Rail News

Amtrak’s Downeaster train service at 15: More riders, more communities


PORTLAND — Fifteen years after passenger train service resumed between Boston and Portland, Amtrak’s Downeaster has been a runaway success, with increased speed, ridership and service.

Thursday was the anniversary of the resumption of service between Massachusetts and Maine. It took a decade of lobbying and more than $50 million for track upgrades for the first trains to run since the 1960s on a cold rainy morning 15 years ago. In the years since, more than 6 million passengers have avoided busy Interstate 95 by riding the rails.

Wayne Davis, a banker and rail advocate who pressed for the service, said he doubts that the service could’ve been created in the current political climate.

“We’re proud of it, but it couldn’t be done today. It’s a case of being in the right place at the right time,” said Davis, founder of TrainRiders Northeast.

Davis hatched the idea for restoring passenger rail service between Portland and Boston and sold then-Transportation Commissioner Dana Connors on the idea in the late 1980s. TrainRiders Northeast proceeded to collect more than 90,000 petitions demanding the rail service. Read the Full Article