Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn River

Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

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Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn River

Postby whatelyrailfan » Sun Jul 12, 2015 4:52 pm

NOTE TO READERS: To the best of my knowledge, there are no plans for such an excursion, this is simply how I might do it. I welcome anyone to chime in with their own ideas!
I would prefer to use the PanAm business train, but given the company's history of not being railfan-friendly, that's probably a fantasy at best. Besides, I'm not even certain how many passengers it would hold. Seeing as how the right-of-way is now owned by the State, I'd use MBTA equipment, two locomotives back-to-back with 3-5 passenger coaches. The primary boarding stop would be Springfield Station (although the train COULD possibly stop and pick up people in Worcester or even Palmer). The first stop would be in Holyoke at the new "station" platform to pick up passengers (me included), and do a photo runby. Next photo runby would be just south of the Oxbow in Northampton at the curve at Mt. Tom Junction roughly across from East Street, or possibly right by Highway Auto Salvage. Third stop; The Depot At Northampton. You could either do just a photo runby, or park the train on the siding and have lunch at the restaurant there (whatever it's called now). Next, I would make two stops in Deerfield: Just north of the Elm Street Crossing, and the second by the Cabeese across from Magic wings. A visit to the East Deerfield yard would be outstanding but unlikely (see above), and I would end the excursion at the Olver transportation Center in Greenfield, swap the power from the north end to the south end (as far as I know there's not much worth seeing north of town, and I'm not sure if any of it is double-tracked), and retrace our steps.
Well there it is! As I said above, please feel free to make your own comments/suggestions/ideas.
Peace,
Jonathan
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby Dick H » Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:24 pm

First of all, the MBRRE will have to make a profit, or at least meet all expenses on the trip.
I do not see any contact with PAR on any issue. Even though Amtrak does run between
Boston and Springfield, these extra two trains (round trip) will probably need permission
from CSX. Using all Amtrak equipment, locos and cars, and Amtrak crews, will be required
for the Amtrak Liability insurance to cover the trip. Photo runbys would be "iffy" at best.
Major railroads, including Amtrak, see them as a liability. and probably would not allow
them, except where existing passenger platforms exist.

With their ongoing shortage of locos and coaches, the MBTA will not likely get involved.
I believe the Conn River Line is now owned by the state of MA. If so, they would be a
"player" in the project.

The MBRRE could contract a trip with Amtrak from Bellows Falls to Springfield and return,
using the regularly scheduled Vermonters. (There is essentially no parking at Brattleboro)
Amtrak could supply extra coaches and guarantee a connection at Springfield. Of course,
that would eliminate any runbys and food stops, etc.

Thank you for raising the issue.
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby newpylong » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:12 am

Some of the best scenery is north of there. Go all the way to Bellows Falls, or if no permission from NECR to East Northfield and reverse. You run with an engine at both ends.
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby whatelyrailfan » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:49 am

Let me make it clear that the excursion I'm talking about would be on the track that goes from Springfield to East Northfield, that until late last year, hadn't seen a passenger train for nearly 30 years. I didn't mention Amtrak at all, because I believe there would be too many complications. Newpylong came up with a good idea of running power at both ends, and he's right, there IS some good scenery north of Greenfield. BEGINNING a trip in Bellows Falls that ENDS in Springfield and then goes BACK to Bellows Falls seems kind of foolish to me, I for one, wouldn't make the 2-3 hour round trip to Bellows Falls. BTW the State Of Massachusetts DOES own the entire right-of-way, and I find it quite unbelievable that MBTA is SO short of locomotives and coaches that they couldn't spare ONE train ONE time on a weekend.
Peace,
Jonathan
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby KSmitty » Mon Jul 13, 2015 8:25 pm

whatelyrailfan wrote:Let me make it clear that the excursion I'm talking about would be on the track that goes from Springfield to East Northfield, that until late last year, hadn't seen a passenger train for nearly 30 years. I didn't mention Amtrak at all, because I believe there would be too many complications. Newpylong came up with a good idea of running power at both ends, and he's right, there IS some good scenery north of Greenfield. BEGINNING a trip in Bellows Falls that ENDS in Springfield and then goes BACK to Bellows Falls seems kind of foolish to me, I for one, wouldn't make the 2-3 hour round trip to Bellows Falls. BTW the State Of Massachusetts DOES own the entire right-of-way, and I find it quite unbelievable that MBTA is SO short of locomotives and coaches that they couldn't spare ONE train ONE time on a weekend.
Peace,
Jonathan

