The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby b&m 1566 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:37 am

I thought New Hampshire Central had the rights to Gilman?
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby gokeefe » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:37 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:If you're counting, Twin State's trackage rights from St. Johnsbury to Gilman expires in 2018 if the estate of TS/Lamoille Valley's deceased owner does not step forward and pick up their 10-year extension option to 2028. If the clock runs out on that option the red tape for future rail considerations here is greatly simplified to just a VTrans negotiation with line owner Pan Am about scraping off the property and putting the state in charge of RFP'ing to see what potential interest there is.


So the original deal was trackage rights for 20 years? (Started in 1998?)
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby Mikejf » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:37 am

Just throwing it out there. Trackage rights, per the NHDOT rail plan is non exclusive. And rail transport would depend on the distance the pellets are going and how they are shipped, I would assume. Bulk transport would be right up the railroads alley.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby Dick H » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:42 am

It's roughly eight rail miles from Whitefield to Gilman and roughly twenty rail
miles from Gilman to St. Johnsbury. Assuming (always dangerous to assume)
that the Connecticut River Bridge is structurally sound, it will be far cheaper
to rehab the line between Whitefield and Gilman then Gilman and St.J. Of
course, the Live Free state (NH) will have many qualms about rebuilding
track to serve a Vermont industry. I believe the NHCR would welcome the
new customer. I am still not sure how Mr. Fink #2 would be a player in all
this. At any rate, a new employer in the north country will be most welcome.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:03 am

gokeefe wrote:So the original deal was trackage rights for 20 years? (Started in 1998?)


Older than that. 1989 was when they picked that territory up from Guilford, along with what's now NHCR territory. NHCR territory was shed between 1995-97, landing with NHDOT who granted NHCR rights. St. Johnsbury-Gilman went dormant in '99 when they lost the mill business and is the last piece they still hold on-paper. Since their territory changed this may not have been the first rights agreement...more likely the second, re-drawn in the mid-90's when they were retreating out of NH. At any rate, the current agreement expires in 2018 and has a carrier-only option for 10-year extension to 2028. So if the estate of Lamoille Valley/Twin State steps forward (note: we have no idea who represents the owner's estate!) and gives written notice that they are exercising their 10-year extension, they can sit on it another 10 years and PAR can't do anything about it. If they take no action whatsoever on the contract option or write that they intend to decline it, the rights expire in 2018. The only mystery is whether anyone whatsoever is going to step forward over the next year claiming to represent Twin State, or if the clock runs out silently on the lease.

Dick H wrote:It's roughly eight rail miles from Whitefield to Gilman and roughly twenty rail
miles from Gilman to St. Johnsbury. Assuming (always dangerous to assume)
that the Connecticut River Bridge is structurally sound, it will be far cheaper
to rehab the line between Whitefield and Gilman then Gilman and St.J. Of
course, the Live Free state (NH) will have many qualms about rebuilding
track to serve a Vermont industry. I believe the NHCR would welcome the
new customer. I am still not sure how Mr. Fink #2 would be a player in all
this. At any rate, a new employer in the north country will be most welcome.


The plant itself is inclusive to the Twin State lease, so NHCR can't serve it directly from the east. Unless they're transloading by the side of the road east of the plant property, which would be pointless for all involved. So serving the plant does have ironclad prerequisites of Twin State's lease expiring without that 10-year option being picked up...and then making sure it's kosher with PAR to poke across the division post. It's out of NHDOT's and NHCR's purview. This is all about waiting to see if the Twin State estate does anything, and then VTrans being the party that engages PAR about what comes next (i.e. buying the St.J - Gilman property).

When all is squared they can choose to rehab track from whichever direction--Whitefield, St. J, or both--they prefer. But actual ground zero at the Gilman mill is still today under Twin State's operating thumb and PAR's ownership thumb.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:40 pm

Can I get some clarification please? Sorry that this is off topic.
Guilford, embargoed the bridge between Wells River and Woodsville in August 1995 correct? The Conway Scenic officially opens the notch the same month.
Gilman, to St. Johnsbury ends in 1999, when was the last train?
When did, the trains stop running between Whitefield and Gilman/Whitefield and Littleton?
When did New Hampshire Central take over Groveton to Whitefield?


