Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) has taken the first step toward abandoning more than 200 miles of track in Maine.
It filed a notice of intent on Feb. 4 with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to discontinue service and remove 233 miles of track in Aroostook and Penobscot counties in Maine. The case is docketed at the STB as AB 1043, Sub. 1.
The possibility of abandonment was first raised with the community and customers last August, but the filing is the first official move to trigger the abandonment review process at the STB.
MMA continues to provide regular rail service and is continuing to work with the Maine Department of Transportation in hopes of finding a solution that would permit continued rail operations on these lines. Robert C. Grindrod, president of MMA, said, "We have been working closely with Maine DOT since the possibility of abandonment was first discussed. We are seeking an alternative solution and consider abandonment the last resort in a process that offers several options short of abandonment."
MMA operates 754 route miles of track in Maine, New Brunswick, Quebec and Vermont. The affected lines subject to abandonment include track serving Houlton, Presque Isle, Caribou and Fort Kent. MMA said it has suffered substantial operating losses on these lines in the last three years due to low shipping volume, particularly of pulp and paper traffic, and high operating costs.
MMA lines between Millinocket and Montreal, Brownville and Searsport, and Madawaska to Van Buren are not included in the application. MMA anticipates that the actual application will be filed on Feb. 24 and that the proceedings at the STB will take approximately three months to complete.
The trackage was known for more than a century as the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad until 2003, when Rail World Inc. bought the railroad and its assets and changed its name to MMA.