Thursday, November 6, 2014

Même les Français ont des problèmes avec le MLF*


As we’ve told you in the past, Side is your archetypical engineer, which means our foreign language skills are virtually non-existent, along with our grasp of cultures elsewhere. 

So much so that we aren’t even sure whether the name “Davis” is French.  But we assume that it must be, because an item we came across in today’s press says the author lives in South Paris (‘Sooth Paree?’)  You’ll find it here:

Please read it.  To tempt you to do so, here are some pithy excerpts:

That this structure is vital to increasing ridership and adding more trains to the schedule is hogwash.

Any passenger department head knows it is steadily increasing ridership that puts more trains on the rails. And now that the novelty of service to Brunswick has worn off, the 120 people or so who trackside observers initially noted riding each train have dwindled to an average of 35 or fewer per run – so let’s not use Boston-to-Portland figures to assert that ridership is strong and growing.

No efficiently managed railroad ever expended hundreds of thousands, let alone millions of dollars in revenue earnings or subsidy monies erecting barns to house complete train consists during layovers at turn-around terminals.


As to a letter by Ms. Quinn, written in response to an August Sun Journal op-ed, citing the “net cost” of the Downeaster’s cafe cars: No one’s ever starved to death on a short-haul, 140-mile, three-hour trip. I’ve been privy to a few board meetings in my time, and any divisional passenger head proudly congratulating their chief of dining car services for “operating … with a net cost of only $160,000 last year” would quickly be scrubbing pots and pans for the cook on an extra gang far north of North Bay.


Sorry, Ms. Quinn, but your concept is no way to run a railroad – not even a basement model layout.


As long as we have your attention, we thought this might be a good time to update you on Downeaster service anomalies caused by ties.

Roughly four weeks ago, this was the published notice:

Construction Alert

10/10/14 Update

Beginning Tuesday October 14, mid-day trains to/from some locations may be modified or cancelled due to tie replacement on the railroad.

During construction periods:

  • Trains 680, 682, 685, 687, 688 and 689 will NOT be impacted. 
  • Trains 681 and 684 will operate on a modified schedule to some stations with discounted fares available.
  • Trains 683 and 686 are will to be cancelled.

Weekend trains will not be impacted.

We checked today, and found this update from a few days ago (Monday.)  Once again, attention to detail inspires confidence.

PRIORITY ALERT: Track work to cause Downeaster delays

Due to continuing track maintenance work, all Downeaster trains are experienceing (sic) delays of approximately 45-60 minutes.  Please check your particular train's status by using the button below or by calling 1-800-872-7245 and say "Train status".

PRIORITY ALERT: Track Maintenance extended to November 14th

Updated 11/3/14- Weekday trains 683 and 686 will be cancelled during this time frame. Trains 681 and  684 will run on a modified schedule and will not service all stations. All other trains will run according to the regular schedule. For details please got to

Call us skeptical, but we have a hunch another “PRIORITY ALERT” will be forthcoming somewhere around Friday, November 14.  Progressive disclosure is always appropriate in such circumstances. 

Apologies for the double entendre; we’ve been learning French while drafting this post.  One word at a time, right? 

Grâce au ciel, pour penser les gens.

* Ed Note: The English translation of the title is: “Even the French have problems with the MLF.”

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