Amtrak Downeaster to extend beyond Portland to Freeport, Brunswick
Travelers heading north for the upcoming holiday season are in luck, starting Nov. 1, the Amtrak Downeaster will provide daily rail service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine.
Currently, the Downeaster makes five daily round-trips from Boston to Portland, serving eight communities in between. Two of those trips will now serve Freeport and Brunswick and that is expected to generate more than 30,000 new riders annually.
“It’s a huge economic asset to the region. It’s a big deal,” said Patricia Quinn, director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.
The $38 million project required rehabilitation of 30 miles of former freight track and 36 grade crossings and the installation of 33,000 railroad ties. The construction on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project took two years, Quinn said.
Some remaining track and signal work will be finished within a few weeks.
One-way fares from Boston to Brunswick will be less than $30 and multi-ride passes, such as the College 6-TIX, where college students can get six rides for $76, will be available. “It’s economical for college students and that’s why they love it,” Quinn said, noting that the new stops are near several Maine colleges.
Changes to the current Portland to Boston schedule have also been announced that will take effect on Oct. 15, such as time adjustments that will allow Maine commuters who work in Boston to get into the city earlier.
Seasonal service to Old Orchard Beach will end Oct. 14 and will resume in the spring.
In the past seven years, the Downeaster has had record-breaking ridership. It exceeded 528,000 riders in fiscal year 2012.Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at email@example.com.