Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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Dick H
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Location: Dover, NH

Post by Dick H » Sat Mar 01, 2008 7:14 pm

Some comments on the Downeaster's schedule.

The fifth round trip schedule only took effect last August 17th, so it remains to be seen how many tourist trips will be made to Boston and to Old Orchard Beach and Portland for a full summer season. Of course, the recession, that is either here or sure looks like it is coming, probably will put downward pressure on tourist dollars. On the other hand, the $4.00 per gallon of gasoline may put more folks on the train. However, they did raise fares by $1.00 per trip at least once last year, mostly to cover increases costs for diesel fuel.

NNEPRA has to jump through a number of hoops to change the schedule. With Maine being the operator of the train, I am sure they try to tweak the schedule to serve travelers to and from Maine. But, beyond that, they have to get a "slot" at North Station from the MBTA and work in between MBTA schedules on the Haverhill and Lowell Lines. The fragile Merrimack River bridge at Haverhill is also a current concern, as it is restricted to 10MPH and one train at a time, even though it is double track.
Once NNEPRA gets approval from the MBTA, they still have to get permission from Guilford. I have no idea of what time restrictions that Guilford might impose, but they do have to sign off.

I have appreciated all the posts on this subject line, even though I don't agree with a number of them. It shows that the Downeaster is a subject of interest to many members of Railroad.Net.

Dick

Choo Choo Coleman
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Post by Choo Choo Coleman » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:56 pm

A 03/01/08 Boston Herald editorial supporting the Downeaster:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinio ... id=1076967

b&m 1566
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Post by b&m 1566 » Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:17 pm

I think its time for the NNEPRA to take a ride to Concord and ask for help. Letters and phone calls won't do much. The state has to acknowledge the train and its continued growth.

b&m 1566
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Post by b&m 1566 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:14 pm

Has the Maine Legislator passed any money for the Downeaster yet, if they’re even trying? I here talks of how well the train is doing, etc. and there’s an article about how the train will help the surrounding communities grow in the next 20 years, blah, blah, blah. But do people not realize this train may be singing its last tunes this time next year if the train doesn’t receive any subsidy.

truman

Post by truman » Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:28 am

Last week the Maine legislature agreed to fund the much talked about extension to Brunswick.

b&m 1566
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Post by b&m 1566 » Mon May 05, 2008 9:11 pm

National Train Day May 10th http://www.nationaltrainday.com/home
Is NNEPRA or Amtrak doing anything special for the Downeaster?

NHN503
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Post by NHN503 » Tue May 06, 2008 10:10 am

Darn, I'm having a hard time finding AP stories from a few days ago..... must be me. I saw an article stating that there was a Downeaster funding bill that was based on a 25year Federal loan, and that it also included funding to extend to Brunswick. I can not seem to find it now, but it also stated it looked like it would pass and final vote was this week I believe.



Edit: Found a shorter article on it!
http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_ha ... _in_maine/

NHN503
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Post by NHN503 » Wed May 07, 2008 2:53 pm

Lets try and keep it on topic. :-D

p42thedowneaster
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by p42thedowneaster » Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:16 pm

I've been noticing a lot of strange Downeaster setups over the last month or so. I often see train 683 heading north to Portland around lunch time. Several sightings about a month ago included a GE on each end with the south-end engine apparently powered.
Two weeks ago I saw the train completly backwards...A phase 5 scheme NPCU was northbound and the P42 was on the south end! I can't imagine its very pleasent to have the GE howling away so close to the passenger waiting area at Boston, North.

Perhaps the locomotive orientation simply dictated by the Amtrak locomotive facility on the south side?
Any ideas?

Dick H
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by Dick H » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Regarding the loco on the south (railroad/west) end and the cabbage on the north (railroad/east) end, they tried running one set at a time for a week or so at a time.to see if that would equalize wheel wear. I do not know the conclusions that came from that and they have been back to the usual setup over the last few weeks.

Also noteworthy, is the use of Loco #520, A GP-38-H3 to fill in for a cabbage on the west end, running long hood forward, or on the east end, along with a GE, when the GE has been having problems, such as overheating, etc. I am not sure of how the relationship as to gearing and running with the higher horsepower GE's of the 520, but it sure sounds like it is really working to keep up. Love that sound of an EMD versus the GE.

