Morning Read: The trains, the trains

A debate is underway across the Adirondack North Country about the future of the region’s rail systems — especially routes which in recent years have been used primarily as tourist-excursion lines.

This morning, the Glens Falls Post-Star reports that Warren County is still unsure what to do with the line that extends to North Creek.

It looks like Warren County leaders will head into 2011 not knowing who will operate a railroad on county-owned tracks or whether the railroad will operate at all…

The county has been in the market for a new operator for the tracks since 2009, when leaders grew dissatisfied with the company that ran the Corinth to North Creek passenger railroad for the last 12 years.

Meanwhile, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican is reporting this morning that a company wants to run a section of the railroad that extends into the High Peaks region, in order to transport garnet ore from the Barton Mine in North River.

The old National Lead Industries railroad between Tahawus and North Creek could be running again, if an Illinois company gets possession of it.

Iowa Pacific Holdings of Chicago wants to buy the 28-mile railroad line that goes from North Creek to the National Lead titanium mines in Newcomb’s Tahawus hamlet….

Iowa Pacific intends to operate the short line as part of the Upper Hudson River Railroad, which runs from North Creek to Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in Saratoga County.

North Country Now is also reporting that new rail freight handling facility has opened in Norwood, in St. Lawrence County.

Improved bulk rail freight service to northeastern St. Lawrence County is expected with the opening of the “Norwood Terminal.”

These developments come as a non-profit group is studying whether the tourist-rail line between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake should be refurbished, as the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported in September.

AdkAction.org has once again taken control of a study on the Tri-Lakes rail corridor.

The town of North Elba originally intended to use state grants and private matching money to fund the study, which is meant to measure the costs and benefits of rehabilitating the rails between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake versus abandoning the rail line and converting it to a recreational trail.

An increasingly vocal group of critics has argued that taxpayer spending on these rail lines is a waste of increasingly scarce resources.  This from NCPR’s report last month:

Lake Placid snowmobile activist Jim McCulley blasted state officials this week for spending money on the tourism train project in the Tri-Lakes area of the Adirondacks.

McCulley spoke before a panel on transportation issues chaired by state Budget Office Director Robert Megna.

McCulley says the state lacks funds to pay for basic road repair and maintenance – and shouldn’t be investing in the railroad,  “While DOT has told Lake Placid and Saranac Lake it can’t fix state Route 86 because 30,000 cars a day make it a low use highway, but a train that carries only 30,000 riders total gets funding.”

But these trains also have a lot of fans and continue to attract support.  The Little Falls Times is reporting that the the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties just awarded the train system a major grant.

Adirondack Railway Preservation Society will purchase a new locomotive to use for Adirondack Scenic Railroad programs, such as the Polar Express, with a $95,582 grant.

So what do you think?  Are these trains a costly albatross for the region?  Or a part of our heritage that could have real, industrial applications again?

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56 Comments on “Morning Read: The trains, the trains”

  1. tourpro says:

    It’s such a complicated situation with trains and rail service. The financial picture is nearly indecipherable for the average person. Hard to know who is paying what. Throw in IDA ownership for extra fun.

    Essex County news also presents a problem for Upper Hudson Rail Trail.

    Amtrak and “Adirondack” line should also be included in this discussion. Now that would be a truly awesome Rail Trail. Whitehall to Montreal by bike.

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  2. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Whatever is done the rights-of-way must be left intact for future use.

    I assume tourpro is being facetious in the comment about the Amtrak line (tho it would be a spectacular bike ride) but it is worth noting that a major infrastructure improvement is taking place right now in Whitehall as part of Obama’s stimulus. A couple of bridges that run over the tracks are being raised. As I understand it (and I don’t really know much about it) this will allow taller rail cars on the line which should help lower the cost of freight.

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  3. oa says:

    Time for a Rooftop Railway!
    Seriously, though, the North Country was a lot more prosperous in the days of an active rail system. Then society decided to subsidize the automobile.

