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Rockland Branch News
Maine Potatoes ride the Rails
January 18, 2023
All other meetings at this time are virtual
Bi- Weekly meetings on Wednesday's at 7 pm for the subcommittee on getting out information regarding the push to reach Bangor by passenger rail.
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While the attention of late has been on the announced CSX/PanAm acquisition deal, on a smaller scale was the launching of Maine Switching Services (MSS) headed by Joe Feero in 2020. See https://maineswitching.com/ for contact information. Vital to growing Maine’s economic fortunes are industries that can produce or receive rail carload quantities. The more the merrier to reduce highway traffic and grow jobs.
Where the larger eastern class 1s (CSX,CP,NSC) or class 2 regionals (PanAm) do not want to allocate dedicated resources to switch certain industrial plant complexes due to economics, companies like MSS can step in and provide custom customer switching to keep the industries running. Often, these are large industrial complexes with numerous rail sidings handling several commodities requiring around the clock or specialized servicing. For the larger railroad, they can drop and go from a support yard and let MSS do all the customized spotting of cars with dedicated crews that work with the rail customer. Currently, MSS serves the N D Paper complexes at Rumford and Old Town.
While a small part of the overall line haul, companies like MSS play a very strategic role in the often complex first and last mile of a move in the world of rail logistics. The goal is to reduce overall rail costs and make Maine products more competitive. This type of service helps protect the Maine’s important rail right of ways which are vital for Maine’s future.
With the above stated, the recent Shawmut dam debacle points out the critical need to maintain our paper mills. Sappi probably generates a half of train of carloads per day. The loss of this critical mass could lead to an erosion of rail service. We do not need another dying branch line. I do not think CSX would be happy to acquire a dwindling traffic base. This issue needs to be put to rest immediately in concrete terms so that there is no issue about maintaining the dam.
As a retired railroader, I am glad to see the innovated use of this type of service to promote the continued and hopefully increased use of Maine’s rail assets. We need car load industries!!
Robert E. Holland
Thanks to MBTA Trails for Permission to reprint!