Cape Cod Branch Connector

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Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby New Haven 1 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:15 am

I know now it would be most likely considered not worth the effort considering the destruction that Eric Turkington and his cronies did to the Falmouth branch of the Cape Cod rail system, but, I always did wonder why at some point in the past a connector wasn't built on the Cape side of the canal bridge so that trains could run from the Hyannis/Yarmouth branch to the Falmouth branch without involving the canal bridge. While I am guessing that originally there was no reason given that all business from both branches were tied to the mainland originally, I do still wonder why during the scenic train era they didn't do this. It just seems like a lot of really scenic intact rail line at the time was not taken advantage of by the scenic trains. Furthermore, I would think that Turkington and his crowd would have had a lot harder time convincing the state to tear up track that was rebuilt for use in the 1980's if there were trains running on them. Am I missing something here ?
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:28 am

It's a land acquisition issue. If you switch off Google Satellite view Maps view will show you that the nearest house on Bell Rd. has property lines stretching way back into the woods...almost an equal amount of wooded acreage as the house + front yard/driveway itself. Since there's a swampy pond on the Falmouth Branch side immediately at that property line they'd have to run the wye track about 50-75 ft. behind the house to make it work, and I'm guessing that homeowner isn't too keen on that. The pond would also have to have some culvert protection baked in to guard against runoff, so cost would be a little more than just pennies.


Now, any casual inquiries CCCR may have made into this were way back before the state got involved in Cape Flyer. It may not have been worth CCCR's while to engage it in isolation, but if the state has vested interest in better utilizing the rail network on the Cape for tourism they're in a much better position to give that homeowner an overpay for a property easement and square the environmental permitting around the pond. That house is hardly mansion-sized, so a NIMBY-of-one certainly isn't going to stop such an effort cold. But MassDOT, with letters of support from the Cape Chamber of Commerce, is the party that'll have to take the lead on it. Probably more a "when" than an "if", but they've got enough mainline improvements work left do do that has bigger upside for both Cape Flyer's and CCCR's gate receipts before a reconfig of Cape Jct. becomes anyone's idea of a priority. Bread-and-butter first.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby New Haven 1 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:12 pm

Thanks F-Line. A good sound explanation. I agree with what you say especially after taking a look with the Google satellite view. It certainly is a good thing for possibility that only 1 house would be involved, and, they could still have a nice property with the wye section being built. I hope that your "when" as opposed to "if" is the mindset of the powers that be. I know from experience that I was always reluctant to travel to Falmouth despite liking it as a place to visit due to the overwhelming traffic on Rte. 28. It was truly was laughable when transit planners would mention busses as an alternative to avoiding driving in traffic while at the same time having no answer when it was pointed out that the busses would be stuck in the same traffic on the same roads. I actually wrote the state about the logic of removing the rails. Their literal response was that it was cheaper to remove the rails, ties & roadbed first and then pave a bike path instead of simply paving a bike path along side the rebuilt rail line. I guess I just don't get it from a financial point.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:18 pm

If Buzzards Bay is going to eventually get full-time commuter rail, it is going to pinch the dinner train's slots a little bit, especially on those Thursday and Friday trains. And obviously if they get to BB, there's going to be possibility of doing a rush-hour extra or two each day to Hyannis within the trains-per-day limits of the PTC exemption for dark territory. And then later the inevitable poke across the bridge to a Cape-side commuter stop at Sagamore or whatever. When those dominoes start setting themselves up--starting with the proper Middleboro Line extension to BB--that's when MassDOT is going to need to start thinking of what due diligence it can do to shore up CCCR's revenue streams as they increasingly share territory. And certainly the Falmouth Branch is an exploitable asset for that.

There'd need to be a little more than just the wye, though, to make that a revenue-generating asset. Passenger speeds on the branch, which are currently a decently well-maintained 25 MPH, probably need to go up to 40. Grade crossings will need renewal, with gate installations at several public crossings and flasher installations at some of the private boat landings currently only protected by stop signs. There'd need to be a little bit of grant money from the Chamber to spruce up the Monument Beach station platform, rebuild Pocasset Station, secure permission from the Post Office to use the Catumet platform as a full-time excursion station, and do something at the location of ex- North Falmouth Station (the dirt parking lot on Depot Rd./County Rd. right before start of the bike trail and peel-out onto the Otis Branch. No great shakes, but if they're going to build the wye they have to be prepared to make the branch part of the CCCR's excursion mainline...which means a few $M in basic state-of-repair and crossing work from MassDOT, the local Chamber fetching some grants for the stations, and CCCR having all that secured before it contributes its match funding.

