In 2022, after decades of hopes, fears and tears, Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express should finally restore passenger rail service between Rutland and Burlington, after a 69-year absence. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTRANS) and media will closely track this $25 million project until the train becomes a reality: Vergennes Station/Platform restoration (summer 2020), Middlebury Tunnel (September 2020), Burlington Station track re-alignment (Fall 2020), Middlebury Platform (fall 2021), Burlington Station area upgrades (fall 2021) and Vermont Rail Service (VRS) rail yard re-configuration (2022).
Such an historic event of regional and national interest should spark another round of $1 fares, maple creemees, flavorful gelatos, brass bands and record setting ridership, as experienced on July 19, when Amtrak’s Vermont trains restarted after 16 months.
The extended Ethan Allen Express train will allow easy access to New York and the Boston-Washington corridor for car-free, business, vacation, and student travel, and should be a big economic boon to towns and cities along its route.
Further, the Vermont Translines bus company, VTRANS, and Amtrak announced a little-promoted “July 19 Surprise,” the start of twice daily roundtrips on a service called the Burlington-Manchester-Albany-New York City Bus/Train Link. These modern, comfortable buses, with wi-fi, travel the same route as the Ethan Allen Express Extension but continue south at Rutland along a very scenic route, including Wallingford, Manchester, Bennington and Albany, where riders can seamlessly transfer to Amtrak for destinations as far away as Virginia.
Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express Extension and Translines’ Bus/Train Link will stimulate travel to the area from a wide range of customers and will mark an economic revival along the northern and western Vermont corridor and adjacent New York Hudson River Valley, starting now!
Dan Peacock, Surry, New Hampshire