Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

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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Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:15 pm

Recent developments for Pan Am Railways, including the Pan Am Southern (PAS) joint venture have led to an increase in Maintenance of Way (MoW) activities and projects. There are numerous individual threads discussing these projects around the system. Perhaps it would be useful to be able to discuss these projects in a single thread.

Recently in Winthrop, ME several loads of new ties have been dropped off close to the MoW siding at the Main Street crossing. The tie conditions on this part of the line (District 1, Lewiston - Winthrop - Waterville) are pretty bad in particular directly through Winthrop. Any improvements to this area are an interesting new development on the part of the railroad. Until recently this area had not seen major investment like this in quite some time.

I'm curious to a certain extent as to whether or not these improvements are related to the infusion of capital into District 3 as part of the PAS.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby cpf354 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:49 pm

I would think any capital infusions for the Pan Am Southern joint venture would not be used outside of it, but there might be a good chance it has freed up some of Pan Am's own funds to use on their own railroad.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby KSmitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:20 pm

I'm not sure this is anything unusual. Last summer PAR had a "blast" they put new ties in and dropped a lot of ballast in downtown Monmouth ME. They also rebuilt the Main Street crossing in Monmouth, though that may have been two years ago now. Their is still proof of this work, the RoW is lined a stack of ties about 6 feet high and atleast 150 feet long. Kinda sucks, completely ruins the view of trains...

However as a result trans now kick through town at 25-35 not real sure but its enough to make the boxes rock, and in the winter, on a day like today when the first train comes through it actually throws the snow built up on the sides of the crossing (from the town plowing.)

I think that what cpf354 said might be the most logical reason for these projects. Or it could just be that when you have to slow down to 10mph to drive safely and comfortably across the tracks towns may begin to complain. And just think Gokeefe, three or four years ago, the crossing in Winthrop on the road opposite Barrows (Waugan Rd in Monmouth) got torn up and replaced. I just think it was time for PAR to suck it up and fix some real messy areas. Although it is a little surprising that they would choose early Jan. to do it???
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:43 pm

cpf354 wrote:I would think any capital infusions for the Pan Am Southern joint venture would not be used outside of it, but there might be a good chance it has freed up some of Pan Am's own funds to use on their own railroad.


I strongly agree with this line of thought. I didn't state it explicitly in my first post but that's what I was thinking.

KSmitty wrote:I just think it was time for PAR to suck it up and fix some real messy areas. Although it is a little surprising that they would choose early Jan. to do it???


I was thinking perhaps these projects are something they've wanted to do for some time but their freight main in District 3 was sinking their MoW operations elsewhere. I wasn't under the impression that the had really been doing a whole lot of work in D-3 prior to PAS anyways but perhaps this wasn't true.

Also now that their airline charter and common carrier passenger business is only a memory with no hope of future resurrection perhaps they are more focused on their railroad operations than they have been in the past. Certainly at least the PAS initiative might be seen as a turning point at which the company choose to really look inwards for future growth and expansion as opposed to continued attempts to build their non-railroad ventures elsewhere.

I hadn't considered the timing of the move but perhaps this is just preparation for projects that will be started in the spring.

Its possible that in light of the changes to the financial market the company can no longer get financing or lease arrangements for exotic or unusual ventures outside their primary line of business, as such they are instead focusing more efforts on their railroad which will improve net positive cash flow and profits in the long term and also continue to provide a stable and rich source of income.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby KSmitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:10 pm

gokeefe wrote: Also now that their airline charter and common carrier passenger business is only a memory with no hope of future resurrection perhaps they are more focused on their railroad operations than they have been in the past. Certainly at least the PAS initiative might be seen as a turning point at which the company choose to really look inwards for future growth and expansion as opposed to continued attempts to build their non-railroad ventures elsewhere...

Wouldn't that be a nice change...

gokeefe wrote:I hadn't considered the timing of the move but perhaps this is just preparation for projects that will be started in the spring.

