SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Officials with Canadian Pacific say they have an “East Coast advantage” over its long-time rival Canadian National following the acquisition of Central Maine & Quebec earlier this year. The acquisition of CMQ in Maine and Quebec, plus a connection with J.D. Irving’s Eastern Maine and New Brunswick Southern railways, once again gives CP a direct route to the Port of Saint John, 25 years after the Class One pulled out of the east.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be back in Eastern Canada,” said Chief Finacial Officer Nadeem Velani during an online meeting of the Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce. “The potential for growth is enormous.”
CP purchased CMQ for $130 million in November 2019. After getting approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in May, the Class One took over operations in early June. CP now owns the line from Montreal to Brownville Jct., Maine. J.D. Irving owns the rest of the line across eastern Maine and New Brunswick. CP’s presence was felt almost immediately, with the Class One’s motive power showing up on trains and a change to its train numbering system. The two primary road freights on CMQ, Jobs 1 and 2, are now labeled 250 and 251, among other symbol changes. While rumors spread among rail enthusiasts that the CMQ’s fleet of blue and gray SD40-2F locomotives would soon meet their maker, that has yet to pan out. In fact, in recent weeks, a number of the locomotives have crisscrossed the CP system, venturing as far as Chicago and Calgary.
During the Chamber of Commerce meeting, Velani said that CP plans on investing more than $90 million into track and infrastructure on CMQ this year. If everything goes according to plan, CP will begin offering 24-hour service between Montreal and Saint John during the fourth quarter. Velani noted that CP will now be able to move traffic to Eastern Canada faster than CN, which has an eastern main line that takes a roundabout routing over the state of Maine. CP is also beginning to tout its connection to Searsport, Maine, on the former Bangor & Aroostook.