Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

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Re: Northern makes the latest list for HSR.

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:28 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:Isn't this line under study for a high speed train (if you want to call it that)? Or is that projected dead?

Yes, that is true. In fact the Phase I study is completed, and from what I noticed it was last updated on April 16, 2009. So, it's still on the list for HSR between Boston and Montreal. Apparently, someone in DC thinks it's viable, contrary to some opinions on railroad.net. I have my doubts. Thoughts, anyone?
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby CN9634 » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:37 pm

The only East-West N-NE route that would work would be a seamless route from Maine/New Hampshire that didn't go through Canada. Right now if you want something to go from Maine without going through Canada you only have Guilford. The past few years of border crossing security has increased by newer technologies can assist reduce the wait (X-Rays and stuff). Even if it did exist on one railroad it would still need a hell of a lot of business to survive.
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Re: Northern makes the latest list for HSR.

Postby djlong » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:03 am

[quote="Rockingham Racer
Yes, that is true. In fact the Phase I study is completed, and from what I noticed it was last updated on April 16, 2009. So, it's still on the list for HSR between Boston and Montreal. Apparently, someone in DC thinks it's viable, contrary to some opinions on railroad.net. I have my doubts. Thoughts, anyone?[/quote]

The study is dated April 2003. The *page* on Vermont's website that points to it was update on 4/16/09 - probably since the NNE corridor made the cut in the US DOT's announcement last week. I mean, the original website for that project was taken over by a porn peddler when the domain name expired YEARS ago.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby Track5 » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:13 am

Any links to the updated study ? A Boston - Montreal train would have benefits up and down the line.. Ski area connections, going through NH and VT.. Tourism opportunities.. Trains to all the colleges up and down the line.. Easy for northern New Englanders to get to Boston sporting events & concerts.. Easier access to Montreal and Montreal to Boston.. Hope this flies, though the cost of rebuilding and upgrading the crossings on not only the abandoned line, and the active lines has got to be HUGE !!
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:11 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote: Yes, that is true. In fact the Phase I study is completed, and from what I noticed it was last updated on April 16, 2009. So, it's still on the list for HSR between Boston and Montreal. Apparently, someone in DC thinks it's viable, contrary to some opinions on railroad.net. I have my doubts. Thoughts, anyone?


Count me proudly in the "contrary" category, and what do the folks in DC know except that they want to spend incomprehensibly huge piles of money that the government doesn't actually have? If we're going to spend tax money on HSR, let's start with some corridors like Dallas-Austin-Houston or Miami-Orlando-Tampa that have both greater population density and more favorable geography than Boston-Montreal (and don't involve dealing with a foreign country, albeit a friendly one). Those could well be viable. If you want to restore rail passenger service between Boston and Montreal, which I would like to see, start with a conventional Amfleet train on the existing trackage via Palmer and the Connecticut Valley (after fixing up the track a bit and doing something about customs delays), and see who shows up to ride it.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby Rail Ghost » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:39 am

One of the reasons the Northern failed in my opinion is the coming of Interstate 89. I live off of I-89. I go to Lebanon about once a month and drive to Manchester to work. when I want to do something different I drive the route of the Northern. US Route 4 is not all that accessible from I-89. Truck connections for industries that had rail sevice were slow for the most part. One of the better routes to access the Northern is via Route 11, New London to Potter Place. Potter place is the location of one of the last Northern line customers. For trucks to take this traffic was easy. Being that this is a petroleum customer, the concept of just in time supply could have eased the customers opereating and overhead cost.

I also feel that I-89 had an effect on the Concord and Claremont RR business. The line south of Warner was severed by I-89 at exit 9 and exit 7. This is at a point where an improved NH route 103 goes west to Claremont and east to Contoocook.

Looking at the north end of the Northern today I do see potential. Canaan and Enfield have some industries that could bennefit from rail. The potetial for developement is there also. Lebanon has potential but the stat would have to kick funds to develope it.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby jaymac » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:06 pm

