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Proposed Newport, RI - Fall River Rail Shuttle

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The RI DoT has posted on their website (under the Intermodal page) a study from mid-2002 looking at the possibility of resuming scheduled passenger rail service on the Aquidneck Island Secondary Rail Line. Currently, the Newport Dinner Train and an excursion train operate seasonly on this line at 15 mph from Newport thru the navy base to around the Middletown/Portsmouth border. The Sakonnet River Bridge connecting Aquidneck Island to Fall River is damaged and out of service.

A rail shuttle using a couple of DMU cars or diesel LRVs is proposed for either an on-island transit line or as a shuttle connector operating between Newport and Fall River with a cross platform transfer to the MBTA commuter rail trains (which should hopefully in a few years be running between Fall River & Boston). The shuttle between Newport & Fall River would require a new rail Sakonnet River bridge estimated to cost $30 million for a total cost of $70 million (approx. $40 million of an on-island rail line). The study also looked at improvements to the line just for the existing dinner/excursion operation (w/ no transit service). A rail with trail bicycle path has been studied along most of the corridor in all options. Most of the proposed line would be single track with a few sidings. The Newport terminus would have 3 tracks.

A busway was considered but was eliminated as a possible option because of the wide RoW it would require.

RIDOT Intermodal Page (with the complete report including photos in pdf) :

http://www.dot.state.ri.us/WebTran/index.html

Possible Stations:

Fall River

Tiverton

Portsmouth - Anthony Rd.

Portsmouth - Mt. Hope

Portsmouth - Melville (w/ possible Maintainance Yard)

Middletown - Ranger Rd./Coddington Cove/Navy Base (possible CCRI location)

Newport - Gateway Center

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This sounds a lot like New Jersey's RiverLine. I believe the RiverLine is also single track along large portions and uses DMUs.

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Sweet map! I could also see another branch of this LRV line running via Route 6 between Fall River and New Bedford, of course that wouldn't be RIDoT.

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That would make a lot of sense, but I think it would require a new bridge into Fall River. The East Bay Bike Path could be used as the RoW between Providence and Warren but then I believe it would have to run on a long abandoned right of way towards Fall River, I'm not too sure how intact this portion is. Maybe LRT down to Bristol???

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RI News Channel was reporting on this yesterday, and I kept missing the report and not being able to pay attention to it. But I want to say they were hoping to have something running between Newport and Portsmouth next summer. They still need local, state, and federal approvals though. I don't know who was planning to run it, state, private???

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OK, here's some actual information, not just stuff from my feeble memory:

Rail line wants to add shuttle

By Sean Flynn/Daily News staff

NEWPORT - The owners of the Newport Dinner Train hope to begin construction of a new train station at 19 America's Cup Ave. this fall as part of a plan to operate a new Islander Shuttle Train by the beginning of May 2007, or sooner, if possible.

Continue reading at: Newport Daily News

This is pretty stunning that a private firm wants to invest in a commuter rail line. I wonder if there are other areas where private firms would find it advantageous to create rail lines.

Another way to draw customers from southeastern Mass. would be to have a Block Island ferry running out of Newport.

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This is wonderful news.

I just hope the tracks can improved because last time I rode it the train went about 10 mph. I cant imagine their being too much ridership but if a private company is willing to finance most of the cost apparently there must be. I wonder what light weight diesel car they are talking about? A brand new car costs $2-3 million each, I doubt they would have that kind of money even with state grants. The students at the boarding school, Portsmouth Abbey will love this.

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I am surprised there are no plans for other stations. The entrance to the navy base makes a lot of sense like at Admiral Kalbfus Road since its near a big shopping center and walking distance to Newport Grand casino.

Cotuit, this might be good to post in the MBTA or New England Railfan forums at www.railroad.net, it would be interesting to see what they have to say about it.

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Another way to draw customers from southeastern Mass. would be to have a Block Island ferry running out of Newport.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

A few years back there was a Providence (India Point Park) to Block Island ferry that stopped in Newport.

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A few years back there was a Providence (India Point Park) to Block Island ferry that stopped in Newport.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That would be ideal. As we increase our hotel space and bring in more conventions, a Providence-Block Island ferry should really be looked at. I know as a Providence resident without a car, I'd rather take a boat from PVD then try to find a way to South County to catch a boat to the island.

