Irving-owned N.B. Southern Railway has more than doubled the number of locomotives it operates in the past 16 months.

"Used to be one train a day. Now I'm seeing anywhere from one to three," said James Page, who lives in Welsford.

"And it doesn't seem to make a difference whether it's through the week or on the weekend," he said.

The trains are also a lot longer now, with those three and four locomotives often pulling tank cars, Page said.

The real growth over the past year has come from the takeover of a new railway in Maine — the Aroostook line — now known as Maine Northern. The N.B. Southern Railway connects to the Maine line.

Another reason for expansion is the transportation of crude oil heading to the Irving Oil refinery.

"There certainly has been an increase," said Mary Keith, spokeswoman for Irving.

Keith says within two weeks, the company will have a total of 35 locomotives in its fleet.

That's up from just 14 a little over a year ago.

Crude oil contributing

"What we're seeing by way of increased traffic that's coming from the U.S. west and Canadian west in terms of crude oil that's moving to the refinery."

American crude is cheaper than offshore oil, and the refinery has discovered they are able to bring it to Saint John by rail and still make a profit.

Irving Oil is building a new rail terminal for tank cars off Bayside Drive near the refinery.

Keith says 80 workers have been added in recent years to N.B. Southern staff in Saint John. The company and its two Maine railways now have a total of 265 employees.