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 Post subject: CMRR Work Report - 6/15, 6/16
PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:54 pm
Posts: 1287
Saturday, June 15th

In Mt. Tremper Saturday Conductor was Ray Farrell, Engineer was Al Schoessow, Brakeman was Bill Kaba, and Ticket Agent was Russ Hallock.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209288

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209289

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209290

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209291

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209292

In Phoenicia, George Peck, Neil Remsen, Dave Heick, and Art Vogel continued work in the Phoenicia yard on track. The Duck was also moved to Longyear siding for painting. John Prestopino worked on cleaning the journals on flat car 35111.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209287

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209293

In Kingston on Saturday the CMRR ran an additional balloon and lollipop event train. All runs were well attended. The crew included Earl Pardini-engineer, John Watson-conductor, car attendants-George Bain and Ron Epstein, flaggers-Freddie Rasmussen and Dave Hilliard, brakeman-Mark Glaser. Ken Darmstadt was ticket agent.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209294

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209295


Sunday, June 16th

Crew today was Walt Otto Engineer, Tony Bocchino Brakeman, George Bain Ticket Agent and Dan Howard was Conductor. Neil Remsen rode the point on the first east end shove and rode the cab on the first westbound run to start to learn passenger service operations.

George Peck and Neil Remsen worked in the Phoenicia yard.

On Sunday in Kingston, crews continued cleanup of tie remnants/debris from the new west switch construction outside the fence at Cornell St. Yard. The tamper saw action just west of I-587. ROW maintenance crew consisted of Al Schoessow, Ron Epstein, and Mark Glaser. Assessment of the LIRR passenger coach's diesel generator was begun by Al Schoessow and Ernie Klopping. Repair work on the MOW Hi-rail pickup continued.


Ernie Hunt
Volunteer Coordinator
CMRR


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:55 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Keeping an eye on the opposition:

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/20 ... 062383.txt

You know, "It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." I've always regarded this sort of thing to be something of a black art, yet there are those who will swallow this whole.

What stands out for me is that the study that's cited only talks about the trail. It doesn't make any comparison with what a completed railroad might do, and makes no mention of whatever the railroad is doing now! That seems to be a serious oversight, and it can't be accidental.

I hate to say it, but it looks like something is fixed. Maybe the Catskill people should get out, join up with the Adirondack people and let Kingston and Ulster county rot. And in any event, be prepared for some really dirty fighting--the trail people want that road, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:21 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:04 pm
Posts: 63
Sadly, CMRR is being outsmarted and outwitted in the zeal of politicians and trail advocates to get the trail operative with no compromises to "The Plan". CMRR too could cite ridership numbers, economic impact, etc., and have chosen not to.

As I said in the other thread, follow the money. Businessman Sean Eldridge isn't doing this for altruistic reasons, he is doing it for his investments. Kingston and Ulster County politicians see an opportunity to benefit property owners adjacent to the proposed trail who may give "donations" to re-election campaigns.

Follow the money................................


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:17 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2550
Location: S.F. Bay Area
East of Eden wrote:
As I said in the other thread, follow the money. Businessman Sean Eldridge isn't doing this for altruistic reasons, he is doing it for his investments. Kingston and Ulster County politicians see an opportunity to benefit property owners adjacent to the proposed trail who may give "donations" to re-election campaigns.

Follow the money................................


That's pretty weird, since most people adjacent to trails ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM and find the railroad much less intrusive.

Honestly I bet a railroad could do OK selling "conservation easements" to adjacent landowners which prohibit adaptation of the roadbed to trail use.

Of course they like them just a little bit more when they sell their house, they do have a small positive effect to property values.


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:21 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
robertmacdowell wrote:
East of Eden wrote:
As I said in the other thread, follow the money. Businessman Sean Eldridge isn't doing this for altruistic reasons, he is doing it for his investments. Kingston and Ulster County politicians see an opportunity to benefit property owners adjacent to the proposed trail who may give "donations" to re-election campaigns.

Follow the money................................


That's pretty weird, since most people adjacent to trails ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM and find the railroad much less intrusive.

Honestly I bet a railroad could do OK selling "conservation easements" to adjacent landowners which prohibit adaptation of the roadbed to trail use.

