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's 2018 Fiscal Year Ends with Strong Numbers
- Created: 30 July 2018 30 July 2018
The NNEPRA Board heard an impressive report on FY2018, which came to an end on June 30th.
Executive Director Patricia Quinn pointed out that FY2018 was the second strongest period in the Downeaster's history, missing setting a new record by just 5,000 riders. Ridership grew 7.75% over FY2017. There was also good news on ticket revenue. It came in at $10,245,061 - exceeding $10 million for the first time and the previous fiscal year by $1,624,943 or nearly 19%!
Ontime performance continued to be a problem. So far this calendar year it has averaged 70%. NNEPRA, Amtrak and PanAM will be meeting soon to how best to address the problem.
The Downeaster's overall customer satisfaction continued to outpace Amtrak nationally, 90-83.
NNEPRA June Board Meeting - Ridership/Revenue Growth and Kennebunk Stop Presentation
- Created: 26 June 2018 26 June 2018
Ridership/Revenue: NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn reported on 11 months of FY2018. Ridership is already ahead of FY2017 by 37,013. It's now half a million! Revenue is $1,464,665 ahead of the same 11-month period in FY2017! No matter how you figure it, the Downeaster continues its solid growth. May on-time performance came in at a disappointing 68% while May Overall All Customer Satisfaction hit 90 (Amtrak's overall percentage was 78).
Fall Construction: This fall will see construction projects that will reduce expected ridership/revenue as some 15,000 ties will be replaced between Wells and Dover, necessitating busing between the two stations. In addition, there will be an extensive outage in Saco as bridge timbers across the Saco River are replaced along with the Main Street crossing.
Kennebunk Downeaster Stop: This month the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen voted, by a 6-0 tally, to officially request of NNEPRA a seasonal stop. This action has been four plus years in the making but was welcomed by the board as "serving more Mainers with passenger rail."
TrainRiders/NE talked with Ms. Quinn about the expected 2019 service (contracts still need to be written and signed). Three town officials, including the Interim Economic Development Director Jim Black, presented their modified proposal to the board.
Senate Appropriations Committee Calls for More Public Transparency in Amtrak Funding Bill
- Created: 09 June 2018 09 June 2018
Thursday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2019 transportation bill which came out of Senator Collins’ subcommittee. The Committee report accompanying that bill includes the following language:
Improving Communication with Stakeholders The Committee applauds Amtrak’s efforts to make itself financially more sustainable through a business-like approach to its operations. However, the Committee is concerned that the Corporation is failing to communicate adequately with the public prior to making service changes that have significant impacts on its ridership and the communities it serves.
This past year, Amtrak made a series of changes to longstanding policies governing charter trains, special trains, station agents, and private cars. Many of these changes were justified adjustments to services that were costly or interfered with the operation of Amtrak’s regularly scheduled passenger trains. However, the Committee is concerned that Amtrak unveiled these decisions without giving members of the public time to react or register their opinions.
Amtrak Service Nationwide Under Assault by AMTRAK!
- Created: 17 May 2018 17 May 2018
Richard Anderson became president of Amtrak last July, and served as co-chief executive officer with retired railroad president Wick Moorman until last December, when he became the sole occupant of that position as well, serving without a salary. Prior to that, he had served as CEO at Delta Airlines from 2007-2016, when he became executive chairman at that company.
Mr. Anderson’s early messages seemed reasonable and even encouraging, recognizing the need for infrastructure improvements, better equipment, and higher speeds, as well as indicating that privatization of the service would probably not work. Now, however, his actions are causing rumblings among those, such as TrainRiders NE, who want passenger rail service to survive and thrive in this country. His steps include:
- Elimination of discounts for veterans and AAA members.
- Elimination of the Coastal Starlight Parlor cars (and calling for them to be sold as scrap to boot)
- Elimination of in-train tour guides on some western trains
- Elimination of private cars and private charter runs
- Proposed elimination and scrapping of the dome car which has joined the Downeaster for the past two years to much acclaim and popularity
- Elimination, starting on June 1 of dining cars on the Lake Shore Limited between Boston and New York City to Chicago, as well as on the Capitol Limited between Washington, DC and Chicago, leaving sleeping car passengers with “chilled” meals to eat in their compartments, (contemporary cuisine they’re calling it) and coach passengers will have access only to a café car for these overnight trains
Stop, Look & Listen - The Long-Awaited Passenger Information Display System is Up and Running in Saco
- Created: 07 April 2018 07 April 2018
Some projects take longer than expected. When NNEPRA's Passenger Services Manager Brian Beeler joined the state agency, he was given the "opportunity" to shepherd to completion the Passenger Information Display System for the Downeaster stops in Maine. Little did he know that it would require eight years to see it finally implemented. In fact, the effort was already "in progress" prior to his arrival. Constant Amtrak reorganizations, technology improvements and vendor changes caused the project to stretch on for more than a decade.
It's now up and running in Saco. Portland and Wells are next. The Downeaster trains are listed in order of arrival at the local station and any delays are posted as well. A pleasant female voice announces the arrival and final boarding call of the scheduled train, the text of which is seen on the display.
NNEPRA can also program any unanticipated delays into the system so passengers awaiting their trains will no longer be left in the dark.
The Saco station now sounds like Grand Central Station. We welcome this helpful new technology - improving the passengers' experience as they await "America's Favorite Train."