Railway Preservation News

MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton
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Author:  John Smythe [ Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:42 am ]
Post subject:  MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

It's been going on for years, plans to re-hab an existing ROW between Stoughton, Ma South to Taunton, Ma that will allow MBTA Commuter Rail to connect to Fall River & New Bedford to Boston. The original lines were strung together starting back in 1855 by various railroad companies, about 10 miles of this ROW needs to be refurbished in order to connect Stoughton Station to Dean St in Raynham after crossing into Taunton the lines will split and go to each city. Sounds easy, but not if you happen to be a resident of the towns of Easton & Raynham. Despite having a active railroad line that operated some 100 years till freight traffic fell off & other routes were used, these folks think it's the end of the world.
These towns have tied the MBTA up in red tape for almost 25 years, wanting buses, electric trains, hiking trails when what the area really needs is a way to get lots of automobiles off the local state highways. The state could have put it's foot down years ago & simply stated that every commuter rail line they operate uses diesel electric & that's how it's going to be here as well.
The problem is the original builders laid out the route in the shortest mileage they could & that meant crossing a area known as The Hockomock Swamp, lot's of huge granite slabs were used to build abutments & culverts that allow water to flow back & forth between each side of the swampy area under the elevated ROW. The NIMBY's came out in force, raising taxes to fight the return of the trains. It's not like a new road is going to be bulldozed across virgin land, this railroad bed has been there since Civil War times, just needs to be upgraded.
Seems some genius hatched a plan that would divert the rail line in Taunton & send it East to Middleboro then onto the Middleboro Line to S. Station adding nearly half a hour to the trip. The original builders of the line knew what they were doing, that's why they built the Stoughton route that would connect at Canton Junction, onto the main line between Boston & Providence then North to Back Bay Station / South Station I don't know what's wrong with these people who have wasted so much money & time doing studies, proposals, reviews, of every type imaginable and still have not accomplished a thing.
My (late) granddad used to be a steam locomotive fireman on that route back around 1907, if all that coal smoke, soot & grime didn't kill off anything then what's the big problem? Cut back the overgrowth & there is the old ROW just needs new track, ties, signals, etc and people can take the train.
Any thoughts please.

Author:  daylight4449 [ Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

While I don't see that section of the Central Mass seeing commuter rail anytime soon (this is Massachusetts we're talking about. The state has a history of mucking things up.), reading through the home for mainline steam thread got me thinking about it. The section with rails still down passes through some rather populated towns. I do agree with John on one point, the rails are there and in need of serious work to handle a train again, but it's a damn good head start. I think that at least part of it would be a good home for a museum or tourist operation should funding be available...

Author:  John Smythe [ Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

The Stoughton to Taunton line runs along Rt #138 from Stoughton South. When Intestate 495 was built the ROW in Raynham was bridged over allowing rail to be run underneath it, the planners were thinking that far ahead even back in the early 1980's. The state owns the ROW and should have been firm with those 2 towns about what kind of motive power will pass through for a 10 mile stretch. Diesel units are used everywhere else on the commuter lines & 2 towns want to have electrified overhead power trains like Ascella. It will just be for those 2 towns, some 2 Billion more dollars in added costs. If the MBTA actually had a historian on it's payroll, it would be quite apparent that the railroads tried to keep costs low by building the lines as direct as possible between cities & towns. They also try to keep grades at a minimum wherever possible, saves fuel & need to add a helper locomotive.
Evidently although the income wage level is quite high in these 2 towns it doesn't necessary mean that brain matter of the NIMBYS is as equal. Most of them know very little about the history of rail in the area, or even that they may abut the MBTA property, or ever taken a train ride anywhere. Many of them use the ROW for a dumping area.
I think I'll find some time to take my metal detector and some hand tools over to the area where the tracks are still down & look for some date nails. Take some photos as well.

Author:  John Smythe [ Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

I found a 1890 Old Colony Railroad System Official Time Table booklet that has mileage figures between stations on the line that connected Stoughton to Taunton and points South. The New Haven RR had not yet purchased & consolidated these various independent operations, so many more short cut routes were available to use. The Stoughton route would certainly cut down on miles & time consumed getting a train between Fall River / New Bedford to South Station rather than taking a round about detour over to Middleboro then turn North for a run into South Station. But why do things that make sense & save taxpayers money? Railroads built lines to connect towns & cities using the most direct route, they weren't concerned with NIMBY's. Soon as we have some better weather I plan on going on a date nail hunt.

Author:  Overmod [ Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

Hmmm ... for what's required, perhaps the Conrail 'dual mode light' approach (improved for AC drive), and light catenary, would be sufficient. Likely for far less than 'billions', and potentially with many of the components being attractive for comparable service 'elsewhere'.

Author:  John Smythe [ Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

More & more articles appear in the local daily papers that cover the Stoughton line extension including a very informative well written one submitted & published under my name a couple of weeks ago. the issue here is that by re-hab of the existing Stoughton to Taunton, Mass roadbed it will save time & mileage over the other so called approved Middleboro route. Two towns named Easton & Raynham are under the misguided conception that rebuilding this route will result in the end of the world as we know it. I have old new haven RR timetables which clearly name these routes as the shortest most direct route between New Bedford & Fall river, Mass as the best route to take commuter passengers into Back bay Station & South station. The problem is the MBTA uses diesel electric power in every one of the communities they serve which numbers well over 100 towns & cities. These 2 stuck in the mud places want to upset the apple cart & demand electric trains. The MBTA should have put it's foot down long ago & stated that since diesel electric using the best clean fuel possible is what they will be getting. Period. This arguing over everything from A to Z has unfortunately delayed the rebuilding of this Stoughton line that dates back to 1855 for the past 25 years. enough is enough, if it weren't for all this infighting, trains taking cars off of our overburdened highways would have begun improving the quality of air & reducing the traffic jams long, long ago. my late granddad used to work for the New haven and aways claimed that the Stoughton route would be the best way to link Boston to Fall River & New Bedford.
Since my letter to the Editor appeared in several local papers it has obviously caught the eyes of several politicians & other groups who share my opinion & plan to take legal action against the state of Mass to get the Middleboro route switched to the Stoughton route. Since when do the demands of 2 towns out of over 100+ that have commuter rail service justify that the MBTA cater to their every whim?

Author:  John Smythe [ Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MBTA Stoughton, Mass. Re-Hab Stoughton - Taunton

Seems my Letter to the Editor of several newspapers got something going. Questions are being raised about costs, traffic, extra travel time to not go with the Stoughton Route as originally planned years ago. The engineers who laid out those routes back in the mid- 1800's had it right, how come these so called experts can't figure it out now?
Sounds or looks like the same old thing that plagues everything politically active.... money! Screw the folks who seek another way to get into Boston besides failing, overcrowded highways and un-synchronized traffic lights, politicians, deal makers, planners & designers can milk the monies appropriated for such motor car to rail travel projects for years or in the Stoughton Line situation for decades. Our tax dollars at work.

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