30th Annual Meeting of TrainRiders/Northeast - Friday, December 14th in Portland

30thTime for our Annual Meeting - this year we're celebrating 30 years of grassroots advocacy on behalf of passenger rail in the Northeast. Our pride and joy, the Amtrak Downeaster, will be marking its 17th year of serving Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

It will be held at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in downtown Portland on Friday, December 14th, 2018. Those wishing accommodations at the Holiday Inn should call Marketing Director Sally Page for a special low rate (207-775-2311, Ext 2141).

Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. (both north and southbound trains arrive in Portland before 11:30 a.m.). The meeting opens at 12:30 p.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m. If you come by train, you'll be bussed to the hotel in time of the buffet luncheon.

brightline geneskoropowskiOur Keynote Speaker will be Eugene (Gene) Skoropowski, Senior Passenger Rail Consultant, TY Lin International, whose 40 years of railroading experience brought Florida's first privately-funded passenger rail service to fruition. Gene was responsible for establishing Brightline as an operating railroad in Florida, developing the service plan (train operations), selecting the rolling stock (trainsets), designing of the rolling stock maintenance facilities, hiring and training of operating crews (engineers & conductors), projecting operating costs and revenues and preparing the company’s passenger rail operations program. Gene is a long-time friend of TrainRiders/NE and we welcome his insight into the current state of passenger rail in America.

Both Maine Senator Susan Collins and Stephen Gardner, Executive Vice President of Amtrak, are unable to appear because of conflicting commitments.

NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn will provide us with the Downeaster's impressive record-breaking numbers from Fiscal Year 2018.

Mariah Morales, of Amtrak's Government Affairs team, will fill us in on Amtrak's relationships with coalitions, trade associations and advocacy groups.

Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt, PanAm Railways President David Fink and Executive VP Cynthia Scarano will be our guests as well.

Following the meeting at 4 p.m., you are invited to board a bus for a tour of Portland's downtown, waterfront and Deering Oaks Park holiday display. We'll return you to the station in time to catch the train south at 6:15 p.m. or the northbound train at 7:30 p.m.

Lest we forget, TrainRiders/NE was responsible for creating the Downeaster in the first place, and we're not finished yet. We're working to expand the rail service to other Maine points. We're planning a connection at North Station to allow us to cross the platform for a train to NEW YORK CITY via Worcester. We've got plenty yet to do in the coming years!

You can make your Annual Meeting luncheon reservation online as well as renew your membership by going here.

Environmental Board Rejects Opponents Appeal - DEP Permit Affirmed!

The Board of Environmental Projection voted unanimously today to accept the recommendations of their staff by endorsing the Storm Water Management permit granted by the DEP to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. By rejecting the appeal of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition, the Brunswick Layover Facility has surmounted its last regulartory hurdle.

The coalition, NNEPRA, and Trainriders/Northeast presented their views to the board during a 3 1/2 hour session. 

The coalition, led by Charles Wallace, complained about the process and the science by which the permit was been granted.

NNEPRA Board Meeting Hears Charges of 'Conflict of Interest' Against Board Member Robert McEvoy

Conflict of Interest Discussion during Public Comments (Updates at the bottom of this report)

NNEPA11-14It was a packed board room that heard serious charges brought against Robert McEvoy, the first openly hostile NNEPRA board member to be appointed by the administration.

Historic Kennebunk Station to welcome the Downeaster in 2015

The Town of Kennebunk plans to become the 7th stop in Maine for the Downeaster. Negotiations between the Town of Kennebunk and the building's owner, Dietz Association, are focused on providing a waiting room complete with QuikTrak machine and restrooms along with passenger parking by 2015. Meet Tim Dietz, the current owner as he provides an inside look at this Historic station.

Historic Kennebunk Station Will Host Downeaster from Maine HDTV on Vimeo.


NNEPRA Reports Growth in 1st Qtr of FY2014

fy2014fqAnother fiscal year begins and Patricia Quinn, Executive Director of NNEPRA, reported ridership during the 1st quarter of Fiscal Year 2014. The report states that "the Downeaster transported a record-setting 163,614 passengers generating $2.48 million in revenue."

