Advocates present plan for Portland to Auburn rail service

August 25, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Advocates for passenger rail service between Auburn and Portland presented their proposal to a Maine Department of Transportation advisory panel on Thursday, a plan that comes against a backdrop of rail expansion nationwide.

The route to be considered by the Portland to Auburn Rail Use Advisory Council would follow a 24-mile section of the idled St. Lawrence & Atlantic line, which extends north from Portland to Montreal.

The Maine Rail Transit Coalition has proposed using an electric-powered train using the existing rails for the “Grand Trunk Flyer.”

The proposed path holds the potential for new or renovated train stations at Ocean Gateway and the planned Roux Institute in Portland, along with Falmouth, Yarmouth, New Gloucester and the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, supporters said. It’s separate from a proposal to connect Portland and Bangor.

The only regularly scheduled rail service in Maine is Amtrak’s Downeaster, which travels between Brunswick and Boston.

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Other expansion plans have gone forward. Amtrak just relaunched service from Burlington, Vermont, to New York City.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed legislation that includes $102 billion for passenger and freight rail investment that will help Amtrak improve and expand its services over time.