MassDOT Acquisition of Framingham Secondary

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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby frrc » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:29 am

All that's left is the Fitchburg Secondary track, wonder when that will be sold off ?

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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:39 pm

frrc wrote:All that's left is the Fitchburg Secondary track, wonder when that will be sold off ?

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Milford will go first because of the pre-existing sale clause and fact that CSX is handing the keys over to G&U in 6-9 months and will cease running its own freight on the line.

Fitchburg Sec. the state has no compelling interest to ask for. It's just at some point Jacksonville is going to decide it doesn't want 30 miles of outlier branchline on its own books and will order its real estate dept. to seek the best offer they can get from MassDOT to scrape it off their tax rolls and make it a trackage rights-only operation. CSX will be the ones making that phone call. Not worth making predictions on when that'll happen, but it is completely and totally consistent with how CSX management operates so I'd say it's an inevitability that the state will own it within 10 years.

Everything else they own is either itty-bitty industrial tracks:
-- Springfield Industrial Track
-- Holliston Industrial Track (active portion to Framingham/Ashland town line for CP Yard runarounds)
-- Norwood Industrial Track
-- Taunton Industrial Track
-- Randolph Branch

...or abandoned:
-- Holliston Industrial Track (Ashland and Holliston portions)
-- Saxonville Branch
-- South Sudbury Secondary


Saxonville (trail proposal) and South Sudbury (Bruce Freeman Trail extension) both have open STB dockets for sale negotiation extensions-of-time that haven't budged in 6 years. Holliston's docket is closed because the town agreed to pay CSX $300/month rent for a basic crushed stone trail until DCR funds the paved Upper Charles River Trail (the town cut its side deal after the state cut the paved trail from its Transportation Implementation Plan for lack of money), but can be reopened if/when the state's ready to pay. All 3 of those lines will eventually transact to public ownership, but absolutely no one is in a hurry.

The Industrial tracks collectively are maybe 3 total track miles. Too microscopic to matter. If CSX dishes more territory south-of-Braintree and east-of-Attleboro off on Mass Coastal the state will probably take the Randolph and Taunton spurs as means-to-an-end for transacting that operating territory over to the shortline...not because it has any public self-interest in those spurs. But other than that specific situation with those 2 spurs, nobody cares enough and the industrial tracks will probably stay with CSX forever unless any are ever abandoned.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby Trainman101 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:52 pm

23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:02 am

Trainman101 wrote:23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.


MassDOT loves to buy CSX's lines. Seems to me someone in CSX is nice and cozy with the state. Sometimes I have to wonder if CSX lobbies for the South Coast Fail Project, too.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:14 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:
Trainman101 wrote:23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.


MassDOT loves to buy CSX's lines. Seems to me someone in CSX is nice and cozy with the state. Sometimes I have to wonder if CSX lobbies for the South Coast Fail Project, too.


Why is that wasted money? It is the actual appraised valuation of the connecting line that feeds rail access to 3 Massport shipping ports (Marine Terminal, Fall River, New Bedford) scheduled or proposed for facility upgrade/expansion and harbor dredging. It hosts active special event passenger service. And it is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue. Why would the state not have a vested interest in buying it when it is completely consistent with 40 years of S.O.P. in all 6 New England states to buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations. This isn't even the MBTA making the purchase...it's the MassDOT mothership.


I hear this Boston Herald comment section taxpayer ripoff WHARRGARBL! spittle all the time, but the folks making it never explain why it's a ripoff other than imply "it's Massachusetts, therefore it must be a ripoff".

Do either of you care to posit a non-conspiracy hypothesis?
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby boatsmate » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:57 am

I agree with F line the T needs to buy this line if the y are going to run passenger trains over it, we all know CSX and there "LOVE" for passenger trains and the T can not afford to have trains run when CSX decides they want them to run. Look at the Worcester branch for examples. this is one of the better moves I have seen on a long time.

just my 2 cents.......

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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:17 am

boatsmate wrote:I agree with F line the T needs to buy this line if the y are going to run passenger trains over it, we all know CSX and there "LOVE" for passenger trains and the T can not afford to have trains run when CSX decides they want them to run. Look at the Worcester branch for examples. this is one of the better moves I have seen on a long time.

just my 2 cents.......

