• Rockland Branch Discussion

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by newpylong
I don't think it's as simple as just running up to ASA though. CSX and the State would need to file with the STB, they would need to sign a contract with MassDOT as the operator, they would need to qualify people on the territory, etc. Not saying it's not doable, just not realistic for a Class I. I do hope someone takes it over...
  by Goddraug
I'm not insanely concerned about level of interest or a line takeover in a tourist sense, but in terms of freight I could only see someone like VRS pulling it off. They seem used to low-density, state-owned railroad lines.
  by MEC407
Not to say "I told you so," but I was always skeptical of Finger Lakes' assertion that they would be able to drum up more traffic than Maine Coast, Safe Handling, Maine Eastern, CMQ and CP could drum up. Likewise, I'm skeptical that VRS would fare any better. It's like when someone runs for Congress and says "I'm gonna go down to Washington and I'm gonna do what no one else in Washington has done: break through the partisan bickering and get things done!" We've heard it a million times before and it never happens. It takes a certain kind of hubris to think you'll be able to do what no one else could do, and it feels like we've been seeing that with past, current, and potential Rockland Branch operators.
  by Goddraug
Hence why I think the Rockland Branch would probably serve best as a scenic route with maaaaaybe some incidental freight as opposed to the inverse. If a company wants to attempt dredging up more freight then fine, sure, more power to them, but I feel like a tourist train on the Rockland Branch would sell like hot cakes, what with its causeways, coastal communities, bridges, and forests, not to mention the Brunswick Downeaster Station and the Rockland station serve as pretty good termini for either end of the line.

Side note, RB2 will be headed out tomorrow which is being touted as the last sizable freight train departing Rockland for Brunswick for a good while assuming whoever comes after doesn't dredge anything up. Regardless of what happens, I don’t think BIW would let them do anything to the tracks between Bath and Brunswick.
  by NHV 669
RB-2 will be both units, 11 hoppers, and 2003 on the tail. Surely going to be quite the chase for those inclined.
  by MaineCoonCat
I agree that it probably would be best suited as a tourist/scenic line.. For a crazy pipe dream, too bad something like the Trolley Museum probably wouldn't be in any sort of position to take it over, string catenary and have the perfect ride platform to showcase their interurban equipment. Bet the tourists would love it and the electric aspect would be an environmental selling point.. Wonder if the state and/or the feds could kick in some environmental grant money to string the wire? Anyway, crazy pipe dream..
  by JBlaisdell
A trolley line? Not with the windstorms the coast gets. Trees and wires don't mix.

To be a realist, there's not a lot to keep this line running. With Dragon gone, there just isn't enough traffic, real or potential. I remember reading a rule of thumb that shortlines need 1 car per week per mile to be viable. Coasties will never support any business that could generate enough carloads.

It's also a maintenance intensive line with all of the bridges. It may be quite scenic in spots, but excursion trains won't cut it. A couple of Amtrak trains a day won't cut it as Rockland simply isn't a big destination town.

Let's face it, this line only held on because of Dragon. The only chance is for the plant to get new owners and convince residents to run a gas pipeline for its fuel.
  by Goddraug
I don’t think an excursion run on state-owned trackage is entirely out of the wheelhouse. They certainly don’t need to run the entire length of the branch from Brunswick to Rockland (and nor should they, that’s quite a bit of track), they could just base the operation out of Rockland and run as far west as Wiscasset or Bath. Certainly not under wire, though…

There’s still words abound relating to the Downeaster running over to Bath, which seems to be something that has been showing up in news articles since the early 2010s. Also saw another person, this time on the FB page, float the idea of VRS taking the line over so it seems like that rumor’s got some spread.
  by NHV 669
That's all it is, another rumor from another railfan page. The comment you mention was from a VRS guy; I think he was trying to be funny, given the comment about them taking over lines with no traffic. The idea of them sending a unit two states away for ~5 cars a month is laughable at best.
  by Goddraug
Most things in the railroad community seem to be rumors until substantiated especially with those who know how to keep lips closed.

But yeah, I don’t see why VRS would bother unless they’re just having a ball spending money wherever they can. In a world of my imagination, MEDOT would just give CSX the line up to Bath— assuming they’re interested in serving ASA or bringing steel directly to BIW again, they might not be— and giving the line from Bath to Rockland to a tourist operation. Again, all hypothetical and in my head here. All I know for sure is that there’s still genuine interest in the Rockland Branch for railroading purposes.

Now, whether those proposals are enough to please MEDOT, that I do not know.
  by NHV 669
MEC 506 came and grabbed the 19 hoppers (they grabbed more somewhere?), AEAX 2003, and 2310.
Last edited by NHV 669 on Tue Jun 11, 2024 8:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by S1f3432
I got some shots of todays train westbound between Newcastle and Brunswick, waiting quite a while
at Newcastle by the Rt 1 rest area. Man- I've never seen so many ticks in my life!
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  by S1f3432
And one more...
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  by newpylong
What's the deal with Grimmel over in Lewiston? A good amount of work was done to the Lewiston Lower to serve them which ended abruptly a good while ago.
  by S1f3432
Probably erratic service, or lack of service from Panam. If memory serves a lot of the track work on the
Lewiston Lower Branch was done while the fiber board plant in Lisbon Falls was still running as they had
been a regular, reliable shipper until they closed. Back at the time there was hope another customer would
occupy the site.
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