• The Rumored End of the MMA?

  • 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 Cowford
"Houlton" must have been a misstatement, as the abandonment would include everything north on Millinocket, with the exception of MADAWASKA-ST LEONARD.
  by employee4

I really do wish someone would look at the entire situation from a different angle. Why did MMA ignore shippers in the areas that they now wish to abandon? After New Orleans was devestated from flooding, LP in New Limerick was flooded with orders. They could not get enough cars to load and when they inquired was told all of the available cars were offline. LP pointed out Oakfield yard was full of NOKL cars which met their needs but was told they would have to be leased in order to use for shipping. Therefore, most of the product was sent down the interstate on trucks. What cars that were used were set twice a week at best. This kind of shipper frustration has been the hallmark of MMA. Two "test cars" of logs were billed from Jackman to Milo chip plant. It took one month and 3 days for the delivery. If ever a company shot itself in the foot, MMA has done a great job. Of course their answer to tightened belts is to lay off anyone possible, assuring the concept that it really does run downhill. Sorry but after hearing Ed tell employees that it was their fault the Bangor and Aroostook was forced onto the skids I lost all respect for him.
  by MEC407
I have to say that my opinion of Mr. B. is beginning to change as well. Granted, I'm an outsider and I don't have much to base my opinion on, but after hearing him on Maine Public Radio saying that he's rolling his eyes at the state for not jumping in and buying a huge chunk of his railroad... well, I just had to roll my eyes at him. The man is not in touch with what's going on in Maine.

You can hear his comments at: http://www.mpbn.net/DesktopModules/PDGN ... uleID=3475
  by employee4
Seems like fast Eddy wants to run on state's money, just like Iron Road did. Problem is the state just doesn't have the money to keep up it's own agenda let alone purchase other ventures. To buy it and fix it all up so MMA can run a railroad just doesn't make much cents to me. Does anyone else realize the employees (what there are left working) took a forced 15% cut in pay last year? Truth is it really does run down hill doesn't it. I just hope people make the distinction between "Bangor & Aroostook Railroad" and Iron Road's "Bangor & Aroostook System". As Ed told us, it was the unions and employees that cost so much money they forced the B&A to deal with hard times. With no unions and very few of the "old B&A" employees left I wonder who is to blame now? The fact that MMA was rated the worse service of any rail line in Maine would have nothing to do with it now would it?
  by Cowford
Some comments on the previous posts:
LP pointed out Oakfield yard was full of NOKL cars which met their needs but was told they would have to be leased in order to use for shipping

It may have looked like an anti-customer ploy, but look at it this way: I don't have first hand knowledge of the LP scenario, but I can imagine what occurred. During that time period, car supply was TIGHT. The lessor probably would have wanted a high rate AND extended lease terms. If LP wasn't offering them an extended volume agreement, it would have been risky to take on those cars. Think of it: the housing market began to soften in '07, and fell off the charts in '08. MMA would have been sitting on all those cars- and paying for them- all these months. At least if they're stored off-lease on their line, they're collecting a storage fee!

407, I know what you're saying about eye rolling, but the subsequent interviewee (the legislator) puts it in context. In short, he stated that passenger service to Brunswick, and even the reactivation of the Mountain Sub should be given a higher funding priority than the MMA issue. Leaving aside the dubious Brunswick passenger potential, the Mountain Sub funding requires substantially more than the proposed MMA funding. So there you have it: the state believes it's wiser to put money into the Mountain Sub than preserve rail service in the County. Now THAT deserves an eye roll!

If the union's blame what's happening in the county on the MMA management, they're off-base. And if Burkhardt actually blames the unions for their demise, he's equally delusional. MMA is doomed for three reasons: 1) They paid way too much for the property, 2)They insist in operating a contiguous system, i.e., operating the CP line, and 3)Traffic potential in their service area was slim to begin with, has dropped precipitously, and will be a long time in coming before it again (if ever) reaches sustainable, i.e., non-subsidy levels.
  by MEC407
Cowford wrote:So there you have it: the state believes it's wiser to put money into the Mountain Sub than preserve rail service in the County. Now THAT deserves an eye roll!
Agree 100%, and in a past thread I said that I thought it was bizarre for the state to sink money into lines that are completely dormant and have no customers, but refuse to put money into lines that still have a few customers left.

