Lac-Megantic tells new railway owners to keep tracks out of town

Still recovering from a fiery train disaster, the citizens of Lac-Megantic have let it be known to the railroad's potential new owner that it wants the tracks to be laid out of town.

A Lac-Megantic town official says Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche delivered the message this week during her first meeting with a representative for Fortress Investment Group, the winning bidder for the insolvent Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway.

The MMA is the railroad at the centre of last July's derailment that saw tank cars carrying volatile crude oil explode in downtown Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

The Lac-Megantic official says the mayor also made it clear during her "positive'' exchange with Fortress consultant John Giles on Monday that locals no longer want crude oil transported through the middle of the community.

The official, who did not want to be named, says Giles informed Roy-Laroche he was in an information-gathering phase because Fortress was still unsure it wanted to go through with the MMA purchase.

Train service in railroad-dependent Lac-Megantic restarted in December and the MMA agreed not to transport dangerous goods through the town.
At the time, Roy-Laroche said she had participated in discussions to see whether the tracks could eventually be re-routed outside of downtown Lac-Megantic.

The Lac-Megantic official also said Giles told the mayor a considerable amount of investment would be needed to improve the MMA's worn railroad network.
The Maine-based Bangor Daily News reported that Giles called his meeting with Roy-Laroche ``very productive.'' Giles did not respond Wednesday to an interview request sent by The Canadian Press.

The newspaper has also reported that Fortress plans to change the MMA's name to the Central Maine and Quebec Railway once the sale is finalized.
Last month, Fortress subsidiary Railroad Acquisition Holdings LLC secured a winning bid for the bankrupt MMA, which operates about 770 kilometres of track in Maine, Vermont and Quebec.

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