Cape Flyer Discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:55 am

I can only vouch for the report I saw.

D
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:19 pm

Friday
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Saturday
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Sunday
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Yellowspoon » Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:45 pm

Slightly off topic: Are the tracks between Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole still usable?

I was under the impression that these tracks had been abandoned long ago and had been turned into a walking/bike path.

My daughter went to visit a friend who rented a house about a mile from the RR bridge in Monument Beach, about 100 yards from the tracks. My daughter swore she saw a train go by with passengers eating dinner. The Cape Cod dinner trains shows a route from Hyannis to Buzzards Bay, but nothing in the direction of Woods Hole. It would seem like a lot of work to use those tracks as the bridge must be down in order to use them (because the switch is so close to the bridge)
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Safetee » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:46 pm

Falmouth to Woodshole tracks were torn out for creation of bike trail in 1969. Falmouth to North Falmouth tracks torn in out in 2008 and made into bike trail 2009.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:33 pm

The Cape Cod Central runs a dinner train on the Woods Hole branch on some Fridays during the CapeFLYER season. Here's the 2017 schedule from the Central's website capetrain.com:


DEPARTING BUZZARDS BAY
June 30: Friday departing at 6:00 pm from Buzzards Bay
July 28 and August 25: Friday departing at 6:00 pm from Buzzards Bay
(Tickets for July 28th to be released on June 20th and tickets for August 25th to be released on July 18th)

DEPARTING FALMOUTH
July 14 and August 11: Friday departing at 6:00 pm from North Falmouth


The July 14th train from North Falmouth apparently twisted one Bourne bikeway proponent's underwear in knots, as he wrote letters to newspapers claiming the train was blocking bikeway users from the parking lot (both are on the same side of the tracks). Some Bourne bikeway proponents are pushing for exclusive use of the railroad right-of-way to the canal -- no rail-with-trail.

Cape Cod Times: http://www.capecodtimes.com/opinion/201 ... hining-sea

Bourne Enterprise: https://www.capenews.net/bourne/opinion ... e5a62.html
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby RenegadeMonster » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:30 pm

wow, that guys whole rant irked me.

Talk about me first mentality.

Anyways, that must mean that the tracks are still in place to some extent right?
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:16 pm

Funny...I would've thought blowing a gasket over one's sincerely held belief in eminent domaining All The Things That I Want For Myself™ was an unnecessary expenditure of energy compared to 2 minutes spent Googling the words "federal preemption" or typing in "www.stb.gov" and learning that RAILROAD REGULATION IN THE U.S. DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! But humankind surprises me yet again. Geez...and here I thought the "Petitioners" vs. G&U saga was this state's low bar for "NO U!" temper tantrums that completely missed the point on a century-plus's worth of federal RR caselaw. Always-active rails that take at least five separate co-sign STB filings (Mass Coastal as freight operator + separate CCCR passenger operator filings, MassDOT filing as owner, U.S. Military filing for Otis access, filing from Falmouth Transfer Station's new tenant as freight customer under MC trash train contract) to initiate any such abandonment proceeding. With all 5 on-record as being resolutely against any such action, and no end-runs permissible around all that since none of those co-signers (not even track owner MassDOT) have any master "killswitch" agreements with the other parties that magically undoes everyone else's intertwined contracts and/or rights agreements.

In the real world where railroads are administered through legalities this is end-of-story in triplicate. But apparently having rich enough fantasy life means never having to acknowledge the real world exists, no matter how many times reality thwarts fantasy. No legal means to rip up active rails?...scream harder. It won't change any outcomes, but it'll waste somebody official's time having to constantly bat down nuisance rabble and that's good use of one's power to annoy, no?


In the meantime...FY17-21 MassDOT CIP bought-and-paid-for rail, ties, and new crossing track panels start getting dropped on the Falmouth Sec. next year for millions in programmed upgrades to support of the new Transfer Station tenant and expanded dinner train service. So reality marches forward on the branch no matter how many NIMBY tear ducts try to induce a trackbed washout from their own impotent rage. :wink:
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby atlantis » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:47 am

