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Regular Meetings of Mass Bay RRE

Program Meetings are held, unless otherwise noted, at 8:00 PM on the Third Thursday of the month at the Union Church in Waban, 14 Collins Road, Newton, MA. These feature programs with speakers knowledgeable about railroad operations, history and travel. Upcoming programs are listed below.

On the first Tuesday of each month we hold a more informal social gathering: FIRST TUESDAY. This is where we usually prepare a trip flyer or our monthly newsletter, the Callboy, for mailing. These sessions are also held at the Union Church in Waban, starting rather casually about 7:00 PM and are usually followed by an impromptu slide show or video program unless there is a Board meeting or the work session runs unusually late. Members and non-members alike are welcome.

For last minute updates or meeting cancellations in bad weather, please call our information line at 978-470-2066.

Third Thursday Monthly Program Meetings
(Held at the Union Church in Waban unless otherwise noted.)

Be sure to join us for an informal Social Hour with light snacks and beverages,
starting at 7:00 PM before every Third Thursday program meeting!

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 8:00 PM at the Union Church in Waban:

Tony Fitzherbert presents:
‘Emerging Commuter Rail Lines in the USA and Canada’

Tony Fitzherbert has been a railfan since age 6 when he lived in Belmont, and discovered Type 5 cars on the Harvard Waverly Line on Trapelo Road. His first ride on the Cambridge - Ashmont line clinched my primary hobby. The railfan hobby has many niches, and Tony's interests are limited to commuter rail, regional rail, rapid transit, and light rail operations. He has taken probably about 25,000 slides and now digital pictures, mostly of rapid transit and commuter rail subjects.

Metrolink bicycle carTony’s Third Thursday program, “Emerging Commuter Rail Lines” (that is the second generation, excluding the established ones such as the B&M, the NY area lines, the Philly Lines, and those of Chicago, and San Francisco) will cover the likes of AMT, Go Transit, the West Coast Express, Shore Line East, the Coaster, the Champlain Flyer (which vanished after two years), MARC, VRE, Tri-Rail, the Rail Runner, Front Runner, Metrolink (bicycle car in picture at right), Trinity Railway Express, and more). Tony has ridden and photographed every commuter rail line except the Music City Star, North Star, Denton County Trains, and Capital Metro, and is planning another exploration in early August.

Frontliner train at ProvoTony’s program will highlight some of the unique and varied operations of commuter rail systems. For example, on the UTA Frontrunner trains (left, at Provo) between Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo, the Train Operator (the “engineer” on most railroads) will close the train doors and depart, and the Train Host will pass through the cars greeting passengers and asking them if they have questions and concerns (honest!) On some commuter trains, this person would be known as the "conductor" and would be announcing stations and collecting fares. In talking with one “train host,” she was amazed that any commuter railroad would employ people to walk through a train to collect tickets. Frontrunner is a proof of payment system – UTA police randomly board trains to check tickets, which are sold in vending machines at each station, and failure to have a valid ticket results in a citation and a $275 fine.

Tony FitzherbertAfter earning a degree in Transportation Management from NYU in 1970, and following a 3-year stint in the U.S. Army, graduate school, and a brief tenure with Con Edison, Tony Fitzherbert began his railroad career at Conrailin 1977 as a training officer in the newly-formed management development department. In 1982, during a Conrail downsizing, Tony went to Conrail's Metropolitan Region (now Metro-North) as the regional personnel manager. In 1983, Metro-North took over the Met region, and Tony became the Employment Officer, for the start-up railroad. In that job he hired a lot of railroad enthusiasts (for the most part they were highly motivated and very apt to stay with the company) and former military people, who brought maturity, a sense of responsibility, and discipline with them.

He eventually transferred to the Training Department at Metro-North, where he truly enjoyed 19 years of doing safety, new hire, customer service, maintenance of way and conductor training, open houses, tours of GCT, and hosting special trains for railfans (yes, they ran a few and they made money). Essentially Tony was paid to share my enthusiasm for the railroad with many other people through the years. That was an employment match made in heaven!!! Tony retired in 2006, and with his wife Anne to Campton, NH, where he can indulge himself in another big hobby, hiking (photo above: Tony with his dog Keelie at the summit of Mt. Lafayette).

