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CP to buy direct line through Quebec, Maine

Ill-fated Montreal, Maine + Atlantic line part of deal

searsport maine rail
Rail lines en route to the Port of Searsport, Maine. (BWFolsom/iStock/Getty Images)

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) is set to buy its way back into Quebec’s Eastern Townships and through to eastern ports with a deal for Central Maine and Quebec Railway (CMQ).

Calgary-based CP announced Wednesday it has a deal with CMQ’s owner, Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors (FTAI), to buy the railway’s 774 km of rail lines through Quebec and Maine for an undisclosed sum.

The CMQ track gives CP a direct line to the U.S. east coast at Searsport, Maine, about 45 km south of Bangor. It also provides CP with connections, in Maine, to Canada’s East Coast at Saint John, N.B., by way of Eastern Maine Railway Co. and New Brunswick Southern Railway.

By giving shippers an option to Canadian National Railway’s (CN) track through Eastern Canada, the CMQ deal is seen as “preserving and enhancing competition” for rail service, CP said.

“This strategic acquisition gives CP a true coast-to-coast network across Canada and an increased presence in the eastern U.S.,” CP CEO Keith Creel said in a release.

New York-based FTAI created CMQ in 2014 when it bought the assets of Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA), which declared bankruptcy in 2013 in the wake of the Lac-Megantic rail disaster.

The disaster occurred when brakes failed on a train of oil tankers which had been parked for the night on the MMA main line uphill from Lac-Megantic, Que. The train rolled downhill, derailed and exploded in the community, killing 47 people.

The lines which form CMQ had been originally owned by CP and by the now-defunct Bangor + Aroostook Railroad (BAR) running through Quebec and Maine. After those companies divested the various lines in the late 1990s, several companies “tried unsuccessfully” to operate them before 2014, according to FTAI. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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