News Brief

NNEPRA reports May ridership missed FY2017 target by 5%, due to loss of approximately 2,500 riders because of weekend curtailments and heat restrictions. May ridership was only 261 passengers below May of last year. FY2017 YTD ridership is 9% ahead of target. When the June numbers come in, FY2017 promises to be a very successful year. 

(Webmaster comment: Recently Associate Professor Patrick Rael of Bowdoin wrote a letter to the Forecaster accusing NNPERA of failing to listen to local objections, not working with town authorities and other objections with regards to the construction of the Downeaster Maintenance Facility in Brunswick. TRN Chairman Wayne Davis, in order to set the record straight, responded with the following Letter to the Editor.)

Patrick Rael’s letter attacking the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, its board of directors and its capable executive director is filled with misinformation.

He intimates that only in April did NNEPRA propose a layover facility. Wrong. The layover facility has been a long-planned Downeaster improvement since its beginning. It was, however, in April that NNEPRA first indicated that the facility be built in Brunswick rather than Portland to allow more efficient operation.

Rael states that the facility was never required to bring the Downeaster to Brunswick. Right. Two trips per day could come to Brunswick without the facility, but that level of service will not ensure long-term success of the Downeaster service. Having all Portland/Boston trains operate through to Brunswick has always been TrainRiders/Northeast’s plan.

Rael says that NNEPRA is holding Brunswick hostage. What rubbish. Without a Brunswick facility, Downeaster trains must overnight in Portland. Five daily Boston-to-Brunswick round trips will never arrive unless and until the Brunswick facility is constructed.

Rael states that NNEPRA squelched neighbors’ voices and evaded local processes. Wrong again. NNEPRA went out of its way to ensure that these voices were heard at public hearings in Brunswick, while interacting with local governmental bodies before making its decision.

Rael says that neighbors’ complaints have not stymied construction. Wrong. Neighbors’ complaints have indeed delayed it, while increasing the costs of construction.

While everyone dithers, the Downeaster, with its associated economic, safety and social benefits, waits down the line.

Wayne E. Davis, chairman
TrainRiders/Northeast
Topsham