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  4. Pete Klein says:

    I like trains but don’t like commercial airlines.
    If we gave as much support to trains as we do to the airlines or took away the support we give to airlines, the playing field would be equal.
    It would be really great if I could drive down to North Creek, park the car and take the train to NYC.

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  5. phahn50 says:

    one thing more – you really have to discount the “analysis” done by the snowmobile clubs. They are obviously biased. But a recreation trail along that right of way would be an economic boon to the region.

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  6. Brian says:

    Tourist trains are a waste of money, especially since none of the terminuses are in populated areas. The one in Warren County might’ve been successful if the line had gone to the population centers of Queensbury or Glens Falls or even the tourist village of Lake George. Instead, it starts in North Creek… in the town of Johnsburg, pop. 2500. Why would people in population centers (where the RR would need to tap to get enough ridership) drive 30-45 minutes to spend $20 a person to take a scenic tour when they can just keep driving and observe the scenery that way?

    If Adirondack train tracks were expanded so they went to places like GF/Queensbury, Potsdam/Canton, the Tri-Lakes towns, Plattsburgh and Watertown, then it might be viable as an intercity transit mechanism, which I think is a better use.

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  7. tourpro says:

    @knuckleheadedliberal

    Me, being facetious? Nah…..

    I just can’t see how any infrastructure investment to the Adirondack Line would make it grow for freight use. It’s design only allows for so much speed and carrying-capacity. That’s a layman’s guess.

    How about High-speed Rail right down the middle of the Northway? Montreal to NYC in 3 hours w/ a stop in Plattsburgh near the world-famous Plattsburgh International Airport, plus a quick-stop in Pottersville for @Pete.

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  8. Cost vs. benefit:
    The Adirondack Railroad ( Remsen to Lake Placid Corridor)had diminished in need to the point that the NYCentral was trying to abandon it in 1949.The public service commission required it’s operation for another 15 years for passengers and then another 5 years for freight. I don’t think anyone seriously believes there are enough people or freight tons being moved where this corridor could be a viable train line. We can not even support a bus schedule or major truck freighter. So, it comes down to history and nostalgia and as the population ages this too must be weighed. Cost vs. benefit. We have documentation available for the economic impact of Snowmobiling; lodging,food&drink,sales,construction and sales taxes returned to Counties, now we need to look at year round trail benefits.
    While not a guarantee, if we compare what this corridor offers, where it goes, and its proximity to population access, to other converted corridors, the probability of great economic benefit is worth exploring.

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  9. Realistic Rail buff says:

    The Adirondack Scenic RR :

    I have to agree with others here, I don’t think we can afford to subsidize this RR any longer at the cost of millions! I am a long time “railroad nut” but can’t advocate the expense to keep the ADK RR from Utica to Lake Placid. I love the history of this RR line and the nostalgia of trains, but this issue needs a much closer look. We need to wake up and change how we spend our limited tax dollars in this state.

    Maybe we should keep one or both ends as a tourist RR, but abandon the Old Forge to Tupper Lake or Saranac Lake sections for other uses? Maybe ditch the whole thing? These could be awesome summer time hike/bike trails and cater to snowmobilers in the winter. It is time for a change! I think we would get a lot more tourism with the latter!

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  10. TurdSandwich says:

    I think we should divest in anything that may bring the North Country out of its isolation. We have everything we need here. Interstates? Trains? Airplanes? These are flash in the pan advancements that will ultimately fail. Tourists, ya they’ll come in droves to see all the trees and get bit by mosquitoes. But, who needs their liberal city money and influence anyway? Everything is here so why would I want to go anywhere else. It’s scary out there.

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  11. Trains are a more economical and environmentally friendly way to move people and freight but we decided long ago to abandon them in favor of automobiles and we continue to subsidize the auto and the oil companies that fuel them. Until the price of gas becomes prohibitively high we will continue to see the auto as being more economical even though it isn’t and our trains will languish.

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  12. Tree says:

    Established figures for maintaining recreational trails show that the annual cost to maintain the trail so many seem to want would be nearly a million dollars per year. Who’s going to pay for that?

    Tourist railroads can be part of an overall tourism scheme.

