Downeaster rolling north to Freeport, Brunswick

November 1, 2012
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Nelson Soule, 91, poses next to the Amtrak Downeaster train Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 at the station in Portland, Maine. Soule will be aboard Amtrak's Downeaster on Thursday as the Boston-to-Portland service expands northward to Freeport and Brunswick for the first time in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Amtrak's Downeaster has pulled into Freeport and Brunswick on its ceremonial run, making the first arrival of a passenger train from Portland in more than 50 years.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Amtrak Vice President Joe McHugh and the transportation commissioners in Maine and New Hampshire were among the dignitaries who traveled from Boston to celebrate the start of expanded Downeaster service northward to Freeport and Brunswick.

Regular service begins Friday.

The Downeaster, which began service on Dec. 15, 2001, was always envisioned as traveling north of Portland. The expanded service was made possible through $38.3 million in federal stimulus dollars, which was used to overhaul 30 miles of track and rehabilitate 36 crossings.