• Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum (BSRM) Thread

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  • 249 posts
  • 1
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 17
  by steamer69
 
frrc wrote:Consider Colin Pease who works for the Housatonic, used to work for Guilford....
So that's why the place is going to pot..... ;-)
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Dick H wrote:If the HRRC did go under, not just some bankruptcy while reorganizing,
MA and CT probably would work to get a new operator. However, with
two states involved, it might take a while and a long shutdown of service
probably would decimate the remaining shippers. As was mentioned, the
P&W would likely be interested. Mr. Billiveau of the CNZR might be
interested if it was a "designated operator" situation. The CNZR has
operated a few passenger specials on the "Griffin Line" and the P&W
operates a number of passenger specials every year, so they probably
would be open to an agreement with the BSRM to operate on the line.
Or, if CSO were able to acquire the Berlin-Waterbury-Derby branchlines from a disinterested PAS I could see RailAmerica being interested in it. Figure what chess pieces are set in motion by their throwing their hat in and acquiring those routes:
-- RailAmerica wants tighter NECR and CSO integration to serve the Canadian gateway. PAS likely gets more lucrative business as pass-through carrier between NECR and CSO than it does running the off-Springfield Line branchlines itself only once per week. That's their motivation for making a deal for rights to Derby, and CSO's new Hartford engine house seems to be setting up this eventuality as it's their only viable path to territory expansion.
-- Get to Derby, and if Housatonic is available at a decent price they can shoot for a contiguous V-shaped circuit owning Central CT, with CSX interchanges at both ends. And between NECR and CSO near-parity with P&W at divvying up the majority of CT business.
-- 286K Pittsfield-Derby. P&W can already get every-other-car 286K to Cedar Hill in New Haven, uprated to every car when they get the last of the New London main up to spec. That leaves only the short Metro North territory 263K gap between NH and Derby from a contiguous U-shaped cross-state 286K circuit with each of the two carriers having a heavyweight CSX exchange at the ends. Not sure if the ongoing 4th track restoration work by MNRR cuts the 263K gap mileage in half or not, but that stretch doesn't traverse any of the movable bridges so is a pretty easy one to plug. Would leverage the P&W partnership as a heavyweight pass-through between NECR and CSO.
-- If the CT River bridge on the Springfield Line gets rehab and the state can negotiate less punitive per-car rates with Amtrak then CSO (and CNZR) get a 286K pipeline on that end of their systems as well, feeding the current Hartford-area branchlines that are already 286K-rated. The gap between Hartford and Derby would remain until Hartford Viaduct (and by extension the I-84 Viaduct + RR relocation plan) gets resolved and all of the PAS territory gets uprated...a long time from now. But they would be able to negotiate the gap by getting deep penetration with heavyweights into the heart of the state on either end.
-- They have sellable assets to defray some of the acquisition cost. The Suffield/Bradley Branch and Manchester Secondary are pieces the state would dearly want as 15-30 year commuter rail holds. And any wholesale acquisition of PAS or Housy territory I would think would come with immediate sale of line ownership to the state (either by the departing party or immediately flipped by the buying party) in exchange for track improvements. The state very much wanting the Berkshire to New Milford as a Danbury Line commuter rail hold, the Highland as a Hartford-Waterbury CR hold, the Maybrook west of Danbury for MNRR future considerations, and Maybrook Danbury-Derby to stabilize a multi-carrier interchange route.


That's a sequence of moves that has some plausibility and upside, albeit dependent on the ownership fate of the PAS branches. But even if a state-sponsored carrier took over the Berkshire I still think RailAmerica is going to be in the mix positioning itself to take advantage and match wits with P&W...who already quite badly wants the Maybrook to Danbury.


The main problems here are:

1) The repair bill on Housy is staggering. Their itemized needs list on the State Rail Plan (p. 205 of the PDF) is $165M, all of it rather mundane SGR work and trying to prop up the transload facility. NECR ($38M), P&W ($49M), and PAS ($48M) combined are a full $30M less than that. For carriers that do a combined 10 times more annual tonnage than Housy. What is the justification for investing in that other than a full-on bailout to avoid losing the line? Any carrier that bids on it, beyond P&W firming up control of Derby-Danbury, has got to have truly grand long-term visions of how it's going to develop business. Otherwise the state's going to have to be willing to take a bath on infrastructure upgrades for purpose of do-no-harm to Western CT's freight economy. Which may be necessary when push comes to shove, but it sure ain't an attractive choice.

