Railroad construction in southern Maine and New Hampshire will disrupt Amtrak Downeaster passenger service starting this weekend through early October.

Weekday service between Brunswick and Dover, New Hampshire, will be limited and passengers destined for stops in Maine should expect to take part of their trip by bus, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Weekend service will operate normally, but there will be construction delays, Quinn said. Some fares have been reduced during the construction period to compensate passengers.

Pan Am Railways, along with the rail authority and the Maine Department of Transportation, is replacing about 15,000 railroad ties and restoring a number of grade crossings on its line in Maine and New Hampshire. Construction is expected to begin on Saturday and wrap up by Oct. 5.

Disruptions could throw a wrench in a lot of travel plans. In September 2017, more than 50,000 riders took the Downeaster, the third-highest ridership month of the year.

“We tend to do these in October, but again there are competing projects for Pan Am as well. We moved it a little earlier this year than in the past,” Quinn said. “There is really never a good time to do these projects, this is just where this one wound up.”


The biggest travel disruption will be next week, according to a Downeaster schedule. From Sept. 10 to 16, the first morning southbound train will not run between Brunswick and Wells and the third southbound train and the second northbound train will not run at all.

The Downeaster typically has five runs every day. There will be no stops at all in Saco and Old Orchard Beach, and the run between Dover and Brunswick will be operated by shuttle bus during the first week of construction.

Service will get marginally better on Sept. 17. The first southbound train of the day will not operate between Brunswick and Wells, and the third southbound train will not run at all. The second northbound train of the day also won’t run between Boston and Dover, but it will pick up again between Wells and Brunswick.

Full service will resume on weekends, but the Downeaster is cautioning people that delays are likely and to check its website in case of schedule changes.

“We have programmed in what we think is a minimal delay but we are telling people to expect additional delays,” Quinn said. “We are trying to do the best we can to anticipate, but hope people are patient.”

There will be no weekend Downeaster service to Woburn, Massachusetts, until Oct. 28 because Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is working on the track.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.