The EGE wrote:Rhode Island already has fairly detailed plans for commuter service at least as far as Woonsocket. It'll wait until South County service reaches Kingston (around 2016) and Westerly (a few years thereafter), but it's obviously the next major corridor in the state. The studies have specced out exactly what you'd expect - basic, Providence-centered commuter rail service with fairly modest track upgrades and commuter rail fares. Operated by P&W unless the MBTA is in (which may be the case if Worcester starts agitating for service extended there). Conventional commuter rail equipment. And it'll be state-subsidized (farebox recovery around 30%) under the for-the-public-benefit model of commuter rail driving economic activity. Standard stuff.
"Boston Surface Railroad" wants to make money off that. It's a scam. I'm not sure if they're going for bilking private investors, or to force the state's hand to buy them out before real commuter rail service can happen, but they're not playing fair. (I should note that AAF and TCR seem to be legit. AAF is a well-thought-out real estate venture (with passenger service as a goodwill-creating loss leader) by an established railroad; if anything, it improves the prospects of conventional commuter service on the line as well. TCR seems to be confident that for-profit HSR can work; while I'm not sure if they're right, they're doing so in a state with flat, empty areas between dense cities where politics makes a state operate system unlikely.)
P&W doesn't care either way. If they get money to run trains, that's business. If someone else pays to improve their physical plant, all the better for P&W. They've shown themselves to be friendly to passenger service if it benefits them as well. They're - oddly enough - a neutral party likely to work in good faith with whoever shows them the money.
RI's 2014 State Rail Plan calls for a joint RIDOT-MassDOT study about real-deal Providence-Worcester commuter rail as a follow-on...many years later...to the Providence-Woonsocket CR plan that's more or less a lock to happen in the 2020-22 range. I wouldn't expect real PRV-WOR service until the mid- or late-2020's, but the state is intent on quantifying the numbers sooner and getting all stakeholders to the table to talk possibilities. They also want a joint MassDOT study for extending the Franklin Line back to Blackstone reconnected to the P&W main so the MBTA can wrap around to Woonsocket station and do Boston-Woonsocket CR service, which would turn Woonsocket station into a major intermodal hub. All very sensible plans, stepped out over the long-term with Providence-Woonsocket the only current going concern, with solid fundamentals over the long-term.
All this grifter is doing is trying to claim squatter's rights so he gets a big payday from the states when they institute their own service, and subsidy in the meantime to run his service. It's no accident that this company was magically incorporated with nothing more than an Arlington, MA P.O. Box within a few months of RI's State Rail Plan being finalized. Grifters gonna grift.
Also...P&W is not "on board" with this. Their spokesflaks limited their comments to just playing up their enthusiasm for passenger service--any non-specific operated passenger service--on their main(s). To the degree they addressed this proposal they just sort of listed the advantages of their Class 3/60 MPH infrastructure re: short service startups and said they're willing to talk. Nobody has confirmed that they've actually
talked, or that they talked and this guy passed the laugh test with them. Ultimately they want what any Class II wants when it tries to bait passenger proposals: public $$$ to buy them a better freight railroad. Damn straight they're going to grab any leverage they can to push that. But P&W's a publicly traded company. There is no way they're getting in bed with scammers when Wall Street can punish their stock for taking irresponsible risks. They are very conservative and above-board about how they present themselves to investors as running a tight and risk-managed ship. There is no freaking way P&W's going to get very far along in talks with this guy, if talks are happening at all. The wild risk is too anomalous to how they protect their stock price from risk.