Imagine: Brattleboro to New York in two and a half hours by train.

That’s the promise of North Atlantic Rail, a high-speed rail advocacy push that has recently gained some political traction, notably the active support of the Mayor of Hartford CT and just a few days ago a supportive tweet by Mayor Miro Wineburger in Burlington.

The proposal is essentially a call for a 220 mph rail alignment between New York and Boston via Hartford and Providence (their first draft went straight from New York to Boston, but a vigorously outraged Rhode Island did not like being left out).

Brattleboro would be a branch, running south as it does now to Connecticut, then benefiting from a very fast run into the city.

You can see why the Mayor of Hartford would be all over this: being that close to New York would bring development and solve an economic problem for the distressed city that has lost manufacturing and population since the 1940’s.

As for Windham County, you can only imagine the transformation that could happen. A lot of people would benefit. I hope we wouldn’t just end up looking like Connecticut.

It is all theoretical right now. North Atlantic Rail seems to have glimpsed opportunity in Biden’s infrastructure plans and maybe they are right. The logic of high-speed rail from New York to Boston is sound and certainly technically possible with permitting presenting the only speed bump. Conceivably the whole thing could even by privately financed, but there is more risk than private finance would likely take on without government involvement as well. It would be a 90 minute trip between NYC and Boston if the tracks could support 220 mph speeds (as in Europe and China) and trains could run on the high-speed tracks part way and then diverge onto the existing rail network (as they do in France, for example).

Projects like this take decades, and that is just to build political support. Yet it is a prospect worth discussing. Vermont has always suffered and thrived on the basis to our access to big city markets.

You can read more about the proposal here: https://northatlanticrail.org/


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