Brunswick to Rockland ME Train Service

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Joined
Sep 2, 2021
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The Real Maine (East of Ellsworth)
The Midcoast Rail Service organization has disclosed its plans for introducing passenger service between Brunswick and Rockland ME. It looks like they are starting slowly with emphasis on group charters and operations during special events. This will be the first passenger service over this line since the Maine Eastern lost their operating rights im 2015.
https://knox.villagesoup.com/news/p...mpaign=simplified&utm_content=simplified33f7c
 
Hopefully, this will lead to an upgrading of the line and an extension of the current "Downeaster" service. Anyone who has been stuck in US 1 traffic in season will understand my post.
 
Thanks for posting this.

It sounds like this has been planned out very well, including having the Budd Car out on a publicity tour.

The Rockland Lobster Festival is a hyper popular event, so running shuttles to it will get the word out fast.

Happy 4th of July.

Ken
 
Thanks for posting this.

It sounds like this has been planned out very well, including having the Budd Car out on a publicity tour.

The Rockland Lobster Festival is a hyper popular event, so running shuttles to it will get the word out fast.

Happy 4th of July.

Ken
Yes it seems that they are being very deliberate on ramping up this service, not rushing into it and using special events to test the waters.
Trains Magazine had a similar article
https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/coastliner-rdcs-to-debut-this-weekend-in-maine/
 
Midcoast Rail now has a web site advertising their rail excursions that will start in conjunction with the Rockland Lobster Festival.

Their RDC has been seen testing along the route in the last couple of weeks.

https://coastlinerexcursions.com/
This on the "excursions" page was of interest:
Regular excursions are expected to commence in August with a morning departure from Rockland and afternoon return from Brunswick. A shorter midday reverse loop will encourage exploratory travel among the intriguing intermediate on-line communities of Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle-Damariscotta.
 
I understand that aside from Dragon Cement, there is only one freight customer on the line east of Bath and that customer receives one car every two or three months.
 
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Hopefully Midcoast Railservice have some marketing expertise and develop a transload terminal for building products and perhaps a bulk transfer for covered hoppers and tank cars if there is any agriculture or food products companies nearby.
 
Well, the state purchased the branch once before to prevent abandonment, maybe they will need to do so again. There might not be much demand for freight service right now, but as an alternative to US 1 for passenger traffic, I think a case can be made for public ownership and real corridor service.
The line is still owned by the State but that doesn't seem to mean much. A number of state-owned lines in Maine have had their tracks removed and the roadbed converted to the popular rails to trails.
 
I understand that aside from Dragon Cement, there is only one freight customer on the line east of Bath and that customer receives one car every two or three months.
Dragon in Thomaston recently announced it is shutting down and laying off 60
 
Just before and during the lobster fest of August 2, I called Amtrak to see if there was a schedule for a Rockland train. The agent double checked each time and found none to be found.
 
Yes it is going to be challenging to say the least for Midcoast to be able to get enough business to replace Dragon cement.
And the rail to trail people will be chomping at the bit to take over the right of way :(
From what I have seen on a video about the Falmouth, MA active rail branch, some of those rails to trails types are vultures. One of the absurd arguments is that converting an active rail line to a bike path is better for the environment. Yeah, like adding hundreds of trucks to the road is good?
 
One possible opportunity is Rails With Trails. A bunch of sensitive people seem to think that cyclists are so stupid they will tangle with a moving train. Would you? Would you let your kid? Would trails designers offer that option? Absolutely not. Corridors for everything are hard to find. Cable networks, electrical connections, walkways, cycle routes--essentially every public access route--relies on a corridor. Often the only option is a rail line. Rails were set up a long time ago and have existed for many years. Rail lines got public support when they were establshed. If there is a way to add a parallel cycle route, why not?
 
Downeaster’s Rockland branch experiment encounters equipment snag, Amtrak involvement delays (updated)

It appears that the original plan to use RDCs is being sidelined due to equipment issues and the parties involved are rethinking their plans
BRUNSWICK, Maine — A proposal to use a Rail Diesel Car to offer year-round connections on a former Maine Central branch line from Rockland, Maine to a rendezvous with Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority’s Amtrak-operated Downeaster at Brunswick, Maine, is being re-evaluated after the RDC suffered a debilitating breakdown last fall.
The latest plan is instead to extend Amtrak Downeaster trips to Rockland instead,
“Right now we’re looking to see if we can get limited service going with Amtrak using existing Downeaster equipment,” explains NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn in an email to News Wire. The plan involves running a morning trip from Brunswick, where trains are maintained at a layover facility, to Rockland. Then, train No. 684, which currently leaves Brunswick for Boston at 11 a.m., would instead depart earlier from Rockland. Evening train no. 685 (currently a 7:05 p.m. arrival at Brunswick from Boston) would be extended to Rockland as a round trip.

