Rail lines run through many of Vermont’s existing town and village centers, with commercial buildings clustered nearby. Many of these buildings now sit vacant, or house businesses that do not take advantage of the easy access to shipping and markets that railroads provide. Under-utilized or vacant trackside properties represent a largely untapped resource, and could be an engine for job growth, if properly marketed.
Reliable passenger train service brings increased tourism, reduces the impact of traffic on our roads, and lowers our transportation system’s carbon footprint. Expanded passenger rail service offers the promise of a more convenient, lower-cost commute and higher-paying jobs. New transit stations are a proven catalyst for sustainable economic development that fits within the fabric of Vermont’s existing downtowns and village centers.
Rail is an Economic Driver
Expanded passenger rail service offers the promise of a more convenient, lower-cost commute and higher-paying jobs to communities within a 1-hr. train ride of major employers. Consider this:
- 99 towns in Vermont are served by active freight lines. Only 11 of these towns now have active passenger train service.
- A study by Dallas Area Rapid Transit documents that every $1 of public funds invested in transit infrastructure attracts $7 in private investment. New train stations attract employers, workforce housing, and new retail stores, services and other amenities. New passenger rail service is a proven catalyst for sustainable economic development that is the opposite of urban sprawl.
- VRAN has mapped trackside properties along active rail lines that are available for economic development. Most of these parcels are in (or nearby) existing downtowns or town centers. Most are already zoned for commercial development. Unused trackside properties represent a largely untapped resource, and could be an engine for job growth, if properly marketed. (Click here if you would like to request a trackside property map for a specific Vermont town or region.)
- US Dept. of Commerce studies show that every $1 invested in railroads supports $10 in economic activity. Nationally, freight railroad companies have invested over $600 billion since 1980 to build a robust national network that is the backbone of today’s economy, carry 40 percent of intercity freight, move one-third of all U.S. exports, and sustain more than 1.5 million jobs nationwide. Click here to learn more about the value added by our robust rail industry.