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  13. TurdSandwich says:

    Capital Improvements Positioning East Coast’s Intermodal Rail Network For Increased Container Traffic

    After having grown used to losing market share in the nation’s container traffic to their West Coast rivals, the East Coast ports and their railroad allies anticipate that the competitive balance will soon shift in their favor.

    The major catalyst for change is the current $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal. When completed in 2014, the enlarged Panama Canal will accommodate the larger super post-Panamax container ships and facilitate the migration of container traffic to East Coast ports via the all-water route.

    A new ProLogis report titled “Capital Improvements Bolster the East Coast’s Intermodal Rail Network” observes that, due to impending capital investments in preparation of this migration, supply chain professionals anticipate East Coast ports to gain market share of the nation’s container traffic from their West Coast rivals.

    Two Class-1 railroads that dominate the eastern U.S. — the Norfolk Southern and the CSX — are positioning themselves to promote and benefit from the increased container traffic via the all-water route. These railroads and East Coast ports are investing billions of dollars to fund capital improvements in the intermodal rail service between the East Coast ports and the major Eastern and Midwestern population centers.

    “With the East Coast ports maneuvering to increase their market shares, the two eastern railroads are attempting to position themselves to increase their market shares of the nation’s intermodal double-stack rail freight traffic,” commented Leonard Sahling, first vice president of the ProLogis Research Group.

    No need to take advantage of any of this.

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  14. Curt Austin says:

    There is also a non-profit working to convert the North Creek to Tahawus railroad corridor into a trail. The Iowa-Pacific purchase is specifically intended to thwart our plans. Barton’s has a potential need for four trains a year, not for ore – for tailings. This is very little use, and it’s very hypothetical, not enough to justify denying the public a great resource.

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  15. john says:

    The railroads were an early and vital component of the North COuntry economy … when there was a lot of heavy industry. When the mines, steel mills, forest products, etc. were in full vigor, there needed to be heavy transit systems to move high volumes of heavy stuff. There were a lot of factories in MAlone, Ogdensburg, MAssena, Gouverneur, Unionville, Star Lake, Clifton and Fine, among other places. Most of those industries have left and they will not be back. There is nothing on the economic horizon that suggests that we would need those types of capacities ever again in the North COuntry. Tourism rail service is a novelty that people use infrequently and is very low capacity, considering the cost of maintaining the infrastructure to sustain it.

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  16. DBW says:

    While tourism trains may be a questionable use of scarce resources, we need to keep our other options only when it comes to rail service. In a coming age of scarce and expensive fossil fuels, trains will be a necessary option. As CSX points out it takes a gallon of fuel to move a ton of freght 400 miles, much better than a tractor trailer. I am afraid we are going to deeply regret underfunding of trains these past few decades.

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  17. Pete Klein says:

    If you don’t want to invest in train, fine. But stop funding airlines. Get rid of the airlines and we can get rid of the stupid Home Land Security sink hole. Let’s bike to LA.

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  18. Eric says:

    I’d like to see the effect of $10 gallon a gas on the area. Study or not we’ll see it like it or not. Or do you think the price of gas will go down? If you do I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. I’d like to see the effect of no air service, which should be gone in a few years due to high fuel prices. Remember the airline industry a few years ago. Most carriers were bankrupt. Did you forget it? I didn’t. Did you know Amtrak is breaking ridership records year after year. Maybe it’s all that cheap gas, and the fun at the airports. You know checking your “Junk” over. It’s trains for me everywhere I can ride them. And more and more people are like me.

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  19. tootightmike says:

    I took the train from Syracuse to Chicago, then to New Orleans and back to NYC. There is no finer way to travel. The subsidies that artificially support the airlines are the problem…On a level playing field, the rails would easily win for family’s and tourists, leaving the planes and the super annoying airports to those business folks who are in such a rush.

