Our New Vision
TrainRiders Northeast brought the Downeaster to Portland, ME in 2001 and Brunswick ME in 2012. Our New Vision: An across the platform, Amtrak connection at Boston’s North Station, serving Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven & New York’s Penn Station. Our continued success depends on your donation. Use our PayPal button to help us reach this goal. Many thanks for your continued support. Wayne Davis, Chairman
NNEPRA 2016 Annual Meeting
- Created: 14 October 2016 14 October 2016
NNEPRA held its Annual Meeting last night in Freeport, Maine. Executive Director Patricia Quinn released the best statistic of the evening: "Fiscal year 2017 started strong with our highest first quarter ridership since the service was inaugurated!"
Much of the second quarter of FY2017 will suffer due to the current service disruption as some 15,000 ties are being replaced on the PanAm section of the line between Wells and Portland. This work is scheduled to end on November 21st when the third round trip from Brunswick to Boston will begin. This schedule improvement is due primarily to the Brunswick Layover Facility, which will go 'on line' next month.
Video of a trainset entering the BLF was scheduled to be shown at the meeting - produced by Maine HDTV in cooperation with Consigli Construction, NNEPRA and Amtrak. You can view it here.
Public Hearing on OPEGA's Review of NNEPRA
- Created: 08 October 2016 08 October 2016
The public hearing of the Maine Government Oversight Committee was held on October 6th, in Augusta. The purpose was to allow public comments on the recent Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability's (OPEGA) review of NNEPRA's financial and operational administration of the Amtrak Downeaster. Those who were displeased that the report failed to find fault with NNEPRA management, refocused their attention from trying to prevent the construction of the Brunswick Layover Facility to requesting further investigation of the decisions of NNEPA Executive Director Patricia Quinn as well as the board itself. Ms. Quinn, TrainRiders/NE Counsel F. Bruce Sleeper and an impassioned Board Chairman Martin Eisenstein returned the fire. Here's a sampling of the hearing.
State Oversight Office Gives NNEPRA High Marks
- Created: 17 September 2016 17 September 2016
The Government Oversight Committee held a session this week to hear the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability's position regarding an investigation into NNEPRA's management of its finances and operational supervision of the Downeaster passenger rail service.
State Senator Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick, an outgoing member of the Government Oversight Committee, had forcefully pursued the investigation. The following report is from All Aboard Brunswick which has been closely following the process.
OPEGA found NNEPRA to be a well-run organization with lots of oversight, tasked with the challenge of coordinating operations with Amtrak, Pam Am Railways, the MBTA, Maine DOT, individual station owners, and responsible to the Legislature, Maine DOT, the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), and the Federal Transportation Authority (FTA). Basically, the report said, “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now.”
The report’s three recommendations were:
1. Better communication between NNEPRA and the Legislature, with the Transportation Committee scheduling NNEPRA to present its annual reports at public meetings. In the past, presentations at public meetings have typically been initiated by NNEPRA.
2. As part of the process of establishing passenger rail policy, planning and implementation, the Legislature, MDOT and NNEPRA should rely on objective cost-benefit research and analysis, and provide timely and appropriate forums for public input throughout a project’s duration.
August, 2016 NNEPRA Board Meeting
- Created: 22 August 2016 22 August 2016
Preliminary Report FY2016: The numbers showed continued recovery of the Downeaster service from the botched tie-job of FY 2015 and part of FY2016.
Ridership: Projected ridership was down by 2% and revenue by 3%. However, this June's ridership numbers showed an increase of 23,109 to a total of 42,605 over the paltry 19,496 of the previous June.
On Time Performance: I'll pick last year's worst OTP month - May of 2015 was 0% This May it was 81% - not the 90ish NNEPRA is aiming for, but a spectacular return to normalcy.
Overall Customer Satisfaction - June, 2016: The Downeaster continued to eclipse Amtrak service elsewhere with a 92% rating as opposed to Amtrak's 86%.
FY2017 Begins: July, the first month of of the new fiscal year, set a new ridership record of 51,402 passengers and that's an increase of 14,053 riders over July of FY2016.
Fall Tie Replacement: There remains considerable track work to be done this Fall. From October 1st to November 21st, some 15,000 ties will be replaced between Portland and Wells. This will necessitate no Downeaster service between Brunswick and Wells. Special bus service will bring southbound passengers from Brunswick, Freeport, Portland and Saco down to Wells. Similar service will transport northbound passengers after they reach Wells on the Downeaster. Another painful reminder that maintaining the tracks keeps railroad service up to expectations.
State Finds No Major Issues After NNEPRA Review
- Created: 21 July 2016 21 July 2016
Maine’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) met today in Augusta and heard Beth Ashcroft, director of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA), present a 7-page report detailing her agency's preliminary investigation of NNEPRA. This investigation was initiated at the request of Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D. Brunswick), who, among other things, opposed NNEPRA’s choice for the site of the soon-to-be-completed layover facility in Brunswick and who accused that Authority of mismanagement and a lack of transparency.
After extensive research into the operations and governance of the rail authority, Ms. Ashcroft stated that OPEGA found no significant issues with NNEPRA. More specifically, the report stated that:
- OPEGA does not find that mismanagement or lack of transparency are “areas of high risk at this time.”
- OPEGA has not “identified any potential concerns or high risk conditions that lead us to definitely recommend further review” of any NNEPRA functions which are “key to providing the most effective and efficient passenger rail service possible.”
OPEGA noted that NNEPRA “appears to have strong practices in some areas, like procurement and contracting, which are already reviewed to some degree through . . . federal reviews and independent financial audits.” OPEGA’s conclusion that “there may be limited value to spending OPEGA resources on more detailed review of NNEPRA at this time” is a strong endorsement of NNEPRA’s practices and activities, validating the value of that agency to the State of Maine and the rest of northern New England.
OPEGA's 7-page report will be followed by a more detailed Information Brief in September, after which the GOC will consider whether any follow up is needed. A copy of the report is available at http://legislature.maine.gov/uploads/originals/final-nnepra-project-direction-recommendation-statement-.pdf.