I was too young and excited, about the opening of the notch train, to pay attention to other areas. For those that were paying attention, I can only imagine… the excitement going into 1995, with the first notch train nearing and then BAM! goodbye Woodsville to Berlin... that must have been bitter. The subsequent demise following that with the Lamoille Valley and everything else around Whitefield, a few short years later, must have ruined the excitement.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Nov 19, 2016 5:46 am

Whitefield et al was '97. So there were three total stages in the retreat before Lamoille Valley/Twin State finally went idle. End of service in '99 dates to the Gilman plant's closure/idling...so probably easier to pin it by calendar month to old local news stories about the plant itself.

The whole short-lived intrusion east of St. Johnsbury in the first place was LV's last gasp at trying to stay alive as the last of its VT mainline wheezed towards final abandonment in '94. Gilman was the last firewall before it was all over. Last business action by the company in the mid-'00s was a fight with Guilford to try to get the rails pulled up for scrap proceeds, which TS claimed they had the rights to do in their contract over Guilford's firm refusals. (Clearly Guilford wasn't expecting to ever have to pull that file folder out of the cabinet when it signed the agreement!) Then the owner passed away and the mothballed company went under his estate. Per the verbiage in the VT State Rail Plan describing the ownership situation there and options for state acquisition, it is not clear who inherited the TS contracts and who is representing the estate...requiring legal discovery to establish who/what before there's basis for any future action.

So right now VTrans--who want the line ownership--and PAR--who don't want chintzy legal distractions if they're prepping the company for sale in the next 2-5 years--are just hoping 2018 comes and goes quietly without some mystery TS rep coming forward with intent to exercise that 2028 contract extension. Because if they do it's going to chew up legal fees first proving that mystery rep is a legit holder of the contract...before even getting into whether the details of the contract give them standing. And since TS's mystery holders have no other revenue to gain from holding the rights, pretty much their only reason for exercising the extension to 2028 would be hostage-taking or trying to re-litigate the scrap proceeds for the rail. So here's hoping time the clock ticks down quietly, because somebody--most likely VTrans--is going to get sacked for a loss trying to nip things in the bud if there are any bad actors laying in wait to spring an Operation Chaos.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby RRFAN » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:35 pm

I don't know if this is for snowmobiles or not but a section of track was just brush cut in dalton, NH. The brush cut area started at the crossing on 142 going west after the sand pit. I don't know where it ends yet, there was still brush everywhere next to the Connecticut River.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby b&m 1566 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:57 pm

Are there any updates coming out of Maine? With all the talk on the Pan Am thread about the Mechanicville expansion and the Poland Springs Water intermodel trains, I was wondering if any of this could play a roll with the future of the Mt Division to and from Portland and Fryeburg?
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby gokeefe » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:02 pm

No activity whatsoever.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:37 pm

What's in Fryeburg that could possibly occupy one brain cell's worth of PAS's plans in New York? This mythical "Fryeburg transload" is a local pie-in-sky dream unsubstantiated by any quantified customer demand. That's not something PAR has ever commented on. Nor does it even remotely fit their business plan to do a lonely run from Portland that many miles past Westbrook for tiny carloads on track that best-case only has enough public resources to be upgraded to minimally operable Class 1. Their outflow from Patriot Corridor upgrades is going to boost Portland, Auburn, and Waterville intermodal and associated third-party transload customers (e.g. the Tighe Warehouse -type customers in MA and likeminded competing trucking warehouses licking their chops along the freight main and NH Main). They can't be seeking out tertiary niches until those big mainline facilities get flushed with high-$$$ upgrades making them capable of living larger off the carloads coming from the upgraded Pat Corridor.


