• Rockland Branch Discussion

  • Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).
Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

Moderator: MEC407

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  by Cowford
 
Let's look at what are actually separate discussions on subsidy:

1. Passenger service. CMQ would not require subsidy. But that's because they would not provide such service. ME was saying that they would require subsidy if MEDOT forced them out of excursion service into an operator category that required ADA compliance, FRA glazing, etc. So either way, if ME DOT wants passenger service, it's gonna be subsidized.

2. Freight service. The article referenced predicted subsidies for freight in the future, but was that really what ME was saying? Rather, ME appeared to be saying that the line is a one-trick pony, and that pony has old old shoes, i.e., an aging railcar fleet. And replacement of this fleet is a costly, unresolved issue. Changing operators ain't gonna make that problem go away.

Additionally, ME was stating that the line is required to be over-maintained for existing freight service and that, in order to keep the track in good nick, a big tie job is looming (~60% of the line's ties are pre-2002 rehab according to track chart). Again, CMQ taking over ain't gonna make that issue go away... or maybe they will, as it brings up an interesting point. The RFP is contradictory on the issue of track maintenance: It states that the line must be maintained "so that the Rockland Branch remains in the same condition it is currently in", i.e., current conditions/FRA Class standards. But in the following sentence it says that "maintenance activities... will be appropriate to the level of freight and passenger service operated over the Rockland Branch..." Man, that last sentence leaves A LOT to interpretation. One could allow the entire line's condition to decline to Excepted status and argue it's appropriate to the level of service required. Then, if passenger service ever comes to be, the state passes a bond (or files for another Tiger Grant) to rebuild the line.
  by MEC407
 
Great points, Cowford. Apparently you've been reading my mind, as I was thinking the exact same things.
  by Watchman318
 
Cowford wrote:
No-one seems to remember that the ME was owned by a short line, albeit a moderate sized one that probably offered similar synergies re billing, etc. And I'm figuring the Rockland dispatching center roster hasn't changed. :wink:
Of the four MERR employees offered positions with CMQ, the dispatcher/asst. general manager was not one.
To the best of my knowledge, the former office in the Rockland station is vacant.

I'm not sure who owns the radio repeaters at Thomaston and Bath, but I believe those are MDOT's. I haven't heard radio traffic for awhile, so I'm not sure what's being done now for communication between dispatch and trains/track cars. Radio contact with the Carlton Bridge operator could be done on the simplex channel, if necessary. Cell phones might still be of some use for contact with dispatch ("railroad-supplied electronic devices") as long as they're used within the FRA rules that became permanent in March 2011. I suppose train crews could use hand signals, but I'd bet they have new radios for switching, etc.

There's not much activity on the line right now. As far as I know, the last time steel wheels were on the rails was 01/15, when the signal maintainer's truck patrolled from Rockland westward.
  by CN9634
 
CMQ uses Railterm so I'm sure that they do so on the Rockland branch as well.
  by CN9634
 
"ROCKLAND, Maine – Officials with the Central Maine & Quebec Railway are knocking on doors in costal Maine this week trying to drum up new business for the state-owned Rockland Branch, which it took over just three weeks ago. Late last year, the Central Maine won the contract to operate the former Maine Central branch line between Rockland and Brunswick, besting the line's previous operator, the Maine Eastern...."


http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... tral-maine" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by johnpbarlow
 
CN9634 wrote:"ROCKLAND, Maine – Officials with the Central Maine & Quebec Railway are knocking on doors in costal Maine this week trying to drum up new business for the state-owned Rockland Branch, which it took over just three weeks ago. Late last year, the Central Maine won the contract to operate the former Maine Central branch line between Rockland and Brunswick, besting the line's previous operator, the Maine Eastern...."


http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... tral-maine" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I've not been to Rockland in at least 5 years but what shippers' doors exist to be knocked on? It didn't seem like there was much non-tourist industry other than BIW along route 1 between Rockland and Brunswick.
  by MEC407
 
Perfectly valid question. There is, or was, a propane dealer in Waldoboro who has or had a siding, but I don't think they've used rail in many years. Other than that, you've got Dragon, Dicaperl (formerly Chemrock), the Maine Yankee dismantlement which ceased a long time ago, and BIW. That's it. Same customers that existed under MERR, Safe Handling, Maine Coast, and Guilford.

Like I said before, if CMQ can do something those four other railroads weren't able to do, it'll be impressive.
  by Cowford
 
“We see lots of opportunity up an down the Rockland Branch,” [Ratledge] says.
Statements like this set off the the bulls*ometer.

PS - BIW remains PAR's customer, no?
  by gokeefe
 
Cowford wrote:
“We see lots of opportunity up an down the Rockland Branch,” [Ratledge] says.
Statements like this set off the the bulls*ometer.

PS - BIW remains PAR's customer, no?
I have to wonder myself ....

Harding's plant at Bath Iron Works is in fact on the MDOT Rockland Branch and is serviced by the contracted operator.
  by johnpbarlow
 
Maybe CMQ can construct an interchange with WW&F....
  by Cowford
 
That were a good'un! :-D

GOKeefe, refer to page two of RFP... It states BIW - Hardings is an ST customer, and the easement provides for ST sole access into the facility. Additionally, Appendix 5 lists only Dragon and DiCaperal as shippers.

The way the easement is written, it actually sounds like ME DOT owns the right of way, ST has the assigned freight rights to Hardings and the operator runs on overhead trackage rights between Brunswick and Hardings.
  by MEC407
 
Interesting. That's new information for me.
  by Dick H
 
Here's a photo of ME #764 switching BIW in 2014. Thanks to Wayne Johnson for the photo.
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... =csrrfan86" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Perhaps there were different provisions in the old agreement between MEDOT and ME, or some side agreement
between ST and ME on switching on BIW on days that PAR did not run to Brunswick. Two or three years ago,
PAR did receive a substantial number of flat cars loaded with steel, that were stored on PAR in Rigby or
somewhere between Rigby and Brunswick for many weeks, until BIW was ready to take them. I think the
current siding(s) at BIW can only hold a few cars at a time.

I am not aware of what businesses along In towns close to the Rockland Branch or east of Rockland that might
ship or receive bulk shipments that might be interested in a modest transload facility at Rockland. Perhaps,
the door to door canvass by CMQ marketing including visits to such businesses. At any rate, it is good to CMQ
making a "personal" effort to promote more freight traffic on the branch..
  by MERailFanJay
 
The only businesses I can think of in the Rockland area are a scrap metal dealer, and Fabian Oil, which just installed some sizable tanks a year or 2 ago, both located just down the tracks from DiCaperol. But I doubt either would be big enough to warrant any rail use. Especially since they would require new siding or even a spur to be constructed.

The propane dealer in Waldoboro looks as though they have buried their siding and it is fenced off. Might be able to reuse it, but again, the place may not be big enough to warrant rail use.
  by 690
 
The siding in Waldoboro isn't buried, but it's hard to see since it's overgrown. I tripped over it this summer while taking pictures of the ME. That said, there isn't a switch for it anymore.
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