Monday, February 17, 2014

New Name For The MMA, and Tank Cars

DOT-111 car carrying crude oil
The Bangor Daily News is reporting that the new owner of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic will change the railway's name to the Central Maine and Quebec Railway once the deal closes, probably by the end of March.

The excellent Oil-Electric blog has a good history of the rail line. He raises the interesting question of what power will operate the railway, given that the MMA is selling 25 locomotives to raise money. Perhaps the CM and Q will lease locomotives to start. or perhaps they have no intention of actually operating This filing to the Surface Transportation Board asks for an exemption for a non-rail company to own the CM and Q and operate essentially the same routes and serve the same customers as the MMA.

Speculation on the cause of the Lac-Mégantic runaway has focused on an insufficient number of hand brakes being set on the locomotives and freight cars (I thought that too). It has come to light that the MMA was repeatedly warned about not setting enough brakes - in 2004, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

I have a number of comments I'd like to make about Transport Canada's effectiveness, but that will have to wait for another time.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada is calling for increased tank car safety (but not requiring it) and Irving Oil is voluntarily upgrading the DOT-111 cars in its tank car fleet for increased protection. I'm told that they had a backlog of cars in Saint John due to difficulties with unloading in the cold temperatures, but the backlog is almost clear now. As non-upgraded DOT-111 cars are emptied, they will be shipped off to be upgraded.

EDIT: Added STB link, thank you JHansen!