News Release for April 5, 2011

For more Information:
Paul Merrill, Public Information Officer - 207-624-3355 or 207-215-9297


State Selects Operator For MMA Rail Line

The Maine Department of Transportation said today that a five-member selection committee has unanimously selected Eastern Maine Railroad (EMR) as the operator for the Aroostook Lines, which is the state-owned portion of the former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA).

Eastern Maine Railroad currently operates the rail line between Vanceboro and Brownville Junction. The EMR rail line connects the New Brunswick Southern Railway with the MMA. While the final terms of the lease agreement have not been finalized, Eastern Maine Railroad will be responsible for maintenance and operation costs associated with the rail line. Eastern Maine Railroad is a subsidiary of J.D. Irving, Limited.

The Aroostook Lines are approximately 233 miles long, and stretch from Millinocket to Madawaska. Along with the 233-mile main stem from Millinocket to Madawaska, the state also purchased MMA branch lines to Caribou, Presque Isle, Easton, Houlton and Limestone. This section of the MMA became available when the MMA announced plans to abandon this section of railway in 2010. The state purchased the rail line for $19.1 million in January of this year.

Maine Voters approved a bond referendum last June that designated $7 million to purchase the railway. In addition, the Maine Department of Transportation was notified that it will receive $10,546,436 in TIGER II funds that will help fund improvements to the tracks.

MaineDOT issued a Request for Proposals in December for operations and maintenance of the Aroostook Lines and received five proposals in response, including one from EMR.

This portion of the MMA Railway is a vital economic corridor and transportation asset in northern Maine, with over two dozen businesses in the region utilizing this section of the railroad.