Talks continue to restart Rockland passenger train service – Knox County VillageSoup

Discussions are continuing on a proposal to have a daily passenger rail service from Rockland to Brunswick station to connect with Downeaster trains.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority met on Monday, March 28 via Zoom. One of the subjects was the Rockland-Brunswick line project.

Executive director Patricia Quinn said work to get the project off the ground this summer is continuing. The Maine Department of Transportation said after the meeting that talks were continuing on transferring the lease of the Rockland to Brunswick line from Canadian Pacific to Finger Lakes Railway in Geneva, NY, but no agreement was reached.

Canadian Pacific holds the lease for the 56-mile line from Rockland to Brunswick. Canadian Pacific purchased Central Maine and Quebec Railway over a year ago. Quinn said on March 28, the Rockland rail line was in great condition.

Finger Lakes Railway offered daily round trips from Rockland to Brunswick. From May to October, it is planned to have two daily return trains on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The train would also make stops at Newcastle, Damariscotta, Wiscasset and Bath. A stop at Waldoboro is also planned.

According to the plan, self-propelled wagons would be used, with the number of wagons depending on the number of passengers. Each car can carry 80 people.

The proposal would be for a two-year test of this schedule.

A Finger Lakes executive said two months ago that the engines looked more like heavy-duty truck engines. The cars are powered by diesel, but the cars won’t have to idle all the time, he said.

Regular passenger train service to Rockland ended in April 1959. The station is where the Trackside Station restaurant is located, at the intersection of Union and Pleasant streets. The station was built in 1917-1918. The Maine Department of Transportation owns the station and the track.

Seasonal excursion passenger service between Rockland and Brunswick began in July 2004, stopping that first year next to Sandy Beach. In 2005, passengers were dropped off outside the station on Union Street. In 2006 the station building was renovated and a restaurant was added.

Passenger excursion service ended in 2015 when the state terminated its contract with Maine Eastern Railroad and awarded a contract to Central Maine & Quebec Railway.

Amtrak’s Downeaster began service between Portland and Boston in 2001, and in 2012 expanded to Brunswick.

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Jose P. Rogers