Amtrak’s Downeaster hopes to tap stimulus money

Posted Dec. 13, 2009, at 10:28 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is optimistic that federal stimulus money will be granted to expand Amtrak’s Downeaster north to Brunswick.

Patricia Douglas says two proposals for $36 million and $39 million would tap into stimulus money for high speed and passenger rail service. They follow two different timetables. The fast-tracked version calls for work to be completed on 30 miles of track within two years.

Douglas says a decision is anticipated this winter. The state also applied for a $52 million grant to upgrade tracks between Portland and Plaistow, N.H.

Ridership on the Downeaster, which runs from Portland to Boston, is down about 7 percent this year. Douglas says that’s because of the economy. He says the service remains healthy.

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