Capt Bill << former VRR Fireman


Yeah...and as noted this is a freight mission-critical line. You can debate the wisdom of Massport's plans for the 3 water ports (I'm certainly in agreement that small-potatoes ports like that have limited upside for the proposed $$$), but since they're proceeding regardless they do have a vested interest in becoming the controlling party for the contiguous rail routes in/out of those ports to the classification yards and to be able to initiate any supporting upgrades (286K, state-of-repair and crossing protection upgrades, etc.) necessary to support the port expansion. This line was the only break in public ownership between Worcester, Framingham, and all of those ports. It is in their strategic purview to lock down control of the last link in the chain for 100% certainty. That's not a ripoff, it's common sense.


Also...a property valuation of a rail line is not some black box cut in a backroom deal. The STB has to approve the filing and ensure that it's on-the-level for a transaction involving common carriers, and there are state-level reporting regulations. $29M is the valuation of the asset. It is probably accurate in context of 1) length of the line, 2) connectivity of the line directly linking 3 of 4 southside mainlines and indirectly distributing freight daily traffic to all 4 mainlines, 3) value of the rail hardware itself, 4) freight revenue generation (which is fairly significant given the # of locals that use it), and 5) valuation of the passenger rights on the lower half of the line at the frequencies proposed in the Foxboro Commuter Rail study. You would be hard-pressed to find an independent third-party auditor who would come up with a different figure. The reason why it cost $12M more than the Conn River Line is that Pan Am let freight revenue on the I-91 corridor crater to well below that of the Framingham Sub's daily intake, and the tippy-top future passenger frequencies on that line--Amtrak expansion and future commuter rail--is still going to be a bit less than the 16 trains per day the max-build Foxboro study pegs as the demand-serving commuter rail schedule. I'm sure when they buy the Milford Branch (whose price is an indexed-to-inflation known-known from the buy clause in the '88 Conrail lease) and if CSX approaches them for a Fitchburg Secondary sale that those valuations are going to come out quite a bit less due to quite a bit less freight revenue and less mission-critical connectivity and strategic value.


If there's a quarrel to be had with any recent state rail purchases it's the $18M valuation of the Housatonic mainline. But even that had *some* (not a lot, but some) degree of necessary extra overhead from other considerations playing in, like the acquisition of the separate Coltsville Industrial Track and attached yard property, plus compensation for HRCC for needing to liquidate its Coltsville Terminal property holding company in the deal.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby Trainman101 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:22 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
Trainman101 wrote:23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.


MassDOT loves to buy CSX's lines. Seems to me someone in CSX is nice and cozy with the state. Sometimes I have to wonder if CSX lobbies for the South Coast Fail Project, too.


Why is that wasted money? It is the actual appraised valuation of the connecting line that feeds rail access to 3 Massport shipping ports (Marine Terminal, Fall River, New Bedford) scheduled or proposed for facility upgrade/expansion and harbor dredging. It hosts active special event passenger service. And it is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue. Why would the state not have a vested interest in buying it when it is completely consistent with 40 years of S.O.P. in all 6 New England states to buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations. This isn't even the MBTA making the purchase...it's the MassDOT mothership.


I hear this Boston Herald comment section taxpayer ripoff WHARRGARBL! spittle all the time, but the folks making it never explain why it's a ripoff other than imply "it's Massachusetts, therefore it must be a ripoff".

Do either of you care to posit a non-conspiracy hypothesis?


F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:actual appraised valuation
why is that a reason to buy it?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue.
23 million because it is part of a study?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations.
Like what? Is MBTA going to run intermodal to New Bedford? CSX and its predecessors have made the most of this line without the public meddling in it.

You made my argument too easy F-line. Massdot is a bunch of politically connect hacks who think they are savy businessmen/women because they can go out and spend 23 million of the tax payers money. 23 million invested from the tax payers, when and how will we see a return? Never....
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:39 pm

Trainman101 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
Trainman101 wrote:23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.


MassDOT loves to buy CSX's lines. Seems to me someone in CSX is nice and cozy with the state. Sometimes I have to wonder if CSX lobbies for the South Coast Fail Project, too.


