direct entanglements that passenger service has with PAR on rights or ownership are:
- Pan Am Southern self-ownership of Wachusett Extension. Fitchburg Station to Westminster Layover is the only non-Amtrak "foreign" territory the T uses on any schedule whatsoever. They have lifetime irrevocable trackage rights, but the ownership under their feet is still 50/50 PAR + NS. Pricey track, but it was always expected that this would be settled up at some point. No great rush, but sale may change that.
- Pan Am Southern dispatch: Freight Main overlap on Fitchburg Line, Willows Jct. in Ayer to Wachusett/Westminster. Major strategic hold; this will transact with PAS.
- Pan Am Southern dispatch: Conn River Line, Springfield-Northfield. Major strategic hold; will transact with PAS.
- Pan Am Railways dispatch: Freight Main overlap of Western Route, Lowell Jct. in Andover to state line/Plaistow Interlocking (end of double-track in NH / end of MBTA rights). Major strategic hold; will transact with PAR side of system.
- Freight main dispatch of Lowell-Nashua on NH Main. Only impacts T if Lowell Line extended, but major strategic hold because of Chelmsford-Lowell freight main overlap; will transact with PAR side of system.
- Pan Am Railways dispatch: Lowell Line, North Billerica to Lowell Station. Old residue to be sunset. Held by PAR for access to the long-gone Bleachery Yard complex near 495 that are abandoned and were transacted to MassDOT ownership in the GLX land swaps. Interlocking work planned to re-tie all track through Lowell Station under T dispatch. Hasn't been under any rush, but probably now has to be rushed because of 12/31 FRA deadline for installing cab signals on the Lowell Line.
- Worcester Main ownership. Lifetime irrevocable trackage rights for non-revenue moves were given to the T in the GLX land swaps. MassDOT had long planned to buy out the PAR ownership to control the head-butting between PAR and co-user CSX over the horrible maint standards on the line, give MA Water Resources Authority more direct control where ROW abuts Wachusett Reservoir. All reports are they agreed to terms last year and are just waiting for an opportune budget opening to transact. That may need to be sped up now. 98% a freight-enhancement thing...passenger coattails minimal except for alt-routed Grand Junction equipment swaps someday being able to take way less than 5 hours.
The main indirect
entanglement is simply PAR's brand of "slop ops", where their own schedule adherence is so intrinsically poor from under-staffing, lazy yard dispatching, etc. that they keep running out of crew hours and have to park in inconvenient places (like Somerville, or on a Downeaster passing siding). Nothing anyone can do about this, except get their rooting interests straight for the would-be buyers. *Most* RR's place high value on running on-time, so this shouldn't be a problem in the next regime. As for Somerville, anybody caring about new business has tons of opportunity to tap on the Lowell Line, at Everett, and with Massport such potential signees will be a big driver of sales price. So running on-time is not necessarily a zero-out of inside-128 storage needs. Rather, it means that building extra yard space in Everett or in a staging spot like Montvale (which is a three-quarters abandoned real freight yard) can increase business while keeping Somerville clean. Those are investments the state would consider doing under new ownership...but would not under the same PAR ownership because the new parking spots would just be over-temptation to be lazier (a genuine issue that's already bitten NNEPRA when their paid-for Downeaster passing tracks have been immediately misappropriated as parking lots for canned freight trains).
The T, thanks to the GLX land swaps, has lifetime irrevocable trackage rights to Concord, Plaistow, Wachusett, and Worcester-Ayer. MassDOT and Amtrak have free reign on the Conn River Line for whoever future-operates Knowledge Corridor service. MassDOT holds the Adams Branch now for Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's excursion service. And none of the self-owned industrial tracks have any passenger potential. The only potential new rights they might seek are on the Stony Brook Branch Ayer-Chelmsford and Lowell Branch Lowell-Andover as rainy-day backup routes for equipment moves, but those are not consequential passenger prospects and aren't going anywhere because they're big cogs on the Freight Main. The longstanding ban on cab signals across the northside has also mercifully fallen at last, with rush-installs underway now for Lowell and the other 3-1/2 lines scheduled for 2022 completion under an FRA delay waiver. That is a major relief, because northside & southside will finally at long last be following the same ops rulebook (ditto the Conn River if/when CR comes there).
For state investment who buys has a lot to say on whether double-stack clearances Ayer-Portland gets fast-tracked vs. (currently) slow-walked. MassDOT has way more self-owned territory and overhead bridges to help with than NHDOT or MEDOT, so that's a consequential CIP funding item for item. But the profit margins for the Portland intermodal lane are sky-high, so it'll be well worth it. That one will pay itself back in new revenues very quickly, much like the CSX investment. Other than Massport planning for the tracks in Eastie and Charlestown there's not much else to upgrade in Greater Boston. Maybe just finishing out some Lowell Line bridge replacements so it's uprated for industry-standard 286,000 lb. railcars (IIRC Winchester Ctr. Viaduct is the biggest blocker, and that's at least scheduled for full rebuild). Another might be trackbed-undercutting the Eastern Route under the Sullivan Sq. Cambridge St., Maffa Way, Mystic Ave. trio of bridges (one or more overdue for replacement anyway) so Everett Terminal can take Plate F/17 ft. tall cars where today it's just a hair short of that capacity. That might also affect electrification provisions for the Eastern, as they're going to have to do some undercutting of those bridges anyway to preserve the current Plate E freight clearances to the Everett turnout...but extremely minor project overall that doesn't rate as any inflection point for the TransitMatters plan.