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F-Line to Dudley

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Thinking it's going to be the restoration of this siding just north of the Route 117 bridge crossingView attachment 8557.
That's the yard at Fitchburg Sec. end-of-track, which does miscellaneous set-offs for couple customers who side-load to truck. Probably not that siding because the Hannaford Supermarket and Northgate Plaza Shopping Center took up residence in the adjacent former factory. The choicest rail-accessible parcels are just south of the 117 overpass where you literally can't spit without hitting a derelict siding switch.

Possibly it's the dirt parcel of a brand new building going up on Tanzio Rd. because Google shows a couple assembled track panels for a brand new switch sitting next to the ROW at that property. Last year's new signee is on Fuller St. (Google showing 4 cars spotted on their loading dock); prior to them coming the yard set-offs were the only biz left on the final 6 miles of track past Bestway Lumber in Sterling south of 190 Exit 6. It's a mystery why CSX Marketing suddenly reversed itself into give-a-shit mode way up here after 20 years of total indifference, but it's welcome to see given that the land use and highway proximity is pitch-perfect for rail-accessible light industry.
 

BostonTrainGuy

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Possibly it's the dirt parcel of a brand new building going up on Tanzio Rd. because Google shows a couple assembled track panels for a brand new switch sitting next to the ROW at that property.
No. That's the new United Materials Management C&D company that is the biggest reason that the line has had this huge renaissance. Here is a video of it being serviced with brand new cars:

 

BostonUrbEx

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Winchester (currently in limbo due to budget) will be getting a gauntlet track for freight moves.
Negative. The gauntlet track is no longer a concern I've been informed. The MBTA has decided that wide moves are infrequent enough that they'll just pay for the cost of transload and trucking from a little further out.

The only place passing sidings and gauntlets are still on the table for future projects is for freight main lines like Wachusett to Ayer and Worcester to Framingham.
 

BostonUrbEx

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So, the T is planning on high platforms in Winchester that, word has it, would preclude freight, hence the move of the gravel run to the WR. How true this is, I am unclear.
DOBO/BODO (the gravel train) has been running on the Western Route because the New Hampshire Main Line now has cab signaling. The New Hampshire Northcoast does not have any cab signal locomotives. I'm not sure what their plan is, because eventually the Western Route will have them too.
 

BostonUrbEx

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I see IRAP grant locations have come into question, so here's a map I made a few days ago: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1OAWMOJEWVOOE_4RsitELhOmzEhfd4vgx&ll=42.46912149381943,-71.77407405000001&z=10

Blue: Pan Am customer
Yellow: CSX customer

Only one missing is Leominster Packaging & Warehousing because no one seems to have any clue who they are.

Rumor is a new customer is coming for the Lowell Hill Industrial Track. Must be someone way at the very end. Perhaps that is why the grant for improving the Lowell Hill was sought out.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Negative. The gauntlet track is no longer a concern I've been informed. The MBTA has decided that wide moves are infrequent enough that they'll just pay for the cost of transload and trucking from a little further out.

The only place passing sidings and gauntlets are still on the table for future projects is for freight main lines like Wachusett to Ayer and Worcester to Framingham.
Plate F reefers to NEPC puts an immediate boomerang on that plan. The Sullivan clearance project lets CSX get rid of its dwindling fleet of ancient ex- Union Pacific Plate C fridge cars and re-increase produce carloads via the Pan Am haulage. While not all Plate F reefers have problem suspension for passing a full-high at-speed, there are lots of reefers on the market now that are maxed-out in dimension to the same axle properties as the problematic maxi-boxcars that would have to be crawled at sub- 10 MPH past a Winchester full-high to hit Boston Paperboard 3x per year. Only these would be 6 days a week dailies.

I would be shocked if the gauntlet isn't imminently put back on the front burner for that hexed station project. If for no other reason than fat chance any PAR buyer is going to take one look at BO-1's portfolio and decide a 10 MPH slowdown with Keolis dispatch barking at them every day is any sane way to run a railroad.
 

BostonUrbEx

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We run Plate F's past Anderson/Woburn all the time without an issue, no speed restriction, and we don't use Track 4 to avoid the platform. Whole cuts of Plate F's run back and forth between Lawrence and the Tighe warehouses at Walnut Hill and Montvale most nights of the week. Nobody goes and lifts platform edges for Plate F's either, so they get past mini-highs everywhere alright.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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DOBO/BODO (the gravel train) has been running on the Western Route because the New Hampshire Main Line now has cab signaling. The New Hampshire Northcoast does not have any cab signal locomotives. I'm not sure what their plan is, because eventually the Western Route will have them too.
They'll have to run behind a PAR leading loco is all. Means Somerville will finally get to see some non-gimp GE Dash 8 power from the Go-Go 80's instead of the usual antique Geep rolling ruins dating to early in Nixon's first term.

