by F-line to Dudley via Park
frrc wrote:I recall CSX was asking $5 million (?) for the line from downtown Leominster to Fitcburg a few years ago, quite the price. Agreed on the NIMBY towards freight trains in Leominster, people don't like the horns issue, from the 2-3 times per week they enter the area. And the City of Leominster filed a law suit against CSX for a washed out culvert behind the Long Horn Steakhouse for environmental and safety reasons. Not sure how that law suit was resolved...That was just CSX trolling the Town of Leominster with that asking price. It was a town-level negotiation, with MassDOT not involved. And it was wrapped in a whole angry storm cloud of bad blood and mistrust between town and freight carrier, so neither party was exactly acting in good faith and both were itching for a fight. Leominster disbanded its trail group after that debacle, and said they refuse to try again as long as CSX is the owner. Probably won't be another trail effort until MassDOT buys it.
The $29M for the Framingham Secondary sets the theoretical ceiling for how much this line could conceivably cost. It's not a critical thru freight corridor, only having a daily local for on-line business. And the Framingham-Clinton, Clinton-Leominster, and Leominster-Fitchburg segments are of very unequal value vs. the Framingham Sec. which is more or less end-to-end balanced by a lower half with max passenger considerations and an upper half with the most thru freight considerations. I doubt CSX's valuation for the whole end-to-end line is going to exceed $15-19M.
But, again, speculative. MassDOT's not going to approach CSX for the Fitchburg Sec. It's going to be CSX approaching them about dumping its last Eastern MA line ownership off of Jacksonville HQ's tax ledgers. They only have 2 branchlines longer than a 1-mile industrial track left in MA: this one, and the Milford Branch. And Milford's probably going to get transacted to the state soon after G&U takes over as the freight carrier. The MBTA already has a pre-existing Conrail lease agreement from 1988 for the Forge Park commuter rail extension that contains an outright purchase clause, CSX really really isn't going to want that on their tax rolls after they stop using it, and it'll be the best for all parties if MassDOT takes over and G&U doesn't have to answer to an absentee landlord. Some time after that, when the Fitchburg Sec. sticks out like a sore thumb as CSX's very last branchline ownership (and not an overly critical one at that)...Jacksonville's probably going to want it off their books. They've been completely consistent since taking over from Conrail about methodically selling off-main properties to MassDOT for as good a price as they can negotiate. They've been almost as much a real estate company in MA as a railroad the last 15 years, and these are the last non-critical pieces to cash out of before they've got their idealized network: complete control of the main, state-modernized yards, outsourcing to as many landlocked shortlines available, and trackage rights floated by public investment everywhere else. It's an inevitability their last two branch ownerships are going to get treated completely consistent with that overarching plan.