News:Mass. Lt Gov. blames CSX

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Re: Beacon Park

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:59 pm

frrc wrote:It's my understanding that the property Beacon Park resides on is not owned by CSX, but is owned by the Mass Turnpike Authority, who leased the land to the New York Central RR in the 1960's ? Some of the property was sold off a few years ago for BioTech expansion.


That's correct. What the state would actually be doing is buying out CSX's long term lease that essentially allows them to use Beacon Park as a yard for as long as they want.
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Performance...

Postby frrc » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:08 am

; From today's Boston Globe, go figure....

Rail on-time performance
The private company that runs commuter rail for the MBTA, The Massachusetts Bay Railroad Co. reports 85.5 percent of its trains were less than five minutes late in March, 5 percentage points better than in February. A recent scheduling change that gives trains on the Worcester/Framingham line more time to reach their destination helped push on-time performance to 92 percent for the month.

Best southern line: Greenbush, 97 percent.

Worst southern line: Franklin via Fairmount, 56 percent.

Best northern line: Lowell, 94 percent.

Worst northern: Haverhill, 87 percent.
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Re: Performance...

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:07 am

frrc wrote:; From today's Boston Globe, go figure....

Rail on-time performance
The private company that runs commuter rail for the MBTA, The Massachusetts Bay Railroad Co. reports 85.5 percent of its trains were less than five minutes late in March, 5 percentage points better than in February. A recent scheduling change that gives trains on the Worcester/Framingham line more time to reach their destination helped push on-time performance to 92 percent for the month.

Best southern line: Greenbush, 97 percent.

Worst southern line: Franklin via Fairmount, 56 percent.

Best northern line: Lowell, 94 percent.

Worst northern: Haverhill, 87 percent.


Ouch. What's wrong with the Franklin line? Is that getting bogged down by Fairmount construction?
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Re: Performance...

Postby Veristek » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:21 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Ouch. What's wrong with the Franklin line? Is that getting bogged down by Fairmount construction?


I heard that there's a bottleneck at Walpole with a couple CR trains being sent over to a siding, waiting for another CR train to pass by inbound to Boston.
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Re: Performance...

Postby Hoopyfrood » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:54 am

Veristek wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Ouch. What's wrong with the Franklin line? Is that getting bogged down by Fairmount construction?


I heard that there's a bottleneck at Walpole with a couple CR trains being sent over to a siding, waiting for another CR train to pass by inbound to Boston.


That's what Grabauskas claimed in the Metro yesterday, is that because of the construction, the outbound has to be put onto the siding because an earlier train is being delayed by the construction and throwing all the later trains off schedule.
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Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:25 am

That's what Grabauskas claimed in the Metro yesterday, is that because of the construction, the outbound has to be put onto the siding because an earlier train is being delayed by the construction and throwing all the later trains off schedule.


Maybe the state should buy the Franklin line trackage to insure there are no delays!

Wait a minute! The MBTA already does own the trackage!

This must be the fault of someone other than the T. Where's John Kerry when we need him?

;-)
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CSX's Response

Postby frrc » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:34 am

;From today's T&G.

Apr 16, 2008

CSX: New yard key for commuter boost

By Priyanka Dayal TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF


WORCESTER— While political leaders continue to point to disagreements over liability as the biggest obstacle to increasing commuter rail service to the city, representatives from railroad giant CSX Corp. yesterday said relocating the company’s 80-acre rail yard in Allston is the bigger hurdle.

In a meeting with the Telegram & Gazette editorial board, three CSX representatives called themselves “fans of commuter rail” and said they are committed to expanding commuter service, as long as that expansion doesn’t hamper freight service.

Transportation officials and lawmakers in Massachusetts have been negotiating with the railroad company to purchase the 22.8-mile section of railroad between Framingham and Worcester in an effort, eventually, to double the number of commuter trains to Worcester. They have said they will not sign a deal that, in the case of an accident, would require that CSX and the state pay for damages to what each owns, regardless of fault.


CSX, meanwhile, says it will not sign a deal that introduces a new risk — passengers — to its existing liability system.

The liability hang-up has caught the attention of federal lawmakers, including Sen John F. Kerry, D-Mass., who has threatened to file legislation regulating freight and commuter rail contracts if CSX doesn’t budge.

Yesterday, Lisa A. Mancini, CSX’s vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives, said train operators don’t care about liability policies, they simply operate as safely as possible at all times. She dismissed the notion that making the state liable for its own passengers means CSX wouldn’t have incentives to be safe.

Ms. Mancini said moving CSX’s operations in Beacon Park, on the western edge of Boston, to a location closer to Worcester would help free up track for more commuter trains.

“Most of our customers are west of Framingham, but we bring our trains (to Boston) because our yard is there,” she said.