If/when the Downeaster hits the PTC trigger the rest of the Western from Plaistow to Portland will have to be cabbed up in tandem...in which case NH Northcoast will need their units natively outfitted for the mile's worth of track between Rollinsford Jct. and Dover Yard that they travel to tee up DOBO. Their 3 native GP38-2 units were recent hand-me-downs from someone else. It's silly easy to barter for cab-signaled power with the glut CSX and Norfolk Southern are sitting on, so they won't have any issue.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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We run Plate F's past Anderson/Woburn all the time without an issue, no speed restriction, and we don't use Track 4 to avoid the platform. Whole cuts of Plate F's run back and forth between Lawrence and the Tighe warehouses at Walnut Hill and Montvale most nights of the week. Nobody goes and lifts platform edges for Plate F's either, so they get past mini-highs everywhere alright.
Yes...with PAR. The same outfit who would rather maintain a platform repairs "Swear Jar" for beating the snot out of the North Billerica mini-high until it collapses in front of standing commuters rather than bake a single ounce of any preventative measures. Everything's hunky-dory for the next however many months the slop-ops crew is still running the show, but do you think CSX is going to carry the status quo if they take over the former Republic of Mellonstan?

Not a chance. Class I corporate doesn't pussyfoot around with any of that. CSX is already demanding a gauntlet for Windsor Gardens when it's raised for the Franklin Line double-tracking project, despite similar paucity of problematic Plate F moves to Readville. And they insisted on it for their captive shortline haulage carrier for the Springfield Line, Connecticut Southern, not wanting all the Hartford Line station renos to scrape up their cars sent out of West Springfield interchange. ConnDOT has installed gauntlets at Windsor, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford and will have passing solutions at all the remaining infill stops + some long-term solution TBD for the current half-high hack-job @ Hartford Union. The same standard Framingham-west and the Norfolk Southern-utilized Fitchburg Main are held to will propegate elsewhere when PAR transacts. Because nobody else puts up with PAR-craptacular slop-ops or thinks a platform strike "Swear Jar" works better than an ounce of prevention.

At least for Winchester the station reno is so interminably delayed and stuck to begin with that PAR will long be sold before actionable decisions have to be made. T/Keolis can hope and wish all they want for status quo to keep holding, but every not-PAR in the running gives many more shits about running a tighter ship than every PAR currently malingering along. Whoever ends up with them is going to uphold standards PAR never cared enough to internally uphold, and the T is obligated by all that legacy clearance route designation legalese to accommodate them. Gauntlets will be penciled back into plans...Tk. 4 @ Anderson will have switches thrown anew...mini-high edges shall be retracted instead of left upright absorbing scrapes and dings. It's the difference between running a freight railroad like a conventional risk-averse profit business vs. as some grown man-child's personal Randian playpen.
 
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RandomWalk

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I see IRAP grant locations have come into question, so here's a map I made a few days ago: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1OAWMOJEWVOOE_4RsitELhOmzEhfd4vgx&ll=42.46912149381943,-71.77407405000001&z=10

Blue: Pan Am customer
Yellow: CSX customer

Only one missing is Leominster Packaging & Warehousing because no one seems to have any clue who they are.
Is Leominster Packaging in the building on Lancaster St (117) across from Ash St? There is an old siding visible on the satellite photos.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is Leominster Packaging in the building on Lancaster St (117) across from Ash St? There is an old siding visible on the satellite photos.
No idea. They have a longstanding company HQ building several blocks from either of the rail lines on Florence St...basically smack between St. Leo's Cemetery and St. Cecilia's Cemetery. St. Leo's sits between it and the Fitchburg Sec. 2000+ ft. away. They purchased a new rail-accessible building for this IRAP grant, but nobody seems to know where the hell it is because neither state nor company press releases name-check it.

Most likely it's one of the derelict Fitchburg Sec. sidings because that makes the most sense relative to the size of the IRAP $$$...but in absence of any confirmation can't rule out potential sitings on the PAS/Fitchburg Line out by the 2/190 interchange.
 

fatnoah

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Is Leominster Packaging in the building on Lancaster St (117) across from Ash St? There is an old siding visible on the satellite photos.
I'm throwing my hat in the ring with a guess of 218 Willard Street. Looking up Leominster Packaging and Warehousing on LinkedIn leads to a company with that address. It's right on the Fitchburg Secondary and there's a small "LPW" sign on street view: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.496...4!1soroRCTI1x8WzhGP9MdwxfA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Fetch the smelling salts for the Surf Board!

This should be a real gas to watch get dissected in front of the STB for antitrust. If we're lucky it might even be approved by Cyber Monday 2021 after all the requisite asset horse-trading is squared between umpteen different competitors to get this blessed with the seal of approval.


