• What is next for MM&A

  • 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 CPF363
With the sale of the lines north of Millinocket coming to a close, what is next for the MM&A? Is the railroad positioned to survive for the long term with a smaller more manageable system to operate? What new traffic can they garnish to sustain the routes that they plan to retain? What kind of working relationship will the new operator of state owned lines (if it is not MM&A) have with MM&A management? Will there be any more lines to abandon? It will be interesting to watch how things pan out in northern Maine railroading over the next few years indeed.
  by ShortlinesUSA
Unfortunately, Maine does not appear poised for any growth of heavy industry, and the trend has been the reverse for years now. Without the northern lines and the loss of the Twin Rivers traffic out of Madawaska, that leaves MMA essentially as a bridge carrier between the CP and the EMRY/NBSR, and whomever winds up operating the northern lines.

I think there is a pretty good chance EMRY will wind up as the contract operator, and if they do, MMA will be delivering almost all of their traffic to them for their original and new operation. If this winds up being the case, one would have to think EMRY would be in a prime spot to buy the MMA if RailWorld decides to throw in the towel on this operation.

I just really don't see any growth potential at the MMA, and I also don't think this is a case where they can shrink themselves to profitability. EMRY/NBSR, on the other hand, could certainly have major growth potential, gain control over their interchange traffic, and eliminate a railroad from the pricing scheme for their customers on a current CP/MMA/EMRY routing, possibly making them a more competitive option against CN to New Brunswick.

My bottom line prediction-- MMA won't be the winner in the coming years. I'm sorry to say that, as I have been (and continue to be) extremely interested in the operations of this railroad since the day they announced the deal. As a relatively new shortline/regional enthusiast back in those times, I relished the opportunity to watch the next Wisconsin Central unfold before my eyes, but what has happened to date has been pretty much a polar opposite...
  by CPF363
Why didn't Irving make an offer to CP to purchase the entire line east of Montreal in 1995 instead of going just to Brownville Jct? Could they have also made an offer to Iron Road Railways for the entire Bangor and Aroostook system in the 2002-2003 time frame?
  by ShortlinesUSA
I was hoping someone else might know a firm answer for this question. I would only be able to offer a surmise that it was one of two things: price was too high, and/or Irving didn't see the need at the time to protect their shipping interests (that is, someone would still be hauling their product to market). The economics of the line were quite different in 1995, with the large paper mill at Millinocket still in operation and likely a LOT more forest products being shipped. I have seen it stated previously that the MMA paid too much for the Iron Roads properties, and couple that with the closure of the Millinocket mill at the start of their ownership and the general decline of industry in Maine and you have the present state of the MMA.
  by employee4
Shortline, I think your first post was right on the mark. It was my prediction in 1996. As far as the industrial climate and business climate in Maine being poor, you are correct but keep in mind Maine now has a gov that is very much business minded and I am sure the business friendly attitude will be comming much stronger than we have seen thusfar. Been a ray of sunshine so far and I have great hopes for Maine.
  by ShortlinesUSA
That's encouraging to hear. I hope that things will turn around in the coming years.
  by sandyriverman
Monday of this week it was announced by Governor Paul LePage that an agreement of intent to buy the idle Great Northern mill in Millinocket had been signed with Meriturn Partners. This agreement is subject to some further conditions but looks doable under the current situation.

.....Hansen announced Monday that Meriturn had signed a letter of intent to acquire the mills if several conditions are met. The conditions include arrangements to establish a biomass cogeneration facility at the Millinocket mill to relieve the mill of its expensive dependence on oil; set property taxes — and seek tax breaks — with local municipalities; and finish environmental and commercial reviews begun in December"......

Keep in mind that now we have a very pro business man in the Blaine House that is serious about putting Maine people back to work and eliminating some of the choking environmental regulations that have stifled business in the northern part of the state as the greenies continue their quest to create the North Woods National Park in a de facto way by just regulating all of the people and businesses out of it.

I am 64 yrs old and this is shaping up to be the best pro-business administration in Augusta in my lifetime.

One of the conditions required by Meriturn is the biomass boiler approval at the mill. This would relieve the mill of its heavy dependance on foreign oil.

......"The deal’s deadline is April 29. If completed, it would restore as many as 150 full-time manufacturing jobs at the Millinocket mill plus dozens more to help operate and supply a new biomass boiler that will relieve the mill of its costly addiction to foreign oil that forced its closure in September 2008, state officials said".....

....."Meriturn specializes in redeveloping industrial sites and manufacturers. According to its website, meriturn.com, Meriturn specializes “in middle-market, corporate restructurings and turnarounds. We invest in basic industries (manufacturing, distribution, services, etc.).”.....

Bangor Daily News Story

Keep in mind that with Paul Lepage in the governor's office this is very well within the realm of possibility. If Baldacci and pals were still there we wouldn't even be reading this. In another story it was noted that the biomass boiler would be on the fast track and that it could be up an running in 6 mos from the word go. These folks sound very serious and have a good track record as far as I know.

Keep fingers crossed. This should be good for the railroad business if it happens. Lots of woodchips could be hauled into Millinocket from all points. A license to burn constructin debris would be even more golden.

  by employee4
Looks like the conditions wanted by the new owners include having the workers take on the resoponsbility of paying taxes. Normal. All businesses want a tax break to do business in Maine but the workers who are still working are still being asked to shoulder the burden of taxes.
  by Dick H
On another list, it is reported that there are 50+ cars
in the Newport yard delivered by the WACR (VRS).
Apparently, the MM&A did not run between Farnham
and Newport this week. More problems on the MM&A.
  by ShortlinesUSA
Was this possibly due to the heavy snow they've received up that way? I saw Frank Jolin had some shots of them plowing the line up north (don't believe it was the Newport line) and digging out switches in what looked to be a massive snow event. I suspect the branch would be a lower priority than getting the mainline cleared.
  by CPF363
Interesting comments here from an older "What's Next..." thread; before oil trains, when the MM&A was selling off most of the old BAR. How things have changed....