New Haven 1 wrote:It seems really ironic at this point , but, I would put the B&M' s wheelright branch which was is now the Norwottuck Rail Trail in this category.
Certainly could have a potential, but what routing do you intend to have it route to Boston? The Central Mass. Branch between Wheelwright and West Boylston was abandoned in '39 after the Hurricane of '38 (hence the creation of the Wheelwright Branch), so you couldn't take that all the way (that section of the line was fairly tortuous topographically, even moreso than it's northern and southern comparisons of the Fitchburg Main and the B&A Main). So even if you still did have the Wheelwright Branch, you'd probably have to route your way into South Station via NECR to Palmer and then via the B&A.
And to evaluate the rebuilding of Northampton-Amherst, you'd want to consider if going Northampton-Amherst would be worth the cost of doing so. Although there is obviously a huge amount of inter-travel between the two places (much of which has a higher potential to use public traffic), if you consider your goal to connect those cities to Boston and relieve MA-9 traffic also between Worcester and Amherst, you might find using the fully functional lines adequate; with the extension of commuter service west through Palmer to Springfield, Northampton can be connected with the Pioneer Valley CR, and Amherst could be connected with the Knowledge Corridor service on the NECR. More roundabout for Northampton, but more feasible and has more versatility.
Now, more on-topic and ALSO related to the unlucky Central Mass. Branch is the Hampden Railroad. While never opened and no trains ever running on it, it was
built, so I think that counts as an abandonment. It was a victim of the antitrust campaign against J.P. Morgan's quest to unite his New Haven Railroad with the B&M; I can't say I disagree with the antitrust case, but it's ironic that the one thing that could've opened New England up to a little more competition (on the Boston to Springfield corridor) ended up not happening because of it. The main reason I bring it up here, is that if this happened, you could run some NEC trains to North Station using the Central Mass. instead of going to South Station via the B&A. Or just commuter rail from Springfield to North Station. Regardless, both the Central Massachusetts and Hampden Branches both could have prospered much more, particularly because of their high building standards... but the Central Mass. has had bad luck throughout its entire lifespan: it was originally to be part of a route to Harrisburg via what became the Lehigh & New England, but middle section between Northampton to the Poughkeepsie Bridge never materialized. So without that or the Hampden, it didn't really have much use as a through route, hence why passenger service was largely abandoned in the 1930s.
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