Worst abandonments

For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

Worst abandonments

Postby Conifer » Tue May 26, 2015 12:24 pm

Are there any railway abandonments that proved to be regrettable in retrospect? This could either be as a loss of business for the railroad or as detrimental to the industry as a whole—any section of track where the railroad wouldn’t give up service, if it could be done over.
Conifer
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 4:09 am

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby rr503 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:15 am

I'd say some of the lines CR and its predecessors downgraded and/or abandoned in the northeast are sorely missed. With all the congestion problems, another main line from, say Pittsburgh or Buffalo to Chicago or St Louis (like PRR's line) would be useful.
In New Jersey, the LHR's abandonment probably wasn't the best idea, as it could have been linked with other lines to create a bypass around the North Jersey terminal area. CR did study doing that, but I believe that the project's Achilles' Heel was that the Wallkill Valley (which would have linked the LHR with the river sub) was to light and badly maintained a RR to support large, heavy trains, and that trestle (Rosendale...?) was already falling apart (I think that it also was hard to directly link the two). In the scheme of things though, the LHR abandonment wasn't the end of the world; North Jersey isn't Chicago. I just like to think it is :)
In the west, one could argue that the MILW over pipestone pass shouldn't have been abandoned, as it was the newest and best-engineered of the northern crossings, but we wouldn't have any of the Milwaukee road left to work with if we hadn't let it die...
I bet I'm missing loads of others, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
rr503
 
Posts: 519
Joined: Sat May 02, 2015 4:13 pm
Location: North by Northwest

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby Engineer Spike » Sat Jun 20, 2015 3:31 am

B&M's Northern Main comes to mind. Although Boston isn't the manufacturing center that it was, this route has great passenger potential. It would be a direct connection between Boston and Montreal, both major metro areas of North America.
"Welcome all ye who enter; the show that never ends. Tingfield Sperminal Railway." (Graffiti on the entry to Mohawk Yard Office)
Engineer Spike
 
Posts: 1650
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:24 pm

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby FLRailFan1 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:19 pm

In Connecticut the Midland Route. In Northern New England the MEC Mountain division. In Florida, I heard CSX would love two back...withacoolie trail route and Perry Cut Off...
FLRailFan1
 
Posts: 321
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:39 am

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby amtrakhogger » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:32 am

CSX Norlina Subdivision in VA and NC.
"I will stop at St. Avold."
User avatar
amtrakhogger
 
Posts: 1839
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:16 am
Location: "F" on the Camden and Amboy

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:27 am

The Rock Island Choctaw Route, hands-down. It'd be a very valuable route for UP or KCS in particular, to connect the Deep South with the Southwest.

Honorable mentions:
-the Soo Line main across Wisconsin, particularly the Soo's sale thereof (and of the corresponding SSM - Sudbury track) and its subsequent downgrade/abandonment. The Osceola, WI - Withrow, MN track isn't optimal, but that could have been bypassed by use of the C&NW from Turtle Lake to New Richmond. CP Rail complains about its Chicago undercapacity, when it had an alternate route for a century.
-the Canada Southern. Another case of overcapacity turning into undercapacity for CP Rail, which could have purchased the line from Conrail intact.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4080
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby New Haven 1 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:03 pm

It seems really ironic at this point , but, I would put the B&M' s wheelright branch which was is now the Norwottuck Rail Trail in this category. Yes, I can already hear the rail trail enthusiasts having a hussy fit over this one and no doubt would contest the "Immense" popularity of this trail, but, as I have lived in this area all of my life, I know the reality of the situation. While the line was originally built as a direct passenger connection from Northampton to Boston that never really panned out that well due to timing with the automobile's popularity, the irony I refer to is the fact that it parallels poor Route 9 which struggles to handle the 50,000 plus vehicles that traverse it everyday while this R.O.W. that see's modest walking and biking activity which instead would serve a far more useful purpose if the rails were re-laid and electric trolleys were put into service. Between, students travelling to Northampton and shoppers traveling to Hadley, this line would help take large quantities of those vehicles off of route 9. Too boot, think of the positive environmental impact that removing thousands of vehicle trips from the road would have. Furthermore, some of those folks who are driving who may have had a bit too much fun in Northampton would be letting someone else drive them home. I am not here to start an argument, I only want to point out how important timing is!
RAILROADS: AMERICA'S MOST IMPORTANT TOOL FOR ENERGY CONSERVATION. REMIND YOUR POLITICIANS HOW YOU WANT YOUR TAX DOLLARS SPENT.
New Haven 1
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun May 16, 2004 7:22 pm

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby The EGE » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:58 pm

That line passes largely through open fields; if trolleys were run on roads for the final approaches into Noho and Amherst, rail with trail would not be infeasible.
User avatar
The EGE
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:16 pm
Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby YamaOfParadise » Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:46 pm

New Haven 1 wrote:It seems really ironic at this point , but, I would put the B&M' s wheelright branch which was is now the Norwottuck Rail Trail in this category.


