The HighBall NewsLetter

Highball Online Newsletter


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The Highball Online Newsletter is a Monthly news feature of Each month will have info about something going on in the railroad Industry or some information about railroad history or other cool news article send to us by a website visitor.

Hello Fellow Railfans,  8/11/2021

Today I added  some new news story’s that I found on that I put into the Highball Newsletter area that covers some of the Railroad company’s that call New England home. One story is about the WASHINGTON – The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which sponsors Amtrak’s Downeaster service between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston, says it backs CSX Transportation’s proposed acquisition of Pan Am Railways. and at the Us Capital with a  transit Bill, with $66 billion for rail — including $58 billion for Amtrak — and more than $100 billion for transit, now goes to House 


Trains added to CTrail Hartford Line, Shore Line East schedules

By| July 26, 2021


Changes restore Hartford Line service to pre-pandemic levels

A CTrail Hartford Line train passes the former Waillingford , Conn., station in August 2019. (Trains: David Lassen)

NEWINGTON, Conn. — As of today (Monday, July 26), the Connecticut Department of Transportation is adding service on its CTrail Hartford Line and Shore Line East rail services.

Seven round trips are being restored on the Hartford Line after being eliminated in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between Amtrak and CTrail service, there are now 16 trains on weekdays in each direction between New Haven, Conn., and Hartford, with 12 of those continuing to or from Springfield, Mass. The full schedule is here.

Seven additional trains are being added to the Shore Line East schedule, with four extended from Old Saybrook to New London.  The updated schedule now offers 12 westbound and 11 eastbound trains on weekdays.

“Expanding train service is an important step for public transportation not only for our state, but also for our region and our country. It means we are moving forward in the right direction,” CTDOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said in a press release.


Analysis: Are trailers reaching the end of the intermodal road?

By Bill Stephens| July 1, 2021


What’s efficient and profitable for railroads can be more complicated for intermodal customers


Black locomotive with train of trailers in the Midwest

Trailers ride the front end of a westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train at Otis, Ind., on June 11, 2021. (Trains: David Lassen)


Intermodal analyst Larry Gross has gone out on a limb. In his latest “Intermodal in Depth” report, Gross predicts the demise of TOFC, or trailer on flatcar service, within the next four years.

In some ways, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Trailers have become a smaller and smaller part of the intermodal world as railroads have emphasized domestic containers that can be double-stacked. TOFC is long gone in Canada and Mexico, and so far this year trailers represent just 8.5% of U.S. intermodal loads, down from 60% in 1988.

But trailers have seen an on-and-off resurgence over the past few years amid a chronic shortage of truck drivers and the rise of parcel traffic due to the boom in e-commerce. In fact, trailer volume has surged 26% through the first four months of 2021.

Now, Gross says, traditional TOFC users — including parcel and temperature-controlled carriers — are planning to significantly expand their container fleets. “Driven by the desire to simplify their operations and improve train capacity, the railroads are actively taking steps to convert the remaining TOFC volume to container,” Gross says. “These steps include eliminating TOFC services in specific lanes and at specific terminals, widening the rate differential between trailer and container, and providing trailer customers with warnings of even greater differentials to come. As a result, conversion is beginning to occur in these last bastions of TOFC use.”

Trailer on flatcar statistics in a chartThis is the latest development in the trend of railroads simplifying their intermodal networks. Over the past few years, all of the U.S. Class I railroads have streamlined steel-wheel interchange and pared interline service linking lower-volume origins and destinations. And as part of their shifts to Precision Scheduled Railroading, CSX Transportation and Union Pacific have scaled back their intermodal service. “The future of TOFC is strictly limited in the PSR era,” Gross says.

The big four U.S. Class I railroads prefer containers because double-stack trains can carry twice the volume as a TOFC train of the same length. Trailers eat capacity in terminals and on single-track routes where sidings dictate train length. Trailers also complicate terminal operations because they require separate lifting equipment and must ride on the few remaining TOFC flatcars in the TTX fleet. So, there are plenty of good reasons railroads want an all-container intermodal operation.

But what’s simpler, more efficient, and more profitable for the railroads can be more complicated for their intermodal customers. Chassis supply is a perennial problem, and containers aren’t always the right tool for the job. And this means that only about half of current TOFC traffic will convert to containers, Gross predicts.

The rest, he says, will hit the road. Based on this year’s trailer volume trends, that would equal a loss of roughly 4% of U.S. intermodal volume.

