Re: “Downeaster train arrives in Boston 6 hours late after breakdown in Maine” (Feb. 12):

Patricia Quinn of the Northern New England Rail Passenger Authority blames last Thursday’s Downeaster delay on the lack of a layover barn at Brunswick. This kept car men from removing ice to do maintenance, she said, claiming that “these situations happen all the time,” and “the need for such a facility is real and obvious.”

No railroads throughout the industry’s history have ever deemed it justifiable to expend millions of revenue or subsidy monies erecting barns housing entire trainsets for layover maintenance or protection from the elements, even in frigid climes.

What’s obvious is she hasn’t a clue that the traction motors of diesel-electric units are contained within the wheelsets, and in northern regions are not infallible to shorting out by virtue of wind-whipped snow.

It’s also obvious that as head of Downeaster operations, Ms. Quinn dropped the ball in not moving the stranded train by immediately arranging with PanAm to use a locomotive from their Rigby Yard assets, a mere hour away, to push the trainset onward, rather than subject passengers to four hours of sitting there waiting for the 5:55 train from Brunswick to come along and push it to Boston.

I believe rules require the train’s conductor to immediately inform PanAm’s dispatchers of a breakdown, who in turn notify NNEPRA’s operational manager.

And as the tracks on either side of North Berwick are generally within 2 miles of routes 4 and 9, surely a quick call from NNEPRA to York County’s civil emergency preparedness office would have enabled the assembly of a flotilla of snow machines to ferry the 25 passengers out to buses staged at roadside for continuing them on to Boston.

Does NNEPRA not have contingency plans in place for such emergencies?

John R. Davis

South Paris