.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20

Thread: Those poor decisions and regrets later, and lost dreams.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default Those poor decisions and regrets later, and lost dreams.

    Off and on we discuss the shutting down, or outright abandonment, of various railway/railroad lines. Where I live in New England, we lost a ton of lines over the past 100 or so years as the various rail lines consolidated into a couple of entities, and as the economics changed. These are understandable changes since there is no reason to have redundant lines serving the same town or region if they're close by. Those issues aside, there have been some really stupid decisions only to bring on additional expense later as future generations realize that the cuts in service shouldn't have been. There are also great plans that somehow, or some reason or another, are never meant to be. The Grand Trunk, not the Grand Trunk Western, never completed it's super fast, wide mainline through western MA and Rhode Island because the owner died on the Titanic, for example. Other lines were planned, graded, and left. There are some remnants of one of these out in Dighton, MA near Connecticut. The GT line appears as a beautiful sweeping grade south of Springfield, MA. And then there's the case of greed, stocks, and lost cash, which is discussed below.

    A lost dream from 1910
    To start off this discussion, we'll take a look at the electrification of the Hoosac Tunnel in 1910, with electric service starting in 1911. This short stub of about 10 miles was created out of necessity due to the number of trains using the tunnel. There were something like 98 trains per day at the time and crews and passengers were choking to death. The Boston and Maine was in a unique position then since it was part of a larger conglomeration owned by JP Morgan who also owned the nearby New Haven. The B&M and NH worked together to electrify the tunnel, and their joint operation of this service lead to other plans. Great plans in fact to electrify the main lines especially the commuter lines in and out of Boston.

    Well this never occurred. JP Morgan, owned these railroads among others, and leveraged the railroad assets. When the panic of 1914 hit, he was broke and needed cash so he gutted the railroad budgets to bail himself out. Boom, poof! Both railroads ended up in bankruptcy and the plans never materialized. The only remnant of the great plan around Boston is the 4-track bridges along the Eastern Railroad near Lynn. The electric service ended in 1946 and the wires came down shortly afterwards. The only signs out in the western part of the state are abandoned substations and catenary poles here and there that somehow survived the cutter's torches, but nothing else remains. The New Haven never did complete its electrification to Boston or Springfield at the time, and we were stuck switching locos at New Haven for close to a century on the Boston line.

    What's interesting is the New Haven got its initial wish 90 years later when Amtrak electrified the line from New Haven to Boston, thus, completing that final segment on their line. Recently too there are talks of electrifying, or rather continuing the wires up to Springfield, MA.

    In addition to the Springfield plan, our local transit authority the MBTA, is looking at electrifying the commuter lines in and out of Boston. The initial plan is to use the current service on the NEC to Providence and then electrify the south coast lines including the newer lines to open soon (tm) to Fall River and New Bedford. With that service in place, the plan is to then electrify other lines including the former B&M Portland line as far as the Haverhill, or the last stop on the commuter line, and the Fitchburg line to Gardner.

    If this service had been instituted when planned over 100 years ago, we wouldn't be facing the expense to put it in now. Knowing how the MBTA works, politicians work, contractors bid on no-bid contracts, we might see a tiny piece of this project in about 50 years at 9 times what the estimate was to build it in the first place. In other words, I'm not holding my breath.

    Feel free to contribute to this conversation. I'm sure there are other stories like this. I sure have some foolish recent abandonments to discuss.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  2. #2

    Default

    I guess the one that gets me out west here is that Milwaukee Road had a fine line from the Midwest to Puget Sound, with parts of Montana, Idaho, and Washington electrified because the Columbia River was providing lots of cheap electricity from dams built by the Federal Government's Bonneville Power Administration, and electrics performed better than steam on winter routes through the several mountain ranges. But then diesel locomotives came along, fuel was cheap, and prices for copper were high, so they decided to de-electrify the west, but just as they did it the bottom dropped out of the copper market and diesel prices went way up. Oh well, too late, they stopped doing adequate maintenance on the tracks and finally abandon them altogether.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Forester1 View Post
    I guess the one that gets me out west here is that Milwaukee Road had a fine line from the Midwest to Puget Sound, with parts of Montana, Idaho, and Washington electrified because the Columbia River was providing lots of cheap electricity from dams built by the Federal Government's Bonneville Power Administration, and electrics performed better than steam on winter routes through the several mountain ranges. But then diesel locomotives came along, fuel was cheap, and prices for copper were high, so they decided to de-electrify the west, but just as they did it the bottom dropped out of the copper market and diesel prices went way up. Oh well, too late, they stopped doing adequate maintenance on the tracks and finally abandon them altogether.
    Yes! I saw parts of the great route from Forsythe, MT to Rondout, MT. The bridges are still i places in some places, and in others they're gone. The beautiful wide ROW is still intact. At one point, US 12 makes a sharp jog, I can't remember where exactly, and there's a view of an old classification yard there. Visible from the road is the train orders hoop that's still standing. I kept thinking to my self that that must've been quite a view from the nearby highway of the trains pulling in and out of the yard. As we rode along that part of the trip, I felt a deep sadness as I saw the ROW.

