Railtrails which reverted back into railways

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Railtrails which reverted back into railways

Postby harryguy082589 » Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:47 am

Have any railtrails actually turned back into railways?
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Postby DutchRailnut » Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:20 am

no
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Postby RussNelson » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:07 am

When was the last time ANY dismantled railroad been rebuilt? I can name a few, but they're all prior to the 1950's.
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Postby Nukengineer » Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:22 pm

Well, maybe...

WSOR is looking to turn 62 miles of rail trail (The Cheese Country Trail and another one) back to railroad ops. The line in question is in SW Wisconsin from Monroe to Mineral point. I started a thread a few days ago in the Midwestern rail fan forum.
It is still in the preliminary stages and I dont give it much chance of passing due to a 38 million dollar price tag (TAXES) and the local ATV riders being well, ATV riders.

You can get to the WSOR website from the above mentioned thread.

As another bit of info, I talked with a WSOR marketing guy at a railshow this weekend. He didnt have much info about it except wanting people to sign a petition. Their goal is to spur industry growth by restoring rail service to that corner of the state.

Not much industry there now that would benefit from a rail line, just some grain mills. He also said that it would encourage ethanol plants to be built. (WSOR already serves 3 plants and two more are under construction on their other lines)
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Postby gprimr1 » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:47 am

I wish the Norwottuck rail trail in MA was converted back to rail.
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Postby New Haven 1 » Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:14 am

What?! Turn the Norwottuck Trail Back into a railroad? Are you nuts? That would take all the fun that is enjoyed by the 50,000+ cars that travel Route 9 everyday! You're probably one of those dumb people that thinks that we should use mass transit too. No way! The best way to clean up the environment is to continue tearing up rail lines while putting more cars and, preferably SUV's on the road. What's really important is the legacy or, mess we can leave for our decendants to clean up. Railroads represent a real threat to Mobil/Exxon's goal to break their 9.5 Billion dollar QUARTERLY profit. Our job to use all the resources available to apply for grants so we can put as many railroads out of commision as possible. We even have conveinient excuses supplied. "It's preserving the right of way for future use" is the most common. Can anyone name a single right of way that has been COMPLETELY converted to a bike path as in PAVED that has been returned to rail use? The Norwottuck is prime example that cries for this as between the students coming to Northampton from the Amherst colleges and people going to the Hadley shopping centers the electrified trains could remove THOUSANDS of cars off of Route 9. What about the buses? The problem with that is they have to travel the same crowded Route 9 as all those cars giving them no advantage whatsoever over driving yourself. I know I went pretty far here,but, someone has to say what the silent majority really feels about all this stuff. Just as laws are written to provide grants to tear up rail lines, more could be put in to ensure thier revival when needed as is the sorely needed case regarding Nowottuck. Don't get me wrong, where there is no rail potential,sure, put a trail in. There have been too many cases where the railroad was forced out due to one sided funding in favor of bikepaths over railroads. One more thing, I have enjoyed biking Norwottuck many times being a biker myself. It's just that I really do give a damn about the environment not only for myself, but, maybe the coming generations may want something for themselves too! Sometimes what you want right now isn't necessarily the best thing for all.
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Postby Ron Newman » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:40 am

RussNelson wrote:When was the last time ANY dismantled railroad been rebuilt


Do Ipswich-Newburyport (north of Boston) and Greenbush (southeast of Boston) count as 'dismantled'? They certainly were abandoned before being relaid and restored for commuter rail use.
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Postby German » Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:53 am

Whatever your opinions of rail trails may be, the chances of a railroad being rebuilt on the route are at least a bit better if the right of way is preserved as a rail trail than if it is fragmented by residential and commercial developement. Too often this is treated as a trains vs. trails debate, but with the rise in real estate values the chances of an unused ROW sitting abandoned for long are decreasing. Once the ROW is gone, so is any hope of the rails returning.
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Postby New Haven 1 » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:04 am

Regarding the first reponse, while the rails were indeed removed, a bike path was never officially put in place. That is why I mention a true reversion would be a right of way that has been allocated for bicycle use meaning government grants to do so up to and, including actually paving the right of way. A reversion of this scale has never been done. What you mention is as close as it's gotten.

As far as the second response is concerned, I covered this in my post.
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Do rail trails ever go back to being a RAILROAD?

Postby NellsChoo » Fri Oct 12, 2007 4:49 pm

I am curious... has there ever been a rail trail that has gone back to being a real railroad? Is this legally possible?

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Postby RussNelson » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:08 pm

Yes, it's legally possible. Railroad property generally falls into two classes: owned outright, and easement. If it's owned outright, the railroad owns it like any other property. If it's an easement, then the railroad can use it as long as it remains a railroad. Well, when railroads started to become abandoned in earnest in the 60's and 70's, people started to become alarmed at the loss of the right of ways. It took until 1983 to get action, but Congress passed a law which said that until a railroad was officially abandoned, it remained a railroad. The law established the status of "railbanked", which is a ROW preserved for future railroad use.

Very few ROWs have been abandoned since then. They're all railbanked. That was only 24 years ago. As far as I know, the only railbeds that railroads have wanted to have back have been previously double-tracked routes that were single-tracked. The answers the first part of your question in the negative.
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Postby DutchRailnut » Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:49 pm

Has it ever happened, no, and the legal battle is not easely won.
So rails for trails is pretty much a dead sentence for trains.
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Postby icgsteve » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:16 am

DutchRailnut wrote:Has it ever happened, no, and the legal battle is not easely won.
So rails for trails is pretty much a dead sentence for trains.


The railroads have been spending what little money they have in capital improvement budgets to improve what they have, not to add back segments that were shut down. Railbanking is new, and the realization that American railroads were allowed to shut down too much of the network has not been made by all. Add to this that fact that putting segments back online takes a big wad of money, money that has not yet been identified, and it makes sense that trails have not yet been converted back to rail use. You can't draw any correlation between the lack of conversions in the past and what will happen in the future, because at some point political and economic conditions will change.
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Postby walt » Sat Oct 13, 2007 6:39 pm

Right now it is possible, for the reasons indicated in prior posts, but not likely. In addition to the other factors mentioned, those who would keep them as trails have proven to have significant political clout and ususally oppose any attempt to convert a trail back into an operating railroad. Whether this will continue to be the case remains to be seen.
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Postby icgsteve » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:02 pm

walt wrote:Right now it is possible, for the reasons indicated in prior posts, but not likely. In addition to the other factors mentioned, those who would keep them as trails have proven to have significant political clout and ususally oppose any attempt to convert a trail back into an operating railroad. Whether this will continue to be the case remains to be seen.


More importantly there are usually NIMBY property owners who would rather have a trail than trains, both for noise and property value reasons. Until and unless national transportation needs override land owners' rights by law (thus in the courts) few trails are going to be converted back to rails. The process is too complicated, expensive, and politically treacherous.
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