Federal CARES Act money will pay for improvements to the passenger rail system that connects Maine to Boston.

The $2.1 million is earmarked for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the Downeaster. The Downeaster runs from Boston to Brunswick daily and is running at limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will help the Downeaster make improvements that enhance safety, efficiency and reliability, said Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who is the chair of the transportation appropriations subcommittee.

She said the Downeaster is critical for Maine’s economic recovery from the pandemic because of its role “providing good jobs, supporting local vendors of goods and services, and strengthening our tourism industry.”

Maine has had more than 4,900 cases of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, which has disrupted numerous industries in the state.


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