Posts Tagged ‘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.

Maine State Employees To Get Downeaster Discounts

December 24, 2019

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is giving a 15 percent discount to Maine state employees who use Amtrak’s Downeaster for travel within or outside the state.

The discount is available on all Downeaster trains. State employees must purchase tickets three days in advance of travel and reference promotion code v503.

A state identification card is required for travel.

The Downeaster operates five round-trips daily between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston.

More information is available at AmtrakDowneaster.com.

“We hope this discount will encourage state employees to choose a cleaner method of travel for both work-related and personal travel,” said Natalie Bogart, marketing director at NNEPRA. “It also makes travel time more productive and less stressful than driving.”

Rail Pass Offered for Downeaster Service

June 18, 2018

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and Amtrak have introduced discounted fares through the Discover Maine Rail Pass.

The pass is valid for 10 one-way trips on the Amtrak Downeaster between any Maine station within a seven-day period for an introductory price of $19 per person.

In a news release, Amtrak said the pass is designed to encourage car-free travel within the state and highlight the popular Maine destinations served by the Downeaster.

Although the pass is being promoted to tourists at hotels, B&Bs and campgrounds along the Downeaster route, it is available through all of Amtrak’s distribution channels including online, mobile app, station ticketing kiosks and call center.

The NNEPRA manages the service and provides funding to support it.

Downeaster Trial Expansion Scrapped

March 29, 2018

A proposed extension of Amtrak’s Downeaster service has been canceled.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which oversees the Downeaster, had planned to operate an extension from Brunswick to Rockland, Maine on three weekends this summer.

But Patricia Quinn, executive director of the authority, said the trial service was scrubbed because Amtrak could not conduct a risk assessment of the 58 miles of track to be used by the service in time for the trial runs.

Quinn said Amtrak would conduct its assessment later this year and that the authority is looking to conduct the trials in 2019 with a schedule that “hopefully can be more robust than three round trips.”

The trial service had been expected to operate in August with intermediate stops in stops in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle, Maine.

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.

Downeaster May be Extended to Rockland

October 26, 2017

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is starting a pilot program for Amtrak’s Downeaster service that may see it extended to Rockland, Maine, next summer.

The announcement was made during a meeting of the authority board meeting. Officials said the Downeaster extension would go northeastward from the current northern terminus at Brunswick to Rockland, making stops at Bath, Wiscasset, and Newcastle.

The extension would operate only on weekends during the summer.

It would use former Maine Central tracks now owned by the State of Maine. Central Maine & Quebec handles freight operations.

The 56-mile Rockland branch was rebuilt in the early 2000s and until 2015, the Maine Eastern operated seasonal excursions on the line.

The authority, which helps operate the Downeaster between Boston and Brunswick via Portland, said it will have additional information about the pilot program in the coming weeks.

Amtrak Dome Car running on Downeaster Route

August 24, 2017

Amtrak has assigned its dome car Ocean View to the Downeaster route through late September.

The car, a former Great Northern Railway full-length dome car, ran on the route in August and September 2016.

The car will make four daily trips on the route between Boston and Brunswick, Maine.

Seats in the dome section are available to all passengers at no extra charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Among the view passengers will see are the coastline, marshes and streams. The dome car will operate on the Downeaster route through Sept. 24.

Downeaster Service Beat FY2017 Ridership Goal

July 17, 2017

Amtrak’s Downeaster service carried more than 511,000 passengers during fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30. That was an increase over 2016 ridership and 2017 ridership goals by 9 percent.

The route between Boston North Station and Brunswick, Maine, saw its heaviest ridership during July and September 2016 and during January, February, April, and June 2017.

The record for patronage was posted in 2014 when the Downeasters hosted 518,000 passenger trips.

The service began in December 2001 between Portland, Maine, and Boston and was extended to Brunswick in November 2012.

Maine Rail Expansion Study Shelved

April 5, 2017

A proposed study of expanding intercity rail passenger from Brunswick to Bangor, Maine, has been shelved.

The study drew little support from Maine lawmakers other than representatives from Bangor.

Bangor officials were willing to provide $25,000 for the study, but many state lawmakers said they wanted to wait until a study is completed of expanding service from Brunswick to Lewiston-Auburn.

The cost of a study of expanding service to Bangor also hindered support for the study.

In an unrelated development, Amtrak said track work being performed on select weekends through April 23 will result in some trains being canceled between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Stations affected include Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield.

On April 7 and 21, Northeast Regional Trains 136 and 148 will serve all stations from Washington to New Haven but bus service will be provided at all stations from New Haven to Springfield.

On April 8 and 22, Northeast Regional Trains 140, 143, 146 and 147 will serve all stations between Washington and New Haven. Bus service will be provided at all stations between New Haven and Springfield.

The Vermonter, will operate normally from Washington to New Haven with passengers riding a bus from New Haven that will stop at Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor Locks and Springfield. At Springfield, customers will board the train to their destination.

The Vermonter will operate normally from St. Albans, Vermont, to Springfield where passengers will ride a bus stopping at Windsor Locks, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford and New Haven. At New Haven, customers will board the train to their destination.

On April 9 and 23, Northeast Regional Trains 143 and 157 will serve all stations from New Haven to Washington. Bus service will be provided at all stations from Springfield to New Haven.