August, 2016 NNEPRA Board Meeting
Preliminary Report FY2016: The numbers showed continued recovery of the Downeaster service from the botched tie-job of FY 2015 and part of FY2016.
Ridership: Projected ridership was down by 2% and revenue by 3%. However, this June's ridership numbers showed an increase of 23,109 to a total of 42,605 over the paltry 19,496 of the previous June.
On Time Performance: I'll pick last year's worst OTP month - May of 2015 was 0% This May it was 81% - not the 90ish NNEPRA is aiming for, but a spectacular return to normalcy.
Overall Customer Satisfaction - June, 2016: The Downeaster continued to eclipse Amtrak service elsewhere with a 92% rating as opposed to Amtrak's 86%.
FY2017 Begins: July, the first month of of the new fiscal year, set a new ridership record of 51,402 passengers and that's an increase of 14,053 riders over July of FY2016.
Fall Tie Replacement: There remains considerable track work to be done this Fall. From October 1st to November 21st, some 15,000 ties will be replaced between Portland and Wells. This will necessitate no Downeaster service between Brunswick and Wells. Special bus service will bring southbound passengers from Brunswick, Freeport, Portland and Saco down to Wells. Similar service will transport northbound passengers after they reach Wells on the Downeaster. Another painful reminder that maintaining the tracks keeps railroad service up to expectations.
Brunswick Layover Facility: The facility is 95% complete and will begin housing #681 the second week in September. The third roundtrip from Brunswick to Boston will commence on November 21st - once the tie replacement project is completed. NNEPRA plans a BLF Open House for local residents on October 7th and 8th. Construction of the 4-mile-long Royal Junction siding is expected to begin in the Spring/Summer of 2017 with completion a year later. This will then allow all five Downeaster roundtrips to originate in Brunswick - overnighting in the Layover Facility.
Dome Car: Who would have thought a 61-year-old passenger coach would be so well received? Constructed in 1955, the dome car has become a big hit with the passengers, some of whom have traveled just to see the view from a new perspective. You have until September 18th to enjoy the ride.
Obviously, the Scarborough Marsh out of Portland (southbound) or out of Old Orchard (northbound) is a spectacular view. Thanks to the Portland Press Herald and Maine HDTV for the aerials of the Downeaster traveling over the trestle.