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  • Providence & Worcester


    Railroad Focus

    In 150 years, Providence & Worcester has grown from a scrappy upstart to one of New England's most successful railroads. The familier lines of P&W B23-7 2201 glint in the sun at Worcester, Massachusetts, in January 1989.
    RailNews - February 1998 - Page 76

    Sesquicentennarian and regional railroad Providence & Worcester has come a long way since its humble pre-Civil War beginnings. The 44-mile railroad opened between its namesake cities in 1847. Through a lease agreement, control of P&W was shifted to the New Haven in 1892. After years of turmoil and financial difficulties brought on by lean economics in New England, the New Haven was transferred to Penn Central in 1968. When Penn Central wanted to abandon the mostly dormant P&W portion in 1969, P&W share holders and management expressed their desire to operate the line. These individuals realized that a profit could be made by catering to the demands of a changing rail market in the area. Although P&W claimed autonomy that same year and started separate operations in 1973, full independence from PC was not achieved until a chaotic string of legal battles came to an end in 1977. During the next 20 years, P&W expanded its service territory through agreements with Conrail, Boston & Maine, and Moshassuck Valley. Most notably, the company gained a railroad monopoly in Rhode Island when it purchased all lines within the state from Conrail in 1982. While the railroad presently owns only one-third of the trackage it operates on, it does provide freight service on routes it does not own. Vital trackage rights connect the P&W system and grant access to key gateways.

    Between 1968 and 1978, P&W paid no stock dividends to free capital for major improvements. Even though dividends are paid to shareholders at present, P&W continues to spend a large amount of capital on renewal of physical plant and infrastructure. Included are the construction of two major online facilities that the company hopes will generate a substantial amount of traffic during the next 10 years. A high volume of the company's traffic passes through the 1987-built Massachusetts Port of Worcester, the largest in the region. Containerized goods from the western U.S. and the Far East are channeled through the facility for distribution to New England customers by P&W. Equally as important is the yet unfinished deep-water port located at East Providence, Rhode Island. In 1997, Providence & Worcester celebrated 150 years of existence as a railroad company and another year as one of the region's most colorful and successful carriers.

    A former Delaware & Hudson RS-3 pilots a southbound P&W freight at Blackstone, Massachusetts, during the carrier's first year of operation-1973.
    RailNews - February 1998 - Page 77

    Article Details

    • Original Author RailNews Staff
    • Source RailNews
    • Publication Date February 1998

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