Longer-haul moves in 53-foot trailers are the most likely to convert to domestic containers and remain on the rails, Gross says. The most likely traffic to be lost: business that moves in 28-foot pup trailers, which carry parcel shipments in small lots from origin to destination without a sorting move in between. UPS and FedEx will be unlikely to give up this efficiency and therefore will send these loads to the road.

Trailers will survive a while longer in oddball situations, Gross says, such as Florida East Coast’s service between Jacksonville and Miami, an imbalanced market with loads southbound and empties northbound. Norfolk Southern’s Triple Crown RoadRailer service between Detroit and Kansas City, meanwhile, will keep rolling until its equipment wears out.

The conversion to a fully containerized network will make intermodal more of a niche product than it already is. Railroads will essentially give up their ability to serve as a safety valve for truckload carriers that shift some volume to intermodal when driver supply gets tight, as well as for parcel carriers who rely even more on trailers during the holiday peak shipping season.

If TOFC is about to ride off into the sunset, it’s hard to see how this will help intermodal grow. At one time, railroads sought to expand the intermodal universe through innovations like RoadRailer and Canadian Pacific’s Expressway short-haul TOFC service. No longer.

A string of UPS trailers riding an intermodal train has long been a symbol of premium service and the hotshot that sees nothing but green signals on its trip across the railroad. A complete shift to containers won’t end this tradition, of course, but it will bring down the curtain on the piggyback era that began when Chicago Great Western loaded its first trailers on flatcars way back in 1936.

Weekly rail traffic figures show carloads with biggest gain over 2020

By  trains magazine July 1, 2021


AAR stats show slight gain over previous week


Table showing weekly U.S. rail traffic statistics

(Association of American Railroads)

WASHINGTON — U.S. freight volume for the week ending June 26 remained well ahead of figures for the same week a year earlier, while also showing a small uptick from previous-week figures.

Statistics from the Association of American Railroads show that U.S. railroads moved 516,167 carloads and intermodal units for the week, a 12.4% increase over the same period in 2020 and a modest increase over the 514,112 carloads and units of a week earlier [see “U.S. rail traffic continues to outpace 2020 figures,” Trains News Wire, June 24, 2021].

The latest figures include 237,117 carloads, a 17.7% increase over 2020, and 279,050 intermodal trailers and containers, an 8.2% increase. The carload traffic shows increases over the 2020 figures in nine of 10 commodity categories, the lone exception being motor vehicles and parts, where production continues to be constrained by a computer-chip shortage.

For the 25 weeks so far in 2021, total traffic is up 13.6% over the year-to-date figures for 2020, with intermodal traffic up 17.7% and carloads up 8.9%.

North American totals for the week, reflecting reports from 12 railroads in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, show 335,765 carloads, up 14.4% over the same week in 2020, and 367,561 intermodal units, up 8.8%, for total volume of 703,326 carloads and intermodal units, an 11.4%

Trip To Rockport Massachusetts

By Steven Provost

This month My roommate and myself tock a MBTA Communter Railroad trip to visit Rockport Massachusetts, this trip started early morning to get the time to spend in Rockport to record some video Footage for our other project


, it’s a awesome project of our and I hope you will check it out. We started this trip from North Station seeing some work being done on track near the station Platform  ther was only  a small workgroup of track Maintenance workers, on the trip forward we made the station stops until we got to Beverly, Ma. the train we was on could not go any further downline due to Track Maintenance  to install in PTC Track wiring being done and the The Gloucester Drawbridge, which carries the Rockport Line over the Annisquam River, is being replaced. The current bridge was built in 1911, reconstructed in 1932, and updated in 1984. The MBTA suspended service across the bridge in April 2020 due to unforeseen site conditions. We are bused around that area on Cape Ann Transit Authority (CATA) with alot of stops from Beverly to Rockport MBTA Communter Railroad Station


(see Photo and Info Here) /{Click Here}


to visit an updated story and Awesome Photos from the MBTA website about the Bridge). We Got to Rockport MBTA parking lot and walked to Downtown Rockport. We eat at


7wave restaurant rooftop deck


, it was an awesome view of the Rockport Harbor, however  my roommate report his lobster roll was cold and soggy, My fish and chips meal was great, just wish I asked for more tartar Sauce. we look around and stopped at the


Bearskin Neck Country Store


(This Store IS AWESOME) with a working real player piano (I remember this store because I had visited this store many times with my Parents during our family vacations). we also stopped by a candy store called