Certainly could have a potential, but what routing do you intend to have it route to Boston? The Central Mass. Branch between Wheelwright and West Boylston was abandoned in '39 after the Hurricane of '38 (hence the creation of the Wheelwright Branch), so you couldn't take that all the way (that section of the line was fairly tortuous topographically, even moreso than it's northern and southern comparisons of the Fitchburg Main and the B&A Main). So even if you still did have the Wheelwright Branch, you'd probably have to route your way into South Station via NECR to Palmer and then via the B&A.

And to evaluate the rebuilding of Northampton-Amherst, you'd want to consider if going Northampton-Amherst would be worth the cost of doing so. Although there is obviously a huge amount of inter-travel between the two places (much of which has a higher potential to use public traffic), if you consider your goal to connect those cities to Boston and relieve MA-9 traffic also between Worcester and Amherst, you might find using the fully functional lines adequate; with the extension of commuter service west through Palmer to Springfield, Northampton can be connected with the Pioneer Valley CR, and Amherst could be connected with the Knowledge Corridor service on the NECR. More roundabout for Northampton, but more feasible and has more versatility.

Now, more on-topic and ALSO related to the unlucky Central Mass. Branch is the Hampden Railroad. While never opened and no trains ever running on it, it was built, so I think that counts as an abandonment. It was a victim of the antitrust campaign against J.P. Morgan's quest to unite his New Haven Railroad with the B&M; I can't say I disagree with the antitrust case, but it's ironic that the one thing that could've opened New England up to a little more competition (on the Boston to Springfield corridor) ended up not happening because of it. The main reason I bring it up here, is that if this happened, you could run some NEC trains to North Station using the Central Mass. instead of going to South Station via the B&A. Or just commuter rail from Springfield to North Station. Regardless, both the Central Massachusetts and Hampden Branches both could have prospered much more, particularly because of their high building standards... but the Central Mass. has had bad luck throughout its entire lifespan: it was originally to be part of a route to Harrisburg via what became the Lehigh & New England, but middle section between Northampton to the Poughkeepsie Bridge never materialized. So without that or the Hampden, it didn't really have much use as a through route, hence why passenger service was largely abandoned in the 1930s.
Consider contributing detailed railway data to OpenStreetMap for use in OpenRailwayMap!
User avatar
YamaOfParadise
 
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:36 pm
Location: Middlesex County, Connecticut

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby New Haven 1 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:10 pm

Interesting responses Yama and EGE. While I did focus on the area of attention I wanted to, I didn't specify that I was only concentrating the Northampton to Amherst section as ideal for the electric trolley. The daily 50,000 vehicles that are forced to travel route 9 as documented by car counters placed on the road by the state before they widened some, but, not all sections clearly demonstrate a problem. Even with this project the traffic jams continue as this farm road was never designed to handle this type of volume. I am only thinking that it would be nice if at least some part of western Mass could move into 21st Century thinking. The whole premise of rail trails was to preserve the right of way for future use if needed. Well, if this data doesn't show need for that use then I guess I don't know what would. I agree with Yama that there certainly is room for both in the area of my thought. No, some NIMBY's may not care for it, but, sometimes you have to do a little more than simply say you care about the environment, you have do something too! On top of all this, consider how the Conn River Main, or, "Knowledge Corridor" as some of the politicians have referred to it is now rebuilt for high speed rail and is being used already by the Vermonter with commuter service in the works. This branch if reopened would provide direct rail access as it would connect right in the area where Amtrak stops in Northampton not only to students but their visiting parents and anyone else who would come to visit Umass or any other college in the area without the need to deal with the Route 9 parking lot.
RAILROADS: AMERICA'S MOST IMPORTANT TOOL FOR ENERGY CONSERVATION. REMIND YOUR POLITICIANS HOW YOU WANT YOUR TAX DOLLARS SPENT.
New Haven 1
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun May 16, 2004 7:22 pm

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu May 19, 2016 9:46 am

I have to concur with Mr. Hogger and the CSX Norlina Sub, or the former SAL's line Petersburg-Raleigh.

Think of it; CSX would have two "one way roads" running North-South, with the traffic flow only being interrupted for Amtrak trains. The UP has taken advantage of the multitude of redundant lines in the Southwest from their acquisitions by making the "maze" of former SP, MP, T&P, and MKT lines into one way railroads (little or no Amtrak to interfere). It would seem that the mentality at 500 Water (CSX operating HQ in Jax) would be "cut 'em up; look at all that salvaged rail we will have".

UP wisely took another tack.
Gilbert B Norman
 
Posts: 12890
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Aurora Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby mtuandrew » Tue May 24, 2016 10:24 am

Here's hoping SEHSR can benefit from CSX's lack of vision. (And maybe get a couple bucks from CSX overhead traffic.)
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4080
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby GulfRail » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:17 am

Off the top of my head, I can think of the following abandonments that should not have taken place.

