Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:29 am

mtuandrew wrote:That said, the will isn’t there either financially or politically.


This overlooks the fact that there isn't an interest operationally either. There simply isn't any desire to take the risk of launching a new propulsion platform on the Downeaster. A major part of the success of the service has been avoiding problematic or specialized train propulsion technologies and rolling stock. The equipment mix has been kept in the very center of the mainstream of Amtrak's fleet.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:05 pm

Yep, not operationally either. It’s a non-starter until Amtrak starts looking into such technology on its own account. (A proven, reliable battery-electric multiple unit would admittedly be a good choice NHV-SPG-Greenfield, but we aren’t talking about that route.)
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cosakita18 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:27 pm

gokeefe wrote:Yes, a full length high level platform. If you take a look at the MaineDOT three year work plan (published January 1, 2017) you will find funding for construction of a new island full length high level platform. We are interested to see what the three year plan coming out in January 2018 looks like.


If it's an island platform, what is the plan for access from the PTC? Will they be building some kind of overhead walkway with elevators and stairs down to the platform?
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:18 pm

Cosakita18 wrote:Will they be building some kind of overhead walkway with elevators and stairs down to the platform?


Yes.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby CN9634 » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:50 pm

As a taxpayer, I have to honestly and bluntly say that I feel the Downeaster and NNEPRA have fallen into a sort of status-quo and haven't had much of a revamping of the mission, vision or organization objectives. Surely the goal seems to be expansion but in reality I don't see much transparency in what is going on. How do we know the Downeaster service is maximizing the value of our tax dollars? How do we know that there are meaningful and value-added gains being made economically? What is the 5, 10 and 20 year vision?

The biggest question that the Downeast grapples with is this: Is it a regional service linking Boston (with tourist implications) or a commuter service? It seems to try to wear both hats at times, which often is confusing. Where are future additions seen in terms of stops? Where could service be ended/altered? I guess it seems like there is just a big void of information or general purpose beyond 'expand the service' without very little forethought or objectives. If they do exist, we need a clearer delivery method to see what is going on.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:52 pm

The motto of the last seven years for everyone has been "keep your head down".
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:44 am

It has worked out to serve both groups, apparently. Refer to the recent discussion of all the passengers from Haverhill and Exeter; definitely commuter territory for Boston. Then, we have the recent announcement for service to Rockland. The other end of the spectrum, although it's certainly not within the parameters of long distance.

BTW, Amtrak does commuter business out of South Station, also, to Providence. It's not just the DE.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby CN9634 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:01 am

My point is don't call a horse a zebra. If the mission of NNEPRA is to service Mainers then why should commuters in Mass be beneficiaries when they have their own agency dedicated towards commuting? It's a rhetorical question by the way, something for NNEPRA to ponder not for this forum to get lost in the weeds about. It brings back to question the mission and vision of the organization, as well as the effectiveness of Maine tax payers money.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:42 pm

It's a question that they consider every single day with or without any additional encouragement. They are especially sensitive towards consideration of taxpayer support from the State.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby CN9634 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:15 pm

gokeefe wrote:It's a question that they consider every single day with or without any additional encouragement. They are especially sensitive towards consideration of taxpayer support from the State.


I would most certainly hope they do but once again, are we getting our money's worth? I would expect more from a staff heavy organization such as NNEPRA.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cowford » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:20 pm

If the mission of NNEPRA is to service Mainers then why should commuters in Mass be beneficiaries when they have their own agency dedicated towards commuting?


It's a great question. The DE offers more comfortable seating and a much faster transit time to Boston, yet can be cheaper than MBTA for the Haverhill commuter. It's no surprise that ridership at that station is so solid. NNEPRA's pricing needs a bit of fine-tuning.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:54 pm

CN9634 wrote:I would expect more from a staff heavy organization such as NNEPRA.


If a total headcount of 7 counts as "staff heavy" in this day and age then I don't know what to say.

My first comment should have made it clear enough, "Why" you don't see more public statements. They are deeply aware of the importance of running a service that balances the mandate to serve Maine against the fiscal realities of doing so.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby markhb » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:09 pm

gokeefe wrote:
Cosakita18 wrote:Will they be building some kind of overhead walkway with elevators and stairs down to the platform?


Yes.


To elaborate a bit further, the overall plan (the last I heard, anyway) is along the lines of:

  1. The Thompson's Point group will relocate Suburban Propane out to a parcel on Riverside St., near Lucas Tree. Supposedly they're planning to break ground on that in 2018.
  2. That will free up the current Suburban Propane parcel for construction (by the Thompson's Point group) of a parking garage and the "Event Center" that at one time was going to be the home of the Red Claws basketball team.
  3. The parking garage will be available for use by Concord Trailways and Downeaster patrons as well as Thompson's Point visitors and employees.
  4. NNEPRA and the State will work on a) the EB wye towards Congress St., and b) making POR into a two-track layout with the aforementioned island platform.
  5. NNEPRA, Concord Trailways and the city of Portland will collaborate on a new PTC, closer to the tracks in part of the current parking lot.
  6. The new station will connect via skybridge both to the island platform and the parking garage/arena complex.
Sounds easy when you put it that way ;)
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby MEC407 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:28 pm

CN9634 wrote:...the effectiveness of Maine tax payers money.


gokeefe wrote:...taxpayer support from the State.


Be cautious about how you use words like "Maine taxpayers" and "taxpayer support from the state." There have been many, many, MANY times over the years when people on this forum and people on various other web sites have claimed that the Downeaster is funded by Maine's general fund, insinuating or implying (or saying outright) that it's coming out of Mainers' property taxes or income taxes. Most of us here know that's not true — that it is funded by Maine's share of CMAQ funds from the feds, as well as fees paid to Maine rental car agencies which are paid predominantly by folks from away — but that nuance is very easily lost on those who aren't as interested in this stuff as we are. So just be mindful of how you refer to the Downeaster's funding because it's very easy for people to either misunderstand what you're saying or take it out of context, and then spread their misunderstood version of what you said to the masses — masses which include community leaders, politicians, and other stakeholders.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby CN9634 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:41 pm

An excellent point-- why would so many people think this to be the case? Sounds like NNEPRA needs more transparency and greater ability to explain things. The 8 page annual report for 2017 (counting both front and rear cover) really delineates NNEPRA's organizational structure and operation.

To another point of mine, staff heavy means that of the people who work at NNEPRA (in this case 7) they are all or mostly staff. Its a a qualitative statement not quantitative.
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