Monday, March 24, 2008

Lt. Governor Tim Murphy Rails Against CSX

An article ran in yesterday's The Sunday Globe about Lt. Governor Tim Murphy's expressed displeasure with CSX.

The Lt. Governor said that CSX is
"completely unreasonable" demands in negotiations with the state over efforts to improve commuter rail service in Boston's western suburbs."
Rock on Tim Murphy, rock on!

Negotiations between the state and CSX have stalled because the state wants to be able to hold CSX legally accountable if a commuter rail passenger gets injured due to CSX's negligence.
Murray has been point man in the talks since he entered office last year. The state wants to increase the number of commuter-rail trains and end the delays that have sparked fury among some riders. On-time performance of the commuter rail line linking Worcester and Framingham with Boston was so poor that last month the MBTA created new schedules to reflect the actual travel times, adding as much as 12 minutes. State officials say they could solve the problems by buying tracks owned by CSX and controlling coordination of the freight and commuter trains that share the route.

The dispute could be enough to derail the deal, worth perhaps $300 million to $400 million, to buy some CSX tracks and rights of way. In addition to what it wants to purchase along the Worcester/Framingham line, the state is looking to buy rights of way on CSX tracks through Fall River and along the South Shore, as well as on lines from Allston to Chelsea (also known as Grand Junction).

Murray said under CSX's current negotiating position, the railroad would have only limited liability, being responsible for the tracks and train damage in a collision, even if an employee was found to be drinking or impaired on the job, and exempt from liability for injuries to passengers. He likened it to allowing a shipping company to drive on state highways without any liability for injuries caused by the negligence of their drivers.

Murray said he doesn't want to find the financially beleaguered MBTA in a similar spot, adding, "And we wonder why Amtrak's almost bankrupt?"

In other news, today's commute was fine. The P508 train arrived at Back Bay Station at 8:16 a.m. and South Station at 8:22 a.m.. So we were a minute ahead on our arrival time.

On the walk to my office, I heard these two guys talking about how the door situation seems to be happening again (i.e., only 1 or 2 doors are open on trains and conductors are yelling at passengers who try to open them). I'm not sure what train/line this is on though. But I would like to know.

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