2) Given who's in charge of the company, how much do they overvalue themselves and how insolvent do they have to get before they'd offer a fair selling price. Their management is clearly living in la-la land and would ask for the moon. There won't be any suitors as long as they're living in their own delusions of grandeur. We have no idea how much debt they're in, either. And would going bankrupt even encourage rational business behavior on their part? Would they be radioactive right to the end. I seriously wonder if they're going to have to be a ward of the state and have to have taxpayers absorb their debts before liquidating them and getting a new carrier in on palatable terms. The bottom-line rules in business are at least rational. And there's nothing more toxic than a business acting so irrationally it gives no outward signs of believing the the bottom-line rules apply to them.



That's just a lot of thinking outside the box there in this post. At minimum I'll hedge on this being an interesting drama to watch for the next few years to its inevitably messy conclusion. The Guilford business strategy sure doesn't work when you don't have Guilford-level reserves of captive business to piss off to begin with. This carrier's got a pretty short run-up to throwing itself off the cliff, but it seems to be doing it with gusto.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Ale Rider1 wrote:It has been a long time since I checked in on the Housatonic - maybe ten years? What happened? They seemed to be doing decent business then, and seemed to be well regarded amongst the 'fan' community ( I know that really means nothing) . I recall them even submitting with CDOT to operate the Griffin Line - when that was being rebuilt. What would happen to the line if the Housatonic ultimately failed? Abandonment? Take over by another RR? - The P&W would make sense....

I think we're getting a little far afield of the original topic, which was Housatonic's refusal to allow Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum to operate passenger trains over their rails. To guess the corporate fate of Housatonic is a bit premature, in my opinion.

-otto-
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Backshophoss wrote:Oh Joy,"internal politics". Thats not good for Berkshire Scenic RY. The best anyone can do now is try to visit the museum,depot grounds, and the gift shop to help them out.
The museum grounds will open on May 26, any support would be appreciated.

Details at: http://berkshirescenicrailroad.org/

-otto-
  by Jeff Smith
 
Two articles. I'm going to qualify this post by saying that you really need to read the entire article at the source. I've tried to provide the best context I could.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_205362 ... ic-railway
LENOX -- The recent breakdown of negotiations between the Housatonic Railroad Co. and the Berkshire Scenic Railway to continue scenic railroad excursions between Lenox and Stockbridge has drawn fire from state officials.

Responding to inquiries from The Eagle, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation placed blame for the impasse on Housatonic Railroad, while citing the value it has placed on "the public-private relationship" it has had with the privately owned freight line headquartered in Canaan, Conn., and owned by John Hanlon of Sheffield.

In a statement re leased by DOT's press secretary, Sara Lavoie, the agency cited letters it has written to support Housatonic Railroad's effort to win a $23 million grant to spur development of proposed passenger service be tween Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn., with a link to the Metro North commuter line in Brewster, N.Y.

...

The DOT statement expressed support for the "nonprofit work of the Berkshire Scenic [Railway] group and recognizes [the scenic railway rides] as a significant tourist asset for the region."

...

But last August, Green said, the railway museum based in Lenox Dale received an email claiming that a Housatonic Railroad employee "heard something wrong" with a locomotive wheel. The wheel was inspected, no issue was discovered, and Berkshire Scenic responded with that information, Green said.

...

According to a document from the Federal Railroad Administration, which oversees all lines, Berkshire Scenic got a clean bill of safety -- no derailments, equipment failures or personnel injuries.

"We had one injury in 2008, the only one in our history of carrying thousands of people -- one of our passengers sprained a previously injured ankle while getting off a coach in Stockbridge," Green stated.

According to the documents, Housatonic Railroad filed a complaint against Berkshire Scenic; a resulting inspection on Aug. 12, 2011, uncovered no violations, only minor suggested repairs to two locomotives that involved no violations.
ANother briefer article: http://hudsonvalley.ynn.com/content/top ... rail-tour/
  by steamer69
 
Wow....Who peed in HHRC's wheeties....
  by Otto Vondrak
 
http://hudsonvalley.ynn.com/content/top ... rail-tour/

Fair use quote follows:
The railroad company got $3.7 million in track upgrades and cash, in exchange for letting the museum use the tracks. The easement expired in 2009, though leaders agreed to a two year detention, which expired last December. In a statement to YNN, Massachusetts Department of Transportation reps say, in part, "at this time the Housatonic has made it clear to us that it is unwilling to negotiate."

