• Lowell Route Rail Lifted

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by eddiebear
CSX's former New Haven Branch to Lowell, once the Old Colony RR Northern Division mainline, is being torn up. The portion that made it into Conrail, Framingham Centre to South Sudbury, was operated through the Conrail years into CSX as a stub-ended branch with service once or twice a week to South Sudbury. A few years ago there was a serious enough derailment at South Sudbury to shut down the line. Ties were placed on the line in anticipation of an upgrade and service resumption. However, it did not materialize.
Crossings were paved over and crossing protection was disconnected.
On Sat. 12/04, I came across a crew removing rail from the Edgell Rd. xing south in Framingham. I didn't see them working Sunday, but they had made it all the way to Framingham Centre by the time they finished Saturday. Sunday 12/05 there was a crew stacking ties at South Sudbury.
Sad end to a fine line. This wound up as one of two Old Colony routes to connect with northern and northwestern New England roads without running traffic through downtown Boston by Union Freight RR or other methods. It was never a big passenger route although its around Boston location did allow the routing of seasonal trains over it during the heyday of passenger trains. When freights were short and frequent, four or five a day in each direction used this route. In my time, BL-1 and LB-2 hauled freight from points south of the Boston area, Rhode Island, etc. to the B & M at Lowell. They usually ran at night. Up into the early 1960s there was also a local once to Lowell, later to Chelmsford only to save B&M charges for wying the engine at Lowell. BL-1 made a great sound on a quiet night blasting away at all those grade xings north of Framingham Ctr.
BL-1/LB-2 also used the last four unit set of ex-NH FA's into early Penn Central years.
I rode this line in May, 1967 on a Nelson Blount Steamtown excursion using ex-CPR 127.
Last passenger train about 1934. Route was always single track Framingham Ctr. to Lowell. Very little on-line business. Almost all interchange with B & M at Lowell and a few small customers at Lowell. When I was about 15 (1959), probably about this time of year, caught a potato extra with Alco RS units and State of Maine refrigerator cars!

  by NRGeep
Well, yuppies on their designer bikes riding down the line won't hold a candle to alcos rumbling through but that seems to be the trend with branch lines these days. :(

  by NellsChoo
Hmmm... why doesn't anyone turn these abandoned lines into tourist lines like in other states? Seems MA could have lots in the foresty parts of the state. BUT NO. Pave it and let bikes tie up traffic when crossing the main roads. Just like the Minuteman bike path in Arlington.......

I Hate Bike Paths
  by frrc
I recall a few yeara ago CONRAIL wanted to do tie/rail replacement on the line, but the "tree huggers" objected as the tracks ran through some 'sacred'
swampland. I've also heard the Town of Framingham wants to make the line a bike path, at a cost of $3 - $4 million.

Joe Farrell
Farrell RR Consulting
Box 2901
Worcester, MA 01613-2901

I'm bummed out about them tearing this branch up. It was still in use back in the 70s when I lived in Framingham and I can still remember freight trains and an occasional Budd RDU passing through Framingham Center across Rt 9. I recall they rebuilt the Rt 9 crossing during that time and installed a new passenger shed on the south side of Rt 9 just behind a big church. Does anyone remember that?
  by frrc
I used to remember the gate tenders shack near where the Getty gas station is, as well as the larger building with the switches/controls for the Lowell and Agricultural branch lines. In the late 60's I recalled freights heading North to Lowell on a regular basis. whie ice skating on Kendal's pond off Belknap road.

(guess my age is showing) :wink:
  by eddiebear
CGRLCDR - Are you confusing this spot with some other place. The last scheduled psgr train went through here about 1934. Also, there is no big church around here. No passenger shed either.
Yes the crossing was rebuilt, probably in the Penn Central era and it is very bad right now. Automatic gates, probably with short operating circuits were installed at same time at Route 9 (Worcester Road). The automatic block system from Framingham to Framingham Ctr. was retired about same time and one of the two main tracks in the territory was shortened somewhat and relegated to a siding. The balance of that second main has pretty much been retired since then.
The gate tender's shack was SS O-364 and an operator drove from Framinham to Framingham Centre, opened it up, set the interlocking signals to proceed, set the Route 9 traffic signals to stop (they also could be pre-empted by the Framingham Fire Dept which has a fire station right nearby and the FD can still pre-empt the traffic lights today) and cranked down the gates. I don't know if the operator stayed while the BL-1 and LB-2 were enroute and back from Lowell or went back to Framingham and returned when these trains were ready to cross Route 9 on return trip.
BL-1 usually got an order at NORWOOD CENTRAL that read "ENGS xxx-xxx-xxx coupled run Extra Norwood Central to Lowell and return to Framingham Centre. Not protecting,etc."

I'm thinking of the crossing just after the intersection of Salem End Road and Rt 9. It seems to me there was a white church sitting at the intersection and that there was a passenger shed behind it. I do recall seeing and RDU cross the interstion during the late 60s or early 70s, however, I do not know whether it was part of regular passenger service; it sounds like you know way more about that line than me and I will defer to your information on passenger service ending in 1934.

  by ewh
Does anyone know when the western leg of the wye between the Lowell and Fitchburg branches was pulled up in Framingham Center. The right of way was clearly visable in 1966 (the only time I looked), but the tracks were long gone.

I remember watching an 80 car freight crossing the diamond in South Sudbury heading to Lowell on a Saturday in 1974. Seems like a short time ago, not 31 years.....
  by eddiebear
Wye track at Framingham Centre, between Lowell and Fitchburg lines. I'm guessing about the time steam ended 1952-1953. I'll check my timetables to see when references to it stop.
  by eddiebear
I looked back in timetables to 1941 and can't find a notation under "Engine and Car Restrictions" with any reference to a Wye at Framingham Centre, but I know there was one. However, there was a Wye at South Sudbury until about 1953-54. You'll have to poke around the weeds for that one. It might have had something to do with the B & M CM Branch and was probably removed when the interlocking there was fitted out for automatic operation with searchlight signals just about this time. I'll try some other sources. There was a freight interchange at South Sudbury until this time too.

  by ewh
I have the B&MRRHS book on the Central Massachusetts and a couple of photos of the South Sudbury station clearly show the wye in place up to the early 1950's. In fact, since both the B&M and NH served the lumber yard there, there was a connection until this year, not a wye, but more of a K turn.

Is 1938 the date of last passenger service on the Fitchburg Branch?
  by eddiebear
The original B&M Central Mass/NH Lowell Branch connection at South Sudbury was removed by about 1953-54.
Around 1970 or so an outfit named R. A. D. I. N. built a furniture distribution facility at South Sudbury on B & M just west of station. It was situated so both B & M and NH (PC by this time) could serve it with sidings. This re-established a connection of sorts between the two railroads, but I'm pretty sure that it was never officially a freight interchange with tariffs and rate divisions.
  by Noel Weaver
New Haven employee timetables from the late 1950's through the last
timetable in 1968 in the special instructions under Framingham:
"Permission first must be obtained form yardmaster or agent to turn
engines on the wye."
There is no specific entry for Framingham Centre in these special
instructions although it is mentioned in one case.
I never worked this line and do not know this end of the railroad too well
but I hope this is helpful.
Noel Weaver
  by eddiebear
That timetable Wye reference is to the one in the Downtown section of Framingham opposite the B & A (Union) Station. Framingham Center or Framingham Centre (the pretentious Anglophile spelling) is the colonial town center and has very little commerce other than some stores and specialty shops, historic homes and a village green that looks New Englandish, etc. The real world is Downtown Framingham.