Sunday, December 21, 2008

Downeaster Blues

Last week an ice storm in northern New England forced Amtrak to substitute buses on its popular Downeaster route between Boston and Portland, ME. According to Boston Globe transportation columnist Noah Bierman not having the train and its party atmosphere has been upsetting several of the regulars. One sent him an email that said:
"Please help us - we're suffering the ill effects of loneliness . . . and are collectively nearing nervous breakdown stage as they herd us on to smelly busses where alcohol and laughter are prohibited. We are ever so sad. Pleeze Hep Us!"
The storm hit December 12, and normal service wasn't restored until one week later. According to Patricia Quinn, executive director, of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages the service, the storm knocked out the rail line's automatic signal system imposing a 20 m.p.h. speed limit on the route. That would have resulted in unacceptable delays for the trains, which normally run at up to 79 m.p.h.

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