Log Jam for Largest Lumber Customer
Pleasant River Lumber Company has been left with a literal log jam following a hasty move by Canadian Pacific Railway to remove from service and scrap nearly 200 ex-Bangor & Aroostook pulpwood/log cars.
When CP took over the Central Maine & Quebec in June, the mechanical department inspected the assets and noted that the fleet of 11000 and 12000-series pulpwood cars were originally built between 1964 and 1968, with a rebuilt date of 1997. This drew immediate attention as, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), when cars are 40 years old, built prior to 1974, they are no longer allowed for “Free Interchange” service. They may be handled between participating railroads on an exception basis or must go through a recertification program per AAR Rule 88 Rebuild or AAR Rule 88 Extended Service Status (reference the AAR Office Manual Rule 88 for the explanation of the requirements for the recertification programs). The recertification must be approved by the AAR Equipment Engineering Committee.
This fleet of cars had been primarily in captive service for Pleasant River Lumber to supply logs at their facilities in Maine, primarily Jackman. Pleasant River had recently geared up for an expansion in their production, reportedly to triple the output of lumber. The logs have been originating in Northern Maine on the NBSR and handed off previously to CMQ in interchange for final placement.
Triple Production With Reliance of Logs by Rail
With a solid service between the two shortlines, Pleasant River made that decision to triple the production based on reliance of logs by rail. CP’s arrival and removal of the cars from service was an unexpected blow to the lumber manufacturer. Despite a clause in the AAR guidelines, CP did not continue interchanging the cars with NBSR, rather pulled them from service.
Entire Fleet Scrapped
In October and November, CP began the task of scrapping the entire fleet of cars, leaving Pleasant River at a loss for rail shipment. Various sightings and reports indicate that the majority of the fleet has already been scrapped at locations that include, Millinocket and Derby, ME, as well as at St. Luc, QC. The cars were capable of hauling nearly 150,000 pounds of logs, a task that has now been pushed to strictly trucking.
CP has offered not alternative for the scrapped cars, while Pleasant River now is forced to pay more for rubber tire transportation.