• The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

  • 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 Cowford
 
I made that comment about giving GRS the money with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. But pouring taxpayer dollars into Maine's existing, viable and necessary freight infrastructure would have been of much better use than rebuilding a defunct branch line that will never be a viable freight or passenger route.

  by MEC407
 
Noel Weaver wrote:Question, who gave Guilford $60 million and for what?
We, the taxpayers, gave Guilford $60 million (approximately) for the upgrade of their freight main line between Plaistow NH and Portland ME.

  by Cowford
 
To be fair to GRS, they never asked for the money... it was the State that pushed the issue of passenger trains.

  by Noel Weaver
 
MEC407 wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:Question, who gave Guilford $60 million and for what?
We, the taxpayers, gave Guilford $60 million (approximately) for the upgrade of their freight main line between Plaistow NH and Portland ME.
These are the remarks that I was waiting for, GAVE Guilford?, I am not so
sure about that. The state got a good return for that money. The railroad
is now suitable for decent passenger service between Portland and Boston
and I would think that most of us agree that this was a desirable route to
go.
I believe the job of fixing up this line was turned over to Guilford after they offered the best plan and cost for doing this necessary work.
A 30 or 40 MPH railroad might be adequate for a couple or three freight
trains a day but not for passenger trains to carry the public.
The state and the people wanted the passenger trains, the railroad was
adequate for Guilford's operation, answer - you want the trains, you fix up
the railroad tracks.
Another point, some people on here seem to think it is fashionable to bash
Guilford. I would admit that they are not perfect and have made some
major blunders over the years. Having said that, Guilford enjoyed a very
good relationship with railfans up until the unfortunate labor problems of
about twenty years ago and things have not been good since. I remember going on several trips over Guilford including a weekend trip
between Boston and Bangor and we got treated very well by the railroad
on that outing.
Maybe someday, it will again be possible to have excursions on Guilford, I
sure hope so.
I am not saying that we can't criticize them, of course we can but let's know what we are getting at first.
Noel Weaver
  by Cowford
 
Mountain Fan, How is your study progressing?

  by MEC407
 
Latest scuttlebutt is that Guilford is preparing to yank the rails on its portion of the Mountain Division between Westbrook and Windham. Not good news for anybody who would like to see service resume between Windham and points west.

  by MountainFan
 
I was an intern for the agency conducting the Mountain Division study, so I didn't get to see the final product. It was looking pretty good, though. I sincerely hope Guilford doesn't tear up those tracks... I was under the impression the state was eying them.

  by MEC407
 
That may be exactly why Guilford wants to tear them up, unfortunately.
  by RG479
 
On Monday Jan 31, 2005, I drove along the Mt Div from St Johnsbury to Whitefield, to check on its status.
It is intact but has not seen any activity in a long time. The station and section house at East St Johnsbury are still there, and in fair condition. The paper mill at Gilman is back in business but using trucks, and the station is still there but in bad condition. I did notice that except for one crossing, all crossing signals, and crossbucks look new. The relay houses are galvanized and locked. When were they replaced, and by whom? From Dalton to Whitefield NH the crossings are still in place but look original MeC. Many of the road crossings from Whitefield to Fabyen are unguarded and must be flagged when Conway Scenic makes its annual run to Hazens for the 470 club.
I walked into Quebec Jct last spring, and the wye and a long stub are still in place, but buried in new growth. I walked in from Hazen/ Airport Road just above the powerplant gate.

Bob M

  by ferroequinarchaeologist
 
Railpace magazine reports that on December 8th CSRR Geep 573 was towed from North Conway to Hazens en route to Waterville for major repairs, so things must be OK to that point.

PBM

  by b&m 1566
 
The tracks are fine west of Hazens. This is currently the only link the Conway Scenic has to the outside world, if they loose this link they're on there own. The state of NHDOT owns the right of way and has been keeping the unused sections clear of debris and brush. The tracks east of Red Stone however I’m not sure of. I know the CSRR can't operate any futher than Red Stone because there insurance won't cover them passed that spot, same for Hazen, if they go any further they will not be covered. Those were words I recieved when I asked a CSRR employee. I don't know if the tracks east of Red Stone are save enough to operate anyways. When the CSRR expanded into the Notch they did have furture plans on going all the way to Whitefield, NH and as far east as Fryburg, ME but it never happened and it most likely will never happen according to the CSRR when I emailed them some question regarding there operations. There rider ship is not big enough to expand passed Faybans, in fact most people that ride the Notch train don't want to go passed Crawford's, that’s the reason why they stopped doing the every Saturday run to Faybans and only go there during the Fall.
On another note there is plans for Amtrak to connect there Vermont train with the Downeaster in Portland using the Mountain Division line. The project is called the Crown of New England and is only in the planning stages of now *it may have moved along since I last read about it*. (There is a website for it but at this time I can not find it, I will post it when I do find it. For now my only back up with this is the CSRR its self; CSRR is aware of this project and the Operations Manager *I believe if not its someone else* knows the person leading the way for the Crown of New England RR project.) This project is also including the NHDOT's Conway Branch and the re-opening of the 11 mile? abandonment from the Ossippee Sand pit to the Conway Freight Station (currently the southern end of the CS Valley train to Conway). This whole reason of the Crown of New England project is the same reason why the NHDOT went a head and re-aligned the tracks near Red Stone for when they built the much needed Highway bypass that currently sits on the old right of way. Had the highway not fallowed the right of way, the line would have been disconnected for good ending all chances of the Mountain Division line to ever be opened again. Instead the tracks where moved over to the eastside of the ROW about 30 feet? and the highway bypass was put in where the original alignment went. And from what I have been told this Crown of New England project is going to work otherwise the NHDOT would have never put the money into relocating the track, putting in 3 new bridges, a passing siding (so the CS engines can run around the train instead of doing a push, pull mode that they had previously been doing before the tracks had been relocated) and also had put in I believe four gated crossings. Also note that when the Mountain Division was abandoned by Guilford in 1983 the entire line had been refurbished by the Maine Central in the early 70's so the line was still in great shape when Guilford abandoned the line just some 10 years later. The sole reason for why Guilford abandoned the line was operating coast. The first winter Guilford gained control spent more money trying to keep the line clear during the winter than what they were making. To Guilford it was a non revenue line and well business is business, all freight was moved to the north in September of 1983 and went around the Notch. The Notch did see freight still until the line was officially abandoned in July 1984 (I believe it was the 17th) with the last train departing St. Johnsbury, Vt consisting of 2 locomotives (GP38's I believe) and 25 freight cars.
  by RG479
 
