Amtrak eyes return to Rockland under Biden infrastructure proposal

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 6:00am

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following the Wednesday afternoon release of the American Jobs Plan by President Joe Biden, which calls for $80 billion of railway infrastructure upgrades, Amtrak released its vision to grow its rail service across the nation over the next 15 years.   

    Among the cities Amtrak is eyeing service to is Rockland to Brunswick, with the train later, depending on the route selected, making its way to Portland and then to Boston or directly from Brunswick to Boston. 

    “Amtrak’s vision to grow rail service and connect new city pairs across America [...] rises to the urgent challenges of our time, and will provide new and improved train service to millions of additional passengers,” the organization said, in a news release.

    In an outline of its 2035 vision, Amtrak noted Congress-approved funding would enable the company to serve up to 160 more communities nationwide and that the company has identified roughly 30 potential new routes. 

    Rockland had been serviced as a passenger station until a change in ownership in 2015 left the Knox County city without passenger service.

    Over the past few years, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has flirted with the idea of returning passenger service to the Midcoast with the organization at one point eyeing a restart of service around May 2020. 

    The Northeast Corridor (NEC), a critical transportation link for the Northeast’s major metropolitan economies, has dozens of bridges, stations and tunnels beyond their design life and in need of immediate replacement or rehabilitation, the release noted. 

    Amtrak noted, in its release, if Congress provides the funding proposed in President Biden’s plan, the company would be able to take the NEC to a state of good repair and improve trip times, and would also expand Amtrak to underserved communities across the nation creating jobs, improving the quality of life, reducing carbon emissions and generating economic growth.

    “President Biden’s infrastructure plan is what this nation has been waiting for. Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor and our National Network and expand our service to more of America,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “The NEC’s many major tunnels and bridges — most of which are over a century old — must be replaced and upgraded to avoid devastating consequences for our transportation network and the country. In addition, Amtrak has a bold vision to bring energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to up to 160 new communities across the nation, as we also invest in our fleet and stations across the U.S. With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity across cities, regions, and the entire country — and we are ready to deliver.”