When the portion of the Falmouth line from the renovated Falmouth depot to North Falmouth was removed, there was a previous rail with trail plan until then state rep. Eric Turkington and his compatriots were able to convince the state to go for the trail only despite the fact that over two million dollars was spent to renovate Falmouth station including a (then) new platform constructed in 1990 that never saw a train. Also, at the time, the then-embryonic Cape Cod Central railroad had a plan to repair the line at its own expense for trips to Falmouth. Granted the Falmouth branch was out of service at its lower portion, and for whatever reason, the pro rail people failed to speak up, as many of them said privately that they were hoping the trains would return.
A similar battle is going on at the Adirondack Scenic railroad where a group of trail-only people are trying to pressure New York state to remove the tracks at Lake Placid, even though portions of the line are active and volunteers are trying to repair the portion of line at Lake Placid for excursion service. My point being that removal or trying to remove an active rail line for a recreational trail sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. In my opinion, it was bad enough that the state removed the Falmouth line from North Falmouth to Falmouth center. We need to ensure that the remaining rail infrastructure on the Cape is not removed, or at least made out of the question to remove, lest anyone tries to gat the state to remove the active portions of the lines.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:08 pm

The New Haven did a good passenger business out of both Falmouth and Woods Hole back in the 50's, too bad the state did not see fit to save this line as it could have been very useful today. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby RenegadeMonster » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:47 pm

could a rail trail ever be converted back to rails should they see fit?
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:29 pm

Probably could be converted back but remember while rails are more useful and benefit more, trails have more votes and letters and that is what the politicians know these days.
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Last edited by CRail on Sat Aug 05, 2017 3:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Unnecessary quote removed.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:29 pm

atlantis wrote:When the portion of the Falmouth line from the renovated Falmouth depot to North Falmouth was removed, there was a previous rail with trail plan until then state rep. Eric Turkington and his compatriots were able to convince the state to go for the trail only despite the fact that over two million dollars was spent to renovate Falmouth station including a (then) new platform constructed in 1990 that never saw a train. Also, at the time, the then-embryonic Cape Cod Central railroad had a plan to repair the line at its own expense for trips to Falmouth. Granted the Falmouth branch was out of service at its lower portion, and for whatever reason, the pro rail people failed to speak up, as many of them said privately that they were hoping the trains would return.
A similar battle is going on at the Adirondack Scenic railroad where a group of trail-only people are trying to pressure New York state to remove the tracks at Lake Placid, even though portions of the line are active and volunteers are trying to repair the portion of line at Lake Placid for excursion service. My point being that removal or trying to remove an active rail line for a recreational trail sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. In my opinion, it was bad enough that the state removed the Falmouth line from North Falmouth to Falmouth center. We need to ensure that the remaining rail infrastructure on the Cape is not removed, or at least made out of the question to remove, lest anyone tries to gat the state to remove the active portions of the lines.


Adirondack Scenic is not a valid comparison. ADIX is a non- common carrier tourist railroad (and an all-volunteer one at that) run over tracks that have already been designated a multi-use corridor prior to the carrier beginning operations. Cape Rail is a very much for-profit company consisting of two separate reporting marks--one a freight common carrier with a Class I interchange--with incumbent trackage rights on the Falmouth Branch; there's a binding state-level trash train freight contract governing the use/re-use of Falmouth Transfer Station; the U.S. Military access/prioritization to Otis pre-dates any state involvement in the branch; and there has never been an interruption in active status to North Falmouth/Otis. That's a night-and-day difference in strength of federal preemptions. ADIX is in a precarious position because too much of that fed caselaw is inapplicable to their situation. Indeed, the fight over the legality of the rip-'em-out-and-trail plan is being waged almost entirely at the state level because ADIX can't get any meaningful STB help to bat away the attack on their existence with a mere adverse discontinuance order. The state is the incumbent, not the RR or related businesses, on the "multi-use"-designation section of ROW in dispute so ADIX is playing an unusually weak hand not having many many legal preemption tools at its disposal. That's why it's so high-profile a case; the carrier's hand is so unusually weak it's a perfect storm situation where even trail lobby -caliber midrange fundraising levels could actually land a killshot there...where it wouldn't in any other situation. ADIX has basically got to prove in a civil action that that trail sleaze is a taxpayer scam. That's quite different from seeking affirmation of preemption caselaw.


