G&W’s New England Central Railroad (NECR) is nearing completion of a long-awaited upgrade to handle 286,000-pound railcars on the southern end of its mainline. And a new NECR waste customer is awaiting the chance to load more material in every carload it ships.

The $10.5 million project has been moving forward since September 2015, when federal and state officials secured an $8.2 million TIGER grant to upgrade NECR’s lines in Connecticut from the older 263,000-pound railcar standard. NECR contributed an additional $2.3 million to the effort, part of the roughly $1.5 billion it has invested in its lines company-wide over the past five years. 

The first new NECR customer to take significant advantage of the upgrade will be CWPM, LLC, which is putting the finishing touches on a new $5 million facility along the NECR at New London, Conn. CWPM will begin shipping cars from the new site during the second quarter, but is looking forward to the ability to load cars up to the 286,000-standard.

“CWPM has been supportive of the NECR upgrades and has helped lobby for the increase to 286K,” said Jason Manafort, CWPM’s President. “CWPM is looking forward to the start-up of our New London Transfer Station and then for the increase to 286K ratings for NECR tracks to CSX at Palmer, Mass. The shift to 286K helps us remain competitive!”

CWPM, which operates a similar facility on G&W’s Connecticut Southern Railroad (CSO) about 50 miles east in Berlin, Conn., had been run a hauling company in the New London market for more than a decade, but did not have an associated facility to load rail. Working with G&W’s marketing and real estate teams, CWPM was able to acquire and develop a parcel of former railroad property just north the Port of New London. Manafort noted that local officials were also very supportive of the project to develop the long-idle property. CWPM will use an initial fleet of more than 50 railcars to ship out both construction and demolition debris (C&D) and municipal solid waste (MSW). 

“CWPM is already a customer on CSO and we have a great relationship with the staff. Our expectation in working with NECR will be no different,” Manafort said. “The staff on NECR and the G&W Industrial Development team have been attentive and helpful with all aspects of the project.”

Since the mid-2000s, state and federal governments and G&W have invested more than $80 million to modernize the NECR line in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. One of the last remaining pieces in the full upgrade from the Canadian border to the Port of New London will be a $30 million project to address 31 miles of track in Massachusetts. Federal and state officials launched this effort last December with announcement of a $10.8 million federal BUILD grant will be combined with $9.6 million from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and $9.6 million from NECR to fund the project.