• Discussion about the M&E, RVRR and SIRR lines of New Jersey, and also the Maine Eastern operation in Maine. Official web site can be found here: www.merail.com.
Discussion about the M&E, RVRR and SIRR lines of New Jersey, and also the Maine Eastern operation in Maine. Official web site can be found here: www.merail.com.

Moderators: GOLDEN-ARM, mikec, cjl330

  by BigDell
I'd lost track of this subject for some time. You know, I originally thought we'd see some test runs by end of this year, but I guess not. How long has this rehab been going on now?
Can any of our M&E experts give a brief review of where this project is since it all began Oh So Long Ago? As I understand it, the current "major bottleneck" is the bridge work over the NEC, yes? Where is this bridge, by the way?
Just wondering what all is going on... and if its realistic to expect "anything to be rolling" by Spring 2005...
BigDell (very anxious to see some "backyard action" in Roselle.... :-)

The most recent bit of info given to me was that they are simply waiting for the steel to be delivered for the bridge.
I hope spring of 2005 is possible!
And you are correct, it has been going on for about 2 1/2 years now.
I also believe that the Union County residents against the reactivation slowed things down siginificantly.
I believe that if it wasn't for that, it would have been a good possibility that the train would ahve started already but that is only my opinion.
I am lacking in total knowledge regarding this project.
I only rely on things I hear from different people at various times when railfanning.

  by rvrrhs
The SIRR is waiting for two things: 1. the steel to reinforce the bridge over the NEC, and 2. the delivery/installation of crossing signals and related equipment for the entire length of the reactivation.

The former RVRR, on the other hand, needs a number of construction-related things to happen, not to mention the legal and governmental barriers it still needs to overcome. The first step, at least in some sections, is for encroachment to be removed. Most of that is trailers and dumpsters and parking, so it's pretty easy. Most of the RVRR's ROW is still under weeds and brush. Once the fauna is removed, the rails and ties need to be pulled. The ballast needs to be redone, and heavier rails and new ties need to be installed.

Then there's the matter of several bridges in Summit needing to be either replaced or overhauled and reinstalled. I'm sure the Rahway River bridge between Springfield and Union needs some work as well. Then they have to bring all the street crossings up to date from Roselle Park all the way to Summit, with new signals and gates and all that good stuff.

Not including the bridges (or legal/legislative challenges), that brings us to I would guess next December. Best-case scenario, I'd say don't expect trains until at least Spring 2006.

  by Ken W2KB
Has anyone verified that the SIRR has any customers? Carloads per week expected? Without customers ready to go, operating trains would seem to be rather wasteful.

  by rvrrhs
Ken W2KB wrote:Has anyone verified that the SIRR has any customers? Carloads per week expected? Without customers ready to go, operating trains would seem to be rather wasteful.

The SIRR is waiting for THREE things: 1. the steel to reinforce the bridge over the NEC, 2. the delivery/installation of crossing signals and related equipment for the entire length of the reactivation, and 3. CUSTOMERS! :wink:
  by Camelback
Trainlawyer wrote:
Once again, Gentlemen:

Where is idea that the M&E is going to run into Manville coming from?

The Exemption Notice said Bound Brook but had no provision concerning acquiring the rights over Transit and said nothing at all about Shared Assets into Manville. The M&E's alleged rights over Somerset Terminal (which, if unlike M&E management, you read the decision, you will realize were never effective) do not close the gap.

I thought this rumor had been debunked pending some proof such as a filing for the two or maybe three Trackage Rights Exemption which will be needed.

I never read anything in the press about the M&E going into Manville. I think the idea came from railfan speculation that bringing hoppers from Bayway to Manville would be a good idea since the Chemical Coast is going to see much more traffic once Howland Hook is open and alternate routes may become a necessity. Another railfan speculation is that the M&E would take over the monthly (or bi-weekly) freight drill along the RVL, or at least the single customer in Cranford. Observers have noticed what appears to be a small yard being constructed in Cranford. My own speculation is that the M&E might be interchanging with Norfolk Southern in this spot if traffic from Howland Hook limits the amount of trains leaving Bayway with the M&E bringing the hoppers along the former SIRR.

Perhaps the M&E would like to operate into Manville but if they are not they are hoping to interchange in Cranford with someone who can.

