New Investments to Improve Rail Capacity in Northeastern Maine

September 8, 2017

Last month, U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced a $7.89 Million grant for a project to improve rail infrastructure in Northeastern Maine. NBM Rail Services has been awarded the contract to repair and upgrade 22 rail bridges on the Madawaska Subdivision of the Maine Northern Railway. 

Fourteen bridges will require minor repairs, three bridges require superstructure replacements, and one bridge will be replaced completely. The funding, through the FASTLANE grant program, will help create jobs, improve competitiveness and provide an economic boost for the State of Maine. Following project completion, the 151-mile section will be capable of carrying 286,000 pounds of rail car weight. 



“This major rail link is used daily by manufacturers and customers across our state, and these improvements will significantly increase capacity and efficiency throughout the corridor,” said Senator Collins, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. 

“This investment is good news for our employees, suppliers and customers and will improve the reliability and efficiency of the service,” said Ian Simpson, General Manager of NBM Railways, the parent company of Maine Northern Railway. “We appreciate the commitment of Senator Collins who continues to be a tireless champion for vital transportation links to and from Northern Maine.”

Maine Northern Railway (MNR) services about 25 different customers and moves approximately 50 different commodities across the state and beyond including wood chips, logs, paper, lumber, wood pulp, wallboard, and clay. The MNR workforce has grown from 58 people in June 2011, when the company started, to about 120 people today (26 seasonal). The company is expected to hire an additional 30+ seasonal employees for the ongoing rail services work in the region. 

Since 2011, Maine Northern Railway has partnered with the State on investments of nearly $25M into rail improvements and infrastructure. Since 2014, NBM Railways has improved fuel efficiency by over 30% through the implementation of technological improvements including Mother/Daughter locomotives and APU (Auxiliary Power Units) Hot Starts to reduce engine idle time. This has meant a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the railway.

Did you know? FASTLANE is an acronym for: Fostering Advancements in Shipping Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiency Did you know? Each railcar can be the equivalent of 2 to 4 truckloads. Efficient rail transportation translates into fewer emissions, safer roads, and lower maintenance cost for the highway infrastructure. 

Watch Maine DOT video on how Maine Northern Railway and other Maine companies provide valuable links to Maine’s transportation network.