Amtrak's Downeaster Beginning To Bounce Back From Pandemic

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Amtrak's Downeaster passenger rail service is steaming toward pre-pandemic norms as the coronavirus recedes in New England.

Ridership for June will exceed 25,000 passengers, compared to 48,284 riders in June 2019, but just 768 in June 2020, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

“We’re at 54% of where we were and are very confident that we’re going to have a good summer and be in good shape going into the fall," she told the Times Record.

Masks are still required on-board the train and at the station, in accordance with federal guidance. But there are no travel restrictions and capacity limits have been lifted for the train.

It's a far cry from a year ago. In May 2020, the train that offers service from Brunswick to Boston halted operations to meet Gov. Janet Mills’ “Stay Safer at Home” COVID-19 directive.

Beginning in July 2020, the train offered four round trips from Brunswick to Boston, and in early May of 2021 the Downeaster restored the pre-pandemic schedule of five daily round trips.

Going forward, Quinn hopes that in a year from now the train will see near-2019 level ridership.

“We’re trying to remain optimistic and expect that ridership will continue to grow and increase,” Quinn said, noting that marketing efforts have increased in the last few months.