Official SIRR Thread

Discussion about the M&E, RVRR and SIRR lines of New Jersey, and also the Maine Eastern operation in Maine. Official web site can be found here: www.merail.com.

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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:56 am

All of the work we did on the Raritan Valley line, used cars that were picked up/dropped off/stored at Bound Brook. There was a reason for the interchange tracks there, even though as a Conrail/Conrail connection, it wasn't physically an "interchange". The RV locals would build their trains at BB, and go about their work. When done, they would leave their pick-up's there, or occasionally take them across to Manville. Of course the Bayway traffic belongs to Conrail. That wasn't the point. The point is, "where would RVRR/SIRY cars be interchanged, and with whom"? Roselle Park is out of the question, as would be the LV interchange at Cranford. That leaves Excee/Aldene as a possibility. Seems unlikey CR/NS is coming down the ramp, to snag a handful of cars. What about Bayway? Manville/Bound Brook is already a spot where traffic is worked. Then again, why not Summit? M&E has rights over NJT, why not do all of the work from Mo'town, and make interchange at Mo'town, or Lake Junction? Again, with no current customer base, it really does seem moot, no?
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby cjl330 » Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:15 pm

Trainlawyer,
Of course the customers don't exist. There is not an active rail line. I am not going to sign a contract and make a commitment for a service that doesn't exist yet. Once the rail line is active, then there is a service that can be offered. Once the service is available, if I want, I will sign up for it. But you want potential customers to commit to a service that doesn't yet exist. Let me ask you: How many people hired you as their attorney BEFORE you graduated law school or BEFORE you passed the BAR exam? As far as your tax dollars are concerned, we could start a whole new topic on wasted tax dollars. After all, this is New Jersey. How many of my tax dollars have been spent because of ridiculous lawsuits and legal actions?
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby cjl330 » Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:48 pm

There was a great feature story in a recent TRAINS magazine about short lines turning low density, sometimes dormant rail lines into busy operations that turned a profit. That's what I would like to see happen with the SIRR/Rahway Valley. I am a proponent of rail transportation, be it passenger or freight. I have said this once before, and I'll say it again. It has become very obvious to me that some of the individuals that post in this forum have a personal gripe against the M&E and would love nothing more than to see them fail. It almost seems as though you take great pleasure in posting negative comments about the M&E. I am not on your side. I want to see them succeed.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby CJPat » Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:16 pm

I am having difficulty understanding your logic, Trainlawyer. There are many "viable" customers along the line. Any production company or distributorship is a "viable" customer. These private industries are not Investment firms. They are not going to invest money to rebuild the connection with the RVL when that property belongs to Union County just as no company is going to invest in building a highway off ramp that belongs to the State DOT. The customers that do have an interest in changing to rail service will have to pay for their siding installation. When the railroad is connected, then the interested customers will come forward. Now for you, or others, to declare that there is no interest because no private companies have sunk investment money in a government project would appear to be highly "assumptive" on your part (no offense intended). I apologize, but your statements could be misconstrued as implying that you do not care for the M&E and their reconstruction contract as opposed to possible concern with the expenditure of taxpayer funds.

Now as I see this project, Union County, the actual owners, believe that investment of government funds will aid their county's economy as well as reduce the quantity of truck traffic and hence improve the overall quality of life for their residents. As the Owner, it is the County's responsibility to pay for the entire project, not their subcontractor's responsibility. An alternate course could have been that the County grants the ROW ownership to the M&E but then they give up their right of control and whatever compensation is established in the contract. Then the M&E could invest their own money into rebuilding the line. I do not believe the County feels it in their best interest to give up their ownership. So this is an issue between the County, the State, and for political purposes, the Municipalities involved.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby Sirsonic » Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:12 pm

Once again were drinking the red alco Kool-Aid. Morristown continues to say there are "potential customers" on the line, but declines time after time to cite who they would be. Their excuse is that they dont want those "customers" to be hounded by anti-rail activists. Funny that in the entire USA, the M&E is the only railroad worried about having their customers hassled before they are even customers. Are they really operating on the premise that once the siding was in those people would just give up and accept it? If there really are customers, why have their sidings not yet been built? If the line is "not active" why are trains running for Conoco Phillips on the line to store cars in Cranford for them? The line is active for that customer but not others? If they really wanted to offer service why have they, in the years since the work started, made no attempt to even have a meeting with anyone about an interchange agreement or trackage rights to get anywhere other than Cranford. Once these crossings are fixed, will trains be running back and forth to Cranford, with no cars, to prove to the "customers" that the line is active? If there was a customer who had expressed interest in using rail, wouldn't the M&E want to try to arrange an interchange agreement so that they could serve the customer? Seems to me the M&E has proven that there are no customers on line.

