All aboard: Amtrak train exhibit to stop in Freeport

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FREEPORT — Although the details of Amtrak Downeaster service are still being negotiated, Amtrak’s 40th anniversary exhibit train will roll into town on Saturday, Aug. 13, with free tours of its historic railroad cars and vintage memorabilia.

The exhibit is touring the country, showcasing two locomotives with historic paint schemes and using renovated Heritage baggage cars to display educational exhibits of each decade of the railroad’s existence. It includes vintage advertising, past menus and dinnerware, uniforms and photographs.

The public is invited to tour the cars on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cars will be stationed on Depot Street near the Freeport Community Center.

Representatives of the Downeaster, Maine Eastern Railroad, Pan Am Railways, Operation Lifesaver and TrainRiders Northeast will be on hand with educational exhibits, refreshments, entertainment for children, ticket giveaways and other railroad displays.

Meanwhile, the town continues to work toward finalizing the agreements and contracts needed for Downeaster service.

According to a July 25 memorandum from Edward Bonney, chairman of the Train Station Steering Committee, there is no schedule for the town’s completion of these matters, but “it is my hope that all of these things will be wrapped up shortly.”

Bonney also said construction of a train platform near the Hose Tower on Depot Street is expected to begin just after Labor Day and will take about three months to complete.

“The platform will be 400 feet long, and 60 feet of the platform will be covered and constructed to train level with necessary ramps and steps,” he said in the memo. “The remainder of the length of platform will be constructed at rail level with appropriate paving.”

Bonney also said a station in Freeport will not be constructed until ridership is evaluated, which may take a few years.

“In the meantime, the lobby of the Hose Tower building, as we originally discussed, will be used for the ticket kiosk and waiting room for arriving and departing passengers,” he said. “There is a possibility that the Hose Tower building may be reconfigured to better use the existing space, but that reconfiguration is not certain at this time.”

Passenger service is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2012, with initial service consisting of three trips per day. The exact timing of the daily trips will be determined by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the Downeaster for Amtrak.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

Sidebar Elements

Rail crossing reconstructions

FREEPORT — Pan Am Railways has issued an updated schedule for railroad grade crossing reconstruction in town. Each crossing will have to be closed for 36 hours for replacement and realignment of the track panels, as well as preparation and placement of final pavement:

• Monday, Aug. 15, and Tuesday, Aug. 16: Bow Street.

• Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Thursday Aug. 18: West Street.

• Monday, Aug. 29, and Tuesday, Aug. 30: East Street.

• Wednesday, Aug. 31, and Thursday, Sept. 1: Webster Road.

• Tuesday, Sept. 6, and Wednesday, Sept. 7: Hunter Road (Porter Road).

• Thursday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 9: Upper Mast Landing Road.

• Tuesday, Oct. 3, and Wednesday, Oct. 4: Fernald Street (Hall Road).