PORTLAND — Advocates of passenger rail service between Portland and Auburn say a grant from the National Association of Realtors will give the project a boost.

Tony Donovan, president of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition, tells the Bangor Daily News that the $15,000 grant is small but represents a “game changer” because it builds momentum.

He says the newly funded research will be a look into methods of funding the 29-mile rail line, including recouping investment into the rail infrastructure by capturing additional tax revenue. The proposal envisions more than a dozen daily runs with up to 100 passengers each.

The state owns the railroad connecting Portland with Auburn. Cost estimates for rehabbing the rail and establishing the service run in the $60 million to $70 million range.

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