It's also more than just T equipment availability (which isn't really great right now, have you missed all the news about the teething problems with their new units? Brand new locomotives not even entering service before being sent out for contract repairs? Pretty sad availability for brand new machines...). You'd need to place the equipment, which means a deadhead each way, over someone else's railroad. Which means the overhead railroad has to supply a crew, or at least a pilot, which is going to cost money. Then, you've got the issues of the T not having qualified crews on the Conn River Line, which brings us back to point, need a host railroad crew or pilot. Amtrak would actually be a better alternative logistically, since they do have operating rights and qualified crews. Which brings up the question, what interest does the T have in offering up equipment for an excursion on a line that you can ride any day of the week anyway? MassDoT already paid boatloads to put passenger trains back on the Conn. I doubt they have much interest in moving equipment 100 miles out of normal service area for a 1 off trip.

An excursion needs to start and end at the same place, or provide transportation back to the origin. People riding excursions are looking for a day trip with some nice scenery and maybe some decent food. They don't want a multi-day event with umpteen connections to get back to their car. They want to get on the train, enjoy the views and get off the train and right back into their car to get home. If the better origin is Springfield, or Bellows Falls or whatever, it doesn't matter, you need to start and end in the same place.
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby newpylong » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:13 am

Always thought a great scenic trip would be Greenfield, through the tunnel to North Adams and return. Can't really beat going through Bardwell Ferry, up Shelburne Hill, through the Falls, Charlemont by the River, Zoar and the tunnel by rail. It is unequaled in the east outside of perhaps going through the Notch.
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:30 pm

newpylong wrote:Always thought a great scenic trip would be Greenfield, through the tunnel to North Adams and return. Can't really beat going through Bardwell Ferry, up Shelburne Hill, through the Falls, Charlemont by the River, Zoar and the tunnel by rail. It is unequaled in the east outside of perhaps going through the Notch.


I would pay good money, and I think a lot of other people would pay good money for this trip, especially if it was in the fall.

BEGINNING a trip in Bellows Falls that ENDS in Springfield and then goes BACK to Bellows Falls seems kind of foolish to me


Springfield is the logical place I think to start, but it does have to return to where it begins.

I'm not sure an excursion would make sense for the CT River line, now that it sees daily passenger trains.
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby whatelyrailfan » Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:49 am

gprimr1 wrote:
newpylong wrote:Always thought a great scenic trip would be Greenfield, through the tunnel to North Adams and return. Can't really beat going through Bardwell Ferry, up Shelburne Hill, through the Falls, Charlemont by the River, Zoar and the tunnel by rail. It is unequaled in the east outside of perhaps going through the Notch.


I would pay good money, and I think a lot of other people would pay good money for this trip, especially if it was in the fall.

BEGINNING a trip in Bellows Falls that ENDS in Springfield and then goes BACK to Bellows Falls seems kind of foolish to me


Springfield is the logical place I think to start, but it does have to return to where it begins.

I'm not sure an excursion would make sense for the CT River line, now that it sees daily passenger trains.

My whole point is, there hasn't been a fantrip on this line in at LEAST 30 years. The Vermonter is fine for travelers, but it doesn't do photo runbys, and the scheduling could be a problem. As far as the scenic trip through the tunnel, I'd pay to go on that trip because I like the idea, but may we please stay on topic.
Peace,
Jonathan
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Re: Thoughts On A Possible MBRRE Excursion Along The Conn Ri

Postby CVRA7 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:28 am

Possibly in a few years commuter service will be offered on the Hartford Line (New Haven-Springfield) and maybe on the Conn River as well. I suggest the possibility of running a New Haven-Greenfield (at least, maybe Brattleboro) trip - there would likely be equipment available on weekends at New Haven.
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