Brownville Junction Suffers During Railroad Layoffs
“This was a hub of activity with the locomotives running in the background, the smell of the diesel,” said Brownville Junction Town Manager, Matt Pineo.Thursday was a quiet day in Brownville Junction.”When I hear activity in the yard here, it’s music to my ears,” said Stephen Dean, who lives near the rail yard. Layoffs from Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway left many Maine families without income. But the effects are now trickling down to Main Street. “We have lost business-wise everyone that comes down from the yard up the street, so we’ve lost the breakfast and lunch crowd,” said Steve Johnson, owner of the General Store and More. The rail yard used to see constant activity of workers and trains coming in and out. Pineo says the fate of the town depends on the railroad.”The grocery stores, the local corner markets, the coffee shops these people frequent those areas all the time,” Pineo said. Steve Johnson owns the General Store and More, he says in just the past couple weeks, his sales have slowed.”Business has dropped off quite a bit, maybe more than 20 percent if you count the families. And THE ice cream you know, it hurts all the way around,” Johnson said. The layoffs are temporary but MMA Railway says they don’t know when the rails will see their regular traffic again. State Senator Doug Thomas says getting the trains back online should be the priority. “Get that rail line fixed around Megantic, and figure out how to get this rail running again, in the short term, get these people back to work, get things back to normal. Somehow find some money to upgrade these tracks so that they’re better,” Thomas said. Steve at General Store and More says the same.”Well I hope they get up and running real fast or find another line to come in on through another company, whatever they have to do to bring the cars back…bring the business back,” Johnson said.