Thursday, August 17, 2017, 7:30 PM at the Union Church in Waban:

‘Tracks across Continents, Paths through History’ with Douglas Puffert

Tracks Across ContinentsA standard track gauge – the distance between the two rails – enables connecting railway lines to exchange traffic. But despite the benefits of standardization, early North American railways used six different gauges extensively, and even today breaks of gauge at national borders and within such countries as India and Australia are expensive burdens on commerce. In Tracks across Continents, Paths through History, Douglas J. Puffert offers a global history of railway track gauge, examining early choices and the dynamic process of diversity and standardization that resulted.

Based on his 2009 book of the same name, Dr. Puffert’s program will trace how early historical events, and even idiosyncratic personalities, have affected choices of gauge ever since, despite changing technology and understandings of what gauge is optimal.

Gavin Wright of Stanford University comments: “In this ingenious and compelling work, Douglas Puffert shows how much ‘history mattered’ for the standardization of railway gauge. The book is rigorously analytical, but the analysis never stands in the way of a good story. Tracks across Continents is rich with good railway-gauge stories.”

Douglas PuffertDouglas Puffert is Associate Professor of Economics and Business at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. He joined the Gordon faculty in 2013 after teaching at the Universities of Munich, Berlin (Humboldt), and Warwick, and most recently at The King’s College (New York). Early in his career he consulted for the World Bank on social security in less developed countries, and he worked six years for the U.S. International Trade Commission in researching the effects of technological change on the international competitive position of American industry.

More broadly, he is an expert on the economics of technological change, both historical and contemporary. Much of his research has been on the economic coordinating role of technical standards.


Thursday, September 21, 2017, 7:30 PM at the Union Church in Waban:

Program to be announced

Meeting speakers always wanted! Brad Harding, Mass Bay RRE's Program Coordinator, is now developing our Summer & Fall 2017 program of speakers. To offer or suggest a program, email Brad at lbharding@verizon.net

 First Tuesday Callboy Mailing Meetings
(Held at the Union Church in Waban)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017:  7:00 PM: Callboy mailing; Board Meeting at 8:00 PM. No program.
Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017:   7:00 PM: Callboy mailing; 8:00 PM: MEMBERS NIGHT - Member slides and videos welcome.

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017:  7:00 PM: Callboy mailing; Board Meeting at 8:00 PM. No program.

Meeting Location

MBRRE Program Meetings are usually held at the Union Church at 14 Collins Road (corner of Beacon Street), Waban, MA, (near the Waban MBTA stop on the Green Line):

If you are arriving on the T, exit the station onto Beacon St.; the Church is adjacent to the Waban Station.

If you are driving, take Exit 21 East off Route 128 (I-95) onto Rte. 16 (Washington St.). At the first traffic light east of 128 fork right onto Beacon St. and go 0.9 mile. The Union Church is on the right just before Beacon Street jogs to the left over the Green Line. If the church lot is full you may park on the street or in the Waban Station parking lot. CLICK FOR MAP

Check the Callboy or the website to confirm date, time, and location of meetings.


Mass Bay RRE members currently volunteer their time and skills to:
             --Serve as Officers and Directors (we have no paid employees)
             --Organize, prepare for and staff our excursion trains
             --Write for, edit and produce our Callboy newsletter
             --Arrange our program meetings and special events
             --Maintain and constantly improve our website
             --Tell the media and the public about our trips, meetings and events
             --Handle our “back office” financial, legal and corporate administration

We always welcome new volunteers. With today’s expanded e-communications, more RRE members find they can contribute from home or work locations beyond the Boston area. Join us in keeping Mass Bay RRE one of the most active railfan groups in New England!

To Volunteer, Contact Us:

Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, Inc.
PO Box 4245
Andover, MA 01810-0814, or

Information Line 978-470-2066

Email: info@massbayrre.org or visit our "Contact Us" page.

Site maintenance by members of Mass Bay RRE.
Page updated on July 17, 2017