The subject regarding the interchange in Bound Brook to Manville was in an article in The Star Ledger earlier this year.
I doubt that it is still available but if I find it, I will post it again.
I do know that the article was quoting an M&E spokesman with these particular plans.
The article also stated that the M&E was in negotiations with NJ Transit regarding the use of the RVL.
I want to make myself very clear that I do not know all of the details.
I only state what I hear, some from railfans and some from other reliable sources.
A while back in Kenilworth at the public meeting in the High School auditorium, I asked someone from the M&E myself what I had heard and he confirmed that it was true.
Alot may have changed since then.
Last edited by CNJFAN on Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Ken W2KB
I have access to a proprietary database, and here it is. See next to last paragraph in particular:


Freight service on track - First half of rail project nearing completion<BR> - One of five towns drops out of legal battle to halt restoration of 2 lines in the county

893 words
25 July 2004
The Star-Ledger

The trees growing between the railroad ties are gone, work crews are checking the alignment of the rails, and if all goes as planned, freight may be rolling on the old Staten Island Railway by September for the first time in over a decade.

As work crews concentrate on finishing the first half of a Union County project to restore rail freight service from Linden to Summit through the center of the county, Roselle officials have decided to bow out of the legal fight to stop the revitalization of the rail lines.

Roselle was the only community on the seven-mile Staten Island line to oppose restoring rail service. Neither Cranford nor Linden, the other two communities along the freight line, objected.

However, in a meeting last week in Kenilworth, representatives from Roselle Park, Kenilworth, Springfield and Summit - four of the six communities along the Rahway Valley Line - agreed to continue their legal fight with the county.

The towns intend to appeal the two major rulings, one from a state Superior Court judge and the other by the federal Surface Transportation Board, that upheld the county's decision to utilize $7.5 million in state transportation funds to rehabilitate the two rail routes.

Roselle Business Administrator Vincent Belluscio said the borough council "felt it was senseless to put any more tax dollars into the legal fight."

"It's going to be an inconvenience, but not a major inconvenience," Belluscio said, noting that the borough is going to look at ways to capitalize on the rail service.

"We're certainly going to use it as a promotional tool as part of our economic development," he said.

In neighboring Roselle Park, however, the fight will go on, said Mayor Joseph DeIorio.

"We're on board to fight this until the end. It's unfortunate that Roselle is pulling out," the mayor said, citing concerns for property values and the quality of life in the borough should the train start running again.

At a meeting last week, representatives from Springfield, Summit, Kenilworth and Roselle Park all agreed to press legal appeals at both the state and federal levels, said Springfield Mayor Clara Harelik.

"We owe it to the entire township community to continue to fight against the train," Harelik said, citing concerns over the effect the freight service will have on emergency response time and on nearby homes.

"I'm not saying I'm opposed to trains in general. However, it depends on where they're located," Harelik said.

The county contracted with the Morristown-based Morristown & Erie Railway to restore rail service on the two lines.

M&E President Gordon Fuller said that while most of the nearly seven miles of track on the Cranford to Linden run is done, repair crews are still waiting for state transportation staffers to decide on the warning signal systems that will be required at the grade crossings through Roselle.

There is also the matter of the rail bridge across the Amtrak lines, but given the generally good condition of the bridge, several reinforcing beams should resolve any concerns about the span, he said.

On the Rahway Valley side, work has already started on a number of grade crossings in Roselle Park. Old ties and outdated rails have also been removed in some sections to prepare the rail bed for new ties and heavier gauge steel rails, Fuller said.

Over the past decade, while the Rahway Valley Line has been out of service, numerous companies along the railroad right of way have taken over the property for parking, storage of materials, and other uses.

The M&E has sent out letters informing the businesses that the railroad will be coming through, but from a tour of the rail route last week, it appeared that a number of companies may still be skeptics.

When the Staten Island rail line was fully operational decades ago, it tied into the Lehigh Valley Line, which cuts through the county on a diagonal, from Westfield to Hillside, and is now used by Conrail. The line also connected to Staten Island, via a rail span just north of the Goethals Bridge, as well as the old Jersey Central line, a portion of which is now NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line.

For now, negotiations are under way with NJ Transit to enable the M&E to bring freight to Bound Brook, where cars can be handed off to two of the major rail carriers, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Fuller said the cost of repairing the Staten Island line ran substantially below initial estimates. As a result, there may be enough money left in the $7.5 million transportation fund to complete track work from Cranford to Summit.

  by The Rising

It appears you truly believe what the M&E folks told you personally at the meeting you attended. Some people on this forum however, don't share your views. They believe that absent an STB filing, the M&E can't get to Bound Brook.

Did you know that it is very possible for the M&E to get to Bound Brook Jct. without an STB filing? In fact, it may already be done :wink: for all we know........

