Learn More About Maine’s Big Plans for Freight Rail Upgrades

In Rail, Rail & Mass Transit, Railroads, Transportation by Eric Vantiegham

Planned freight rail improvements in Maine aim to better integrate the Pine Tree state into the national Class I network. 

State lawmakers and freight rail industry stakeholders working to improve Maine’s freight rail infrastructure are set to upgrade 75 miles of track between the towns of Waterville and North Yarmouth. While Maine currently benefits from the use of local and short line railroads, the state is one of only three in the country that lacks a Class I railroad. By making these investments in upgrades to its freight rail infrastructure, key decision-makers hope to raise the state’s economic profile.

Specifically, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Pan Am Railroad will invest $35 million in the upgrades that are targeting completion in 2021. For its share of that sum, MDOT has secured a grant from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration as part of its Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.

These upgrades represent a major opportunity for stakeholders across the state. However, as MDOT and Pan Am Railroad prepare to put their plans into action, they should be considering what investments they should make — such as in rail switch lubricants — to ensure that they can deliver reliable service across their revamped freight rail network.

Boosting Maine’s Economic Profile

By making significant upgrades across a critical 75-mile stretch of track, project stakeholders hope to reinvigorate Maine’s freight rail industry. The corridor in question, which stretches from the Pan Am railyard in Waterville to Royal Junction in North Yarmouth, will be able to serve key communities such as Oakland, Belgrade, Lewiston, and New Gloucester with more reliable and more effective freight rail service.

With these upgrades, state decision-makers hope to boost Maine’s economic profile as a whole. As MDOT said about the project, “This will afford the railroads more traffic and revenues, allowing for further and continuous investment for their properties.”

While this project represents upfront investment in the state’s freight rail infrastructure, authorities expect the returns to be sizable for citizens and companies alike.

Investing in Freight Rail Safety

In addition to laying the groundwork for economic growth in the region, the project will improve the safety of Maine’s next generation of freight rail infrastructure. Along the 75 miles included in the plans, upgrades will include 37 miles of new rail and 25 new switches, at-grade rail crossings, and other various features. For some pieces of equipment, this will be the first major upgrade in more than 50 years.

With these updates, state authorities and Pan Am Railroad’s expert operators plan to keep crew and cargo safe during each and every trip. Facing everything from harsh winter conditions to regular wear-and-tear, freight rail in Maine will need this kind of investment to guarantee reliable service and a healthy return.

Freight Rail Infrastructure Built to Last

As MDOT and Pan Am Railroad prepare for the future of freight rail in Maine, they should also consider what industrial maintenance products they’ll need to keep new equipment in working condition. With rail switch lubricant, for example, rail operators can better prepare for severe weather without having to worry about delays or equipment failures.

Backed by more than 40 years of experience tackling rail and mass transit issues, the Glidex family of lubricants from Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. ensures long-lasting protection for rail switches and other vertical surfaces. Thanks to our synthetic fluid technology, our rail switch lubricants can be applied easily and will work effectively in severe weather conditions — they can even be applied in subzero temperatures.

Our team can handle every stage of the application and maintenance process for you, or provide the critical materials necessary for you to apply our lubricants yourself. If you’re looking to reduce maintenance time and costs, improve train-handling performance, and invest in an environmentally friendly solution, Midwest can help.

Eric Vantiegham is Midwest’s Rail & Transit Specialist. Skilled in product development, new business development, and strategic planning, he enjoys playing ice hockey and coaching his boys' youth teams.