Of course they like them just a little bit more when they sell their house, they do have a small positive effect to property values.


One the other hand, it seems that the terms of the lease as agreed to by CMRR were ( to say the least) were wildly optimistic in terms of building a mile of Class One track every year with comparatively little financial resources and the costs associated with that alone.

Another appears to be the money spent on getting the line operational ( equipment, structures etc) asap rather than first things first meaning the infrastructure they agreed to complete. It seems the focus was lost on the point of meeting the terms of the lease, as if they had double sabotaged their own efforts.

Now it seems they have tripled this, in not having an effective advocate and being outgunned at every turned. It's painful to read these updates. While they have my somewhat meaningless support, there are certainly lessons to be learned however this episode ends. Two words came to mind that may have been useful at the onset of establishing the CMRR.

Pragmatic optimism.

The fact that no one is willing to bridge the divide between rail and trail does not bode well. The income projections from bicyclists in the event of removing the rails are ironic in that they are wildly optimistic projections..fairly laughable. No one to counter this from the CMRR camp?

I doubt these projections will ever be met...what will they sell, a million ice cream cones? bike trails are a dime a dozen..preserved historic rail lines are a comparative rarity. And so it goes. Again, all this reads like a comedy of errors.

The way this is going, they may as well be preemptive..begin to formulate a strategic plan for the removal of what they have managed to do, either find a new home,as even dismantlement has it's costs..I hope I am wrong but this is now largely a fantasy of hope against hope, in the face of the situation whilst the CMRR maintains a strangely
consistent path flying under the radar of the public's opinion..while the opposition babbles on at will with no credible refuting of this nonsense.


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I plunked the following on the newspaper site in a comments section, and I think it's worth placing here, too. . . . . .just food for thought. . .and hopefully you can pardon a slight bit of political commentary. . .

Can anyone tell me why the bicycle crowd has so much animosity to the railroad? They really shouldn't. Railroads and bicycles have worked together for years in Europe and other places. Regular trains in Europe and elsewhere, and some tourist roads here in America, will carry you and your bicycle.

http://www.nps.gov/common/uploads/photo ... -large.jpg

And a hundred years ago, a railroad was involved in a spectacular bicycle promotion, the speed record set by Charles "Mile A Minute" Murphy:

http://www.bikereader.com/contributors/ ... urphy.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Minthorn_Murphy

In fact, I would think the railroad and the bicycle crowd should be friends. One reason is that both raise the ire of so-called "conservatives." Some of the ire that gets raised is quite entertaining!

http://www.thestarshollowgazette.com/di ... -bikeshare

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2 ... vency.html

In any event, I strongly believe the railroad and the trail people can work together, indeed each has something to offer the other. The railroad has the history, equipment, and dedicated people. I don't think any bike group would be capable of anything that the railroad's volunteers have done; all the major bike trails I'm familiar with, including the wonderful towpath of the C&O Canal, have involved taxpayer money. Outside of the low-cost lease for the railroad by the county, the volunteers have done all or virtually all of their work on their own. Maybe they've been too good; they've been working on the railroad, and haven't learned how to lobby and build support from politicians that many would consider pretty useless much of the time. On the other hand, the trail people are excellent at lobbying, and bring their own dedication as well. Can you imagine the combination of those dedicated volunteers with some help from the bikers and what the two groups could do? I think it could be great--and would have the benefit of doubly ticking off those "conservatives" who really aren't about conserving or saving anything at all!

Oh, I say this as a real conservative, as in Catholic, married only once, have a job, pay bills, pay taxes, help out others when I can, in short be what a person should be--but got called a Communist (!) because I suggested, with good numbers, that a light rail line could be a better option than a 4-lane road where I live. Go figure!

P.S.: Send the check for my consulting fee to. . . .


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
My comments about the county's study; hopefully these points and others can be used here and elsewhere, so many of our challenges seem to be the same things over and over:

I just took a look at that document, and it's something of a disappointment. Some things I would question:

1. Physical Constraints

An examination of the physical constraints in the corridor shows that for numerous locations in the Kingston to Ashokan Reservoir section, the placement of rail bed in underpasses, rock cuts and on benched side slopes would require costly divergence and/or fill sections to accommodate the RWT. The use of retaining walls and associated fencing would be extensive. To overcome these physical constraints there would be significant engineering and associated construction costs which would be prohibitive.

