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November 5, 2018

Expanded Downeaster rail service chugs into Freeport, Brunswick

Courtesy / Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority
Courtesy / Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority
Amtrak Downeaster passengers will get new choices for travel north of Portland next week, as the rail service adds two weekday round trips serving Freeport and Brunswick and one on weekends.

Amtrak Downeaster passengers will get new choices for travel north of Portland next week, as the rail service adds two weekday round trips serving Freeport and Brunswick and one on weekends.

The additional service begins Monday, according to a news release from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages the Downeaster.

Currently, the train makes five round trips daily between Boston and Portland, with three of them extending to Freeport and Brunswick. The new service will bring that total to five, Monday through Friday, and four on Saturdays and Sundays.

The expansion includes the Downeaster's first weekday trip, which currently begins in Portland at 5:20 a.m., arrives in Boston's North Station at 7:50 a.m., and returns to Portland at 11:35 a.m. The new service maintains the Boston arrival time, but begins in Brunswick at 4:30 a.m. and returns there by 12:25 p.m.

Similar changes will be made to a round trip on weekday afternoons and one on weekend mornings. Details of the new schedule can be found here.

The expansion comes after a $9.3 million track upgrade, announced two years ago, which added siding to the train's route through Falmouth and Cumberland.

In addition to Brunswick, Freeport and Portland, the Downeaster stops in Saco and Wells, provides seasonal service to Old Orchard Beach, and makes six stops in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Over the past year, NNEPRA has explored the expansion of Downeaster service to other Maine municipalities including Lewiston/Auburn and Rockland. In October, the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen tabled plans to develop a seasonal stop in that town.

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