Maine Eastern Railroad
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Maine Eastern 488, ex-Amtrak 239, nee-New Haven 2016
|Dates of operation||2003–2015|
|Predecessor||Safe Handling Rail, Maine Coast Railroad|
|Successor||Central Maine and Quebec Railway|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||Approx. 57 mi. (Rockland Branch)|
Maine Eastern Railroad (reporting mark MERR) was a railroad that operated in coastal Maine, between Brunswick and Rockland, on the former Maine Central Rockland Branch rail line. Maine Eastern passenger trains connected with the Amtrak Downeaster passenger train and Pan Am Railways at Brunswick Maine Street Station. The state of Maine did not renew the operating contract with MERR, which effectively ended operations at the end of 2015.
Maine Eastern was a subsidiary of the Morristown & Erie Railway of New Jersey, who won the bid to operate the line in 2003. MERR provided freight service year-round, and passenger service seasonally between Brunswick and Rockland with former New Haven/Amtrak EMD FL-9 locomotives and stainless steel streamlined passenger cars. Maine Eastern was the successor to Safe Handling Rail, which took over operation of the MaineDOT-owned line when the Maine Coast Railroad chose not to bid on a new contract. In September 2015, the Maine Department of Transportation selected the Central Maine and Quebec Railway to operate the line beginning on January 1, 2016.
Commodities moved in freight service include cement, plate steel, and perlite.
In February 2018, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority voted to conduct a three-weekend pilot passenger service along the line during the summer. However, Amtrak later announced that this plan would be cancelled due to time constraints in the execution of their risk-assessment plan for the rail line.
The MERR roster contains an ex-Canadian Pacific ALCO C-424 and a pair of former Canadian National MLW M-420s. For excursion service, the MERR operated a pair of ex-Amtrak EMD F40PH-2s that still carried their original Amtrak numbers 265 and 291. These were later replaced with a pair of ex-Amtrak EMD FL-9 locomotives, 488 and 489.
- Solomon (2017), p. 152.
- "Central Maine & Quebec to take over route of Maine Eastern". Trains Magazine. September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- Betts, Stephen (March 27, 2018). "Decision to drop plan for summer train to Rockland disappoints city's businesses". Press Herald. Archived from the original on July 9, 2018.
- Soloman, Brian (2017). North American Locomotives (1st ed.). Crestline Books. ISBN 978-0-7858-3533-2.
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