M&B DL16c #1230 semi-permanently mated to battery slug #1266

After the granite quarries stopped shipping by rail in 1999, the remaining business for the Montpelier & Barre Railroad was down to a couple of customers in Berlin (Bombardier had their plant in Barre, but they were in the process of shifting railcar production to their facility in Plattsburg, NY and would close it down for good in 4 years) the PV&T’s long-standing trackage rights on the otherwise-disused trackage from Montpelier to Wells River.

This was enough to keep the railroad alive, but just barely (the MOW crew was reduced to a skeleton – one person & a hirail truck to do inspections, and a tiny budget to hire contractors), so when the last customer in Berlin went away in 2008, the railroad no longer had the money to pay for anything, including renovating the ROW between Berlin and the quarries. So when the last customer switched to shipping directly on the CV, there was nothing left except trackage fees & a bunch of property (including two brand new class J locomotives and the wreck of a third, which was currently lying on its side at the switchback on Sterling Hill Road) and the trackage fees weren’t enough to pay land taxes, bond payments, & the salaries of the owners & remaining staff.

So they filed to abandon the railroad, hoping they could get enough money from the assets to provide a good retirement trust for the remaining staff. This set up a huge furor along the line, because having an – unused, and stripped of most of the overhead wire, but still! – railroad to the quarries had become an institutional sentimental thing in & around Barre. The whole abandonment process slowly proceeded until 2013, when the state reluctantly allowed it (they wanted to get the quarries shipping by rail again, didn’t think there was enough of the M&B to properly do it, and were hoping that the other local railroad would take control of the carcass and repair the line to the quarries.)

The PV&T had been looking nervously at the bankruptcy proceedings, due to the trackage rights between Wells River & Montpelier being an essential part of the Portland ↔ Montréal mainline, and could take this hint.

In August 2013, the Montpelier & Barre Railroad was reorganized as the jointly owned (PV&T & CV) Montpelier & Barre Railway. The line from Montpelier to the quarries is operated by the CV, and the line to Wells River is officially leased to the PV&T and no longer the M&B’s problem..

In 2014(!) the quarries asked the railroad to resume service so they could ship out a bunch of granite scrap, which resulted in the renovation of the line to the quarries, which then went back into service as a diesel shortline (using a brace of RS-11’s for power), and the granite traffic continues to this day.

road number in service class description builder acquired notes
60-61 2 J B+B steeplecab Portland 1998 To CSS 1237-1238
62 1 JX B+B steeplecab Portland 1998 wrecked 2004, rebuilt (as M&B Ry #1239) 2015
1213-1214,1230 3 DL16c RS-11m Alco/ILW 2014 All configured to work with battery sleds or slugs
1241 1 BS1 battery sled ILW 2014 semipermanently coupled to 1230
  • Copyright © 2024 by Jessica L. Parsons (orc@pell.portland.or.us) unless otherwise noted
    Tue Jan 31 12:42:07 PST 2023