Update from N. Berwick Police

nberwickUPDATE: The North Berwick Police Department releases details of their final report.

More at Foster.com

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EARLIER:"The North Berwick Police Department has released more information on the cause of the July 11th grade crossing collision between a truck and Downeaster train #681. The firey crash claimed the life of the truck driver, destroyed the engine, disabled the train and caused minor injuries to crew members who successfully evacuated the passengers from the coaches.

The primary reason for the accident was failure to observe grade crossing signals and gates. But authorities wanted to know why the truck driver failed to heed these warnings. The conclusion: excessive speed - 20 mph over the posted limit - and possible cell phone distraction.

Amtrak informed the NBPD that the train was traveling "at approximately 75 mph" at the time of the accident instead of 70 mph as previously reported. The speed limit changes at the crossing from 75 to 70 mph.

More details at Foster.com.{jcomments on}

Downeaster Ridership Continues Its Upward Climb!

NNEPRA Board Meeting - Downeaster Performance Report

  • Actual August, 2011 - 50,825
  • Actual August, 2010 - 48,841
  • FY2012 Year to date - 101,904
  • FY2011 Year to date -   96,014

August 2011 City Pair Ridership

  • Portland-Boston 16,459 or 32% of total
  • Exeter- Boston 7,016 or 14% of total
  • Durham-Boston 2,457 or 5% of total
  • Wells-Boston 5,583 or 11% of total
  • Saco-Boston 3,576 or 7% of total
  • Dover-Boston 3,859 or 8% of total
  • Haverhill-Boston 1,975 or 4% of total
  • Boston-OOBeach 2,607 or 5% of total

ME Business/Community Leaders High on Idea of Possible Portland to Montreal Passenger Rail Service

When business community leaders and rail advocates met earlier this week to discuss future passenger rail expansion, the topic of Portland-Lewiston/Auburn-Bethel-Montreal service brought out an enthusiastic group of interested parties.

The full story is available at Free Press Online.

Senate Appropriations Amendment Firms-up High Speed Rail Funding

UPDATE: As many of you may already know, the Senate transportation appropriations bill was marked up in Subcommittee yesterday.  Unfortunately, the bill eliminated funding for High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail.  In response, Senators Durbin, Lautenberg, Feinstein & Landrieu offered an amendment in full committee to provide $100 million for HSIPR. The amendment was approved by a voice vote. 

 

The Committee then voted 28 to 2 to report the amended bill favorably to the Senate floor.

Assuming the amended bill remains intact and passes the Senate, it sets up a showdown with the House, whose bill zeroes out the HSIPR program, in the conference committee that will iron out the differences between the two chambers’ versions (Thanks to NARP for late update).{jcomments on}

FRA Releases $20.8 Million to NNEPRA for Mass. Rail Improvement

fraU.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today the release of $82.7 million dollars to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.  The money will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut's New Haven-Springfield line, Maine's Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.

Secretary LaHood wrote "These are the kinds of investments that will improve reliability and on-time performance and attract more passengers.  We are creating jobs throughout New England, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the New England economy."

For Maine, $20.8 million will alleviate congestion and reduce delays on segments of Amtrak's Downeaster service.  The project will provide critically needed double track, as well as signal and highway-rail grade crossing improvements between Wilmington and Ballardville, MA.  Aging rail will be replaced with new, continuously-welded rail between Lawrence and Bradford, MA  The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates commuter trains on this line, and on-time performance for the Downeaster has deteriorated due to bottlenecks within this area.  Currently, the Downeaster operates from Boston to Portland, ME, and is expanding to Brunswick, ME thanks to previous federal grants totaling $38 million.

Exeter Riders Oppose Parking Fees at Downeaster Station

exeter

The Town of Exeter is proposing that the free parking spaces at the Downeaster Train Station be metered so as to increase town revenue.

The cost would be 50 cents an hour or up to $5.00 per day - costing those using public tranportation - the Downeaster - up to $100 more a month.

If adopted, Exeter would join Boston, Woburn, Haverhill, Durham (UNH property) and Portland as pay-to-park facilities. Old Orchard Beach has no separate parking facility for the Downeaster so all parking space are metered. Parking remains free at Woburn, Dover, Wells & Saco.

A public hearing was held on Thursday, September 8th. There was uniform opposition from Downeaster riders. An article on the hearing can be viewed on the Seacoast Online website.

House Republican Budget Plan Eliminates State Supported Rail Service and Cuts Out High Speed Rail Funds

From Amtrak:

amtraklogoDespite record-breaking Amtrak ridership and strong support for intercity passeger rail by 15 states, the House Republican transportation budget plan will effectively eliminate all state-supported Amtrak service across the country for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

This would include the Downeaster.

TrainRiders/Northeast will provide passengers with "A Call to Action" on Tuesday's peak trains - Wayne Davis, Bob Rodman and Bill Lord will hand out the following TRN Flyer.{jcomments on}

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From NARP:

narplogoThe National Association of Railroad Passengers reports that the House Transportation Subcommittee has proposed cutting Amtrak's budget by some $358 million dollars, down to $1.1 billion, imperiling the passenger rail service and eliminating all Hi-Speel Rail funds. NARP calls this a "shutdown budget for Amtrak." Go to NARP for further details and a Take Action link.

Vermont Rail Lines Severely Damaged by Irene

vermontdamage2TrainRiders/NE Board Member Christopher Parker reports that "Irene" dealt Vermont's rail lines a heavy blow. The people, towns and infrastructure of the Green Mountain state haven't see this amount of destruction since 1927.

Christopher adds that every rail line in the state suffered damage that interrupted service and now requires extensive repairs (picture from Vermont Rail Action website).

More here.