Montana Rail Link discussion

Montana Rail Link (reporting mark MRL) is a privately held Class II railroad in the United States. MRL, which operates on trackage originally built by the Northern Pacific Railway, is a unit of the Washington Companies, and is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. Website: montanarail.com

Montana Rail Link discussion

Postby HDP » Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:52 am

Is there any interest in Montana Rail Link discussion? I know very little about it, but am interested in its history, comparsisons to former NP, train operations, etc.
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Postby The S.P. Caboose » Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:36 pm

My understanding is that is leases the right of way between Bozman, MT and Spokane, WA and owns the branches.
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Postby metman499 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 11:22 am

I was wondering why I seem to see a few of their locos here in the East. I have seen an SD-45 of theirs on an NS worktrain out of Allentown. Are they in the leasing business too?
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Postby 2spot » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:16 am

Montana Rail Link is in the locomotive leasing business. Heres a link: http://montanarail.com/leasing/leasing.htm If you cant get it to work for some reason try: http://montanarail.com/ then click: Business center, then click Locomotive Leasing.
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Postby BlockLine_4111 » Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:01 pm

I have spotted [on a few occassions] MLR loco power cut in behind BNSF lead power on the BNSF Front Range Sub here in Colorado.

Is the MLR blue similar to MoPac blue?
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Links to the Rail Link...

Postby Komachi » Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:48 pm

Now, was I&M (Iowa and Montana, I believe) Rail Link a part of MRL? I know they had similar "corporate" colors. And now they wear the colors of the DM&E (Dakota Minnesota & Western) spin-off IC&E (Iowa, Chicago & Eastern). Can't remember off hand if it was or wasn't.
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Postby The S.P. Caboose » Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:40 pm

I've heard some talk about 15 years ago that MRL was an off shoot of Burlington Northern. I don't think MRL was a part of any other railroad.
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Postby HDP » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:55 am

MRL appears to be all ex-NP. Does anyone know when MRL was formed how the NP/BN people were treated? Did MRL absorb them, with their seniority, operations, bases, etc?
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Postby SlowFreight » Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:13 am

I'm suffering abject brain failure regarding large parts of MRL's history, but it's always been part of Washington Industries. Owned by Dennis Washington, the firm started out as a construction contractor, and also owns CEECO, which paints (rebuilds?) locos, and eventually bought the carcass of Morrison-Knudsen. Despite M-K's long and storied history, after Bill Agee destroyed Bendix Corp, he moved on to bankrupt M-K by (among other bad moves) over-leveraging it in the new railcar business--which is why SuperSteel finished building Metra's fleet of new bilevels--and Washington Ind. added that to the fold.

Later, when CP Rail rationalized the old Soo, another rail subsidiary was formed to buy the Iowa grain lines, the Minneapolis-KC line, and the Chicago-KC line. This became IM Rail Link (or I&M Rail Link, I think). The "I" and "M" didn't necessarily stand for anything, because the system included Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota trackage. Despite its circuitous routing (vs. the UP Spine Line that it shared trackage with in the KC area), IMRL scored an early coup with traffic from Ford's Minneapolis plant down to NS's Kansas City Mixing Center (now operated by UPS, but that's another story), which was right next to the UP/IMRL and NS/BNSF junction--a curious place where four railroads crossed on two different joint lines; on the NS/BNSF line, NS owns the south track and BNSF the north; as a result, the mixing center and Ford's Claycomo lead are always chronically short of power switches because BNSF doesn't get any traffic out of the deal...

Anyway, from the rumors I heard, traffic didn't pan the way IMRL hoped, and DM&E was likely looking to unlock itself from UP's captive grip and paper barriers before coal started flowing. Washington Ind. unloaded IMRL, and IC&E was born. This is all midwestern and plains history, so's I won't bore you with no more....

I can't remember precisely, either, if MRL bought or leased its core route map from BN, but since 1987 its made a living as a captive bridge carrier ferrying BNSF trains around other, presumably more congested, parts of the BNSF system. I believe the carrier is non-union, and I recall right after startup, they wrecked one of their first BN overhead freights when someone--probably unhappy with a labor issue--turned it loose as a runaway out of a terminal.

Later, part of the old Livingston, MT, NP shop complex was cleaved off to form the Livingston Rebuild Center. In the early 90's, MRL took an old SD9 and rebuilt it to Dash-2 standards with a chopped nose, and shopped it around to see who might be interested, but I don't recall any takers. Anyone know what else LRC's done? I've sorta lost touch out here in the desert.

Anyway, I'll clear this channel for the next guy...
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Postby AmtrakFan » Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:32 am

I see a fair number of MRL Units out here every so often http://amtrakfan.rrpicturearchives.net/ ... ?id=237394 Here's an example
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Re: Montana Rail Link discussion

Postby atsf sp » Wed May 19, 2010 1:48 pm

I have a few questions. 1. Can you see the tracks through Bozeman Pass on I-90? 2. Is there a viewable spot of the fueling and maintenance tracks at Helena? 3. Are there viewing spots at the Livingston shops? 4. Are the F45s viewable from public property in Livingston? 5. How many units are stored in Livingston? 6. How many SD45s are still on property? 7. How much action is there in Billings?
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Re: Montana Rail Link discussion

Postby bmmrlbnsfengr » Wed May 19, 2010 8:53 pm

atsf sp wrote:I have a few questions. 1. Can you see the tracks through Bozeman Pass on I-90? 2. Is there a viewable spot of the fueling and maintenance tracks at Helena? 3. Are there viewing spots at the Livingston shops? 4. Are the F45s viewable from public property in Livingston? 5. How many units are stored in Livingston? 6. How many SD45s are still on property? 7. How much action is there in Billings?



1 , Yes , both on I 90 and US10/ Frontage Rd . At Helena , there are some areas where you can get the shots of the locomotive facility, Livingston , thats tough with stored exploder trains blocking access to take shots from East Park st /Teslow elevator.The F units are visable from public property of of North M near the county waste transfer building . Hard to say how many SD45s running , 3 were on Gas local today , 4 on a Livingston Hlpr set. 15/20 that I know of stored at VS , Billings/ Laurel / Huntley / Jones Jct very busy ! BNSF comes to the Magic city from 4 directions. Great DPU action. Hope this helps!
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Re: Montana Rail Link discussion

Postby oibu » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:53 pm

^does the above info re: the F45s still dold true? Assume "North M" is North Main St.?
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Re: Montana Rail Link discussion

Postby thebigham » Sat May 18, 2013 12:20 am

Here's a detailed MRL roster from Trains:

http://trn.trains.com/~/media/Files/PDF ... roster.pdf
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