• Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

  • For discussions of Amtrak's corridor routes and state-supported services, including:

    Adirondack; Amtrak Cascades; Blue Water; Capitol Corridor; Carl Sandburg; Carolinian; Downeaster; Empire Service; Ethan Allen Express; Heartland Flyer; Hiawatha; Illini; Illinois Zephyr; Lincoln Service; Maple Leaf; Missouri River Runner; Pacific Surfliner; Pennsylvanian; Pere Marquette; Piedmont; Saluki; San Joaquins; Vermonter; Wolverine
For discussions of Amtrak's corridor routes and state-supported services, including:

Adirondack; Amtrak Cascades; Blue Water; Capitol Corridor; Carl Sandburg; Carolinian; Downeaster; Empire Service; Ethan Allen Express; Heartland Flyer; Hiawatha; Illini; Illinois Zephyr; Lincoln Service; Maple Leaf; Missouri River Runner; Pacific Surfliner; Pennsylvanian; Pere Marquette; Piedmont; Saluki; San Joaquins; Vermonter; Wolverine

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Rockingham Racer
 
A step backwards for rail transportation in Dover.
  by Cowford
 
It's ironic that the bagel company doesn't have to fork over any dough for five years!
Last edited by Cowford on Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Dick H
 
IMO, the bagel shop will be a short lived venture. Relatively few Downeaster passengers
will have lunch there. Local bus (COAST) passengers will not be dining on gourmet food.
Customers driving to the station for breakfast and lunch will have to pay the parking
meters. Most of the parking spaces closest to the station entrance are usually taken
by Downeaster passengers. Both the COAST and UNH buses pull up right by the door
to the soon to be bagel shop. There can be up to four buses lined up at the same time,
as the Transportation Center is the main connecting and transfer point in Dover. While
there is a double door entering the station, the idling diesel buses sometimes do taint
the air near the entrance. None of these issues are a plus for the bagel shop.
  by TRNE
 
The Kennebunk Board of Selectmen has done it again. They've cancelled the planned Downeaster stop! More here: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/2018 ... RmtwCjpEvQ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

KENNEBUNK -- The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday to pull the plug on plans for an Amtrak Downeaster station that would have brought passenger rail service to downtown Kennebunk.

Four years after voters approved $300,000 for a seasonal train stop in town, the board voted unanimously Tuesday to officially halt the plans that appeared to be close to coming to fruition just a few weeks ago.

Board Chairman Dick Morin read a statement from the board saying, “As we narrowed the conversation regarding the details of the project with regard to things such as renting versus owning and space availability for parking and restrooms, it became more apparent that this location, with its significant limitations presented a situation that would make us losers if it won, meaning if it was successful, and losers if the project failed at that location.”

Town Manager Mike Pardue said that the property at 12 Depot St. -- the old train depot owned by Tim Dietz -- ultimately did not meet the needs for a train stop from the purview of the Maine Department of Transportation. Pardue said he met last week with representatives from the Maine DOT, and they felt the site was deficient in size and had concern over investing $1.1 million, including $800,000 of state funds, in a site that was very constricted.

In 2014 town voters approved $300,000 to develop a seasonal train stop, with an additional $800,000 available in grant form from the state if the station is completed by December of 2019. The project was rejuvenated over a year ago, with support from several residents and the Economic Development Committee, but has hit roadblocks in the search for a suitable site along the rail tracks.

A proposal to put the train stop on the other side of Summer Street at the former granary, owned by David Gould, met with resistance from neighbors who lived on nearby Plummer Lane. Morin and Selectman Ed Karytko have opposed the train station from the beginning, saying that it will cost the town for construction and maintenance, without providing a significant benefit.

Selectman Blake Baldwin, who as former chair of the Economic Development Committee, worked to bring the idea of a train station to Kennebunk before voters five years ago, was disappointed Tuesday that the project could not be brought to fruition.

“As one of the original participants in 2013 I’ve been disappointed and frustrated in our inability to get this project to fruition. And yet at this date I’m prepared to waive the white flag of surrender. Not because I want to, but because we as a community are spending scarce resources in the form of staff time and taxpayer dollars to pursue a project that just doesn’t seem to want to come to fruition,” he said.

Baldwin said he thinks train service is important to put a community at a competitive advantage, and to improve public transportation options to reduce the impact on climate change.

Clearly frustrated, Baldwin said, “As for this project, I think tonight we are singing the death knell. Unfortunately that means we are losing $800,000 that would offset the ability to create that infrastructure, but I don’t think any of us, in good conscious, can see trying to move this any further down the line.”

Pardue said the town has spent roughly $100,000 of the $300,000 appropriated for the train stop to date. A letter sent to Pardue Tuesday evening just before the meeting from the Maine DOT noted that they are willing to share that cost to a maximum of $50,000.