Dick

Finch
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by Finch » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:19 pm

Dick, what do you mean by "one set at a time?" They ran one set at a time "backwards" to see if it evened out the wheel wear on that same set compared to running "forwards?"

Shameless plug: Here's a picture of mine of a set with the P42 facing south/east. Not that you'd know it without having been to Wilmington, MA. :-D

http://flickr.com/photos/frnfinch/2554552687/

p42thedowneaster
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by p42thedowneaster » Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:09 pm

Wow that's interesting, I suppose there is a chance it could make a bit of a difference. I do know its mostly uphill to Willmington...so pushing uphill would probably actually increase the wheel wear! My grandfather always told me they used to use much more coal heading outbound than inbound back in the days of steam commuting on that line.

NHN503
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by NHN503 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:25 am

http://fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articl ... /684234562

Downeaster has big uptick in riders

By ROBERT M. COOK
bcook@fosters.com
Article Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2008


DOVER — Ridership and revenue on the Downeaster has seen a dramatic increase out of the Dover train station in the past year, according to some of the latest figures posted Monday by the Dover Planning Department.

Ridership and revenue was up nearly 48 percent between the Dover train station and the Boston-North station in June compared to June 2007, according to the figures. Nearly 4,000 people rode the train in June and generated more than $48,000 in revenue compared to 2,636 riders who spent more than $29,000 in ticket sales a year ago.

Ridership increased by nearly 40 percent from October to June in fiscal year 2008 compared to October 2006 to June fiscal year 2007, according to the figures. More than 31,250 people rode the Downeaster between the Dover train station and Boston-North station in the last nine months and generated more than $381,000 in ticket revenue compared to 22,444 people who spent more than $267,000 in tickets from October 2006 to June 2007, according to the numbers provided by the Dover Planning Department.

Total ridership from all the stations served by the Downeaster that stretch from Portland, Maine, to Boston increased from 251,112 riders from October 2006 to June 2007 to more than 331,000 riders from October 2007 to June. Revenue from ticket sales increased nearly 40 percent from more than $3.19 million to more than $4.47 million, according to the city agency's figures.

Attempts to reach Bruce Woodruff, the city's transportation planner, and City Manager Mike Joyal for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

These numbers seem consistent with Downeaster figures that were discussed by regional and state planners at a rail forum in Dover in April.

Ridership and revenue at the Dover train station on the Downeaster has dramatically increased in the last year as more people are choosing to save gasoline by leaving their cars at home. Democrat file photo

Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in Portland, which manages the Downeaster, said total ridership is projected to increase this year to more than 2 million people and revenues are projected to increase another $5.5 million — which amounts to a 21 percent increase in both areas.

Quinn also said the Downeaster has inspired Saco, Maine, officials to build an $80 million commercial and residential development near its train station. By the year 2030, Quinn said, the Downeaster could generate $72 million in annual revenue for Maine and save $152 million in transportation costs in New Hampshire.

But as good as the Downeaster is performing, Quinn told the forum the passenger train may not be able to keep running after 2009 when federal subsidies run out.

Her group continues to lobby Maine and New Hampshire lawmakers to provide $8 million to make up for the soon-to-be-lost federal money. Repeated efforts to get New Hampshire to provide $3 million of those annual operating costs have failed.

mwhite
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by mwhite » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:41 pm

Does anyone have figures for how much $$ Maine, New Hampshire and Mass and the Fed Govt have put into the Downeaster to date? It would be interesting to compare the number of riders by state to the amount contributed.

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shadyjay
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Re: Amtrak's Downeaster

Post by shadyjay » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:34 pm

Pretty sure NH doesn't contribute a dime towards the Downeaster... Mass doesn't directly, but may have indirectly through MBTA if any Downeaster-specific track improvements were made which would have been funded by MBTA, hence the state. Track improvements in NH (and MA and ME) had to do with Guilford and not any state agency. Maine is the only state who contributes directly to the train, through Trainriders NE.

NH stations however are handling a lot of business - its strange (and stubborn) of NH to not contribute a penny to this service. Wonder if the day will come when Maine will say "go through NH at track speed - no station stops". I would hope that if the funding isn't secured for 2009-beyond, then NH would start kicking in. Maybe by that time, they'll come to a decision on commuter rail to Nashua, or Manchester.

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