Middletown Branch

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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Middletown Branch

Postby Pwrrfan » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:07 am

I have some information pertaining to businesses on the Middletown Branch. A cement company is supposed go in on East Center Street in Wallingford where the old freight house used to be. United Concrete, which will receive cars on the old Dyno siding, is expected to do good business with the railroad. Red Technologies in Portland is scheduled to begin service with the railroad very soon, after almost 3 years. Finally,7D in Rocky Hill is going to make room for a 3rd car. CT-1 should be pretty busy in the coming months which will be good for the railroad.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby YamaOfParadise » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:43 pm

That's great news; it's good to see the area getting better and better. Good to see that the money put into the area by the State can be shown to not be a waste. And the more freight in the Middletown cluster area, the better prospects of seeing the Valley line in full operable again - since it's the only direct way to get freight originating east of the CT River to the Hartford area... but that's still far-off if ever.

Wonder if they're going to end up running any additional trains because of this, as I imagine that United Concrete is definitely going to be bringing in a number of additional cars.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby Pwrrfan » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:29 pm

I'm thinking that with all the work at the Belle Dock and with the new work coming in on the Middletown Branch, there is a possibilty that another train may be put in service.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby Brendan » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:16 pm

Does any one know anything about the string of hopper cars sitting on the valley line by river road on the south end of Middletown? Now that the pipe line work is done in front of the court house in Middletown, they have put the track back together, and within a week, a string of about 18 hopper cars traveled over the rebuild track, heading south of Middletown and are now parked down by river road.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby YamaOfParadise » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:49 pm

Brendan wrote:Does any one know anything about the string of hopper cars sitting on the valley line by river road on the south end of Middletown? Now that the pipe line work is done in front of the court house in Middletown, they have put the track back together, and within a week, a string of about 18 hopper cars traveled over the rebuild track, heading south of Middletown and are now parked down by river road.


What kind of hoppers? I wouldn't be surprised if it was related to the re-ballasting of that replaced track, and the cars are just parked there until they get around to bringing them back to where-ever. Can't even imagine what it'd be otherwise, though, only hoppers that are ever in the general area are from Tilcon... and 18 cars is a lot for any other one-time shipment. Only other idea is that perhaps it is related to the closing of Middletown's sewage facility now that the pipeline up to the Mattabassett facility is near completion; I don't know if construction/demolition debris goes by hopper, nor do I know what they're actually going to do with the old facility.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby Brendan » Fri Feb 12, 2016 5:21 pm

I did not think of the ballasting, but 18 cars seems excessive for that stretch of track. I would think one or two would have done it. and I don't know that they had the right doors for ballasting.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby ebtmikado » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:17 pm

Parked for winter storage, until stone season resumes at Reeds Gap.

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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby YamaOfParadise » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:23 pm

Figured I'd post this here instead of a completely new thread, and I know it isn't technically on the Middletown Branch, but: how is the bridge operated these days? I figure we're long past the days of there being a bridge operator, so I'm curious what the crew does when servicing Portland. (And when the transition between the bridge operator to whatever remote operation is done today, which I imagine was either in the late NH days or Conrail).
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby ebtmikado » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:48 pm

There is a mechanic stationed in Middletown whenever the trains are to cross the river, or be fueled.
I have seen him operate the bridge from controls near the Middletown diamond.

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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby Brendan » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:00 pm

At the end of the Connecticut Central days Francis was trained to operate the bridge and then got hired on by P&W. I don't know if he is still the only one qualified to run the bridge or if he as trained another to do it. But I do see him still there operating it from time to time. There is a small both hanging on the south side of the end of the fixed span on the Middletown side. That both houses the controls. The operator has to walk out on the bridge to that both ahead of the trains arrival to swing the bridge.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby johnpbarlow » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:34 am

As I drove up I-91 near North Haven yesterday 11/18/17 I observed a track gang of at least a half dozen machines doing tie replacement on the Middletown branch. Is there some likelihood that G&W will be increasing operations over this line?
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:13 pm

johnpbarlow wrote:As I drove up I-91 near North Haven yesterday 11/18/17 I observed a track gang of at least a half dozen machines doing tie replacement on the Middletown branch. Is there some likelihood that G&W will be increasing operations over this line?


That was the P&W's plan way before G&W took over. The last yearly address of P&W's Prez. before the company sale touted the hard work that went into getting a 286K uprate to the Tilcon quarry at Reed's Gap in Durham. They did that all by themselves with some funding contributions from Tilcon, who own the line segment from Cedar Hill to Reed's Gap (division post w/CDOT just north of the Perma Treat siding). Remaining priorities on the Tilcon-owned segment are just stabilizing that new rating with cycled tie replacement so it's all at solid state-of-repair, so you were probably witnessing one of those follow-through installments.

P&W has also pumped a lot of its own money into the CDOT-owned portions of the Air and Valley Lines, very quietly without relying on much of anything in outside funding. There aren't a lot of spotters who make it up any further than Middletown to watch the CT River bridge in action, but you can see from all the track equipment and tie/ballast gons that make regular appearances at Middletown Yard that they're quite active at slowly turning the screws on state-of-repair all the way north. The Valley Line is very well-manicured and re-tamped all the way to the division post in Hartford with CSOR now. They clearly see some sort of nest egg to work at on a multi-decade level for gradually getting a spine in place between Hartford and New Haven.

