By Justin Franz
ROCKLAND, Maine — The Canadian Pacific has informed the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that it plans to hand over operations on the former Maine Central Rockland Branch to the New York-based Finger Lakes Railroad.
Nathan Moulton, director of freight and passenger rail services for the Maine Department of Transportation, said that so long as the STB doesn’t object, the lease will be transferred on September 9. Finger Lakes will begin operating shortly afterward. CP got the lease to run the state-owned branch between Rockland and Brunswick in 2020 when it purchased Central Maine & Quebec. The current lease runs until December 31, 2025.
The scenic 56-mile branch has had a parade of operators over the last three decades. In 1987, the state purchased the line from Guilford Rail System so that it would not be abandoned. From 1990 until 2000, the line was run by the Maine Coast Railroad, a spin-off of the Massachusetts Central. In the early 2000s, Safe Handling Inc., a Maine-based logistics company, operated the line for a few years before New Jersey’s Morristown & Erie won the contract and ran it as the Maine Eastern Railroad from 2005 until 2015. Maine Eastern ran freight and seasonal passenger services. Central Maine & Quebec began operating the branch in 2016.