Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

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MEC407
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by MEC407 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:47 pm

The EGE wrote:
papabarn wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:If there's no tourist train, I have to wonder if Amtrak to Rockland truly is in the cards. At least seasonally.
I think that is exactly what is going on. Notice the inexplicable visit by the inspection train within the past year.
Things that make you say "Hmmmmmmmmmmmm...."..
Truly crazy and utterly uninformed speculation: what if this is a result of the Brunswick layover opponents (who weirdly seem to have friends in power) and they want to shift the DE layover out to the existing yard in Rockland?
Rockland NIMBYs are gonna be a helluva lot worse than Brunswick NIMBYs. Trust me. Maine Eastern went through it 12 years ago when they first started operating. It got nasty very quickly. Replace an FL9 with a P42 and those folks would lose their $#!T.

I'm not certain Rockland Yard would even be big enough for the kind of layover facility NNEPRA wants/needs. It's pretty small. Plus CMQ will need it for their freight ops.
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BandA
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by BandA » Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:28 pm

How long until we find out why they picked the CMQ bid over the MERR bid?

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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by markhb » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:35 pm

I assume the bids will be released once the contract is signed, but that is JUST an assumption (based on what was stated by the State). I linked to the RFP a couple of pages ago.

I don't think the Brunswick folks have many friends in high places beyond their own Senator (and let's face it, that's kind of his job). I actually think that Patricia Aho might have stayed on just to handle the wastewater permit request, tbh, and maybe even to make sure that the permit was rock-solid in the face of the inevitable appeal to the BEP.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by therudycometh » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:10 pm

markhb wrote:I assume the bids will be released once the contract is signed, but that is JUST an assumption (based on what was stated by the State). I linked to the RFP a couple of pages ago.
The bids will eventually be made public, but I'm not sure that the State will issue a written statement explaining their decision. Everyone here at the M&E is pretty curious about the CM&Q proposal...
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by MEC407 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:48 pm

therudycometh wrote:Everyone here at the M&E is pretty curious about the CM&Q proposal...
A lot of Mainers are curious about it, too. Thank goodness for FOAA — Maine's state-level version of FOIA.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:32 pm

therudycometh wrote:The Lower Road to Augusta was not included in the bid this time around - there will be no designated operator of that line on January 1st, although I believe the freight rights revert to Pan Am if there is no State-assigned operator. Bids were submitted only for the operation of the Rockland Branch.
Thanks for that detail Rudy. Your efforts are very much appreciated. You've done a great job with a tough assignment. Look forward to hearing from you again.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:35 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:This would be an interesting thing to happen, but does anyone really think that there's enough passenger business along the line to justify a year-round operation? I don't. I'm not sure that there's even enough business to justify a mid-week summer service.
Direct connection to/from Boston? I think so, if only a few days/weeks in the summer. My perspective is that MDOT appears to be making a very deliberate choice that increases potential passenger options, even if they are only seasonal. Old Orchard Beach is a seasonal stop. Don't see why a Rockland extension couldn't be seasonal as well. If the passenger volume is there to justify it, whether from Brunswick, Portland, Boston or points in between I think it will happen.

In regards to the comments about fuel burn that is a moot point now that a power hookup is available in Brunswick at the layover site.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by MEC407 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:02 pm

I believe there's a shore power hookup at Rockland Station, too. Didn't MERR install that many years ago to reduce/eliminate loco idling? Pretty sure they did it on their own dime, too. They also, if I recall correctly, made mechanical mods to one or both of the FL9s (upgraded fuel injectors maybe?) to reduce emissions.

I don't think it can ever be said that MERR wasn't a good neighbor.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Sep 09, 2015 6:59 pm

gokeefe wrote:
Rockingham Racer wrote:This would be an interesting thing to happen, but does anyone really think that there's enough passenger business along the line to justify a year-round operation? I don't. I'm not sure that there's even enough business to justify a mid-week summer service.
Direct connection to/from Boston? I think so, if only a few days/weeks in the summer. My perspective is that MDOT appears to be making a very deliberate choice that increases potential passenger options, even if they are only seasonal. Old Orchard Beach is a seasonal stop. Don't see why a Rockland extension couldn't be seasonal as well. If the passenger volume is there to justify it, whether from Brunswick, Portland, Boston or points in between I think it will happen.

