August 12, 2015
To the Citizens of Lac Megantic,
Since early May of this year, well-intended but misguided individuals have issued a continuous
stream of urgent warnings predicting imminent disaster on the Central Maine & Quebec Railway
(CMQ). Alleged problems with CMQ’s rails, bridges, culverts and more have been cited,
photographed and circulated again and again. And what do we know about these "cries for help"?
Based on a report from a third-party engineering firm, under observation of Transport Canada and
working in collaboration with our professional in-house engineering forces, and witnessed by
executives from the town of Lac-Mégantic, we have confirmed that our track is safe.
For this reason, and to dispel other ongoing mistruths, I thought an open letter to the community
would be helpful. Without apologies to our vocal detractors, I have begun to call these myths:
Myth No. 1
That CMQ, like many or all businesses (depending on your particular point of view), is a largely
selfish organization, unable or unwilling to make the concessions and promises needed to honor
the social compact that we entered into with the town of Lac-Mégantic in June of 2014.
CMQ has worked to develop a strong, respectful, and caring relationship with the leaders of Lac-
Mégantic. We take great pride in this ongoing, cooperative effort, and are committed to that
journey. I don’t know of a single instance where your leaders have brought an issue to our
attention that we haven’t addressed immediately.
We have lived up to and honored every single element of the social compact put into place with
Madame LaRoche, and we have done it to the best of our ability and with the correct spirit and
We will continue to engage with your elected and appointed leaders. You should be proud of their
professionalism and dedication to the citizens of Lac-Mégantic.
Myth No. 2
That CMQ and Fortress, after purchasing the former assets of MMA, made financial promises and
commitments to the town of Lac-Mégantic and to Transport Canada that they have failed to live
up to, and that the railway is in as bad a shape today as when we purchased it.
It has been well-documented that the railway was in poor physical condition in June of 2014, and
was in a state of uninterrupted decline. Since June of 2014, as promised, we have invested in
excess of $22 million dollars into our railway, arresting this physical decline and have improved the
track and infrastructure immensely. Third-party engineering firms, our own track professionals,
and Transport Canada can attest to the noticeable and visible improvements.
We are now the proud owners of a solid and improving railway; capable of moving freight safely
and effectively at 25 m.p.h., which was our objective. The days of a broken down train, lumbering
across Quebec at 10 m.p.h. are gone. We will, however, continue to operate through your
community at 10 m.p.h as requested and outlined in our social compact.
But it is not just about ties and rails, we have invested time, attention, and resources into
retraining, recruiting, and developing capabilities and a correct spirit within all of our employees.
Their tasks are critically important to all stakeholders, and they must come to work every day
poised to perform their jobs as professionals.
Like any responsible railway operator, we will continue to invest in the best training available as
well as continue to invest in our infrastructure as needed and where needed.
Myth No. 3
That sometime in early January 2016, the self-imposed embargo of crude oil will be lifted and oil
trains will be queued up at Nantes and ready to roll through town.
There are no plans to restart movements of crude oil through the town of Lac-Mégantic at this
time. As far as I can determine, there is currently not great demand to move crude on CMQ’s lines.
But, things change all the time, so here is my commitment to you: if things do change, I will come
to the town, as I have done in the past, and meet with you and your leaders to discuss this
It is my sincere hope that this letter is received in the positive and cooperative spirit in which it is
intended – with openness, honesty and continued partnership with the railway and the leadership
and citizens of Lac-Mégantic.
John E. Giles
President & CEO
Central Maine & Quebec Railway