In the meantime, the railway museum, which hasn't any safety violations, has been forced to figure out something new.
  by JRG
 
In response to statements and allegations made by Colin Pease and John Hanlon of the Housatonic Railroad quoted in today's Berkshire Eagle:

The Board of Directors, members and volunteers of the BSRM are shocked and in disbelief that these two men have made these false statements. We thank all of you for your show of support over the last week; we ask that you continue to support us, stand-by us and trust that we will work tirelessly to be sure that the true facts are made public. BSRM will not permit our reputation to be tarnished or disparaged. BSRM has not and will not operate equipment in an unsafe manner or condition. We have complied with all applicable Federal Railroad Administration Regulations and we'll prove it. For those of you who are familiar with the background and experience of our directors, officers and mechanical staff, I hope you understand why these statements, comments and allegations are absurd and outrageous. We take these false allegations seriously and will treat them as such.

Jay R. Green, J.D.
Board of Directors
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, Inc.
  by steamer69
 
Jay,
I would hamer them hard for this.....these acusations are flat out wrong and false. I have now lost any and all respect for the HHRC, and I hope that you guys prove them to be the frauds that they are. When I was down to visit, everything was very well maintained, and looking cared for. This is disgusting behavior from them. We (not just me) support you, and please keep is informed if there is anything that we can do for you (like writing letters to your representatives or a like). I for one have no issues helping you in this situation.

Steamer
  by Dick H
 
"Housatonic Railroad cites safety issues with Berkshire Scenic"
The Berkshire Eagle wrote:Housatonic Railroad Co. executives fired back on Thursday in their first public explanation of why they declined to extend the agreement enabling the Berkshire Scenic Railway to offer trips between Lenox and Stockbridge, saying the nonprofit had ongoing safety problems.

"We've looked through their inspection records and came to the conclusion that there is an ongoing systemic failure in safety on the Berkshire Scenic," Housatonic Railroad Vice President Colin Pease told The Eagle. "The liability becomes overwhelming."

Pamela R. Green, an attorney for Berkshire Scenic, said the claims are "completely and totally false."
http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_205453 ... ire-scenic
Last edited by MEC407 on Fri May 04, 2012 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: added a short fair-use quote from the article
  by Dick H
 
Hanlan and Pease have "lowered the boom" on the safety violations issue.
See the article from the Berkshire Eagle in the Housatonic RR thread.
  by JRG
 
In response to statements and allegations made by Colin Pease and John Hanlon of the Housatonic Railroad quoted in today's Berkshire Eagle:

The Board of Directors, members and volunteers of the BSRM are shocked and in disbelief that these two men have made these false statements. We thank all of you for your show of support over the last week; we ask that you continue to support us, stand-by us and trust that we will work tirelessly to be sure that the true facts are made public. BSRM will not permit our reputation to be tarnished or disparaged. BSRM has not and will not operate equipment in an unsafe manner or condition. We have complied with all applicable Federal Railroad Administration Regulations and we'll prove it. For those of you who are familiar with the background and experience of our directors, officers and mechanical staff, I hope you understand why these statements, comments and allegations are absurd and outrageous. We take these false allegations seriously and will treat them as such.

Jay R. Green, J.D.
Board of Directors
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, Inc.
  by steamer69
 
I read the article, and i have a question....I've been railroading for 15 years, and have seen what happens when you lie about (or to) the FRA. HHRC has got balls of steel to be doing this, because if what Berkshire says is true, and there are no violations.....someone has got some seriouse questions to answer. So WTF OVER? Either the wheels were condemed, or they weren't.....either the cut lever was busted or it wasn't.....either there was a fuel leak or there wasn't....I would say that the glass house of HHRC should NOT be throwing stones.....

Very bad form on a PR sence, and just plain nasty in a business sence.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Dick H wrote:"Housatonic Railroad cites safety issues with Berkshire Scenic"

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_205453 ... ire-scenic
Dick, you forgot to provide a brief excerpt of the article you're linking to. Let me help you out:
Housatonic Railroad President John Hanlon, calling the liability issue "huge," was responding to a state Department of Transportation statement issued Wed nesday that "no evidence of continuing safety violations with Berkshire Scenic’s operation has been presented to us."

"That doesn’t mean they have knowledge; they didn’t inspect them," Hanlon asserted. In response to a Federal Railway Administration (FRA) finding that there have been no derailments, equipment failures or personnel issues, Hanlon contended that the regulatory agency has not provided documents and records of comprehensive inspections on the Scenic Railway’s equipment.
Apparently, the HRRC is saying that they have more authority than the FRA?

-otto-
  • 1
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 17