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Vermont Rail Action Network

Vermont Rail Action Network

Promoting the revitalization of Vermont's rail network for passengers and freight

Here's a link to the FRA press release announcing the projects that did get funded.

Vermonters were disappointed to learn that we again did not receive funds for the vital "Western Corridor" which connects Rutland and Burlington to New York and Montreal.

Vermont had applied for $80 million dollars of high speed rail funds from $2.4 billion award that had been rejected by Florida.

Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle/Chittenden, said “To receive nothing is very disappointing.  From all indications we got from the congressional folks, we certainly had agreat case," Mazza told the Burlington Free Press. "This grant would have been really, really beneficial to the economy of Vermont. But like I said, I’ve been at this for many years, and we’re not about to give up.” 

The total available was reduced from $2.4 billion to $2 billion by house Republicans as part of budget cuts in the 2011 "continuing resolution" budget. 

Twenty four states submitted applications totaling $10 billion dollars for those funds. Most of the projects were good ones and deserve to be built.

The Department of Transportation appears to have followed the "spread it around" theory of dispersing the money, making awards to 15 states.

Why did Vermont not get the funds? We can only speculate. Our application was solid. But the money was awarded to projects in areas with greater population on existing routes.

The larger problem is that we are not spending enough on infrastructure. This is a national concern. But like some other issues, this may be something that Vermont can take the lead on, finding our own solutions with local resources.

The Shumlin administration was quick to point out that several awards in other states will benefit Vermonters, notably improvements between Albany and New York and Springfield Mass and New Haven Connecticut. This is true.

“While I wish that Vermont’s application for high speed rail funds had been accepted, today’s announcement by Secretary LaHood is very helpful in achieving our goal of high speed rail from New York to Montreal with a spur to Boston,” Shumlin said in a prepared statement. “The investments being made to our south will be critical to our success.” 

Connecticut added $30 million to it's project of double tracking between New Haven and Hartford and New York state recived $58 million to fund work between Schenctady and New York including a new station in Schenectady, construction of a fourth station track at the congested Albany-Rensselaer station and new  burried signal cableing along the Hudson (which had become unreliable every time there was a storm).

Restoring the rail line will position this part of the state for economic success in a future with diminishing energy choices. Infrastructure is destiny, as the community grows around it. Infrastructure facilitates life and commerce.

Better rail service will benefit travelers and freight shippers, but it also becomes a community asset, benefiting everyone.

The Vermont Rail Action Network is the citizens voice for better rail service in Vermont. We have helped mobilize support for the Western Corridor. It's our number 1 priority, both for passenger service and because it will improve the freight infrastructure. More information is at www.RailVermont.org

Upcoming Events

  • VRS 50th Anniversary Special Train from Bellows Falls
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    08/23/2014
    Departs at 10:00 am or 2:00 pm Reserve at http://www.vrs.us.com/vrs50trips.html In celebration of the Vermont Rail System 50th Anniversary.
  • Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction
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    09/13/2014 –09/13/2014
    Glory Days Festival celebrates its 22nd year as a family oriented, fun-filled, day long festival of the railroading and transportation modes of the past, present & future. Free Admission. For more information, see http://vtglorydaysfestival.com/ The Amtrak Exhibit Train is coming to Glory Days Festival. Climb aboard and tour a free exhibit to learn about Amtrak’s history and catch a glimpse into the company’s future. Displays include vintage advertising, past menus and dinnerware, period uniforms, photographs, and other items of memorabilia from Amtrak’s creation in 1971 to a model of today’s modern-sleeping accommodations and high-speed rail service displays. Interactive displays include railroad horns, trivia questions, workable signals and an engineer’s stand. Festival events include: Model train show, LEGO train show, Children entertainment, Main stage / music, food , excursion train rides on the White River Flyer($), engine displays, vintage cars and tractors, carnival rides, and food. The White River Flyer train excursion is a 45 minute ride along the scenic Connecticut River. Admission: $10.00 for all ages. Tickets are sold at the festival. Excursions run on the hour beginning at 10AM. The Children’s Stage will feature dazzling performers and the Main Stage will come alive with musicians from around New England. This event is produced by the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department.
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    09/23/2014 –10/14/2014
    Runs Tu, Th, Sat, Sun between Sept 23 and Oct 14th Leaves Chester at 10:00 for Ludlow, 12:30 for Rockingham and 2:45 for Ludlow. Leaves Ludow at 11:15 am, running round trip to Chester and Rockingham, returning at 3:30pm. Reservations at http://rails-vt.com/
  • VRS 50th Anniversary Special Train from Burlington
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    09/27/2014
  • Rutland Train Show
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    09/27/2014 –09/27/2014
    Rutland Railway Association invites you to the annual train show, formerly at the Howe Center, now at the Holiday Inn, with model railroads on display, dealers and displays. We'll be there too.
  • St. Albans Annual Meeting: "Montreal Here We Come"
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    11/13/2014 –11/13/2014
    Join fellow rail advocates at the St. Albans Historical Museum to celebrate the value of rail in Vermont. This year's theme honors the hope to upgrade freight and extend passenger train service to Montreal.