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Amtrack’s Downeaster rail service will begin to emerge from behind the coronavirus curtain and get back on track with resumed service between Brunswick and Boston starting June 15.
As part of Phase 1 of the commuter rail service’s restoration plan, service will resume with one round trip on weekdays only. Train 680 will run south; Train 685 will go the other way, according to a statement released by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. The passenger trains will carry about half their capacity as part of observing social distancing.
The rail service was on a roll when it was suspended due to coronavirus restrictions on April 13. It announced two months before that it broke its ridership record in 2019, when it attracted 574,404 passengers, up nearly 8 percent from the previous year. The service’s previous record was a little less than 550,000, and it was set in 2017. Service officials were also contemplating a host of improvements.
Gov. Janet Mills issued a stay-at-home order on March 31 that went into effect April 2, ordering Maine residents to restrict their travel outside the home to only essential needs, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy. It also urged people to avoid public transportation whenever possible.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will help the railroad cover its operating expenses during the pandemic with a $5 million award announced on Tuesday.
The trains make 11 stops between Boston and Brunswick, according to its new schedule. Passengers will be required to wear face masks, make advanced reservations and the stations along the way will be closed.
Since its inception, the Downeaster has carried more than 7.6 million passengers, traveled more than 622 million passenger miles and generated more than $117 million in revenue.
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