Summaries of NNEPRA's monthly board meetings

No Amtrak Service to Rockland This Year

Rockland Extension: At today's NNEPRA Board Meeting in Portland, Executive Director Patricia Quinn informed those present that Amtrak is unable to perform the required risk-assessment of the Rockland branch this year due to the need to assess all their existing routes because of PTC and 'dark territory' issues. Brunswick to Rockland would be a new route. 

 Ms. Quinn pledged to work closely with Amtrak so that a "more robust" proposal for Midcoast service can be accomplished next year.

Read more: No Amtrak Service to Rockland This Year

Planned Rockland Extension's Schedule Reduced Due to New Amtrak Safety Requirements - THIS IS NOW OUTDATED

Today's NNEPRA Board Meeting was expected to give the 'Go-ahead'  for the summer Coastal Connection Service between Brunswick and Rockland. That did not happen. What was approved was a decision to move forward with an August weekend service, but with four important conditions:

1. An Amtrak-CMQ agreement being reached.

2. A positive MeDOT infrastructure report on the branch line

3. A trip no longer than two and a quarter hours.

4. The service must meet all Amtrak and FRA requirements

Several members of the public expressed their disappointment, particularly those along the midcoast. 

Read more: Planned Rockland Extension's Schedule Reduced Due to New Amtrak Safety Requirements - THIS IS NOW...

January, 2018 NNEPRA Board Meeting

NNEPRA 1 18The NNEPRA Board met at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. The well-attended meeting heard reports on the Downeaster's performance numbers and further details on the proposed Coastal Connection.

Representatives from the MidCoast were present to add their support for the proposed summer weekend service expansion.

Ridership & Revenue Report:

1 18 PerformThe first six months of NNEPRA's fiscal year delivered record-breaking numbers or as Executive Director Patricia Quinn put it, "It was a good story - the best ever!"

Ridership in FY2018 saw a 13% increase over FY2017. On the revenue side, income grew in FY2018 by 26%!  Ms. Quinn noted that the last three months of FY2017 were plagued by extensive tie-replacement work.

Read more: January, 2018 NNEPRA Board Meeting

UPDATE: NNEPRA Proposes Summer Weekend Rockland Service from May through October!

NNEPRA ARAnnual Meetings are always important because the NNEPRA staff summarizes FY2017 Downeaster performance and future goals. The fiscal year ended with 511,422 riders (8% over FY2016), revenue of $8,620,119 (a new record) and passenger miles of 40,742,792 (7% over FY2016)! 

One announcement at this year's meeting took many by surprise as proposed Downeaster service to Rockland was unveiled. That means that starting as early as next May, after analysis of the route and public meetings, riders boarding the Downeaster in Boston would be able to add Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle or Rockland to their weekend tickets. The seasonal service would end in October.

UPDATE: At NNEPRA's November Board Meeting, the board approved the expenditure of funds by Executive Director Patricia Quinn to proceed with route analysis using an Amtrak train/crew as well as utilizing the Geometry Car to determine the quality of the tracks. It is hoped that at the late January board meeting, a decision as to whether to proceed with the proposed service can be made. 

There was universal approval of the decision by those present. As one attendee said, "Make it happen!"

 We interviewed NNEPRA Chairman John Melrose and TrainRiders/NE Chairman Wayne Davis about the decision.

The Annual Report, which was passed out at the meeting, is filled with interesting statistics and eye-catching graphics. It can be read here

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NNEPRA September, 2017, Board Meeting

The NNEPRA Board held their regular monthly meeting today with Executive Director Patricia Quinn reporting results for July and August.

The Downeaster had its two highest months of ridership in its 15-year history in July and August
of 2017.

 
Ridership in July 2017 of 57,652 was **12%** above July 2016 (51,402) and **15%** above NNEPRA's budget target.
 
Ridership in August 2017 of 57,306 was **7%** above August 2016 (53,627) and **5%** above NNEPRAs budget target.
 
NNEPRA had their first ever "million dollar month"(s) for revenue in both July ($1,042,712) and August ($1,052,422).
 
Customer satisfaction remained very high at 90% with the Downeaster conductors scoring five points on average (93%) ahead of their fellow Amtrak peers (88%) for friendliness and helpfulness.
 
Even more impressive, likely the result of a schedule change allowing for improved fan ridership to the Red Sox on late game nights, the Downeaster cafe car recovered 97%+ of its costs. A phenomenal double-digit improvement over previous performance which had averaged about 80% for many years prior.
 
The outstanding performance for the first two months of the fiscal year thus far means that the overall cost recovery for the entire Downeaster service year to date is 67%.
 
The Board was extremely pleased with the results and looking forward to hearing the report for September at its next regular meeting. At the time of the meeting, September was looking "very strong".
 
George O'Keefe, TrainRiders/NE Executive Director