December 15, 2021 – The Amtrak Downeaster celebrated 20 years of service, connecting Northern New England with reliable and convenient passenger rail service between Brunswick, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. The service was established as a result of a citizen’s initiative by TrainRiders Northeast to restore passenger rail service to Maine after a 30-year hiatus. To date more than 65,000 Downeaster trains have operated, transporting more than 8.29 million passengers the equivalent of nearly 674 million passenger miles. Many improvements have been made to the service including reductions in travel time, increased frequency, and expanded service.
The Downeaster has developed a diversified ridership base which includes commuters traveling to work, students traveling to or from college, school kids on education trips, senior citizens looking for a day out, sports fans, beach goers, tourists and more.
“And the best is yet to come,” said Patricia Quinn, Executive Director of NNEPRA. “We are committed to the sustained growth of the Amtrak Downeaster and are exploring innovative ways to improve mobility, advance safety, combat climate change and support a growing economy”. Initiatives under consideration to support and enhance existing service include inbound commuter service, Portland Station relocation, and the addition of a Downeaster platform in West Falmouth to name a few.
The 20th Anniversary was marked with a celebration at the Wells Transportation Center on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 and featured Governor Janet Mills as well as executive leadership form Amtrak, Pan Am Railways and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). There were video presentations from Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King and comments from a representative from Congresswoman Chelli Pingree’s office.
In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of the past, the event included a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on a $22.9M infrastructure project in Wells which will improve Downeaster service reliability and set the stage for added frequencies into the future. The project is funded in part with a federal grant made possible through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) program which will be administered by the FRA. Additional funding for the project will be provided by Pan Am Railways and the Maine DOT. “At the Maine Department of Transportation, we are proud of the productive partnership we have with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority,” said Bruce A. Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “The enduring advocacy of TrainRiders Northeast, led by Wayne Davis, and the steady work of NNEPRA, led by Patricia Quinn, are key reasons that we are celebrating 20 years of Downeaster service today. I congratulate NNEPRA and the Town of Wells for embarking on this new project, which will improve passenger and freight rail service in southern Maine.”
To commemorate 20 years of service, a special $20 round-trip fare valid for travel on Downeaster trains during the month of January and February 2022, will be available for sale beginning on December 15, 2021. For more information visit https://amtrakdowneaster.com/20years.