The Coastliner train on a section of the 57-mile Rockland Branch tracks. Courtesy of Midcoast Railservice

The Coastliner, an excursion train planning to launch a regular Brunswick-Rockland line next month, is making another promotional run in the Midcoast the first weekend of October.

The 76-seat train, which debuted during the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland last month, is making three Bath-Wiscasset trips Saturday, Oct. 7, which is Autumnfest in Bath. On Sunday, it’s making stops in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle, the latter of which is a short walk to the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. Adult, round-trip tickets are $20 Saturday and $20-$25 Sunday. Reservations can be made on the Coastliner’s website.

Midcoast Railservice, which operates the Coastliner, leased the 57-mile Rockland Branch last year from MaineDOT. The deal runs through 2025. It has run freight cars ahead of its planned Brunswick-Rockland weekend service, which has been delayed until at least late October as it works out the logistics of operating out of Brunswick, according to George Betke, the company’s co-founder and vice president.

“We’re trying,” Betke said. “There is a complex set of railroad regulations.”

The Brunswick-Rockland weekend service would run Friday, Saturday and Sunday and include stops in Bath, Wiscasset and Newcastle. It would take about two hours from Brunswick to Rockland; tickets prices are still being determined.

The Rockland Branch railroad was originally built in the 1870s and Maine Central Railroad operated a passenger line in the early 1900s. There have been several succeeding passenger lines; the last was Maine Eastern Railroad, whose line was shut down in 2015.


Midcoast Railservice, Amtrak and the Maine Department of Transportation have discussed using the Coastliner to extend Amtrak service from the Brunswick Visitor Center to Rockland, possibly next year.

Betke said his company was caught off-guard earlier this month by Dragon Products’ announcement that it will close its cement plant in Thomaston. The company is Midcoast Railservice’s largest commercial freight client.

“We’re working on remedies,” Betke said, adding his company is looking for more freight clients and possible state/federal funding. “There’s a common interest not to abandon the branch. We’re still on that mission, but there’s been a gigantic pothole.

“Stay tuned.”

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