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July 14, 2014

Downeaster chief stands by train depot plan

Despite opposition coming from Gov. Paul LePage, a neighborhood group and now six Democratic lawmakers, the chief executive of the Amtrak Downeaster's operator said she is standing by the agency's plan to build a proposed train layover facility in Brunswick.

Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that plans to build the 60,000-square-foot, $12 million layover facility in a Brunswick rail yard adjacent to a neighborhood is a "sound plan."

Besides reducing noise and pollution, she said the layover facility will "maximize the efficiency of the operation of the service, allow [the Downeaster] to provide more service to the people of Maine, more passenger rail service at a lower cost."

Six Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Quinn last month, suggesting that the facility's location be moved to South Portland because it would be a "more logical hub" if proposed expansions to Lewiston-Auburn and Montreal eventually gain traction. The proposed location has long been opposed by an abutting neighborhood group.

Quinn told The Forecaster that none of NNEPRA's current plans preclude any additional expansion, adding that the agency is anticipating "the need and viability of expanded service around the state and strengthen the core around Brunswick to Boston so it can support that."

She said she is planning to meet with the legislators to "clarify any misunderstandings there might be and have a good discussion about what the options really are."

Last week, a Maine superior court justice nullified a stormwater management permit for Downeaster's Brunswick facility after determining that abutters did not receive proper notification. NNEPRA will have to restart the permitting process.

Read more

DEP gives initial OK to Brunswick train facility

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