• Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

  • Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.
Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

Moderator: MEC407

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  by jaymac
 
If this truly is an AMTRAK project and if AMTRAK has any memory of complications from spongy sub-strata that complicated the Downeaster rebuild, then probably the first step might be to wait for core-sampling to determine areas in need of special treatment.
Anybody want to start a pool on whether there'll be a #115 v. #132 debate? If so, my guess is the Prancing Pony part of PAS might be less likely to look a gift rehab in the mouth, as long as it's 286K-capable.
  by MEC407
 
Funny you should mention that... I still have photos of the workers frantically trying to shore up the overhead bridge in Kennebunk as it was sinking into the clay. They ended up digging up a lot of the clay and replacing it with concrete. Apparently nobody thought that would be a problem when they did the initial track rehab. Amazing how much time and money they could've saved if they'd done a little preliminary research and testing. And then there was the fight over who owned the bridge, B&M or the town.

It would be amusing it history repeated itself with a contentious 115-vs-132 debate. Remember when the FRA ruled (after extensive testing) that 115 was fine, and then Guilford changed course and said "OK, what we really need is an extra foot of ballast"? Ahhh memories! :-D
  by gokeefe
 
I'm not sure how involved anyone in MA or VT has been with PAR regarding this rehabilitation project but I cannot even begin to fathom the possibility that the host railroad was not consulted. In fact I would say more likely than not they were as they probably produced the cost estimate that was used as the basis for the grant.

I would also remind everyone that PAR management is certainly not averse to making their opinion about certain passenger related projects and visions. New Hampshire has experienced that recently when they chose to simultaneously attempt to develop good relations with PAR for passenger purposes while at the same time aggravating them by interfereing with PARs attempts to resume service over previously leased segements of their RoW.
  by gokeefe
 
MEC,

Who did in fact own the bridge town or the railroad? I'm suspecting town with rights of way granted by the railroad but I think that might be a more modern accomodation. Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if it was the R.R.

I really don't think we'll see a rehash of 115# vs 132#, first because I think the cost estimate came from PAR and second I think they've made a strategic shift in their company to cooperative relationships with jurisdictons seeking passenger service with Amtrak. PAR obviously has a lot of history with Amtrak and the Conn River Line. I can't imagine at this point they would want to switch to an adversarial mode again, although you can be almost certain they would if they thought their rights and interests were being damaged.

New Hampshire again provides an excellent illustration of this point. Once NH decided that they were going to at once demand cooperation on commuter service and at the same time interfere with PARs rights as a private landowner and a common carrier railroad things went south fast.
  by MEC407
 
You know, I can't remember what the outcome of that issue was. Originally the bridge, along with almost all roadway bridges over B&M and MEC lines, was owned by the railroad. At some point in time (before Guilford), most of the bridges were transferred to municipal ownership. Kennebunk said they had proof that the railroad still owned it, but I can't remember if they were able to produce that proof or not. Conversely, I'm not sure if Guilford was able to produce proof that they didn't own it. They may have worked out some kind of compromise on paying for the new bridge, but I can't recall any of the details. There were a lot of articles about it in the York County Coast Star newspaper, some of which might still be available on their web site, or if not, perhaps via archive.org.

The bridge had needed to be replaced several years before the Downeaster upgrade began, but there was a lot of fighting between the town and the railroad about what kind of bridge it would be -- the railroad wanted something high enough to clear double stacks, and the town didn't want that because it would have seriously screwed up the road and made it extremely difficult for nearby homeowners to get out of their driveways, due to how much elevation the approaches would need. The town talked about a drawbridge that would go up whenever a train was coming through, but that quickly got shot down as too complicated and expensive. The discussion was shelved for a while, but one day the bridge started sinking rapidly and had to be immediately demolished. Someone -- Army Corps of Engineers, maybe? -- came in shortly thereafter and erected a temporary bridge, and then construction commenced on a new permanent bridge. Which I assume is now owned and maintained by the town. It's a bit higher than the old bridge, but still not high enough for double stacks.
  by gokeefe
 
That bridge must be one of the few clearance limitations for PAR in Maine. I can't imagine there are many other places on the line where a road overpass limits the vertical clearance. Are they really letting just one or maybe two or three bridge get in the way of double stack operations through Maine? I understand in MA it's different story entirely because of the Hoosac Tunnel but I am nonetheless surprised they even brought it up. Perhaps they were just trying to plan for the future.