"An all-time monthly ridership of 60,044 passengers was matched by all-time monthly revenue of $929,299 in August. A service interruption associated with the rehab of the Shawsheen River Bridges is estimated to have displaced approximately 1,000 riders in September" (dates when the Downeaster could not service Boston).

Wayne Davis' Memories of the Inaugural Train to Freeport & Brunswick

November 1st 2012 was a day to rival the original start of our Downeaster on December 14, 2001. Invited guests and dignitaries had to choose between getting up way before sunup to take the southbound train to Boston to return on the Inaugural train or going down to Boston the night before and staying in a hotel. Yours truly opted for the Boston hotel. It was that or I’d have been a zombie on the Inaugural train.

Wayne Davis Responds to letter attacking the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority

(Webmaster comment: Recently Associate Professor Patrick Rael of Bowdoin wrote a letter to the Forecaster accusing NNPERA of failing to listen to local objections, not working with town authorities and other objections with regards to the construction of the Downeaster Maintenance Facility in Brunswick. TRN Chairman Wayne Davis, in order to set the record straight, responded with the following Letter to the Editor.)

Patrick Rael’s letter attacking the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, its board of directors and its capable executive director is filled with misinformation.

Higher Cost Delays Start of Downeaster Maintenance Facility Construction

NNEPRA will need to seek additional federal funds in order to move forward with the construction of the Brunswick mainetance facility.

With expanded service due to begin late next fall, the lack of that facility will reduce the number of Downeaster round trips between Brunswick and Portland from three to two.

Read the article in the The Forecaster{jcomments on}

NNERPA Board Meeting - Nov, 2010

downeasterlogoA pre-Thanksgiving board meeting was held at the NNEPRA offices in Portland. The following positive Downeaster operating statistics for October, 2010 were presented:

Ridership & Revenue:
Oct, 2010 - 41,891 passengers as compared to 41,072 in Oct, 2009 = a 2% increase
FY2011 YTD - $2,590,951 as compared to $2,517,369 in FY2010 YTD = a 2% increase

TrainRiders/NE Moves to Downtown Portland

TrainRiders/NE expanded its outreach and presence in Portland on Saturday by moving its offices to new space at 415 Congress Street.

trnmoveA combination of willing hands, from Downeaster crew members to TRN members and board officials, pitched in to make the move as smooth as possible.

NARP Analyzes Results of November Elections

{jcomments on}narplogoThe National Association of Railroad Passengers reports that the "results of Tuesday’s elections may significantly alter the prospects for progress on many passenger train projects around."

They go on to note that considerable education is required to bring the newly elected public officials up-to-speed on the importance of passenger rail in America.

NARP's full report can be seen here.

NNEPRA Board Meeting - November, 2009

{jcomments on}Patricia Quinn, NNEPRA Executive Director, reported the following performance statistics:

  • October, 09 ridership was down 7% from October of last year. She reminded us that last year saw high fuel prices and exceptional ridership. This October was 14% ahead of October of 2007.
  • October, 09 revenue was down but .5% when compared to October of last year and was 19% ahead of October of 2007.
  • On Time Performance was 92%!
  • Customer Satisfaction Index was 90% (September)

December State Rail Plan Meetings

Dear Maine State Rail Plan Interested Party:

Earlier in the fall, MaineDOT hosted four meetings around the state to get the public's feedback about setting state rail priorities in order to develop a State Rail Plan. The thoughts and comments collected during that process have contributed to a set of draft recommendations for state rail investment that will be presented at meetings this December. The meeting schedule is:

  • Portland: Monday, December 7th, 6-8 pm at the South Portland Community Center, 21 Nelson Road
  • Bangor: Tuesday, December 8th, 6-8 pm, at the Bangor Motor Inn, Hogan Road
  • Auburn: Monday, December 14th, 6-8 pm, at the Martindale Country Club, 527 Beech Road
  • Presque Isle: Tuesday, December 15th, 6-8 pm, at the University of Presque Isle

We look forward to sharing findings and recommendations with as many folks as possible in order to get final feedback on the Rail Plan, scheduled to be completed in January.

