• Portland, Maine - Commuter Rail via Grand Trunk

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by markhb
The Maine Rail Transit Coalition made their pitch to a MaineDOT-chartered Rail advisory group last night.

Guts of the proposal: Battery-run MUs on the former Grand Trunk line from East Deering to the Auburn airport. The track is state-owned and currently mothballed from the Auburn/New Gloucester town line south, so there would have to be some negotiation with SLR or whoever owns the rest of the line now, as well as working things out with the City of Auburn which really wants service to their downtown (which would require working with CSX) rather than the airport.

Personally, I think these pies won't even make it into the sky until launched off the backs of flying pigs.

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Posted Yesterday at 9:00 PM
Updated August 25
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Passenger rail advocates pitch ‘Grand Trunk Flyer’ between Auburn, Portland

The proposal would use the same rail line that has been at center of an ambitious rail trail project connecting several municipalities.
By Andrew RiceSun Journal

AUBURN — Passenger rail advocates made a pitch Thursday to reuse the former Grand Trunk Railway between Portland and Auburn for a new, battery-powered passenger service.

In a presentation to the Portland to Auburn Rail Use Advisory Council, convened by the Maine Department of Transportation, the rail advocates said they envision the “Grand Trunk Flyer” making daily roundtrips, eventually extending to the Ocean Gateway terminal in Portland.

The dormant route follows the St. Lawrence and Atlantic line, which has also been the subject of a popular proposal to create a multiuse “rail trail” along the line.

Proponents of that plan have said the rail trail would not interfere with efforts to add passenger rail between Portland and Lewiston-Auburn because a rail service could use the parallel Pan Am Rail Line, which would take passengers to the Portland Transportation Center near Thompson’s Point.

However, those behind the “Grand Trunk Flyer” proposal argued Thursday that the St. Lawrence and Atlantic line is an “irreplaceable asset” that could be used for interurban light rail at a cost far lower than previous studies have estimated.

Tony Donovan, a Portland realtor and director of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition, said there’s a perception that railroad tracks, owned by Maine citizens, “cannot be used for trains.”

He said the team behind the “flyer” proposal has determined that light rail could operate on the track close to its current condition.

Al Fazio, an engineer with BRT Services and former deputy chief engineer for Amtrak, said a 2019 report that looked at passenger rail between the regions had several errors. He said many places across the country have seen redevelopment around light rail corridors that can provide zero-carbon transportation, “getting people to work even if they can’t afford a car.”

BRT is a professional firm in Havertown, Pennsylvania, specializing in support to railways with high volume services, according to its website.

According to a news release on the proposal, reaching downtown Portland would require rebuilding the trestle traveling across from the former B&M Baked Beans property to the east end of Portland. They envision stations at the incoming Roux Institute, as well as in Falmouth, downtown Yarmouth, Yarmouth Junction, the Pineland Farms campus in New Gloucester, and the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Auburn.