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.

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