Why is that wasted money? It is the actual appraised valuation of the connecting line that feeds rail access to 3 Massport shipping ports (Marine Terminal, Fall River, New Bedford) scheduled or proposed for facility upgrade/expansion and harbor dredging. It hosts active special event passenger service. And it is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue. Why would the state not have a vested interest in buying it when it is completely consistent with 40 years of S.O.P. in all 6 New England states to buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations. This isn't even the MBTA making the purchase...it's the MassDOT mothership.


I hear this Boston Herald comment section taxpayer ripoff WHARRGARBL! spittle all the time, but the folks making it never explain why it's a ripoff other than imply "it's Massachusetts, therefore it must be a ripoff".

Do either of you care to posit a non-conspiracy hypothesis?


F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:actual appraised valuation
why is that a reason to buy it?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue.
23 million because it is part of a study?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations.
Like what? Is MBTA going to run intermodal to New Bedford? CSX and its predecessors have made the most of this line without the public meddling in it.

You made my argument too easy F-line. Massdot is a bunch of politically connect hacks who think they are savy businessmen/women because they can go out and spend 23 million of the tax payers money. 23 million invested from the tax payers, when and how will we see a return? Never....


Don't be dense. If you want to make a counterpoint to questions asked and answered, by all means do so. I am most definitely not saying you have to agree with the rationale for the purchase. But the rationale itself is not a mystery, and is a bit more nuanced than whatever gubmit and taxes! Mad Libs form you're filling out with the contents of your vented spleen. Try responding in-context to the discussion. Otherwise, there are plenty of newspaper comment sections I could suggest that offer a much bigger and more satisfying megaphone than RR.net to bleat on about whatever makes you fist-shaking mad as a taxpayer, with none of the prior expectations of reading comprehension or participation in a live discussion.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby Trainman101 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:17 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Trainman101 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
Trainman101 wrote:23 million wasted. If you want to run scheduled trains to Foxboro csx would gladly let you rebuild/maintain the line in exchange for running as many trains as you wanted.


MassDOT loves to buy CSX's lines. Seems to me someone in CSX is nice and cozy with the state. Sometimes I have to wonder if CSX lobbies for the South Coast Fail Project, too.


Why is that wasted money? It is the actual appraised valuation of the connecting line that feeds rail access to 3 Massport shipping ports (Marine Terminal, Fall River, New Bedford) scheduled or proposed for facility upgrade/expansion and harbor dredging. It hosts active special event passenger service. And it is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue. Why would the state not have a vested interest in buying it when it is completely consistent with 40 years of S.O.P. in all 6 New England states to buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations. This isn't even the MBTA making the purchase...it's the MassDOT mothership.


I hear this Boston Herald comment section taxpayer ripoff WHARRGARBL! spittle all the time, but the folks making it never explain why it's a ripoff other than imply "it's Massachusetts, therefore it must be a ripoff".

Do either of you care to posit a non-conspiracy hypothesis?


F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:actual appraised valuation
why is that a reason to buy it?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: is subject to a completed commuter rail extension study the state wants to pursue.
23 million because it is part of a study?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:buy private lines into public ownership when it supports public strategic considerations.
Like what? Is MBTA going to run intermodal to New Bedford? CSX and its predecessors have made the most of this line without the public meddling in it.

You made my argument too easy F-line. Massdot is a bunch of politically connect hacks who think they are savy businessmen/women because they can go out and spend 23 million of the tax payers money. 23 million invested from the tax payers, when and how will we see a return? Never....


Don't be dense. If you want to make a counterpoint to questions asked and answered, by all means do so. I am most definitely not saying you have to agree with the rationale for the purchase. But the rationale itself is not a mystery, and is a bit more nuanced than whatever gubmit and taxes! Mad Libs form you're filling out with the contents of your vented spleen. Try responding in-context to the discussion. Otherwise, there are plenty of newspaper comment sections I could suggest that offer a much bigger and more satisfying megaphone than RR.net to bleat on about whatever makes you fist-shaking mad as a taxpayer, with none of the prior expectations of reading comprehension or participation in a live discussion.


Please don't be so dense, your prior posts clearly suggest you are in favor of this purchase. You asked me to elaborate with a "hypothesis " (big word) on my dislike on this purchase which I did. So far I haven't seem anything to convince me it was 23 million well spent. Maybe you can try and convince me again with another 12 paragraph response(sigh).
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:50 pm

The line was doing just fine, and even had a promising future, therefore... why would the state need it? There's no state-run trains on the line, except for game trains, which are not regularly (if ever) screwed over by CSX. It just wasn't necessary. Just because they got it at fair market value doesn't mean it should be done.

