BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- People in two Brunswick neighborhoods want the Amtrak Downeaster locomotives to stop idling near their homes. They say it happens every day, and the noise and smoke are "more than annoying."
The idling is the result of the train schedule. The Amtrak train that arrives at 12:30 waits in Brunswick for a return trip about 6:00 p.m. The locomotives continue idling that whole time to keep electrical and air systems running. Neighbors want the railroad to install an auxiliary power system so the trains can just be plugged in and shut off the engines.
But the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority says trains would still need to idle part of the time - particularly in winter - and say the real solution is a controversial train layover facility for Brunswick, which the neighbors oppose.
NNEPRA executive director Patricia Quinn says the Authority board decided on Monday to hold off on adding auxiliary power for the train until they know how soon construction of the layover facility can start. Quinn says the only remaining obstacles are a storm water permit from the DEP, for which NNEPRA has re-applied after the first was rejected, and a new DEP request to re-visit air emissions needs. Neighbors continue to fight that layover plan, but the railroad says it will not consider another location.
The Rail Authority says it's also looking at a possible schedule change to help the idling problem. They have asked Amtrak to bring the train to Brunswick around 3:00 instead of 12:30, so it won't need to idle as long.