Amtrak expansion celebrated in Freeport, Brunswick

Posted May 14, 2012, at 6:17 p.m.
Last modified May 14, 2012, at 6:57 p.m.

FREEPORT, Maine — Transportation officials on Monday celebrated the opening of two train platforms ahead of the expansion of passenger rail service northward in Maine.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies at new train platforms in Freeport and Brunswick. The platforms will serve Amtrak’s Downeaster when service is extended to the towns this fall.

“Brunswick and Freeport are great examples of how rail investment can provide jobs, greater economic development and greater mobility,” Szabo said.

Szabo noted that $38.3 million in federal stimulus funding was used for the project, and said the Obama administration supports rail expansion “because it benefits the economy and provides the community with greater transportation options.”

The Downeaster transports more a half million passengers a year between Portland and Boston, and rail officials long have sought to expand service northward.

Brunswick and Freeport have not had passenger rail service since 1959.

Expanding service to those communities will mean another 36,000 annual passengers initially, then an additional 50,000 passengers once service expands to additional round-trips.

Existing stops between Portland and Boston are Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Wells in Maine; Dover, Durham and Exeter in New Hampshire; and Haverhill and Woburn in Massachusetts.

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