The only freight potential within stone's throw of the ME state line on the Mountain is if the Conway Branch gets extended for NH Northcoast to tap new customers past their current end of operating track. And even then there's no reason to poke across the border at all when Conway or North Conway are perfectly adequate spots 5-10 miles down US 302 from Fryeburg where NHN can set-off and go and the onsite home staff at CSRX can assist with the truck pickups. NHN has consistently (and recently, if you check that thread) said this is desireable to them. But they can only do if NHDOT makes a reciprocal investment. And it'll have to be a lot more than the minimally operable Class 1 they were floating in the study a decade ago, because NHN now has a Class 2/286K main from Dover to Ossippee Pit and wouldn't see nearly enough business upside extending partially or totally north unless they had equal loading capacity (if not equal speeds). And I just don't see how, when NHDOT had so little interest in the relatively cheap dozen-plus $M cost for the minimally-operable study plan, a fuller-capacity restoration to 286K has anything but far-worse chances of happening.

Even with that plausible/useful but not exactly likely what-if, you still don't ever get a train in Fryeburg-proper on the Mountain. Though you would effectively get a Fryeburg transload by proximity to NHN Conway set-offs.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:52 pm

People would be able to take the train to the Fryeburg State Fair in October. Next.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby Cowford » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:22 am

Even with that plausible/useful but not exactly likely what-if, you still don't ever get a train in Fryeburg-proper on the Mountain. Though you would effectively get a Fryeburg transload by proximity to NHN Conway set-offs.


I'm having trouble deciphering that second paragraph, but if what you're saying is that there's potential to create transloading services at/near Conway to serve the Conway/Fryeburg area, that's already happening: In Rochester NH (propane) and Ossipee NH (rebar). In addition, NEPW is just 30 miles away in S Paris, and transload terminals in Auburn and Portland are just 50 miles distant. In short, Fryeburg's covered; there would be no advantage to getting marginally closer to Fryeburg.
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:32 am

Cowford wrote:
Even with that plausible/useful but not exactly likely what-if, you still don't ever get a train in Fryeburg-proper on the Mountain. Though you would effectively get a Fryeburg transload by proximity to NHN Conway set-offs.


I'm having trouble deciphering that second paragraph, but if what you're saying is that there's potential to create transloading services at/near Conway to serve the Conway/Fryeburg area, that's already happening: In Rochester NH (propane) and Ossipee NH (rebar). In addition, NEPW is just 30 miles away in S Paris, and transload terminals in Auburn and Portland are just 50 miles distant. In short, Fryeburg's covered; there would be no advantage to getting marginally closer to Fryeburg.


This was in direct response to the question about a transload in Fryeburg-proper on the Mountain, and occasionally spoken-of rumors of (someone's?) interest therein. I agree that the area is well-covered from other spots and practicality of a more local presence is nil. But as far as the actual question about Fryeburg-proper what-if's, it would be far easier to go the (16?) miles Ossippee-Conway on restored track and set up a loading spot only 5-mile drive down Route 302 from Fryeburg than to plow west from Portland on that lonely, lonely Mountain run and transload right in downtown. NHN at least has cursory interest in seeking customers further north of Ossippee, so chances of a nearer transload are like 2% instead of absolute-zero chance out of Portland.

This purely what-if would be contingent on the gap in the Conway Branch being restored for NHN sign-ons to the north. In that case and that case only, a transload at Conway that is 1) administered by a third party for the truck pickups, and 2) with NHN setoffs...would be a possibility. CSRX property is the easiest-grab place for the setoffs whether they're involved or not as a third party...since they have onsite staff presence watching over the loads and the driveway access. That would be the minimum-most overhead means of supporting a transload in spitting distance of Fryeburg, provided that NHN is running up in within that neck of the woods to begin with. No freight carrier in existence has any upside going east-west on the Mountain when that Conway Branch scenario is superior in every way and at least has a *wisp* of verified interest behind it from an actual live freight carrier.



That's it. In the real world an area as low-density as Fryeburg is well-covered by truck from existing spots, and Conway is several orders of magnitude below the threshold for any restoration action. So it's all moot. Above scenario is simply a what-if that's debunks any notion that a run on the Mountain serves that half-baked local transload scheme. It doesn't; the other routing does.

(...but it's still half-baked.)
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Re: Reactivating the MEC Mountain Division?

Postby gpcog » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:14 pm

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