December 6, 2013

Pan Am Railways stops service past Madison paper mill

Mill’s decision to stop shipping via rail prompts Pan Am to say it’s no longer economical for the railroad to operate north to Anson.

By Rachel Ohm
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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CHANGES: Cousineau Wood Products employees Darrell Clark, left, and Jerry Chestnut work on flooring stock at the North Anson company on Thursday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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rail service: Madison Paper Industries has stopped shipping on Pan Am rail lines like these because derailments hampered the paper company’s deliveries, according to a paper company official. The section of track is near Martin Stream Road and the Fairfield and Norridgewock townline.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Scarano said service could resume if there was a customer that could provide enough traffic to maintain the line.

At the peak of railroad usage about five years ago, Madison Paper was shipping about 170,000 tons of paper products, or roughly 2,000 rail cars per year, Drechsel said. ARC Enterprises was using 30 to 40 cars per year, according to Kilbreth. Cousineau said his operation used about 100.

Although the mill is not shipping via the railway, the company still considers that an option, Drechsel said.

“The service that we’ve had has been very unreliable to get our product to our customers in a timely fashion,” Drechsel said. “The condition of the track in the Madison area is not good. I’m not a railway engineer, but when you see waviness like that on the track, it’s surprising.”

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, which oversees operations and safety on the nation’s railroads, there have been nine derailments reported in the state this year on all lines. However, railroad companies are required to report only derailments that occur at a public road crossing or cause significant damage, death or injury, according to the administration’s guidelines.

Drechsel would not give a specific number but said the paper mill has counted more than nine derailments in the last year on Pan Am’s railways.

“Unless the service improves, we can’t jeopardize our product delivery to our customer,” Drechsel said. “Cost savings or not, if you can’t get the product to the customer in a timely manner, it’s worthless when it arrives. It makes no sense at all to ship over a system that is unreliable or where service can’t be provided.”

Having rail access is important to attracting new business, Worthley said. He said he doesn’t blame the railroad or Madison Paper Industries for the lack of service.

At the time the grant was applied for in North Anson, a West Coast company had expressed interest in expanding its business at Cousineau’s business, but the company did not want to go ahead with the project without guaranteed access to a railway.

“All the goals that were expected to become reality once the line was completed, they each evaporated during the reconstruction term,” Worthley said. “They have been using it some, but the business that was the real impetus behind the project decided not to come, and the economy tanked. Things went sour by the time we completed the reconstruction project.”

Rachel Ohm— 612-2368
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Additional Photos

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INCOMING: Cousineau Wood Products employee Ryan Atwood moves raw wood stock that now arrives by truck to the North Anson mill because Pan Am Railways no longer carries deliveries to the company.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Trucking: ARC Enterprises, a manufacturer of steel bridge beams in Kingfield is bringing shipments of large sheets of steel, some as large as 85 feet long by 10 feet wide, via truck from South Portland, a distance of 90 miles.

Contributed photo

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