by Bill McCaffery

December 2019 - February 2020

From a Facebook post by noted rail photographer, Kevin Burkholder: The Conway Scenic Railroad honored its founder Dwight Smith [now 94 years young] by naming Conway Scenic steam engine 0-6-0 #7470 after him. There was a naming ceremony on August 4th.
The Portland Press Herald reports that The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has changed plans to move from Portland to Gray. They will be staying on the Portland waterfront, but they will need to build a new station.

SAD NEWS: The Albany Times Union reports the retirement of Amtrak’s last remaining dome car. Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams told the Times Union that, “due to the age and expense of maintaining this vintage car, the Great Dome Car will no longer operate as part of Amtrak’s fleet.” The car is believed to be in storage at Amtrak’s Beech Grove repair shops in Indiana. For the last few years the Great Dome ran on some Downeaster runs as well as the Adirondack between Albany and Montreal. It was very popular with passengers.

Students at King’s College School of Journalism in Halifax NS have produced a video on the pathetic on-time performance of VIA RAIL CANADA’S two flagship long distance trains, the Canadian and the Ocean. It has more detail than can be quoted here but for the comprehensive report go to Signalhfx. CA/standingstill/
The story focuses on the hardships of native people who live in remote areas of the Ontario wilderness that has no roads. These people used to be able to rely on train service to get to medical care. Amtrak, in partnership with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Maine Department of Transportation and the Central Maine & Quebec Railroad, conducted an inspection trip of the Rockland branch [former Maine Central] Aug. 14, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

The 56-mile Rockland branch is owned by Maine DOT and currently supports freight service provided by the Central Maine and Quebec. The rail authority has proposed a pilot program to offer seasonal weekend passenger service on the Rockland branch by expanding the operation of the Amtrak Downeaster to connect the communities of Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle and Rockland with the 12 communities currently served between Brunswick and Boston.
“The trip was conducted to evaluate the condition of track and to help determine scheduled travel times, as well as any improvements which may be needed to support the operation of passenger trains,” Quinn said. “In addition to visual inspections, a specially equipped Geometry Car operated over the line to collect detailed data about track conditions.” [Waldo County Village Soup News]

The MBTA re-opened Wollaston Station on the Red Line on Fri 8/16/19.
MONTREAL, Aug. 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) is pleased to announce the signing of an agreement that will see CN acquire the Massena rail line from CSX, which represents more than 220 miles of track between Valleyfield (Quebec), in Canada, and Woodard (New York), in the U.S. The ex-New York Central Massena rail line also serves many cities in the province of Quebec, including Beauharnois and Huntingdon, and in the state of New York, including Massena, Norwood, Potsdam, and Gouverneur.

“CN is excited to be expanding its reach in New York. With this acquisition from CSX, we are opening up new opportunities for our existing customers and local businesses who will be able to access new markets through CN’s unique three coasts network,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN. “By acquiring the Massena rail line, CN continues to expand our network and foster additional supply chain solutions. CN is pleased to welcome communities along the Massena rail line to its family and we look forward to meeting our new neighbors.”
Separately, on August 8, 2019, CN and CSX announced a new intermodal service offering between CN’s greater Montreal & Southern Ontario network, and the CSX-served ports of Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and the New York City metropolitan area. This agreement will come into effect on October 7, 2019 and will help move freight from trucks to rail, reducing congestion in New York in a sustainable manner.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the acquisition is subject to regulatory review. [Boston is not the only city with a newspaper called the Globe, Montreal has one too.]
Amtrak announced a 2 hour 35 minute non-stop Acela service New York to Washington. Service started Sept. 23rd and only one round trip is offered weekdays only. In the early days of the Metroliners there were a few scheduled runs of less than 3 hours. On 12/14/19 Yahoo [now owned by Verizon] will be shutting down the photo feature of Yahoo Groups. There are a number of rail pictures that will no longer be available to the public after this date. One example is com/neo/groups/AmtrakNorthEast.

The Amtrak Northeast group in spite of the name includes non-Amtrak photos from the Northeast including commuter trains, a little transit, VIA Rail Canada, and a little freight railroading. One interesting album in this group is “LEW’;S AMTRAK”. Yes, the apostrophe and semi colon are part of the name. This group features early Amtrak in NJ and PA, including GG1’s, Metroliners, and first-generation diesels. It also has a marginal quality picture of a Metroliner and a steam locomotive running side by side.

I was able to get into these photo groups with my old Yahoo password. Prior to December 14, you can still download most of the photos with a right click. Navigation can be difficult and there is little caption information.
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Amtrak, in conjunction with MassDOT, is launching a new state-supported seven-day-aweek passenger train on Friday, August 30, called the Valley Flyer. The train will travel along the Connecticut River, a region referred to as the Knowledge Corridor, with trains making station stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. The trains will also connect with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at New Haven and serve stations between New Haven and Springfield. Tickets are now available and can be found on Amtrak. com [Amtrak Press Release].


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Revised: Nov 2019