Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Potential suitor emerges for beleaguered MM&A

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A Canadian rail group reportedly is negotiating with the State of Maine in hopes of acquiring the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, which filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 7 following a derailment and explosion July 6 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Canadian conglomerate J.D. Irving Ltd.'s NB&M Railways is one of the MM&A's creditors. NB&M Railways includes short lines New Brunswick Southern Railway, Eastern Main Railway, and Maine Northern Railway, which together serve New Brunswick and Maine. 

Mary Keith, vice president of communications for Saint John, New Brunswick-based J.D. Irving, told local Maine media her company is monitoring the MM&A bankruptcy process. "We are certainly very concerned about maintaining rail connections in the state of Maine," she said. 

In response to an inquiry from Railway Age, Keith said, "Our company would be one of many in Maine and New Brunswick that depends on quality rail links to move outbound finished products to other Canadian and primarily U.S. markets as well as receive inbound raw materials for our manufacturing operations. As the operator of two railroads in Maine and the New Brunswick Southern Railway [in Canada], connections to the MM&A are vital to our operations and the customers we connect via our railroads. As a privately held company we would not disclose financial impacts of the current situation. We are maintaining open lines of communication with federal and state officials regarding the importance of sustaining viable rail links. We are currently reviewing our options."

Maine officials have actively weighed options for replacing or supplanting MM&A's role following the Lac-Megantic incident.