Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A “Hot Mop Up” on tonight’s train noise meeting


We forgot to bring our rose-colored glasses to the meeting tonight, so you’ll just have to take the unadulterated summary we’re ready to provide.  No two-stepping, no lipstick, no musical background.

Here it is:

Takeaway:  Suck it up Brunswick and find a way to cope.  You’re hosed.


1) So called quiet zones are a complex undertaking, and would take years to get approved.  The regulations will quickly make your eyes glaze over, and the acronyms and other govnernment speak will leave you gasping for help from lawyers and consultants.

2) Even if the quiet zones were approved, it wouldn’t end all the train noise.  Train horns blow for two general reasons: to meet operating regulations, and at the discretion of the engineer because of safety challenges, like people on the track, deer crossing, or whatever.

3) Quiet zone approval requires that grade crossings be upgraded and or redesigned.  The cost can me modest up to very high, but since this is fundamenatlly a government undertaking, you should go with high, and that’s for EACH crossing.

4) The total cost of any quiet zone upgrades would be borne by the Town of Brunswick.

5) There will always be other train sounds and horn blowing associated with switching of trains around in the yard and daily testing of the horns inside the building.  Again, horns are blown for a lot more than just grade crossing.

6) Things are only going to get worse; once the $10 million Royal Junction siding is complete, instead of 3 R/T’s per day in and out of Brunswick, there will be 5 R/T’s, and all trains will spend the night in the MLF.  So there will be 5 southbound trains, and 5 northbound trains, with proportionate increase in grade crossings and horn sounds.

7) Once the schedule increases to the 5 R/T’s, if we heard correctly, the earliest departure from Brunswick will be in the 4:00 am hour.  The latest arrival will be in the 1:00 am  hour.  Sorry we don’t have the specific minutes, but the point is that operations will be nearly 24 hours a day.

8) If the proposed summer trips to Rockland become part of the operation, there will be additional train movements, grade crossings, and horn soundings.  If quiet zones were wanted for the added crossings, the cost to the town would increase proportionately.


9) One of the Amtrak folks reminded us how much they contribute to economic development, and how residents all over the Norhteast are clamoring to get Downeaster like service.  He should go sell crazy somewhere else; we’ve already got enough of our own.  He also threw in a plug for all the carbon footprint the train is saving compared to other forms of transportation.  We thought he’d leave a case of Kool-Aid for attendees, but we didn’t see it.

10) NNEPRA’s Patsy Quinn was pretty much silent until it came to touting how closely she stays in touch with her Amtrak contact and our TM.  She never mentions that Amtrak is a sub-contractor to NNEPRA, and as such, she has responsibility for their performance.  It’s easy to surmise that the great big scary outfit from Washington does things the way they want.  NNEPRA owns the MLF, but Amtrak operates it.  We don’t get the sense that NNEPRA feels like they “run a railroad.”  Not much leadership was shown by her, or anyone else, frankly.

11) The failure to use east end MLF access was attributed to needing “interlocks” for the switches, a term that was not explained.  The PanAm rep implied they will be installed before the end of the year.  We’ll follow up to see what these are, and what problem they resolve.

Summary Takeaway:  Everybody promised to “do what they could” to tweak various small things, but the fact is that nothing substantial can be done about any of the problems with noise, or anything else, for that matter.  So as we said, SUCK IT UP, folks!

As to general observations, we were very disappointed in the attendance.  Side expected a full chamber, but we’d be surprised if there were 25 attendees total.

We hereby give Side shout-outs to Councilor Jane Millet, who was quite vocal in expressing concerns she has for town residents and the various problems caused for families.  She even went so far as to say “shame on this town” for allowing things to “get where they are” or something to that effect.  Jane also mentioned that complaints have been received from Topsham residents!

Sarah Brayman chimed in on the same notes, but not to the extent that Jane did.  It seems to us that both are feeling like they “got mugged.”

We’ll follow up with a link to the meeting video, and also post the documents that were presented once we get them.


Other than that, you better double up on your calisthenics.

1 comment:

  1. Freely sorry for you folks. I don’t see a very happy Thanksging for you.