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  20. Chris Shaw says:

    McCulley would love to get the rail beds for himself and his toy sleds but he and everybody else should think hard about how people are going to get to the Adirondacks when the oil dries up or becomes prohibitively expensive. This is a place where govt SHOULD be reasonably and actively participating in figuring this out and providing funds, but it appears we have passed out of a period of history where, for good or bad, we actually had functioning governments and reasoned debates. Wilderness is “wilderness,” as least as defined, but clean dependable rail service will be a necessary adjunct to a fully functioning Adk “park,” with thriving human and natural communities, in the coming generation. Figure it out, people.

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  21. Mervel says:

    To me there is a difference between true rail commuter trains and “tourism” trains. Train travel is great and I would certainly like to see some overall investment in our rail infrastructure in the US. I thought that is what the stimulus was going to do? As usual bogus promises.

    Its like the Green stuff we talk and talk and then when we get a chance to actually really invest in infrastructure we give a trillion dollars to the banks and the state governments to hand out to useless pet projects.

    Don’t people get tired of talking about these pipedreams?

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  22. Bret4207 says:

    Pete and I agree once again. Airline subsidies are enormous. Rail subsidies are minuscule. Big money pit those airlines, no doubt about it.

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  23. phahn50 says:

    Automobile transportation gets the biggest subsidy. I would like to see some of the train advocates (and I also like train transportation) make a solid case for a freight/passenger rail transportation into the Adirondacks. For example, my son and daughter-in-law came to visit from their apartment in Brooklyn. They dont have a car, so they rented one and drove up. Total cost of about $500.00 :( But a train, NYC to Albany to Utica to Saranac Lake – even if it were available and cheaper would take many many hours longer. The train/bus to Lake Placid is pretty limited too.

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  24. oa says:

    Mervel said: “Train travel is great and I would certainly like to see some overall investment in our rail infrastructure in the US. I thought that is what the stimulus was going to do? As usual bogus promises.”

    This was actually a kept promise:
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-02-17-obama-railroads_N.htm

    Takes a while to see the results, but NY will likely get even more money thanks to Midwest governors who rejected the rail investment:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/wisconsin-highspeed-rail-_n_794721.html

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  25. Eric says:

    They have promised alot in the past. Then spent it on highways and airports. Don’t count the money till you get it!

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  26. Curt says:

    Bike trails are much better for people than tourist trains. Somehow, this is not obvious to some folks, so I’ll explain. A bike trail will be used over and over again by the same person. Tourist trains are more like a movie – they’re ridden once. Trains have a nostalgic appeal to some folks who live up here, but not to our targeted tourist from NYC; they ride trains all the time and probably hate them.

    You have to pay to ride a train and adhere to a schedule. You are trapped in a small space with a bunch of strangers – this goes against the appeal of a wilderness experience, where – duh! – the idea is to be outside without a lot of people around.

    Bikes actually go faster than most tourist trains – you’ll see more in less time, if that’s the goal. You’ll have time to stop wherever you want, have a picnic.

    But mostly, riding a train is sitting and watching, like TV. Riding a bike makes you feel good, because it’s good for you. That’s why thousands of bike trails have been made from unused railroad corridors, while there are only two cases where the reverse has occurred. This is also the reason that trails attract more people than trains, if the tourist angle is important to you.

    Rail fans may think of it as their hobby versus another hobby. Cycling wins big time on that basis – it is about a million times more popular. Cycling is not a hobby, though, it is an activity. Rail fans may think that railroads will return to their former glory. Not soon, it is safe to say.

    Public money is generally required for either trains or trails – the choice should always favor the broadest public benefit – economic, recreational, and most of all, health.

    You can help the efforts on the Upper Hudson Rail Trail by visiting us at http://www.upperhudson.org.

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  27. Mervel says:

    Thanks for the update OA. I think that is great that is what I want to see our government doing, I also think it is great that LaHood told those guys no you can’t just take the money and spend it on your pet projects.

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  28. I think everyone wants to preserve the corridor, but the current rail configuration will never again be viable. Freight? all but gone. Passengers? The small Adirondack population and accomodations for tourists are spread far and away from the rail line. Will short line,low volume rail lines come back, or will we prefer Hybrid cars and smaller busses that can deliver us directly to our destinations? Freight? Will the Adirondack Park again be ravaged for it’s resorces and will freight trains be desireable to carry smaller loads? The CSX claim may hold on flat straight track, but not on Mountain curves and when you figure over 200 tons of just train to move? We can argue roads,Airlines and railroads, but we will never return to canals, ships, and remote railroads for our making a living!!

