landlocked

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landlocked

Postby mikecoast » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:14 am

I am trying to accertain what my father's position is concerning railroad tracks that run through his property. Years ago when my grandfather owned the property in Southeastern Massachusetts/Freetown, railroad tracks were laided through a portion of his land sectioning off about 35 acres. That part of the property became landlocked as a result. My father wants to develop the land but has no access to it. From what his father told him he thinks the railroad owes him some sort of crossing. He's old and I want to help him with this but I don't know where to start. :-)
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Postby Mike Roque » Sat Dec 17, 2005 4:50 pm

<bump> I just moved this from the General Discussion forum.
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Postby BR&P » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:28 pm

Laws vary from state to state, but in New York I believe a piece of land cannot be landlocked - somebody has to grant access. It's likely Massachusetts has something similar, or else parcels of land could be worthless if you can't get to them. In this case, the money spent on an attorney would probably be well worth it.
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re landlocked

Postby pharmerphil54 » Sat Dec 17, 2005 10:30 pm

Mikecoast, I'll be interested in the end result of your query as I'm a Csx emplyee in that general area.
I am a bit confysed as to the time frame,both railroads in the Freetown area,the New Bedford and the Fall River lines were built and finished by the 1840s,well over 160 years ago . You might want to check on that before paying a lawyer a retainer.
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Re: landlocked

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Dec 17, 2005 11:27 pm

mikecoast wrote:I am trying to accertain what my father's position is concerning railroad tracks that run through his property. Years ago when my grandfather owned the property in Southeastern Massachusetts/Freetown, railroad tracks were laided through a portion of his land sectioning off about 35 acres. That part of the property became landlocked as a result. My father wants to develop the land but has no access to it. From what his father told him he thinks the railroad owes him some sort of crossing. He's old and I want to help him with this but I don't know where to start. :-)


In general the buyer (railroad in your case) must allow a right of way for reasonable access as an easement of necessity. However, the railroad probably doesn't have to pay for it, especially at this late date. The railroad can impose reasonable safety requirements for the crossing, which will vary with the nature of the rail operations there from a simple passive crossbuck sign all the way up to a bridge over the track(s).

That said, your exact situation is very much fact specific and it will be necessary to retain an attorney versed in real property law to research and render a definitive opinion.
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Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
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Postby wolfmom69 » Sun Dec 18, 2005 9:08 am

Interesting topic!! Looking at many old track maps/profiles,one will see 100's of "farm crossings",and the railroad WAS required to do this initially when the tracks were laid. And they did range from a simple crossbuck(usually) to an overhead bridge(such as the one to Rollins Farm,just west of the Conway Branch junction with the mainline in S. New Hampshire),plus some "underground" cattle passes.

Problem is TIME has passed and many of these agreements were with the land owner the original railroad made the easement with. This has created a "mess",and been a lucrative field for lawyers.

Best of luck in getting your Dad's access road worked out.

Bud
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Postby cbrrfan » Sun Dec 18, 2005 11:00 am

If you even considering deveoping any land you NEED an attorney to guide you through all the complex issues, it will cost up front, but you simply can not go it alone.

I would direct you to a recently settled case. Guilford Rail System (who else?) vs the City of Bangor, Maine. The Maine Superior Court sided with the city as the parcel in question had no other access than by a crossing of the railroad at grade.

It is then up to a hearing officer to determine the apportionment of cost between the easement holder and the railroad. This seems to be a fairly universal concept and would probably apply in MA as well.

I hope this helps.
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Postby wolfmom69 » Sun Dec 18, 2005 12:25 pm

The case in Bangor involved the crossing to the former "water works"(actually a former hydro power plant originally built,in part,for trolleys,around a century ago. Mostly brick structure(s) have been derelict for years,and plan is to convert this into lower income housing.

Guilford,in their usual "public spirited manner",and in part too,to cover their butt in event of a collision at grade,filed a protest.

What these cases show,is that despite,what seems to be clear title to an access,after a private citizen does research,you still sadly need a lawyer,as the railroads,will use their legal staff(on fat retainers) to give you a hard time if you try "to do it alone".

Our parasitic legal system is a fact of life in this country,despite how "honorable" the profession is professed to be.

It amounts to extortion.

Bud :(
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Postby MBTA F40PH-2C 1050 » Sun Dec 18, 2005 12:38 pm

just make your own RR crossing w/ rocks and gravel and make a crossbuck sign, haha :-D but that may not go to well w/ CSX
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Postby The Rising » Sun Dec 18, 2005 12:54 pm

Hello all,

Hello Mr. Coast,

I know I'm going to regret saying this, but this really is a question for Trainlawyer to answer. :( He is a semi-retired attorney based right in Massachusetts.

You may want to send a Private message to him. Here is a link to his profile here at RR.net:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/profile. ... file&u=138

He'll be able to answer your questions, and if necessary, for an astronomical fee :-D, help you out with any problems that might arise. He knows what he's talking about (usually) and is well versed in both Railroad and Real estate law. It sounds to me that you may need a professional to help you with your problem.

Hope this helps and good luck!

That's all for now folks,

See ya all later.
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Definitely for

Postby henry6 » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:09 pm

Definitely for Trainlawyer to wrastle with. But you can start by asking railroad for copies of agreements, deeds, easements, etc. THey should have such records even if on thier own maps and diagrams.. Also check deeds, property maps and other records at your court house. But you do need a lawyer if there are any disagreements or lots of gray areas.
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Postby SPUI » Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:04 pm

The two lines through Freetown were both Old Colony Railroad lines - their New Bedford to Fitchburg line, near Route 140, and their (Boston to) Middleboro to Fall River line, near Route 24.

The Middleboro-Fall River line opened ca. 1845 as the Fall River Railroad and later merged into the Old Colony Railroad.

The New Bedford-Fitchburg line opened through Freetown ca. 1840 as the New Bedford and Taunton Railroad. This became part of the Boston, Clinton, Fitchburg and New Bedford Railroad and was merged into the Old Colony in 1883.

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad leased the Old Colony in 1893. I don't know when the Old Colony merged into the New Haven, so you'd be looking for either the Old Colony or the New Haven in the valuation records.
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Postby BR&P » Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:21 pm

One thing puzzles me - in the original post it was stated the tracks were built when your grandfather owned the land. But it appears the tracks were laid in the mid-1800's. Do you come from a family with exceptional longevity, or are there a few "great"s on that grandfather?

I'm sure the poster who suggested just putting down rocks and gravel spoke in jest. In case anyone is wacky enough to take that seriously, you would not only be trespassing, but if your improvised crossing caused a derailment or other damage you could likely be held liable for the whole mess.

It's true that railroads usually greet requests for new crossings with less than open arms. In most cases, the new crossing will bring no benefit to the railroad, and will present new maintenance and liability issues as well as the expense and headaches of setting everything up. Can't really blame them for being less than enthusiastic!
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Re: landlocked

Postby mikecoast » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:45 pm

Hello - I know it's been a while but I finally did the leg work (hired a title examiner) Cutting to the chase - it looks like the first railroad railroad and subsequent railroads owe us a crossing that is 99 feet wide. Without it the 36 acres is landlocked. Things could get very interesting with the commuter rail eventually coming thru - any thoughts
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Re: landlocked

Postby jbvb » Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:34 pm

Who owns the RR right of way as of this moment? CSX or the Commonwealth? In either case, I expect you'll need to bring a carefully prepared case to the owner, which may extend to having a development plan prepared so they can judge what kind of crossing will be required by the use, and exactly where it will be best located. If it's the Commonwealth, your State Rep. might also be useful.
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