Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Different Shades of Blue, June 28 2010

Today's train of thought takes us to the former textile mill town of Lawrence in northeastern Massachusetts. Although a shadow of its former self, Lawrence remains something of a transportation hub- even if most of the people are just passing through- with I-93 and I-495 meeting just outside the city while the old Boston & Maine line through town sees daily MBTA commuter trains and more recently, Amtrak's Downeaster service between Boston's North Station and Portland, ME (although the latter doesn't stop in Lawrence).

To accommodate regular passenger service, the track and signaling on the former B&M Freight Main were upgraded considerably to accommodate higher speeds and more frequent trains (up to 5 daily Boston-Portland round trips for the Downeaster alone).

With that in mind, the Pan-Am Freight Main between Portland and Lawrence serves as a conduit for inbound cement, pulp, clay products and chemicals and outbound paper from the state of Maine. While the improvements to the Boston-Portland line were made nearly a decade ago, more recent improvements to the old B&M West end underwritten by Norfolk Southern (in exchange for access to markets in Boston and elsewhere in New England) over the past couple of years has helped expedite freight into and out of New England.

Here, railpictures.net contributor Matt Rooks caught Pan Am Rail SD40-2s #609 and 607 leaning into a curve as it heads southbound- westbound as far as the railway is concerned- with symbol freight WAED (WAterville, ME to East Deerfield, MA) in early May 2010. Both units are former TFM (Transportes Ferrovias Mexicano) with the #607 still wearing the two-tone blue with red trim of the Mexican national railways.

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