Overview of the Downeaster

Right on Track

As the business managers of the Amtrak Downeaster, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) provides the leadership and support necessary to deliver a passenger rail service that exceeds the expectations of our customers, delivers value and enhances economic development within the region we serve.

Each year, the team at NNEPRA strives to meet and exceed the economic, performance, social and environmental objectives of our stakeholders; deliver value and benefit to the public and contribute to a modern, integrated transportation system.

The NNEPRA staff is actively involved with the daily operation of the Amtrak Downeaster. We strive to meet and exceed ridership and revenue goals by actively promoting the Downeaster; achieving maximum financial efficiency by controlling expenses; and establishing strong collaborative partnerships with stakeholders and local communities.

NNEPRA holds a multi-year agreement with Amtrak to operate the Downeaster passenger rail service, one of 29 state supported Amtrak routes in the country. The NNEPRA staff works with Amtrak to develop revenue-management strategies, schedules, capital projects and service improvement programs. NNEPRA holds liability and insurance policies associated with the operation of the Downeaster and reimburses Amtrak to provide the equipment, train crews, Portland ticket agents and reservations services associated with the Downeaster.

NNEPRA maintains a strong working relationship with host railroads, CSX and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to ensure that freight, commuter and Downeaster trains operate efficiently and the corridor remains in good repair.

CSX owns 106 miles of track between Brunswick and the NH/MA state line in Plaistow, NH, used for freight and passenger services.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) owns 36 miles of track between the NH/MA state line in Plaistow, NH, and Boston North Station used for commuter rail service.

NNEPRA contracts with NexDine to operate the Downeaster Café. Together, we develop menus, pricing and service elements that enhance the quality of service while promoting Maine products and businesses. The Downeaster is the only Amtrak train with independent food service.

NNEPRA provides management and oversight on a variety of capital projects in collaboration with Maine DOT, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), to sustain, improve and grow the Maine to Boston connection. Continued investment and improvements to increase frequency, reduce travel time, expand service and improve safety directly stimulate Amtrak Downeaster growth as well as support freight movement.

The Downeaster is an integral transportation network, making travel more accessible, convenient and affordable than ever before, while having profoundly positive benefits to station communities.

Many stations are staffed by Amtrak Downeaster ambassadors who assist passengers and visitors. NNEPRA collaborates regularly with community leaders and ambassadors to provide resources related to passenger information, safety training, signage, and management of the ticketing machine.

NNEPRA manages the design and production of all television and radio spots, print ads, websites, electronic and social networking initiatives and collateral materials which promote the Downeaster throughout the region. Campaigns targeting specific markets have doubled Downeaster ridership and ticket revenues and have won several local and national awards for excellence.

NNEPRA engages in planning efforts with local, state, and regional agencies to improve public transportation. 

NNEPRA is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to increase revenue and improve customer service.

NNEPRA carefully monitors every financial aspect of the operation, seeking new ways to balance growth with efficiency and cost control; staying within budget constraints and minimizing public funding.

Collectively, the NNEPRA team has made the Downeaster one of the best performing passenger rail services in the country.