Saturday, December 3, 2016

Betke on Brunswick & Freeport Schedules

Our friend George Betke, a railroading professional, had an item published yesterday in The Ostrich.  It dovetails nicely with our item published earlier in the week, about which we posted yesterday.

We thought you’d enjoy this photo, which shows NNEPRA/Downeaster glitterati accompanying Senator King, Angus to the Brunswick celebration of November 21st.  Note how the three: NNEPRA Board Chair Marty Eisenstein; TRNE Chairman S Wayne Davis; and NNEPRA ED Patricia Quinn maintain an appropriate and repectful distance of several paces behind the Senator.

U.S. Sen Angus King, I-Maine, arrives in Brunswick Monday, Nov. 21, to mark the inaugural third daily roundtrip of the Amtrak Downeaster between Brunswick and Boston. He was joined by Marty Eisenstein, chairman of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority; TrainRiders Northeast Chairman Wayne Davis, and Patricia Quinn, NNEPRA executive director. The new late-morning departure and evening arrival were made possible by the recent opening of a new train layover facility in Brunswick. (Keith Spiro / For The Forecaster)

Here is Mr. Betke’s offering in its entirety:

Downeaster schedule shortchanges Freeport, Brunswick

Heavily promoted economic benefits of extending Amtrak Downeaster passenger service north of Portland have taken a step backward. An original impetus for getting the train to Freeport (and leading to further extension of the route to Brunswick) was to enable day-trippers from Boston and intermediate points to enjoy a Maine shopping experience.

The revised schedule recently implemented by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority lists the first northbound train arrival in Freeport at 4:10 p.m., barely allowing for a convenience-store stop before the last southbound departure at 5:35 p.m. Travelers seeking a same-day train trip to Brunswick are faced with an even more pressing, 55-minute time constraint, 4:25-5:20 p.m. Perhaps NNEPRA marketers had the local overnight lodging establishments in mind.

On the other hand, they clearly were thinking of big-city sporting and entertainment attractions, scheduling late-evening weekend departures from Boston that encourage visiting Mainers to boost the Massachusetts economy. Is there any doubt that the flow of continuing economic benefit from the “Downeaster” is decidedly southward?

What about all the transit-oriented real-estate improvements that supposedly accompany the introduction of rail service? The train actually followed such development in Freeport, and though Brunswick has a nice new station complex, none of its occupants is dependent on rail travelers. Two restaurants simply moved from other locations into new quarters, and the nearby inn reports few guests utilizing the train.

The main purpose of the new schedule appears to be positioning trains for overnight occupancy of Brunswick’s massive new maintenance and layover facility, making the town a regular destination for equipment if not passengers. The obvious irony is that Freeport and Brunswick are being short-changed by this paltry return on a committed investment of more than $70-million. After four years, the transformative economic stimulus envisioned by the “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a train?” crowd can only be described as an expensive hoax.

George C. Betke, Jr.,


And here are the schedules he refers to:



As the All Aboarders like to day, “we’re livin’ the dream, baby!”

Even though others may see it more as a nightmare for taxpayers, and those whose “safe space” has been violated by the microaggression of arriving and departing train whistles.


  1. Spot on opinions of the "new and better" schedule (Nov 21)
    Using a a play on an old Maine saying. "We CAN get you there from here...but we CAN'T get you home again."

  2. In a ranking of dumb investments, adding a third round trip train to a corridor that now carries 25 round trip passengers per round trip train would rank very high.