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The Maine Department of Transportation last week awarded a contract to the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR) to operate the 58-mile Rockland Branch line between Brunswick and Rockland, and operate and maintain Brunswick Yard.The department now will negotiate a 10-year lease and operating agreement with CMQR, which will assume the new responsibilities on Jan. 1, 2016.The branch line and yard are owned by the state of Maine. Freight traffic on the line is interchanged with Springfield Terminal Railway Co., a Pan Am Railways subsidiary. Pan Am Railways holds operating rights on a section of track and in Brunswick Yard. Amtrak's Downeaster service between Portland and Brunswick operates over the yard between the east side of Church Road and a new rail station.The Rockland Branch line has been operated by the Maine Eastern Railroad for more than 10 years. The Morristown & Erie Railway — which since January 2004 has been operating in Maine as the Maine Eastern Railroad — late last week announced 2015 will be the final year for the railroad's freight- and excursion-rail operations since the state did not renew its operating lease.The remainder of the Maine Eastern Railroad's excursion season will continue to operate as scheduled through Oct. 31, Morristown & Erie Railway officials said in a press release. The company's rail equipment on the Rockland Branch will be relocated to New Jersey to supplement existing locomotives and rolling stock, they said."[We] currently have extensive freight operations in Morris County, N.J., and switching operations at the Bayway Refinery in Linden, N.J. Both have seen significant rail traffic increases in the past four years," Morristown & Erie Railway officials said. "[We] will be refocusing our efforts on these operations by pursuing several new business opportunities and continuing to foster the upward trend in freight shipments."