersey, Philly..., until 1983.
  by jamoldover
The state's involvement with commuter rail goes back to the mid-1960's, when they started subsidizing the existing NYC/NH/B&M operations. Outright purchase of the routes happened in the early 70's as an outgrowth of those subsidies. Remember that Boston was completely surrounded by railroads in various stages of bankruptcy at that point - Penn Central on the south side, and B&M on the north side. Taking over the routes completely was one way to ensure they remained usable, and once the precedent had been established for the PC routes, they couldn't exactly refuse to do the same for the B&M ones...
  by edbear
.The B & M got the Commonwealth to buy the commuter lines and most of the other track in Eastern Massachusetts in two packages. The first was the so called Reading Line sale. When I went to work for the B & M elevated highway I-93 was under construction from its end at Medford Square. The Commonwealth made a taking of the entire segment from Reading into the Boston Terminal area. The Orange Line rapid transit project - Haymarket North- was a part of this taking. It is my understanding that a public agency in Massachusetts cannot pay more for an eminent domain taking than its appraisal. If you do not like the award, sue. B & M sued. I do not remember the original award, but when the case finally was heard, B & M was awarded $12 million, plus interest. The Yard 13 case which I testified in in 1980 saw an award of about $3 million overturning the Commonwealth's award of about $30,000 - tied in with I-93/Haymarket North, this was revocation of a tidal fill license which the B & M paid 25c a cubic yard. (Yard 13 was settled after rest of commuter lines were sold.) The B & M Trustees' reorganization plan was to dispose of the commuter properties somehow. Over much of the lines, there was very little local or through freight business. So the B & M management made noises about getting out of the passenger business and disposing of unwanted properties. Most commuter rail users live in wealthy suburbs and they convinced their reps to buy the properties. The Trustees said....we'll get out of the business by such and such a date several times and changed the planned exit date. I think it was July 1, 1975 nothing moved because that was the drop dead date, no agreement extended beyond 6/30/75 and counsel said if you run on July 1st you will have re-established your passenger business and have to run it. A whole bunch of appraisers came by and reviewed my property and valuation records - Frank Mason, Norman Carlson PE from New Jersey and two men from Day & Zimmerman in Philadelphia. Having been burned on the Reading Line sale, the Commonwealth and B & M finally reached agreement on $39.5 million for almost all trackage East of Fitchburg with exceptions on the Worcester-Ayer, Stony Brook, Lowell-Lowell Jct. segments, I think the Amesbury Branch & maybe the Watertown Branch and several valuable parcels of land
  by Engineer Spike
How did they get the state to buy things like the Greenville Branch? Did the branch network, which had not already been abandoned get included? I’m mainly talking about all the lines between the Eastern and Western Routes.
  by jaymac
One of the negotiating attorneys was Edward Masterman, a name which autocorrect changes to "Mastermind." His fame included entries on the continuum of "have I got a deal for you" and "an offer that shouldn't be refused."
  by edbear
The numerous freight only branches were offered in a single package. For some lines there was the prospect of passenger service revival like Newburyport and Fitchburg. Because of the property tax laws in Massachusetts regarding railroads, on many of these lines, there was not much of a tax burden. (width of property up to 82.5 ft wide is not property taxed) The big tax burden was in Cambridge, Boston & Somerville. B & M hung on to Northpoint property near Lechmere Square. However, by selling everything to MBTA, B & M was relieved of handling deeds and licenses for grade crossings, wire, pipe, utility overcrossings/undercrossings, negotiating with abutters, etc. That fell to the property owner. Also, during late 1970s and 1980s B & M was engaged in grade crossing protection upgrades with Mass. Highway Dept. After the properties were sold, the contracts were 3-party agreements, MBTA-Mass. Highway-B & M & B &M managed the jobs for the MBTA. Probably some of those branches which would be unlikely to have a passenger service revival soothed some industrial customers who figured that maybe a shortline operator would pick up the pieces if the B &M abandoned freight service.
  by Engineer Spike
I see the point about just selling one package, and the freight customers wanting a “me to” deal, just in case B&M did go bust. I can see how the Portland and New Hampshire Divisions were sold up to the New Hampshire line. How was “Bike Shop” determined to be the spot where the ownership boundary line should exist? One should think it would extend to a county line, of territory not under MBTA jurisdiction.
  by cpf354
I think it should also be noted that that nearly $40 million from the sale was instrumental in pulling the B&M out of bankruptcy.
  by b&m 1566
I though GTI purchasing the B&M took it out of bankruptcy?
  by jaymac
Sorry for missing this earlier:
by Engineer Spike » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:48 pm
...How was “Bike Shop” determined to be the spot where the ownership boundary line should exist? One should think it would extend to a county line, of territory not under MBTA jurisdiction.
It's just a guess, but extending the purchase west to the Bike Shop was probably a way to make it an even 50 miles outta North Station instead of the 49-and-decimals at the west end of the platform. A weird Wachusett Extension thing is that FML mileages and CP naming practices resume west of Fitchburg -- CPF-330 to CPF-335.
  by TomNelligan
b&m 1566 wrote:I though GTI purchasing the B&M took it out of bankruptcy?
Yes, Mr. Mellon's money enabled the the bankruptcy reorganization to be concluded as of the Guilford takeover, however the big chunk of cash from the line sale went a long way towards paying off old debts that the B&M owed to bondholders and other creditors.
  by edbear
The property from MP49.xx to Greenfield was owned by the Vermont & Massachusetts Railroad under a lease assumed when the B & M leased the Fitchburg Railroad in 1900. The Fitchburg was absorbed into the B & M during a reorganization, 1919-1920, but the Vermont & Massachusetts was not. The B & M owned between 30 and 40 per cent of Vermont & Massachusetts stock. The other large block was owned by Dartmouth College which sold the shares to the Providence and Worcester in the mid-1970s. The P & W tried to get the Vermont & Massachusetts pulled out of the B & M family using the excuse that the B & M missed one lease payment in early 1970 when bankruptcy was imminent or had already happened. The P & W got nowhere. The MBTA would have had to negotiate with both the Vermont & Massachusetts and the B & M. Besides, in 1976 at the time of the commuter line sale, Wachusett was pretty far out. Route 495 was regarded as a highway that went through nowhere. The industrial and commercial development along with residential development happened a lot later. The Providence and Worcester sold its Vermont and Massachusetts stock to the B & M later and the Vermont & Massachusetts was absorbed by the B & M and its corporate existence ended in the early 1990s.
  by Engineer Spike
We have discussed V&M before, but it never occurred to me that that point was where the actual ownership changed.