Transportation officials, Amtrak representatives, elected officials, and community members all gathered last week to celebrate the launch of Amtrak's new expanded Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine, with an inaugural ride from Boston.
"With this expansion, the Downeaster will become invaluable to Freeport and Brunswick, and even more invaluable to Maine," said Senator Olympia Snow (R-MA) at the event. "Because the Downeaster isn't simply just the train to Maine, but the train for Maine."
The project to expand Downeaster service began in 2010 and included a rehabilitation of 30 miles of track, installation of 33,000 ties, the rehabilitation of 36 grade crossings, and the construction of two station platforms. The expansion was made possible through $38.3 million in American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act funds.
The line, operated by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, has run Amtrak service from Boston up to Portland, Maine, since December 2001. The expansion fulfilled the original vision for the Downeaster to provide service from Boston up to Freeport, Maine, which is home to L.L. Bean's flagship store, as well as Brunswick Landing, home to Bowdoin College. Downeaster expansion comes after a record ridership year, boasting 528,292 passengers in fiscal year 2012. Ridership on the line more than doubled from 2005 to 2012 and an additional 30,000 riders per year are expected due to the expanded service to Freeport and Brunswick.
Additional information on the Downeaster Expansion project is available at bit.ly/Amtrakdowneaster.