The soon-to-be CEO of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway on Monday afternoon met for the first time with Colette Roy Laroche, the mayor of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, the site of the train crash last summer that destroyed the village’s downtown and killed 47 people.
The meeting, which took place in Montreal on Monday afternoon, was “very productive,” according to John Giles, the consultant working with Fortress Investment Group, which is in the process of acquiring MMA. Giles will be CEO of the railroad, which will be renamed the Central Maine and Quebec Railway, once the acquisition is complete.
Giles wrote to the Bangor Daily News in an email that it was an “introductory” meeting “where we articulated the history and credentials of Fortress as a long-term investor in transportation and asset-based companies.”
“It was also an opportunity to listen to the town leaders, to their beliefs and interests and a chance for me to articulate our sincere priorities and longstanding and successful history of being a high-performance company serving customers and communities safely and efficiently, and finally, being a good long-term employer,” Giles wrote.
Giles did not respond to a follow-up question as to whether the transportation of crude oil through the town was discussed.
Attempts to reach town officials in Lac-Megantic were unsuccessful on Tuesday.
However, a Quebec newspaper, La Tribune, reported last week that safety conditions and procedures established between the town and MMA would be on the agenda.
Trains began operating in Lac-Megantic again on Dec. 18, five and a half months after the derailment disaster that killed 47 people and eventually led the railroad company to file for bankruptcy.
Following the derailment and resulting explosion, Lac-Megantic refused to allow the transportation of hazardous materials through its community, asked to be informed of substances being transported at least four hours before a train enters town and required a two-man crew to operate the train, according to the Quebec newspaper.
Fortress Investment Group is expected to close on the acquisition of the railroad’s assets by the end of March.