I thought I'd propose a little research project for you to do. I tried to start a search for the proper document trail, but quite frankly, I just don't have the time to finish it. (plus, some of the documentation doesn't exist in public filings, but it is still real and valid none the less, or it is contained in private agreements none of us will ever get the chance to see. Well, some of us, maybe :wink: )

So, here is what I know, and where you need to take your research to in order to start to speak definitively on this subject.

In 1983, the newly reorganized M&E (the spent the late 70's in bankrupcty) took over the original M&E mainline. A year later, they became the operator of the Chester Branch. The Chester Branch was owned by Holland Manufacturing and Westinghouse (for that matter, they still do to this day). The Morristown and Erie got trackage rights over NJT from Morristown to Lake Jct.

But there was a catch, which few people realized at first. The M&E could only move work trains, light power, passenger cars and non revenue moves at first. I tried to find an ICC filing for the trackage rights. You know, I couldn't find one.

Why, you ask. Well, the answer lies in the Northeast Rail Passenger Termination act of 1981-2(date?), the act that created today's NJT Rail Operations. I beleive a filing with the ICC didn't take place because the then contemplated transaction and operation between NJT and the M&E did not allow the M&E to conduct revenue freight operations in support of or on the account of interstate commerce over an NJT owned property because of the exclusivety issue with Conrail. Remember NJT owns the Property, but Conrail remained the operator of all freight trains.

If you look at photos of the M&E trains of the early 80's running around on NJT, didn't they look more like work trains and passenger extras similiar to NJT's, rather than a true local wayfreight? Ever wonder why that was?

Also, in the early days, the M&E had two interchanges with Conrail. One at Morristown for the Whippany line, and the other at Lake Junction for the Chester Branch. If they had true trackage rights over the Morristown line, why not file them with the ICC?

Now some will jump up and scream that the M&E runs to and conducts all freight interchange at Lake Junction today. Today's M&E freight trains are true freight trains. Doesn't this mean that the M&E has trackage rights over NJT for freight operations now?

Well, I don't know. Why? Because try to find an ICC filing for overhead trackage rights on the Morristown line from Lake Junction to Morristown for the M&E. I couldn't find one. Maybe you can.

How could the M&E move freight then over the Morristown line without trackage rights?

Because they were given running rights outside the jurisdiction of the ICC for the conduct of interchange only. The rights aren't memorialized in a true trackage rights agreement (which are today filed with the STB the successor to the ICC), but rather governed under the terms of a private interchange agreement between two carriers! An interchange agreement stipulates the who, what, where, when, why, and how railroads give cars back and forth between each other.

The new interchange agreement at Lake Junction eliminated the confusion of which M&E junction cars needed to be routed too. Cars bound for the Chester Branch would get sent to the M&E at Morristown and vise versa. The M&E was barred from moving a misrouted car on their own until the new agreement was put in place. The M&E and Conrail agreed to make the interchange at Lake Junction the sole point for both lines. This improved service on both lines and facilitated better coordination between the two carriers.

Why was this fascinating history lesson important to know? Well, because of the very next series of questions.

Could the M&E negotiate a private, non regulated, interchange agreement with Conrail that stipulates a point in Bound Brook as the interchange point for any freight headed to or from the reactivated SIRR-RVRR?

Answer: Yes they can.

Does it have to be filed with the STB?

No it doesn't, if its part of an interchange agreement.

(Railroads are usually left to determine their interchange arrangments on their own. Only when they can't reach an agreement will the STB step in and set terms. Then, and only then, will the terms become public knowledge.)

Does NJT have to be included in the agreement?

Yes they do.

Will it also require the approval of Conrail owners NS and CSX?

Yes it will.

Will we know when, or if the agreement is done?

No. However, when the first train rolls, you can safely assume the agreement is done :-D .

and finally,

Knowing Trainlawyer will be really unhappy if there are M&E trains running on the Raritan line without an STB filing.

:-D Priceless....... :-D
Last edited by The Rising on Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.

  by Camelback
So what you are saying is that the M&E can bring trains to an interchange point in Bound Brook over the Raritan Valley Line without filing with the STB but if they wanted to deliver cars to a customer in Cranford they would need to file with the STB? Interesting.
  by SledDawg
PR- 347-04
December 15, 2004


Construction Begins on Project Creating Over 780 Construction Jobs and 330 Permanent Jobs for Staten Island

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced that construction has begun on the reactivation of the eight-mile Staten Island Railroad to provide rail-freight access to Staten Island. The $72 million project is a joint venture of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The project will create more than 780 construction-related jobs and 330 permanent jobs for Staten Island and reduce truck traffic on the island by 100,000 trips a year.