All in due time, but the Cape main still needs a few more years of incremental gains before its speeds are reliably near the top of what Class 3 dark territory will bear. And the Sandwich and West Barnstable stops leave a lot of unexploited potential as tourism revenue generators first. Things need to get fast enough that Cape Flyer can add those intermediates and other pot-sweeteners centered around the public and private passenger service can get added at those stops (bike shares, Zipcar rentals, stepped-up bus connections, opening the West Barnstable station house/Historical Society building to more special events during train days, etc.). If generating revenue is the focus, they need to drain their mainline options first. And there's quite a few more moves there pre-empting a full pivot to the Falmouth Branch.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:24 pm

Never mind the homeowner, what about the Army Corps or the EPA and enviro people?
That marsh probably houses the ultra-rare Irkington's Eastern Purple Bellied Frog!
The Army Corp would want electrification 'ala South Coast Rail!

D
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby BandA » Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:26 am

Environmentally, I'd be worried about the creosote, herbicides, leaking lubricants and small diesel spills. Cape is a sandbar, and everything that goes into the ground comes out the faucet. And the wells are mostly very shallow.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby BandA » Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:29 am

If the ROW is wide enough to accommodate both rail and a decent bike path, then eventually growing traffic will force that solution. Plus the "T" likes to completely replace the rail and ties anyway, lol
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby New Haven 1 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:37 pm

Sorry about not responding to this post sooner, but, life does things we all know about. Anyway, lots of good input by all looking at a lot of valid point surrounding this topic. However, there is a reason why I posed the connector thought itself and, not anything about tying into the T for commuter purposes. I have ridden the T and appreciate what it does for Boston and a lot of areas in the vicinity. I have also read/heard in the news about the T's problems with efficiency, budget overruns, poor management, pension funding problems etc. Now, please don't think I'm here to bash the T. I am not. The reason I am mentioning these issues here is unfortunately many local folks that I have talked to on the Cape want nothing to do with it for these and other reasons they come up with or say they have heard. One thing I have heard many times is people apparently feel the presence of the T on the Cape would mean taxes for the T from any community it serves. You can see how much opposition that could very quickly manifest itself if anyone proposed such an idea.

The branch connector itself, on the other hand, is something that the Cape Central/Mass Coastal could use to provide a benefit to Cape residents both directly and more importantly during the busy tourist season. At least some of the above mentioned T haters might think differently if an on cape rail improvement project were proposed. True, it would be nice if a connector could be built to handle some sort of speed, but, what is the real potential given the land layout? I am just looking at this like anything else. Local people will always want to know how a project of any size will benefit them.

While I'm at it, I may as well go crazy. They could use concrete ties taking care of the creosote problem. On top of that run electric trolleys taking care of the diesel problem. I know it's far fetched, but, it would be a neat green way to move people around and the cape is big enough, but not too big for it to be impossible to do with today's technology.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:28 pm

MassDOT has significant Capital investment plans for the Cape main, Falmouth secondary and Dennis Secondary rail lines in the CIP 2017 - 2022 approved plan. Track / tie / ballast work, bridge replacement / repairs, signal / crossing upgrades and the list goes on. Also on the proposed list for future funding is a WYE connector at Canal junction. This past week U.S. Army Col. Patrick Keefe announced plans to maintain and improve rail operations at Camp Edwards / Otis in a letter to MassDOT Director of Railroad Properties Chalita Belfield. In addition the Upper Cape Regional rail transfer station is getting ready to reopen as soon as the final contract is signed with Cavossa Disposal due too be voted on August 21st 2017 while Mass Coastal Railroad is starting inspections on the Otis rail spur for overgrowth cutting and repairing the line for reuse. Looks like a lot of Rail traffic activity coming up in the near future !
Last edited by MEC407 on Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby New Haven 1 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:43 am

Thanks for the update Falmouth Secondary. It is always good to hear that at least a few folks out there care enough to think past the ends of their nose. It sounds like Colonel Keefe is one such person.

I did take a look at the Mass DOT's spending plan and noted ironically what I am pasting here.

Falmouth Depot 2: Modernization FALMOUTH DEPOT
R-12 $1,300,000 $- $1,300,000

Now, as I don't see a reference to the word "North" in front of Falmouth, it does make one wonder how a depot that has no rail access thanks to Eric Turkington and his small well placed batch of trolls is listed under the rail portion of Mass DOT's plan. I am guessing that it's former status allows this under some sort of state stature.

Back to subject matter, while there are a lot of categories amounting to several million dollars slated for the cape rail infrastructure, I was not able to see anything definitive enough to confirm the future wye consideration. I did find this proposal under another DOT document.