Next major task would be getting the Air Line's 286K rating extended 7.5 miles north on the CDOT portion to Middletown. That shouldn't be too big a grant ask from CDOT...not too many crossings or rail bridges to touch, and the rail weight shouldn't be completely deplorable since this route lasted into the Penn Central era as a major freight main. That'll open up plenty of opportunities for them at Middletown and Portland, especially with the highway access supposed to be getting major improvements soon. CT 9 will see a lot of truck displacement when I-84 goes under the knife for 10 years in downtown Hartford, which is part of the reason why CDOT is sinking big money into improving the downtown exits (traffic lights may not completely go away if Middletown selectmen have their way...but the "WTF?!?" onramp stop signs will finally be a thing of the past!!). Given rate of current upgrade progress, P&W's timing seems about right for making something out of Middletown Cluster when the truck alt routes around Hartford radically change.

The Valley between Cromwell and Hartford South Meadows is going to be a much longer-term prospect to chip away at...lots of crossings, no active protection at any crossings, very lightweight stick, and some ancient rail overpasses to replace. But there's no real urgency there as long they're maintaining a decent state of repair on the current physical plant. They seem to be waiting to see what traffic shifts develop long-term, what kind of tension Springfield Line passenger demands put on alt-routing thru freight, and what the next wave of industry consolidation looks like before making any master plans up there. In the meantime they've got that new lumber yard customer in Rocky Hill keeping a regular delivery schedule.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby johnpbarlow » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:31 am

Thanks for that info! Based on the Google Maps aerial photo of the P&W diamond at Middletown, it looks like the lumber distribution center (Seven D Wholesale?) gets serviced by P&W out of New Haven? If this Air Line - Valley Line routing between New Haven and Hartford eventually becomes G&W's through freight line, how will they cope with the Middletown diamond having a connection only in the SW quadrant? Looks like Riverside cemetery blocks construction of a NW quadrant connection and it doesn't look like there is any space along the current Valley RoW to build a runaround track. Plus it looks like a long freight would block quite a few grade crossings.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby ebtmikado » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:44 am

P&W runs with engines on both ends, so a change of direction is not problematic.
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Re: Middletown Branch

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:03 am

Like I said, they aren't thinking about the Valley Line right now because this is a multi-decade nest egg. Half the battle was just getting it back to reliable operable status, while the rest is just speculating on how the regional freight industry changes in the 2020's. Part of the reason they aren't putting more emphasis on it is because the draconian Conrail-era paper barriers placed on CSOR give P&W very limited interchange rights with them in Hartford. They do not, despite being under the same corporate roof, have rights to waltz into Hartford Yard. What little C&D traffic the two carriers do exchange gets handed off at the South Meadows division post, with the two marks also being able to freely exchange internal equipment at-will now that they're both in the G&W family (though most of that gets done at Cedar Hill). By future "spine" you're mainly talking about what comes of Cedar Hill under CSX in a "Chainsaw" Hunter Harrison era, and whether CSX exits Connecticut entirely and allows the G&W roads more permissive access to CH. In that case increased freight traffic to New Haven is probably going to be constrained by passenger traffic on the Springfield Line, and the alt routing options become more important. How that gets sliced/diced between CSOR and P&W to square the Conrail-era paper barriers--CSOR overhead rights from South Meadows div. post to Cedar Hill or P&W haulage rights from Hartford Yard--is largely cosmetic as far as G&W is concerned. It's mainly about having the whole corridor in-play if they ever need to make a deal over better Cedar Hill rights.

As for wye leg vs. cemetery fence, there's a few ways they can finesse it if they ever wanted a direct northbound track connection to eliminate the backup move that fouls the deKeven Dr. exit ramp grade crossing. If CT 9 southbound got retaining wall work so they could shift the Valley Line track and diamond approx. 45 ft. east to the swing bridge abutment and got rid of the two MOW turnouts they could carve out enough real estate to do a tight but good-enough wye leg around the corner fence post of the cemetery and get back on alignment by the CT 17 overpass. P&W did put in a funding request in CDOT's 2012-2016 State Rail Plan for yard-centric "Middletown Cluster" improvements. Now that CDOT has greenlit the comprehensive CT 9 improvements downtown we'll have to see if the highway design shotguns itself with the rail improvements. This would be the best overall chance for getting that done. Middletown Yard / ex-East Berlin Branch is where they have the most expansion space to do something serious around all the area highway access in an I-84 truck detour era, so possibility for direct yard access has to be on both P&W's and CDOT's radar as the CT 9 improvements go into design and "84'mageddon" looms in Hartford.


Other than the yard improvements, none of the requests P&W put in for the last State Rail Plan touched the Valley Line. The main unfunded item today is rail/tie replacement on the CDOT-owned half of the Air Line...i.e. continuing the 286K uprate north of Tilcon-owned territory to Middletown Cluster. CDOT's due to issue the draft of its next State Rail Plan revision in 2018, and with the higher-priority item of 286K to Reed's Gap settled that's probably going to qualify for real funding starts this time. The only bigger unsettled line item for P&W in CT is replacement of the weight-restricted Shetucket River bridge in Norwich on the main line; right now 286K loads need 263K spacers to go over that decayed bridge, the only such restriction to 'pure' 286K capacity Worcester-Groton-New Haven. And now that NECR has been fully paid out the really big state grant to 286K from the state line to New London docks that P&W main bridge and the upper Air Line are the two biggest remaining unfunded in-state asks for the G&W family. So chances are excellent it'll get done in the next 5 years.
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