Do I want the M&E to fail? No, they already have.

This discussion is going nowhere, just like the SIRY, so I will leave any further discussion to the buffs who wish to believe the statements being made by Morristown, and watch as the whole project continues to suck in taxpayer dollars so the M&E can purchase more cars and engines, without generating any revenue or customers.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby Jtgshu » Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:34 pm

maybe if Sirsonic dislikes the way the MandE is going about this project, another operation would do a better job?

I hear the Cape May Seashore Lines isn't doing much right now..........

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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby CJPat » Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:10 pm

Sirsonic, please, if you would indulge me just a bit longer. I readily accept that I am not knowledgeable in actual rail operations. I actually learn quite a bit regarding History and current operations from yourself and others within this forum. So as far as interchange questions go, I have no knowledge as to what can or can not be.

But if we may seperate this discussion into two pieces A) the former SIRR; and B) the former Rahway Valley.

For the former SIRR, perhaps I am in error, but is not the M&E servicing the Bayway Refinery as a customer? Those long lines of covered hoppers that have been reported "stored" on the SIRR get filled with plastic pellets, don't they? Although I believe one siding was removed to a particular industry (in Cranford?), were there any others previously along that line? I thought the original purpose of that length of track was to permit the B&O to service Staten Island and interchange with the Lehigh and the CNJ. So, since Staten Island is now served by CSX via the Chemical Coast, I am making an assumption that the main desire for the former SIRR is oriented around Bayway.

As for the former Rahway Valley...doesn't the customer pay for the siding to be installed on their property? Personally, if I was a business owner, and knowing the state of government finances within New Jersey, I would wait until the connection is in place and the completion of the line is immediately pending before I would free up hard earned capital to spend on the track. No point spending $25-50,000 (a total guess on my part) if you can't be sure the government isn't going to bail on this project. Who can spare that on a risk these days. I see major corporations having hard ache over as little as $5,000. Unless they can get immediate payback within the next Quarter, very few are accepting the risks. Evidently Union County felt the risk was reasonable for whatever their reasons. Why else would they put up with all the political headaches and lawsuits?

If I understand the various parties and to sum up the critics (please correct me where I err):
1) NIMBYs are protesting against loud noises thru their backyards and decrease of their particular property values, although they bought property along a known railroad ROW (they use the arguments of child safety, toxins, garbage smells, and interference with emergency services to scare up support for their cause).
2) Others believe that the whole reason the Union County government wants to spend an estimated $50M-$75M (add in the reconstruction cost of 3 bridges & rehab of the Rahway river bridge) is so that the M&E can have a more direct route to shuttle their engines back and forth between Bayway and Morristown.

Even with the rampant corruption of the politicians in the State of New Jersey, this just seems to be stretching pretty far to achieve.

As far as the "Drinking the Kool-Aid" reference goes, isn't it kind of distasteful to relate this all to the mass suicide of hundreds of people?
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby Sirsonic » Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:55 pm

CJPat wrote:Sirsonic, please, if you would indulge me just a bit longer. I readily accept that I am not knowledgeable in actual rail operations. I actually learn quite a bit regarding History and current operations from yourself and others within this forum. So as far as interchange questions go, I have no knowledge as to what can or can not be.


A very polite request, so sure, Ill keep going.

But if we may separate this discussion into two pieces A) the former SIRR; and B) the former Rahway Valley.

For the former SIRR, perhaps I am in error, but is not the M&E servicing the Bayway Refinery as a customer? Those long lines of covered hoppers that have been reported "stored" on the SIRR get filled with plastic pellets, don't they? Although I believe one siding was removed to a particular industry (in Cranford?), were there any others previously along that line? I thought the original purpose of that length of track was to permit the B&O to service Staten Island and interchange with the Lehigh and the CNJ. So, since Staten Island is now served by CSX via the Chemical Coast, I am making an assumption that the main desire for the former SIRR is oriented around Bayway.