Other physical constraints include the need to relocate or avoid utility infrastructure such as electric and telephone lines, business activities and parking areas. Existing underpasses through which the rail passes would force additional divergence and create at-grade crossings at Albany Ave. and Elemendorf Street that do not exist now.

Some creativity here would reduce many of these concerns. One thing to keep in mind is that it's a little easier to reroute bicycles than trains. Other concerns are a bit overblown, such as the lack of room for a separate passageway through that underpass. Hell, let the railroad and the trail share the right-of-way in those tight spots! It's not like you're running a bullet train through there!

It's not like it's unheard of, either. There are a number of places where just this is being done, including the Cotton Valley Rail Trail in New England, where hikers, bikers, horses, and rail equipment run on the same right of way, with gravel between the rails (a qualification--the rail equipment is limited to "speeders," or motor cars), and Astoria, Or., where a waterfront trolley and trail share the right of way, including planked-over bridges and trestles. Supposedly the length of this is on the order of a couple of miles, far longer than any chokepoint on the Catskill Mountain:

http://www.cottonvalley.org/index.php

http://transitsleuth.com/2013/06/01/astoria/

I'll confess, I'm from a part of the country with some narrow places in it, and am used to seeing trains--not trolleys, but full size, full length trains--running down city streets, either because that was the only right of way available, or in some cases because the town grew up around the railroad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-gMBNcLjfg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVTpMOWzWUc

If you think an American freight train running down the street is wild, check out this operation in Thailand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VBX_srNJ5s

Some comments about rail with trail from a strong railroad site, Railway Preservation News:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34961

2. Environmental Constraints

The physical constraints present a myriad of environmental issues that would be difficult to overcome. These include wetland encroachment, increased drainage, and extensive clearing of trees in endangered species habitat areas. The additional disturbed area and changes in slopes would effect drainage already a challenge in the corridor. Culvert extensions and relocation and redirection of existing swales along with new drainage structures would be necessary and present additional obstacles.

Vegetative clearance cannot be taken lightly. Issues related to habitat loss would require environmental permits and additional clearing would impact adjoining properties visually and also increase noise. The preservation of historic structures would present challenges, as modifications would be necessary to accommodate the RWT option.

These significant environmental factors and associated costs are not present in the trail only option that uses the existing disturbed footprint.

Good grief, to look at that set of paragraphs, you would think that adding a trail to a railroad was like building a new superhighway! In fact, I bet the highway department there widens roads routinely with even more impact, and in doing so increase our dependence on driving, and with that, on oil (an important security question in my opinion). It also brings up another sore point I have, which turns up in the next section:

3. Funding

Rail funding is extremely limited at all levels and generally confined to safety considerations rather than maintenance of trackage. The lack of federal resources also significantly impacts the ability to implement a RWT that would require extensive infrastructure costs to accomplish. A trail only option has funding sources.The recent inclusion of $2,000,000 in the 2013 NY State budget can accomplish a significant portion of the trail if constructed on the existing rail bed. An additional $1,000,000 remains secured through the NYS Legislature and controlled by NYSDOT for trails along the U&D corridor. This funding is not available for rail. The Ulster County Transportation Council has been able to program NYSDOT funds with existing federal funding at an 80% match that can be used for the first, and most costly, segment of the trail.

This is the double standard that is applied apparently to rail and rail only in transportation funding. Your gasoline taxes pay barely half of what the road system costs on a cash flow basis. If you paid what it really costs to drive at the pump, you would be looking at a minimum of an additional 50 cents per gallon. If you talk about properly funding the road system, including taking care of deferred maintenance and the like, you're talking about more like an additional $1.50! Tell me, would this railroad have ceased service way back when if we had an honest accounting for the cost of the road system? But a railroad? It's an evil that requires a subsidy!

