PORTLAND — On Monday, Feb. 26 members of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Association (NNEPRA) voted in favor of a truncated pilot program that would test running Amtrak’s Downeast Coastal Connector passenger rail service to Rockland during three weekends in August. The meeting took place at the University of Southern Maine.
According to NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn, six out of seven NNEPRA board members were present, with five voting in favor of moving forward with a three weekend pilot program to Rockland this summer; the representative of MaineDOT abstained from voting, Quinn said in an email, and the representative from the Department of Economic and Community Development was absent.
While no dates or fares have been announced, the passenger service to Rockland would likely leave Boston at 5 p.m. on Fridays and arrive in Rockland at 10:10 p.m. weekend service would have the train scheduled to depart Rockland at 10 a.m. with arrival in Boston at 3:30 p.m.
A morning train would travel from Boston to Rockland, departing at 9:45 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with arrival in Rockland at 3:10 p.m. The train would then return to Boston, leaving Rockland at 4 p.m. and arriving in Boston at 9:30 p.m, according to a projected schedule available on the NNEPRA Coastal Connector information page.
The train would make additional stops between Rockland and Brunswick — the present end of passenger service — including Wiscasset, Bath, and Newcastle.
According to a statement on the NNEPRA website, a 10-weekend passenger service to Rockland was initially proposed, the service would have operated on weekends from June 30, 2018 to Sept. 3, 2018. The operating cost for that service was projected at approximately $200,000, with projected revenue of $120,000. The balance would have been covered by surplus funds from NNEPRA’s FY2018 budget.
The Maine Department of Transportation has provided a letter stating that it will not provide funding for the Coastal Connector service, the letter further stated that MDOT is conducting evaluations of bridges in Rockland, the results of which could limit the speed at which passenger trains can travel, according to the statement.
According to the NNEPRA website, more information will be released as it becomes available.
Jenna Lookner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org