Monday, November 23, 2009

CSX Massachusetts Rail Freight Tie Up Meets Opposition

Not Everybody Pleased at Scheme to Reduce Truck Haulage Problem
Shipping News Feature

MASSACHUSETTS –US – Our September report on the cooperation between the commonwealth authorities and the CSX rail group in an effort to streamline both passenger and freight traffic for the good of the community has not been greeted with open arms by all parties. The plans to raise bridge heights to accommodate double stack freight cars and reduce drayage requirements on the local highways is meeting with criticism from some sectors of the local community.

The $100 million plans include the state taking control of lines in the Boston area and relocating the Allston freight yard to a multi modal terminal toward the centre of the state. The takeover of lines would then be extended and the Secretary at the Department of Transportation, Mr Jeff Mullan, has insisted, with the proposed increase in traffic, he is ready to listen to objectors. He is adamant however that state ownership will give more control over how and when rail movements are routed, never the case with privately owned track.

Objectors from the towns of Framingham and Ashland have been vociferous in their criticism. The rail track effectively cuts the towns in half and, with freight trains reportedly taking up to a quarter of an hour to pass through. This leads to safety concerns, emergency vehicles are forced to sit and wait at the level crossing gates, and also leads to complaints that parts of the towns are becoming run down. Delays whilst trains pass currently exceed two hours and more daily.

Residents complain that more affluent towns are granted money for tunnels to route the increased traffic when the takeover is complete by next May. The state says it will consider all cases but that money is tight and the reduction of road traffic will be worth the investment. Sceptics say the scheme will reduce congestion for Boston residents but introduce more vehicles to other areas to handle the freight link to inter modal rail terminals.