    The management of the MILW were hell bent and determined to do the railroad in. This portion was abandoned due to an accounting error. Yes, one of the bean counters put something in the wrong column and what was truly the most profitable portion of the route was lopped off, cut up and sold for scrap. During their frenzy to rid themselves of the electrics, GE and the US government offered them an opportunity to purchase with help of course new electrics and even connect up the middle where there is none, making the line all electric through the mountains.

    Today, electric or not, this line would have been very valuable for through service between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. Being a fairly new route, it was built to modern standards with wide ROW and super elevated curves, making it quite a competitive fast route east west from the region compared to the Great Northern/BNSF line.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    USA - North Carolina
    Posts
    943
     

    Default

    I have found memories of the "Milwaukee" as it ran through our (farm) bottom lands as I grew up. I could see the trains go by 3/4 mile away from my living room picture window. This was in southern Indiana. The line ran from Bedford to Seymour and I understand it also ran to Crane Naval Depot where munitions were made. I distinctly remember an arson file back around 1962 where the trestle across White River, west of Seymour, was set on fire. The volunteers got the fire out before it was able to spread across the river.

    According to memory and books, the trains ran a good amount of Naval Munitions. Here's one reference: REFERENCE

    I have a very vivid and clear memory of my uncle yelling at me to run down the track and make sure the local police (stationed at the final crossing out of town) made sure the coming train was flagged and stopped. I ran in the dark, (not easy running full speed across railroad ties) and literally almost ran smack into the front of the locomotive which had already been stopped just out of town (Seymour.) I left the city in 1971 but I believe the rails were pulled to have what is now a bike/walking trail.

    http://www.abandonedrails.com/Bedford_to_Seymour

    btw.. Seymour is the location of the first train robbery in the US. See "Reno Gang" (link below)- Members of the gang where hanged by vigilantes at "Hangman's Crossing" which is called same on Google maps to this day.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reno_Gang
    Last edited by 1611mac; January 17th, 2020 at 08:02 AM.
    TRS19 SP1(Plus), 105100(plus), 105932(+beta)
    ASUS B450M-A/CSM, GTX 1060-6 Windforce


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default

    Fascinating history, 1611mac. From Abandoned Rails, it appears to be a local industrial spur for the most part. It's hard to believe it was once a through route.

    Another foolish cut up my way is the Maine Central Mountain Division. Our dear friends Guilford Transportation Industries, now called Pan Am Railways, abandoned this major route in the mid-1980's even though it was still a very busy line under the Maine Central ownership. This line originally ran from Portland Maine to St. Johnsbury, Vermont and crossed up and through Franconia Notch in New Hamphshire's White Mountains. In the typical Guilford fashion, the line gets closed and allowed to rot. New Hampshire and Maine rail commissions immediately set out to purchase the route for potential passenger service, and in the typical Guilford/PAR fashion, they retained ownership of a mile or so in the middle to prevent restoration of through service by a short line.

    The states eventually were able to purchase that portion and now the line is railbanked. In the lower parts nearest Portland, some rail trail group lifted tracks and started paving the ROW. This was halted, but the damage has been done and now the ROW needs to be rebuilt again. Other portions are operated by the Conway Scenic, and some parts are used for storage. Periodically the topic is raised off and on about restoring the line for through passenger service, but that never happens due to the cost involved in restoring the line to acceptable safe passenger standards and not that of a tourist line.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    In Front Of My PC
    Posts
    543
     

    Default

    Seems that the mass's never care, until things are permanently gone forever.
    Most people get ALL their "Stuff" delivered by aircraft, and Amazon delivery vans.
    Most people are not "Railfan", or "Train Buff's", unless they are a historian.
    Railroads are not in business to look cool to the public, they are operating to make a profit, if they don't make enough money profit, everything RR will go "Bike/Trail Paths".
    My 4325 car RGCX train is 53.24 miles long, and takes 1 hour to pass through town !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MP242 View Post
    Seems that the mass's never care, until things are permanently gone forever.
    Most people get ALL their "Stuff" delivered by aircraft, and Amazon delivery vans.
    Most people are not "Railfan", or "Train Buff's", unless they are a historian.
    Railroads are not in business to look cool to the public, they are operating to make a profit, if they don't make enough money profit, everything RR will go "Bike/Trail Paths".
    True, but when the public, meaning our tax money, is now needed to recover another one's foolish moves, like Guilford shutting down the Mountain Division because they were basically scrapping the railroads for profit. Seriously. PAR runs everything to the ground including their rails. The Bangor to Mechanicsville mainline was down to 5 mph in some places. Amtrak discontinued running on the old B&M Conn-River line due to poor track also owned by Guilford. GTI, now Pan Am Railways, has engines that burn up enroute more often than not, and it took $20 million from NS to upgrade the West End between Mechanicsville and Ayer for their joint PAR/NS operation called Pan Am Southern.

