Maine agency offers details on Downeaster extension

RELATED TOPICS: NORTHEAST | AMTRAK | PASSENGER | OPERATIONS
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PORTLAND, Maine — Officials with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority say they hope Amtrak’s Downeaster will make two or three round trips to Rockland, Maine, every Saturday and Sunday next summer as part of a pilot program to expand service to the state’s MidCoast.

Officials with the state agency that helps operate Amtrak’s service between Boston, Portland, and Brunswick, Maine, announced last week that they were going to look at extending weekend service from Brunswick to Rockland in an effort to provide an alternative to the tourist-packed U.S. Route 1. Executive Director Patricia Quinn tells Trains News Wire that Amtrak is currently inspecting the route to see what might need to be done to stations and track prior to expanding service.

“We hope to have a tentative operating plan to propose sometime in late November, and are pretty excited about the possibilities,” Quinn says.

The former Maine Central Rockland Branch is owned by the State of Maine. Central Maine & Quebec handles freight operations. The 56-mile branch was rebuilt in the early 2000s and until 2015, the Maine Eastern operated seasonal excursions on the line.

CMQ CEO Ryan Ratledge tells Trains News Wire that the freight hauler is ready to assist Amtrak in bringing passenger trains back to Rockland.

“The CMQ team is pleased to learn of the news of Amtrak’s expanded service into Rockland. We look forward to working with Amtrak on this welcome addition to their
operations,” he says.
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