Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Topics relating to the operation of the P&W Railroad, which is a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming. Regional freight railroad based in Worcester and operating in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
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Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:25 pm

On the day of the ceremonial opening of the train platform in Brunswick, ME for the Downeaster extension, Wayne Davis, the Chairman of TrainRiders Northeast gave an interview to an independent blogger discussing his vision for the future. Specifically he addressed what he thought was the importance of returning passenger service from New York City to Maine.

Historically, the State of Maine traveled P&W lines during the New Haven era. Earlier routings went through Putnam while later routings went through Providence. For the time being if the service were to return it is considered unlikely that CSX would permit the train to travel on its heavily used Springfield - Worcester corridor. As such if passenger service is to resume to Maine via the traditional Worcester routing one of the P&W main lines would need to be used again.

Since Amtrak is restricted in the number of trains that can travel over the CT river drawbridges, in theory, this train would likely be a rerouted Northeast Regional. That being the case, which would be the more appropriate routing today, via Providence or via Putnam? Tom Nelligan wrote a nice post last year which I believe was indicating that the line via Putnam was only maintained to Class II standards. What about the P&W line to Worcester via Providence? Is that maintained to Class II standards as well?
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:07 pm

gokeefe wrote:On the day of the ceremonial opening of the train platform in Brunswick, ME for the Downeaster extension, Wayne Davis, the Chairman of TrainRiders Northeast gave an interview to an independent blogger discussing his vision for the future. Specifically he addressed what he thought was the importance of returning passenger service from New York City to Maine.

Historically, the State of Maine traveled P&W lines during the New Haven era. Earlier routings went through Putnam while later routings went through Providence. For the time being if the service were to return it is considered unlikely that CSX would permit the train to travel on its heavily used Springfield - Worcester corridor. As such if passenger service is to resume to Maine via the traditional Worcester routing one of the P&W main lines would need to be used again.

Since Amtrak is restricted in the number of trains that can travel over the CT river drawbridges, in theory, this train would likely be a rerouted Northeast Regional. That being the case, which would be the more appropriate routing today, via Providence or via Putnam? Tom Nelligan wrote a nice post last year which I believe was indicating that the line via Putnam was only maintained to Class II standards. What about the P&W line to Worcester via Providence? Is that maintained to Class II standards as well?


I think both of them have long stretches of Class 3, much like NECR. Their mains are pretty zippy and very well-maintained. That's why RIDOT sees Providence-Woonsocket as relatively low-hanging fruit for future commuter rail. Problem is I don't think they are completely 100% signaled end-to-end, and what signals they do have are a total rip-out/rebuild away from ever being able to support the cab signal and ACSES layers Amtrak requires.

Amtrak's going to double-track the B&A between Springfield-Palmer and Palmer-Worcester when Inland Regionals resume. Service plan is 10 per day + 2 LSL's by 2025. And hopefully the speeds get a bump during those upgrades to real Class 4...especially in MBTA territory where the Worcester Line is the (artificially) slowest dog on the southside. There'll be plenty of slots to fuss around with. If the Vermonter goes back to Montreal you know a Boston-Montreal via Palmer/Amherst route is going to get a hard political push and thorough study. Plus, it's not like number of CSX trains is going to increase dramatically. DS and the extra yard automation they're rolling out in Worcester...then Westborough...then West Springfield...then Palmer and Pittsfield...means the freights are going to get a lot taller and a lot longer before they get more frequent. So CSX's schedule slot needs stay relatively stable even as business and loads grow on a steepening curve. If anything, they might find the prospect of going 60 MPH instead of 40 MPH a bit more attractive now vs. before with that efficiency angle and self-restraint on number of runs and might welcome some of that Amtrak-paid track class bump. Provided they don't sell the line to the state first like everyone suspects they'll someday get around to (although it'll probably be a bona fide sell-high, unlike PAS's head-scratcher of a low asking price for the Conn River).
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:17 am

F-line,

What is the P&W running for signals along these line? CTC or ABS? I'm assuming from what you're saying its some kind of "legacy" ABS system?
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:53 pm

gokeefe wrote:F-line,

What is the P&W running for signals along these line? CTC or ABS? I'm assuming from what you're saying its some kind of "legacy" ABS system?


ABS for whatever has signals. But I'm not even sure large portions of it are signaled at all. At least not the Providence main...less sure about what's left from New London to Worcester. P&W tends to run longer trains fewer times per day than other RR's of its size, and having fast Class 3 track to cover those jobs means they don't often have to juggle multiple moves at once. Because of that they don't have much internal need for upgrading their own signals, and it would only be public passenger investment paying that way. They're going with an ICTS-based PTC system that runs through an ACSES-to-ICTS translator on the NEC, and GPS-based off of it. Since pretty much their whole fleet is cab signal-equipped they have no problem letting someone else install passenger signals and PTC on their lines as long as it's the same transponder setup as the NEC.
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:49 pm

That all makes sense. Clearly if there is ever to be passenger service to Maine from NYC ever it again it certainly appears as if it will be piggybacking on improvements made for other services.
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby newpylong » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:26 pm

No signals at all on the P&W from what I know of (although I don't have a TT anymore).

B&A is 50 freight, not 40.
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Re: Maine Passenger Service (P&W Routes)

Postby TomNelligan » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:12 pm

Confirming the above, the P&W is unsignaled between greater Providence (Boston Switch) and Worcester, between Groton and Worcester, and between Worcester and Gardner. The latter two routes never had automatic signalling, and while Providence-Worcester did at one time, the New Haven RR deactivated automatic signalling on the original P&W back in the 1950s. The segments of Amtrak NEC trackage over which it operates are a different story.
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