Thursday, April 07, 2011

NB Southern to Operate Aroostook Lines

The NB Southern Railway has been selected to operate the former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) rail lines from Millinocket to Madawaska, Maine and the various branch lines off that. The 233 miles of track were purchased by the State of Maine for $20.1 million late last year, and the federal government kicked in just over $10 million to help upgrade the track.

It's actually the US subsidiary of NB Southern, the Eastern Maine Railway, that will operate the trains over the track. The five-member panel reviewing the applicants for the job unanimously chose EMEC.

Presumably NBSR will have to base one or two locomotives somewhere north of Millinocket to serve the area. They will have no direct connection from the "Aroostook Line" tracks to their own, and will have to use MM&A to interchange. Maybe they will lease locomotives from the MM&A for now.

The state is concerned about rail access to the Twin Rivers plant in Madawaska. This plant (formerly known as Fraser Paper) had a dispute with the MM&A and ended up trucking their product into New Brunswick to transload onto CN. The odd thing is that MM&A still owns the piece of track serving the Twin Rivers plant and intends to keep it, so NBSR/EMEC will have to negotiate rights with the MM&A. Time will tell how this plays out.

There is no mention of this on the NB Southern web site, nor the parent J.D. Irving web site. The Irving-owned newspaper Telegraph Journal does have an article on it. I also found a Business Week article and I understand there is something on for subscribers.

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