• CMQ for sale?

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

Moderator: MEC407

  by roberttosh
The dredging at Portland is merely removing sediment buildup within the harbor (i.e. maintenance), whereas what's being discussed at Searport is removing virgin material from the channel approaches into the harbor to allow for bigger vessels, 2 completely different animals. If you google "Searsport dredging" you'll find plenty of articles discussing strong opposition from environmental groups. I'm not saying it can't happen, merely stating that it won't be a piece of cake.
  by MEC407
Sort of related:

I've been on Twitter for six or seven years, and I just started seeing promoted tweets from Canadian Pacific in my timeline for the first time ever. The tweet I saw was about CP's sustainability initiatives. Looks like they're trying to soften us Mainers up. :wink:
  by roberttosh
Lol 😊
  by Cowford
Regarding ethanol potential at Searsport, I'm tempted to ask the question: Why isn't it moving to Searsport by rail today? Granted, CP arguably has had nothing to gain by pushing to an offline destination, but CP is not the only rail carrier handling ethanol. I suspect a contributing factor is potential volume. According to my cocktail napkin calculations, the entire state consumes ~1,900 carload-equivalents of ethanol per year in the form of blended gasoline. Demand is where the people are; most petroleum product in Maine is distributed from Portland-based racks. Even if, say, 25% of Maine's gasoline moved through Searsport (I think it's less), you'd need just shy of 500 cars of ethanol annually for the 10% blend. That's fewer than 10 cars per week. Such small volumes lose unit-train and bulk storage critical mass economies and create more complicated supply chains for ethanol shippers. (Small is a relative term here - don't get me wrong, this would have been good business for CMQ.) I'm certainly not party to the specifics of how ethanol flows to eastern Maine, but Albany ain't the only game in town. There are big waterborne terminals in northern NJ (and RI) that can feed the region.

It's not even clear (to me, at least) if ethanol actually moves into Searsport as a standalone product today. The MPA document does not list it as an inbound product, and the report at one point laments the lack of success in attracting ethanol/blending volume. Possibly the fuel is blended at the refinery terminals (e.g., Irving at Saint John) into vessels for movement to the port.
  by MEC407
Here's a weird and slightly off-topic story that perhaps one of you can help me understand better:

A friend of mine lives in South Portland near one of the tank farms and his house has a front-row view of several tanks in the Turner's Island neighborhood. All of the tanks are painted white, and one of the tanks is covered in black gunk and looks pretty ugly. He was wondering what the black gunk was, and wondering why it was just on that one particular tank. He called someone at city hall, and that person gave him the phone number of the company that owns and operates that particular tank. He called the number and spoke to a guy who said (I'm paraphrasing) "Yes, I know which tank you're referring to. That tank holds ethanol. What you see on the outside of the tank is mildew [or fungus or mold, can't remember for sure what he called it] and the reason it only grows on that one tank is because that's the only tank that holds ethanol and the mildew [or whatever] is attracted to it." I was there for the phone conversation (it was on speakerphone) and I heard the whole thing. My friend asked "So does that mean ethanol is leaking from the tank?" and the guy said "no, absolutely not, nothing is leaking."

Can anyone help me understand 1) why ethanol would attract or promote mildew, and 2) why it would grow on the outside walls of the tank?
  by gokeefe
Vapor condensating on the side of the tank perhaps. Ethanol is an organic, hence (I think) the mildew growth.
  by Cowford
The fungal growth is probably precipitated by normal venting of product from the tank.
  by fromway
After looking at the aerial view of the Searsport harbor on Bing, it caused me to wonder. The aerial view has images of Windmill parts laying around the various storage areas. I was wondering "IF", CP could use Searsport as a receiving area and then transporting the windmill parts to all the projects that are going on in Canada. I would think that it would save shipping time and money for all of the lockage fees on the St. Lawrence, Welland Canal, and Soo Locks before it got to Duluth and Thunder Bay on Lake Superior before it was unloaded. I don't know if there would be sufficient clearances along the way. Hope someone can help me out. Thanks
  by cbc6403
A few years ago Searsport was receiving windmill blades by rail over CMQ. They were staged at the port and then trucked to various locations in the State of Maine. Clearances are obviously there, although CMQ had to change out the SD40-2Fs that handled the train through Quebec for a pair of B23-7s once the train got to NMJ.

  by fromway
The sale of the Canadian portion of the CMQ was finalized yesterday. The press release stated that the US portion remains subject to STB approval. It also highlights that this will now provide SEAMLESS service to St. John, NB and Searsport, Maine seaports on EMRY and NBSR. So here we go.
  by gokeefe
Big year for trackwork coming up ... Still seems surreal ...
  by MEC407
CP was all too happy to get rid of their SD40-2F "Red Barns." Now that a bunch of 'em belong to CMQ, I wonder if CP will keep them or put them back up for sale.

Also on the subject of motive power:

If CP wants to make a good first impression on the residents of Rockland and Searsport, they should make sure to use their GP20C-ECO locomotives for yard/switching ops in those communities, and make a public statement highlighting the reduction in pollution compared to the previous railroads' locomotives. It might seem like a small thing but it's very good for public relations and would earn them some goodwill right off the bat.
  by Cowford
A little more thinking out loud regarding Searsport. I'm a skeptic on ethanol for reasons earlier stated. I'm also a skeptic re vehicle import/export potential for many reasons (it's not a growth market [is there even a need for another terminal?] and subject to disruption in the coming decade with EVs; at present, there's no room at the inn and no market for local distribution; etc). Ok, I'm just a skeptic by nature. Anyway...

One thought about the port's acreage crossed my mind and it's confirmed by the MPA/ME DOT report: The port's present petroleum storage capacity exceeds that which is needed by the entire state. Given improved access to natural gas, the demise of GNP and the paper industry's move away from residual fuel oil, and Loring AFB's closure that's not surprising. And the demand ain't coming back. Possibly there IS an opportunity to tear down (additional) tankage and open up close-in acreage for other commodities.

PS: In typical MPA/ME DOT fashion, some of the recommended opportunities are quite fantastical. LNG ship bunkering? Not only have businesses already gone down the LNG path to hell a few times in Maine, the idea of positioning Searsport as a gas station that passing ships will pull into for a fill-up is nuts.
Last edited by Cowford on Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by gokeefe
From my own vantage point I concur with all of the above. I have yet to see a specific market that makes sense for Searsport.


Is there a possibility that CP can steal auto traffic away from CN (and another port)?
  by baldy
Using the GP22ECOs on the Rockland line won't pacify the NIMBYS down there. They'll see smoke from the turbo stacks and "oh, my gosh, the world will be ending". These people won't be pleased no matter what one does. Move and keep the B23-7s down. A CMQ employee has told me they're good locos.
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