1. The abandonment of the Lehigh & Hudson River and the Poughkeepsie Bridge Route. If Conrail had kept this route, they would've had a route to New England that didn't require going up the banks of the Hudson and through Selkirk/Mechanicville first as well as a route that bypassed the treacherous Berkshire Mountains and North Jersey. It would've made a nice extension for Conrail's Hagerstown-Harrisburg-Reading-Allentown route, as well as a nice extension to New England for the Southern Tier. If the Poughkeepsie Bridge Route was still intact, I have no doubt in my mind that it would be Norfolk Southern's primary gateway to New England. Who knows: maybe we'd see Norfolk Southern doing run-throughs to Boston with the Providence & Worcester.

2. The Spokane, Portland & Seattle's "High Line" from Spokane to Pasco. Compared to the Northern Pacific, it was better engineered and more direct than the NP. However, the Northern Pacific had more on-line traffic than the High Line, so the beancounters who were running Burlington Northern decided to raise the High Line. If BN had a little more foresight, they would've single-tracked the NP and implemented directional running.

3. The Choctaw Route. It would've served as a nice extension to Memphis for the Santa Fe or a good way to bypass the congested Sunset Route for Espee. However, Santa Fe wasn't interested in rehabilitating the Choctaw Route and Southern Pacific had its hands full with the Golden State Route, so very little of the Choctaw Route remains except for portions in Oklahoma and the Brinkley-Memphis line.

4. The Milwaukee's route from Seattle to Spokane. The Milwaukee's route was shorter than either the GN or NP routes to Spokane and Burlington Northern purchased it with the intent of rehabilitating it, but quickly scrapped their plans (pun intended) and sold the ROW to the State of Washington.

5. The Lackawanna's route from Stroudsbourg to Binghamton, along with the Lackawanna Cut-Off. The Lackawanna's route was better engineered and in better condition than the adjacent Lehigh Valley route between Allentown and Sayre, but Conrail elected to preserve the Lehigh (until spinning it off in the early 90's, that is) over the Lackawanna. I've heard the reason for this was something to do with the Erie Lackawanna's removal of the Boonton Line making the Cut-Off an operational headache for Conrail, but I read that bit of trivia in a post on the Erie Lackawanna mailing list many years ago and I haven't been able to find it again.

6. The Monon's route from Chicago to Indianapolis was the shortest route between the two cities, yet CSX threw it (and most of the Monon, for that matter) on the junkheap. I can't help but wonder how different things would be today if the Southern had gotten its hands on the Monon instead of the L&N.

7. The Canada Southern would've been a good fit for today's Canadian Pacific, which is struggling with overcapacity issues on its own route from Detroit to Buffalo.
User avatar
GulfRail
 
Posts: 137
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:04 am

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:00 pm

As to point 1, as far as I know the Poughkeepsie Bridge was in need of extensive restoration; I believe the maximum authorized speed was 5 mph in one direction and 8 mph in the other (maybe Noel Weaver can confirm or correct). There had to be a reason for that, and extensive rehab and signaling improvements would have been necessary over other parts of the route. I think a Conrail study determined that potential traffic only aggregated one train a day in each direction between Allentown and Cedar Hill, the traffic dispersing at each end among various origins and destinations. Another study commissioned by an independent group (I forget who) reached the same conclusion. I don't know about the relative difference in gradients between the Selkirk and Maybrook routes.

On point 5, yes, the State of New Jersey took a portion of the Boonton Line for a highway, making it necessary for trains over the former DL&W to use the Erie's New York & Greenwood Lake east of Mountain View, which was a rollercoaster compared with the Boonton Line and caused a lot of operating headaches. I think there's a thread somewhere--I can't find it at the moment--stating that a suggestion was made at the time that a single track could have been kept parallel to the highway but that was not acted upon.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3461
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: Worst abandonments

Postby GulfRail » Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:06 am

ExCon90 wrote:As to point 1, as far as I know the Poughkeepsie Bridge was in need of extensive restoration; I believe the maximum authorized speed was 5 mph in one direction and 8 mph in the other (maybe Noel Weaver can confirm or correct). There had to be a reason for that, and extensive rehab and signaling improvements would have been necessary over other parts of the route. I think a Conrail study determined that potential traffic only aggregated one train a day in each direction between Allentown and Cedar Hill, the traffic dispersing at each end among various origins and destinations. Another study commissioned by an independent group (I forget who) reached the same conclusion. I don't know about the relative difference in gradients between the Selkirk and Maybrook routes.

Oh, I understand why Conrail made the decision it did: there was no need for Conrail to keep Selkirk and Maybrook back in 1976, nor did the higher-ups at Conrail know their railroad would be split between CSX and Norfolk Southern some 25 years later. That being said, I'm sure Norfolk Southern wishes it had a more direct route to New England than the PRR-DL&W-D&H-B&M route it currently operates with Pan Am.
User avatar
GulfRail
 
Posts: 137
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:04 am

Next

Return to General Class I and II Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest