A locomotive on the oil train that derailed and unleashed a deadly inferno in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic last year apparently won’t be among the 30-plus engines scheduled to be auctioned on Aug. 5 in Milo.
The trustee of the now bankrupt railroad said he plans to remove the engine from the sale to comply with a request from Quebec provincial police, who say it could be used as evidence in future legal proceedings.
Robert Keach, the Portland attorney who is trustee of the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, said discussions are ongoing with police about where the locomotive will be stored and who will pay for the storage and insurance.
“There has never really been an issue of whether we would remove it from auction,” he said. “They just needed to ask.”
Aurelie Guindon, spokesperson for the police division that covers eastern Quebec, said the engine can remain in Maine as long as investigators have access to it.
The MMA 5017 locomotive avoided serious damage in the disaster on July 6, 2013, because it remained on the tracks as the 72 cars behind it carrying crude oil entered a curve in downtown Lac-Megantic at a speed in excess of 60 mph. The diesel-electric engine continued rolling along the rails as the tank cars careened off the tracks, setting off explosions and a fire that flattened dozens of buildings and killed 47 people.
The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic operated with more than 40 older-model diesel engines. The railroad’s new owner, Fortress Investment Group, purchased only six of the engines when it bought the company’s assets in a bankruptcy auction this year.
Thirty-two engines owned by the MM&A and an affiliated company, Rail World Locomotive Leasing LLC, are scheduled to be auctioned on Aug. 5.
Most of the proceeds are to go to Bangor Savings Bank. Twenty-eight of the engines had been used as collateral for a loan the bank had given to Logistics Management Systems, a company in Hermon that worked closely with MM&A and suffered financially after the disaster.
The logistics company had defaulted on its loan, according to Yellow Light Breen, an executive vice president with the bank. He said any extra money from the sale of the 28 engines will be used to help pay off the insolvent railway’s other debts.