Former Bangor & Aroostook Line sold to Eastern Maine Railway | So Good News


By Justin Franz

BROWNVILLE, Maine — A stretch of the former Bangor & Aroostook that has had three different owners over the past decade has been sold again, this time to JD Irving’s Eastern Maine Railway.

Eastern Maine Railway and Canadian Pacific, the current owner and operator of the track, recently informed the US Surface Transportation Board that approximately 37 miles from the former BAR between Grindstone, Maine, (just north of Millinocket, home to a major railroad yard) and Brownville (near where BAR traditionally interchanged with CP) was sold to the short line. The sale also includes a branch to East Millinocket.

The route was built in the 1890s and operated as the BAR until 2003 when RailWorld, Inc. purchased the bankrupt railroad and created the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic. In 2010, the MM&A sold much of the former BAR to the State of Maine, which in turn contracted JD Irving (who owns Eastern Maine Railway and New Brunswick Southern) to operate it as Maine Northern. The southern portion of the BAR, including the line between Grindstone and Brownville, remained part of the MM&A. MM&A went bankrupt in 2013 after a fatal oil train wreck in Quebec. The railroad was sold the following year and became the Central Maine & Quebec. In 2020, CP acquired the CM&Q, which included part of CP’s own former main line east of Montreal that it had disposed of 25 years earlier.

Currently, the section of railroad between Millinocket and Brownville is busy because the JD Irving road has trackage rights over it to connect with its sister railroad Maine Northern. This means that it has been possible to see trains of both EMR and CP. However, CP’s ownership of the line made little sense, especially given the railroad’s focus on mainline traffic to the Maritimes (which it reaches via the NBSR). So CP has decided to just sell the 37-mile track. The deal also includes tracking rights through the Brownville Jct. the yard, so that EMR can connect to NBSR.

According to the STB archive, the sale took place in September and was to take effect in November.


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