CP Rail ordered to continue interchange traffic with Montreal Maine & Atlantic

Canadian Pacific announced today that it has been ordered by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to interchange traffic with the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MM&A) company effective immediately.

A statement from the railway said that on August 13 CP issued an embargo regulating the interchange of all traffic to and from the MM&A.  This was in response to the same-day decision by the CTA to withdraw MM&A’s certificate of fitness.  The CTA’s decision suspended MM&A’s ability to operate a railway.

The CTA modified its decision on August 16 to permit MM&A to continue to operate until October 1 conditional upon MM&A proving adequate insurance.

CP expressed its concerns regarding the fitness of MM&A to safely handle hazardous substances, including the crude oil currently under investigation in the Lac Megantic derailment.  The CTA dismissed CP’s arguments and ordered CP to lift the embargo.

“While we disagree with this order, we have taken immediate steps to comply,” said E. Hunter Harrison, Canadian Pacific Chief Executive Officer.  “The CTA, as federal regulator, has satisfied itself that MM&A is fit to operate and has adequate insurance to do so.  We will review our legal options.”

A story in Thursday’s Toronto Globe & Mail C said a letter from the CPR to the CTA said it is “overwhelmingly concerned” about the risks of transporting oil that is still being analyzed by federal investigators to determine “why the oil created such a fierce fire,” after the Lac-Mégantic derailment.”

MM&A has generated the bulk of its revenue in the past year transporting North Dakota or Western Canadian crude oil from Montreal and other eastern hubs to New Brunswick, where it is destined for a Saint John refinery owned by the Irving family. Most of the crude MM&A carries is transferred from CP and CN trains.

MM&A is seeking to sell its business out of bankruptcy court and, according to The Globe, a spokesman for the Irving family’s rail company, NB&M Railways, recently indicated it was potentially interested in acquiring the Maine carrier.