Bonus: at least Waterville Shops have barely painted any of the CSX hand-me-down locos they've acquired, making the branding integration effortless! Just un- cross-out the CSX logos on all of them and good as new!
 

BostonUrbEx

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Yes...with PAR.
On MBTA trackage, with MBTA (Keolis) rules, and MBTA (Keolis) dispatching. Tim Mellon is irrelevant to what is deemed safe operating practice on a foreign road. If the high level is on a straightaway, there is no issue for Plate F's.

Now, a potential wrinkle. What if CSX were to shift the flow of Maine traffic from Worcester-Ayer-Lawrence to Worcester-Somerville-Lawrence? Sounds completely freakin' bonkers, total Crazy Freight Pitches territory, right? I know. But a pissing match of epic proportions seems to be brewing between CSX and NS. Keep an eye out for any test runs over the Grand Jct, through Yard 10, and out the Wildcat. All a negotiating tactic for rates through Ayer. But depending on how far it goes, perhaps Winchester Center is suddenly a freight main line station. I can't even believe I just typed that. 🥴
 

fatnoah

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But depending on how far it goes, perhaps Winchester Center is suddenly a freight main line station.
As a resident of Winchester, I would LOVE this, but I can only imagine the horrified pearl-clutching that would occur should such a thing come to pass.
 

ceo

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CSX running mainline freights through the Kendall Square grade crossings? That'll be a clusterf*ck of epic proportions.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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CSX running mainline freights through the Kendall Square grade crossings? That'll be a clusterf*ck of epic proportions.
Not likely...because the Grand Junction has the tightest vertical clearance on the entire system imposed by the plausibly un-raiseable (due to already possessing one wicked-ass 'hump') Memorial Dr. overpass. Track-level grade changes impossible because it's at the foot of the Charles bridge which can't go any lower without decapitating the BU Kayak Team. The GJ is the whole reason why CSX was stuck with those obsolete shrunken-height reefers to New England Produce Center which were losing them business. Dishing Everett off to PAR haulage while retaining the Everett customers as their signees was the literal only way out of that pickle...which was why the Plate F clearance project under Sullivan was quietly expedited 1 year after the switcheroo off the GJ.


However...picture the political/regulatory posturing that is going to have to take place to make this earthquake of a sale survive STB scrutiny. Qualifying runs and rate proposals via a B&A + GJ "mainline" run? Sure will! It doesn't matter if it's physically impossible absent an implausible infrastructure megaproject (not to mention T payola to reverse their voluntary sunsetting of Plate F from Framingham to Beacon Park that took effect August 2019). The exercise is useful for flooding the STB with sample rate comparisons for the kitchen-sink's worth of similar shennanigans Norfolk Southern is going to throw at the feds. The 'fun' part of this transaction is just getting warmed up as we watch a couple Class I behemoths spend the bulk of 2021 trolling the everloving shit out of each other in dueling federal filings (which can occasionally be fun reads when the law office doing the writing starts burying lolzy sarcasm amid the blocks legalese). With pile-on filings from all of the warriors' interested alliance partners. That's where we'll get to Crazy Freight Pitch some truly wild theoretical scenarios as they mutually chum each others' waters with route-war math problems. It won't be boring as aB thread evolution goes despite the boring-sounding spec subject.

This will not be a fast process. The end-product transaction probably will not closely resemble the pre-Holiday CSX press release when all the domino-falls are accounted for. Events far, far away from New England will intervene...for example: a similarly shitshow-complex ongoing line sale from CSX to CN of their Buffalo-Montreal intermodal lane stalled for >year in counter-filings from enraged alliance partners, whose flailing fortunes for damn sure influenced this pounce. The rumor mill will probably go even wilder than it went pre-sale over who's got to horse-trade what assets/ to make it work.


RE: Boston ops...'any' buyer is going to see more in Boston than PAR did. The end-to-end NH Main is a bunch of free-throw shootin' for quick pickups PAR simply let rot. Look at what CSX Marketing has managed to do (per this very page of thread) in just the last 12 months on the forlorn Fitchburg Secondary in Leominster: so recently an abandonment-in-wait, now doubling in frequency back to daily. Just...like...that. We wholly expect Class I Marketing Dept.'s to not care about bland zit branchlines on some micro part of their national network. But when something compels those Mktg. behemoths into give-a-shit mode all of a sudden (which clearly and suddenly just happened by them in Eastern MA for reasons we still don't know)? Yeah...you get an immediate lesson in just how MASSIVE a Class I's marketing arm truly is when it locks onto a target fixation. Boston and Eastern MA writ-large proportionately don't have to "make sense" as growth opportunities vs. the enormity of CSX Corporate or the enormity of the CSX-Worcester lane. If they decide to send some resources in...they simply crap bigger'n anyone else on the planet. CSX has apparently decided that shootin' free throws in Boston is worth the bigness of their Marketing Dept. That's...uh...unexpected to say the least. But they can fill up all those niche sidings with frightening speed if so inclined because they're just that huge. Look what's happening in suddenly undead Leominster...then project that resurgence to the bucket list of freight nice-to-haves around 128 and down to the underutilized Port of Boston trackage.

