Maryland Midland Railway officials say they are negotiating with operators of a dinner train that could replace the EnterTRAINment Line, which went out of business in May owing more than $500,000 to creditors.
Maryland Midland President Paul D. Denton said he did not want to discuss details because no deal has been struck with the owners of the excursion line.
"The negotiations are pretty far down the track," said Mr. Denton. He said he has no timetable for a possible agreement, but that "it looks very promising at this point."
Maryland Midland officials rejected a proposal from a New Jersey operator to start a dinner train to replace the EnterTRAINment Line.
Ken Bitten, president of Classic Rail Cars Inc., said he received a letter from Charles Chadwick, Maryland Midland chairman, saying that the railway owners want to choose the operator of any new dinner or excursion line.
Mr. Chadwick refused to comment, but Mr. Denton said the rail line owners didn't consider Mr. Bitten's offer as good as the one currently being negotiated.
The EnterTRAINment Line ran excursions over Maryland Midland tracks in Carroll and Frederick counties and south central Pennsylvania. The owners, five investors from Michigan, turned over the assets to an attorney in June under a procedure similar to a corporate bankruptcy.
The attorney, Howard A. Rubenstein of Baltimore, reported last week that a Nov. 29 auction of the EnterTRAINment Line's equipment, including railroad cars, grossed $94,903, 30 percent of its appraised value of $327,000. Mr. Rubenstein reported deductions that would reduce the net proceeds to $71,205.
Several auctioneers said the figure is not out of line for a distress sale, in which buyers know that the items must be sold. Such a sale usually brings 25 percent to 35 percent of the appraised value, they said.
Mr. Rubenstein said his next step will be to file an account of cash and debts in Carroll County Circuit Court. He said the account will go to a court auditor, who determines priorities among the creditors. If no one objects, the money will be distributed according to the auditor's listing.
Many creditors are likely to be disappointed. The state comptroller's office has filed liens against the EnterTRAINment Line for $343,000 in unpaid amusement taxes, and the Internal Revenue Service is seeking $63,000.
Marvin Bond, spokesman for the comptroller's office, said his understanding of the law is that the tax liens stand "at the head of the line" for repayment.