This is my point in a nutshell. The SIRY already has a customer online. They are storing cars for Conoco Phillips. Since they are able to serve this customer without the line being "active" why are the claiming that the reason there are no other customers online is because the line is not "active".

As for the former Rahway Valley...doesn't the customer pay for the siding to be installed on their property? Personally, if I was a business owner, and knowing the state of government finances within New Jersey, I would wait until the connection is in place and the completion of the line is immediately pending before I would free up hard earned capital to spend on the track. No point spending $25-50,000 (a total guess on my part) if you can't be sure the government isn't going to bail on this project. Who can spare that on a risk these days. I see major corporations having hard ache over as little as $5,000. Unless they can get immediate payback within the next Quarter, very few are accepting the risks. Evidently Union County felt the risk was reasonable for whatever their reasons. Why else would they put up with all the political headaches and lawsuits?


I was speaking to the issue of no sidings built on the SIRY, which relates to the above point about the line being "active". If there were customers on the RV who wanted service, why would the M&E not restore the track to those customers first, instead of spending money to restore the track to bridge they cant cross (over the Rahway River, across which they are not yet allowed to restore)?

If I understand the various parties and to sum up the critics (please correct me where I err):
1) NIMBYs are protesting against loud noises thru their backyards and decrease of their particular property values, although they bought property along a known railroad ROW (they use the arguments of child safety, toxins, garbage smells, and interference with emergency services to scare up support for their cause).
2) Others believe that the whole reason the Union County government wants to spend an estimated $50M-$75M (add in the reconstruction cost of 3 bridges & rehab of the Rahway river bridge) is so that the M&E can have a more direct route to shuttle their engines back and forth between Bayway and Morristown.

Even with the rampant corruption of the politicians in the State of New Jersey, this just seems to be stretching pretty far to achieve.


The project was started with the best of intentions. A rail connection does actually increase property values for industrial sites. Along the way though, do to various reasons to numerous to go into, the project came off the rails, so to speak. The monies allocated to restore service were misspent, and the lack of a real customer base along both lines means there is no reason in spending the money in the first place.

As far as the "Drinking the Kool-Aid" reference goes, isn't it kind of distasteful to relate this all to the mass suicide of hundreds of people?


Im not relating it to mass suicide, just using the popular reference to any time individuals will swallow anything they hear if it supports their predecided position. In this case, that whatever the M&E does is good and anyone who disagrees is anti-rail.
Proven Theory #2 - If you don't work for the railroad, you don't know more than the people who do, no matter how many years you've hung around the tracks, or how well you think you understand railroading.

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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby cjl330 » Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:08 pm

As far as revealing who potential customers are, those are private business dealings that will not be made public until the parties involved agree to make them public. For all you know, my company might just be one of those potential customers. Or maybe one of my company's clients. And if we were, I am not about to publicize that information to pacify sirsonic or anyone else. If you have any knowledge of the workings of commercial real estate, you would understand that when you have a potential client that necessitates rail service, and they are looking to relocate, they are not going to move to a location where the rail line is not active. They don't want to hear any promises that it will be active "sometime in the future" either. They want it currently active, or they won't even consider the property. There are several properties available along the Rahway Valley in Union, but they can't be listed as having rail service, because it doesn't exist. So trying to move a business that needs rail service into one of those locations is pretty much impossible right now. And by the way sirsonic, I don't drink kool-aid, and I am not from Morristown.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby wolfboy8171981 » Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:48 pm

GOLDEN-ARM wrote:All of the work we did on the Raritan Valley line, used cars that were picked up/dropped off/stored at Bound Brook. There was a reason for the interchange tracks there, even though as a Conrail/Conrail connection, it wasn't physically an "interchange". The RV locals would build their trains at BB, and go about their work. When done, they would leave their pick-up's there, or occasionally take them across to Manville. Of course the Bayway traffic belongs to Conrail. That wasn't the point. The point is, "where would RVRR/SIRY cars be interchanged, and with whom"? Roselle Park is out of the question, as would be the LV interchange at Cranford. That leaves Excee/Aldene as a possibility. Seems unlikey CR/NS is coming down the ramp, to snag a handful of cars. What about Bayway? Manville/Bound Brook is already a spot where traffic is worked. Then again, why not Summit? M&E has rights over NJT, why not do all of the work from Mo'town, and make interchange at Mo'town, or Lake Junction? Again, with no current customer base, it really does seem moot, no?



