Amtrak edges toward Brunswick
Reports indicated this week that Amtrak's long-delayed Portland
to Boston train service is finally beginning to take shape eight years
after the original prospectus date of 1993. The Portland-Boston route
reigns supreme as the longest-delayed passenger rail service project in
Several steps are being taken to expedite the opening date
of the new rail line, including the construction of two train terminals
on Sewall Street in Portland. In addition, the new rail line is being
tested to ensure that it satisfies new federal safety standards.
The line safety test, conducted by a federal transportation
board, began Wednesday of this week.
The transformed Concord Railways bus station will house
the first of the Amtrak train terminals. The station is presently being
renovated to handle the expected increase in passenger traffic.
The second of the terminal facilities will serve as a layover
terminal where trains will be maintained and cleaned when not in service.
When in service, the 114-mile route from Portland to Boston
will take approximately two and a half hours with the train traveling
at about 79 mph. The route will include three stops in Maine south of
Portland: Wells, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach. It will also include three
stops in New Hampshire on the way to Boston.
The excitement concerning the opportunities associated with
the new Boston to Portland rail line has also extended to Brunswick. Officials
are considering the possibility that the steps taken this week to solidify
the planned Portland-Boston route have increased the likelihood that a
future rail line will extend into Brunswick.
Theo Holtwijk, Brunswick director of Planning and Development,
discussed the hopes of town planners to construct a train station near
Cook's Corner, which he said would be "a stone's throw from campus."
Holtwijk offered insight as to when Bowdoin students and
Brunswick residents might hope to have the new Maine train line opened
to them: "[The line will arrive in] at least a year, more like two
or three because of the work that needs to be done on the tracks and stations."
The tracks running through Brunswick are now used for slow-speed freight
and would need to be updated to support high-speed passenger trains. The
state of Maine has set aside $40-50 million to improve tracks such as
those running through Brunswick.
Though the possibility of boarding a train and arriving
in Brunswick may still be distant, the developments this week concerning
the Portland-Boston line have come as welcome news for town planners and
A vast majority of Bowdoin students must often rely on other
forms of transportation in order to travel to and from Brunswick, due
to a variety of circumstances.
Many students hail from distances that are often unmanageable
by car, and the possession of a vehicle on campus is a luxury that only
a small fraction of the student body enjoys.
Shaken by the tragic events of September 11, many of America's
travelers, (college students included) have begun to look beyond airline
flights to reach their final destination. In their searches, many passengers
decide instead to depend on rail transportation.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) has
reported that ridership aboard cross-country trains has increased 40 percent
since the events in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.,
occurred earlier this month.
Holtwijk said, "You can't get to Brunswick without getting to Portland first."