State News

In four years, Amtrak train to link Rutland with Burlington

$10 million TIGER grant extends Ethan Allen line north, Vermont’s link to New York City
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will provide a $10 million TIGER grant to extend Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express passenger train service to Burlington, Vt. Currently, the service begins in New York City and stops in Rutland, Vt.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg joined Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch at an event Friday, May 6, for the announcement.
“Transportation is always about the future. If we’re just fixing today’s problems, we’ll fall further and further behind. We already know that a growing population and increasing freight traffic will require our system to do more,” said Secretary Foxx. “In this round of TIGER grants, we selected projects that focus on where the country’s transportation infrastructure needs to be in the future: safer, more innovative, and more targeted to open the floodgates of opportunity across America.”
The grant will fund approximately 11 miles of new rail track along the state-owned line and three passenger platforms in Middlebury, Vergennes, and Burlington. The project will also reduce long-term maintenance costs for the state, allow passenger trains to operate up to 60 miles per hour and enhance safety at multiple railroad crossings. It is expected to be completed in four years.
Vermont transportation officials say it hasn’t yet been determined how much a ticket between Rutland and Burlington will cost, but they say the ride will take about an hour and a half.
Transportation Secretary Chris Cole has said that well over 100,000 passengers ride the Vermonter or the Ethan Allen Express trains in Vermont each year and he believes there is significant room for growth once the service connects downtown Burlington.
The project is one of 39 federally funded transportation projects in 34 states selected to receive a total of nearly $500 million under USDOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2015 program. The Department received 627 eligible applications from 50 states and several U.S. territories, requesting 20 times the $500 million available for the program, or $10.1 billion.
“This is a day Burlington has been waiting a long time for—this funding will help not only take us back to a time when passenger rail extended to Burlington, but more importantly, it will take us into the future,” said Feinberg. Passenger rail service to the state’s largest city phased out around 1953.
This grant is part of the seventh round of TIGER grants since 2009, bringing the total grant amount to more than $4.6 billion, provided to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects supporting rural and tribal communities.
Demand for the program has been overwhelming: to date, USDOT has received more than 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for transportation projects across the country.

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