This isn't a new phenomenon. Check out this video from the 1950s from the perspective of the railroad in general in that time (jump to 12:40 or so for the most pertinent comments):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElyERLwsV0c

4. Public Benefit

Taken as a whole, the rail operation with restrictions on public use across its entire length offers few if any public benefits, its economic impact is minimal, and for large segments of the line, CMRR has lost the battle to preserve the right-of-way. It is undeniable that the current situation fails to meet the goals established for the corridor. The goal of the original purchase in 1979 was not focused on saving a railroad but rather using the
railroad for economic development with a major tourist
railroad acting as a catalyst. Trail use has gained
significant support and user base and is now understood as
having significant economic development benefits.

Figure 1 [not reproduced here] shows the costs and revenues of the U&D Railroad lease to CMRR for the current lease period.
Taxpayer investment in the U&D amounts to almost
$5,000,000. In contrast for the period of the lease to
present, CMRR has paid the County slightly more than
$34,000.00 in the last 22 years.

{This one is lengthy, so I'll be responding in two sections.]

In my opinion, these first set of arguments are not as honest as they should be. The county paid $1.5 million for the railroad; it has appreciated in value to $5 million over the years. That's damned good for just sitting on something for 30 years, and not putting any money in it at all! What money has been put in has been by CMRR. Tell me, is the county going to reimburse the railroad for its bridge repairs and track repairs over the years, all of which probably dwarf the rent paid over the years? Isn't that worth something?

[Back to the report.]

Ridership figures available from 2006 to present show that the peak was approximately 12,300 in 2010. In 2012 approximately three-quarters of CMRR’s ridership took place on the Esopus Scenic Train at Mt. Tremper. This ridership can be compared to the estimated 81,000 users of the Hurley Rail Trail (see figure 2). [Not reproduced here.]

Train operations are highly seasonal. An examination of the posted 2013 operational schedule for CMRR shows that the operating period is expected to be up to a total of 49 days for the Mt. Tremper Esopus Scenic Train and the Kingston sections.

Finally, a close look at the map of the rail corridor reveals that rail operations are not only limited in duration but also in geographic extent. Rail operations open to the public constitute less than 5 miles of the 38 mile corridor.

More than anything else, this is simply a statement of the status quo. I'll also add that that the county is talking about spending at least $30 million on the conversion trail, and that's very conservative. My seat-of-the-pants estimate to reopen the whole railroad on the basis of cutting out trees, replacing ties, more ballast, and a line-and-surface job to be less than $10 million. That doesn't include heavy washout repair and bridge repair, but those jobs also have to be done to reactivate the line as a trail--which is part of my comment that the $30 million to make a trail out of this railroad is conservative. Which also brings up the question--what would the railroad's revenues and ridership be if it, or the county, had put in the $10 million or so? Equally important, will this railroad be more useful if motor fuel gets much higher? Can we continue with the current automobile-default transportation system we have now? If not, could this railroad be useful for commuter and freight service again? Would it be useful for freight and commuter service NOW? And all these questions come from a rail-only stance; they could still apply to a combined rail-and-trail option.

Whew! Sorry about being so long! I should be in politics!


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:59 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
More from Ulster County:

http://dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/0 ... ource=jBar

Petition count, 1,495 trail, 1,826 rail as of 11:38PM Eastern Time.

And an interesting video clip. . .something strangely amusing about it. . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ci991vdnhw

Back to the article--and a rather interesting little paragraph (emphasis by me):

"Supporters of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, which has a lease for use of the tracks through 2016, are upset with a proposal by Ulster County Executive Michael Hein to sell 12 miles of rails and track material that is currently leased but not used by the group. Hein has also proposed to include a 2-mile stretch of rail bed that is used by the group through the city of Kingston as part of the 38-mile rail trail."

And a response in the comments section, by a person responding as "grandmalucy:"

"It looks like Mr Hein cannot balance the budget without the use of that FEMA money which is designated to be used for repair to the CMRR in the Pheonicia area, That is what this whole crap is all about."

If true, that's typical of too many politicians. . .


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 Post subject: CMRR Volunteer Workdays - 6/22, 6/23
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:09 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:54 pm
Posts: 1287
Saturday, June 22nd

On Saturday we will be running in Mt. Tremper and Kingston.

In Mt. Tremper, George Peck plans to support the train crews through the first run, then his crew will switch to Phoenicia where they will continue work cleaning up the Phoenicia yard. Meet at 9:30am at Mt. Tremper.