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  29. Eric says:

    Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airways today said on Bloomberg.com Oil should hit $200 a barrel in 5 years! There could be 15% unemployment. If we don’t move to a clean energy economy. (Well so much for the fly and drive society!) It’s Dec 17th, 2010. Ripping up any railroads would be really a bad idea.

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  30. Mervel says:

    When oil is $200 a barrel we will move to alternatives that are less expensive and that could be cleaner fuels.

    It could also mean an expansion of exploration for more oil in different ways.

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  31. Bret4207 says:

    Curt, your bias is evident. You want bike trails. Most people I know over the age of 30-35 would much rather take a train ride than ride a bike anywhere, anytime, especially in early spring, late fall and winter. While bike trails are a nice idea, ripping up and destroying rail beds is short sighted. Tourism is a tiny part of this. Losing the infrastructure is the important part.

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  32. Mervel says:

    I live near the rail line that runs through Canton-Potsdam-dekalb junction, etc. its pretty busy day and night.

    Rail is growing nationwide and has a great future and I think a great future in the North Country. I doubt it has a future in the Adirondacks however and I don’t think that it should; it makes no sense to run a rail line through mountains when you don’t have to.

    These little tourist trains I guess are okay, but I would think it would be good to try for an Amtrack spur from Albany or Syracuse to Saranac Lake or Lake Placid during the tourist seasons.

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  33. Bret4207 says:

    Well, Massena is just getting their rail spur to their industrial park and everyone seems happy about it. And since the tracks exist already there is the chance that excursion type ski trains could once again run to North Creek, Tupper (assuming the ski area opens), Saranac Lk/Placid for Winter Carnival and skiing. Maybe it wouldn’t be a daily thing, but if it was packaged right by some enterprising type of person who finagled some package ticket rates, etc……it might just appeal to some people. Of course it requires decent entertainment, lodging, etc. Run an excursion special to the Tupper Lake Woodsmans Day, the various events in Placid.

    Friends of mine just took the train to NYC for the Thanksgiving day parade. It could work the other way too if you market it correctly. No surety of it of course, but it seems to me something like that might appeal to a different group than the current tourist crowd.

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  34. McCulley says:

    You may not like what I say but right here is the Adirondack Scenic Railroads tax returns. You will find that the NYSDOT has subsidizes operation (not including track maintenance ) $400,000 per year. I guess see I told you so is sufficient.

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.guidestar.org%2FFinDocuments%2F2009%2F223%2F074%2F2009-223074470-065112f6-9.pdf&h=ad94c

    http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/223/074/2009-223074470-065112f6-9.pdf

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  35. Curt says:

    In reply to Bret4207: The relevant time periods for my observations are not short: The line in question for the Upper Hudson Rail Trail has not seen a train in 22 years. No titanium has been mined in Tahawus for 28 years (and never will again, according to NL). Barton Mines has not used it in its 62 years of existence, not even when they used rail transportation long ago – they trucked material to North Creek.

    The potential short-sightedness of allowing rail corridors to disappear (e.g., the spur into Warrensburg) was addressed by the Federal Gov’t in 1982 with the passage of the Rail Banking Statute. It does two good things: 1) allows trails to be built on railroad rights-of-way, and 2) allows return of railroad operations should the need arise. The two cases I cited earlier of where a trail reverted to railroad use were made possible by this statute.

    Converting a railroad corridor to a bike trail is often the only way to preserve a railroad corridor. The spur into Warrensburg could have been preserved had it been converted to a bike trail. As it is, the ROW has reverted to the adjoining property owners and will never again be a railroad corridor, nor a trail. This is likely to happen eventually to the Tahawus extension if it is not converted; it’s remarkable that it hasn’t already.