"This is a critical project for the economic and environmental future of Staten Island," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad will help support local businesses with low-cost rail transportation, improve the environment and reduce wear and tear on our roads. In addition, because shipping goods via rail costs about half as much as shipping by truck, it will also save consumers money."

"We've made a commitment to improving and expanding New York's port infrastructure in order to maintain our competitive economy," Governor Pataki said. "Restoring rail service to Staten Island and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal will help boost economic activity for New York City by providing low-cost transportation of goods. The people of Staten Island can also look forward to fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway and the Goethals Bridge."

In 1994, New York City, using Federal and City funds, acquired the New York State portions of the Staten Island Railroad from CSX. Reactivation will provide direct rail service to the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook, the Department of Sanitation's Fresh Kills Transfer Facility, Visy Paper and VanBro Corp., as well as other industrial businesses on the Travis Branch Line, which runs along Staten Island's western shore. Reconstruction of the rail line will add more than $93 million in economic activity to the City's economy. By 2010, the total economic impact of the reactivation on New York City's economy will be more than $200 million.

Congressman Vito Fossella said, "This project will increase economic activity on Staten Island, remove truck traffic from our local roads and create new opportunities for Howland Hook to continue expanding. It will also allow the Port of New York to remain competitive with other facilities and create new incentives to attract businesses and new jobs to Staten Island."

State Senator John Marchi said, "The joint announcement by the Governor and the Mayor is good news for Staten Island and for New York. Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad resonates on many levels. It will boost our economy and improve our environment. I applaud the city and state for making this happen."

Assemblyman Michael Cusick said, "This is great news for Staten Island. This project will help improve our economy, our environment, and it will help take thousands of trucks off our heavily congested roads. The Staten Island Railroad will not only help bring more money and jobs to the Island but it will also help improve our quality of life."

Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said, "This step will not only eliminate tons of pollution from tractor trailers, but will also offer the opportunity for distribution centers to locate in service areas that require rail service for their merchandise."

The project will include a number of improvements to the SIRR. The Port Authority is constructing an inter-modal facility in order to provide the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook with direct rail access. Tracks will be added to allow direct service to Arlington Yard, and a one-mile rail spur will be constructed to connect the railroad to Fresh Kills and Visy Paper. Three wooden trestle rail bridges over creeks will be replaced with more stable concrete structures. The Arthur Kill lift bridge, which connects the SIRR to the Port Authority's Chemical Coastline Connector in New Jersey, will undergo minor structural repairs and repainting. EDC renovated the lift bridge several years ago. The construction is expected to be completed in early 2006.

Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, "The Port Authority has maintained a strong commitment to the New York Container Terminal since it reopened in the mid 1990s, and will invest a total of $350 million in it to help boost economic activity for New York City and the region. The Staten Island Railroad will add critical rail service to the terminal, allowing the facility to grow and reducing its current reliance on trucks for the distribution of cargo."

EDC President Andrew M. Alper said, "The project is just one part of what the City and State are doing to improve Staten Island's industrial waterfront at Howland Hook. In addition to the rail spur to provide rail service directly to the facility, New York Container Terminal is undergoing major expansion projects including the addition of 500 feet of berth, an on-dock-rail facility, and the renovation of a 212,000-square-foot warehouse. These improvements and new capacity will add 200 employees to the terminal's current workforce of 800."

Since it reopened in 1996, the New York Container Terminal, formally known as the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, has become the fastest growing marine terminal in New York Harbor and Staten Island's largest employer. Other terminal improvements include the installation of four new post-panamax cranes as well as other modernization, representing an overall investment of nearly $50 million. With the improvements currently underway or planned, and a dredging project by the Army Corp of Engineers to deepen its channel from 35 to 50 feet to accommodate modern container ships, the terminal has the potential of creating an additional 1,200 jobs over the next 20 years.

  by Ken W2KB
Good news. From the looks, the north shore portion from the Travis Branch switch to the ferry terminal is not part of the project. It would be a good ROW to extend the light rail over the Bayonne Bridge to the ferry and SIRT.
  by Pacobell73
Has anyone snapped any photos of the restored ROW? I think that a "before-and-after" photo spread at some point would be great. Just a thought... :P

  by BigDell
Thanks to everyone for the updates! Now I have a much clearer idea of whats going on.... And great news about the SIRR "announcement".

Here's to train service within 18 months... (clink!)

  by Pacobell73
Like I said, anyone photographing the construction for posterity?
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