HERMON — Once the sale of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway is complete, that name will be filed away in the history books.
Railroad Acquisition Holdings, the affiliate of New York-based investment firm Fortress Investment Group that is in the process of buying Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway out of bankruptcy, will change the railroad company’s name to the Central Maine and Quebec Railway.
John Giles, a consultant working with Fortress on the purchase of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, confirmed the new name in an email to the Bangor Daily News. He said the name was chosen because it “has a nice ring to it” and is an accurate description of the communities it serves.
Chalmers Hardenbergh, an astute railroad industry observer as editor of Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports, said Fortress chose a descriptive name — something he said would not be as simple as one might think — though one that lacks the expansiveness compared to a name such as Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.
“It’s interesting because a lot of Maine names have already been chosen,” Hardenbergh said. “How do you say Maine when you already have Maine Northern Railway, Eastern Maine Railway, Maine Eastern Railway, Maine Central Railroad, Boston and Maine. So almost by default you have to say central Maine or southern Maine, but of course they don’t operate in southern Maine.”
The new name is similar to that of Maine Central Railroad, which has been around for 100 years and remains the formal name of the railroad operated as part of Pan Am Railways’ network, Hardenbergh said.
“There’s a little bit of an echo there of history,” he said.
Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor on Aug. 7, a month after one of its trains rolled driverless down a hill before derailing in the middle of the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and causing an explosion that killed 47 people.
It’s not uncommon for a new owner of a railroad to change the company’s name, especially if it was bought out of bankruptcy, according to Hardenbergh. Before operating as the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, it was the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, which filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and was purchased the next year by Rail World Inc.
Fortress, which was the winning bidder in an auction last month for Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway’s assets, hopes to close on the sale of the railroad by the end of March.