BRUNSWICK — With a long-delayed train barn nearly complete, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is preparing to add additional midday Amtrak Downeaster service starting Nov. 21.
NNEPRA will also host an open house of the new layover facility on Oct. 22.
The new schedule has yet to be finalized, but NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn said Monday that a round trip, likely around 11 a.m., will be added to make up for a large midday period without train service to and from Brunswick.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Quinn said. “It’ll give people more options.”
Weekday trains now depart Brunswick at 7 a.m. and 6:25 p.m. and arrive at 12:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Quinn said the entire schedule will be revised to adjust for the additional train.
The details and exact timing of the open house have yet to be set, but Quinn said the public will be able to tour the facility and meet the staff.
“We wanted to give members of public chance to look at (the facility) and learn about it, because obviously they’ve heard a lot about it,” she said, referring to the amount of public interest and opposition the project generated over the last two years.
Construction on the layover barn began in October 2015, and Quinn said the facility is “substantially complete.”
On Sept. 2, the Amtrak Downeaster tweeted that the first test train had arrived at the new Brunswick layover station, which NNEPRA uses to perform basic mechanical tests on the alarms, exhaust, door, water and air systems. The test trains are also used to provide training to the Downeaster staff who will operate the facility.
Quinn said “test trains” are regularly scheduled arrivals (not special or additional trains) that continue to the layover facility after they arrive at the station. They are not sent every day, she said.
The overnight barn built to house trains will eliminate “wasteful moves,” Quinn said. Currently, trains scheduled to depart Brunswick are stored in Portland, travel empty to Brunswick to pick up passengers at 7 a.m., and make their way back south. Likewise, trains originating in Boston and terminating in Brunswick must double back to Portland to be stored overnight.
The barn will also keep trains protected during the winter, Quinn added.
A train has yet to spend a night in the barn; that will happen for the first time the evening of Nov. 20.
Workers complete siding in mid-August on the new Downeaster layover facility in Brunswick.