While B&M 1566 is correct that the line North (West) of Hazens is in good condition, it is not the Mountain Division line to St Johnsbury but the MEC/B&M line from Whitefield-Hazens-Lancaster-Groveton. The line from Whitefield to St Johnsbury is over grown and impassable. What is stange is the fact that most all crossing lights in Vt have been replaced since MEC times. I checked this out after Christmas last year. Has anyone heard the status of this VT section? I understand Guilford (MEC) still owns it. Does the VT DOT still want to buy it? The paper mill at Gilman is up and running again.
East of Redstone the line is open for snowmobiles to the ME state line, and then is cleared from property line to property line. A tracked back hoe with a brush cutter was clearing the track on either side of Fryeburg late last year. This cleared ROW ends in Windham, and the stretch to Westbrook is over grown with rail removed at one crossing in Westbrook. The state of ME is putting money into a rails and trails project. The Amtrak link is clearly a long way off.

R Meckley
  by ferroequinarchaeologist
 
>Has anyone heard the status of this VT section?

As briefly as possible - the situation is covered at the STB website. Basically, (1) Twin State RR filed to abandon, (2) Maine Central said TSRR couldn't abandon because TSRR didn't own it - Maine Central never sold it to them, (3) not Vermont, but the New Hampshire DOT has filed with the STB to take over the line all the way to Gilman, VT. Talk about a free-for-all.

PBM

  by b&m 1566
 
I always thought the western part of the line (in VT.) was never abandoned? I was told a number of times that it was still in use for local freight from time to time. That may explain the new crossing signs in the area.

NH's DOT was jumping all over the Mountain Division ever since Guilford abandoned the line in 1984. Almost right after the line was closed, NH started talks with Guilford to buy the section with in NH's boarders. Finally in 1993 Guilford sold the ROW to NH and in 1994 came the CSRR with there Valley train to Bartlett and the Notch train in 1995 (not sure about the sections in VT and in ME, I know some of ME's DOT owns some of the ROW).

NHDOT bought the ROW in hopes to lease it out to RR for revenue and currently the only RR that is paying the state for operations is the CSRR. The Amtrak link is not that far off, it’s close enough that the state of NH went a head and put money into the line near Redstone and re-located the tracks for the highway by pass. If NH didn't think this "link" was going to happen they would have not spent the money. Below is some pictures off of NErail's website of the newly relocated track in Redstone.

The link to this picture shows the beginning of the new ROW for the Mountain Division line in Redstone. The road next to the tracks is the old ROW. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

Again this link shows the new ROW. the road next to the tracks it the old ROW. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

All the new crossings have 4 gates. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

Look at the new embankment that was constructed for the new ROW and one of 2 new bridges. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

The 2nd new bridge. A lot of works has been done on this line. It clearly shows the Amtrak link is going to happen. This was not done for the CSRR because the CSRR only operates on that section once maybe twice a year tops. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic


Take a look at this picture, a very nice one. Shows the new ROW and the new highway by-pass to the left, around where the old ROW once was. Look at the newly built ROW a lot of money put into it for nothing huh? Amtrak is coming. http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

New passing siding http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

End of the line for the CSRR. Not the new ROW joins back in with the old ROW east of Redstone. (the right of the picture) http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... way_Scenic

  by ferroequinarchaeologist
 
I don't want to throw cold water on these thoughts, but the record of NHDOT hearings indicates that the only reason the railroad was moved was to make room for the new North-South local road through North Conway. Since the state of NH had no jurisdiction over the railroad, the only alternative was to move it but keep it intact. Unfortunately, all those expensive, attractively designed, and well-engineered bridges only exist to get that pesky railroad track out of the way of all those tourists' cars. As for the potential of an Amtrak link, "ain't gonna happen" under the present administration; Amtrak will probably remain on life support, as usual.

PBM
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