Norfolk Southern thought it was sitting pretty on future Boston considerations having an elbow lodged into Ayer. That's being challenged right now. So watch the rate comparisons fly on every goddamn routing in the land, the sensible and nonsensible. MassDOT has to be loving this at the macro-level, but Urbie is right that it is enough to make one's head spin if you're with T dispatch and wondering what weaknesses might have to be shored up by sudden/unforeseen traffic explosion on a given route.


This is also where I disagree with Urbie that Keolis saying it's A-OK to blow past a full-high with a dodgy-suspension train full of Plate F's is some kind of lasting condition that'll stay OK after PAR is gone. Keolis being OK with the platform-strike "Swear Jar" is lousy best-practice too; they're willfully suspending reality on any maint costs that outstretch their incumbent contract term, which is a tax we the public pay up in exactly the sort of escalated maint cost cycle loop we're mired in now. But it's also not a condition that--whether T/Keolis are institutionally lax enough to want to uphold or not--is everlasting...solely because of the "CSX craps bigger'n thou" factor. CSX is not okay with Plate F passage waivers on some "don't worry, we don't mind" condition. They don't even run on the Springfield Line but were the party that held ConnDOT's feet to the fire on 100% Hartford Line gauntlets/passer coverage because Connecticut Southern's SPG-NHV rights are a CSX-captive haulage source and they decided national insurance rates on cars sourced via West Springfield trumped the local-yokels. Those same national insurance rates on tens of thousands of self-owned cars similarly trumps T/Keolis's wishes. They have a number theshold that says passers required...and it's nationally-sourced so they won't budge on it. There's a triad of freight clearance protection orders on the northside: the Freight main comprising outer Fitchburg Line (Willows Jct. to Wachusett) + outer Haverhill Line (Lowell Jct., Andover points north), the Wildcat Branch, and the Lowell Line (currently all, although with Bow power plant in NH soon going by the boards they probably don't much care about Plate F's north of Nashua Yard and might be willing to barter an inner-B&A analogue sunset clause Nashua-Concord if NHDOT buys the line and sweetens their pot elsewhere). That's all baked into the legalese from the 1976 B&M-to-T asset sale and horse-trading of assets for the Red Line Alewife extension that switched the high-and-wide route from Fitchburg-Cambridge + Fitchburg Cutoff to NH Main. CSX can cite back to any of that legalese to get the Winchester gauntlet and anything else made mandatory on those routes, no matter how much Keolis says "but we said we're okay with wrecking our platforms!" As a crap bigger'n 'em concern, that's exactly what Corporate CSX will do.

Now...remember, Winchester Ctr. renos has wholly devolved into the project from hell because of the delays. So right now this will-they/won't-they question on the gauntlet is a moot point because the project schedule is slipping towards the heat death of the universe. It's a depressing years away from completion to begin with. All it means right now is that when the CSX behemoth states its case to the T, crew flips of the mini-high platform edges are going to start happening again and Crawford/Wilbur Interlocking switches controlling the Anderson passer will get renewed daily use (no doubt PAR's passivity sourced from Mellon-esque refusal to contribute for any preventative switch maintenance whatsoever there).
 
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BostonTrainGuy

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Just thinking out load here . . .

A lot of new passenger cars are wider in the middle (like 10 6") and need to narrow at the platform level due to the platform clearance issue. Would there be a way to simply add a (6 inch?) permanent gap filler just below the doors that doesn't need to be withdrawn and build platforms (6 inches?) further from the track center?

Trying to visualize this, I think it could be done easily by simply making the trap drop-down hatch longer. Note the picture of the Viewliner "coach" below. There is a big difference due to the camber of the car side.

I can't see much of a clearance issue since the thing wouldn't stick out much further than the actual widest part of the car, and even if things had to be cleared there can't be that many issues. A new standard regulation needs to be developed but it seems like it just might settle this issue.

I know someone is going to say that it's a safety issue since someone might get hit by it, but no one should be standing 6 inches from a moving train anyway.

164-32.jpg
amtrak-train.jpg
 
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JeffDowntown

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My question would be are platforms the only place in the rail system where platform clearance dimensions are assumed?

Also, protrusions sticking out on a vehicle tend to snag all kinds of unwanted stuff (think debris, vegetation intruding the right of way...)
 

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