Sounds to me like when push comes to shove they're going to reinstall an at-grade crossing.
  by KSmitty
 
Interesting story there, I had no clue that the railroads did at one point own the road bridges over them. Though this makes sense, we dont have cable on my road below the tracks, from what I understand it is in part because the cable company doesn't want to pay rent to PAR for the use of space, though I can't confirm this.

As for double stacks I have a very difficult time believing that there would ever be enough traffic into or out of the state of Maine to demand double stack services. the biggest market in Maine is what, Bangor or Portland? I see neither one of these locations supporting double stacks. It just isnt feasible for a state with roughly 1/8 the population of NYC to support that type of volume. The only real rail traffic of any volume into and out of the state is paper and that is slowly dying.

To me it sounds like another attempt for PAR to delay expenses, the longer you fight it the longer you put off paying for it.
  by gokeefe
 
KSmitty wrote:Interesting story there, I had no clue that the railroads did at one point own the road bridges over them.
I think that happened because the railroads wanted the bridges in place and the towns didn't care and weren't going to pay for them. Keep in mind this is pre-1930's roadwork we're talking about, very little federal or even state involvment at that point.
KSmitty wrote:As for double stacks I have a very difficult time believing that there would ever be enough traffic into or out of the state of Maine to demand double stack services.
I believe they were trying to capture bridge traffic from Halifax and elsewhere. They did at one time have intermodal services out of Waterville. These might actually resume if they could get double stack clearance. The number of paper mills is in fact slowly decreasing however the output remains constant because of modernization and productivity improvements. Most shipping they have in mind is certainly for outbound products.
  by MEC407
 
gokeefe wrote:That bridge must be one of the few clearance limitations for PAR in Maine. I can't imagine there are many other places on the line where a road overpass limits the vertical clearance. Are they really letting just one or maybe two or three bridge get in the way of double stack operations through Maine? I understand in MA it's different story entirely because of the Hoosac Tunnel but I am nonetheless surprised they even brought it up. Perhaps they were just trying to plan for the future.

Sounds to me like when push comes to shove they're going to reinstall an at-grade crossing.
They considered an at-grade crossing, but that would have been even worse than a high bridge in terms of what it would do to the nearby homes. And the road is busy enough that traffic would get backed up onto nearby Route 1. I think the grade crossing idea lasted for all of two seconds. :wink:

I think you'd actually be surprised at how many overhead clearance issues they have in Maine. It's more than two or three, I can tell you that. I can think of at least three or four just on the B&M between South Berwick and Rigby. I'm sure there are a few on the MEC as well. Some of these, perhaps even all of them, could be be fixed by undercutting the track... but as was the case in Kennebunk, undercutting can get you into a lot of trouble if you're not careful... and part of the reason why they couldn't do as much undercutting in Kennebunk as they wanted to do was because the railroad crosses two bridges less than a mile east of where it goes under the road bridge, and so you'd be creating quite a sudden incline unless you lowered those two bridges as well, and I'm not sure if that's feasible or even possible.

Anyway, I suspect that half the reason they wanted a bridge with double stack clearance was to make the line more attractive to anyone who might want to buy it in the future, rather than because they actually needed (or might someday need) double stack clearance. Just my personal opinion, of course.
  by KSmitty
 
gokeefe wrote: I believe they were trying to capture bridge traffic from Halifax and elsewhere. They did at one time have intermodal services out of Waterville. These might actually resume if they could get double stack clearance. The number of paper mills is in fact slowly decreasing however the output remains constant because of modernization and productivity improvements. Most shipping they have in mind is certainly for outbound products.
Yes, this is possible though I see little feasibility in that idea. CN has a monopoly on the port of Halifax (I think this was discussed on the MMA board) and so why would they want to ship Chicago bound goods through Maine when they could go port to loading dock on CN. There isn't very many places CN cant go, and where they cant get to I would assume they would preffer to interchange with CSX/NS or BNSF/UP one time than have the traffic go to NBSR then PAR then NS. Its good thinking on PAR's part to want that business, but remember thats bridge traffic that runs at low profit margin.

And for clearance issues in Maine, The mainline through Lewiston/Auburn runs under the interstate, I would imagine that some of these bridges are low enough to prevent any double stack operations. Also if through traffic from Halifax were the goal the interstate bridges up in the Bangor area might also prove to be problematic.

