Rockland forum Wednesday on return of passenger trains

By Stephen Betts | Jan 22, 2018
Source: File

Rockland — The first public forum on the possible return of limited passenger train service to Rockland has been set.

The executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is scheduled to make a presentation to the community Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at Rockland City Hall.

The passenger rail authority announced in November that it was developing plans for a pilot project for Amtrak Service to be extended from Brunswick to Rockland. Other stops are planned in Bath, Newcastle and Wiscasset.

The Newcastle meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22, and the Wiscasset meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Possible schedules are still being developed, but the initial proposal was for the service to run from May through October on weekends. The tentative schedule called for a train to leave Boston at 5 p.m. Friday and reach Rockland at 10:30 p.m. The train would then return to Brunswick, where it would stay overnight.

The Rail Authority would like to see added lighting where passengers would get off the train. The railroad station in Rockland is owned by the Maine Department of Transportation.

On Saturdays and Sundays, a train would leave Boston at 9:45 a.m. and arrive in Rockland at 3:20 p.m., Quinn said. The train would then leave Rockland at 3:55 p.m. and arrive back in Boston at 9:25 p.m.

This schedule attempts to attract Boston-area residents who want to avoid the heavy car traffic on summer weekends.

Seasonal excursion passenger service between Rockland and Brunswick ran for 12 years under the operation by Maine Eastern Railroad. That service ended when the state ended its contract with Maine Eastern and awarded a contract to Central Maine & Quebec Railway.

The train station, bought by the Maine Department of Transportation from the city in 1996, was renovated and a restaurant added in 2006. DOT also owns the 57-mile branch from Brunswick to Rockland.

Regular commuter train service ended in Rockland in 1959. The train station was then used for decades as Rockland City Hall until the city moved to its current municipal building on Pleasant Street in 1996.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is a public transportation authority created in 1995 by the Maine Legislature to develop and provide passenger rail service between Maine and Boston and points within Maine.

Freight continues to run on the line, largely for Dragon Products. The cement plant sends rail cars about five miles on the line from its Thomaston plant to its dock on Rockland’s South End waterfront, where a barge is then filled and product shipped to the Boston market.

The line has operated with freight traffic since May 1990, five years after Maine Central Railroad abandoned the spur.

Comments (11)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 23, 2018 19:40

Hi there P R


Thanks for the post.

Sobering update; 2018 Budget


Posted by: Peter Rollins | Jan 23, 2018 15:41

I hate to quote the National Review but people need to be aware of what Amtrak really is.

Posted by: pat putnam | Jan 23, 2018 10:02

It’s a start but scheduling Friday thru Monday would be even better and every day would be the best.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 23, 2018 03:13

Probably team  up with the Samoset and some of the schooners. Excellent idea. Think we will be pleasantly surprised how popular it will be. After all, we live here because it is as close to Heaven as we could get.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jan 22, 2018 23:27

The journey is a round trip in a matter of only a few hours. Why would folks in Boston want to come here on a train when they would have no transportation once here, expensive hotels, expensive meals and all that art within walking distance of the trains station? Has any of these "experts" taken a poll in Boston to see if people there even know Rockland is here and what they would do, except eat lobsters and look at "art".

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 22, 2018 21:53

Pls read the whole article before posting . . .

Sure people can take the bus, fly or take a ride to/from Boston.


Still, for a return train trip the hours seem not really convenient. People would have to pay two hotel nights for a 1/1/2 day stay in Rockland. Maybe too European style, but it would be much more convenient having red-eye trips on sleeper cars. Arrive Saturday morning to Rockland and back to Boston early Sunday or Monday. Just a thought


Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jan 22, 2018 20:00

Plus, if you want to take the train to Boston you have to stay a week to get back. Great PR from someone looking for free government money. This is a  joke.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 22, 2018 13:51

Most likely the majority would ride the train

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 22, 2018 13:50

Duh, guess I was thinking a short trip from Boston to Rockland

Posted by: Bill Packard | Jan 22, 2018 12:39

Why are they not allowed to stay?  Can't they stay a week, perhaps go on a windjammer?  Wouldn't they be allowed to fly back to Boston? The reverse could be true. I suspect the train is more about the journey for folks than mandatory transportation.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 22, 2018 09:47

With the proposed schedule, passengers would not have anytime to visit Rockland.  So why even bother having it come to Rockland?  I thought the whole idea was to have the passengers be able to visit Rockland and have time to walk around and see what Rockland has to offer.  Am I missing something?


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