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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tackling the Headlines 46

For now, very limited Amtrak-Maine Eastern connections 

As it was reported in the February issue of Trains Magazine, connection and funding issues have put a dent in the Downeaster's extension to Brunswick. The preliminary plan by MERR is to cut the number of roundtrips in half from two to one, keep the train overnight in Brunswick, and to connect the afternoon westbound train from Rockland with Downeaster #688/698. MERR's director of operations Gordon Page told Bob Johnston "We have to be careful not to cannibalize our excursion product." The 30-minute rule has been cited as a likely reason for the potential lack of connections between the two railroads.

When it comes to funding, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority applied for federal grants to leverage state bond money for a shop and for an enclosed three track layover building in a little used railyard near Brunswick, but was unsuccessful on both counts. As a result, the authority is still in search of a funding source.

Take: Oy vey!

Massachusetts is serious about additional trains

Governor Deval Patrick wants to beef up the Bay State's passenger service (go to page 19). He wants the following funded:

Take: At least Patrick's a proactive governor. There's a lot to like about the plan because the governor is getting other railroads involved. However, New England Central Railway's Central Corridor Route was omitted. This route will serve Palmer (where it will connect with the Inland services), Millers Falls and Amherst (which will lose Amtrak service next year).

Lynchburg yesterday, Norfolk today, Roanoke tomorrow

Outgoing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell wants to extend the Lynchburg route west to Roanoke.

Take: This is essentially building the Trans Dominion Express in increments.

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