Amtrak Downeaster & Maine Passenger Trains
In 1836, the Bangor and Piscataquis Canal and Railroad completed Maine’s first rail line, which ran from Bangor to Old Town. Railroads expanded rapidly over the next decades, resulting in 2,380 miles of track. In the mid- to late-1800s, wealthy families from Boston and the greater New England area traveled by rail to Maine for summer vacations. Several rail lines remain today, providing tourists and residents an easy way to travel through Maine. Rather than dealing with the stresses of traffic, you can relax and enjoy the views of beautiful coastline, forests, and mountains.
Amtrak’s Downeaster line has provided service from Boston to Portland, Maine, since 2001. The train departs several times per day from Boston North Station before making its way through southeast New Hampshire to Maine. The Downeaster stops at multiple towns before arriving in Portland, including Woburn and Haverhill, Massachusetts; Exeter, Durham, and Dover, New Hampshire; and Wells, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Amtrak cars offer extensive legroom and reclining seats, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the scenery on your journey. A round-trip fare from Boston to Portland costs $40 and takes approximately two hours each way. The Downeaster features fold-down trays, reading lights, luggage racks, outlets, and free wireless internet service. Although the Amtrak Downeaster is primarily used by commuters, it provides an easy and convenient way for tourists to visit the region. Visit http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/ or call 1-800-USA-RAIL for tickets and additional information.
Maine Eastern Railroad
The Maine Eastern Railroad is popular with visitors because of its vintage railcars, giving the ride a nostalgic feel with luxurious amenities. The line travels from Brunswick to Bath, Boothbay Harbor, and Wiscasset before terminating in Rockland. While on board, visitors experience the scenery of Midcoast Maine, including seaside villages, lobstermen working their traps, amazing hardwood forests, and maritime wildlife. The restored Art Deco railcars feature comfortable seating with large windows for viewing the passing scenery. Each train includes a fully-equipped dining car with a variety of snacks and beverages.
The 57-mile route takes approximately two hours to traverse one-way, and several trains operate each day. During the spring months, the train operates only on Saturdays. The Maine Eastern Railroad adds more departure times later in the season, with trains running Wednesday through Saturday in the summer and Wednesday through Sunday in the fall. For more information, contact the railroad at 1-866-MERAILS or by visiting http://www.maineeasternrailroad.com/.
Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad
The Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad is a non-profit organization dedicating to preserving the original railroad constructed in the late 1800s. The Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad originally provided essential transportation for lumber mills, clothespin manufacturers, and passengers visiting Maine. As trucks and automobiles became more popular in the early 1900s, use of the railroad decreased and it was ripped up in 1935. In the 1970, volunteers began repairing parts of the rail line and restoring old railroad cars. The railroad currently offers rides on most weekends during the summer, with a train leaving on the hour from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The cost is $6 for adults and $1 for children. Each ticket includes a train ride and walking tour, which take about 50 minutes total. Visit http://www.srrl-rr.org/ to view the full schedule.