At a workshop on March 27th, members of the planning group that has been conducting a two-phase study examining a potential passenger line between Lewiston-Auburn and Portland presented their work so far, and solicited input from the audience. They have been working with a transportation planning consultant. After conducting a survey of potential ridership and confirming adequate demand for rail service, they identified three possible route options that would use existing rail infrastructure (the Pan Am and St Lawrence and Atlantic rail lines), identified possible technology and estimated costs for each option. Planned stations would be in downtown Lewiston, Turnpike exit 75, either Royal or Yarmouth Junction, and Portland. Funding for such a large infrastructure project would come from several sources, primarily federal. Operating costs would be offset by revenue from ticket sales (probably $6-10/ ticket).
See the summary here www.nnepra.com/projects/lewistonauburn-passenger-rail-service-plan
Members of the audience asked many questions, from technical issues to routing. A representative of the Maine Rail Transportation Coalition questioned the emphasis on auto travel and park and rides vs enhancing downtowns and including stations at locations with large numbers of potential riders such as Pineland. Others mentioned the importance of considering a longer-term goal of connecting Portland and Montreal, and the possibility of utilizing one of the rail corridors as a greenway, and the advantages of Alignment B in terms of the line being state-owned and there are no freight trains on that line. Other questions had to do with comparing costs between rapid transit bus and train service, where the train would end up in Portland, and the possibility of phasing construction.
Before the plan is finalized, agreements with freight operators and municipalities would have be negotiated. Since both rail lines run through New Gloucester, this project will have a significant impact on our community. Carl Wilcox spoke last and noted that he lives on Rte 231 where there is a high volume of commuting traffic. “If there is no stop in New Gloucester, this will be a no-go.”
You can email your comments and questions to LAStudy@NNEPRA.com through April 3, 2019.
We’ll post the full summary once it’s available.