Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vermont governor seeks more Amtrak service

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Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has advanced a fiscal year 2014 state budget with funding for restored passenger rail service between Rutland and Burlington, running north-south on the Green Mountain State’s western flank.

Shumlin last year vowed to have the new service in place by 2017, according to local media.

“What’s most important is the governor has put this in his budget,” said State Rep. Herb Russell, whose district includes Rutland and who supports the rail plan. “Rail is clearly a priority for this administration.”

Among the rail projects funded in the proposed 2014 budget are $5 million to replace jointed rail with continuously welded rail, reconstruction of highway crossings, and replacement of switches on the line between Rutland and Burlington. 

Another $100,000 completes a $653,930 engineering and scoping study, funded over three years, of bridges along the route.

Vermont Railway (the 2012 Railway Age Short Line of the Year) operates over this route, and officials of the short line also have expressed strong support for a return of passenger rail service, which Amtrak would operate. Amtrak presumably would serve the route by extending its existing Ethan Allen service, which runs to and from New York City and Rutland via Albany, N.Y. 

Vermont also currently is served by Amtrak’s Vermonter, which links Washington, D.C. with St. Albans, in northern Vermont; that train traverses the eastern and central portions of the state, though a stop at Essex Junction, Vt., currently serves the Burlington area. Burlington is the state’s largest city. <br><br>