Tuck’s Candy


where they had an old taffy wrapping  machine dating back to the early 1900  (not making taffy at time of visit) but they make some awesome taffy (we got a bag of taff) and made a video outside of store.  We filmed alot of stuff and my roommate is going to edit and upload it to youtube when it ready.  the same bus company picked us up at the rockport station after a 1/2 hour rest time for the driver which i did not mind and gave me time to take photos of the building and the other things in the station area, there was not any locomotives in the yard at the time because of the  construction on the rockport line. so we hopped on the bus to ride from Rockport to


 Beverly MBTA station


but we stopped at every station along the way to pick up more passengers and finally got to the Beverly station where we got on the train to go back to boston. We met a nice cople from Miami Florida  they were so nice to talk to on the way home and to rap up the trip. I hope you enjoyed my report on this trip to Rockport, please send me some feed back and let me know how I did writing this Report.     

Hello Fellow Railfan’s

June 1, 2021

I hope this finds you all in Great health, and wellness. We are very close to reaching  the middle of the year and the kids are getting ready for Graduation, I would like to first start this newsletter by saying  to those Graduating, i am so happy to share in the excitement of your on Graduation day and I am so proud to wish you Congratulations on your will deserved success, and would like to wish you Many success in your Future Career.

Your Editor,

Steven Provost




Posted May 1,2021

Hello Everyone!

Happy May 1,2021 to everyone. here we are in the spring of 2021, and I hope to see a lot more of fellow railfans out watching trains  in their local area.  Yesterday one the first day of may I went to the MBTA Wellington orange line station to visit the MBTA Orange line maintenance facility to fallow up on a video that I shot for my  touringnewengland.orgwebsite and to look into where the new 1400 CRRC orange line subway trainsset (built in Springfield, ma at the new CRRC MA Corporation) are being stored for the time untill the Mbta decides to but them back in normal service. they are happy to report that they are stored in the storge yards behind the maintenance build along with the current older MBTA orange line subway trainsets. At this time a lot of construction of retracking the maintenance building and track work for the storge yard have been Completed, but seams to be a construction yard in side of the maintenance building. if you would like to take a look at the maintenance building and the storge yards at the MBTA Wellington orange line station after leaving the boarding platform head upstairs to the main lobby of the station and straight  head thought till you see a a sign of parking garage and the walkway tunnel over the tracks of the MBTA , I hope you enjoy the view of the MBTA Wellington orange line station.

Ps. also New CRRC Red line Train set have been spotted in the Boston area at JFK/Umass station, unknown at this time where they are being stored or kept by the MBTA.

See ya Trackside!

Steven Provost Webmaster

Posted 3/29/2021

Topic: Story- Shuttle buses replacing service on part of MBTA Orange Line for 3 weeks after derailment

The MBTA is also pulling all its new Orange and Red Line trains from service out of an “abundance of caution” after one of the cars jumped the tracks Tuesday.

Shuttle buses will replace rail service on a stretch of the Orange Line for the next three weeks as the MBTA works to repair damage caused when a train derailed near Wellington Station on Tuesday.

One of the MBTA’s new Orange Line trains was traveling north at a “slow rate of speed,” crossing over to the southbound track to accommodate ongoing track maintenance work, when it derailed just before noon on Tuesday, according to the transit agency. 

While the cause of the derailment has not yet been determined, the MBTA, out of an abundance of caution, will keep its new Orange Line and Red Line cars out of service to allow vehicle engineers to perform a thorough analysis of the cars’ performance,” the transit agency said in a statement. 

The MBTA has been running five of the new six-car trains — four on the Orange Line and one on the Red. 

The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.

March 16,2021 –


(Above )New Greenline to College Ave

The Green Line Extension (GLX) will extend the northern end of the Green Line from Lechmere to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford.

  • Contract awarded: November 2017
  • Projected completion: December 2021
  • Budget: $2.3 billion
  • Status: Construction

GLX will provide service in areas that historically did not have access to fast and reliable public transit. By supporting an increased ridership of more than 50,000 trips per day, this project will significantly reduce vehicle emissions on the road.

What to Expect During Construction

A view of the Lechmere Viaduct stretching north from Boston, with framing for the relocated Lechmere Station on the right

A view of the Lechmere Viaduct stretching north from Boston, with framing for the relocated Lechmere Station on the right

Green Line Service Changes

Starting on May 24, 2020, Green Line service will shut down at Lechmere and Science Park stations for approximately one year while crews work on the Lechmere Viaduct Rehabilitation in conjunction with Green Line Extension work.

During this time, dedicated inbound and outbound bus lanes along Charles River Dam Road will connect Lechmere and North Station, providing continued service for 14,000 Green Line riders.

