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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

FRA Administrator Szabo Celebrates Opening of Station Platforms for Extension of Downeaster in Freeport and Brunswick

Document Series
Press Releases
Press Release Number
FRA 19-12
Contact Name
Kevin F. Thompson
Contact Phone Number
Subject Intercity Passenger Rail Investment
Downeaster, RRIF, Brunswick, Freeport, ARRA, Maine


FRA Administrator Szabo Celebrates Opening of Station Platforms for Extension of Downeaster in Freeport and Brunswick

Service to Brunswick and Portland to Begin this Fall

FREEPORT AND BRUNSWICK, Maine – Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today joined in celebrating the completion of new train station platforms in Brunswick and Freeport in preparation for the expansion of Amtrak’s Downeaster line, which will begin serving both cities this fall.  Administrator Szabo was joined by Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt and local business leaders.

“The Obama Administration is committed to rail investment because it benefits the economy and provides the community with greater transportation options,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Brunswick and Freeport are great examples of how rail investment can provide jobs, greater economic development and greater mobility.” 

The Downeaster line expansion was funded by a $38.3 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.  Brunswick and Freeport have not seen passenger rail service since 1959. 

The ripple effect of rail not only touches jobs associated directly with the project, but also jobs indirectly linked, including those associated with the people and products rail moves.  According to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, the work along the Downeaster corridor is creating business orders and sustaining and creating jobs at 53 companies in 20 states. 

“The Downeaster expansion is creating jobs and spurring local economic development even before the trains arrive,” said Administrator Szabo.  “The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority delivered this project on time and on budget, and when the line opens in the fall it will increase tourism and mobility choices for residents from Boston to Brunswick.”

The Recovery Act grant was augmented by additional funds from the State of Maine to cover the project costs, including the construction of the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant passenger platforms in Freeport and Brunswick.  The Downeaster project will improve 36 highway-rail grade crossings, upgrade numerous wayside signals, install signals on the Brunswick Branch and result in many other right of way improvements. 

To reduce congestion on the rail corridor and increase the reliability of the Downeaster service south of Maine, FRA has also provided the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority with a $21 million grant to improve the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) owned rail line used by the Downeaster.  This project includes new mainline track and installation of a section of double track to eliminate an existing bottleneck, which will provide a safer, faster, and more reliable travel experience for riders.  Work is expected to begin in summer 2012.


Last updated: Monday, May 14, 2012
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