That means tons of cargo go to the Boston facility every day, then tracks deliver much of that cargo to locations west of Boston.

The yard is part of a nearly two-century-old rail infrastructure, and its location made sense at the time it was built. Today the yard takes up 80 acres of prime real estate that Harvard University is interested in acquiring, Ms. Mancini said. If Harvard paid CSX for that land, it would allow CSX to give the state a better deal, she said.

CSX has considered a few locations in Central Massachusetts for a new rail yard, but so far, none of them has been promising.

In response to Mr. Kerry and others threatening to take action, Ms. Mancini said, “That’s their prerogative, but that can’t create the capacity (for more trains). We’d get to an answer faster through negotiations, I think.”

CSX officials stressed that they communicate constantly with Massachusetts rail officials, and said on-time performance for commuter trains on the Worcester line has shot up to the 90 percent range since the train schedule was tweaked in February. The new train schedule is “more realistic” because it allows more travel time for peak-hour trains, CSX and state rail officials say.

CSX attributes less than 3 percent of commuter train delays to conflicts with freight trains, while the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which operates commuter rail service for the MBTA, maintains freight trains are more disruptive than CSX claims they are.

CSX representatives yesterday acknowledged that signaling upgrades could allow for one or two more commuter trains to Worcester, but did not portray that as one of their primary goals. Signaling upgrades between Boston and Framingham would be costly and would be the responsibility of the MBTA, they said.

“If we add more trains, we don’t want on-time performance to go from 90 or 95 percent to 85 percent,” said Maurice J. O’Connell, CSX’s vice president of public affairs.

If the state purchases the Framingham-Worcester track from CSX, the rail company would pay a fee to use the line for its freight.

Mr. O’Connell, Ms. Mancini and company spokesman Robert Sullivan yesterday said if the sale is approved, CSX would ask the state to help clear obstacles so trains with one container atop another — known as double-stack trains — can travel under highway bridges and through tunnels across the state.

That project would cost several million dollars.

Contact Priyanka Dayal by e-mail at pdayal@telegram.com.
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Postby jgeary27 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:47 pm

CSX attributes less than 3 percent of commuter train delays to conflicts with freight trains, while the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which operates commuter rail service for the MBTA, maintains freight trains are more disruptive than CSX claims they are.


It should be relatively easy for MBCR to provide some actual data, one would think. Is it too cynical of me to assume that since they didn't even have a ballpark percentage, they're full of it?

I would feel a lot more comfortable with the state's position on this if they had some convincing proof that CSX contributes to significantly more than 3% of delays. I have this premonition that say, 5 years from now when the state owns the whole line (and delays haven't been reduced) that they'll "suddenly discover" cab signals and a 3rd track from Auburndale to Framingham will be the real solution. And of course there will be no budget for it because nobody could have predicted that CSX ownership wasn't really the problem.

The other question becomes where do they think CSX can relocate Beacon Park to? There doesn't seem to be any available land in and around Framingham, and the Westborough yard apparently has environmental restrictions. Given the moaning and groaning in Worcester over the T's layover yard a few years back, I doubt they'll be able to expand any facilities there. Where else is left?
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Postby neroden » Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:13 am

"However the unasked question is why state takeover is so essential before these improvements can take place"

Perhaps because CSX really *is* part of the problem?

Hey, they're the cause of most of the problems with Amtrak's Empire Service, Maple Leaf, and Lake Shore Limited. Largely because of derailments! Their attitude towards passenger trains has been negative, and their attitude towards track and structure maintenance has been significantly worse. The area in NY where they treat the passenger trains the best -- south of Albany -- has been pinpointed in every analysis of improvement of passenger rail service as being in urgent need of state takeover!

Maybe CSX is way better in MA than it is in NY, but why would you think so? Now the MBTA are no prize-winners either, and the Massachusetts state government even less so (Big Dig, anyone?) but the brainless assumption repeated by several people that CSX is 100% in the right and all the politicians' objections are nonsense is bizarre to say the least.
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Postby QB 52.32 » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:58 am

You put too much blame on CSX. The posts you read vetting the truth surrounding the Boston-Worcester commuter service come from folks who work within the industry or are familiar with operations on the Boston Line. I'd say that 3% number quoted in the article by CSX is accurate!

What's really happening here, and in NY, is the end result of Federal transportation policy that regulated the railroads while promoting competing forms of transportation, leaving the rail system rationalized and freight-oriented. Now, with fuel prices skyrocketing and congestion, we see the folly of these policies. Making the changes necessary to increase reliable commuter and passenger service is going to require expensive capacity improvements. Let's not forget that the economic value of CSX's freight service in both MA and NY far exceeds the economic value of passenger or commuter service. Scapegoating CSX is not the solution in either NY or MA!
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Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:07 am

While commuting to my suburban Boston home from work on Patriots Day, I heard something encouraging on WBZ AM radio. Right after the half hourly sports report, there was a CSX advertisement with a tag line something like "if it's in your life, CSX brought it to you." I don't want to jump to conclusions but perhaps CSX has decided to create some positive PR in a locale where the state & federal politicians insist on demagoguing them.
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Postby dbperry » Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:20 pm

Oh goodness. Just to get everyone on the same page.....

