Wayne Davis Provides the 'Real Story' Behind the Brunswick West 'BLF Open House' Complaints

When Consigli Construction Company offered a public tour of the Brunswick Layover Facility last week, one Brunswick West attendee threw a fit and left...and that's just the beginning of the story. The 'rest of the story' is from Chairman Wayne Davis, who was one of the invited guests. Here is his letter to the Times Record.

"TrainRiders/Northeast has, with mounting exasperation, read diatribes (many of them based on inaccurate assumptions and information) in this newspaper against the Brunswick Layover Facility and passenger rail in general. More recently (Private MLF Meeting Hijacked, 12/17/2015), these spurious attacks started to target TrainRiders itself. In that letter, Sandy Buckles indicates that she organized a tour of the layover site with Consigli Construction and intended it to be a private event attended only by certain select neighbors, and not by the public in general.

Durham-UNH Sets New Records!

A Christmas gift from Durham-UNH

The Amtrak Downeaster is celebrating its 15th year of service this month. Major corridor track reconstruction over the past 18 months (now finished) resulted in train cancellations and delays affecting ridership growth. UNH-Durham ridership for FY 15 fell to just under 54,000 but that still represents an average annual growth rate of 15%.

Fall 2015 ridership is bouncing back quickly - October of this year was a record with almost 8,000 (7,941) Downeaster trips to/from Durham-UNH. Since the start of Downeaster service over 655,000 passengers have boarded or disembarked in Durham. UNH station represents approximately 12% of overall Downeaster ridership (over 5.7 million since December 2001). Durham-UNH is now the second largest ridership station in NH – (surpassing Dover in recent months ridership trends)

Stephen Pesci
UNH Campus Planning

Year End Review from Wayne Davis

waynespirotitleAs we approach the last day of this year, we look back to what’s taken place during 2014. It was a busy year, on both offense and defense. We set new travel goals and continued to defend NNEPRA's Brunwick Layover Facility proposal which is the key to more service which will lead to increased ridership. 

In a time of special need, we received funds and moral support from many of you – and we sincerely thank you for that. We nevertheless continued to support passenger rail service throughout the region.

Brunswick Town Engineer Sees No Problems with Brunswick Layover Facility's Water Runoff

The Brunswick town engineer said at last night's Town Council meeting that the runoff from the Brunswick Layover Facility site would not connect to the town's storm water system - thus reducing the town's concern. In addition, he said that after reading reports on the DEP's website, the runoff before and after construction would appear to be unchanged. It was generally a positive assessment from the town engineer. 

In addition, the council voted last night to become a 'Municipal Observer' which will allow them to receive DEP updates on the Storm Water Runoff Permit issue while maintaining the right to intervene in the process if required in the future.

December 17th was to have been the 'drop dead' date for the DEP to issue their decision. Unfortunately, by calling for a public hearing on the permit, the clock has stopped. The town lawyer speculated that the hearing would focus only on the water runoff issue.

Happy New Year 2014!!!

In 1960, as he watched New England’s passenger rail system gradually disappear, Maine’s E.B. White wrote in his publication The Railroad, that “A state without rail service is a state that is coming apart at the seams, and when a train stops at a village depot anywhere in America and a passenger steps off, I think that village is in an enviable condition”.

waynespirocucrAs the 2013 holiday season comes to an end, in our little corner of America, the public is exulting in Downeaster travel with impressive numbers to prove it. For the FY 2013, ridership exceeded 556,000 passengers, an increase of 5% over FY 2012. Ticket revenue was well over $7M, an increase of 9% over FY 2012. E.B. White should be pleased with the growing number of “villages” in an “enviable condition” (think Brunswick & Freeport). We’d also like to think that he’s cheering us onward in our quest to promote rail extensions in addition to improvements to the Boston-Portland service.

Winter is Here but Riders on the Downeaster Don't Worry

It's inevitable - the snow will fly and the roads will freeze up!

We know, as more and more travelers in Northern New England are discovering, that the Downeaster pretty much barrels through that white stuff and it's passengers relax and snack in warm comfort.

It is a matter of pride and performance. The crews are particularly attentive during such 'challenges' that put cars and buses at a major disadvantage on our highways.(Click on More for a classic video of the Downeaster in the winter.)

Year End Letter from Wayne Davis

In 1960, as he watched New England’s passenger rail system gradually disappear, Maine’s E.B. White wrote in his publication The Railroad, that “A state without rail service is a state that is coming apart at the seams, and when a train stops at a village depot anywhere in America and a passenger steps off, I think that village is in an enviable condition”.

Downeaster 10th Anniversary December 15th

 On December 15, 2001, the first Downeaster train for the general public left the Portland Terminal for Boston. Ten years later, some 3.5 million riders have been transported between Portland and Boston and tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the economies along the line.

A cross section of state & local officials, administrators, NNEPRA & Amtrak employees along with rail advocates gathered at the Transportation Center to celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment.

Governor Lynch of New Hampshire declared the 15th 'Downeaster Day' in the Ganite State. (Read it here). Our DC delegation all sent letters of congratulations. NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn received an award from Amtrak. And TRN Chairman Wayne Davis was given the prestigious George J. Mitchell Award for Public Service. (See video by clicking on Read More)

Will the Downeaster Continue to Prosper Under a Republican Governor/Legislature?

downeasterlogoThe Sun Journal has published a thorough article on the Downeaster with extensive quotes from Chairman Wayne Davis of TrainRiders/Northeast and Patricia Quinn of NNEPRA.

