Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainline

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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Postby cpf354 » Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:33 am

It is the Northern Main Line in the ST employee timetable however, starting at North Chelmsford. In the old timetable, before the main lines were re-named, it was the New Hampshire Main. MBCR still calls the route between Mystic Jct and the Bleachery the New Hampshire Main Line, or perhaps New Hampshire Route Main Line. The portion between the Bleachery and North Chelmsford is called the Freight Main Line in the ST ETT, as is the Stony Brook Branch.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern"

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:54 am

Bumping this thread after 9 years of slumber as Pan Am says it's going to abandon about 5 moribund miles of the Northern line between Boscawen and Horseshoe Pond at Concord, NH. A trail group would like to see the state of NH buy the RoW to extend southward the current trail stretching between Lebanon and Boscawen.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/greenway-trail-planned-along-merrimack-riverconcord-nh-3989298

Excerpt:
If the state reaches an agreement to buy the track from Pan Am, it could make the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail’s plan cheaper, faster and easier to build, potentially moving the completion date up years, Lemieux said.

But that requires the state, which has right of first refusal to buy the land, and Pan Am to agree to a deal. In other places, that’s proven difficult, said Charles Martin, who wrote the 2008 book New Hampshire Rail Trails and is working on an update.

“We can’t get too excited, because negotiating with Pan Am is not easy,” he said.


Understatement of the day! :wink:
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern"

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:06 am

State still hasn't completed negotiations for purchase of the Hampton Branch from PAR 5+ years after abandonment, so I hope they're not expecting this to be a quick process.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby Jackinbox1 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:05 pm

Not easy? I thought Pan Am was always willing to give up railroad lines!
To make sure, this still doesn't change the silly HSC plan, does it?
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby johnpbarlow » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:47 am

For the low, low price of $8,000, Pan Am has submitted abandonment filing at STB as of 1/12/17 for "...Northern Main Line of the Northern Railroad and which traverses through Concord, NH and Boscowen, NH a distance of 6.36 miles+/-, in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, extending from milepost 74;32 to milepost 80.68...". NH Division of Historical Resources provided interesting commentary
...Confirmed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, the Northern Railroad features numerous character-defining elements in this section proposed for abandonment, such as bed and berm, mile markers, whistle posts, bridges, and culverts. No elements will be removed from the resource except track and ties during the abandonment undertaking. Boston & Maine's (B&M) intent is to convey title of the abandoned railroad property to municipalities or the State of New Hampshire...


Further B&M says this wrt two near 100 year bridges
The Applicants know of two (2) railroad bridges on the Line that are 50 years or older or that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Bridge located at MP 80.06 was constructed circa 1918, and Bridge located at MP 80.23 was constructed circa 1920. Both bridges will not be removed.


https://www.stb.gov/filings/all.nsf/ba7f93537688b8e5852573210004b318/3961bfdd77f4c011852580a6006e47ff/$FILE/242427.pdf
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:40 pm

Where does that milepost listing officially put end-of-track now...the Horseshoe Pond Ln. grade crossing 2500 ft. past the switch w/NEGS? Figured they'd at least keep that much as a competitive blocker and storage tail track now that the "yard" so-to-speak is largely torn out.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby newpylong » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:26 pm

Yes right there.

Competitive blocker to whom? There is nothing left to operate.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:42 pm

I just meant the typical transactional S.O.P. of keeping 0.1 miles or whatever of stub to prevent the James Riffin or Golden Eagle types from crawling out of the woodwork to interfere with an open-shut docket for lulz or blackmail or whatever it is that motivates them to do what they do. Controlling the riff-raff type legal butt-covering.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:55 pm

newpylong wrote:Competitive blocker to whom? There is nothing left to operate.


