UPDATES: FGLK: Assumes Maine Rockland Branch Operations

UPDATE 2 – 19.August.2021

19.August, Thomaston ME – Dragon Cement, one of three industrial shippers on the Maine Rockland Branch, will cease shipping cement east via rail to Rockland’s South End terminal, beginning 2022. Dragon has used the terminal to load cement on to barges for short-sea shipping to Boston and other locations. Dragon will continue to ship cement directly to customers west via rail for interchange at Brunswick, and by truck.

Dragon’s Rockland cars are designed specifically for the marine loading operation, and their certification expires at the end of 2021. Loading at Rockland will require extensive modifications to other cars to meet current specifications, and/or to the terminal. Dragon is considering whether and when the Rockland Terminal operation might be reopened {Stephen Betts, 19.Aug.2021, Courier-Gazette}

UPDATE 1 – 18.August.2021

18.August – FGLK is assuming operating responsibility for the Rockland Branch according to the existing Lease and Operating Agreement executed on 07.Dec.2015, and in effect from 01.Jan.2016 through 31.Dec.2025, according to Maine DOT sources.

The LOA reserves the right to assign the agreement when/as MEDOT sees fit. The actual date of assignment is subject to STB approval of the CHANGE OF OPERATORS EXEMPTION, and the CONTINUANCE IN CONTROL EXEMPTION, filed per ANRP’s original report, below. Other considerations may affect the date of assignment.

Rockland Line
Description of the Line as it relates to these proceedings: 1. Brunswick Terminal Area (see inset) between the east side of Church Road, MP 14.97 and (K&P) MP 16.40 (Rock Jct.); 2. the Rockland Branch between (MEC) MP 29.40 in Brunswick, and MP 85.55 in Rockland; and 3. the Atlantic Branch Line (see inset) between MP 85.55 and MP 86.65 in Rockland. This footnote in the CHANGE OF OPERATORS EXEMPTION reflects lingering ambiguity:
The mileposts and mileage differ slightly from those shown by CMQ when it took over operations of the Subject Line in 2015. Midcoast believes the discrepancies relate to CMQ’s use of control points (CPL), rounding and typographical errors. 

Original report – 09.August.2021

09.August, Brunswick ME – Finger Lakes Railway, through its Midcoast Railservice entity, opened two related STB dockets (FD_36531, FD_36532) to assume operating control of the Rockland Branch running between Brunswick and Rockland ME.

FD_36531 seeks a CHANGE OF OPERATORS EXEMPTION between Midcoast and CMQ as the former assumes the contracted operating responsibility for the line, and FD_36532 asserts a CONTINUANCE IN CONTROL EXEMPTION between FGLK and Midcoast, as the latter converts from non-carrier to common carrier status upon commencing operations on the line.

FGLK’s filings are pursuant to a Lease and Operating Agreement between Midcoast, Maine DOT, and CMQ. Details of the agreement are not yet available, but a current contract between Maine DOT and CMQ runs until 2025. It was clear at the time of CP’s acquisition of CMQ in 2019 that the new owner preferred to relinquish the Rockland Branch, which is disconnected from the CMQ network.

The primary customers on the line are Bath Iron Works in Bath, and Dragon Cement and Dicaperl Minerals, both in Thomaston.

As a general guideline in the face of some ambiguity, “Midcoast will be assuming the operations of all of the lines operated by CMQ pursuant to the Lease Agreement.”