Our New Vision
TrainRiders Northeast brought the Downeaster to Portland, ME in 2001 and Brunswick ME in 2012. Our New Vision: An across the platform, Amtrak connection at Boston’s North Station, serving Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven & New York’s Penn Station. Our continued success depends on your donation. Use our PayPal button to help us reach this goal. Many thanks for your continued support. Wayne Davis, Chairman
NNEPRA Operations Meeting Briefs on Downeaster's Preparations For Return to Service
- Created: 08 May 2020 08 May 2020
NNEPRA conducts a bi-monthly Operations Committee Meeting for station representatives along the route, town managers, Amtrak management, Homeland Security and other interested parties. Today's virtual meeting saw some 30 participants sign-on from their homes, cars and offices.
NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn briefed all on the rail authority's activities during the current shutdown and what lies ahead for the Downeaster service.
- The Downeaster had seen record ridership/revenue numbers for the first 7 months of FY2020. All data pointed to record ridership approaching 590,000...until the virus brought the service to a halt.
- During this hiatus, NNEPRA has been working with PanAm to accelerated specific track maintenance projects - in particular, tie replacement work between Plastow and Dover. This was scheduled for the fall, it will now begin this spring while train traffic is relatively low (PanAm freights are still running).
- NNEPRA has created a Service Restoration & Recovery Plan (dependent on federal and state requirements).
- All trains will be deep-cleaned at the end of each day in the Brunswick Layover Facility. Amtrak will use a particularly strong disinfectant to kill any viruses onboard the train.
- All Amtrak personnel will wear masks.
- All riders will wear masks. Once at your seat, the mask can be removed.
- Social distancing will require that ridership be limited to half the normal passenger load (approx. 150 per trainset).
- Service will be resumed in three stages:
- 1-Travel restricted - essential workers only
- 2-Travel allowed
- 3-Travel encouraged
- New signage summarizing the 'new reality' will be placed at all stations.
- The restoration of service will likely begin with one roundtrip/day and then slowly increase over time.
- All participants congratulated Patricia and her staff for 'keeping the dream alive' during this difficult period.
Amtrak Downeaster Service Temporarily Suspended Through May 31st
- Created: 30 April 2020 30 April 2020
Amtrak Downeaster service is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 and associated travel-related restrictions. The suspension will remain in effect through at least May 31, 2020. Please check back for updates.
We are working closely with our station community partners and Amtrak to protect the health and safety of our passengers and crews when service returns.
- Train equipment used in Downeaster service has been sanitized, and Amtrak has implemented enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure that the equipment will be disinfected daily once Downeaster service resumes.
- Although Downeaster stations in Maine and NH are currently closed, stations are being equipped with information and resources consistent with social and physical distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC prior to re-opening. During this closure, stations are being thoroughly cleaned in preparation for reopening.
- When service returns, the number of passengers per coach will be limited to support the social and physical distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC.
- We are using this time of suspended service to complete various track projects. Many had been scheduled later in the year and would have required service interruptions. By getting them done now, it will enable us to operate an even more reliable service when we return.
Ticket Refunds & Cancellations
Amtrak is waiving change fees for reservations made before May 31, 2020. To modify a reservation, log in to your account, go to ‘Modify Trip’ on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. If you want to cancel your reservation with no fee, you must call 1-800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent (not available via Amtrak.com or the app).
For more information visit: https://www.amtrak.com/coronavirus
John Middleton Passes Away
- Created: 28 March 2020 28 March 2020
John Middleton, a long-serving and dedicated member of TrainRiders/NE, passed away on March 21st. John was 95. John was an exemplary Train Host as well as the manager of our membership list. He was also on the board of the Trolley Musem in Kennebunkport, The picture, from the museum, captures his passion for rail transportation.
John's son, David, provided the following obituary.
TrainRiders/NE Train Host Service Suspended
- Created: 15 March 2020 15 March 2020
In order to reduce the risks of viral infection and the spread of the Coronavirus, the Train Host service has been suspended until April 15th.
Each Friday, during that period, Chairman Wayne Davis and Trainmaster Jim Oikle will review the situation with NNEPRA and Amtrak with the goal of returning the hosts to the train as soon as the risk has subsided.
Many of our hosts are older adults and like many retirees, they are considered to be at 'higher risk.'
Since helping passengers is their primary goal, they'll miss their assignments on the train.
The FRA Grants NNEPRA $17 Million for Service Improvements!
- Created: 28 February 2020 28 February 2020
The Downeaster has received a Federal Railroad Administration $17 million grant for service improvements in Wells, Berwick and Brunswick.
Wells will see an additional platform, accessed by a pedestrian bridge, as well as a six-mile extension to Berwick of the current two-mile passing track. This will alleviate the current bottleneck in Wells by allowing north and southbound trains to load/unload passengers simultaneously.
In 2018, NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn provided TrainRiders/NE with an overview of the project.
A sixth roundtrip between Wells and Brunswick can then be added, creating the first such 'inside Maine' passenger rail service.
Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, announced the grant in a press release. She noted that NNEPRA "will be able to make important improvements to this rail line in southern and midcoast Maine, increasing the corridor's capacity and improving safety, efficiency and reliability for the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use this service each year."