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: Has Nestlé's settled on Fryeburg for its new PS facility

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:51 am

Not to mention only about a 45-minute trip down robustly-built truck route NH 16 to Ossippee transload, which NHN is expanding in hopes of leveraging its newly-upgraded 286K/Class 2 mainline to bait some more truck biz on that highway corridor. If Nestle wants long-distance rail transport, does the inconvenience of running a truck caravan 35 miles to Ossippee to a well-funded and well-connected carrier still end up better value than the pain and suffering of reactivating 45 miles of Mountain Div. for a 5-hour trip to Rigby and possibly having to recruit some shortline more credible than those Golden Eagle scammers into doing haulage because today's PAR may not be as interested in doing multi-day trips to single customers down podunk branchlines as pound-foolish old Guilford?

And if Nestle were playing the long game, would they see an interregnum of Ossippee truck transload to NHN and future lobbying for a Conway Branch restoration instead as a better gambit than the lonely trip west out of Portland? Conway restoration's already had restoration costs pegged far lower than Mountain restoration in the feasibility studies because of the much shorter distance and fewer structures to rehab, and has more immediate revenue upside to tap with NHN going on-the-record with enough interest in the Madison quarry to offer self-funding share for the project and Conway Scenic having major upside. I remain convinced that of all the fanciful schemes for reconnecting the Mountain to the east end (and all of them are some major degree of fanciful), if any have a real-world snowball's chance it's only by Conway and never by Westbrook. Restore the middle of the C branch, and then it's only 6 miles and a Saco River bridge rehab from the eastern limits of CSRX's active territory to reach downtown Fryeburg from the back door.

I know NHDOT never spends any money on anything rail ever and MEDOT is only too glad to do so when it's a marginal branchline...but honestly, Nestle gets further making this a bi-state effort and lobbying NHDOT with the Ossippee transload teaser as a conduit for future investment. At least that adds one more for-profit party to the small...but real...coalition that sees moneymaking upside in Conway Branch restoration. It's not clear whether Rigby-Fryeburg could ever amortize its initial upgrade costs.
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Re: Has Nestlé's settled on Fryeburg for its new PS facility

Postby newpylong » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:00 am

Reactivating any of those rail lines for one customer, even if its Poland Spring does not make sense.

It's only an hour dray from Fryeburg to Portland they can use that shiny new IM yard there to load. Or, if they are serious about loading directly at their facility, they won't choose Fryeburg at all they will go with Lincoln.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby MEC407 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:03 am

Moderator Note:

I located about a dozen individual Mountain Division topics and combined them into this main topic. That should make it easier for folks to find Mountain Division-related stuff from the past.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby gokeefe » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:50 pm

That article makes a pretty interesting read.

newpylong wrote:Reactivating any of those rail lines for one customer, even if its Poland Spring does not make sense.


I'm curious what you think the load threshold would be that would justify the rehab. It's only going to be one plant and it would appear somewhat limited in output at that.

On the other hand every study I have ever seen has made it clear that reactivation will also bring sand, gravel and propane loads as well. Not many for sure but the traffic probably will not be "water only".
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby Mikejf » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:13 pm

There is no guarantee that even those loads will come.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby Cowford » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:08 pm

On the other hand every study I have ever seen has made it clear that reactivation will also bring sand, gravel and propane loads as well. Not many for sure but the traffic probably will not be "water only".


I am assuming you are referring to the various Mtn Div studies 2005-2009. I respectfully submit that they are not worth the paper they would be printed on.

Trivia quiz: Can anyone else name another 5-mile+ track segment in the US that didn't see an ounce of traffic, passenger or freight, for more than six years after being laid?
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:13 pm

To answer Mr. Cowford's question above, the northern part of the British Columbia Railway's stillborn Dease Lake extension of the 1970s would seem to quality as the champion in the built-but-never used category .More than a hundred miles of track beyond the end of active service were built but stayed dormant. Details can be found in the 1970s chapter of this Wikipedia entry.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Rail
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby kilroy » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:54 pm

The NJT line to Andover on the former DL&W Lackawanna Cutoff might fit.

