Amtrak’s Downeaster is suspending all service staring Monday until April 30.

The rail line, which runs trains from Brunswick to Boston, had already curtailed its service to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. It had limited its service to one round trip per day, and restricted access only to passengers who had to travel for essential reasons.

The board of directors of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which is responsible for managing Maine’s contract with Amtrak’s Downeaster, convened Friday in a virtual meeting and decided to suspend the service temporarily.

The suspension will remain in effect through at least April 30, which is the scheduled expiration date of Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order restricting public transportation in response to the virus outbreak.

Natalie Bogart, the marketing director for the rail authority, said ridership had fallen to an average of 20 passengers on the one round trip per day.

“To stay in line with the executive order from the governor, we had limited the Downeaster to essential travelers,” said Bogart. “And while we did have some essential travelers, we did a survey and many indicated they had alternative means of transportation to get to their destinations. So we suspended service for the same time frame as the executive order and will re-evaluate at that time.”


While many of the few passengers were taking the Downeaster to Boston, Bogart said there were some who simply traveled in-state. Bogart added that when the Downeaster resumes service, it would likely be on a limited schedule.

“It might not be service as normal,” she said. “We’re having discussions about what we might be able to do moving forward.”

Amtrak, which has seen its ridership plummet 95 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, has suspended several rail lines across the country, including Boston to Washington, D.C., as well as several out of New York and one out of Chicago.

Bogart said that although the Downeaster has suspended service, the rails remain active for  freight trains and other nonrevenue Amtrak trains.

“Our crews that have been out on railroad said they are already starting to see additional foot traffic on rails with the (previous) cutback (in schedule),” she said. “But they are still active and people should not be on them.”

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