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Federal & State Officials Meet About Possible Rail Line Closure 

The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway wants to abandon more than 200 miles of track in northern Maine, saying it’s losing millions of dollars a year. Federal officials were in Bangor today to discuss ways to save that rail line.The end result could be the loss of more than 1700 jobs if the rail line closes. Officials from the federal government got to hear first hand how devastating it would be if the 233 mile stretch of railroad in northern Maine was closed. Joe Szabo from the Federal Railroad Administration made the trip from Washington to hear first hand how bad the situation could get if help doesn’t arrive soon. “Well it’s obvious it’s very important to the economy of the state of Maine and the businesses of the state of Maine,” says Szabo, “it’s a very serious situation and everybody needs to help.”A top official from the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway told the panel his decision to close the railroad was based on losses of more than $13 million. He says there’s just too much track and not enough revenue. Representatives from businesses who would feel the devastating impact also adressed the panel.Senator Susan Collins says they need to find a way to work together to find a solution. “It’s also encouraging that the shippers are all working together looking at a possibility of a cooperative that might be able to ensure the volume of the shipping is steady on the line to make it economically viable,” says Senator Collins.Szabo says the federal government will help out where they can to keep the rail line open. He says there are federal grants the state can apply for. “We can’t be the first dollars in the door, but certainly with a unified effort between the state and the shippers, the federal government has the ability to try to find those final dollars that it takes to seal the deal,” Szabo said.Maine’s top officials all agree, closing the rail line is simply not an option. “Eventually the economy is going to recover and we need to make sure that we still have in place the transportation network that is necessary for businesses to thrive and create good jobs,” says Senator Collins.Governor Baldacci says this is a statewide problem that requires a statewide solution. “We’re all one state. We’re going to connect the dots and we’re going to get the job done.”