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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic overcomes adversity to celebrate one-year anniversary


Yesterday, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. (MMA) marked its first year of operation by unveiling a box car painted red, white and blue.

Officials of the 745-mile regional are feeling a bit patriotic after waging an uphill battle to remain in business shortly after a Rail World Inc.-led investment and management consortium purchased the former Bangor & Aroostook Railroad System and formed MMA in January 2003.

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

But in spring, Brascan Corp. — a subsidiary of MMA customer Fraser Paper — purchased and reopened the mills. The railroad later doubled service availability between Millinocket and Madawaska, Maine, from three days to six, and daily trains between Montreal and Millinocket from one to two.

"With help from the state and our very dedicated work force, we have weathered the storm and look forward to a brighter future," said MMA President Bob Grindrod in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/9/2004