We're talking about a railroad that owns a segment of the Lewiston Lower to ensure that the SLR doesn't bid on the state owned portion, build a connecting track to their property, and interchange with the Rockland Branch operator.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby KSmitty » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:23 pm

Not even the Rockland Branch, they still own, or just sold, a stretch in Lewiston from the end of track through the old mill district to keep SLR from crossing the river and serving any potential customers that might spring up in the old mills and warehouses of Lewiston...You'd have to be smoking something mighty strong to have ever dreamed of that scenario happening, and they protected against it for 3 decades...
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:57 am

Believe that one still hasn't transacted yet. Last news report I read from 2014 thereabouts said the towns were still saving their pennies to buy for the trail, and it made the '15 and '16 ME State Rail Map updates still in PAR colors.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby CPF363 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:40 pm

It is frustrating that the State of New Hampshire did not purchase and maintain the railroad infrastructure in addition to the right-of-way along the Northern from Concord to White River Jct. Some 20 years ago, Guilford removed most of the track from just north of Hanna Dustin memorial in Boscawen to somewhere around Mascoma Lake. This was New Hampshire's only true through line that could have been rebuilt for Amtrak Boston to Montreal service, but that will never happen now. The remaining rail will probably be removed and welded together to fix up another line.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:19 pm

CPF363 wrote:It is frustrating that the State of New Hampshire did not purchase and maintain the railroad infrastructure in addition to the right-of-way along the Northern from Concord to White River Jct. Some 20 years ago, Guilford removed most of the track from just north of Hanna Dustin memorial in Boscawen to somewhere around Mascoma Lake. This was New Hampshire's only true through line that could have been rebuilt for Amtrak Boston to Montreal service, but that will never happen now. The remaining rail will probably be removed and welded together to fix up another line.


It's been NHDOT's policy for >25 years or more to have all hardware removed on a state-owned ROW post-abandonment. Any such abandonments become de facto snowmobile trails whether any official authority wants that to happen or not, so state controls their liability by doing hardware removal and a once-over of the bare surface, then declaring the ROW an "as-is" trail with specific limited-liability clauses. Northern Div. hardware removal was done by-the-book per this policy after its '92 abandonment.

State's got a uniquely pervasive snowmobiler culture, and state gov't has philosophically always given that culture live-and-let-live permissiveness on public lands when the land in question is not under any specific environmental protections. Several other states have mandatory rail removal clauses for abandoned ROW's (PA, I believe, is the next-closest state that does it by on-the-books law). NH justifies their policy on the legal butt-covering of minimizing their liability risk vectors. It obviously has its downsides, but the state made up its philosophical mind long ago re: snowmobiles so it's arguably their most sane and correct policy option for managing those legalities.


The only ROW's (excluding OOS ones that still have active carrier rights) not covered by that blanket clause are. . .

1) ROW's explicitly given a railbanking designation in the State Rail Plan as "going concern" restoration candidates. Currently that's only the Conway Branch, which has its longstanding NHN-north/CSRX-south access studies sitting on the books awaiting/not-awaiting further action. Northern isn't included here because the rail removal pre-dates that corridor's federal designation as a Boston-Montreal candidate, and the official VTrans-NHDOT feasibility study on that route.

You can argue they should've slapped a formal railbank on the Northern from Day 1, but that intercity proposal didn't exist at any level serious enough for a feasibility study until 12+ years after the abandonment so hindsight is 20/20. The reasoning for backing a Conway-esque railbank exemption would've been pretty threadbare back in the mid-90's, whereas for the Conway Branch it's been a thing floating in the background pretty much ever since CSRX first opened for business.

2) ROW's explicitly designated as speeder trails. e.g. Wolfboro Br. & that Conway segment. Those speeder clubs have explicit NHDOT permission for their rail use, explicit promises of hardware preservation, and explicitly tighter usage guidelines for snowmobilers so they don't wantonly mess up the speeder clubs' infrastructure during the offseason.

3) ROW's explicitly designated as actively maintained walking trails. M&L paved path and future expansion of, for example, since it's got publicly-funded landscaping they don't want the snowmobilers to ruin. Obviously not a rail-germane consideration. Many fewer of these officially-maintained rail trails in NH than any other New England state, again because of how much more pervasive the snowmobile culture is there.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby b&m 1566 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:15 pm

Don't forget, Guilford didn't sell the remaining sections of the Conway Branch to the state until 2001. That included everything north of the NHN property to the Madison town line and then again for the small section in Albany, NH.
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Re: Freight Operations on the "Northern" New Hampshire Mainl

Postby CPF363 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:05 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Northern isn't included here because the rail removal pre-dates that corridor's federal designation as a Boston-Montreal candidate, and the official VTrans-NHDOT feasibility study on that route.

If the Northern has the federal designation as a Boston-Montreal candidate, one would think that this would be justification to retain any part of the line that rails on to include the Concord to Boscawen section so that if there was an interest to bringing service back, this would be one less section that would have to be completely restored.
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