I want to applaud recent news coverage on the public and private investment in rail transportation across Maine.

Maine is moving in the right direction by increasing freight and passenger rail. It makes our economy more competitive, reduces our carbon footprint and provides a more affordable mode of transportation during a time of skyrocketing gas prices.

The Lewiston/Auburn region is seeing an influx of investment in freight rail thanks to public and private partnerships with the state and industry. As a result of these partnerships, companies like Safe Handling are a success story. We must continue to pursue policies in Maine and at the federal level that promote freight rail.

However, we cannot forget about passenger rail in Lewiston/Auburn. The Downeaster is soon to reach its target for ridership three years ahead of schedule. The time is right to start incrementally extending passenger rail north of Portland. The Lewiston/Auburn region is growing and passenger rail should play an integral role in that growth.

Lastly, the environmental, economic and safety benefits of increased rail transportation are substantial. Companies improve their “green” image, shipping costs are lowered, air quality improves, new tourism opportunities are created and our roads have fewer cars and trucks, just to name a few.

Andre Duchette, Brunswick

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