Maybe they will fix the tracks up in the Waterville/Oakland area next, 2 derailments in a month... As far as timing, I was just surprised that they would drop ties now. There obviously cant be much of a rush as there has been no previous maintenance in a long time, so why drop them now. The ties are all covered in snow, it would be a real challenge to replace ties now, maybe even impossible. So with anyluck they are planning something big for early spring. I hope so, didnt Maine Central run trains through this area at 40mph? A far cry from today!
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:25 pm

KSmitty wrote:Maybe they will fix the tracks up in the Waterville/Oakland area next, 2 derailments in a month... As far as timing, I was just surprised that they would drop ties now. There obviously cant be much of a rush as there has been no previous maintenance in a long time, so why drop them now. The ties are all covered in snow, it would be a real challenge to replace ties now, maybe even impossible. So with anyluck they are planning something big for early spring.


Consider this possibility. If you have only one small track crew working all of District 1 through the winter then they might spend all winter making tie drops or other preparatory moves before the temporary hires are put in place for the spring/summer/fall track work season.


KSmitty wrote:...didnt Maine Central run trains through this area at 40mph? A far cry from today!


I suspect that ran a good deal faster than 40 mph. The Flying Yankee used to run through Winthrop, as did other important passenger trains such as the Gull. Not that either of these great names from New England Railroading stopped there but run through they did. I would suspect Class III speeds of 59 mph perhaps even Class IV.

Forgive me if I have asked this before but is Lewiston - Waterville 'dark' territory?
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby KSmitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:34 pm

gokeefe wrote:Consider this possibility. If you have only one small track crew working all of District 1 through the winter then they might spend all winter making tie drops or other preparatory moves before the temporary hires are put in place for the spring/summer/fall track work season.

Good point! Hopefully they have some major plans in store for next spring.

gokeefe wrote:Forgive me if I have asked this before but is Lewiston - Waterville 'dark' territory?

No, there is a two masted signal in Leeds (well maybe not 2 masted, but it is a rather large looking signal,) protecting the Rumford Branch, also I believe that Waterville Yd. is protected by several dwarf signals at the south end, dont know bout the north end. I am not sure about the signals in Waterville, if they are linked into the rest of the signalling system (cant imagine why not but this is PAR were talking about) or maybe just run out of Waterville as protection for the yard.

Leeds Junction
=Waterville

Is the line north of Waterville dark?
Last edited by KSmitty on Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby Mikejf » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:44 pm

Lewiston to Waterville is Dark Territory. I believe the signals in Leeds aren't tied in with the ones in Lewiston or Waterville, they just protect the Junction.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby newpylong » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:48 pm

It would make sense that funds are free up for the rest of the system but a few piles of new ties is not going to make much of a difference. The entire railroad north of Portland is a disgrace - I've seen speed summaries and they are terrible outside of a handful of 25's. It is going to take an entire season of work and materials to get any considerable mileage in better shape. What they are doing now is probably enough to keep the FRA from taking the track completely out of service in places.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:53 pm

newpylong wrote:It would make sense that funds are free up for the rest of the system but a few piles of new ties is not going to make much of a difference. The entire railroad north of Portland is a disgrace - I've seen speed summaries and they are terrible outside of a handful of 25's. It is going to take an entire season of work and materials to get any considerable mileage in better shape. What they are doing now is probably enough to keep the FRA from taking the track completely out of service in places.


newpylong I agree with you entirely, that's part of the reason I thought this thread might be useful. I can see a pile of ties in Winthrop, but the real question is are these piles showing up elsewhere and has anyone heard of plans to do significant or substantial trackwork in 'District 1'. Initially I considered the idea that these ties might be for some type of grade crossing rebuild but there are too many of them for that. There may even be too many to rebuild, Main St., Central St. and Summer St. So that's why I'm wondering if this is some kind of indication that the railroad is getting ready to do more than just get by.

miketrainnut wrote:Lewiston to Waterville is Dark Territory. I believe the signals in Leeds aren't tied in with the ones in Lewiston or Waterville, they just protect the Junction.
Mike


So then that begs that question, has this section always been dark?
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby KSmitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:58 pm

miketrainnut wrote:Lewiston to Waterville is Dark Territory. I believe the signals in Leeds aren't tied in with the ones in Lewiston or Waterville, they just protect the Junction.
Mike


Do they have to be tied in? They still serve the purpose of protecting the junction, and so controlling what can get across on the main. I dont know much about all the regs, but I would have thought that this qualified as signaled???

