Pan Am Railways

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Pan Am Railways
Reporting marks BM, MEC, ST
Locale New England
Dates of operation 1981 – present
Track gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters North Billerica, Massachusetts
File:Mec 31933 08-04-2005.jpg
Pan Am Railways boxcar at Rigby Yard, South Portland, ME, August 2006.

Pan Am Railways (PAR), known as Guilford Rail System (GRS) before March 2006, is a Class 2 railroad covering northern New England from Mattawamkeag, Maine, to Rotterdam Junction, New York. The primary subsidiaries of PAR are the Maine Central Railroad (MEC), the Boston and Maine Railroad (BM), and Springfield Terminal Railway (ST). PAR is a subsidiary of Pan Am Systems, formerly known as Guilford Transportation Industries (GTI). GTI bought the name, colors and logo of the Pan Am airline in 1998.



GTI developed as a child of railroad deregulation in the United States. The passage of the Staggers Rail Act allowed GTI to execute a business plan unlike those of earlier railroads in New England. It revolved around the idea of buying up as many local railroads as possible, to create full “horizontal integration” over New England and the northern Mid-Atlantic states, gaining efficiencies of scale.

GTI started by purchasing the MEC in 1981 from U.S. Filter Corporation. This was followed by its 1983 purchase of the BM and in 1984, it purchased the Delaware and Hudson Railroad (DH). Its network sprawled from the border between Maine and New Brunswick to Boston, and west to Albany, north to Montreal, and south (via trackage rights) to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington.

Following the purchases of MEC, BM and DH, GTI began several major changes to the operations of these railroads and their workforces. One of the first changes took place with new management, followed by consolidation of locomotive repair work at the MEC shops at Waterville, Maine, resulting in repainting of locomotives from the predecessor companies into GTI corporate colors.

In the mid-1980s, GTI began to eliminate marginal low-density routes, particularly in Maine. Fully one-third of MEC trackage was eliminated, including the “Mountain Division” from Portland, Maine to St. Johnsbury, Vermont; the “Rockland Branch” from Brunswick, Maine, to Rockland, Maine; the “Calais Branch” from Bangor, Maine, to Calais, Maine; and the “Lower Road” from Augusta, Maine, to Brunswick, Maine.

When the Calais Branch was cut, service was kept on a now-orphaned section of trackage running between Calais and a pulp mill in nearby Woodland, Maine; these tracks ran for several miles through New Brunswick, Canada, and their only remaining connection to the North American rail network was with Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) at St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Following the Calais Branch abandonment, CPR agreed to haul MEC traffic from the interchange at Calais to an interchange with MEC at Mattawamkeag, Maine. To avoid costly labor union agreements, which would make the Calais-Woodland service uneconomic, GTI leased the operation of this route to its tiny Springfield Terminal subsidiary, which had much more advantageous labor agreements.

Springfield Terminal Railway was a 6-mile shortline connection from Springfield, Vermont, to Charlestown, New Hampshire, that was owned by the B&M. It had once been an interurban, and following typical interurban and shortline practice, it had a union agreement that allowed fewer crew members per train and operation without cabooses. By the time Guilford took over, the operation had been cut back to a stub of a few hundred yards serving one customer and operating infrequently. The tracks have since been removed and the route is now a rails to trails bike/walking path.

Springfield Terminal Railway

More branch lines were subsequently leased to ST, and eventually all of the B&M and MEC were operated by ST. This saved GTI money, but angered labor. In 1986, GTI endured a lengthy and extremely bitter strike by its workforce, which required the intervention of President Ronald Reagan's administration. In 1988, GTI declared the D&H bankrupt and the employees of the railroad took it over, with Susquehanna managing it. The employees then sold out in 1991 to the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In the years that followed, GTI forced many management and salary changes, resulting in other strikes over wages and work rules.

The paper industry provides the largest source of business, both inbound chemicals, clay and pulp (although PAR has lost a lot of that business to truck) and outbound paper. Rail has a slightly more than 50% market share for outbound paper shipments from Maine, most of which must use PAR (truck and boat carry the balance). By comparison, rail has a better than 80% market share from mills in Wisconsin (primarily served by the Wisconsin Central Railroad).

In recent years, PAR rail traffic has trended up somewhat, following national rail industry trends. PAR posted $150M in sales during 2005.[citation needed]


The main line runs from Mattawamkeag, Maine, to Mechanicville, New York, via the lines of the following former companies:

Proposed Expansion

In 1985, the company, then known as Guilford Transportation Industries, entered into an agreement with Norfolk Southern to run trains to St. Louis. Norfolk Southern was attempting to win approval of a plan to purchase Conrail from the United States government and proposed allowing Guilford to lease Conrail lines to St. Louis in order to restore competition that would be lost in the merger. The plan would have allowed Guilford to use the Conrail mainline from Toledo to Ridgeway, Ohio and from Crestline, Ohio to St. Louis. Guilford would also purchase other Conrail track for $35 million.[1] Norfolk Southern did not prevail in its attempt to purchase Conrail in 1985, and the Guilford plan was dropped.

External links


  1. Behr, Peter. "Norfolk Southern Moves To Erase Antitrust Issue." Washington Post, September 26, 1985.

de:Pan Am Railways

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pan Am Railways".
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