Rockland Branch Discussion

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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sleepingtree
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by sleepingtree »

Nice reporting on the part of the Village Soup papers about the state decision to change operators. Worth a read.
http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/state-rel ... or/1462983" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Narrowgauger
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by Narrowgauger »

Your going to need to copy and paste it. Non members cant read it.

Cowford
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by Cowford »

I was able to open it once, but not again... it's interesting that ME was predicting revenue of ~$650K in 2016, but CMQ estimated revenue exceeding $1 million. To some, that may signify CMQ is going to be much more aggressive in gaining new business. Others will conclude that CMQ is way over-estimating traffic potential on the line. Based on the ranking in the decision process, the state reviewers took the former position. By all accounts, ME did an adequate job in operating the line; that no new business came on-line draws into question their marketing efforts. But in fairness, what else is there to haul? Not sure how CMQ could be such a game-changer... esp. in year 1!

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MEC407
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by MEC407 »

I think the MERR general manager pretty much summed it up when he said (I'm recalling the quote from memory, sorry if I don't get it exactly right) "Without Dragon, there is no Rockland Branch."

It's nice that there are two other customers in the form of Dicaperl and BIW, but they're extremely small potatoes and it's hard to imagine what other meaningful business there could be between Brunswick and Rockland. That simply is not an industrial part of Maine, and hasn't been for many decades. I keep hearing people say "Well maybe they can get a propane dealer or something" but as we've seen all over Maine the propane dealers who already HAVE railroad access stopped using rail years ago. And those guys are on mainlines, not a branch that's operated by a different railroad. So I just don't see that happening.

Is CMQ charging its Rockland Branch shippers the same rates as MERR charged? If they're charging more, that'd certainly explain the difference in revenue projections.
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CN9634
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by CN9634 »

MEC407 wrote:I think the MERR general manager pretty much summed it up when he said (I'm recalling the quote from memory, sorry if I don't get it exactly right) "Without Dragon, there is no Rockland Branch."

It's nice that there are two other customers in the form of Dicaperl and BIW, but they're extremely small potatoes and it's hard to imagine what other meaningful business there could be between Brunswick and Rockland. That simply is not an industrial part of Maine, and hasn't been for many decades. I keep hearing people say "Well maybe they can get a propane dealer or something" but as we've seen all over Maine the propane dealers who already HAVE railroad access stopped using rail years ago. And those guys are on mainlines, not a branch that's operated by a different railroad. So I just don't see that happening.

Is CMQ charging its Rockland Branch shippers the same rates as MERR charged? If they're charging more, that'd certainly explain the difference in revenue projections.
This is the same as saying without the Somerset mill there is no Hinckley branch.... and there is nothing wrong with that. The Rockland branch has man more route miles but also a few other customers. I believe the goal right now is to expand service to existing customers and then eventually target some new ones. I think that we should remain positive and wait to see what happens in a year or two.

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MEC407
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by MEC407 »

Oh I agree. I didn't mean for my post to come across as anti-CMQ. I just think Maine Eastern did a very good job with what they were given. They managed to keep all of their customers over a 12 year period, and a very difficult economic period at that. They deserve a lot of credit for that. There are many other railroads who can't say the same thing. And from a historical standpoint I think it's also good to remember that previous operators Safe Handling and Maine Coast weren't able to magically drum up new customers either. The region "is what it is" and any operator will have to deal with that and make the best of it.
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leviramsey
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by leviramsey »

From reading the article before it went paywall, the board judged CMQ's passenger accomodation to be not much worse than MERR's (and had CMQ gotten a score much worse than MERR, MERR would have kept the contract), despite CMQ saying that they would not operate passenger service; reading between the lines, it appears they may have promised dispatch priority for any passenger service on the line.

IIRC, the board was four members, including one from NNEPRA. Either the other three members were completely hornswoggled, or NNEPRA considers a Downeaster extension to Rockland a possibility...

fogg1703
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by fogg1703 »

Interesting, with the "competing" passenger service out of the way, it opens the door for NNEPRA to do as they please. If CMQ can grow freight traffic, thats icing on the cake. Politics can be a cold, cruel business.

Dick H
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by Dick H »

Anyone know if the State of Maine had some sort of financial stake in the liability insurance for the Maine Eastern passenger service?
If so, perhaps the state wanted out of that obligation. Regarding the Downeaster, I mentioned previously that the DE could do a
Brunswick-Rockland round trip during the time allowed for the current afternoon layover at Brunswick. Of course, once the new
maintenance facility is finished, there will be a new schedule with three round trips out of Brunswick. Presumably, the other two
trips will turn at Portland.

sleepingtree
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by sleepingtree »

Sorry gang, when I read the article, it was not behind a paywall (I found it through a Google image search). I don't want to infringe on the paper's copyright, so I can't repost - but it's worth a read if you can get to it.

CN9634
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by CN9634 »

CMQ ran today a train from Thomaston to Brunswick and back. Both trains had around 10 cars each

Watchman318
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by Watchman318 »

CN9634 wrote:CMQ ran today a train from Thomaston to Brunswick and back. Both trains had around 10 cars each
I'm glad I read the whole thread; that's better info than I had. All I knew was "CMQ 2001 west through Warren 09:53. Eastbound through Waldoboro at 16:03."
I'm guessing the majority of the cars were cement, although I seem to recall Chemrock (now Dicaperl) kind of "stocking up" before the snow got too deep.
Dragon begins their annual shutdown on the 17th.

CN9634
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by CN9634 »

Watchman318 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:CMQ ran today a train from Thomaston to Brunswick and back. Both trains had around 10 cars each
I'm glad I read the whole thread; that's better info than I had. All I knew was "CMQ 2001 west through Warren 09:53. Eastbound through Waldoboro at 16:03."
I'm guessing the majority of the cars were cement, although I seem to recall Chemrock (now Dicaperl) kind of "stocking up" before the snow got too deep.
Dragon begins their annual shutdown on the 17th.
Yes they left Thomaston around 0930 and arrived Brunswick about 1300. They then left town 1430 and back to Thomaston 1700. Sounds like a pretty routine drop and swap with PAR.

gokeefe
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by gokeefe »

The Village Soup article is interesting.

Looks to me as if Maine Eastern basically told the state "we expect that this operation will have to be subsidized" and Maine DOT balked.

Additionally Maine DOT required Maine Eastern to meet intercity as opposed to excursion standards for their passenger equipment.

I'm of two minds in regards to whether or not this RFP was designed to encourage a situation where Amtrak/NNEPRA ended up being the passenger service provider. I think to a certain extent Maine DOT was looking at making good faith safety improvements. On the other hand I think its smart that they wrote things the way they did in order to ensure that Maine Eastern did not become the source of a fiscal crisis on the line. I'm guessing that they knew and understood these issues with Dragon ahead of time and could see the problems coming.

This RFP and its outcome gives them options they otherwise wouldn't have if they had written the RFP for "more of the same".
Last edited by gokeefe on Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
gokeefe

Cowford
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Re: Rockland Branch Discussion

Post by Cowford »

This RFP and its outcome gives them options they otherwise wouldn't have if they had written the RFP for "more of the same".
What are these options you are referring to? There's no evidence that the former agreement would have hamstrung NNEPRA on Rockland service ambitions. Furthermore, ME's former excursion service was not exactly a stellar-performing money machine. I'm sure ME would have been perfectly happy hosting NNEPRA service for a fee.

On the freight side, consider that changing different locomotive paint schemes doesn't generate additional business.

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