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8/14/2009



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic mulls plan to abandon or sell Maine lines


The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. (MMA) recently filed documents with the Surface Transportation Board seeking approval to sell or abandon about half its trackage in the state of Maine.

The lines under consideration total 241 miles of “low-revenue” trackage and the rationalization plan could affect service to Presque Isle, Caribou, Houlton and Easton, as well as all communities on a line between Millinocket and Madawaska, MMA officials said in a prepared statement.

“The reason for this action is purely economic. For some time, MMA has faced weak lumber, paper and other forest products markets, and the economic downturn has greatly affected traffic on these lines,” said MMA Chairman Edward Burkhardt. “This portion of MMA’s network is heavily loss-making, and as such does not generate sufficient cash flow to provide for necessary capital expenditures to ensure sustainability.”

The 745-mile regional has advised the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Gov. John Baldacci about its plan, and the governor has directed the DOT to work with MMA to address the issue.

One potential solution: The state could acquire the lines and assume future capital investment requirements, said Burkhardt.

“This would, of course, require funding, which would have to come from federal stimulus monies or would have to be addressed by the legislature,” he said. “MMA considers this the best possible solution, as it would result in rail service being maintained at all stations.”


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