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Updated: July 16, 2020

Amtrak Downeaster adds trains between Boston and Brunswick

File Photo The Amtrak Downeaster will begin operating four daily round-trip trains between Brunswick and Boston starting Monday, July 20, as it enters Phase 2 of service restoration.

The Amtrak Downeaster aims to get back on track from a reduced schedule during the pandemic, with plans to operate four daily round-trip passenger trains between Brunswick and Boston starting Monday, July 20.

The new schedule, announced by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority on Tuesday, marks the start of Phase 2 of Downeaster service restoration, which began June 15 with limited service

At that time, Amtrak began operating just one round-trip weekday train, after suspending all service on April 13. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Downeaster made five daily round-trips.

Several protocols and procedures have been implemented to protect the health and safety of passengers and crews, according to NNEPRA, which oversees the rail service.

New measures include sanitizing and disinfecting trains each day, with enhanced cleaning between trips and a face-covering requirement for crews and passengers on trains and at stations.

Other Phase 2 service elements include the availability of onboard food service and the reopening of some Downeaster station facilities.

Enhanced cleaning, training and social distancing protocols have been implemented at the Downeaster Café inside trains, including installation of plastic partitions at the service counter and a pilot program for at-seat service.  

The café table seating area will remain closed. 

For physical distancing purposes, the number of riders will also be limited to no more than 50% of available seating. Tickets may not be purchased with cash, and passengers are advised to use Amtrak's electronic ticketing service for touchless transactions.

From north to south, the Amtrak Downeaster runs from Brunswick to Boston and makes stops in Freeport, Portland, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Wells in Maine; Dover, Durham and Exeter in New Hampshire; and Haverhill and Woburn in Massachusetts.

In 2019, Amtrak Downeaster trains transported a record number of riders, owing in part to more frequent service to Freeport and Brunswick, with 574,404 passengers on board.

That amounted to a 7.9% jump over 2018 and exceeded the previous record of 546,056 passengers set in 2017.

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