There are real concerns that South Coast Rail – when it finally arrives – could pose a "serious danger" to some folks in the area.

Based on current information, it may be a while before we have to worry about that but still, there is cause for concern.

South Coast Rail Director of Community Engagement Jean Fox recently told me there are concerns at the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), of which New Bedford and Fall River are now members, that some folks around these parts might not be knowledgeable enough to keep from being biffed by a moving train.

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It's not that we're rubes or anything, but we are not accustomed to seeing speeding trains whizzing past us on the much under-utilized train tracks that pass through the area.

"We are seeing lots of folks using the right-of-way for recreational purposes, including walking, biking, and riding ATVs and dirt bikes," Fox said.

"Some cross the tracks to get from point A to point B. Others use the right-of-way as a dump," she said. "Whatever their reasons for being there, they should not be on or near tracks."

MBTA Fears South Coast Rail Could Pose 'Serious Danger' To Some
Jean Fox/Linkedin Photo

"When the faster test trains start up, anyone nearby could be in serious danger," Fox said. "We have a number of narrow areas for which there is little wiggle room for someone walking or otherwise recreating near the tracks."

"Those on motorized vehicles won't be able to hear the trains, and it is very difficult for anyone to determine the direction in which a train is moving," she said.

"The right-of-way is not public property. Being in that area is considered trespassing," Fox said. "I have serious concerns about people placing themselves in harm's way."

South Coast Rail was supposed to begin last fall but was delayed until July 2024. The Standard-Times reported Fox told a recent public meeting in Fall River, "I wish I could give you an answer today. I could probably tell you July is unlikely."

The MBTA recently announced that a new project manager had been hired and stated a new timeline for the project is unavailable at this time.

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On December 31, 2023, Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver, Massachusetts celebrated an entire Christmas season running exclusively steam trains with a Double-Headed Steam Special, with Engine 3 and Engine 11 working in tandem to take a train out to parts of the park not usually seen.

Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg

Palmer, Massachusetts Is a Train Town and You Can Sleep in This Caboose

The town of Palmer, Massachusetts is definitely a railroad town, with many businesses related to or named because of the the trains that pass through town. One of them, the Steaming Tender Restaurant, has refurbished a 1947 Bangor Aroostook Caboose that you can rent out through Airbnb. Let's take a look at what it has to offer.

Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg

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