Letter: Conway Branch Railroad Line deserves an honest look

Published: 04-17-2024 3:08 PM

New England’s railroads have been changing in the last few years. CSX has taken over Pan Am Railways, the St. Lawrence and Atlantic is wrapping up an infrastructure upgrade, the Conway Scenic Railroad will begin bussing cruise passengers to the White Mountains, all of which will increase tourism and economic strength in the region, moving freight and showcasing the beauty of NH. Why are we not granting every town the fair choice for these opportunities?

HB 1468 is currently moving through the legislature which seeks to develop a “master plan” for the use of the Conway Branch railroad line. For involving the word “master” it’s not masterfully written, as the text seems to only have trails in mind. This is despite possible freight shippers along the line expressing interest, along with the Conway Scenic Railroad offering to rebuild the tracks to Ossipee.

The focus of removing tracks rather than constructing a trail alongside them goes against the recommendations of the 2012 NH State Rail Plan. If New Hampshire would like to analyze the future of these rails, that’s fine. If, after a fair analysis, it’s found that trails are the best choice, then that’s fine as well. However, restricting the analysis of the line’s usage to a trail focus, especially after funding the St. Lawrence and Atlantic’s track rehabilitation, is unfair and seems to prioritize certain communities over others. NH should take an honest look, with every stakeholder, and make an educated choice.

Jack Duffin


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