The Amtrak Downeaster has been in service in Northern New England since December of 2001. Over those years it has grown by extending service to Brunswick and upgrading the rails to get there.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which brought passenger train service back to Maine in 2001 (and now manages the service), says that the Amtrak Downeaster has transported more than 9.5 million passengers and generated more than $156 million in revenue.

The Downeaster is still growing, with ridership increasing annually. More and more travelers are finding it to be an affordable way to get to Boston without dealing with traffic.

Some upgrades are about to be underway, including something called Positive Train Control (or PTC for short). It will be installed with the cooperation of CSX which owns the rails that the Amtrak Downeaster runs on.

In a nutshell, PTC gets data from radio signals and satellites. It can stop a train without any intervention from the engineer when it detects human error on the tracks, which could cause an accident to occur.

The installation of PTC will also bring more signaling on the Downeaster route. It's the train version of a traffic light.

CSX has also been doing a lot of upgrades to the track since it bought the former Pan Am Railways. Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) is being installed along the line, which will upgrade rails for smoother travel and higher speeds, as it has fewer joints. That clickity-clack sound is becoming a thing of the past.

There is also a proposal for another station in West Falmouth, just off Exit 53 of I-95. Long-term goals also call for a new station in Portland that moves closer to downtown.

All of these projects (with the exception of the Portland station) are slated to be completed by the end of 2026.

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