Brunswick Layover Facility
NNEPRA is in the process of developing a Downeaster passenger train layover facility in Brunswick to maximize the utility and efficiency of expanded Downeaster service. The proposed facility will include an indoor layover building to store and provide routing servicing of Amtrak Downeaster passenger train sets near Brunswick Station, which in 2012, became the northern terminus of the Downeaster rail service.
The layover facility is proposed to include a set of railroad storage tracks and switches, a building to be used for the overnight storage of rail passenger equipment, and ancillary components to accommodate daily service and maintenance functions associated with rail passenger equipment. The layover building is intended to accommodate the overnight storage of up to three diesel locomotive-powered passenger train sets used for the Downeaster service.
The proposed project is needed for several reasons:
- Amtrak requires a facility to store, restock and perform routine light maintenance such as cleaning and refueling of passenger rail equipment used for Amtrak Downeaster service.
- A layover facility in Brunswick would eliminate the need to idle trains outside between scheduled runs. The facility is required to allow Amtrak train sets to power down between runs, reducing fuel consumption and emissions, vibration and noise otherwise produced by idling trains between scheduled service runs of the Amtrak Downeaster.
- An enclosed facility is needed to reduce wear and tear on Amtrak rolling stock and allow Amtrak’s contractor to service and restock equipment overnight, particularly during harsh Maine winter months. The safety, efficiency and security of this operation will be significantly improved by providing an enclosed, climate-controlled facility. Such a facility will also facilitate snow and ice melt off of equipment during the winter.
- Crew quarters are needed to provide accommodations for Amtrak workers and contractors, such as a break room, restroom, briefing room, commissary and similar workplace amenities.
- A layover facility located near the terminus of Amtrak Downeaster service (Brunswick Station) will reduce train movements between Brunswick and the current layover location in Portland that are required now to position equipment for the morning runs. These trips back to Portland from Brunswick at night and then back from Portland to Brunswick in the morning don’t carry passengers, increase fuel use and operating costs, and create additional night-time disturbances to abutters along the 28-mile route
- Once a layover is built, the Downeaster will be able to operate a third daily round-trip between Brunswick and Boston without increasing the number of train movements between Portland and Brunswick.
The proposed facility would consist of a main building, adjoining crew building and connecting tracks at the site of the Brunswick freight rail yard located between Church Road and Stanwood Street, which currently serves as the freight interchange area for pan Am Railways and the Maine Eastern Railroad.
A formal site selection assessment determined that the Brunswick West rail yard is preferred because:
- It is located within Downeaster’s operating territory, is closest to the Station (.6 miles from Brunswick Station), and only requires trains to cross two updated grade crossings to get to or from the Station.
- It has compatible zoning, i.e. Mixed Use 2 – Intown Railroad Corridor (MU2).
- It has the size and shape to accommodate the facility without requiring additional property acquisitions, fill, or modifications to waterways.
In response to comments from the public who expressed concern about the location of the facility, and its potential impacts on the community during a series of 3 public meetings, the NNEPRA Board of Directors established a Brunswick Layover Building Advisory Group in August 2011, to provide input and feedback regarding the building and its design. The Group, which includes representatives from the Town of Brunswick, Brunswick Town Council, facility neighbors, and MaineDOT, provided critical input into the development of building design specifications.
A Design Specifications Document was finalized in January 2012 as the basis for the selection of a design/build contractor through a public solicitation process.
As a result of input from the Advisory Group and members of the public, the layover building is being designed to:
- accommodate inside storage of all trains sets and locomotives used in the Downeaster service to virtually eliminate the need for extended outside idling of train engines;
- employ low-noise generating rooftop fans;
- meet an overall net Sound Transmission Class (STC) of 44 or greater, far greater than federal requirements of STC 23, to minimize noise impacts;
- utilize light fixtures and placement of light fixtures which limit light spillover onto adjacent parcels.
Consigli Construction Company, with offices in Portland, Maine was selected as the design/build contractor for the facility in April 2013 and has recently completed the 50% design phase for the layover. The approximate dimensions of the single story building are 655 feet long by 70 feet wide with a maximum height of about 37 feet. Three tracks will access the ends of the layover building on both the east and west sides, connecting through a series of switches to the railroad main line. The building and yard tracks will have a “double-ended” configuration to allow for trains to arrive or depart in either direction. The building will be equipped with a ventilation system to handle locomotive exhaust and will be heated. Offices, locker rooms, wash rooms and storage facilities will be incorporated in an attachment on the north side of the building.
A fourth siding/storage track which had been initially proposed to be constructed outdoors adjacent to the south side of the building has been eliminated from the project design. The updated plan now proposes that spare coach cars be typically stored and switched on the ladder tracks located on the west end of the building.
The updated design also modifies the site to provide primary access from Lombard Street instead of Church Road. This change eliminates the need and associated cost for several overhead pole lights which would have been required to line the access road from Church Road along the entire north property boundary (Pleasant Street side), creates more space between the facility and abutters to the north, and preserves more of the natural tree boundary which currently exists along the north side of the property.
Construction of the Brunswick layover facility cannot begin until the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) makes a final determination that the project, as proposed, complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For planning purposes, a November 2013 start date has been proposed, but not confirmed.