I couldn't find a thread for this topic, but heard some intresting news from Plaistow. If there is somewher eelse this is more appropriate please move.
November 15, 2011
Plaistow leaders still have hopes for commuter rail
By Cara Hogan firstname.lastname@example.org
PLAISTOW — Town leaders are working on the next steps to bring a commuter rail station to the center of town by 2013.
Timothy Moore, chairman of the Planning Board, created a detailed, step-by-step process to completing the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority project.
"We met with the MBTA a couple of weeks ago and they're still on board," he said. "But a lot of things have to happen before that final agreement is in place."
The list includes three completed items, three in progress and 18 more tasks that have to be completed before the start of commuter rail service in Plaistow.
"It's good to have something on paper," Selectman John Sherman said, after looking at the list. "We've never put together a schedule like this before, to that level of detail."
Right now, the town is working on a letter of interest to send to various consulting firms to do environmental analysis and updated ridership surveys.
"The big one is environmental analysis," Moore said. "That should be done by the end of the year. Then, we choose the top three respondents and send out a Request for Proposals."
Many of the steps require a lot of paperwork and planning from town officials. But some of the biggest obstacles to the project are out of their control.
"If the Massachusetts Legislature doesn't allow the MBTA to operate in New Hampshire, we're not going anywhere," Moore said. "Or if the New Hampshire Legislature doesn't approve our use of (congestion mitigation and air quality) funds, we're stuck."
The town also has to fight against negative opinions from some residents who are concerned about the layover facility, with a planned location on the Plaistow/Atkinson line. In Bradford, Mass., and other towns, the facility created noise and fumes while the diesel trains ran overnight, bothering nearby residents.
But Moore said when he visited the Scituate, Mass., commuter rail station two weeks ago, he saw how a newer station keeps these issues to a minimum.
"That layover facility has the latest technology," he said. "In the evening, when the train is lodged overnight, within five or six minutes, they turn the train off and plug into an electric facility that keeps the diesel engine warm. The engine does not have to run overnight, even in normal winter weather."
Selectman Michelle Curran asked Moore whether there were any times the trains might still be running late at night.
"If it is a really cold evening, would they be inclined to leave the train idling?" she asked.
But Moore said diesel is expensive, so it's in the MBTA's best interest to stop running trains at night. He said to further improve the station, Scituate installed 16-foot sound barriers and there have been no complaints from neighbors.
Selectmen are planning another, unannounced trip to Scituate to see the station early in the morning.
"I think we need to look at the most up-to-date facility," Selectmen's Chairman Daniel Poliquin said.
The board will continue to work on the project over the next couple of years, Sherman said.
"2013 is a possible time frame," he said. "The schedule may change."