MBTA Flickr Photos (Green Line- Lechmere branch)

 Cambridge -Green Line Week in review  (Check this out)

Posted March 5, 2021

Topic:See service alerts for Green Line E branch

Topic: MBTA to Offer Two New Online Resources for Reduced Fare Customers

Beginning March 8, 2021, riders requesting a Senior CharlieCard for the first time can now apply online, and Senior/TAP customers can make appointments online.

 Posted March 4, 2021

Topic: Pan Am Southern employment to fall in CSX acquisition of Pan Am Railways

Posted by Trains Magazine

Operator Genesee & Wyoming anticipates a 25% reduction in manpower

WASHINGTON — CSX Transportation’s proposed acquisition of New England regional Pan Am Railways will have a significant impact on employment levels at Pan Am Southern, the joint venture it will share with Norfolk Southern.

Genesee & Wyoming, which has been designated the neutral operator of Pan Am Southern, estimates that it can run the railroad with 25% fewer employees than current operator Springfield Terminal, according to a CSX regulatory filing posted to the Surface Transportation Board website on Wednesday.

Overall, Pan Am Southern employment will drop to 159 employees from the current 214. The biggest cuts are to the maintenance of way, which will be halved, and the shop and signals workforce in East Deerfield, Mass., where employment will fall by more than a third.

The Pan Am Southern consists of about 425 miles of rail lines and trackage rights routes, including the former Boston & Maine mainline between Mechanicville, N.Y., and Ayer, Mass., that provides NS access to New England via its so-called Patriot Corridor. Pan Am Southern also includes the north-south route Pan Am uses between White River Junction, Vt., and its branches in Connecticut via Springfield, Mass.

Pan Am Southern will lose the daily pair of NS intermodal and automotive trains that run between Mechanicville and Ayer. The trains will shift to trackage rights on CSX’s parallel Boston & Albany route and will reach Ayer via Providence & Worcester and Pan Am trackage north of Worcester, Mass.

Genesee & Wyoming will operate and maintain Pan Am Southern under its Pittsburg & Shawmut subsidiary, which will do business as Berkshire & Eastern. Three of G&W’s New England railroads — New England Central, Providence & Worcester, and Connecticut Southern — connect with Pan Am Southern.

NS had sought a neutral operator for Pan Am Southern. CSX and NS will jointly own Pan Am Southern, with NS retaining its 50% share and CSX acquiring Pan Am Railways’ stake. CSX has agreed to sell its stake within seven years if NS “or its assignee” wishes to buy out CSX.

Pan Am subsidiary Springfield Terminal also operates Pan Am Railways. CSX, in its 375-page merger application filed last week, said it “does not anticipate any adverse impacts on Springfield Terminal craft employees allocated to the PAR System.”

That has surprised some observers, who note that duplicate facilities — such as Pan Am’s headquarters in North Billerica, Mass., and the locomotive and car shops in Waterville, Maine — are typically rationalized in end-to-end mergers.

Topic: ‘Satan’ says he was flirting, trying to get a date on the Boston subway

Topic: Deal with port authority is a long-term win for New England Central Railroad Inc.

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief





The Association of American Railroads, in reporting U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 27, 2021, as well as volumes for February 2021, noted that volume took a polar vortex hit.

Topic:Public turns on its town to preserve land pursued by short line railroad

Residents in Hopedale, Mass., are taking their town to court over land they believe should not have been sold to a short line railroad.

Topic: CSX suffers data exposure by hackers

CSX has been the victim of a ransomware attack, which became apparent when screenshots of internal CSX files were posted to a “leak site” yesterday. CSX told FreightWaves that it recently discovered the attack, and the only data stolen, as far as they know, was the personal data of CSX employees, both active and retired.

Topic:MBTA’s Phase 1 work of South Coast Rail is moving along

Phase 1 of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s South Coast Rail construction is alive and well.

Topic :Weekly Rail Traffic: Up, Down, Up

This week’s rail traffic report repeats its familiar pattern

Topic: Plasser & Theurer announces new rail grinding technology

With Plasser & Theurer’s newly developed rail grinding machine for light rail and trams, rail traffic is easy on the ears: trains travel more quietly on ground rails. The world’s first ATMO (Automatic Track Machine Oscillator) was developed as part of Shift2Rail and combines two working methods.

Topic :CSX announces fourth quarter 2020 earnings results

CSX Corp. [yesterday] announced fourth-quarter 2020 net earnings of $760 million, or $0.99 per share. These results include a charge of $48 million, or $0.05 per share after-tax, related to the early retirement of debt.

End of Document