MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby Cowford » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:56 pm

The state and MM&A are still in negotiations. Bob Grindrod, MM&A's CEO, told Mainebiz in May that the value of the land and tracks is closer to $27 million.


$27 million? Is Mr Grindrod trying to sell the line to Chumlee on Pawn Stars? So Bob, are you looking to pawn it or sell it?

They could put this money into the Canada operation (Money maker)


"Money maker" is a questionable label. And IMO, it's doubtful that any proceeds raised from such a sale would be pumped back into the remaining system.

If the NBSR picked up the line, MMA could have an upper hand. Traffic heading west would have to either back track to CN or PAR.


In the scenario of an NBSR operation, such backtracking to St John wouldn't be considered... rather, they would route western traffic to the CN over St Leonard. The PAR routing wouldn't be circuitous to any great extent either. If this happens, one thing is guaranteed: MMA's revenue per car is going to plummet on the former "BAR" business they retain.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:49 am

From Railway Track & Structures

State makes offer for Maine rail line
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The state has offered $18 million to purchase the 233 miles of rail line that Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway is seeking to abandon in Aroostook and Penobscot counties, the Maine Public broadcasting Network reports.

Maine Department of Transportation Rail Program Director Nathan Moulton says the offer is conditional on federal approval of MMA's request to abandon the tracks. The federal Surface Transportation Board is still considering whether to allow MMA to abandon the railway, and Moulton says the offer will protect the right of the state to purchase the line if the STB grants that request.

MMA says it wants to abandon the line because it's no longer profitable, but state officials say shutting down the railroad could cost the region as many as 1,700 jobs. In June, Maine voters approved a $7-million bond to help purchase the line.

Moulton acknowledges that the state's offer is well below the $27 million value the rail owners have placed on the land and tracks, but he says the $18-million figure was based on the value of the net liquidation of the railroad, which includes the real estate, the rights-of-way, as well as the steel in the rails and other equipment.

Moulton says the state's offer will be considered if the STB approves MMA's request to abandon the line. He says he expects that decision to be made within a couple of weeks.

PBM
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby ShortlinesUSA » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:53 am

Forgive me if this has been previously discussed (this thread is getting pretty long, but it's been a long saga to say the least!), but so far, discussion has mostly centered around the lines being sold to the state. If all of this falls through, and MMA does abandon the lines in the filing, how long is it before they decide to abandon from Brownville to Millinocket? Is there enough traffic to warrant them hanging around in Millinocket? That's approximately 40 miles to run for what? Does the mill in E. Millinocket warrant such a long haul (that is, a 50 mile spur to serve the paper mill)? The rule of thumb I know is that you need 100 cars (loads, that is) per year per mile for a line to be profitable. If there is no other operator to take cars to for the old BAR, they'd essentially be running up there only with cars for the mill, unless there are other industries in the area or along the way of which I am unaware.

If they are essentially believing their profitable business is from Canada to the EMRY/NBSR, and down to NMJ and Searsport, the line up to Millinocket kind of becomes a glaring thumb for further reduction IF there is nothing to connect to.

Just thoughts-- in no way am I suggesting I'd like to see the MMA carve itself even more or a greater number of employees lose their jobs. The amount of that already ongoing is sad enough.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby calaisbranch » Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:50 pm

I've only seen a few trains on this portion you're talking about. However, it's some of the nicest mainline around with 115lb CWR and an immaculate roadbed. It's a far cry from the line that runs Brownville Junction/Northern Maine Junction or even the Searsport Branch. Car counts have ranged from 45-90 from what I've seen. A lot of pulp-wood spike cars, wood chip cars and boxes. It's wierd like you said, but car counts are certainly there! Besides, whoever gets the rail mileage MMA loses will need an interchange point. Millinocket would likely be that for now. I imagine MMA holding on to their tracks above Brownville just for the purpose of keeping the "new" operator a captive receiver.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby bwparker1 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:54 am

FWIW, there is an article in the current month's TRAINS magazine describing the MM&A use one man engine crews and remote control. It was portrayed that these operations are a result of significant belt tightening by the MM&A.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby ShortlinesUSA » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:47 am

calaisbranch wrote:I've only seen a few trains on this portion you're talking about. However, it's some of the nicest mainline around with 115lb CWR and an immaculate roadbed. It's a far cry from the line that runs Brownville Junction/Northern Maine Junction or even the Searsport Branch. Car counts have ranged from 45-90 from what I've seen. A lot of pulp-wood spike cars, wood chip cars and boxes. It's wierd like you said, but car counts are certainly there! Besides, whoever gets the rail mileage MMA loses will need an interchange point. Millinocket would likely be that for now. I imagine MMA holding on to their tracks above Brownville just for the purpose of keeping the "new" operator a captive receiver.