Between environmental concerns/issues (bat mating season limits work on a tunnel to name one), lawsuits and general incompetence/mismanagement it is taking forever. They continue to work but at a snail's pace (and that's being generous).

Not really sure how long it has been going on but it seems like a decade.

The whole sad story is in this 343-page topic http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=1580
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby b&m 1566 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:53 am

And the joint venture between the B&M and NH that was built but never used (the name escapes me) some of which was turned into the Mass Pike.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby neman2 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:19 pm

The Hampden Railroad.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:55 pm

...which was a venture with the pre-B&M Central Mass.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby gokeefe » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:10 pm

Suffice it to say ... its seems as if some extra rails and ties being laid (for the moment in vain) is not a world ending state of affairs. I too wish it was being used right now but I also acknowledge that it seems "unlikely" at the moment. A few years ago "improbable" would have been a better description and a decade ago "impossible" would have seemed more than fair.

Poland Spring is far more interested in rail shipping now than they ever have been and if any customer is ever going to see this line reactivated I'm pretty sure they are "the one". The pellet mill would have been nice but Poland Spring has far more volume to offer.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:48 am

No, there isn't enough volume in the world to pay back that cost. Start applying some common-sense cost/benefit numbers to this wishful thinking. There's a ceiling for how much revenue PS can feasibly move through carloads out of Fryeburg, and that ceiling--while impressive as a potential new sign-on--is still considerably less than Maine's largest single freight customers at the paper mills. So let's dispense with the notion that that a for-profit company is going to cherish rail so much that it's willing to take multi-decade losses on amortizing the costs of restoring 45 miles of track. Minimally operable 263K-or-less Class 1 track won't cut it. You can't do a round-trip from Portland in a single crew shift at sub- 10 MPH, unlike the mills there's not going to be enough yard space in Fryeburg to shuffle carloads between multi-day round trips, and you need 286K weights for running boxcars or containers packed to the gills with liquid. So forget about any of the lowball rehab estimates from the '07 Mountain Div. Study being re-projected to 2019 dollars. Almost none of the existing hardware--85 lb. rail, ties, crossing surfaces--is going to be reusable when a weight uprate is required, and about 20 bridges are going to need some form of light to heavy upgrades. Even if you try to thread the needle at tippy-top Class 1, for keeping tolerable speeds every crossing will need active protection and the portions of ROW that have rail-with-trail alongside are going to need security fencing. But really, it's hard to see such severe service compromises pointing to paydirt in starting the restoration...so it just doesn't happen unless you spring for Class 2 track right away.


You're now spending a cool $2M per mile with all the structures that need to be upgraded to give PS any sort of throughput it can grow with, and sailing north of $90M with any unforeseen cost overruns pushing it into 9 figures. Can you honestly count revenue from PS that's going to amortize such an extreme up-front investment? Don't say "you never know..."; plot it out. How many years of carload revenues would it take to pay off that investment? Where does that money converge on the plot? And then wrack your brains for comparisons with any other for-profit customers of similar carload size and whether they've found that cost/benefit threshold worth going for.


PS is big...but they're nowhere near that big at any one location to float this. It's not wishful thinking; it's stark, hard math.
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby NRGeep » Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:34 pm

No worries, the proposed Portland to Montreal fantasy train will pay for itself AND any and all upgrades on the Mountain Delusion Division! :wink:
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Re: The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Postby gokeefe » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:17 pm

F-line,

To the best of my knowledge ... Including some in person ... The rail is 112# or better ... Could be less in some parts but I have yet to see it.

Also the corridor is owned by MaineDOT, Poland Spring would not be paying for the improvements.

I think you've got a much better case to make for the idea that the necessary crossing improvements will be too expensive than any other factor.
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