If Maine is going to be buying a freight railroad, they ought to buy the one with the most potential for customers -- Pan Am. But last time I checked, it's not for sale. :wink:
stb has a mma 'intent to file for abandonment' on 2/24 of:
madawaska sub 151 miles
presque isle sub 25
fort fairfield sub 10
limestone sub 30
houlton sub 17
the usual verbiage about no customers and too much money to upgrade so as to attract new business. typical railroad doom loop.

ken patrick
  by KSmitty
Cowford wrote:with the exception of MADAWASKA-ST LEONARD.
How did they decide to maintain this bit of rail?

How much business is actually out on the Canadian/Vermont sections of the line?

And lastly with MMA getting sicker and sicker what are the chances for a post-MMA rail company in Northern Maine? Speculating that MMA goes under at some point, would PAR look into purchasing the old BAR line as far north as Millinocket, just to pick up a few more mills? Would NBSR potentially look into purchasing the old CP line through Maine to St. Jean? Or maybe NECR, SLA or some other shorltine look into buying the old CP line from Sherbrooke or New Port VT. to St. Jean?
  by CN9634
For the most part the MMA isn't getting sicker and sicker but is rather at a low-stable spot. If things get worse then they may have to go into bankruptcy but for now it's shedding the deadweight. They actually did a lot of work on the Searsport Sub. this past summer. They are marketing Mack Point as much as they can but it doesn't seem like much is changing. Would like to see unit CP trains out of Mack Point to compete with CN at Halifax or St. John but I don't think that will happen. The Sears Island Container Terminal seems to be pretty much dead as I have heard very little news about it recently.

As for the Fraser section, this may explain why:


The line still connects with CN and the MMA still runs into New Brunswick. Basically the MMA would just have to send a unit VIA CN to run mill operations. All traffic would be interchanged with the CN instead of hauled south.

If it were a railfan world I would love to see CN buy from Edmonston to Millinocket. I doubt CN would have any interest in the line but it would be neat to see the CN in Maine again.
  by Cowford
How did they decide to maintain this bit of rail? [MADAWASKA-ST LEONARD]

A few reasons for this. 1) Fraser still offers traffic/revenue that justifies continued operation over that short line segment. 2) MMA must be assuming that sooner or later, someone (namely the state of Maine) is going assume control of the line segments in-question. If the state purchases the line, they would have secure a designated operator through a bid process... so the MMA is not necessarily a shoo-in. In the event that, say, Company X bid on the County operation and beat-out MMA, the extent to which Company X can control their own destiny is limited by MMA, as MMA would control access to the connecting gateways to CN and PAR. MMA could (and most definitely would) set pricing to discourage traffic over CN or PAR in favor of their long-haul route over their ex-CP line. A hypothetical example: MMA charge for a car of wallboard MILL-NMJ: $1,500. MILL-MONTREAL: $1,800. This sets the PAR in an impossible competitive position. AGAIN THESE NUMBERS ARE HYPOTHETICAL.

I'm rarely in favor of government investment in private enterprise... but of all the MDOT proposed rail projects, bolstering the County's rail network is the only one that even comes close to making sense. That said, part of the reason for MMA's dilemma is their continued insistence in running the old CP line. If the state ever comes through on this (read figuring out a way to secure fed dollars)... MMA needs to be put on equal footing with PAR and CN, i.e., the line's purchase should be contingent upon the MMA agreeing to haulage or trackage rights access between the spin-off lines and NMJ/ST L gateways.
  by calaisbranch
I heard on the radio today that the union representing the Fraser Mill in Madawaska has ratified the most current contract. For some reason, I haven't seen anything on TV or the internet yet. Don't know how much that impacts MMA, but it's sort of good news for up that way with everything else that is going on.
  by CN9634
Check out my above post ;)
  by KSmitty
How much business is actually on the old CP line between Brownville and Lennoxville? And how does that compare with the business volume on the old BAR line that is set to be abandoned?
  by Cowford
Posted by NYC27 last April...
Quebec Customers, not sure how compete or accurate this is - I think this is all of the important ones:

Greybeck in Bedford, PQ - crushed limestone - might reload at Farmham unless Stanbridge Sub has been restored
EKA Chemical - Magog, PQ - sodium chlorate plant
Kruger - Sherbrooke, PQ - scrap paper
Steel Fabricator - Sherbrooke, PQ - structural steel
Tafisa - Megantic, PQ - OSB plant
small feed mills - Cookshire and Farnham, PQ

Newport Sub:
Blue Seal Feeds - Richford, VT
Poulin Grain - Newport, VT
Feed Commodities - Newport, VT
plus a few small grain/fertilizer places along this line
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