by F-line to Dudley via Park
b&m 1566 wrote:People laughed off the rail trail for the Adirondack Scenic line way back in the beginning and it took a law suit in the 59th minute of the 11th hour to delay the trail and ultimately stop it (for now). NEGS maybe a common carrier but under contract with the state. With the uncertainty of NEGS future, the state may not have a common carrier operator very long, so then what? You start persuading law makers to find the trail to be more appealing, who knows what might happen at that point. All I'm saying is that the Clark family should take this as a serious threat and stay on top of it. If Mr. Dearness does sell NEGS, it might be in the Clark family's best interest to buy (probably more so now than ever in my mind).You can't pearl-clutch at an ADIX scenarios multiplying everywhere. Adirondack Scenic is a non-profit operating on trackage designated as a multi-use corridor before the railroad even came into existence. The railroad's hold over the corridor is unusually weak because of those terms, and so it fell victim to a novel attack vector.
NEGS, as described, is a common carrier, and Hobo is a for-profit whose profitability is directly tied to its ability to gain access to its common-carrier interchange for equipment exchanges (including outgoing, as they make money during the offseasons doing restoration work for other RR's at Lincoln Shops). NEGS's counter-claim would be open-shut. But even if NEGS didn't exist, Hobo's counter-claims would be very strong and likely get handed a win in court. ADIX has no such legal pillars to lean on, and is fighting their case entirely at the state level since they have no federal precedents to cite.
And this takes a wiiiiiiiiild assumption that because the trail lobby exists and Laconia is willing to light money on-fire for them, NHDOT is automatically in bed with them. On what evidence is NHDOT actually showing inclination to side with them on ripping up the tracks? They pay for infrastructure renewal on the White Mountain Branch that gets amortized by Hobo and NEGS revenues. Are they really going to chuck aside a line they're still annually paying for upkeep and incremental improvements? And CAN they legally chuck it a side by taking hostile action on trackage rights??? They'll get sued by trying to terminate NEGS's or Hobo's rights before their lease terms have expired, and that's just going to bleed the state money to fight with low-to-middling odds of success. And usually those trackage rights upon expiration have a stipulation that rights must immediately be put out to RFP for re-bid, or state laws mandating the same as a taxpayer protection from revenue-generating state assets getting pawned off for political favors. Not to mention...they'll get sued all the same by NEGS and/or Hobo if leases are allowed to involuntarily expire without a fair re-bid process. If there are operators willing to bid on the next trackage rights term, they legally have their hands tied from withholding the next RFP issuance. This is the state that issued a recent Mountain Div. freight RFP just to see if it could catch flies. Does anything about their actions suggest they're willing to go hostile on current carriers or discourage obligations to re-issue RFP's when a lease term is up?
Finally, WHO is going to lobby NHDOT to back this trail scheme? It's already an offseason snowmobile corridor, so that politically potent lobbying group has no dog in this fight. This is Laconia vs. the whole rest of the corridor. Is that tail really going to wag the Concord dog?
Was it not this freaking summer that the same exact "OMG! Adirondack Scenic is happening right in our backyard! They're gonna tear up the rails I just know it! PANIC!!!" played itself out on the Mass Coastal thread over the Falmouth Branch bike path NIMBY's? How'd that hysteria turn out? Pretty scary couple of minutes for the easily scared.
It's NOT going to happen. When the legalities back the RR's this strongly, the state is not going to see it worth it's while to chew money in court fighting the low-odds fight on behalf of the NIMBY's when the corridor is making the state money as-is. There's no upside in it for NHDOT to go to the mat as enthusiastically (and expensively) as they'd have to in order to have any chance at dislodging Hobo's and NEGS's counter-claims...assuming there's even a loophole where they can proceed. And if NHDOT is sanguine about that, then who is actually going to deliver the NIMBY's what they want?
Hysteria doesn't do anyone any good. Please THINK about what's being asked legally here before assuming the sky is inevitably going to fall. It is not an Adirondack Scenic waiting to happen. Just like Cape Rail last month wasn't an Adirondack Scenic waiting to happen.