• Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by gokeefe
 
Regardless ... I'm very pleased to see the identification of a new Portland Station site and also service enhancements in the Connects US plan. I would expect to see planning commence for up to 10 roundtrips per day over the next 8 years. 10 roundtrips would be four trainsets which is probably the absolute maximum that Brunswick could conceivably service.

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  by Rockingham Racer
 
I'm curious to know why the extension to Rockland vs. Lewiston. Rockland is more of a summer draw. Is the plan even for year-round service, I wonder?
  by kitchin
 
Rockingham Racer wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:02 am I'm curious to know why the extension to Rockland vs. Lewiston. Rockland is more of a summer draw. Is the plan even for year-round service, I wonder?
Does it have anything to do with the idea of commuter service to Lewiston?
  by MEC407
 
Rockland is low hanging fruit. It can happen relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively (the necessary track work was already done years ago). Lewiston would be a massive multi-year project, similar in scope to the original Plaistow-Portland rebuild, probably costing around $70 million.

Since the Downeaster is a state-managed, state-sponsored service, that likely means the state would be expected to chip in some money, which means a bond, which means it has to go to the voters. Before that could happen, there would need to be engineering studies, environmental impact studies, etc. If they decided right now to do that and were able to fund the studies out of some existing budget, and the studies were completed within the next 12 months, you might see the bond question on the November 2022 ballot. If the bond passed (and I believe it would), theoretically construction could start in spring 2023. But that's a fast, aggressive, best-case-scenario type of schedule.

As far as I know, Rockland has always been planned as a seasonal service, likely starting and ending at the same times as Old Orchard Beach.
  by Arborwayfan
 
If they extend the Downeaster to Rockland, I wonder if they will try to attract "scenic train ride" business to fill up the trains on the eastern end of their run. I assume the eastbound trains would pause for a little while in Rockland and then run back, so that they could safely guarantee that a passenger riding east would be able to catch the westbound back; and if there were at least a couple roundtrips a day they should be able to guarantee reasonably timed Rockland-to-Brunswick/Damariscotta/Wiscasset-and-return trips also. They could do special advertising focused on recreational rides along the eastern end of the line and put them in the various places that vacationers look for "attractions". True, the purpose of the service is to move people around, not to be an attraction, but if the trains have capacity for everyone who wants to be on board just before they get to Portland (or whatever point along the line has the highest passenger load), they're bound to have empty space on the eastern end of the line that might as well be paid for by people looking at the scenery.
  by bostontrainguy
 
gokeefe wrote: Sun Apr 04, 2021 5:32 pm Regardless ... I'm very pleased to see the identification of a new Portland Station site
Where is this info about the new station site?
  by Rockingham Racer
 
I just do not see going to Rockland all year, and there's no indication that I know of that says it will be a summer seasonal service, as was the recent plan. Did I miss something? [There's a reason why lots of motels close up there from November to the end of May.]
  by nkloudon
 
Sorry, I absolutely refuse to ride Amfleet except for legitimate transportation purposes. Trying to view scenery through those airline windows is a literal pain in the neck!
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The Amfleets will be on their way out in the next couple of years and sooner rather than later, we'll know what will replace the Amfleets. I enjoy them pretty well, including looking out of those windows as we cross the Merrimack River into Haverhill as well as rolling past the marshes of Scarborough.
  by gokeefe
 
nkloudon wrote:Sorry, I absolutely refuse to ride Amfleet except for legitimate transportation purposes. Trying to view scenery through those airline windows is a literal pain in the neck!
I strongly suspect the Amfleets will run to Rockland for less than 5 years. I too am wondering if this is still intended to be seasonal service. I'm guessing "yes".

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  by Maverickstation1
 
just do not see going to Rockland all year, and there's no indication that I know of that says it will be a summer seasonal service, as was the recent plan. Did I miss something? [There's a reason why lots of motels close up there from November to the end of May.]

Rockland service should be year round, with the number of trips varied by the season.

Year round, the Farnsworth Art Museum (one of the most respected in the world) draws thousands of visitors each week, as does the nearby Maine Center of Contemporary Art, and the dozen, or so high end galleries the line Rockland's downtown Streets. In fact the type of artsy, educated folks who are drawn to this, are most more inclined to use the train than others. As for lodgings, none of the ones that we stay at close in the winter, they are all open the year round.

Ken
  by markhb
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:14 pm
gokeefe wrote: Sun Apr 04, 2021 5:32 pm Regardless ... I'm very pleased to see the identification of a new Portland Station site
Where is this info about the new station site?
Essentially, it's the MaineDOT study located here. It basically goes so far as to say "It should be at the old Union Station site, here are a couple of ideas, go ahead and consider." It's a planning study, not a concrete plan of action.
  by gokeefe
 
Correct. However at this point it is now by far the guiding document for future action. Money has been previously allocated for this station and I would anticipate Maine DOT and NNEPRA will now open (confidential) negotiations in earnest with the site owners.

The writing is on the wall for Union Station Plaza whether people realize it or not.

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  by CN9634
 
The recent article in Central Maine news linked below gives us the embarrassing insight into the 'planning' both NNEPRA and MaineDOT have for the future of Amtrak service as well as freight rail in Maine. Of course my sarcasm is obvious here, the lack of planning and communication seems to be quite evident at the State level, with the usual 'waiting on a call' mentality. It is clear, we need more proactive leadership that is jumping onto the rapidly changing rail landscape and develop an updated rail plan for our State.

The last time a plan was published was 2014, which was a bit delayed and only completed because it was a federal requirement. Obviously from 2014 to now, things have changed drastically with Maine now smack dab in the middle of at least one key global trade corridor (potentially a second). With Class Is now afoot, it would behoove Maine to revamp their rail plan, incorporate new partnerships with CP and CSX to leverage their resources to drive new growth and piggy back passenger development. The key thing here is now CSX will likely upgrade all tracks west of Waterville to Class III standards, so how does that factor into the new passenger rail plan?

It seems everything is handled by 'status quo', but the lack of 'intent to participate' by NNEPRA and MaineDOT in the CSX transaction in the STB seems to show a lack of voice in key infrastructure for the Downeaster. Even now, with a second chance, we hear crickets and see 'news' like this that seemingly no one has any clue what the path forward looks like, especially from those who should know better.

https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/04/11 ... he-region/
  by Ridgefielder
 
gokeefe wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:47 pm Correct. However at this point it is now by far the guiding document for future action. Money has been previously allocated for this station and I would anticipate Maine DOT and NNEPRA will now open (confidential) negotiations in earnest with the site owners.

The writing is on the wall for Union Station Plaza whether people realize it or not.

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Time to rescue that chunk of the trainshed from Thompson's Point! :wink:
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