For those who are interested, we have been posting p

ublic feedback on the MaineDOT Rail Plan website. You can read public meeting reports as well as see the comments received via email. You can access the site at http://www.maine.gov/mdot/railplan/

Thanks very much for your interest.

Carol Morris
Maine State Rail Plan Outreach

Fed subsidized transport OK 'til Dec 18th

Once again, the nation's federally subsidized transportation systems (including the Downeaster) are operating as the result of a congressional continuing resolution. The new deadline is December 18th of this year, when in all likelihood, a new CR will be necessary.

A full story is available at the National League of Cities website. Go

NNEPRA Discusses Limited Express Trains

{jcomments on}The NNEPRA Board Meeting was held today and out of the session came the following news:

NNEPRA is beginning to examine an express/local schedule on its route. Trains 685 and 682 would become express service thus reducing passenger time between Portland and Boston by 15 minutes. The express stops would be Portland, Saco, Wells and Exeter, NH. All other trains would stop at all stations (minus OOB in the winter).  Evening commuters from Boston would either take #685 to the designated express stops or wait 40 minutes for #687 which would stop at all stations. This is in the discussion stage with Amtrak, MBTA, PanAm and will likely be refined in coming months so that it could be put out for public comment.


New TrainRiders/Northeast website

We are on a roll - just like the Downeaster!

In February of 2010, this website will be more active and of greater use to our members, friends and Downeaster riders. You'll be able to:

Join TRN using PayPal

  • Comment on articles for TRN members
  • Take interactive polls
  • Easier signup for Train Hosts
  • Read Amtrak news feed

Without our organization, there would be no Downeaster. Join now and keep the Downeaster on track and moving forward toward Freeport and Brunswick.

Downeaster Crew Shares Thanksgiving

There was a Thanksgiving treat on the Downeaster this past Thursday.

A Downeaster crew said

Conductor Jim Nawrocki, his wife Ruth, engineer Gina and cafe attendant Marilyn set up a small complimentary buffet in the Cafe Car for the passengers.

As Jim said, “The passengers thought it was a wonderful gesture. What little chump change revenue we ‘lost’ for the Cafe Car, we more than made up for it in goodwill.”

Jim adds that they’ll likely repeat the ‘gift’ on Christmas.

Thanks to all for making the Downeaster America’s Favorite Train.

New Amtrak Interim President Named

Joseph BoardmanWASHINGTON – The National Railroad Passenger Corporation Board of Directors announced that it has chosen Joseph Boardman, a nationally recognized transportation industry professional, to become president and chief executive officer of the company, effective November 26. He replaces CEO Alex Kummant who resigned recently.

Boardman offers nearly 34 years of experience in the surface transportation industry at city, county, state, and federal government levels; most recently as the administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration.

NNEPRA November Board Meeting

The NNERPA Board met on November 24th. Here are the highlights:

  • Oct 08 ridership was 44,429, a 22.9% increase over Oct 07

  • Oct 08 ticket revenue was $562,277, a 19.4% increase over Oct 07

  • The Customer Satisfaction Index was 90% (3 month average)

  • Oct 08 On Time Performance was 58%

Amtrak CEO Resigns

(Nov 14, 2008) Amtrak announced the resignation of its President and CEO, Alex Kummant.

Kummant with Wayne Davis at TrainRiders/NE April 2007 Annual Meeting

Mr. Kummant, seen here with Wayne Davis, was the keynote speaker at the 2007 Annual Meeting of TrainRiders/NE.

Mr. Kummant reflected that he was “proud of what the management team at Amtrak had accomplished over the last two plus years and that he believed Amtrak had a strong operational and financial base to get through the coming turbulent times.”

Downeaster Conductor Rides Election to Augusta

Congratulations Mike!

Amtrak conductor Mike Shaw has been elected to the Maine House of Representatives. Shaw, 36 works as conductor on Amtrak’s Downeaster.

Democrat Shaw ran unopposed in State House District 102, which covers Standish. His former opponent, Republican incumbent Gary Moore, withdrew from the race in September.