Maine Commuter Rail

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gokeefe
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by gokeefe »

Here's another angle. If Maine is going to get involved in anything related to transit it should be construction of a street car system in Portland. The commuter rail folks make a good point that, unlike inter-city service, they can leverage federal funds (in large quantities) for these projects. I think that's great but that it would best be spent in Portland with a focus on connecting the Portland Transportation Center at Thompson's Point to the Old Port.
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MEC407
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by MEC407 »

CN9634 wrote:Guilford had initially argued that they needed 132lb rail on the DE project because 115lb wasn't safe for 79MPH (which isn't true at all).
Right, and they had to be dragged into that kicking-and-screaming, and they still don't allow 79 MPH running in as many places as Amtrak and NNEPRA originally planned... so that's why I suggested that heavier rail would be an absolute necessity if we ever hope to have higher speeds on the Portland-Plaistow line.
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gokeefe
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by gokeefe »

MEC407 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:Guilford had initially argued that they needed 132lb rail on the DE project because 115lb wasn't safe for 79MPH (which isn't true at all).
Right, and they had to be dragged into that kicking-and-screaming, and they still don't allow 79 MPH running in as many places as Amtrak and NNEPRA originally planned... so that's why I suggested that heavier rail would be an absolute necessity if we ever hope to have higher speeds on the Portland-Plaistow line.
I think you're probably right. Furthermore, these days its seems as if 136lb rail is the "standard" for heavy rail. Since we're talking about commuter/high density service standards the thought that keeps crossing my mind is if PAR would want ACSES or ETMS (or both!?)?
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Cannonball
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by Cannonball »

Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot is quoted in the Portland Press Herald (12/18/2013):
The department does not support commuter rail between Portland and Auburn because studies show there’s not enough demand, he said.
The article is about possible bus service between Auburn-Wells-Boston. Perhaps even including a stop in Portland.
A pending deal to launch bus service between Auburn, Wells and Boston is on hold over concerns from the president of the prospective provider, who says the state could hurt his business by subsidizing competing train service.
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Concord Coach Lines and the Maine Turnpike Authority have been discussing the proposed service, including construction of a new depot in Auburn, since August.
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Rail advocates and legislators in Portland and the Lewiston-Auburn area have been lobbying to start commuter rail service between Portland and Auburn. Rail supporters say they are encouraged by last month’s filing by the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, which is seeking to suspend freight service on its line between Auburn and Portland.

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MEC407
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by MEC407 »

From The Portland Press Herald:
The Portland Press Herald wrote:With political pressure mounting to extend passenger train service in Maine beyond the existing Downeaster, the LePage administration has created an advisory group to help policymakers decide whether to pursue new routes and where.

The 13-member Maine Passenger Rail Advisory Council, which holds its second meeting Wednesday, will help the state establish criteria for prioritizing possible routes, said Sue Moreau, who manages multi-modal planning at the Maine Department of Transportation. In addition, the group will help the state develop proposals for federal funding based in part on the economic development opportunities that rail can provide for communities, she said.
. . .
The new advisory group was developed in response to a bill last year that would have created a legislative task force on passenger rail. Although the bill was defeated, the Department of Transportation agreed to create an advisory group. This group is different in that it reports to the Department of Transportation and the rail authority rather than to the Legislature.
. . .
Because the state has no money for rail and federal money is limited, the advisory group’s real role is to keep rail advocates happy without actually doing anything, said Chalmers “Chop” Hardenburgh, a Freeport resident who edits Northeast Rails & Ports, a trade publication.

“It’s a way to placate the people who want railroads without actually spending any money to support them,” he said.
Read the rest of the article at: http://www.pressherald.com/news/Panel_w ... rvice.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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jonnhrr
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by jonnhrr »

Commuter service from Lewiston Auburn to Portland has come up again. From today's Bangor Daily News:

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/08/n ... relatedBox

"PORTLAND, Maine — City councilors Monday unanimously passed a resolution for renewed study of public transit to the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Their counterparts in Lewiston and Auburn may be getting on board with it, too.

The resolution directs city staff to continue research into the transit link, in collaboration with officials from Lewiston, Auburn, the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System and the Androscoggin Transportation Resource Center.

The state Department of Transportation has been looking at options including train service as a way to reduce traffic congestion north of Portland for several years, and released a preliminary feasibility study on the concept in 2011.

The study would seek funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts and Small Starts programs, which has recently broadened eligibility standards, according to the resolution."

To be honest, I live in Lewiston and often drive down through Portland in the morning on my way to the Boston area, and the traffic doesn't seem that bad to me. I could see intercity service running Portland - Lewiston/Auburn - Waterville - Bangor maybe, but not commuter service.

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gokeefe
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by gokeefe »

Fascinating to see this issue continuing to come up. Even more interesting that they think they may be eligible for FTA funds.
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kilroy
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by kilroy »

Sorry guys but there just aren't enough people up there for commuter rail. Here in NJ, we have as many people per square mile as Maine has black files per square mile and all but one of our rail lines operates at a loss.

As much as I would like to have more trains up there, this is just beating a dead horse.
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markhb
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by markhb »

That article from the BDN is also 18 months old, looking at the URL.

IMHO, parking in downtown Portland will have to become far more impossible than it is for commuter rail to be viable, and the city's lack of emphasis on drawing white collar jobs onto the peninsula isn't helping the case.
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canobiecrazy
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by canobiecrazy »

I don't think that there is enough people on this corridor for successful commuter rail. The commuter train service with the 2nd least ridership in the USA, the Westside Express Service, has 183,350 people along its route, and is a little under 15 miles long. The proposed Portland-Lewiston/Auburn service would have somewhere around 150,000 people along its route, and be over twice as long as the WES line. The only way I could see this being viable is if it was operated by DMUs, and it would be pretty sketchy at that.

If it was to fail, it would be a big step backwards for future development of passenger rail in Maine, whether it be a streetcar, or improvements on the Downeaster.
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newpylong
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by newpylong »

What traffic? Burlington, VT tried it. Didn't last long.

It's bad when the most pro-rail people in this region think this is a waste of money...

bwparker1
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by bwparker1 »

newpylong wrote:What traffic? Burlington, VT tried it. Didn't last long.

It's bad when the most pro-rail people in this region think this is a waste of money...
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markhb
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by markhb »

I think the folks at the MRTC qualify as more "pro-rail" than most of us, given that they're the ones pushing the idea. (For the record, their idea is to essentially run DMU's like buses on the nearly-unused St. Lawrence & Atlantic from Auburn to Portland.)
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kilroy
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by kilroy »

I guess MRTC thinks since they wouldn't have to pay for using a highway, they won't have to pay to use the right of way? Rail ain't cheap even if you don't have to build it.

Perhaps a trip to NJ is needed so they can see what real traffic looks like (and yes, I've driven Rt 1 through Wiscasset in the summer).
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Re: Maine Commuter Rail

Post by NHV 669 »

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