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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic posts — and prepares for more — traffic growth


If second-quarter traffic figures are as good as first-quarter data, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd.'s (MMA) rough start in early 2003 because of a major shipper's bankruptcy will be a distant memory.

Intermodal traffic was key to first-quarter gains. Intermodal loads rose 80 percent compared with first-quarter 2003 data because of a new dedicated train service between St. John, Maine, and Farnham, Quebec, and the reopening of a terminal in Presque Isle, Maine, according to MMA's spring newsletter.

In addition, roundwood, lumber and paper moves increased 48 percent, 27 percent and 24 percent, respectively, compared with similar 2003 data.

Lumber traffic has been driven by increasing southeastern demand for eastern spruce, pine and fir, while paper traffic received a boost from the late summer 2003 opening of Katahdin Paper's East Millinocket, Maine, mill.

To accommodate more lumber and paper moves, the 745-mile regional is repairing and acquiring rail cars. Workers are sealing roofs, and straightening or replacing doors on 212 single-door and 106 double-door box cars, and repairing an additional 500 box cars before MMA signs off on a lease.

The railroad also is improving track to support increasing traffic. Crews are replacing six miles of 100-pound rail with 115-pounded welded rail between Brownsville Junction and Schoodic, Maine; installing 20,000 wood ties near Jackman, Brownsville and Madawaska, Maine; and surfacing 300 track miles systemwide.

MMA officials are trying to keep pace with 286,000-pound car requirements, too. The railroad recently applied for a $34 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan through the Federal Railroad Administration. Officials plan to use proceeds to improve bridges and track between Millinocket and Farnham to accommodate 286k, increase corridor speeds and refinance debt.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/14/2004