I plan to lead a brush crew on Saturday. More details later. Contact me directly if you want to join up.


Sunday, June 23rd

Trains will be running in Mt. Tremper.

In Kingston, George Peck and Mark Glaser will lead a track crew starting at 9am at Cornell Street Yard. Plans are to continue installing ties west of C9 so our Kingston City Limited can go further west to Route 209.


Ernie Hunt
Volunteer Coordinator
CMRR


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:43 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
J3a-614 wrote:
My comments about the county's study; hopefully these points and others can be used here and elsewhere, so many of our challenges seem to be the same things over and over:

I just took a look at that document, and it's something of a disappointment. Some things I would question:

1. Physical Constraints

An examination of the physical constraints in the corridor shows that for numerous locations in the Kingston to Ashokan Reservoir section, the placement of rail bed in underpasses, rock cuts and on benched side slopes would require costly divergence and/or fill sections to accommodate the RWT. The use of retaining walls and associated fencing would be extensive. To overcome these physical constraints there would be significant engineering and associated construction costs which would be prohibitive.

Other physical constraints include the need to relocate or avoid utility infrastructure such as electric and telephone lines, business activities and parking areas. Existing underpasses through which the rail passes would force additional divergence and create at-grade crossings at Albany Ave. and Elemendorf Street that do not exist now.

Some creativity here would reduce many of these concerns. One thing to keep in mind is that it's a little easier to reroute bicycles than trains. Other concerns are a bit overblown, such as the lack of room for a separate passageway through that underpass. Hell, let the railroad and the trail share the right-of-way in those tight spots! It's not like you're running a bullet train through there!

It's not like it's unheard of, either. There are a number of places where just this is being done, including the Cotton Valley Rail Trail in New England, where hikers, bikers, horses, and rail equipment run on the same right of way, with gravel between the rails (a qualification--the rail equipment is limited to "speeders," or motor cars), and Astoria, Or., where a waterfront trolley and trail share the right of way, including planked-over bridges and trestles. Supposedly the length of this is on the order of a couple of miles, far longer than any chokepoint on the Catskill Mountain:

http://www.cottonvalley.org/index.php

http://transitsleuth.com/2013/06/01/astoria/

I'll confess, I'm from a part of the country with some narrow places in it, and am used to seeing trains--not trolleys, but full size, full length trains--running down city streets, either because that was the only right of way available, or in some cases because the town grew up around the railroad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-gMBNcLjfg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVTpMOWzWUc

If you think an American freight train running down the street is wild, check out this operation in Thailand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VBX_srNJ5s

Some comments about rail with trail from a strong railroad site, Railway Preservation News:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34961

2. Environmental Constraints

The physical constraints present a myriad of environmental issues that would be difficult to overcome. These include wetland encroachment, increased drainage, and extensive clearing of trees in endangered species habitat areas. The additional disturbed area and changes in slopes would effect drainage already a challenge in the corridor. Culvert extensions and relocation and redirection of existing swales along with new drainage structures would be necessary and present additional obstacles.

Vegetative clearance cannot be taken lightly. Issues related to habitat loss would require environmental permits and additional clearing would impact adjoining properties visually and also increase noise. The preservation of historic structures would present challenges, as modifications would be necessary to accommodate the RWT option.

These significant environmental factors and associated costs are not present in the trail only option that uses the existing disturbed footprint.

Good grief, to look at that set of paragraphs, you would think that adding a trail to a railroad was like building a new superhighway! In fact, I bet the highway department there widens roads routinely with even more impact, and in doing so increase our dependence on driving, and with that, on oil (an important security question in my opinion). It also brings up another sore point I have, which turns up in the next section:

3. Funding

Rail funding is extremely limited at all levels and generally confined to safety considerations rather than maintenance of trackage. The lack of federal resources also significantly impacts the ability to implement a RWT that would require extensive infrastructure costs to accomplish. A trail only option has funding sources.The recent inclusion of $2,000,000 in the 2013 NY State budget can accomplish a significant portion of the trail if constructed on the existing rail bed. An additional $1,000,000 remains secured through the NYS Legislature and controlled by NYSDOT for trails along the U&D corridor. This funding is not available for rail. The Ulster County Transportation Council has been able to program NYSDOT funds with existing federal funding at an 80% match that can be used for the first, and most costly, segment of the trail.

