Whipps, Comerford meet with PanAm officials

  • Thousands of railroad ties such as these cast aside the train tracks near the Athol Water Treatment Plant, are in the process of being removed. —File/Deborrah Porter

Staff Report
Published: 4/3/2019 1:00:42 PM

ATHOL — At the start of the week, State Representative Susannah Whipps and State Senator Jo Comerford joined with local leaders including Royalston Selectperson, Deb D’Amico; Athol Town Manager, Shaun Suhoski; and Athol Fire Chief, Joseph Guarnera, in a meeting with Pan Am officials regarding:

■ Reducing train idling time

■ Necessary clean up of rail ties

■ Re-staring passenger rail along the Route 2 corridor

■ Capacity building for local first responders

Pan AM, Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano and a colleague charged with engineering and scheduling represented the railway at the meeting held in Rep. Whipps’ Athol office.

During the meeting, Pan Am officials noted that they are in the midst of removing thousands of old rail ties cast aside along the tracks. This is a necessary fire precaution measure.

Officials also indicated a willingness to work with communities affected by train idling, agreeing to keep idling to a minimum and look for locations that are not densely populated.

Meeting participants also discussed legislative interest in re-starting passenger rail along the Route 2 corridor from North Adams to Boston in light of legislation to study the feasibility filed by Sen. Comerford (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2054), as well as up-coming training opportunities for regional first responders to build their capacity to interface effectively with the railroad and rail contents.

Rep. Whipps noted, “I‘m very pleased to have had the opportunity to sit with decision makers at Pam Am to discuss concerns among our communities. I‘m feeling confident that our voices were heard and that Pan Am is willing to address these concerns. I’m also very grateful to have a partner like Senator Comerford who is dedicated to building an atmosphere of communication and collaboration throughout the district.”

Sen. Comerford added, “I’m delighted to join forces with Representative Whipps and local officials in charting a strong relationship with Pan Am officials on behalf of our constituents. Monday’s conversation was a strong first step and I’m grateful to everyone who participated.”

Constituents who wish to engage on this issue should reach out to Susannah.Whipps@mahouse.gov and Jo.Comerford@masenate.gov.


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