G&U: Completes Line Rebuild, Connects South With CSX

Grafton & Upton Drives Golden Spike to Celebrate Reconnection with CSX/MBTA Milford/Franklin Secondary, with Plans to Lease and Develop the 16-Mile Stretch.

18.June, Hopedale MA — Hopedale MA G&U celebrated the completion of track building on its entire historical ROW, with a Golden Spike ceremony connecting the south end of its line to CSX and MBTA. The ~8,000 ft of Class III mainline track from Hopedale to Milford ( completed 12.June – Ed. ) restores a segment of railroad last saw service in the early 1980’s, and the track was mostly removed after 2009 to rehabilitate the roadbed.

Milford MA

Golden spike marks return of rail service between Hopedale and Milford via G&U main line. In 2009, G&U was acauired by First Colony Development, initiating a rebuild of the line between Grafton to Hopedale. The condition of the Hopedale – Milford stretch precluded completing the rebuild at the time. G&U pulled most of the ~two miles of track (85# rail), and started by rehabilitating the roadbed. The new track is 115#, and rated at 286K {Jennifer Al-Beik}.

Planning and preparation

In his management report on the Milford project, G&U General Manager John DeWaele wrote, “During the Q4 2019 project planning phase, GU coordinated all materials, equipment, and services needed to undertake construction of the Hopedale to Milford segment [in the Spring 2020, including seven] thousand tons of stone, nearly 1,000 relay ties, and other GU materials reclaimed from other locations. These were delivered to the site by GU’s own equipment. Vendors delivered 4,800 additional ties. Also in the past year, GU reconstructed the Hopedale St. steel bridge to 286K capacity (with outside help).

The Milford project kicked-off on 2.March.2020 after more than a year of planning and engineering. Preliminary work in the Fall of 2019 included construction and installation of two 115# No. 10 turnouts, realignment of the main, and laying of a 1,600 ft run-around in Hopedale, to serve as a staging area for the Milford project, due to the narrow ROW in Milford. The run-around will support future switching.

After completion of the run-around track, GU started its 8,000 ft march to Milford. Cropped and drilled rail was arrayed along the ROW; ties were set; rail was spiked; ballast was dumped and spread. GU used their own equipment and manpower to perform all job functions associated with building the new track.

First and goal

Reaching Milford, GU rebuilt a two-track grade crossing, timing the asphalt contractors to minimize delays to crossing traffic. Another 115# No. 10 switch was installed off the interchange, in order to maintain prospects for the Milford yard. Finally, in coordination with Keolis Commuter Services, the GU mainline was tied into a switch on the Milford Secondary (owned by CSX, leased to MBTA for Franklin line commuter service).

This connection, completing the nearly 2 miles of new construction, reopened freight service beyond Hopedale for the GU to lease freight rights to 16 miles of CSX track from Milford to Franklin, giving GU more customers and land to develop for new railroad customers.

Building customers, teams, partnerships

In the midst of the Milford reach, GU landed Ciment Quebec to the Hopedale facility as a railroad customer. This included building 700 ft of new track, installing a new switch, all which was done by GU staff and equipment within a three-week period. GU completed this work and was able to refocus on the Hopedale to Milford segment. GU has also secured Charah fly ash and a glass recycler as new customers.

At the Golden Spike ceremony, DeWaele emphasized that the accomplishment was a true team effort by the entire G&U community: “The project was made possible through our dedicated staff of railroad maintenance of way and construction employees. Further, GU’s project manager and Roadmaster with over three (3) decades of construction experience as well as equipment operators; not only for this project, but the future projects GU intends to complete in coming years. We’ve developed a diversified staff of highly experienced individuals.”

On 23.June, with Worcester line service suspended for signal work, the new G&U track carried two MBTA trainsets to/from Boston for maintenance. Once at Milford the train entered the lightly used former New Haven line, and proceeded to Boston via the Franklin Line.

{G&U Manager’s Notice of Completion, John DeWaele,12.June.2020; editor’s correspondence with G&U President Michael Milanoski, 25.June.2020.}