“In addition,” Quinn adds, “we’ve asked Amtrak if there is a possibility of securing a short set — two coaches — to supplement as a midday round trip. The goal is to operate three round trips daily.
Of course a lot has to be done before this plan can be a reality, including qualifying crews and building a platform in Wiscasset among other things.
 
Downeaster’s Rockland branch experiment encounters equipment snag, Amtrak involvement delays (updated)

It appears that the original plan to use RDCs is being sidelined due to equipment issues and the parties involved are rethinking their plans

The latest plan is instead to extend Amtrak Downeaster trips to Rockland instead,

Of course a lot has to be done before this plan can be a reality, including qualifying crews and building a platform in Wiscasset among other things.
Do you know: Are there other intermediate stops besides Wiscasset contemplated between Brunswick and Rockland? At Bath, perhaps?
 
Do you know: Are there other intermediate stops besides Wiscasset contemplated between Brunswick and Rockland? At Bath, perhaps?
When the Maine Eastern operated passenger service, they had stops at Newcastle, Wiscasset, and Bath. I would expect Amtrak would at least consider those stops, at least it makes sense to stop at Wiscasset (3742) and Bath (8766) the 2 most populated towns along the route (other than Brunswick and Rockland). Newcastle is close to Damariscotta a popular tourist destination and might warrant a stop. Also possibly Waldoboro (Pop. 5154).
 
Rockland is definitely an Amtrak destination. I’m looking forward to a trip - In September, if running that far. Rockland is a robust tourist spot in the summer but I prefer off season - tomorrow I’m on the DE to Brunswick- Arctic Museum (free) - Bowdoin College. Amtrak flash sale - $12 each way special. Sale ends 1/28/24!

I know I’m not a big spender.

I’d love to overnight in Rockland ME via Amtrak and visit the “Sail Power and Steam Museum” and stay for a Sunday “Open Mic”. The owner Jim Sharp is really cool at nearly 90 and has some great songs!

The new station stops on the DownEaster to Rockland would be future destinations for me also.

Even in the winter ALL Amtrak Downeaster destinations are “way cool.” ha ha.
 
Rockland is definitely an Amtrak destination. I’m looking forward to a trip - In September, if running that far. Rockland is a robust tourist spot in the summer but I prefer off season - tomorrow I’m on the DE to Brunswick- Arctic Museum (free) - Bowdoin College. Amtrak flash sale - $12 each way special. Sale ends 1/28/24!

I know I’m not a big spender.

I’d love to overnight in Rockland ME via Amtrak and visit the “Sail Power and Steam Museum” and stay for a Sunday “Open Mic”. The owner Jim Sharp is really cool at nearly 90 and has some great songs!

The new station stops on the DownEaster to Rockland would be future destinations for me also.

Even in the winter ALL Amtrak Downeaster destinations are “way cool.” ha ha.
Rockland also has year round ferry service to Vinalhaven, North Haven, and Matinicus. So Amtrak service would provide a car free way to get to these islands.
 
Last Saturday’s DownEaster from Haverhill to Brunswick was on the $12 each way glad sale. I talked with the contractor café employee I work for the company that supplies the food. We briefly discussed the possible extension to Rockland. There are a bunch of museums in the Rockland area, including a transportation museum, which is planes, cars, and narrow gauge Steam. BTW the cheeseburger was way better than an Amtrak cheeseburger and can be paired with a beer or Merlot or Portland root beer.

Conversely, the Boston Garden has concerts, hockey and basketball. The train was SOLD OUT for the last train out after the Celtics on Saturday. I bet there are a few fans around Rockland that wouldn’t mind taking a trip to see their favorite game or concert and not have to worry about driving. Then café gal was happy thinking about tips on the way back!

Rockland folks will like thenew Arctic museum, Bowdoin College is really pristine. and the new museum (free) is an “oh wow” nEspecially Inuit collections

Yeah for $12 each way north station to Brunswick pretty good deal. It was (SALE IS OVER) the same flash price or is it starting out at Haverhill. The new parking garage (shown below) is pretty snazzy and has a red bridge that goes over the road that’s afjacent to the garage. Four bucks a day.



Flash sale to Rockland EBD9EAFF-706A-4BD3-BE7D-5F19A45E1156.jpegOR NOT I want to be the first kid on the block to make it to Rockland - an island stay over then tour a few museums.
 
There is no doubt that service to Rockland would be fun and entertaining but I don't think it would be financially feasible in the long run. With no freight service on the line and none in sight, the line would be very expensive to maintain. Expansion of service at least as far as Lewiston instead would be more realistic.
 
Expanding the "Downeaster" to Rockland seems like the best solution. Talk of fancy dining etx. is just that. What Mid-Coast Maine needs is an alternative to U.S. 1, especially in the summer. The line needs upgrading, but who is going to pay for it. This will take time, but it is worth considering.
 
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