2020 Accomplishments

In a year highlighted with negatives, let’s remember the positive accomplishments that we, as rail advocates, can celebrate:

  • We got the Governor’s attention about the value of Amtrak.
  • We heard the state’s commitment to the trains restated.
    Given the $40 million hole in the transportation budget, this is not to be taken for granted. It shows that your voice matters.
  • Federal funds will bring a new station in Brattleboro, a VRAN advocacy effort.
  • Construction concluded on the “Middlebury Tunnel”. One more construction season and we’ll see the Ethan Allen roll into Burlington! Only possible because of your advocacy!
  • Finally, most of the Vermont rail network is rated for 286,000 lb freight – a long time VRAN goal. This keeps Vermont shippers competitive (nobody wants a few bricks short of a load!)

We’re also glad for some important advocacy-boosting steps VRAN has taken this year:

  • new website (thanks, Isabella, our intern)
  • Big work behind the scenes on the mailing list and membership infrastructure
  • Our new policy committee
  • Partnerships with other transportation and environmental organizations to magnify our impact.

Past Accomplishments

Here’s how VRAN has helped protect and improve train service in Vermont:


  • Helped secure state and federal commitments to expand service on Amtrak’s two Vermont trains, extending the Ethan Allen Express north from Rutland to Burlington, and extending the Vermonter from St. Albans north to Montreal
  • Fought to preserve Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express route from being eliminated
  • Successfully Lobbied Amtrak to allow bicycles on Vermont train routes.
  • Mobilize public opposition to periodic attacks on federal funding for Amtrak’s National Network


    • Support rail upgrades for higher speeds and 286,000 lb. capacity
    • Mapping Rail-Adjacent Properties for potential economic development
    • Help potential shippers consider rail
    • Bring together industry leaders at events and meetings with political leaders

    Community Rail

    • Instigate and support All-Earth Rail purchase of Budd cars
    • Create operating plan for local Budd car community rail
    • Bring together stakeholders, developers and local leaders to advance possible future operation.


      • Helped solve organizational problems with operation lifesaver program in Vermont. Result: grade crossing accidents reduced
      • Promote safety around rail tracks and crossings, in partnership with Operation Life Saver
      • Supported VTrans efforts to secure federal grants for crossing upgrades between Rutland – Burlington and on the NECR main line.


      The bankruptcy of the Rutland Railroad resulting in the state of Vermont being the first state in the modern era to invest in preserving its rail infrastructure.  

      In 1972 the Vermont Association of Railroad Passengers was born and successfully pushed for the initiation of the overnight “Montrealer” restoring passenger service 

      In 1995 Amtrak discontinued the Montrealer and Governor Howard Dean was persuaded by advocates to launch the daytime Vermonter to New York and Washington.

      The Champlain Flyer commuter train did not meet expectations and was discontinued but a rider group continued on, joining Rutland based “One Voice for Rail” in 2005 and forming the core of today’s Vermont Rail Action Network.

      In 2009 Governor Jim Douglas proposed ending Amtrak’s Ethan Allan.  VRAN successfully fought back and turned the tide to consider extending the train to Burlington instead.

      How we work

      We bring people together . . . the right people

      We make your voice heard

      We work closely with the freight railroads and Amtrak – and with VTrans and legislators

      We partner with other organizations (e.g. environmental groups, transportation organizations, chambers of commerce and business groups, regional planning bodies, other rail advocacy groups nationally, etc.)

      We inform – including relationships with the media.  We are railroading experts.

      We promote our cause and campaign.  We also instigate projects.  We ask but also contribute.

      We keep integrity, seek solutions benefiting all.  We do not pit one area or interest against another.  We are not partisan. 

      We are frugal and “punch above our weight”.  We use tech and smarts and connections to magnify our efforts.