by Bill McCaffery

A Connecticut Department of Transportation news release dated October 24, 2016 announced that Connecticut is installing wayside horns on the Hartford Line. The first one was installed at Meriden. Horns are mounted on a pole at a grade
crossing and the locomotive horn is not used. The idea is that horn noise is aimed at the road rather than the
entire neighborhood.

Railpace Magazine November issue had a major article on Horseshoe Curve. The curve is a famous railroad landmark dating back to the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The current railroad is Norfolk Southern. It is a fantastic place to
watch freight trains. It has recently benefitted from a major brush cutting effort which has opened up
views unavailable in recent years.

The curve is located on the former PRR mainline west of Altoona PA. This year might be a good time to plan a visit, before the brush grows back.

Sunday, December 11, 2016 saw the opening of one of the world’s engineering marvels: the Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Swiss Alps, the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel.

The 35.3-mile-long (57 km) double-track tunnel will enable passengers to speed under the Alps in some 17 minutes, bringing northern and southern Switzerland into closer connection as it reduces travel time by 30 to 40 minutes between the German-language and Italian-language parts of Switzerland. It is 7,546 feet (2,300 meters) beneath the Gotthard massif at its deepest point. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has now finished exhaustive safety and technical tests. This is
the culmination of a 23-year project. [Railway Age]

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a new app to collect fares. The free app allows passengers to pay for fares with Apple Pay, Masterpass digital wallet, and other mobile payment options.

The new Amtrak Station in Niagara Falls NY welcomed its first train on Tuesday December 6, 2016. Also in December, the former New Haven RR station in Berlin CT was destroyed by fire.

The Northern New England Rail Passenger Authority web site has an item about more trips to Brunswick, Maine. To add more trips a new passing siding is needed. A 4-mile construction project to add a long passing siding would extend from
Field Road in Falmouth to just past Greely Road in Cumberland. This known as the Royal Junction Siding Project. All the track involved is former Maine Central and now owned by Pan Am Railways. It will begin just east of CPF-185 (Royal Junction).

The former Women’s Lounge in Chicago Union Station has been reopened as the Burlington Room. The elegant, high ceilinged room will serve as a function room. In 1925 when the station opened, the designers thought that women should have their own waiting room. The new name honors the former Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. [Chicago Tribune]

The Amtrak owned station at Mystic CT is open again with a new gourmet café tenant, Mystic Depot Roasters. There is no ticket agent but tickets can be purchased from a machine. [Railpace]

At last it is once again possible to travel between Boston and Chicago in a sleeping car. Construction at Albany-Rensselaer is complete. It is no longer necessary to change trains here and the through sleeper is running again. Railpace]

The new 2nd Avenue Subway extension in New York opened on New Year’s Eve. It is an extension of the “Q” Line and serves an Upper East Side neighborhood known as Yorkville. The 3 new stations are deeper than most existing stations and feature an arch design which eliminates the columns found in older stations.

The MBTA is reviving weekend ski trains. The train will operate from North Station in Boston to take skiers to Wachusett Mountain Ski Area. Customers may board at North Station, disembark at the new fully-accessible Wachusett Station on the Fitchburg Line that opened in September 2016. There is a free shuttle to Wachusett Mountain. Ski trains are specially equipped with racks to transport skis and snowboards. The MBTA will evaluate snow and ski season later in the winter.[Railway Age]

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus has announced that they will cease operations in May 2017. The circus has
two train sets with over 160 cars. Circus trains, which have been running on American rails since the nineteenth century, will be missed. Strates Shows, a traveling carnival midway company, continues to move its equipment by rail flatcars but stopped using passenger cars to move their crews because freight railroads demanded very expensive liability insurance.

The Springfield Redevelopment Authority hopes to have a newly restored Springfield Union Station
open in April 2017..

Copyright © 2000 - 2016 [Mystic Valley Railway Society, Inc]. All rights reserved.
Revised: Sept 16, 2016