Trains to the City by the Sea?

Downtown Rockland, Maine.

Downtown Rockland, Maine.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

"There’s a proposal to start summertime passenger rail service to Rockland, Maine, from Boston. Rockland, a boating and arts center, is on Penobscot Bay and a prime vacation area. The idea reminded me that establishing summertime rail service between Providence and Newport would be a wonderful thing. More entrepreneurs these days are looking into starting fairly short-distance rail passenger lines. Providence-to-Newport summer service (probably via Fall River) might attract one.

Scheduled passenger service between Fall River, Mass., and Newport on the Newport Secondary ended in 1938. Fall River and Providence were connected by a rail passenger line for decades in the first part of the 20th Century.

One possible entrepreneur for a Providence-Newport line might be Vincent Bono, whose Boston Surface Railroad Company wants to start a private commuter rail line between Providence, Worcester and Nashua, N.H., by 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about trains from my boyhood lately, such as the cozy Pullman compartments on our trips to the Midwest and the South, the blue air in the smoking cars, the damask table cloths in the dining cars where union rules mandated that you write down your meal order and that the trains would pick up piles of local newspapers from the cities where you’d stop on the Southern Railroad.