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News Release for February 10, 2010
State Works to Resolve MMA Railroad PETITION TO ABANDON RAIL LINE in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties
The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) reported today that discussions are continuing in an attempt to resolve the potential “abandonment” of approximately 240 miles of railroad track in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties. This trackage is currently owned and operated by the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad (MMA) of Hermon. MMA owns and operates this freight rail line and approximately 200 additional miles of track in Maine, as well as significant rail mileage in the Province of Quebec. Rail line abandonment is the process by which a railroad seeks authority from the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to discontinue service and potentially allow the removal of track.
MaineDOT has retained an attorney who specializes in STB proceedings to represent the state’s interest. Today, the attorney filed a request for information with the railroad, in connection with the potential abandonment. The state is also working with Railroad Industries, Inc. (RII), a consulting firm that specializes in finding business solutions for continuing operations on distressed rail lines. Meanwhile, MaineDOT is continuing to negotiate with the MMA in an attempt to find a business solution that would allow continuation of uninterrupted service.
Last August, the MMA filed notice that the railroad was contemplating abandonment of this track, which includes the mainline between Millinocket and Madawaska, as well as the Houlton and Presque Isle branch lines. Since that time, the department has met regularly with the MMA to search for possible solutions. MaineDOT initiated the recent measures in response to a February 4th filing of a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Service and Abandon this portion of MMA operations in Maine. The notice indicated the railroad’s intent to file a Notice of Abandonment on or about February 24th. The abandonment would adversely affect some 22 active shippers and other businesses in the region that currently utilize the rail service for freight movement.
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