A stubborn length of rail along the Downeaster line in Saco delayed a couple hundred train passengers Thursday afternoon and sent crews scrambling to fix the problem before service resumed Friday morning.

Pan Am Railways maintenance crews were doing scheduled rail work in Saco but had more difficulty than expected removing the rail at the crossing with Main Street, said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the Downeaster service.

A photo and caption posted on the TrainRiders/Northeast Facebook page showed workers in orange vests and white hardhats at the intersection, which connects Biddeford and Saco and is on a bridge above the Saco River.

Working with sledgehammers and power equipment, workers struggled to remove concrete sections between the rails that allow cars to pass over them safely.

A midday train was canceled because of the problem. Passengers on runs leaving Boston at 5 and 5:40 p.m. bound for Brunswick, the line’s northern end, had to be bused from Wells to their final destinations.

For southbound travelers who encountered the delays, bus service was provided from Old Orchard Beach to Wells, where another train was waiting to take passengers on toward Boston.

The problem with the rail caused delays for motorists as well.

Quinn said that the rail was finally removed about 7 p.m., and crews were scheduled to work through the evening until the replacement was completed.

Quinn, speaking about 11 p.m., said crews were optimistic about completing the work on time.

“No one’s called to say we’re not going to get this done,” she said.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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