    When they took over the B&M, MEC, and later the D&H, they lopped off a lot of active lines, discouraged business, and sold off the ROW to power and Telecom companies. They are not interested in running a railroad and look at it as a profit center based on the scrap value and a tax write-off for the owners.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    USA - North Carolina
    Posts
    943
     

    Default

    I could rant about how the "me and me only" and the "I don't have enough money" philosophy has ruined our society (at least here in the U.S.) and how it's not only railroads but all aspects of life... but I'll save that rant for another day. Me, me, me, selfies have replaced any sense of.. Uh, I better stop.
    TRS19 SP1(Plus), 105100(plus), 105932(+beta)
    ASUS B450M-A/CSM, GTX 1060-6 Windforce


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    In Front Of My PC
    Posts
    543
     

    Default

    You have to admit that running railroad is astronomically out of this world cost intensive, and bankruptcy catastrophes like Lac Magantic (and many many more) have no "Undo" button, driving railroads completely out of business. If trucking or aircraft industries had a 10% fatality/crash rate, they could not keep running a business.
    Last edited by MP242; January 17th, 2020 at 05:07 PM.
    My 4325 car RGCX train is 53.24 miles long, and takes 1 hour to pass through town !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default

    We'll leave Pan Am alone for a bit and take a look at my local transit agency. We have the famous Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, aka the MBTA, or the "T" for short. The T has its share of political hacks like most city transit systems. I swear when these systems are founded, the help wanted advertisements say honest people need not apply.

    Like many of the great systems in the US, this one too got hit with the great oil and automobile industry takeover, where management made a great push to kill off the surface trolley lines through out the city. Today's green line is a tiny shadow of what was a great system. In my lifetime Boston lost a good hunk of its trolley system (light rail today), starting in the early 1950's. In early 1960's there was a continued push to bustitute more of the surface lines including those in the outlying areas. The trolley lines were pulled out of Somerville, Medford (only to be going back in soon in these areas), Everett, East Boston, Chelsea, Cambridge, Watertown, South Boston, and Dorchester.

    This cutting continued right into the early 1970's and was finally stopped when the head of the T was outed as a hack who was taking payoffs. His plan was to curtail all surface lines to the tunnels, thus, the Tremont Street to South Boston line was chopped, and build out the heavy rail to outlying terminals. This plan was partially implemented with the removal of Boston's EL, and moving that to nearby railroad grades. The orange line was to continue to Reading on the north and to Forest Hills on the south where it ran in the Southeast Corridor ROW (Franklin Commuter line), and on the Boston and Maine mainline to Reading on the north side. The north side line to Reading also has three incomplete stations that still have rebar and half built platforms, Wellington Circle, Malden Center, and Oak Grove, respectively. More recently these stations are being rebuilt in part due to the shoddy construction and poor materials after it was found out the concrete was not at the best.

    Management continued to cut lines through its bus-focused management into the 1990's. The then head of the T was a former head of the bus lines and came out and said that the trolley lines needed to go. Reluctantly the trolleys have been kept on the core lines, but two additional major branches were eliminated in what was called a "cost-cutting move". In the mid-1980's, the Arborway, and the Watertown branches were closed. The Arborway line ran from Cleveland Circle to Forest Hills, remember that station on the EL and now orange line running on the rail grade, via the Jamaica Way past the famous Arnold Arboretum. This was a busy line, a very packed line in fact, that brought mostly students and working class people into the downtown.

    The Watertown line ran from the Boston College line at Brookline to Watertown Square. Located in Watertown Square is also a cars shop where the trolleys were serviced. With that said, we'll look at this line first. Like the Arborway line, the wires and tracks remained in place. When the wires and signals were upgraded in the mid-1980's to handle the new LRVs, the lines were upgraded as well. Watertown continued to have service, but only to the barn and no regular service ran on the line. In the late 1990's when the tracks were lifted and wires removed, any equipment needing heavy repairs, was trucked on flatbed trucks. Yes! I even saw a string of LRV's sitting on Interstate 95 on their way to Watertown one morning during my commute to work in Waltham.

