Maine’s Midcoast Railservice to Begin Offering Excursions This Weekend

Midcoast Railservice will be operating its Budd RDC out of Rockland this weekend for the annual Maine Lobster Festival.

Maine’s Midcoast Railservice to Begin Offering Excursions This Weekend

By Justin Franz

Maine’s Midcoast Railservice, the Finger Lakes Railway subsidiary currently operating the state-owned Rockland Branch, will begin offering excursions aboard a Budd RDC along the rockbound coast of the Pine Tree State this weekend. 

It will be the first time the public has had a chance to ride on the scenic former Maine Central branch in seven years. This weekend’s excursions will run between Rockland and Thomaston in conjunction with the Maine Lobster Festival. The hour-long trips will depart Rockland at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

The branch has had a parade of operators over the last three decades. In 1987, the state purchased the line from Guilford Rail System so that it would not be abandoned. From 1990 until 2000, the line was run by the Maine Coast Railroad, a spin-off of the Massachusetts Central. In the early 2000s, Safe Handling Inc., a Maine-based logistics company, operated the line for a few years before New Jersey’s Morristown & Erie won the contract and ran it as the Maine Eastern Railroad from 2004 until 2015. Maine Eastern also offered excursion service. Central Maine & Quebec began operating the branch in 2016. That lasted until 2020 when Class I Canadian Pacific acquired CMQ and became the operator. Finally, in 2022, CP handed the reins over to Midcoast Railservice. The railroad is presently using two B23-7s for freight service. 

Midcoast Railservice has been working with the state and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (backer of the Downeaster, operated by Amtrak) to bring regular passenger service to the line in hopes of taking cars off nearby U.S. Route 1. Earlier this summer, Midcoast brought a Budd RDC to Maine and a second is expected to follow. Eventually, the railroad hopes to run the Budd the entire length of the branch making connections with the Downeaster at Brunswick. 

For more information, visit coastlinerexcursions.com

This article was posted on: August 3, 2023