The fundamental question posed is whether a new administration and legislature in Augusta will continue to encourage federal funding and smaller state support for the successful Amtrak service.

The full article can be read here.{jcomments on}

Holiday Greetings!

de-snow2010 has been a remarkable year when you stop and think about it.  We've watched the long proposed extension of Amtrak's Downeaster to Brunswick develop from the groundbreaking for Brunswick's Maine Street Station, the construction of the building and finally the opening of the new Brunswick Visitors Center and train waiting room.  We've also watched the new continuously welded rail and new rock ballast being installed between Portland and Brunswick a bit ahead of schedule thanks to PanAm Railways' diligence.

 

We've celebrated with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority the additional federal grant of a surprise $3.3M towards the expansion.  We've also continued to monitor and participate in the considerable activity related to the proposed extension of Amtrak service to Lewiston/Auburn.

Throughout the year, we continued to watch with great pleasure the modest monthly increases in the ridership of the core service between Portland and  Boston and even observed a cameo appearence of the Downeaster train equipment in the movie The Town.
We enjoy your support and encouragement and we hope you'll continue to work with us as we strive to complete our Goals and Objectives first set out in 1989. 

All of us at TrainRiders/Northeast wish you and your families the best of everything during this holiday season.{jcomments on}

The Downeaster Becomes the "Polar Express"

Every Christmas time, the Downeaster transports children from selected cities along the route to Portland and return, so they can experience two wonderful things: riding the Downeaster ("We're going to take the train!") and giving presents to those who might not have a Merry Christmas ("Helping others is the best part."). This is all part of the annual Marine Corps's "Toys for Tots" campaign in cooperation the Downeaster. Marines greet the children and their gifts at the Portland Transportation Center.

saco-kids

Excited groups from Saco and Dover took the trip this year (that's the Saco group in the photo from NNEPRA). Fosters.com reports on the New Hampshire experience.{jcomments on}

Maine & Vermont to Receive More High-Speed Rail Money

Good news from the US DOT - some of the funds rejected by Wisconsin and Ohio will now be redirected to Maine and Vermont.

This means that the Downeaster expansion to Brunswick will receive an addttional $3.3 million from the federal government.

The Vermonter line will receive an additional $2.7 million for rail improvments from Vernon to St. Albans. More here.

Maine DOT Explores Passenger Rail Expansion to L-A & Montreal

{jcomments on}mainedotAt a hearing in Auburn Monday night, the Maine DOT discussed a feasibility study on expanding passenger rail service to Lewiston-Auburn and Montreal.

A Los Angeles consulting firm briefed the public on various options that will be examined further in the months ahead. 

The full story can be read here.

Construction reaches Washington at Riverside

{jcomments on}The rail is being laid in Portland.  The construction crew crossed Washington Street today and is heading south toward the Allen Ave crossing.  A four engine freight sat the day on the siding waiting for the crossing to be cleared.  The seven work "trucks" each accomplish a specific task.  Removing the old rail and cleats the first truck rides on one rail. 

Downeaster's 8th Anniversary Praised in NH's Union Leader Article

{jcomments on}Eight years and counting and by any measurement the Downeaster remains an unparalleled success story.

The Union Leader article features NNEPRA's Executive Director Patricia Quinn who provides ridership statistics, regional and state rail officials who confirm the value of the service to the NH communities along the line and riders who help keep the seats filled and the highways less crowded.

Chairman Wayne Davis added this comment: "Our Downeaster has proven that population density isn't the only measure - frequent service and a travel market are critical. Today, 5 RT's up to 80MPH - tomorrow 8 RT's up to 110MPH. TNE continues to push for more passenger rail in ME, NH & VT."

Check out the Union Leader's story on "America's Favorite Train."

Go: Happy Birthday, Downeaster.

Exeter Celebrates Downeaster's 8th and Their 500,000th Rider

{jcomments on}Who would have thought - a half million passengers through the Exeter station in the eight years of Downeaster service!

And the Exeter Station Committee, under the leadership of long-time TrainRiders/NE board member Bob Hall, has filed an application with the state to acquire the old baggage section of the former passenger building (now a variety store) as their new station building.

Seacoastonline.com has a thorough article on Exeter's success and its expansion plans. Go here.

New Portland Station in State Rail Plan?

The first draft of the Maine State Rail Plan included a surprise recommendation that Portland search for an alternative downtown station/platform location for commuter trains coming from other parts of the state.

The MeDOT found that the Portland Transportation Center at Thompson's Point works well for the Downeaster service to Boston.

More details in The Forecaster.

Downeaster Awaits Stimulus Money Decision from DC

{jcomments on}The AP filed a story that is bouncing around the world, from Malaysia to Miami to Portland. It's great to see our passenger train service garner worldwide attention. 

The headline reads: "Amtrak's Downeaster hopes to tap stimulus money."

In the article, Chairman Wayne Davis of TrainRiders/Northeast, praises the Obama administration for being the first in many years to say "passenger rail" out loud. 

Go here for the article

Brunswick Station is Waiting for the Downeaster

{jcomments on}It’s looking good – the station, that is.

NNEPRA is still awaiting a Washington decision to provide some $35 million in track & signal improvement money to expand the Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick.

Word has it that the Federal Railroad Administration will start deciding whose applications get funded after the first of the year.  Meanwhile, the station is waiting.