Safetee wrote:it's really very easy. ma dot wanted to buy the lines for future use. CSX was willing to sell the lines to ma dot to have and to hold to love and to cherish but among other things csx retains the freight franchise in perpetuity. just like pan am on the knowledge corridor. or csx previously on the south coast lines. the freight railroads are typically not wild about operating passenger service themselves. but if a government entity wants a line bad enough for future use as a passenger line and is willing to pay cash for the row and is further willing to allow the the freight carrier to keep the freight franchise, most freight railroads will look at this as a winning situation especially if the passenger entity intends to fix up the freight line at no cost to the freight carrier. come to think of it that's pretty much the same thinking that allowed the northeast corridor to happen. if the current owning freight carriers were not allowed to keep their freight franchises and there is substantial freight on the lines, what incentive would there be to sell and give up those lines to potentially competing carriers?
Actually, CSX bundled the South Coast lines in the Worcester Line sale to get out of that territory and hand it off to Mass Coastal. They're going to do the same thing when they hand Grafton & Upton the Milford Branch, only there the lease the T signed with Conrail 28 years ago has a sale option at pre-agreed price (indexed to inflation)...so that one will happen just by them tapping the state on the shoulder and saying "Do it; I ain't interested in being a shortline landlord." It's as much a part of their strategy to offload as much low-margin locals territory on landlocked shortlines as it is to convert all their off-main properties to trackage rights. Then it's just a matter of banking the reduced operating costs and seeing if the shortlines chase every small carload the Class I didn't want to. They take it all in interchange regardless, so a hedged bet on the shortline increasing the business could end up increasing CSX's margins vs. if they continued delivering door-to-door.
There's always possibility of them giving MC more territory, since they can dish off the Middleboro Secondary and the Old Colony main south of Braintree Yard while still keeping MC landlocked at both ends. That ends up washing their hands of everything that has a nearby shortline to outsource to. If that ever comes to pass then you will see freights on the Walpole-Mansfield segment of the Framingham Sec. decline from 2 round trips per day to only 1 round trip per day. That being the segment the T wants as a commuter rail hold, that's the sales pitch they lead with. They still need the Upper Sec. for the most lucrative business and the interchanges, but tell the state "If you want any of it you gotta buy all of it" and they fulfill HQ's mandate to convert everything that's not a mainline profit center to trackage rights. So who knows...they may be plotting 2 steps ahead on a further consolidation of their Eastern MA locals.