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Re: Lots of material available

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  • Aaron Keller
    ... Main reason the railroad went under is that local government, specifically Gloversville, did not care to have the railroad. Eugene Reppenhagen was mayor
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 1999
      >Was it politics as someone said earlier, a recession, the
      >DO lost interest,or what.

      Main reason the railroad went under is that local government, specifically
      Gloversville, did not care to have the railroad. Eugene Reppenhagen was
      mayor at the time of the abandonment and he did close to nothing to try to
      work to save the line.

      DO has told me that they asked to sit down with city and county governments
      to figure out what could be done to save the line. The City of Gloversville
      in specific was less than helpful. Johnstown was, for a time, thinking of
      rebuilding the line as a tourist railroad, but Fulton County Chamber of
      Commerce and City of Gloversville ended up getting their way.

      I've heard plenty of complaints about DO---people saying they didn't give
      the railroad a decent chance; saying they started focusing more on regional
      container shipping than running shortlines; etc.

      Here's an excerpt from my FJ&G presentation which I've given around
      Gloversville and surrounding communities:
      "Delaware Otsego�s best year on the FJ&G was in 1980. However, the year
      of 1981 produced half the business as did 1980....
      "Business continued to drop off, and 1982 brought half the business of
      1981, or a quarter of 1980�s business. The company was no longer profitable
      [but could pay expenses]. By 1983, business on the FJ&G was not even
      generating enough money to support expenses or pay bills...
      "Two cars were carried on the railroad during the whole month of February
      1984. Regular service was dropped on March 1, 1984."
      (c) Copyright 1995-1999 Aaron Keller

      The last train ran November 27, 1984. Equipment was taken off the line in
      the fall of 1988. The tracks were removed in full by the fall of 1990.

      Interestingly, plans immediately came up in 1990-1991 to use the property
      for Gloversville Transit System storage and for a linear park. Seems
      strange that plans "suddenly" materialized and happened as soon as the
      tracks where torn up.

      DO gave any potential buyers or potential government action almost six years
      to decide to do something with the FJ&G. I consider that rather generous
      since a number of other branches have been just torn up without any time
      period for local debate or action to save the tracks.

      I consider the main reasons the FJ&G left to be as follows, in order from
      most important to least important:

      (1) The general population in Gloversville/Fulton County doesn't care about
      much of anything. Anyone who lives there now realizes this. People stopped
      caring right about when the FJ&G went out. The effects of "chronic
      unemployment" (as Gloversville was described by ABC News) have more
      far-reaching social effects than people would like to think. People didn't
      care that the railroad was dying and their elected politicians echoed that
      feeling... they just let it go.

      (2) There wasn't enough business in Gloversville/Johnstown to warrant a
      freight operation, as I described above. Two cars a month won't cut it.
      Most of the newer, somewhat-major shippers and receivers in Gloversville
      are, in general, companies that rely highly on truck shipments.

      (3) Federal transportation funding practices did not allow any specific
      funding for tourist railroad operation. Had the ISTEA grant system been
      available for the FJ&G, things might have been different. The government is
      currently trying to make transportation funding more equally-distributed
      through allowing intermodal transportation to take a stronger stand against
      highway congestion. These federal programs had not been implemented at the
      time of the FJ&G's demise and, had they been available, the line could have
      probably been operated rather easily as a tourist railroad. It surprises me
      that a local chamber of commerce, which pushes tourism in the region, did
      not think of this sort of thing earlier.

      (4) Delaware Otsego began focusing on its role as a intermodal traffic
      carrier. It didn't put quite as much time into its shortline operations.
      This is rather minor, though, as Walter Rich told me he was "sorry to see
      the railroad go" but did it because he had "no local support."


      >I was caught by surprise I remember, after all the
      >money and upgrades were put into the line.

      This was DO and the State of NY's way to try to save things. Didn't work
      though because it didn't have enough local support.


      There have been studies done on the quality of transportation in
      Gloversville since the railroad left, and they described Gloversville as
      less than favorable, from what I hear.

      Hope this helps sort some things out. I'm sure there are those who disagree
      with this interpretation of events and I'd like to hear from anyone who has
      some more information to throw on the table.

      -Aaron
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