Was this what you are talking about?
Rail CC-0122 Construct direct connection from Canal-side rail to Falmouth rail (eliminating need to lower Canal rail bridge) PROPOSED $- Bourne
Rail CC-0122 Construct direct connection from Canal-side rail to Falmouth rail (eliminating need to lower Canal rail bridge) Not associated with a priority Not associated with a program PROPOSED $- Bourne

While it is nice to see it in print, the "not associated with a priority" and "not associated with a program" read to me " not going to happen anytime soon".


I do like the comprehensiveness of the DOT's plan. Hopefully at least the bulk of the work will get done instead of getting slashed before it actually happens.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:55 am

Rail CC-0122 is the listing for a WYE installation at Canal Junction and while it is just on paper as a proposed future plan, at least they have acknowledged the need and purpose for one. With all the wartime rail activity back in the 40's - 50's you would have thought it would have made sense to have a WYE in place back at that time. There is a WYE still in place but looks overgrown on Otis at the turn to the UCRTS transfer station which will be reopening soon after the Cavossa Disposal contract is signed.

You are correct about the Falmouth depot modernization which is the one on Depot Ave in Falmouth not in North Falmouth as that one burned down in 1969, it is still retained under the Rail division but used for Buses. Renovations were just recently completed and If you go there you will see that they cleaned out a short section of the double track still in place next to the station and put down new ballast with hopes of putting a rail car in place for a historical display. What a waste of infrastructure to say the least, thanks to Turkington. At least the rest of the rail line being on a designated STRACNET Military rail network to Otis along with Colonel Keefe's rail status letter to MassDOT , there is no chance of the rails being ripped up for a bike path, even though bike advocates has been pressing for that to happen for over a year now. Mass Coastal RR Chris Podgurski stated in a recent news article that bike path advocates are living in an " alternate reality " if they think the tracks will be ripped up.

The Falmouth Secondary line has still been in active use and maintained by Mass Coastal RR. The Cape Cod Central Scenic Railroad is still using the line as the dinner train just did a run from North Falmouth to the Cape main this past Friday night 8/11. Will be monitoring the Falmouth Secondary to Otis line for MassDOT improvements and posting updates on Mass Coastal discussion topic.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:15 pm

At one time, back in the good days, there was a decent size yard on the Buzzards Bay side of the bridge and just to the northeast. It included several tracks for passenger and freight equipment as well as a wye for turning. I think this property is a parking lot now but I am not positive about that. There was an extensive physical plant on this line at one time.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby BenH » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:56 am

New Haven 1 wrote:Rail CC-0122 Construct direct connection from Canal-side rail to Falmouth rail (eliminating need to lower Canal rail bridge) PROPOSED $- Bourne

This project appears in MassDOT document "CIP project universe proposed" (dated April 2016) that was prepared as part of the 2017-2021 CIP review. The designation "CC" would suggest that the request was initiated by the Cape Cod Commission.

The proposed project is not part of the 2018-2022 MassDOT CIP which leads me to believe that it is no longer under consideration, at this time, at the state level.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:18 am

Noel Weaver wrote:At one time, back in the good days, there was a decent size yard on the Buzzards Bay side of the bridge and just to the northeast. It included several tracks for passenger and freight equipment as well as a wye for turning. I think this property is a parking lot now but I am not positive about that. There was an extensive physical plant on this line at one time.
Noel Weaver


All that's left on the Buzzards Bay side of the bridge is the Original Station & Control Tower, a derail siding and a single to double track over the Cohasset narrows bridge towards Wareham. All the rail yards & wye are long gone having been turned into a Town park & parking lot for the Canal.
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Re: Cape Cod Branch Connector

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:00 am

BenH wrote:
New Haven 1 wrote:Rail CC-0122 Construct direct connection from Canal-side rail to Falmouth rail (eliminating need to lower Canal rail bridge) PROPOSED $- Bourne

This project appears in MassDOT document "CIP project universe proposed" (dated April 2016) that was prepared as part of the 2017-2021 CIP review. The designation "CC" would suggest that the request was initiated by the Cape Cod Commission.

The proposed project is not part of the 2018-2022 MassDOT CIP which leads me to believe that it is no longer under consideration, at this time, at the state level.


Was viewing the CIP project universe proposed document and pretty much all Cape projects in all transportation divisions have the CC designation which leads me to believe that it just means Cape Cod. Could be wrong on that seeing that there is no reference code list for projects. As to the wye status who knows as these lists are far from being current with some projects being listed as proposed or under construction when in fact they have already been completed for some time already. Will have to keep an eye out for any new listings or I'll see it happening as I go by Canal junction on a regular basis to access the Canal.
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