    Arborway too was upgraded, at our taxpayer money by the way, with new wires, switches, signals, and non-revenue moves were done as well as plowing in the winters, but no passengers. The trolleys continued to use the line to access the repair shops at the Forest Hills car barn.

    Over the next 20 years, the communities along these lines petitioned the T to have the service restored. The bus-centric management refused and eventually after a lengthy court battle, which included NIMBY's from out of the area coming in to protest against the service, a judge sided with the T and the lines were removed. Interestingly, the Arborway is being looked at again for restoration!
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  11. #11

    Default

    Woodhead line in the UK. was the only electrified (albeit 1500v DC when BR was standardising on 25kv for overhead) route through the Pennines, relatively straight alignment and a new tunnel. Closed in favour of the much slower routes via the Hope Valley or Standedge.

    Great Central - fast route from London to the Midlands, built to Berne gauge but as it ran through a traffic "desert" between Aylesbury and Rugby, got the chop in 1966. Could have formed the basis for HS2 rather than build an all new line, which is now under threat anyway due to spiralling costs.

    Didcot Newbury and Southampton - would have been ideal for an alternative route from Oxford to the container terminals at Southampton, thus avoiding the very busy Thames Valley east of Didcot, the Reading to Basingstoke line and onward to Shawford (where the DNS joined the main LSW line to Southampton).
    TRS 2019 Coach Class (Former Customer)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    26,369
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern View Post
    Woodhead line in the UK. was the only electrified (albeit 1500v DC when BR was standardising on 25kv for overhead) route through the Pennines, relatively straight alignment and a new tunnel. Closed in favour of the much slower routes via the Hope Valley or Standedge.

    Great Central - fast route from London to the Midlands, built to Berne gauge but as it ran through a traffic "desert" between Aylesbury and Rugby, got the chop in 1966. Could have formed the basis for HS2 rather than build an all new line, which is now under threat anyway due to spiralling costs.

    Didcot Newbury and Southampton - would have been ideal for an alternative route from Oxford to the container terminals at Southampton, thus avoiding the very busy Thames Valley east of Didcot, the Reading to Basingstoke line and onward to Shawford (where the DNS joined the main LSW line to Southampton).
    Yup nice cuts that come back to bite now.

    Don Coffey has a nice cab ride on the extant section of the Woodhead line. I can't remember where it ends and of course the comments came up about how foolish a move that was. Sadly the new tunnels now have water pipes in them rather than rails and it's too expensive to build a new tunnel. Was there any particular reason why the line was cut, besides being older electric service? Was it due to BR management being made up of former competition as in the case of Conrail? Conrail was Penn Central and they used their leverage to remove portions of the Lehigh Valley and Erie Lackawanna that were actually faster routes in favor of their slower more roundabout lines.

    The Great Central is one of my favorite British routes. I've watched many old black and white videos about it and traced the ROW on Google Maps many a time. It's sad that it'll never be brought back. Their box girder bridge that crosses over the line out of Euston Station north (I can't remember the name) at Derby is gorgeous. Imagine what that bridge was like when their steam locomotives were pulling rakes of carriages across it.

    I'm not sure about the Didcot line. I'll have to look into that one. This is like the Erie cut mentioned above. Erie was originally built to GWR gauge and then rebuilt later to standard gauge, and ran straight as an arrow across Ohio and Indiana. In its heyday, EL was running 70 mph TOFC freights on its wide, very well built, straight line. Today the line is a dirt path or bike trail.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    2,369
     

    Default

    Politicians, bureaucrats and bean counters killed the Woodhead line not railwaymen from the Big Four companies that were absorbed into BR at nationalisation.

    (For US forum members who don't know who this, - it's Richard Beeching, - chairman of British Railways during the 1960s and whom was at one time known as 'The Most Hated Man in Britain')

    Narcolepsy is not napping.



  14. #14

    Default

    The old Catesby Tunnel on the Great Central, having been derelict and latterly sealed up for many years, is now being converted into a test track for high performance motor vehicles.

    However I went through there on a Suzuki 100cc motorcycle in 1980...
    TRS 2019 Coach Class (Former Customer)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United Kingdom, Cheshire
    Posts
    1,416
     

    Default

    Horror stories eh!

    I was born in Liverpool in 1950 and I remember being taken for a ride on this...

    The Dockers Umbrella

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverp...erhead_Railway

    How much do they regret not having an upgrade of that now?

    Again in Liverpool, this line was around the outskirts of a growing city back then..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_...Extension_Line

    Again, how much is that regretted now?

    Liverpool trams, oh my another bad decision!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverp...ation_Tramways

    Across the river Mersey, this was bulldozed too..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birken...ailway_station

    I am sure that similar things happened around the world in other cities too.
    Graham,

    A member of TCWW

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •