CN9634 wrote:Tons of opportunity out there in the energy, raw minerals, building construction, and light manufacturing sectors. Some places are finally seeing resurgences and new market opportunities for intermodal, auto, steel and other especially in New Brunswick. Pan Am didn't maintain their bridge line from Waterville east and now are paying the price as they concede traffic to CMQ. Likely, PAR won't make it out of the next decade under its current ownership but with the right owner, it certainly can make huge gains, especially in the Waterville to Mechanicville corridor. Just consider this for a second.... service is better when running NBSR-CMQ-VRS-PAS-NS than it is NBSR-PAR/PAS-NS. Similarly NBSR-CMQ-VRS-NECR-CSX trumps NBSR-PAR-CSX routing. All the while trucking companies in Maine are healthier than ever (even with mill reductions granted they do have a fuel advantage)
Where would PAR or a new owner make huge gains? What traffic is out there that is being neglected by PAR? Even the posts and threads on railroad.net during the past years spell out the challenges for PAR and all of Maine's railroads once you move beyond the paper industry's finished outbound and raw material inbound traffic, and dispelled the armchair suggestions. Also, there's not that much traffic moving around PAR via CMQ/VRS and given that CMQ service to/from VRS, as chronicled in railroad.net , has not been good I'm inclined to believe the routing is more related to price (or legacy contracts) than service.
Reviewing past suggestions of PAR traffic opportunities neglected we have had light-loading paper, fiber for either domestic consumption or export, french fries, potatos, eastern Canada/US intermodal, bottled or bulk water, crude oil, particular propane moves beyond what is already being pursued, and international container traffic via a Maine port. None possible, practical or without challenges given rail's competitive (dis)advantages, PAR's position or leverage within the rail network, truck or rail competition, limited size, low financial contribution, existing industry or individual company logistics, or limited market opportunities and large capital investment requirements joined hand-in-hand. The notion that PAR is neglecting opportunities and failing to diversify is overly critical of PAR and overly optimistic about PAR traffic opportunities. The notion that they failed to make capital infrastructure investments that would have had to be justified over 25/30 years, especially now evidenced by what is going on with their paper market, is also overly critical, though the past lack of attracting public investment for certain needs, common practice amongst New England's regional and shortline railroads, might be debated.