03.July, Carver MA – The Mass Coastal Railroad issued a System-Wide declaration that the lines support 286,000 Lb Gross Weight (286K) on rail. The final piece of the puzzle was the verification and official declaration of the North East Corridor between Mansfield and Attleboro MA. This project has been over 5 years in the making and Mass Coastal has worked with its partners MASSDOT-Rail, MBTA, and CSXT.
The 263K limits on MCR’s lines had been track & bridge restrictions between Framingham MA and Mansfield MA, and timetable restrictions over MBTA-owned and Amtrak controlled properties. These restrictions and limitations have been overcome.
Must meet the national standard
In the United States, the ability for Class I freight railroads to carry is the industry standard. In order for Mass Coastal to maintain an efficient, economical service on the South Coast rail lines the infrastructure must be consistent with the nation-wide 286,000 Lb gross weight (286K) track capacity standard.
In the past 12 years, all new rail cars have been constructed to 286K capacity ( cars meeting the more recent 315K capacity standard are also in production – Ed. ). An unfortunate by-product of the newer standard is that there remains substantial track mileage that only meets the past 263K standard, or even less. That means that any car traveling over any length of substandard track anywhere along its route must be “light-loaded,” wasting valuable potential shipping capacity. In most cases, the transportation costs to move the light loaded cars are not discounted to compensate for the decreased carried weight.
More rail capacity = more competitive customers
Many MCR customers have expressed the need to ship and receive full-weight cars. The bulk of the rail industry has upgraded to the higher track standard, and is carrying the larger rail cars. Unfortunately many New England lines are on the “periphery” of the national rail system, and struggle to find the resources to upgrade, even though universal 286K track and greater payload is a key element of mutual success for other railroads and shippers.
MC customers have communicated the need for 286K capacity to handle to following commodities;
- Frozen Seafood
- Feed Ingredients (corn, canola, soybeans)
- Scrap Metal
- Lubricating Oil
- New Bedford Harbor-PCB Project
An important customer
The United States Government has reaffirmed that the Otis Air Base/MMR remains part of the Strategic Rail Access Network (2018). This designation imposes several capacity and clearance requirments, including 286K track.
Economic Benefits of 286K
- Shipper cost savings which result from shifts from high tons-per-mile modes (e.g. truck) to rail’s lower TPM, and/or improved service on existing routes.
- Congestion relief for trucking as hfreight traffic is diverted from highways.
- Logistics efficiency resulting from better travel time and supply chain reliability.
- Reduced public costs for highway maintenance.