BATH (AP) – Amid a revival of interest in rail travel in Maine, plans are taking shape to restore a historic train station in this shipbuilding city.

If everything stays on track, the Bath station near Bath Iron Works and the foot of the new Sagadahoc Bridge will be in service again next May.

The former Maine Central Railroad station opened in 1941 and closed to passenger service in 1959. After that, it was purchased by the BIW shipyard and later leased to the city, which bought it in 1971. The station had a number of uses through the years, including a dental clinic.

For the five years it’s been boarded up, it seemed unlikely the old Bath station would ever be used again for passenger train service.

But now, Bath and state agencies have approved a plan to restore the station to its original use, meaning the state Department of Transportation can seek bids for the train station work. Design and engineering expenses add up to just over $1 million.

If all goes according to plan, the station could reopen in May. It would serve passengers using Maine Eastern Railroad, which leases the rail line between Brunswick and Rockland from the state. The restoration could also help to revitalize Bath’s waterfront, the city’s director of planning and development said.

“It is nice that the train station is still here,” said the Bath official, James Upham. “There were so many train stations around Maine and the country that were torn down due to unwise thinking brought on by urban renewal projects.”

Ridership on Maine Eastern Railroad, which is in its second full year of operation, has increased steadily, said spokesman Gordon Page. Maine Eastern offers excursions between July and October.

Maine Eastern’s trains now stop in Bath, but passengers are left on an empty street between the shipyard and the Route 1 viaduct.

“We use Bath now (for passenger stops), but getting out under the Sagadahoc Bridge is little like walking into no man’s land,” Page said. “I think the new train station will help Bath become a much more important destination for riders.”

In addition to Maine Eastern’s excursions, national passenger rail company Amtrak runs trains year-round between Portland and Boston in a revival of passenger service that was abandoned between the 1960s and ’90s.


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