While the potential precedent is chilling if they lose the lawsuit, it is NOT going to empower every NIMBY coast-to-coast with carte blanche to start tearing up every length of active rail they find. It'll threaten a couple more New York tourist marks like Catskill Mountain (also under imminent NIMBY threat), but a loss there wouldn't unleash a pox across the nation. As I said in the last post, at least 5 (but probably more) overlapping parties would have to co-file for voluntary abandonment of the Falmouth Branch in one great big unified chain in order to get those tracks ripped out. Each and every one of them (including the two-fer filings of the Mass Coastal and CCCR reporting marks under the same Cape Rail/Iowa Pacific corporate roof) has the right to file an adverse discontinuance if they feel threatened by some forced legislative action, and each and every one of them has varying degrees of federal preemption shining on them to earn an easy win in front of the STB. The fact that all 5+ parties (including track owner MassDOT) are solid on-the-record "No" votes who'd each pocket adverse discontinuance victories in front of the STB means that there isn't even a 0.001% chance that any Adirondack Scenic-templated hostile action could ever put a dent in the branch's active status. And since Mass Coastal is a common carrier, interchange partner CSX is going to file a support statement within a nanosecond and push the weight of a Class I behemoth on the proceedings to prevent any dumb bad precedents from threatening their hundred-plus shortline partners nationwide. There simply isn't a legal path available for the Falmouth NIMBY's to launch an invasion, nor is there enough "Go Away!" money in the coffers of Barnstable County richest citizenry to ever make it worth the business while of any of those co-signers to drop a challenge and sign on to a surrender. Yes, that includes any Turkington-level shennanigans from the Legislature attempting to put a gun to MassDOT's head, because MassDOT's already started spending money on the FY17-21 branch upgrades through advance-purchase of rail/ties/ballast materials and paid-for bridge/culvert engineering for the work that starts next year.


I don't want to minimize what a travesty the ADIX saga has been, but context is important. It gets functionally impossible real quick to try to attack active rails once you're talking common carriers with Class I interchanges (whether the branch in question feeds that Class I's carloads or not), real customer contracts, and uninterrupted service pre-dating the NIMBY's. Doubly so when there's a national security co-signer in the bunch, since the military doesn't care one whit how little the Otis spur has been used for the last 40 years if the war machine cranks up tomorrow and equipment needs to be staged to the base. We can't let superficial comparisons cause panic. In every sense of the word, this challenge on the branch's active status is baseless. Legally, functionally, fantastically baseless. Like...to the extent that any alternate realities carpet-bombing the local papers that It Must Be So qualify as fake news. There isn't a bizarro-world scenario where you could conceivably rearrange all the stars in the universe holding adverse discontinuance "NO!" filings in-pocket to form a rubber stamp of yesses. It's a total impossibility, because that's how a century-plus of fed preemption rolls.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby jonnhrr » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:43 am

It's too bad a compromise can't be worked out so that a rail + trail could be established between North Falmouth and Woods Hole so that Cape Flyer trips could be run there to meet the ferries. One would think those who are into hiking/cycling tend to favor the environment and trains taking cars off the roads is good for the environment. But I know arguments based on logic don't hold much sway these days.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby BandA » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:40 pm

So, the row between north falmouth and falmouth is wide enough for rail + trail. I assume the row to Woods Hole is not wide enough, certainly the adjacent roads aren't wide enough for the automobiles! If you could widen the bridges enough to shoehorn in a rail + trail to woods hole that would be an enormous win for taking cars off of the road. Even if you implemented (gasp) Bus Rapid Transit initially...
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby CRail » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:14 am

This isn't directly related to the topic at hand, but when it comes to rail trail reversion the physical status of the Right of Way is substantially less important than the OWNER of the Right of Way. Prime example being that from a legal standpoint, if the MBTA wished to tear up the Minuteman Bikeway and restore Commuter service to Lexington, it could. Political opposition would likely overwhelm such an initiative proving it practically infeasible but without political influence there'd be nothing stopping them. They own that ROW.

Relating to the topic at hand... who owns the ROW to Woods Hole? I seem to recall it was sold off to the municipality making reversion back to rail extremely unlikely. However, if it is in fact owned by MassDOT or even by the Mass. DEP, the route's return to rail is far more plausible.

This is the real reason the ADIX case is so different than the Cape's. The owner of the Adirondack line is set to tear it up, while the owner of the Cape's rails is actively investing in keeping it a railroad. Add to that F-Line's points about common carrier interchanging with a Class 1 and so on, and the point is reinforced that we do not have a similar case to the Adirondack Scenic, and I'm sorry to say thank goodness for that!
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