Facts:

-Harvard University owns the land that Beacon Park sits on.
references:
http://www.allston.harvard.edu/maps/allston_base.jpg
and
http://www.allston.harvard.edu/ai.htm
and figure 16 at:
http://www.ctps.org/bostonmpo/resources ... tStudy.pdf

-CSX, MBTA and the Mass Turnpike have perpetual easements to use the Harvard property.
References:
Page 61 of
http://www.ctps.org/bostonmpo/resources ... tStudy.pdf
and
http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=505685
and
http://www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/reso ... pt0703.pdf


Guesses:
-Double stack container trains can travel as far east as Framingham; the restricting bridge height is Boden Lane in West Natick (QB 19.93), with a protecting high car detector at QB 21.20 set at 17' 2".
Other than the HCD, I don't have proof of the maximum height car allowed to Framingham, so until someone can present some definitive reference, I'll leave it as a guess. I believe that the bridges west of Framingham were raised for tri level auto racks into Framingham, but I don't have a reference for that. Also, since there is not a HCD between Worcester and Framingham, I'm inclined to think a double stack could fit all the way to Framingham....

See figure 20 on page 65:
http://www.ctps.org/bostonmpo/resources ... tStudy.pdf

- Most of CSX freight that goes in / out of Beacon Park is not coming back west on trucks. Perhaps some of the intermodal stuff is going back west, but the Houghton Chemical terminal and the garbage terminal are both right at Beacon Park, so I think Ms. Mancini might be exaggerating in the article referenced below. Again, without access to the CSX freight records, we'll have to leave this one as a guess.

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Postby RailBus63 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:11 pm

I believe CSX actually has more credibility in the on-time argument than MBCR. It would be one thing if MBCR was a pretty good operator with solid on-time numbers on the other commuter rail routes, but every single line they operate has been plagued with delays.
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Postby jgeary27 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:50 pm

neroden wrote:(Description of issues on the Empire corridor deleted.) Maybe CSX is way better in MA than it is in NY, but why would you think so?


With respect to neroden, I know so, because I ride 75 miles on it every weekday, and have been doing so since 2001.

While I appreciate that CSX has had some, uh, derailment 'issues' in upstate NY, I can't think of a derailment between Worcester and Boston in the last 7 years, at least not one that affected passenger service.

There hasn't been a noticeable difference in ride quality since the end of Conrail. I'm reasonably sure if track speeds were reduced between Framingham and Worcester due to poor CSX maintenance, we would have heard about it from one of the CSX or MBCR employees on this board. There have been no schedule adjustments due to reduced maintenance; the latest increase in running times was to reflect the unfortunate reality that MBCR trains were only making their schedule 50% of the time.

I'm not (and I don't think anyone else is) trying to defend CSX by saying they are a wonderful company, or pretend they are affectionate toward passenger service. I've taken too many Amtrak trips over CSX to harbor that delusion. However as someone intimately familiar with the details of the Worcester line, the Commonwealth's position on CSX just doesn't hold water. The biggest problem in my opinion is MBCR equipment turning up late for its assignment (for whatever reason, I'll leave that to people who know the inner workings). The second biggest problem is sheer capacity. Spend a few minutes looking at the Worcester line schedule. The line is 2 tracks from Worcester to Brighton, where it becomes single track until about a mile before Back Bay station. There simply isn't enough track on the ground for the 'expanded service' that Tim Murray et al. want for Worcester -- unless it comes at the cost of drastically reduced Framingham locals.

CSX has loads of issues, especially in NY. But I still call bull***t on MBCR for claiming that freight train interference is why the Worcester line performs so badly.

(On a related note, I'd point out that the horrific performance of Worcester trains last summer was due to a massive track work blitz by CSX, presumably to maintain the current speed limits. Needless to say MBCR did not change their summer schedule to accomodate the work area slowdowns that they obviously knew would happen.)
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Postby RailBus63 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:34 am

jgeary27 wrote:(On a related note, I'd point out that the horrific performance of Worcester trains last summer was due to a massive track work blitz by CSX, presumably to maintain the current speed limits. Needless to say MBCR did not change their summer schedule to accomodate the work area slowdowns that they obviously knew would happen.)


This is an excellent point. Metro-North routinely issues revised timeables during the summer months to accomodate work-related slowdowns.
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