New England Central Railroad

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New England Central Railroad
Necr logo.svg
Reporting mark NECR
Locale New England
Dates of operation 1995–
Predecessor Central Vermont Railway
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 366 miles (589 km)
Headquarters St. Albans, Vermont
Website Official website

The New England Central Railroad (reporting mark NECR) began operations in 1995. It is a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming and runs from New London, Connecticut, to Alburgh, Vermont, a distance of 366 miles (589 km).[1] The railroad interchanges with the CCRR, CN, CPRS, CSXT, MCER, NS, PAS, PW, and VTR.

History[edit]

The New England Central Railroad is the successor to the Central Vermont Railway, which was sold by the CN to the RailTex Corp. in 1995, at which point it was renamed the New England Central.[2]

The new railroad was marked by improved service compared to the old Central Vermont, as well as more flexible crew arrangements, both of which led to a resurgence of the line. Within a year of NECR's takeover of the line declining traffic flow was reversed, with the railroad handling more than 30,000 carloads annually within two years of commencing operations,[1] in contrast to the old CV, which had suffered through years of declining traffic and the loss of profitability.[3] NECR's motive power initially consisted of former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad EMD GP38's although by the late 1990s, leased locomotives, largely former Conrail EMD SD40s, entered service.[2]

In 2000, Railtex was acquired by RailAmerica, which was subsequently bought in 2007 by Fortress Investments. Neither change in ownership affected the NECR to any great extent.[4]

In 2010, the railroad operated freight trains at night in order not to conflict with the Amtrak schedule. This led to sounding horns at unprotected crossings when nearby residents were sleeping. Some residents in Winooski complained.[5]

NECR GP38 in Palmer, Massachusetts

On 9 November 2010, the railroad began construction on a project to raise speeds on trackage within Vermont to 59 miles per hour (95 km/h), with speeds on the route south of White River Junction being increased to 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) for passenger service. The upgrades were part of a project to decrease running times for Amtrak's Vermonter, which operates over the route. Construction was funded by a $70 million grant from the federal government, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[6]

At the end of August 2011, the NECR was severely impacted by flood waters from Hurricane Irene. Though downgraded by this time to a tropical storm, Irene inflicted major damage between Montpelier and White River Junction, completely washing away about 2,000 feet (610 m) of roadbed and leaving welded rail and ties suspended in mid-air.[7] Two bridges over the White River were also heavily damaged, but the line from White River Junction to New London was not affected as severely. At first it was estimated that repairs would take 4 to 6 weeks. However, with repair crews working around the clock to replace the washed-out ballast and shore up the bridges, the railroad was reopened for traffic by mid-September.[8]

The 45 railroads formerly owned by RailAmerica, which had previously taken over RailTex lines, were transferred to Genesee & Wyoming. This change of ownership caused a shuffle of locomotives around their rail system, and the original NECR yellow & blue paint scheme was slowly replaced by the Genesee & Wyoming scheme.

Traffic[edit]

The railroad's traffic consists largely of general freight, including lumber products, metals, chemicals and stone products,[9][10] although COFC (container on flat car) and TOFC (trailer on flat car) business is also operated from the Canadian border to Boston, in partnership with the Providence and Worcester Railroad.[11] The NECR hauled around 37,000 carloads in 2008.[9]

Locations[edit]

NECR maintains significant operations at several locations along their line. Its main office is located in St. Albans, Vermont, along with the main office for the Connecticut Southern Railroad (CSOR), with which NECR shares many management functions.[10] St. Albans is also the location of the main shop and dispatch office. Vermont's largest rail yard is the St. Albans yard, which handles upwards of 40,000 cars each year. Other significant operations are at White River Junction and Brattleboro, both of which are the location of offices and smaller yards.[12] Palmer, Massachusetts serves as the main yard and office for operations south of the Vermont line.[1]

Fleet[edit]

As of September 2010, the NECR fleet consisted of the following:[13]

Number Type Manufacturer Notes
1900-1901
EMD SD9M
EMD
3840, 3843-3845, 3847-3853, 3855, 3857, 3869
EMD GP38
EMD
3853 scrapped 2/11. 3840 sent to Canada. 3852 assigned to HESR, 3843 re-lettered from GEXR 8/11.
4001, 4047-4049, 4053, 4055, 417, 437, 9457
EMD GP40
EMD
4047 retired 2012. 9457 leased. 417, 437 re-lettered from FEC 12/11. 4053, 4055 leased from TPW.
721-722, 5032, 6281, 3771
2674, 2680-2681, 2714, 2716
EMD SD40-2
EMD
721, 722 re-lettered from FEC 12/11. 3771 owned by CSOR.
2340
EMD SW1500
EMD
Ex-CSOR, Exx-NS/SOU
8530, 8579
GE Dash 8-39E
GE
Leased from CSOR

Passenger services[edit]

Amtrak operates its daily Vermonter service between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont, using the NECR north of Palmer, Massachusetts. The largest cause of delays on this line has been track and signal problems along the NECR. Since 2007, many mainline track and surfacing improvements have brought Amtrak's on time performance back to above 80% on-time levels.[14]

The Central Corridor Rail Line is a proposed service that would run passenger cars from New London to Brattleboro over NECR trackage.

Awards[edit]

NECR was named Short Line Railroad of the Year for 1995 by industry trade journal Railway Age.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Solomon, Brian; Mike Confalone (2007). Rails across New England 1989-1999: Volume 2-Connecticut, Massachusetts & Rhode Island. Railroad Explorer. ISBN 0-9725320-5-6. 
  2. ^ a b Confalone, Mike; Joe Posik (2005). Rails across New England 1989-1999: Volume 1-Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont. Railroad Explorer. ISBN 0-9725320-1-3. 
  3. ^ "The Central Vermont Railway". Picturing the Past. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Fred Frailey (June 2010). "RailAmerica restarts its engines". Trains Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing). 
  5. ^ Sutkowski, Matt (16 June 2010). "Early trains wake residents". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1B. 
  6. ^ "Vermont, Amtrak formally kick off high speed work". Trains Magazine. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "Hurricane/TS Irene Railroad Aftermath". Steel Wheels Photography. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "New England Central returns to normal after Hurricane Irene". RailAmerica News. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "RailAmerica's Empire". Trains Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing). June 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "New England Central Railroad". Canadian National Railway. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "New England Central Railroad (NECR)". RailAmerica. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  12. ^ "New England Central Railroad". Vermont Rail Action Network. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  13. ^ "New England Central". The Diesel Shop. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "Route Performance: Vermonter". Amtrak. 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Awards". RailAmerica. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
Preceded by
Central Vermont Railroad
Short Line Railroad of the Year
1995
Succeeded by
Philadelphia, Bethlehem and New England Railroad