This is the double standard that is applied apparently to rail and rail only in transportation funding. Your gasoline taxes pay barely half of what the road system costs on a cash flow basis. If you paid what it really costs to drive at the pump, you would be looking at a minimum of an additional 50 cents per gallon. If you talk about properly funding the road system, including taking care of deferred maintenance and the like, you're talking about more like an additional $1.50! Tell me, would this railroad have ceased service way back when if we had an honest accounting for the cost of the road system? But a railroad? It's an evil that requires a subsidy!

This isn't a new phenomenon. Check out this video from the 1950s from the perspective of the railroad in general in that time (jump to 12:40 or so for the most pertinent comments):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElyERLwsV0c

4. Public Benefit

Taken as a whole, the rail operation with restrictions on public use across its entire length offers few if any public benefits, its economic impact is minimal, and for large segments of the line, CMRR has lost the battle to preserve the right-of-way. It is undeniable that the current situation fails to meet the goals established for the corridor. The goal of the original purchase in 1979 was not focused on saving a railroad but rather using the
railroad for economic development with a major tourist
railroad acting as a catalyst. Trail use has gained
significant support and user base and is now understood as
having significant economic development benefits.

Figure 1 [not reproduced here] shows the costs and revenues of the U&D Railroad lease to CMRR for the current lease period.
Taxpayer investment in the U&D amounts to almost
$5,000,000. In contrast for the period of the lease to
present, CMRR has paid the County slightly more than
$34,000.00 in the last 22 years.

{This one is lengthy, so I'll be responding in two sections.]

In my opinion, these first set of arguments are not as honest as they should be. The county paid $1.5 million for the railroad; it has appreciated in value to $5 million over the years. That's damned good for just sitting on something for 30 years, and not putting any money in it at all! What money has been put in has been by CMRR. Tell me, is the county going to reimburse the railroad for its bridge repairs and track repairs over the years, all of which probably dwarf the rent paid over the years? Isn't that worth something?

[Back to the report.]

Ridership figures available from 2006 to present show that the peak was approximately 12,300 in 2010. In 2012 approximately three-quarters of CMRR’s ridership took place on the Esopus Scenic Train at Mt. Tremper. This ridership can be compared to the estimated 81,000 users of the Hurley Rail Trail (see figure 2). [Not reproduced here.]

Train operations are highly seasonal. An examination of the posted 2013 operational schedule for CMRR shows that the operating period is expected to be up to a total of 49 days for the Mt. Tremper Esopus Scenic Train and the Kingston sections.

Finally, a close look at the map of the rail corridor reveals that rail operations are not only limited in duration but also in geographic extent. Rail operations open to the public constitute less than 5 miles of the 38 mile corridor.

More than anything else, this is simply a statement of the status quo. I'll also add that that the county is talking about spending at least $30 million on the conversion trail, and that's very conservative. My seat-of-the-pants estimate to reopen the whole railroad on the basis of cutting out trees, replacing ties, more ballast, and a line-and-surface job to be less than $10 million. That doesn't include heavy washout repair and bridge repair, but those jobs also have to be done to reactivate the line as a trail--which is part of my comment that the $30 million to make a trail out of this railroad is conservative. Which also brings up the question--what would the railroad's revenues and ridership be if it, or the county, had put in the $10 million or so? Equally important, will this railroad be more useful if motor fuel gets much higher? Can we continue with the current automobile-default transportation system we have now? If not, could this railroad be useful for commuter and freight service again? Would it be useful for freight and commuter service NOW? And all these questions come from a rail-only stance; they could still apply to a combined rail-and-trail option.

Whew! Sorry about being so long! I should be in politics!


My read of this is it's largely spin doctoring a pro bicycle view in a position paper as there are no hard projections, studies, figures etc to anything within it..concerning the comparisons or "analysis" No surveys, etc. The drift seems to be we have the money in our pockets, so we want to spend it expediently as if it's burning a hole in our pockets and of course everyone knows that even the hardest cost projections can lead to cost overruns due to unanticipated field conditions, even if they had "real" numbers in hand. This fantasy of income derived from bicyclists is so "loosey goosey" as to be laughable..where are the supporting documents? I would call this an act of bad faith on a existing lease and an unreasonable best use of public funds whose returns are debatable, although they are stated as "givens".

