The Maine Trails Coalition’s Maine Rail Trail Plan 2020-2030 identifies 13 priority rail trail projects and 5 exploratory rail trail projects. Four of these projects would be part of the Casco Bay Trail network. Many others would connect directly to the Casco Bay Trail network, advancing a statewide vision for trail connectivity.
What about trains?
The Maine Rail Trail Plan 2020-2030 also calls for the continuing preservation and maintenance of a separate and active rail corridor that can be used to extend future Amtrak, commuter train, and/or freight service from Boston through Maine’s largest population centers in Biddeford-Saco, Portland, Brunswick, Lewiston-Auburn, Waterville, and Bangor; and with potential continuing service to Montreal and the VIA Rail Canada network. The Casco Bay Trail system complements this vision for expanded train service, satisfying both public purposes.
Lewiston-Auburn to Portland
Importantly, there are two distinct rail corridors from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn, one of which makes sense to prioritize for trains (in blue), and one of which makes sense to prioritize as a multi-use trail (in green).
Why the Western (blue) route makes more sense for trains
• It is a corridor that is already actively used by trains.
• It connects to the Portland Transportation Center
• It connects with all train services to Boston.
• It provides opportunities for new train stops at Turnpike Exit 53 and Pineland, as well as Lewiston, Auburn, and destinations north.
Why the Eastern (green) route makes more sense as a trail
• It is a corridor that has no active train use.
• It is a corridor that dead ends at Veranda Street.
• It is a corridor that connects to other multi-use trail systems including the Back Cove Trail, the Eastern Promenade Trail, the Portland Trails Network, the West Side Trail, the Beth Condon Pathway, Royal River Park, Chandler Brook Preserve, Baston Park, and the Pineland Trails network.
• It would be a signature segment of the East Coast Greenway.
• It would be among the most actively used trails anywhere.
• It would advance multiple and diverse public interests, including public health, emission-free transportation and commuting, community enrichment, economic development and tourism, and outdoor recreation.
• Trail use has grown explosively during the pandemic, and the demand for new trail infrastructure is high.
Passenger Rail Feasibility Study
In 2018-2019, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority conducted a two-part feasibility assessment of establishing passenger rail service on one or the other of these corridors (Transit Propensity Report, Operating Plans and Corridor Assessment). A previous study was conducted by the Maine Dept. of Transportation in 2011.
The Big Picture: Multi-Modal Connectivity
See how rail, bus, car, ferry, and bike ways connect.