    Most of the people over 35 that I talk to – in fact virtually all of them – would rather have a bike trail in the community than a tourist train. One of the first people I talked to about our project is a shop owner in Riparius, the only place the UHRR tourist train regularly stops. She surprised me by saying she hates the train, and would much prefer a bike trail. The county has been unable to lease the ice cream stand for several years. The train is not a boon to business in Riparius.

    But the Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail are not opposed to the current tourist train operation south of North Creek – we’re only interested in going north. Our community can have both – an envious position. Please, all you rail fans – you’ve been very successful in Warren County, you should be happy with what you have. You should recognize that another attraction in North Creek will be good for the tourist train. The best thing to do with the Tahawus extension is to turn it into a multi-use trail.

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  36. Save the economy; save the rails! says:

    Removing any rail route in this economy is extremely short sighted to say the least! With gas prices ever increasing, and people turning to smaller, fuel efficient cars, we will need another transportation option for people and freight. Not only will smaller cars be more limited as to range, but also more dangerous to travellers in bad weather and more vulnerable to tragic accidents if sharing the road with the current volume of tractor trailers.
    Tourist railroads may seem impractical, but take time to consider their greater purpose. If a state or county agency buys a rail line in order to preserve rail service to their communities, somebody needs to maintain the right of way so that it can go back into service when the need arises. A tourist railroad pays for the maintenance on the rail line and in return for that maintenance can earn revenue from a passible rail route. So communities can retain rail service at little or no cost.
    Sometimes there will be an initial outlay of public money to return the line to service, and enable service to begin, but one must look at it as a one time expense. Additionally, tourist railroads collect taxes from ticket sales, pay full and part time employees and spend money at local businesses for maintenance materials, fuel, and other supplies; further helping the local economy.
    As far as rail trails go, it costs at least $7,000 per mile, per year to maintain a quality rail trail, and requires 100% outside funding to maintain it. Not to mention that a private management group must be formed to ensure it’s upkeep. A rail trail earns no revenue and must rely on public money for it’s existance. Not a good option for local tax payers who need jobs and tax revenue to support their local economy.

    At about one million dollars per mile to replace missing tracks on a converted rail corridor, it is generally cost prohibitive to restore service on a former rail corridor, especially for only one customer. Consequently, a business desiring rail service will locate in a community where rail service is currently available. Look for this to happen more frequently as America increasingly turns to rail transportation.

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  37. Save the economy; save the rails! says:

    In response to the assertion by “Mc Culley” claming that “The NYSDOT provides $400,000 per year in subsidy”.
    THIS IS INCORRECT!!!
    I have reviewed the tax return provided; the “public funding” referred to IS NOT any form of NYSDOT subsidy.

    The term “public funding” in this case refers to income generated from dues paying members, donations from individuals, donations from businesses, and from grants.

    Public funding refers to individuals (the public) contributing their money to help a not for profit group of their choosing.
    It is money donated by private individuals because they care, and because they support the goals of the organization that they are donating their money to.

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  38. Hybrid cars,pure electric, Busses, there are many other options to travel other than trains that can go where you need to go. The populations are no longer centered on the railroads in the Adirondacks. The Rail operation is certainly subsidised direcdtly. From it’s non-profit status to the various State and Community Grants that ARE TAX money from one source or another. Grants are from OUR pockets.

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  39. Mcculley says:

    re:In response to the assertion by “Mc Culley” claming that “The NYSDOT provides $400,000 per year in subsidy”.
    THIS IS INCORRECT!!!
    Yes it is correct!!! Also they are borrowing from their own board members to the tune of $85,000 to operate and still only have $19,000 in the bank at the end of the year. Plus count what DOT is spending on corridor work and $400,000 is low. They get member items and direct money from DOT it’s all TAXPAYER money. The bottom line is my account look at it and said they can’t, nor will they make money and without the state paying for everything the ASR is closed. The money train is over they have less than 1000 members and that generation is dieing off as did trains 60 years ago. This is just another NYS taxpayer boondoggle.

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  40. Save the economy; save the rails! says:

    Again, I see no evidence or proof of any of these assertions that the railroad recieves state subsidy! There is nothing in the provided tax return that says ANY of the money came from grants – private, government or otherwise. It is just as likely the money is being donated by private individuals and from private grants.

