Open access is not legally possible here. Everything is contractual entanglements layered upon contractual entanglements. The only places you have open-access are where the state bought a line out from under a carrier...the carrier eventually opted out of its trackage rights...and the state's recruitment of new trackage rights was on renewable contract. That's how the Cape Cod lines work. Conrail sold out the Cape Main + Falmouth Branch and some industrial track flotsam in Taunton to MassDOT in 1982 with intent to get out of the nothingburger business there as soon as the state could recruit a replacement shortline. Bay Colony was recruited on a 10-year deal...then got reupped. Come the 2002-03 contract renewal Bay Colony ended up getting outbid by Cape Rail (the dinner train folks) who pitched a brand new freight carrier, Mass Coastal. They won the bid...Bay Colony was out. The next 10-year renewal is coming, and now that Cape Rail's ownership situation has recently stabilized they're a rubber-stamp shoo-in because they've gone above and beyond the call helping the state out with Cape Flyer track upgrades and other odd jobs as a construction outsource.I don't think that Transitmatters is wrong when the say that turning Pan Am into a sort of "New England Network Rail" is a good idea. They are wrong that it's a necessary step to creating good passenger service (as F-line and others have pointed out), but an open-access railway has a good chance of quickly improving freight service for all of New England.
Also, whoever buys Pan Am is going to need so much money to solve the many years of deferred maintenance that some of that is going to have to come from governments. Giving said governments a stake in how that money is spent is only fair, and cuts down on graft.
Almost more importantly, open access would be a valuable experiment. While we in New England may be blessed with freight roads that are nice to our passenger trains, not everywhere is.
While in general I support governments securing RoWs and leasing them to operators, I have questions.Legislators cited in the open letter a Massachusetts law that provides the state with a right of first refusal for the sale of any railroad within the state.www.masslive.com
No, they do not. RR's being federally regulated means you have to prove some over-the-top negligence to initiate eminent domain, such as Amtrak taking Guilford/Pan Am to court in the 1980's over deplorable Conn River Line track conditions for the Montrealer. They lost that one in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Guaranteed that if 1985's Conn River Line ruination didn't rise to the standard, absolutely nothing on the 'okay'-condition Patriot Corridor would ever meet the standard for forced top-down action. The feds are resolute about that.While in general I support governments securing RoWs and leasing them to operators, I have questions.
a) Does the Commonwealth have the power to forcibly split Pan Am's assets into desirables and not, as MA can't buy it's out of state trackage, and isnt going to buy the operating business?. . .
PAR is all-private, so there wouldn't be a stock sale. However, the Patriot Corridor is 50/50 PAR and Norfolk Southern, so is already an unwieldy beast for transactioning. But it's still moot, because the state can't force-initiate anything. If Norfolk Southern ends up buying out PAR's 50%, selling its 50% to whoever buys out PAR, or keeping a 50/50 with somebody else...it's same as before. Premier shipping lane = pay the premium asking price or GTFO. But the complications with the freight ownership stakes here means under no circumstances do they want to float any buy ideas until well AFTER the transaction. If one party--and possibly a Class I at that--ends up walking away with it all, public buy gets greatly simplified. PAR is trying to goose the asking price for its premier corporate asset; right now would be far and away the most inflated the price will be.b) If Pan Am structures their sale as a stock sale, and not an asset sale, I don't think the law cited applies, as the company remains extant as a subsidiary of whoever buys it and in control of its RoWs; only it's ownership change hands.
They have "funding" to magically buy any ROW if there's a serious viability threat to it. But no...this is an awfully low-value passenger prospect for the sky-high asking price, let alone as a pre- PAR sale rush job. This line, thanks to the PAS partnership, is in more secure shape than it's been in 35 years. It's not under any threat of being "Guilforded". And it's not like buying the B&A to upgrade it where that's going to enable 8 AMTK Inland round-trips, BOS-MTL, enhanced Springfield hubbage with ConnDOT, and East-West all in the coattails of one expensive buy while CSX gets satiated with "pimp my yard" quid pro quo's in West Springfield and 60 MPH freight running speeds to pad their profit margins. This North Adams "Flyer" thingy is an extremely marginal passenger proposal, and the only service pattern of any kind that would trawl past Wachusett. It's been poorly studied, and is likely going to have to fit into a very constrained space for farebox recovery because the line is geometrically so curvy and maintained to a much slower freight speed limit than would make any passenger trip tolerable.c) does the State have the funding capacity to actually buy Pan Am's in state assets?
Norfolk Southern's 50% is all over the federal record, but PAR being Tim Mellon's wholly-private plaything...yep, thar be dragons. Until the sale is hashed out in agonizingly slow fashion in front of the Surface Transportation Board for purposes of transacting to the 99% likely publicly-traded buyer (be it a Class I RR or a capital/bank-backed partnership), we have no fucking idea what PAR is actually made of.d) No clue on how it handles partial ownership, as with PAS. Basically, this law has a lot of unaccounted for nuances.
Timetable keeps getting pushed back. No offer has been "officially" made until it gets submitted to the Surface Transportation Board. Speculation still runs wild as ever, but in practicality this was always going to be a slow process. Latest rumor is that the hedge funds are more involved than before, but these are leaks from the same 'insiders' who were saying "Print it! It's Canadian National" 2 months ago. All that's proven is what we've known all along: Tim Mellon can/will do whatever the fuck he wants, for however as long as he personally needs it to take him. Even if something gets announced in Oct., the STB meat grinder is going to ensure that it'll be well into 2021 before we know who gets the (train) keys.e) this sale broke in July. The state is required to give a response to any offer within 90 days, or it is treated as an automatic refusal. . .
Just in time for a new condo development to get greenlit near the Environmental Dr. sand transloading spot Tresca used. How much you wanna bet the developers were like "Oh, this line will be abandoned by the time we start leasing and the trail plans will be proceeding. Bank it!"In an interesting development, Bay Colony got out the brush cutter this week on the moribund Millis Branch! The 1701 was moved east under the RT27 bridge out of the way. There are also rumors of work on trestle after the brush cutting is done. No active customers and no moves, I think, for almost a year or so. Also in play at Rumor Control is the possibility of Tresca using rail again and some sort of transformer move.
He backed into being self-made with his own autobiography, too...on account of it being so toxic in its descriptions of black people that there wasn't a publisher in the land who would touch it with a radiation suit, so he had to release it himself. For only $9 funneled to some charity with a donor list you're probably better off going to sleep not knowing, you too can own a PDF copy of His Story!"Enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people"
--Andrew Mellon to President Hoover, sometime following the onset of the Great Depression
"Um... ditto that [I think?]"
--Andrew's grandson Timothy
By the way I just checked out his Wiki page. Sweet Jesus, his politics make Randolph (Randy) & Mortimer Duke look like humanitarians of the year.