Posts Tagged ‘Brunswick Maine’

Maine Legislatures Eye Bangor Extension of Downeasters

February 18, 2021

A group of Maine lawmakers are seeking funding of a feasibility study to examine extending rail passenger service to Bangor.

The study will review the cost of infrastructure improvements, station locations, and projected ridership if Amtrak’s Downeaster service is extended northeast from Brunswick, the current northern terminus of the route.

Similar study funding proposals have failed, most recently in 2017.

State Sen. Joe Baldacci, one of the leaders of the latest effort, believes the time may be right to try again because the U.S. Department of Transportation has a rail-friendly top administrator in Pete Buttigieg.

Additional Passenger Service Being Eyed in Maine

August 7, 2019

A study released earlier this year identified a potential new rail passenger route within the State of Maine that could be funded by a combination of fare revenue, state funding and federal funding.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is overseeing the development of the possible new routes

The Rail Authority currently manages the Amtrak’s Downeaster service between Boston and Brunswick, Maine.

“I think the time has come to look at alternative mass transit to help get people around,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Rail Authority in an interview with Trains magazine.

The agency’s passenger rail service plan released in May said potential new services could include diesel multiple-unit equipment would between Lewiston and Auburn, connecting with the Downeaster at Portland or Yarmouth.

The study identified three possible routes for the Lewiston-Auburn service, including an existing Pan Am Railways freight route, an inactive railroad right of way owned by the state that runs parallel to the Pan Am Route, and an abandoned route of way.

Capital costs range from $189-295 million to ready either of those alignments for high-frequency passenger service through to Portland, or $143-184 million to terminate at Yarmouth.

Quinn views the Lewiston-Auburn service as “more of a commuter-type connectivity” that would provide connections for longer trips to the Downeaster.

Another potential service change would involve extending the Downeaster further up the Atlantic coast to Rockland via a rail line owned by the state whose last seasonal weekend passenger trains ended in 2016.

The line has freight service provided by the Maine Eastern Railroad.
“The thought process there is using our third set of equipment and just extending up to Rockland,” Quinn said.

It would be a weekend only summer operation that Quinn hopes can be implemented next year.

“Starting up a train and have it go back and forth between two arbitrary locations doesn’t necessarily mean that this is going to be an economic success.” Quinn said, adding that additional study is needed to identify specific regional and social benefits.

The Rail Authority is also conducting a study of a new rail passenger station in Portland, where some Downeaster trains originate and terminate.

Amtrak now uses the 20-year-old Portland Transportation Center at Thompson’s Point, which is 10-15 minutes by car or city bus from downtown Portland.

For trains to continue to either Brunswick or Boston requires a reverse move that adds 15 minutes to the travel time.

The Portland station has one rail platform and is at capacity for car parking and bus docks.

The Rail Authority would like to see a new multimodal transit center along the Pan Am main line with a double platform so trains could meet there going northbound and southbound.

The Maine Department of Transportation is studying possible station sites and its report is expected to be released in September.

In a related development, the Rail Authority has estimated it would cost more than $100 million to develop passenger rail service between Portland and Westbrook.

A study found that lowest ticket price to cover costs would be about $12.50 per trip, not including weekend revenue.

The study said the next step will be to work with Portland and Westbrook officials to create an operating plan. That will also need the approval of host railroad Pan Am Railways.

Downeaster Extension Test Runs Set

December 6, 2017

New England transportation officials hope to announce in January the details of a proposed summer service to Central Maine.

The plans are to extend Downeaster service to Rockland in the “Vacationland” region of Maine.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has said that the service would operate on weekends during the summer. NNEPRA manages the Downeaster line.

Officials said that test runs are slated before the end of this year to examine the potential schedule and cost of extending service beyond Brunswick.

NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn said the trains would also stop in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle.

“It’s conceptual,” Quinn said. “We’ve penciled it out and we’re in the phase of trying to see if we can actually do what looks like [it] might be possible on paper.

“Obviously it’s a heavily visited area. There’s a lot of tourism up the coast of Maine.

Quinn said it would also be a “very beautiful and scenic ride.”

Passenger service to Rockland ended in 2015 after the Maine Department of Transportation accepted a bid from Central Maine & Quebec Railway to operate freight service on the line between Brunswick and Rockland.

At the time, Maine transportation officials said they would eventually accept applications for passenger service on the route.

“The railroad infrastructure is a valuable resource that’s not being used to its full potential right now,” Quinn said.

Part of the motivation for extending the Downeaster service would be to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. Route 1

NNEPRA said earlier that the Downeaster carried 511,422 between July 2016 and June 2017.

Downeaster Expansion Being Studied by Amtrak

November 1, 2017

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is eyeing an expansion of Amtrak’s Downeaster that will include two or three round trips to Rockland, Maine, on Saturdays and Sundays.

The service would be seasonal and seek to divert traffic from congested U.S. Route 1.

Downeaster trains currently operate daily between Boston and Portland, Maine, with some continuing to Brunswick, Maine.

Executive Director Patricia Quinn said Amtrak is reviewing the route to see what repairs and upgrades need to be to stations and track.

The 56-mile route to be used is owned by the state and was once part of the Maine Central. Freight operations are provided by the Central Maine & Quebec handles freight operations.

The line was rebuilt in the early 2000s and used by Maine Eastern tourist trains until 2015.