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6/13/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic begins to recover from rocky start


After getting off to a shaky start, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Corp. (MMA) is obtaining new business, improving service and upgrading its fleet.


The 745-mile railroad lost one-fourth of its revenue (about $800,000) soon after its January launch, when MMA's largest customer Great Northern Paper Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code and shut down paper mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket, Maine. To control costs, MMA cut employees' and managers' pay 25 percent and 40 percent, respectively, and reduced train service.


But Brascan Corp. plans to acquire the mills; Brascan subsidiary Fraser Paper already is a MMA customer.


"We are looking forward to expanding our service to Brascan, beginning with the East Millinocket mill that is expected to resume operation later this spring," said MMA Vice President of Marketing William Schauer in the railroad's May newsletter.


The railroad recently increased service between Millinocket and Madawaska, Maine, from three days to six (excluding Sunday), and plans soon to double daily trains between Montreal and Millinocket from one to two.


MMA also recently upgraded its rail-car fleet by retiring older cars and leasing 219 cushion-underframe and 48 Plate F box cars, 315 centerbeam flat cars and 36 high-capacity wood-chip cars.


"We're gradually adjusting our car fleet, which will be better tailored to meet our customers' needs," said MMA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Grindrod.


The railroad recently upgraded power, too, replacing most of its fleet with 30 newer, more fuel efficient locomotives.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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