Community leaders from Standish met in Steep Falls this week for a simulated train ride along the Mountain Division Rail.

Town councilors, along with Standish Town Manager Gordon Billington and State Rep. Gary Moore took a 45-minute truck ride on the railroad from Steep Falls to Windham.

The ride was arranged by Caroline Perry, a member of the Greater Portland Council of Governments. The council joins the Route 113 Corridor Commitee in organizing forums on the future of Route 113.

Reintroducing a freight and passenger train creates a possibility for economic growth in the towns along Route 113.

“I think it makes great sense,” says Rep. Moore. “It is more economically sound to invest in a passanger train, than to keep throwing money at congested highways.”

Before the rail line could be used again, tracks would need a major overhaul costing millions of dollars.

“In Portland we just replaced seven miles of damaged track,” said Department of Transportation worker George Jackman. “It cost over $100,000.”

Reasons for the damage are natural and artificial. ATVs have caused significant damage to the rail bed. The area would have to be built up before the train could safely run on the tracks. Overgrowth has not caused damage, but would need to be cleared from the tracks.

Railroad tracks that run across roads would also need to be replaced. The average road crossing, including lights and all accessories costs about $800,000.

A Maine DOT truck outfitted with special tires sits on the railroad tracks in Steep Falls. Standish town officials rode from Steep Falls to Windham in order to have a clearer concept of rail line possibilities.

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