Now that I've gotten all off track, I'll try to pull it back.
Back to the original post, Gokeefe, those ties they dumped in Winthrop a while back, have they done anything with them or maybe dropped more?
  by gokeefe
 
KSmitty wrote:Back to the original post, Gokeefe, those ties they dumped in Winthrop a while back, have they done anything with them or maybe dropped more?
Actually I noticed them again the other day. Main Street was partially closed at the crossing a few weeks ago during the day due to railroad work. I've been starting to wonder if this is part of a grade crossing rehabilitation project. It looks to me as if there would be just enough for Summer St., Central St., and Main Street.

We'll find out in the Spring.
  by KSmitty
 
Hmm, sounds as though that may be it, they have redone quite a few crossings in the area in the last few years.

Your right we'll have to wait and see.
  by gokeefe
 
Looks like PAR scored on capital funds again.

The TIGER grants awarded by USDOT included the 'Fitchburg Extension' of the MBTA over PAS tracks. 'Track Improvements' are included as part of the package. Exact amount for track improvements is not clear at this time.

USDOT TIGER Grants
  by gokeefe
 
I'm bringing this thread up to ask some questions specifically about PAR (as opposed to PAS) MoW activity.

Lately it seems that PAR has been on something of a "campaign" (if you can call it that) to restore incremental business that they had previously walked away from years ago. Some of this business comes from branch lines that had not seen service in years if not decades. Indeed several areas PAR has either restored service, reactivated or is actively restoring track that had been largely dormant.

1. Just exactly how much more mileage does PAR have that they could potentially place back in service?

2. Are there any indications that PAR is planning on further reactivations anywhere else in their system which have not been mentioned elsewhere?

Thus far I have seen or noted the following discussed in the forums:

1. Lewiston Industrial Track (new customer/service restoration)
2. "The Canal Line" in CT (additional trackwork and service restoration)
3. Billerica & Bedford (reactivation)
4. Spurs and sub-branches on the Portsmouth Branch (service restoration/return to service for old customer(s))
5. East Boston Branch (reactivation/ projected service restoration & rehabilitation)
6. Worcester Main (rehabilitation)
7. Back Road (trackwork and some relay rail CWR)

All of the above appears to be self-funded for the most part with minimal participation by NS (if any).

Is this a correct assessment of the trend?
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Canal is still nominally in service past AmeriGas to the former Pratt & Whitney plant. Regular brush-cutting and whatnot. Town of Southington has been trying for years to attract a rail tenant there. If they found one a train could go there tomorrow. It's only west of Aircraft Rd. approaching Spring St. where it's a little overgrown. But it's almost nil chance that there'll ever be a customer at Spring St. They're holding it for the PW plant only.

Peabody's a similar situation. Town has never given up trying to lure a customer back to the industrial park. The increase in business at former-Eastman brightens that possibility a little. Although that track would need a little fixing to get going again.

East Boston they're definitely trying to attract more after Global is online. That's a strategic one. Pease stub in Portsmouth too is another one that they'd probably love to get going. Worcester Branch...eh, that one they're going to try to bait the state for track improvements. It's up for 286K in the MA state rail plan so the deplorable track conditions are "useful" in the sense that they can bang the tin cup for some public investment.


They're pretty much at their idealized network now, so only makes sense to start putting effort into maxing these lines. Only ones that I could see getting consigned to abandonment now are the OOS Lowell Industrial track (barter to state for Bleachery interlocking improvements, let the Bruce Freeman Trail extend to downtown), Medford Branch (maintaining 2 deliveries a year hard to justify with their Boston ops getting constrained by the Green Line construction), M&L (kaput), and trackage rights on the MBTA Reading Line since they're unlikely to want to fish for any new customers on a line that restricted in height and width clearances. Also don't think they're going to be interested in signing on anybody new on the Fitchburg Line east of Ayer save for maintaining service to Veryfine and running the ethanol trains overhead. There simply aren't any industrial properties left in those 'burbs anywhere along the line. And then the persistent question of does it make sense to operate at all in CT beyond the Springfield Line, or can they leverage more value dishing Highland + Canal + Waterbury-Derby rights to CSO in exchange for more interchange carloads.
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