Bad News from Old Town, again...

Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

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Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby KSmitty » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:51 am

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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby KSmitty » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:59 am

In a weeks time, Lincoln has filed for bankruptcy, Old Town has announced its closure, and Verso has been notified it will be delisted from the NYSE with a bankruptcy likely following. In the last 365 days the state has lost or stands to lose a total of 4 mills, 2 of them some of the largest in the region. And then there are another 2 that seem to be always on the edge of death...

Pan Am's office staff must be in panic.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:09 am

This put Keag back under the gun, or is Irving interchange traffic keeping it just a whisker above water as a viable route?
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby newpylong » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:40 am

Old Town was doing healthy traffic, but won't be a death knell. If Rumford or Rileys goes, the MEC is done as we know it. It took them 30 years, but they finally ran it into the ground.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:56 pm

What does that leave for paper traffic: Rumford, Rileys, and the Sappis in Somerset and Westbrook? They still getting Irving haulage from Woodland?
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby KSmitty » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:05 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:This put Keag back under the gun, or is Irving interchange traffic keeping it just a whisker above water as a viable route?

Not sure what you're talking about. They havent run regular freight trains to Keag in over 9 months now. Its all going up CM&Q to Brownville.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:What does that leave for paper traffic: Rumford, Rileys, and the Sappis in Somerset and Westbrook? They still getting Irving haulage from Woodland?

Rumford, Rileys (for now) and Sappi-Skowhegan. Sappi-Westbrook ships no outbound, and does only minimal inbound chemicals. Couple switches/week if that.

newpylong wrote:Old Town was doing healthy traffic, but won't be a death knell. If Rumford or Rileys goes, the MEC is done as we know it. It took them 30 years, but they finally ran it into the ground.

I'd not be surprised if Riley's is next. Verso is being delisted from the NYSE, and thats usually a precursor to bankruptcy. I'm highly doubting with their newly acquired New Page mills in warmer climates that Jay survives a Verso bankruptcy. At least not in its current capacity. This must be scary for anyone currently working for Pan Am in any capacity. The paper industry is in freefall, and its going to land on the railroads from the suits to the overalls.
Last edited by KSmitty on Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby riffian » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:01 pm

Its not just in Maine. The DuPont Edgemoor plant has a huge footprint in Wilmington, and its output was exclusively for the paper industry. Tomorrow is its last day.
http://delawarebusinessdaily.com/2015/0 ... oor-plant/
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby newpylong » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:42 pm

Loved to see those a dupont tidox cars...
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby eustis22 » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:29 pm

I don't think you can blame PAR for the mills going under. This is about Capital chasing the lowest possible labor/environmental expense at any cost.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby bostontrainguy » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:46 pm

What ever happened to the "Torrified" wood idea?
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Sep 30, 2015 1:25 pm

eustis22 wrote:I don't think you can blame PAR for the mills going under. This is about Capital chasing the lowest possible labor/environmental expense at any cost.


No, but the writing has been on the wall for the Maine paper industry for over 20 years and Billerica passed up every opportunity to attempt to diversify MEC traffic. They would've had to prune back lots of the branch network all the same, but that's a very valuable mainline route. All the near-misses and all the short-term experiments in haulage of other goods and whatnot over that span of time attest to the fact that potential customers and interchange partners still see a major asset there in a trans- New England route. But if it takes a day-and-half to get between NMJ and Rigby because they won't maintain that mainline or manage their personnel well enough to go on-time...they aren't reliable enough partners and traffic is going to continue being routed around Maine because it's not worth the trouble.

Now...does the MEC main being a "major" asset in any way equate it to the "major" assets of the B&M side? No, of course not...they're not even within orders of magnitude of each other. But with Southern New England being relatively robust and flush with growth prospects since turn of the century they've got themselves to blame for traffic dropping straight into a crater north of Rigby instead of down the slope of a curve. Diversifying traffic may not replace the heyday of paper industry carloads, but it can seed enough of a portfolio of small-growth segments to keep a downsized MEC very much viable and valuable. After all, you've got inferior routes with inferior connectivity like CMQR being subject to deep-pocketed bidding wars in the middle of the paper industry's death throes...so somebody speaking dollars and cents is providing independent verification that there's growth prospects to be had.