The St. Lawrence Seaway Project was also a major contributor to the decline on the Northern because both Boston and Portland were major transshipment ports for grain -- primarily Canadian -- enroute to Europe. When the Project was completed, grain could be shipped via a year-round, ice-free, riverine and maritime routing. The grain elevators at both Boston and Portland that had provided infrastructure for winter shipments quickly shut down, and income -- thus justification for a high standard of maintenance -- began to disappear. When passenger service was cancelled, there was no justification for that high level of maintenance. I-89 and I-93 made the decline complete.
As testimony to the quality of the track back in passenger days, I took CN-CV out of Montreal's Gare Centrale back to Nashua Street in 1960, following a CN steam excursion. At WRJ, we changed to Budds, and I clocked the transit mp-to-mp through Tyngsborough Curve at 75, a bit above the authorized.
On the subject of "authorized," if you have any older B&M ETTs, check out the variations in authorized tonnage on the Northern. This was neither an easy nor economical stretch of railroad to run, no matter its beauty.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby Rail Ghost » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:16 am

How soon we or I forget. My Dad took me took us to see the St L. Seaway as part of the trip to Montreal. The Main attraction Was The Worlds Fair, Expo 68. The St L. Seaway was very new then.
Very good point on the grain as many of the Rail lines simular to MEC's Mt Div where primarilay built to serve winter grain movemnts.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby Rail Ghost » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:37 pm

I wanted to add a tidbit.....There is a story out there that the B&M looked seriously at abadoning what became the White Mt Branch between Concord and Tilton and rebuilding the Merrimack river bridge at Franlin Jct and accessing the White Mt Branch via the Franklin and Tilton Branch from the Northern.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby jbvb » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:08 pm

I rode Greyhound from Boston to WRJ last weekend, and wrote about it on this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=126&t=63358&start=15

Summary: I'd rather have taken a train.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby madktdisease » Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:45 pm

I'm new here, and man am I glad to see other people care about this branch! My parents bought a cabin in Danbury in 1986, and I was too young to know the trains didn't run anymore until the mid-90's. I remember so desperately wanting to see a train go through while driving down route 4, and being so excited when we drove by Potter Place. So sad that the rails got ripped up.

I don't think HSR would be a must have on that line, but a regular AMTRAK (like the regional service, vs the Acela) could be a valid alternative to the bus schedule - I heard recently from a friend that they cut back on some of the buses, and the traffic is harsh on weekends. . But there are so many grade crossings along the ROW that I don't think either could ever come to fruition.
Living quite happily with loud train horns around the corner from the Gloucester commuter rail station.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby jbvb » Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:53 pm

madktdisease wrote:... . But there are so many grade crossings along the ROW that I don't think either could ever come to fruition.


Actually, the Boston - Concord segment probably has fewer grade crossings per mile than anything else between the North Woods and the Shore Line; IIRC there are three between Boston and Lowell, then a few in Nasua, a few more in Manchester and a couple in Hooksett/Bow. The NH part of the line follows the Merrimack so closely that very few roads ever crossed it at grade, and those that were busy in the 1950s (e.g Concord) got overpasses. Further north, trains will be slower, service less frequent and road traffic less, so grade crossings would be less of a problem.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby ThinkNarrow » Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:18 pm

While jbvb (Hi James!) may be right about the Boston/Concord stretch, I have to agree with madktdisease about the rest of the line. A year or so ago, I drove down Routes 4 and 11 from Lebanon to Franklin and was amazed at the number of crossings. There was one town with a multi-road intersection in middle of town, complete with the traditional New England white church, and the railroad line right through the middle of the whole scene! That section of the line is reminiscent of the Manchester and Lowell line alongside NH28. Basically, every road that intersects the highway crosses the railroad tracks right adjacent to the highway. The thought of any train going much more than 40 mph through there seems unlikely.

-JEM
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby madktdisease » Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:45 pm

JEM, that's exactly what I was thinking. Along route 4 between Potter Place and Danbury, a good number of side streets and driveways intersect the ROW. The town you're probably thinking about could be Danbury, where I spend a lot of time. There's a local hangout right on the ROW in the middle of town. My brother and I took a jeep along the ROW after they tore out the tracks, and while we only went maybe a quarter mile, we passed 4-5 grade crossings in that time.

There's nothing I'd love more than to take public transportation to my parents' cabin, but I know it'll never happen.
Living quite happily with loud train horns around the corner from the Gloucester commuter rail station.
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Re: Why did the B&M Northern Line fail?

Postby B&Mguy » Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:51 pm

I know the Northern is dead and very likely never coming back, but I thought about this the other day. The derailment of the coal train in Nashua briefly isolated Concord and Manchester. It also might not be a bad idea to have another route for the coal trains to get to Bow if necessary. I’m guessing Concord and Manchester do not generate enough freight traffic to make a second connection necessary, but it would be a nice thing to have.
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