That's precisely what makes me wonder. In the visits I've made to the MMA, #2 takes a decent sized train from BJct to Millinocket. However, I wonder how much of that is bound for the portion they have put up for abandonment? Again, only hypothetical, but if MMA does outright abandon this portion and there is no new operator to take traffic to, what is left to take to the mill at E. Millinocket?

Last visit, I witnessed the 120 bring in 44 loads of woodchips to Squa Pan from Lumber Alley, just south Portage. They brought in another 20 or so cars from the Presque Isle cluster the night before. So that's a sizeable chunk of traffic headed for Millinocket, and on to other places (I assume the chips were bound for the NBSR, since that was their reporting mark) that would no longer be at Millinocket.

I think at this point, finding the lines abandoned is pretty remote, but the state and MMA are several million dollars apart on their offer; about 9 million, in fact. I honestly think if the line does wind up going out of service, it would be more of a, shall we say, "manly contest" between the state and MMA because the offer from the state is scrap value of the line, the same that MMA would receive if they pulled it up.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby Cowford » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:59 am

MMA's price tag is based on salvage value as well, no? It can't be based on projected income from operations.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby Dick H » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:28 pm

Article from today's Boston Globe on the MM&A abandonment situation..

http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/ ... ocal_Links
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby atsf sp » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:20 pm

What railroad would get operating by the State? PAR wouldn't take it because that would throw themselves into trouble. CN is not going to come back into Maine. I would say a whole new entity completely controlled by the state. I have traveled this line in 2008 and then there was paper and wood products along the whole line. But I talked to some of the people then who worked for Fraser Paper and they said that most of it was shutting down. Hence these are the results. The railroad taking over would just have to run a single train about twice a week to keep in business and not go bankrupt.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby MEC407 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:44 pm

MaineDOT has stated that they are not interested in operating railroads. They don't mind owning them, but they have no interest in actually operating them. They would contract it out to a private company, such as they do with the Rockland Branch.

Lack of on-line business doesn't necessarily mean that no one would be interested in operating it. Just look at the Rockland Branch... they've got, what, two or three customers at best? And they're tiny customers compared to the ones on the MMA lines. Despite that, there were several companies that submitted bids to operate the Rockland Branch, and I'm sure they wouldn't have done that if it wasn't going to be profitable.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby TomNelligan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:16 pm

The Globe article makes a reference to customers complaining about poor service by the MM&A. Any comments from anyone close to the situation?
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby NRGeep » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:12 am

Dick H wrote:Article from today's Boston Globe on the MM&A abandonment situation..

http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/ ... ocal_Links


From the Boston Globe article: "They service you when it accommodates them,not when it accomodates you," said Don Tardie managing directorof the Maine Woods Co. a large sawmill here. "There's a level of arrogance in this."
Hmm, I'm not close to the situation, but if this is true it sounds like they took a cue from the skeleton crew that is PAR.
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby calaisbranch » Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:18 pm

TomNelligan wrote:The Globe article makes a reference to customers complaining about poor service by the MM&A. Any comments from anyone close to the situation?


Not enough money generated to put back into the physical plant to keep speeds up, meaning service quality down. Like many have said.....not necessarily too few customers, just too many miles between without. That comment about arrogance sounds like someone who knows just that. Perhaps, someone from PAR wishing they could get it? :wink: God, I hope they never do. I say the regions affected by such a "tragedy" as a potential PAR expansion would be best off packing it in if that happened!
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby calaisbranch » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:09 am

calaisbranch wrote:I've only seen a few trains on this portion you're talking about. However, it's some of the nicest mainline around with 115lb CWR and an immaculate roadbed. It's a far cry from the line that runs Brownville Junction/Northern Maine Junction or even the Searsport Branch. Car counts have ranged from 45-90 from what I've seen. A lot of pulp-wood spike cars, wood chip cars and boxes. It's wierd like you said, but car counts are certainly there! Besides, whoever gets the rail mileage MMA loses will need an interchange point. Millinocket would likely be that for now. I imagine MMA holding on to their tracks above Brownville just for the purpose of keeping the "new" operator a captive receiver.


Yesterday's #2 was huge with 100+/- cars! Almost even with pulp cars and wood chips cars. Overall, the biggest commodity was boxcars. Hard to believe none went beyond Millinocket. NBSR has been pretty busy at Brownville, too. They basically left at the same time, and usually NBSR is out ahead by at least a half-hour. You should have seen the trafiic at the Route 11 crossing in Lower Brownville!
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Re: MMA To File 241 Mile Abandonment With STB

Postby roberttosh » Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:23 pm

With all the service problems over on the PAR/PAS, wouldn't be surprised if Irving has shifted traffic to the MMA.
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