Why do I say this? Before retirement. I was a federally certified, rehabilitation construction project manager and more often than not has many a run in with regulatory agencies,state, local and federal under funded projections due to a lack of due diligence, taken into account actual field conditions.

Who will pay for the maintenance of the bicycle trail? The taxpayer. Any knucklehead can throw a number out. What is the cost of environmental studies? What is the cost of civil engineering?

Simply put, they are trying to sell a complete redesign of the existing use, using a half baked underpinning in their " evaluation." Again, this is a position paper and not a analysis. Hopefully CMRR gets someone with experience to counter what I consider a politicized waste of taxpayer money. Where have been the documented taxpayer burden attached to the CMRR? It has made a good run at paying for itself at no cost to the county.

More importantly Why isn't anyone pointing this out? I would put this where it belongs..in a public voter referendum.


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
Not being an American citizen, I obviously don't understand the fine points of how your political system works (or doesn't, as the case may be).

However, one question has been glaring at me through all of this, and I'm wondering why nobody has asked.

How can the FEMA money be diverted to a project other than its original purpose? How can a local yokel government hold the money from its intended purpose?

If it was intended to restore service to an active rail line, then using it for any other purpose, such as tearing up the track and building a trail, is gross misuse of public funds. In my opinion... but common sense is found in ever- decreasing quantities these days.

In my opinion, redirecting this money to kill the railroad would be a serious case of defrauding the federal government.

Is that not illegal in the USA? Do people not go to prison for fraud?

Is there not a time limit on how long the money can be held and not used?

Should FEMA not be alerted to the games the county and city are playing? Even if FEMA reclaimed its money and the railroad didn't receive it, that would be far better than having this huge fund used as a weapon to kill the railroad!

Any comments from Ernie, other CMSR folk, or the legal types on the forum?

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:22 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:35 pm
Posts: 338
Location: NJ
I have dealt with FEMA money for infrastructure repairs of public assets. We had several roadway bridges washed out with the same storms over the past two years. The County would be able to use the money to make repairs to the bridges and washouts. However funding would not be permitted to construct any trail ammenities. The paperwork trail is endless with FEMA.

Also mention was made of the engineering costs to design a trail. I am guessing here but based on the length and the need to thoroughly look at the existing bridges, culverts, right of way and design some substantial modifications to some of those structures. Design would be in excess of $500,000.

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cv the civil E in NJ


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:50 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Well, I don't know what the Catskill Mountain Railroad people have up their sleeves, but here are some comments by rail supporters on the latest page:

First up, from John Wright, around June 18:

All these comments are interesting but the final decision to tear up the rails will be made by the federal Surface Transportation Board. But....but...the country owns the railroad and they want it gone. Guess again.

Check out some STB documents where a big railroad wants to abandon a short industrial spur that hasn't seen traffic in years, with no historical interest and no opposition from the public. It's a byzantine nightmare. If you hate government regulations your head will explode.

The railroad is abandoned though, right? Guess again. The county is petitioning the STB for abandonment and trying to get Sen. Chuck Schumer to carry their water in Washington? Contact the STB and Senator Schumer if you have a different opinion.

The STB doesn't care how many Facebook "likes" you have and I'm sure they've heard a time or two how rail trails are the most awesomest thing ever invented. The amount of hoops they want an owner to jump through is endless. The historical documentation, photos and maps they require (and under their rules, "historical" means anything over 50 years old) would be the definitive history of the line. Think railfans are goofy? Be prepared to become one if you want to wreck the CMRR.

One thing the STB is very reluctant to do is tear up a historical or operating rail line. Opposition from the public carries a lot of weight. Public officials who park dump trucks on active rail lines should probably not testify.
But the CMRR isn't a real railroad, right? They're just some hobbyists playing with trains, aren't they? Check with the Federal Railroad Administration on that. In the most heavily regulated industry in America, no one plays with trains without following endless rules and regs, and no one can rip up a single spike without years of Kafkaesque litigation.
Of course there's an easier way. Release the funds the county is sitting on, build rail with trail and everyone wins.