In regards to the comments about fuel burn that is a moot point now that a power hookup is available in Brunswick at the layover site.
I have no idea what the CM&Q is up to here, but in the passenger context it's at least worth noting that the ultimate parent, Fortress, is behind the All Aboard Florida project to restore passenger service on the FEC from Miami to Orlando. Whatever they are, the owners aren't dead set against passengers.

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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by p42thedowneaster » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:57 pm

Regarding cm&q....Maybe there's a plan for the old BAR F3 after all?

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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by therudycometh » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:09 am

MEC407 wrote:I believe there's a shore power hookup at Rockland Station, too. Didn't MERR install that many years ago to reduce/eliminate loco idling?
Correct.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by Cowford » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:06 pm

My perspective is that MDOT appears to be making a very deliberate choice that increases potential passenger options...
How is CMQ different? You are implying ME would have been an impediment?

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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:14 pm

Cowford wrote:
My perspective is that MDOT appears to be making a very deliberate choice that increases potential passenger options...
How is CMQ different? You are implying ME would have been an impediment?
CMQ is very clearly a freight only contract.

Imagine for a moment that MDOT has made a policy choice, specifically, "We want through service from Boston (seasonally)". In that case the choice makes perfect sense and yes, Maine Eastern, an operator with their own fleet and own interests in excursion service is an impediment. Ironically I think we are all aware that if it weren't for Maine Eastern no one would think seasonal Rockland service was viable. I'm not saying by any means that they ever made money or even paid all of the bills, just that there was passenger volume (mostly from tour buses).

I think MDOTs perspective may be that Amtrak is a better option in order to increase service and utilization. Again, just guessing but that is what the implications look like to me. If this were a combined service contract I think the question would be completely different. Its not and that appears to indicate that a policy preference has been altered.

I would note that in terms of the Lower Road, not having a state designated operator appears to lower the barriers to reactivation by PAR.
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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by Cowford » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:51 pm

Ironically I think we are all aware that if it weren't for Maine Eastern no one would think seasonal Rockland service was viable.
I think it's odd that people WOULD think it was viable, given ME's paltry patronage. If I recall, it never got much above 10,000 pax/yr and had to reduce service in its final year.

What you're saying is that ME would have tried to (or would even have had the power to) block any extension of Amtrak service. Highly, HIGHLY unlikely. You're also missing a key point: This was an operating agreement that was up for renewal. If MDOT wanted to clear the line of those pesky tourist trains, the renewal could have limited the scope to freight service only and ME, if the winning bidder, would have had to comply.

Speculation alert: My guess is that the relationship soured between MDOT and ME for whatever reason, and MDOT called in some qrid pro quo favor with CMQ. Let's face it, it's not exactly a blockbuster with growth potential. Correct me if I'm wrong, but by my calculations, exactly zero new customers came on-line in the last 20 years (excepting any possible short-term project moves).

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Re: Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) Discussion

Post by MEC407 » Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:25 pm

Cowford wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but by my calculations, exactly zero new customers came on-line in the last 20 years (excepting any possible short-term project moves).
I believe that's correct. The only "new" customer I can think of was the Maine Yankee decomm, and that was obviously temporary.

FWIW, I don't fault Maine Eastern for that. At all. Maine Coast had 10 years to find new freight customers and they couldn't, so they gave up. Safe Handling had a year or two as interim operator, and had extensive connections with the logistics industry, but they couldn't find new customers either and I don't think they put themselves in the running for the long-term contract. Maine Eastern briefly talked about building their own railcar and locomotive remanufacturing facility in Brunswick, which would've brought more traffic to them, but I guess they weren't able to make that work. It was an interesting idea, at least.
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