November 1st 2012 was a day to rival the original start of our Downeaster on December 14, 2001. Invited guests and dignitaries had to choose between getting up way before sunup to take the southbound train to Boston to return on the Inaugural train or going down to Boston the night before and staying in a hotel. Yours truly opted for the Boston hotel. It was that or I’d have been a zombie on the Inaugural train.

Inaugural morning on the 1st, I met the NNEPRA folks at North Station where arrangements were being made for a press conference just prior to the departure time of 9:05AM for Brunswick. Patricia Quinn, Executive Director of NNEPRA and her staff are to be congratulated for arranging a flawless Inaugural celebration. The MBTA commuters pouring into the station didn’t know what to make of all the hoopla. From the banners and the new advertising blitz at North Station (thank you Natalie) promoting the Train to Maine, to the flowers on all the tables of the two café cars in the train set, to the red, white and blue cove lighting for the ceilings in the passenger cars, the event was fun. It was a comfortable train ride that was colorful and entertaining.

The Amtrak crews were impeccably dressed in spiffed up uniforms and the coaches and café cars were really gleaming – shiny inside and out. Just about every element of the day's events was perfect. Despite the longer than usual stops at each station (except Woburn), Amtrak’s Assistant Superintendent and crew managed to keep the train on schedule. Well done everyone – you make us all proud to be part of this service expansion.

wayne-brunswickOf course the only new part of the trip was the portion from Portland to Freeport and from Freeport to Brunswick. The video of the event [click on Wayne's picture], skillfully created by our own Webmaster and TNE Board Member, Bill Lord, tells it all with color, sound and action. Arriving in Freeport was quite emotional for those of us who have been working since 1989 to establish Amtrak service. Church bells were ringing and music was playing as invited guests stepped off the train into the crowd to participate in the short ceremony and to enjoy some refreshments.

After the Freeport ceremony, Brunswick was 10 minutes away – again with church bells ringing and then the Brunswick High School Band playing. (Again, see the video on this site) Senator Snowe, Rep. Chellie Pingree, former Governors Baldacci and King, Maine Commissioner of Transportation David Bernhardt, NNEPRA Chairman Martin Eisenstein, and Executive Director Patricia Quinn greeted the crowds

Throughout the day, TrainRiders volunteer Train Hosts, Board Members and TRN Members assisted wherever they were needed to help the NNEPRA staff and Amtrak crew.A huge thank you to all those volunteers from TrainRiders/Northeast who helped to make the day's events unfold. And of course kudos to NNEPRA and Amtrak who arranged and worked so hard to assure a flawless Inaugural Run.

Well Done. And now, on to our next goal – as we continue to monitor and support the existing Downeaster service.

This was a great day for all!{jcomments on}