Federal panel approves abandonment of northern Maine rail line

Engineer Rick Cameron of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway looks at his rearview window as he reverses Engine 100 at the Squapan station in Masardis Thurdsday, March 18, 2010. Engine 100 was built in 1957.  Safety concerns and poor maintenance along sections of the MM&A railway in northern Maine sometimes limit the speed of their freight trains to 10 to 15 mph.  State officials are seeking a $25 million bond to repair rail in Aroostook, Penobscot and Androscoggin counties. Without such aid railways like MM&A might have to abandon their 241 miles of track which remain crucial to Maine industries. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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Engineer Rick Cameron of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway looks at his rearview window as he reverses Engine 100 at the Squapan station in Masardis Thurdsday, March 18, 2010. Engine 100 was built in 1957. Safety concerns and poor maintenance along sections of the MM&A railway in northern Maine sometimes limit the speed of their freight trains to 10 to 15 mph. State officials are seeking a $25 million bond to repair rail in Aroostook, Penobscot and Androscoggin counties. Without such aid railways like MM&A might have to abandon their 241 miles of track which remain crucial to Maine industries. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Posted Dec. 27, 2010, at 6 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 05, 2011, at 7:25 p.m.
CAPTION

Conductor Jarrad Clark throws a switch on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway so engineer Rick Cameron could change tracks in Presque Isle during their bi-weekly Job 120 trip to Presque Isle Thursday, March 18, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)    (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
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CAPTION Conductor Jarrad Clark throws a switch on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway so engineer Rick Cameron could change tracks in Presque Isle during their bi-weekly Job 120 trip to Presque Isle Thursday, March 18, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ) (WEB EDITION PHOTO)

PORTLAND, Maine — The federal Surface Transportation Board has approved Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s request to abandon 233 miles of rail in northern Maine, paving the way for the state to buy the line and find a new rail operator.

For more than a century, the railroad has carried products in and out of northern Maine. But that nearly came to an end when the rail line asked last year to abandon the line from Madawaska to Millinocket because it was losing millions of dollars.

The state ultimately agreed to pay $20.1 million in cash for the rail, which hauls lumber, paper products, logs and wood chips.

Board Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III says the panel is “pleased to play a role in keeping the trains rolling in northern Maine.”

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