From John Wright again, some days later on a more recent story:

Ready for an irony bomb? The only way to insure that a trail will remain forever is to keep the railroad. As I've stated in previous posts, not a rail can be removed until the federal Surface Transportation Board gives final approval.
Has the county even petitioned the STB for railbanking? If not, then they aren't even at the starting line of a grueling legal marathon. I assume the county will not file for abandonment as this is a much more difficult process. By the way, abandonment is a legal status and does not mean "weeds growing between the rails".
The railroad is not and will not be abandoned because if it was, then all right of way obtained by easement reverts to the property owner. I doubt the original builders purchased every last parcel of land outright and I'm sure many landowners would love to have neither rail nor trail and get a piece of their land back.
"Railbanking" is intended to prevent this. The corridor is kept intact but here's the catch...it can revert to a railroad any time! Has it happened? Yes. Not here? Imagine a future of $8 a gallon gas where freight and passenger service isn't a railfan's pipedream but a matter of survival. Or an evil conglomerate intent on logging, fracking, etc. in a society where regulatory agencies are powerless.
Given shenanigans like dump trucks on the tracks, writing scrap rails into a budget etc. I think the county will have a tough time in front of the STB. Even if they manage to evict the CMRR they will still be stuck with a railroad they can't get rid of.
So rail plus trail or fail.

Bill B., a trail supporter, answered Mr. Wright with this:

As user WRS posted to a similar post by you:

"The U&D abandoned it 30 years ago. If there were those kinds of
documents needed, they would have been done then. It's been the
county's ever since. The CMRR --which only leased the corridor and does
not own it---is a tourist train not a working railroad."

John Wright replying to Bill B.:

Bill...thank you for your response, the first I've gotten from a trail without rail advocate since I mentioned the Surface Transportation Board. First of all, the U & D hasn't existed since Hoover was president. If the line was legally abandoned, then all right of way obtained by easement has reverted to the landowners, so no trail can be built. I suspect a lot of the right of way was obtained via easement, since Old Farmer Brown couldn't sign fast enough when that slick railroad lawyer came calling.
This is why the country will go to the STB to try and "railbank" this corridor, which means the right of way stays intact...but it can be turned back into a railroad at any time.
Call me a lying biased train hugger but if you go to the official Rails to Trails website, like I did, you will find that everything I've said is true. So even if the CMRR is off the property tomorrow, the county still owns a railroad that they can only get rid of through a long legal process. I'd say their case is already fatally gut-shot. I would not like to be the county official explaining how they planned to balance the budget by committing a federal felony, i.e. scrapping a railroad that has never been formally abandoned.
See you in D.C. Rail plus trail or total fail.


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 Post subject: Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2013
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:58 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3611
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
When will the trail crowd have enough trails?

http://dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/0 ... ource=jBar


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 Post subject: CMRR Work Report - 6/22, 6/23
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:54 pm
Posts: 1287
Saturday, June 22nd

In Kingston, Engineer was Earl Pardini, Walt Otto was conductor, Mark Glaser was brakeman, Fred Rasmussen was flagger, Ron Esptein and Pat Smalley were car attendants and Jim Bruck was ticket agent.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209461

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209462

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209463

In Mt. Tremper, Al Schoessow was engineer, Ray Farrell was conductor, John Prestopino was brakeman, and Neil Remsen and George Peck were ticket agents.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209458


Sunday, June 23rd

In Mt. Tremper, Walt Otto was was engineer, Ray Farrell was conductor, and Tony Bocchino was brakeman, and Ray Pollard was ticket agent. Newcomer Tyler Carelli was car attendant.

in Phoenicia, Al Johnson and John Plunkett worked on flat 35111.

In Kingston, George Peck and Mark Glaser led a track crew consisting of Ed Winstanley, Jim Bruck, Bob Blake, Neil Remsen, Al Schoessow, and Ron Epstein. They were joined by newcomer Tyler Carelli late in the day. The crew returned to the recently opened section west of C-9 and marked 20 ties for changeout. 17 ties were dropped from the work flat, 10 inserted, and 4 plated.

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209480

http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=209481


Ernie Hunt
Volunteer Coordinator
CMRR


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