    Grants are awarded in a competitive application, merit based process which requires full disclosure and review of the financial status of the organization. Grants are not awarded to failing organizations nor to organizations with questionable financial practices. SO either the railroad is in better financial shape than you claim OR the money is from private sources!
    Besides, while money for federal and state grants may be allocated from tax dollars, the funds are ALLOCATED FOR THE GRANT and will not go back into the general fund; it will be awarded to someone. The funds will be awarded to any not for profit group that meets the criteria for the grant.

    As for the NYSDOT spending money on the corridor, there are about 70 miles of track not currently used by the railroad but kept intact and operable for future use. If there is any DOT money being spent, it’s probably on that section. I would still like to see proof, though!

    As for driving a Smart Car through the middle of deer country? Imagine the damage it would sustain in a collision with a deer! Or a limited range electric car on remote Adirondack roads??? How about being stranded in the middle of nowhere for a night!
    As I see it, the railroads worked just fine 100 years ago. The railroads built the Adirondack region when people relied on limited range / limited mobility transportation methods (horse and carrage back then) now, with affordable but limited range vehicles becoming popular again, the public will need transportation alternatives for long distance travel.

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  41. Just went to check out a 2500 hybrid Chevy truck, Nice! Expensive fuel= advancing technoloogy.

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  42. STEELROADY says:

    “Scott Thompson says:
    December 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Just went to check out a 2500 hybrid Chevy truck, Nice! Expensive fuel= advancing technoloogy.”

    That’s a pretty high priced vehicle for someone who is struggling just to keep food on the table as you have stated in the past. Will you use it exclusively in Beaver River Station (Unregistered and uninsured) or will you use it in the real world where the vehicle laws are enforced?

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  43. Don/t you wonder why people don/t use their own names when they comment?
    FYI I drive a ’99 Tracker at 29-30 MPG, Have been trying to get a road on the side of the ROW since the 60.s so I CAN drive my licensed vehicles home. BUT, I do research and try to comment within the realm of reality compairing cost benefit,demographics,technologies and what ever it should take to keep our Adirondack business for generations to come and not try to hitch to a dead horse.

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  44. Tom Calhoun says:

    Scott you said: “Don/t you wonder why people don/t use their own names when they comment?’ I’ve wondered that myself in the past…that subject has even been the subject of debate in other forums. It has nothing to do at all with this thread however. I for one think that “STEELROADY” has added a new dimension to this thread with His/her questions. They brought up an aspect of Beaver River that I hadn’t thought about. What do you figure the cost per year would be to license inspect and insure all the vehicles in the Thompson Family/ NorridgewockIII fleet? My best guess would be in the thousands of dollars. I’m quite sure the rates go up when the paying public is being transported… In reality aren’t you in the transportation business what with the Ferry, Boat Taxis,Trucks and all those buses.

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  45. Tom Calhoun says:

    FYI Scott when someone makes a statement like this (Just went to check out a 2500 hybrid Chevy truck, Nice! Expensive fuel= advancing technoloogy.) I to agree with STEELROADY that perhaps you were serious about a purchase or you probably were at the dealership for the free donuts…yea that must have been it the free donuts huh?

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  46. Mcculley says:

    re:Save the economy; save the rails! What proof do you have for this statement? So tell us how rail is going to save the Adirondack economy. Trains failed before we had decent roads and cars in the Adirondacks. The first request for abandonment was 1949. So show us the business plan that says it will work. For that matter show it to a banker and have then front you the money, instead of the taxpayer!

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  47. STEELROADY says:

    Tom I think your right about the DONUTS any one that has it as hard as that needs to get a free meal where ever they can.

