Thanks for the heads up, Mike. An initial reaction:
The RFP gave a little further insight into the line's traffic base. Alarmingly (for a prospective short line operator), nearly a third of the traffic would be Twin Rivers overhead business to Madawaska... traffic that would likely move under MMA trackage rights with the short line making a paltry $91 per car. A second third is low revenue pulpwood/logs/wood chips. Which leaves about 25 percent being desirable high revenue traffic and the remaining 10 percent being lower margin, but acceptable traffic. I'd guestimate that, after overhead trackage rights fees, a short line would make in the neighborhood of between $6.5 million (at current traffic levels) and $8 million (at the RFP's stated upside). And based on the RFP and past MDOT practice, the state will be looking for a cut of the revenue, say 5-10 percent, to offset their investment cost.
Once the $10 million TIGER track rehab grant is expended, the operator will be expected to maintain the line in like condition. A track-expert colleague suggested a track maintenance rule-of-thumb of no less that $25K per mile (but actual would likely higher). This equates to no less than $5.8 million, or 80 percent of a median revenue estimate. I'd guess fuel would be ~10 percent of revenue... car costs 5 percent. Then you gotta secure locomotives, pay crews, run back office administrative activities... yikes! I could imagine only two companies considering submission of a bid: MMA and NBSR. MMA as it feeds their system, and NBSR as it feeds the Irving parent company activities. And whoever gets it is likely going to come back to the well for operating/track maintenance subsidies.
Some crazy language in there regarding state indemnification, liability coverage, and state approval being required for all subcontractors...
Anyone else give it a once-over?