I agree that back in the day Bound Brook was a good choice for an interchange/ local yard. Traffic patterns have changed and using Manville yard with the current operations set up isnt really good. Honestly the LV Cranford interchange would be the best location. However while the switch was removed by Conrail in 2001, the yard, belonged to Union County, was salvaged by Railroad Construction in 2006.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby CJPat » Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:14 pm

(my sincere condolences and apologies to Trainlawyer as I had just written the following when his post popped up so after this, I will retire on the subject.)

Sirsonic, Thank you for taking the time to clarify your points in response to my questions.

I am not sure I would necessarily classify actions as "monies allocated to restore service were misspent". Perhaps as Project Manager, I may have prioritized tasks differently, but I can't play armchair quaterback without knowing all the conditions existing that dictated order of work . If the County had assured the M&E that the additional funding would not be delayed, I could see the M&E might have moved forward with restoring the "main line" as far as possible until the next allocation. As far as finishing the Rt 28 connection, that easily could have been identified as pending State action first (re: opening the highway only on the State's direction/time schedule). I still can't accept the statement that there is a lack of a real customer base. That is not to be known by outsiders until after the highway crossings are complete and the track is functional. Then we would see who (if any) want to be customers or what companies might move into the area because of the track. With the State screaming about the Transportation Fund going bankrupt (now I would say "monies allocated to restore service were misspent"), if I was a company, I would be playing my cards pretty close to my vest until I saw positive movement of funds in support of completing this project.

I don't know what agreements exist with NJT so it may be feasible that the original plan was to pull all traffic north thru Summit and utilize the M&E's existing interchange points. Now with the current problems thru Summit, the M&E is throwing around talk of Bound Brook (unfounded??) as an alternative to realizing Summit in the near future.

I don't know if I have been asking the wrong questions, but if double stacks aren't part of the possible traffic, can't an interchange agreement be generated for Cranford Yard? That would appear to offer options to Manville/Bound Brook or Elizabethport.
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:21 pm

It's getting very interesting, watching you guys make your points. It's civil, and even somewhat courteous, so it's going to keep going. Remember, it's okay to challenge the points/facts, etc., but please respect the posters. You guys are going about this nicely, so keep it about traffic (whether real or imagined) and it's good. Thanks! :wink:
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby markyk » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:41 pm

New Crossing gates up at St. George Ave. Also something going on the north side of the weed covered tracks, west of the crossing.....some land cleared, probably not rail related
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Re:

Postby MNR's #1 Conductor » Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:23 pm

Sirsonic wrote:No trains are running into Staten Island yet as the connection to the Chemical Coast is not completed yet. The project should be completed sometime, I believe, in August (I cant remember what I was told). Right now there is only Howland Hook, which Conrail will serve, and a transfer station that will generate about 5 cars a day that NS and/or CSX intend to serve directly.

The SIRY between Bayway and Cranford (the M&E portion) is not being used for anything more than long term storage of hoppers on the far end of the line in Cranford.

The RV project has run out of funds and no new funding source has been found. The few most likely sources for funds have so far declined to provide any additional funds. It may be some time before work resumes.


Last Sunday, I spotted M&E SW-1500 #20 "Benjamin J Friedland" switching some hoppers on the SI Branch, crossing over the Northeast Corridor to the north of Linden (NJT) Station. How often does this run or operation occur?? Does it come out of Cranford, and does any M&E operation out of Cranford pass thru or by the Cranford (NJT Raritan Valley Line) Station?? I would love to get some shots if M&E action there if so. Thanks!! :-)
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Re: SIRR/Rahway valley

Postby Sirsonic » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:37 am

The SIRY is currently being used only for car storage. The M&E accesses the line from Bayway (Linden) only on an irregular basis.
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