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That would be ideal. As we increase our hotel space and bring in more conventions, a Providence-Block Island ferry should really be looked at. I know as a Providence resident without a car, I'd rather take a boat from PVD then try to find a way to South County to catch a boat to the island.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

A few years ago there WAS a ferry which ran from India Point Park to Newport to Block Island. It stopped because of a lack of interest. But the ferry STILL runs between Newport and Block Island http://www.blockislandferry.com/

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A few years ago there WAS a ferry which ran from India Point Park to Newport to Block Island. It stopped because of a lack of interest. But the ferry STILL runs between Newport and Block Island http://www.blockislandferry.com/

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didn't even realize, I thought the only Block Island boat was out of Galilee.

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That sounds good, but I have to wonder about the grade issues, especially on the Tiverton side. The bridge approach is a good 80-100 feet above the railroad ROW, and reworking that might end up costing more than building a new railroad bridge would.

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That sounds good, but I have to wonder about the grade issues, especially on the Tiverton side. The bridge approach is a good 80-100 feet above the railroad ROW, and reworking that might end up costing more than building a new railroad bridge would.

Light Rail doesn't need the same grade as typical rail, though I don't know if the current design of the new Sakonnett River Bridge would work. I would imagine so, have you seen some of the hills the green line climbs in Boston on Comm. Ave.?

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why not looking to re-use the old bridge for light rail only purporses?? Could be cheaper than re-designing the new one, building a new rail bridge and demolishing the old one...

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why not looking to re-use the old bridge for light rail only purporses?? Could be cheaper than re-designing the new one, building a new rail bridge and demolishing the old one...

If you're referencing the current Route 24 bridge: it's a bit wide for light rail, and doesn't link up to the right-of-way very well at all. It's designed for a four-lane divided highway. And besides, it's falling down. Rhode Island has one of - if not the - worst records for bridge maintenance in the nation.

If you're referencing the current rail bridge: the Coast Guard determined that it is a hazard to navigation, and it is. They want it torn down. Going through there on a boat is like kayaking through rapids. It's dangerous. :shok:

I'm guessing that the hope is when/if the MBTA or other rail providers express interest in restarting passenger service between Newport and Fall River, then a new rail bridge will be constructed where the old one is being torn down. Eventually. :unsure:

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If you're referencing the current Route 24 bridge: it's a bit wide for light rail, and doesn't link up to the right-of-way very well at all. It's designed for a four-lane divided highway. And besides, it's falling down. Rhode Island has one of - if not the - worst records for bridge maintenance in the nation.

If you're referencing the current rail bridge: the Coast Guard determined that it is a hazard to navigation, and it is. They want it torn down. Going through there on a boat is like kayaking through rapids. It's dangerous. :shok:

I'm guessing that the hope is when/if the MBTA or other rail providers express interest in restarting passenger service between Newport and Fall River, then a new rail bridge will be constructed where the old one is being torn down. Eventually. :unsure:

OK then, that kills my idea. Didn't think the old Sakonnet river bridge was THAT bad. Thanks for the insight!

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A question on the DMU's - are there any DMUs that would be able to operate on this line? To my knowledge, the only FRA compliant DMU is the Colorado Railcar, and that has some pretty bad operating costs associated with it. I love the idea of using them, but has anyone really come up with a viable DMU? And if not, doesn't this kind of kill the idea?

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There are some diesel light rail cars which probably would work since the route would not be shared with freight rail. For an example of these vehicles check out the Southern New Jersey Light Rail line between Trenton and Camden. I think the difference between diesel light rail and DMUs is the capacity, weight, heavy duty construction and crash-worthiness.

I would be interested how much more it would cost to improve the line to allow the MBTA commuter trains to run all the way into Newport avoiding a transfer in Fall River.

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Hi all -

Any talk of upgrading the rail line to Newport has been squashed at the local level:

http://www.eastbayri.com/story/300457067617553.php

There's a number of environmental and NIMBY groups locally that will simply do anything to stop any rail line expansion into Newport County. There is a group on Aquidneck Island that wants to turn the rail line on the island into a bike path as well.

The process to convert the rail right-of-way to a bike path has been going on for some time now...rail line extension has no future in East Bay.

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