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  48. Save the economy; save the rails! says:

    Rail will save the Adirondack economy when the cost of oil makes it too costly for the average family to own a full size car!
    If the average New Yorker is driving something along the lines of a Smart Car or Nissan Leaf, they will think twice about DRIVING up into the Adirondacks. These new little cars are fuel efficient to be sure, and might stand up in crash ratings, but are more limited as to range and passengers are more likely to face serious injury in an accident (small car vs big car, small car vs deer, small car runs off the icy road) The narrow Adirondack roads are full of twists and turns, deer, are slippery in winter and at some times impassible due to snow (especially for a small car). If people can take the Thruway to Utica (or Amtrak), board a safe, climate controlled, comfortable train, and just rest and relax as they travel to their destination they will go. If they have to risk their lives on the Adirondack back country, they will go elsewhere on vacation, or they will just stay home!
    Of course, in here and now terms, a direct rail option would make the OWD plastics plant much more attractive to a new operator; and direct rail service to businesses such as propane dealers enables them to buy in bulk and save; thereby saving the consumer money (and keep things such as dangerous fuel trucks off the highway, as well as saving wear and tear on the roads).

    Of course,we can look at the financing question you pose in a different way: if someone were to approach a banker with two options – to finance the speculative purchase of a rail line supported by hard evidence of economic and transportation trends gathered over the past 150 years – OR – the construction of a remote trail which could never generate any revenue of it’s own, which would win out???

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  49. Save the economy; save the rails! says:

    As for the statement that the New York Central made it’s first request for abandonment in 1949, this has to be considered in context.

    First, big railroads often explore their options on secondary lines because they focus on major traffic routes, for the obvious reasons; there is more money in it. Many times requests for abondonment don’t end up with the line torn up. Often a smaller railroad steps in and buys the route during the proceedings, because they can offer more personal service and maximize profits on secondary lines under different labor agreements and operating rules. The big carriers win, because they still get paid to ship cars to their final destination, without the costs of owning all that track.

    The Adirondack line was built for two major purposes: as a through route between the Mohawk Valley (NYC main line) and Montreal, and to provide access to the natural resources (mainly timber) located within the Adirondack park, as well as to service local businesses.
    By 1949 the timber industry was already winding down, and the NYC also owned another through route to Montreal – the Syracuse – Watertown – Montreal route, so they didn’t need the Adirondack line for direct access to Canada any more.
    In 1949 the railroads were still heavily regulated in many aspects. Shipping rates were very inflexible, and in favor of the shipper, not the railroad.
    Service contracts required cars be delivered and picked up at set intervals regardless of how many cars that were handled.
    Train crews were subject to labor agreements, and crew sizes were set at a minimum of five persons frgardless of train size; six persons for trains over 25 cars within the State of New York.
    Steam locomotives, the primary motive power of the day, were maintenance intensive and required service facilities at outlying points (such as Tupper Lake and Malone) as well as a central location (Utica). Labor agreements required a certain number of people to staff these outlying service locations.
    There was no radio communication for the crews back then. Messages were relayed from the dispatcher to the train crew in the form of written messages passed on by operators at set locations. The operators were stationed at buildings requiring heat, lights, and phone or telegraph service.
    The railroad was also in the process of converting from steam locomotives to diesel at that time and new locomotives had to be purchased and allocated for every service where they were needed. Secondary rail lines no longer got older hand me down locomotives from the main line, they now had to be bought new; there were no old diesels, thus adding to the cost of operating a smaller line as well.
    The entire line was taxable property, so every year the NYC had to pay real estate taxes on the property regardless of the actual income generated on a strech of track.
    In short, operating a railroad back in 1949, especially for a class one railroad such as the NYC, was exponentially more costly than it is today.
    All of this added up to the railroads changing focus to the busiest routes and a goal of eliminating secondary lines, even if they still had reasonable amounts of traffic.
    Of course, except for the section north of Lake Clear Junction, which the NYC tore up between 1961 and 1965, the line still exists to this day.
    The Interstate Commerce Commission never gave permission to abandon the line because there was till business on it. It continued in operation under NYC and later Penn Central until 1972.
    To the best of my knowledge, the line only closed due to washouts caused by heavy rains that were the result of the remants of hurricane Agnes passing through the area.

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  50. http://www.americantrails.org/resources/economics/IAecondevel.html

    This may have bias, but it seems to have a great deal of information.

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