Pardue said DOT officials have also offered to discuss ways to help bring public transportation to the town. He said within the next month they have agreed to meet with the EDC to discuss establishing a seasonal express shuttle service from the Wells train station directly to downtown Kennebunk with a loop to Lower Village.

They have also agreed to hold a dedicated public listening session regarding transit needs for the elderly, disabled and low income community members. Pardue said he expressed the need in Kennebunk for senior citizens to be able to get around if they can no longer drive themselves to medical appointments and other places.

A hint that the project was again in peril surfaced in late August when the board was expected to sign a lease with Dietz at its Aug. 24 meeting, and came out of executive session without a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a lease agreement.

Dietz said following the meeting in August that he wasn’t sure what the delay was, but that he and his wife, Kathy, wanted to support the town, and were supportive of the train station initiative from the start.

“Negotiations have not gone the way we want and we don’t want to tie the community into a bad deal. And that’s really where we are today,” Selectman Chris Cluff said Tuesday. “We want to make sure we are being fiscally responsible with the town’s money and the state’s as well.”

Resident Sharon Staz told the board she was disappointed in the board’s decision

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that you came to this conclusion. I hope you mean what you say when you say you are going to focus on regional transportation for this community. They are big steps that can’t continue to be put off, and put off, and put off. We are too late already in solving many of the earth’s problems,” Staz told the board.

Finance Director Joel Downs said the net balance of funds approved to be used for the train station, with the reimbursement from Maine DOT, would be roughly $250,000. The board voted unanimously to permanently halt the project in order to free those funds for a future use.
  by gokeefe
 
Dead and never coming back. Thankfully, it's probably better than not for the service.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Would an advertised shuttle service to Wells work? Or drive the 6 or 7 miles as they have to do now? Heck, I have to drive 275 miles to the nearest Amtrak station in Texas, LOL! :-D :-D
  by TRNE
 
Wells offered to re-brand their station as "Wells-Kennebunk."
  by b&m 1566
 
I actually agree with Kennebunk withdrawing from this, not because I don't think they should have a stop but for the simple fact that the old station site was/is just too small to meet todays needs and I'm glad the state saw that and the town eventually did too.
  by jonnhrr
 
Last Sunday my son had a bad experience with the Downeaster. Was heading on 694 to Boston then transferring to the MBTA Worcester train. 694 due in at 2:45 and the Worcester train left BBY at 4:26 pm so he thought he had plenty of time. 694 was about 90 min late and he missed the Worcester train by 2 min, next one was in 2 hours. Anyone know what happened to 694? Needless to say he's not impressed by the DE.

BTW we were staying in Kennebunkport and he left from Wells. Only took a few minutes to get to Wells so I don't think the lack of a KB station is a big deal, especially if they add a shuttle.

Jon
  by Patrick Boylan
 
Rockingham Racer wrote:Heck, I have to drive 275 miles to the nearest Amtrak station in Texas, LOL! :-D :-D
Not fair. Those are Texas miles, as in the rancher who says "I can leave my house in the morning, get in my car and drive all day and still be on my property". "Yeah, I had a car that drove that bad too."
  by Dick H
 
Any updates of Amtrak and the Downeaster in particular getting rid of the Quik-trak machines? Thanks..
  by Backshophoss
 
Brownsville(Mexican border) to San Antonio Tx is 275 miles +/-, a long boring drive(4.5 hours) on a good day!
1 mile in Texas is the same as 1 mile in New Jersey,just it's not that congested as New Jersey is! :P
Been there, done that run,T shirt is now composted. :wink:
  by Dick H
 
Saco Station Question: At one time, the Chamber of Commerce occupied a portion of
the DE Saco station. However, I believe they moved elsewhere several years ago.
Has any other business ever moved into that space? Thanks.
  by Lentinula
 
jonnhrr wrote:Last Sunday my son had a bad experience with the Downeaster. Was heading on 694 to Boston then transferring to the MBTA Worcester train. 694 due in at 2:45 and the Worcester train left BBY at 4:26 pm so he thought he had plenty of time. 694 was about 90 min late and he missed the Worcester train by 2 min, next one was in 2 hours. Anyone know what happened to 694? Needless to say he's not impressed by the DE.

BTW we were staying in Kennebunkport and he left from Wells. Only took a few minutes to get to Wells so I don't think the lack of a KB station is a big deal, especially if they add a shuttle.

Jon
The real crime there is that the Worcester trains are 2 hours apart!

I know the new island platform will help but the fact that WOR-BOS isnt on a more reliable schedule is ridiculous.
  by Hux
 
b&m 1566 wrote:I actually agree with Kennebunk withdrawing from this, not because I don't think they should have a stop but for the simple fact that the old station site was/is just too small to meet todays needs and I'm glad the state saw that and the town eventually did too.
Agree. However, there is considerable space across the tracks, with room for several rows of parking. I haven't heard anything about that area being used.
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