If my neighbor would sell me their house at a fair value, do I have to buy it while they continue to live in it rent-free and I don't utilize it? No.

I fail to see the benefit.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:55 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:The line was doing just fine, and even had a promising future, therefore... why would the state need it? There's no state-run trains on the line, except for game trains, which are not regularly (if ever) screwed over by CSX. It just wasn't necessary. Just because they got it at fair market value doesn't mean it should be done.

If my neighbor would sell me their house at a fair value, do I have to buy it while they continue to live in it rent-free and I don't utilize it? No.

I fail to see the benefit.


Read the posts.

This is the last connecting length not under state control for serving transloads at three Massport ports slated for rail-to-docks upgrades. It's not just a passenger buy. If there's a fair critique here it's whether Massport should be doing the port upgrades, which is a whole separate thread's worth of valid point/counterpoint. But they are doing it. And this was one of the dependencies.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:20 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:The line was doing just fine, and even had a promising future, therefore... why would the state need it? There's no state-run trains on the line, except for game trains, which are not regularly (if ever) screwed over by CSX. It just wasn't necessary. Just because they got it at fair market value doesn't mean it should be done.

If my neighbor would sell me their house at a fair value, do I have to buy it while they continue to live in it rent-free and I don't utilize it? No.

I fail to see the benefit.


Read the posts.

This is the last connecting length not under state control for serving transloads at three Massport ports slated for rail-to-docks upgrades. It's not just a passenger buy. If there's a fair critique here it's whether Massport should be doing the port upgrades, which is a whole separate thread's worth of valid point/counterpoint. But they are doing it. And this was one of the dependencies.


I still don't understand, though. MassPort is not running the trains. The line is already established and active. If they're making upgrades, they could make those upgrades without a costly purchase. I highly doubt CSX would say no to anything which makes running the line easier.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:28 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:The line was doing just fine, and even had a promising future, therefore... why would the state need it? There's no state-run trains on the line, except for game trains, which are not regularly (if ever) screwed over by CSX. It just wasn't necessary. Just because they got it at fair market value doesn't mean it should be done.

If my neighbor would sell me their house at a fair value, do I have to buy it while they continue to live in it rent-free and I don't utilize it? No.

I fail to see the benefit.


Read the posts.

This is the last connecting length not under state control for serving transloads at three Massport ports slated for rail-to-docks upgrades. It's not just a passenger buy. If there's a fair critique here it's whether Massport should be doing the port upgrades, which is a whole separate thread's worth of valid point/counterpoint. But they are doing it. And this was one of the dependencies.


I still don't understand, though. MassPort is not running the trains. The line is already established and active. If they're making upgrades, they could make those upgrades without a costly purchase. I highly doubt CSX would say no to anything which makes running the line easier.


That's the point. Today's CSX might not say no. But 17 years ago's Conrail had such a toxic working relationship with the state that spite gestures were well within the realm of possibility. And it was not more than a few months ago that CP tried its semi-hostile takeover of CSX, which could've very suddenly changed the management. And it may not be their last bid for CSX, either. If Massport's going to spend the cash on these ports, it surmizes that its risk is best-mitigated by public ownership of every link from South Boston, Fall River, and New Bedford to Framingham and Worcester where the spelled-out rights and responsibilities in the trackage rights leaves no give for anyone to stray from their best behavior.

The economics of the port upgrades themselves may be dubious, but the risk mitigation logic fits since this was the very last link in the chain not under state control. Honestly, they should've played the port revenue spin up a lot more in the announcement since the optics of making this look like a passenger giveaway to Bob Kraft were cringe-worthy and horribly messaged. It might be a >50% passenger deal, but the trans-agency freight motivations were significant enough for the MassDOT mothership and not the T to be the one installed as new line owner.
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Re: MassDOT purchase of Framingham Secondary?

Postby Trainman101 » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:51 am

The state needed to buy the the Framingham secondary to get south boston? Why stop there? Why not buy the the entire Boston and Albany? It will work so much better if it's all under state control. Only massdot and a communist nation would be dumb enough to buy a perfectly healthy rail line.
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