What's with Watertown?

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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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby MBTA1016 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:08 pm

Any updates on Watertown or is the branch completely abanded.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby Mcoov » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:15 am

It's all gone.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:57 am

I don't think the STB filing is completely processed yet, so it's not official-official yet. But all parties have filed their papers for it, including the required environmental and historical assessments. Next up there'll have to be some filing about either transfer of ownership to the state or--if no money to do that now--first in a succession of 180-day negotiating windows for the ownership transfer (CSX has been filing 180-day negotiating extensions for 5 years now on its 3 abandoned lines in Natick and Framingham because of lack of public funds). Then I think the state has to file a landbanking request after it secures ownership. And I think only then can they start paving over crossings and pulling up rails.

It's just paperwork. The process is far enough along that the abandonment will take effect whenever the STB deemed its execution date is going to be. And since Pan Am tried to do this several years ago before Newlyweds objected they probably have their sale price point agreed in principle with the state. I guess the only remaining questions are 1) given the budget crisis how many potential 180-day negotiation extensions is it going to take, and 2) is this going to be another bundle sale with the state picking up the ownership of the Fitchburg-Wachusett extension in a package with PAR (makes sense to get that over with). But there's no rush because Watertown isn't slated to do trail segment #2 from Arlington St. to Grove St. on the 1996-landbanked portion until this summer, and there's currently no funding for the Grove-Fresh Pond portion.

I'd like to see it become official just so there can be some trash pickup. There's rotting ties and mangled pieces of old rail strewn to the side of the ROW all around Fresh Pond, and they're kind of dangerous with all the dog-walkers who go along the tracks. Waterworks staff probably wants to get that crap out of the way as soon as they're allowed to, even if it may take a little while to line up the scrappers to pull up the rails. And they badly need to take care of the New St. crossing. The potholes around the rubber are a few inches deep and are going to start claiming mufflers by the dozens the way cars speed over it into the Mall parking lot.


Also wonder if this means the end of the West Cambridge yard lead. The Fitchburg resignalization project is taking out most of the disused sidings along the route, and the Green Line extension is doing the rest with the Somerville sidings. Bemis Branch and the Waltham Ctr. freight siding have already been pulled up in Waltham, and they'll get to severing the Central Mass (amazingly still connected 25 years after abandonment) when they work their way to Beaver Brook. West Cambridge is still connected at both the Sherman St. and Brighton St. ends, although the west end is impassible. East end is still nominally active out to the first old yard siding at Fawcett St., and PAR was storing some occasional empties and ballast cars underneath Fresh Pond Pkwy. up until about 3-1/2 years ago. Watertown switch is no longer needed, the rails have partially been pulled up on the electrical substation's siding by new equipment they installed this fall in the parking lot so that's dead, and the siding onto Fawcett St. by the scrap yards has been a dead issue for years. Unless they still want that as contingency storage for the sidings they're losing to the Green Line, I don't see why there'd be any need to keep it connected after the signal project works its way east into that direction. The T has all the storage it needs at the MOW facility at Alewife. Could be the end of a whole lot more area trackage than just Watertown if they see the need to retire those two mainline switches.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby GP40MC1118 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:21 am

West Cambridge Interlocking will eventually be retired. Hill Crossing Interlocking will move
slightly west of it s current location. The lead to the Alewife MW facility will be a handthrow
switch (partially the old Freight Cutoff).

D
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby MBTA1016 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:13 pm

GP40MC1118 wrote:West Cambridge Interlocking will eventually be retired. Hill Crossing Interlocking will move
slightly west of it s current location. The lead to the Alewife MW facility will be a handthrow
switch (partially the old Freight Cutoff).

D



So guilford finally gave up serving the branch permanently?
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:52 pm

Mbta fan wrote:
GP40MC1118 wrote:West Cambridge Interlocking will eventually be retired. Hill Crossing Interlocking will move
slightly west of it s current location. The lead to the Alewife MW facility will be a handthrow
switch (partially the old Freight Cutoff).

D



So guilford finally gave up serving the branch permanently?