Also, swaying just a little off topic, was the Portland, Augusta, Waterville line dark, I have seen what remains of some signals on this line (the oos partion I guess it is the 'Lower Road" not sure???)
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:13 pm

KSmitty wrote:
miketrainnut wrote:Lewiston to Waterville is Dark Territory. I believe the signals in Leeds aren't tied in with the ones in Lewiston or Waterville, they just protect the Junction.
Mike


Do they have to be tied in? They still serve the purpose of protecting the junction, and so controlling what can get across on the main. I dont know much about all the regs, but I would have thought that this qualified as signaled???

Also, swaying just a little off topic, was the Portland, Augusta, Waterville line dark, I have seen what remains of some signals on this line (the oos partion I guess it is the 'Lower Road" not sure???)


Signals that protect railroad junctions such as Leeds Junction or Yarmouth Junction have small signal circuits which can only 'see' or sense the presence of trains occuping sections that are relatively close to the junction itself. The train would have to be very close to Leeds Junction for the signal to activate and give the appropriate 'aspect' indicaton. In order for a train to be stopped at Leeds Junction there would have to be another train in the very near vicinity, probably within 1 mile.

Also keep in mind it is certainly possible that the signals in Leeds are in fact a form of Automatic Block Signal (ABS) which is a passive system that is not controlled by or seen by the dispatchers. The system acts as a 'traffic cop' that allows trains to proceed once the block ahead of them is clear and, in the case of a junction, the switch is properly aligned. Actively controlled systems such as Central Train Control (CTC) are used Portland south to Plaistow on the portion of the PAR main traveled by the Downeaster and perhaps elsewhere in the PAR system.

Outside of the immediate distance from the junction these signals would have no way of controlling trains proceeding continuously up the main line one behind the other several miles apart. However this arrangement would be extremely dangerous without signalling and therefore as a result there are systems and methods for controlling trains in 'dark territory'.

Dark territory can be loosely described as railroad mileage where there is no particular signal system that can control trains ahead of or behind a train occupying the main line. The dispatching method for controlling trains on dark territory is often Track Warrant Control (TWC). Once the dispatcher issues the track warrant to the train they are the only train allowed to occupy the covered section. TWC is usually conducted by means of VHF radio communications.

In the past station agents acted as section dispatchers using an antique form of TWC with telegraphic communications whereby they would communicate with the next nearest stations in either direction to know whether or not the line was clear or occupied. The station agents could then control train movements by means of the semaphore signals that were ubiquitous to stations in the late 19th and early 20th century.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby KSmitty » Sun Jan 03, 2010 9:29 pm

Very nice description, thanks for clearing that up!
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby mec 381 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:51 am

KSmitty wrote:Is the line north of Waterville dark?


I think that Maine Central may have put CTC in from Oakland toward NMJ, but whether or not that is still working I don't know. Also both ends of the Waterville yard does have some dwarf singles but there is also a 3 mast single that governs East bound train movements into Waterville. I even think there is a single over by Colby College for trains heading to Oakland.
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Re: Pan Am Railways (PAR) Maintenance of Way (MoW) Activity

Postby moth » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:03 am

mec 381 wrote:
KSmitty wrote:Is the line north of Waterville dark?


I think that Maine Central may have put CTC in from Oakland toward NMJ, but whether or not that is still working I don't know. Also both ends of the Waterville yard does have some dwarf singles but there is also a 3 mast single that governs West bound train movements into Waterville. I even think there is a single over by Colby College for trains heading to Oakland.


I know that just east of Mallard Lane in Oakland http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=oakland+me&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.089199,77.695313&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Oakland,+Kennebec,+Maine&ll=44.530197,-69.744038&spn=0.001161,0.002371&t=h&z=19 there is a signal with a sign that reads: "Start Signal Territory". It is approach lit I believe. Whenever a train is in the "block" west of Oakland yard moving west there is a signal. Whenever an Eastbound train is approaching it is also lit and will go dark about when the train crosses the signal. I have also seen it lit when the crew is making up a train for the Madison branch and pulls past the yard for a run around - boy does that get my boys upset - hearing the horns and seeing the signal and then not getting to see a train after waiting a while.
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