Friday, May 13, 2011

Maine Receives Nearly $21 Million to Upgrade Rail Service

Governor Paul LePage learned on Monday, May 9, that the Amtrak Downeaster, which is operated by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, was approved for a $20.8 million grant from the US Department of Transportation.
“We are extremely pleased that the Downeaster will be receiving over $20 million dollars in federal grant money that will make the Downeaster not only faster, but also will allow for more frequent trips between Portland and Boston,” said Governor LePage. “More frequent and faster trips will benefit not only passengers, but Maine businesses as well.”
In March, Governor LePage had sent a letter of support with the grant application for the Downeaster, and also authorized the application for the funds. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood thanked Governor LePage for his support of improved rail service between Maine and Boston in a letter last month.
Maine was one 24 states that applied for over $2 billion in available high-speed rail funds. This money became available when money originally awarded to Florida was rescinded after plans for a Florida high-speed rail line were canceled.
The $20.8 million will be used to construct a 10.4-mile section of double track between Wilmington and Andover, Mass. These track upgrades will allow two trains to operate at the same time on this section of the line, shortening delays and improving the dependability of the Downeaster.
The project is part of nearly $800 million in projects to improve rail service in the crowded Northeast, and $2 billion going to rail projects in 15 states nationwide.
Photo caption: Recently announced funding from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation will help improve Maine’s rail service. (Photo courtesy