Newlyweds wouldn't commit to steady rail orders. They kept switching back and forth between truck out of Beacon Park and rail from PAR at-will, and refused to pay any money to rebuild their siding. PAR tried to abandon the line 5 years ago and had to withdraw the application because Newlyweds fought it. They had a 99-year customer agreement signed with B&M years ago that they flaunted as justification for being perpetually coy about their ordering commitment. PAR came back to them after the abandonment was withdrawn with an offer that if they fixed their siding and gave a guarantee of steady carloads, PAR would spend money to rehab the most dangerous parts of the line. Newlyweds refused. And that's where everything sat for 5 more years until Newlyweds finally dropped its objection. Ironically, they dropped this objection while they were tied up fighting another abandonment to one of their factories elsewhere in the country.

Really can't fault PAR for this. They bent over backwards to try to keep the customer satisfied, on a line where they certainly had no motivation to do even that. And Newlyweds would not meet them halfway or talk to them in good faith. What more could they have done?

I do think this is going to be a great trail when it's done. And I don't say that about very many. North Cambridge and Watertown have very poor connectivity with no bus access without a trip into Harvard. Having a largely grade-separated route to the Malls and H2O Square is going to make it a de facto commuter route like the Somerville Community Path and downtown Arlington section of the Minuteman. Even the short segment from Fresh Pond Pkwy. to New St. makes a safer walking path to Danehy Park than walking past the auto chop shops on New St. With the schools and number of small children nearby, that's a big deal. This is the densest transit utilization they could find for the line.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:35 am

Well...consider the branch officially severed. Last night a 3 ft. section of the Fresh Pond grade crossing got sliced by a big Cambridge sewer project. Big trench underneath now covered by steel plates in the road. Looks like they may leave it in that state and just pave over the cut when they fill in the trench instead of taking out the rest of the crossing rails.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby Tracer » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:47 pm

Is the switch from the mainline and all the rail still in place to the plant? I know it must be in top notch shape.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:33 pm

Tracer wrote:Is the switch from the mainline and all the rail still in place to the plant? I know it must be in top notch shape.


Yes. Fresh Pond crossing was the first break in the rails; otherwise it's intact. Although the rails around the mall crossing are pretty much submerged below ground and the at the waterworks the ties are practically sitting on top of the ground ballast-free due to all the washouts over the last 2 years.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:54 pm

Ha! They put the crossing back together yesterday. I have no idea how...all of the rail outside the sewer break is still same as it ever was, so there's either hairline break or a hasty re-welding job where they shoved it back together (no, I wasn't going to run into oncoming traffic to get a closer look). But the branch is "intact" again and no doubt totally ready and safe for the next Newlyweds delivery. ;-)
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby Trainman101 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:55 pm

Would pan am ever lease the line to someone willing to run it as a shortline?
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby newpylong » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:09 pm

I thought they abandoned the whole thing...
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:57 pm

I don't think the final-final-final STB paperwork has been processed. Usually junk like the "historical impacts" survey drags on for months longer than everything else. It's not actually going to be severed from the mainline until the Fitchburg Line signal replacement project trudges east of South Acton and they start cutting unused switches. I mean, the Central Mass is still connected and theoretically can still have its switch thrown at Waltham Tower. And that line has been kaput since '87.

I just thought it was funny the sewer crew put the severed rail in the crossing back together for plausible looks. Like they were gluing together a broken vase before mom got home and hoping no one noticed. That...er...wouldn't pass muster with an actual operating RR. I think Pan Am probably told them not to knock themselves out cleaning up after themselves, on account of that piece of paper they're waiting for from the STB any day now.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:09 am

Most (not all) contractors usually have to return things back to its "as is condition" before they started the work.
Another example would be Bartlett, NH; about 4 years ago they put new gas and or water lines up Bear Notch Rd. The contractors removed the rail on Bear Notch road that was part of the wye and had to put it back as part of the job. The wye hasn't been used since 1994/95.
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Re: What's with Watertown?

Postby boatsmate » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:44 pm

Pam Am probably had them make it look like it was functional to keep newly weds off there back about breaking the seltelment, until the offical abandonment comes out...
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