Study: Rail service from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

March 26th, 2013 

Imagine a commuter-style passenger rail service that would run from 5 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week, year-round to and from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn. That was the scenario the Maine Rail Transit Coalition’s report used to project the $138 million start-up cost of the project.

The 30-mile St. Lawrence and Atlantic rail corridor that connects Portland and Auburn is owned by the state.

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Part of the 30-mile St. Lawrence and Atlantic rail corridor that could be put back to use with commuters. photo by Ramona du Houx

A hundred years ago the railroad line was used to carry passengers. Today, public transportation between the cities is sorely needed.

Last fall the Amtrak Downeaster train service was extended to Brunswick.

The report recommends additional stops along the route in Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Pownal. A combination of $20 million in private investments and $27 million in state bonds, which would make the initiative eligible for $91 million in federal transportation grants, could make the project feasible.

State Sen. Margaret Craven introduced a bill to authorize state bonds for a portion of the project.