Bottom line...it's 2015. How did PAR find itself in a position where it's still so dependent on single-source traffic over a whole third of its system that we even have to talk about "panic" time in Billerica. Everyone knew this day was coming, including the mill towns who are really really really screwed with few coping options. If they'd made the faintest attempt to diversify since the 90's, the MEC's future would be much more "bend not break" and mid-transition to a different sort of role. Like CMQR is trying to do...only PAR had every opportunity to start doing that a dozen years ago at 5 times the scale. It was their choice to let this become a full-on manufactured crisis instead of a well-anticipated challenge.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby CPF363 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:04 am

In simple terms, the railroad has largely served customers that have no other choice but to ship by rail. That gives the railroad the flexibility in serving those customers as they see it most appropriate. Contrast that with intermodal where these intermodal trains are competitive which require schedules to be met, favorable track conditions, full double stack capability, reliable power and ready crews. Pan Am-Springfield Terminal-Guilford has had many years to diversify the MEC mainline, and for that matter the entire eastern end of the B&M into a intermodal line but have not done so as of yet largely due to the required costs to get it started and to keep it all going. The route could have much to offer, NS and CSX interchanges to the south and the CM&Q/NBSR interchanges to the north. The only reason why the MOAY/22K intermodal train has been a survivor is because it has the arm of Norfolk Southern to keep it all going; there is no reason why this could not have been done ever since all three of Guilford's railroads were brought under common ownership in the mid 1980s or even after the D&H departed Guilford ownership in the 1990s. In 1991, Guilford connected with CP on each end of their system after their purchase of the D&H with access to a significant market base, couldn't they had tried to run Maritimes bound intermodal bridge traffic from N.Y. State and Chicago over the D&H to Mechanicville then on to Ayer, Portland, Waterville and return back to CP at Mattawamkeag supplemented with New England intermodal cars to supplement the bridge traffic? It is true that one cannot blame Pan Am for the demise of the paper mill-generated traffic on their lines, but to think about what the MEC and the B&M physically looked like 25 and 30 years ago contrasted with what the system looks like today and one looks at a system that is completely different.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby markhb » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:41 pm

KSmitty wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:This put Keag back under the gun, or is Irving interchange traffic keeping it just a whisker above water as a viable route?

Not sure what you're talking about. They havent run regular freight trains to Keag in over 9 months now. Its all going up CM&Q to Brownville.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:What does that leave for paper traffic: Rumford, Rileys, and the Sappis in Somerset and Westbrook? They still getting Irving haulage from Woodland?

Rumford, Rileys (for now) and Sappi-Skowhegan. Sappi-Westbrook ships no outbound, and does only minimal inbound chemicals. Couple switches/week if that.

newpylong wrote:Old Town was doing healthy traffic, but won't be a death knell. If Rumford or Rileys goes, the MEC is done as we know it. It took them 30 years, but they finally ran it into the ground.

I'd not be surprised if Riley's is next. Verso is being delisted from the NYSE, and thats usually a precursor to bankruptcy. I'm highly doubting with their newly acquired New Page mills in warmer climates that Jay survives a Verso bankruptcy. At least not in its current capacity. This must be scary for anyone currently working for Pan Am in any capacity. The paper industry is in freefall, and its going to land on the railroads from the suits to the overalls.


I know they wouldn't be the originating carrier, but does PAR pick up any traffic from the Cascades recycling plant in Auburn? Or does that all stick to STL? I ask because the "official" Maine paper mill list includes it, as well as the ones listed above and Madison and Madawaska.
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby WN&P » Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:53 pm

Is it unfeasible for northeast paper mills to switch to producing the 'brown paper' that goes into cardboard boxes etc? Is the paper type at maine mills just due to the close proximity to huge softwood forests?
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Re: Bad News from Old Town, again...

Postby S1f3432 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:47 pm

The former Brown Co. mills in Berlin used to make brown kraft paper and others probably did as well. The pulp used
to manufacture brown paper hasn't been processed through a bleaching process and treated with whiteners such as
titanium dioxide, so is cheaper to produce. Pine, spruce and fir, the dominant trees in Maine are all softwood.
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