NEGS/PLL: White Mtn. Line Gets (Some) New Ties

NHDOT Affirms Railroads' Value to the State with Small, but Meaningful Tie Job to Retain Reliable Class 3 Conditions Along 73-Mile Stretch.

22 April, Lincoln NH – The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has committed nearly $1 million for the acquisition and installation of 12,000 railroad ties and surfacing work on the 73-mile White Mountain Branch. The upgrade will encourage increased freight traffic along the entire 73-mile corridor, and ensure safe movements on the non-regular sections of the scenic train operations.

As many as 9,000 ties will be installed on the PLL (Plymouth & Lincoln Railroad) right-of-way between Lochmere — Lincoln NH trackage that does not normally host tourist train operations from either the Hobo Railroad or the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. Both of those roughly 10-mile segments are in solid Class 1 (10 mph minimum) shape.

New England Southern Railroad will also benefit from roughly 3,000 ties being installed on their 22-mile portion of the White Mountain Branch from Concord to North Tilton.

Tilton NH

NEGS 2555 (SW1500) works its way through downtown Tilton pulling six loads of railroad ties and two clay slurry cars on 22.April. The railroad’s first run of the 2020 season was one of its longest merchandise trains in several years. The slurry cars were dropped at 3M’s specialty paper plant in Tilton, and the tie loads were brought to Lochmere (North Tilton), to be handed off to the Plymouth & Lincoln to supply the NHDOT White Mountain Branch tie-upgrade project running from Concord to Lincoln {Photo and caption by Jay Gadon.}

The project is scheduled to begin on 19.May in Lincoln, working south, and wrapping up ~09.June. The work is being performed under state contract by the NBM Rail Services. Spring-season COVID-19 tourist train suspensions will speed up the project. Scenic train operations are hoping to resume in mid-Summer.

The project includes a contested stretch of trackage through Laconia, where some rail-to-trail proponents have been seeking removal of the track between Laconia to Weirs Beach, to extend the WOW ( W innisquam- O pechee- W innipesaukee) Trail as a recreation-only corridor. In August 2019, the Laconia City Council agreed to commission a study to examine the pros and cons of extending the next to, or in place of, the railroad tracks that follow the shoreline of Paugus Bay.

According to the study by Alta Planning + Design of Cambridge, MA, the 2.5-mile trail, which proponents want to extend another four miles into Weirs Beach, would generate over $6 million annually in visitor spending.

Benjamin Clark, president of the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, cited a recent study by Stone Consulting Inc. of Warren, Pa., reporting the railroad yields more than $17.4 million in economic impact annually, and supports 380 full-time jobs in the region. {New Hampshire Union Leader}