Your gift gives us the resources to do this work. We are a pretty scrappy low-budget operation and we do a lot as volunteers. But, as well you know, it does take money, even if we leverage effectively. Thank you for your contribution.
Our volunteer board is from all over Vermont and all political parties. Our mailing list of 5,000 supporters gives us clout (and that's another place we spend resources!). Our events bring advocates together and provide opportunities for leaders to meet advocates. Our communications, by e-mail, web site, media contacts, speaking and direct meetings advance the message.
Here is a short sampling of only the highlights of what you are helping to fund:
The agonizing Palmer back-up shuffle is now history, the result of federally funded upgrades in Massachusetts. Funding was secured because the states worked together and because there was a history of support for rail from Vermont. There was a time this was almost jeopardized in 2009 when the Douglas Administration proposed eliminating Amtrak's Ethan Allen to Rutland. We fought this successfully, preserving our record of supporting rail and paving the way to the current gains on both the Vermonter and Western Corridor routes.
We had a sell-out crowd of 145 at Saint Alban's Historical Museum. In attendance was Governor Shumlin, Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, many legislators and VTrans staff including Sue Minter, now Secretary of Transportation and Chris Cole, now Deputy Secretary. Representatives from 9 different railroads were in attendance, including New England Central/Genesee & Wyoming, Vermont Rail System, Pan-Am, Amtrak, Providence & Worcester, Saratoga & North Creek, Finger Lakes, Golden Eagle and the Hotel-Train. Representatives from Trainriders/Northeast and Empire State Passenger Association were there. New England Central operated a special train to the event from Montpelier with equipment provided by Vermont Rail System (thanks!). It was a great networking event which brought people together and increased engagement with the cause of rail. It also illustrates the strength of our relationships with the state and the railroads. Those relationships are the primary way we do our work, much of it behind the scenes.
Bikes on Trains
VRAN has been active in pushing forward the possibility of carry-on bike carriage on Amtrak trains, working with the Vermont Bike Ped Coalition and the state of Vermont. I'm pleased to report that as a result of our advocacy and of others, Amtrak decided not just to work on bikes on the Vermonter, but to move forward with bikes on trains nationally. The Vermonter was selected for a one year pilot project to work out the kinks. A bike rack for coach cars has been designed.
The cost to extend the Vermonter to our nearest big city is low, but the complexity of dealing with two customs services and Canadian unions is high. Our Agency of Transportation and congressional delegation has worked hard, but this has been more difficult than it should be. We have worked with our delegation and put our annual meeting in Saint Albans to give the process a kick.
Converting Freight Shipments To Rail
We have acquired information about properties that abut railroads, with the goal of facilitating communication, and perhaps finding opportunities for sustainable job producing development. Concentrating development along the railroad corridors and near train stations will improve land use patterns and benefit the environment. We've forwarded our information to the state and to the railroads and are pursing several opportunities.
Overnight New York - Montreal Train
Many people fondly remember the overnight Montrealer which was great for skiers and for arriving in New York and Montreal with a full day for business. We've been working hard on a possibility to run a similar service. It seems a long-shot right now, but we have not forgotten its value.
State Rail Plan
Vermont is revising its rail plan and we've been engaged at all levels. Decisions for the future of the Vermont rail network will and have been made as part of this process, such as should the state continue to own tracks and what kind of future passenger train operations we might have.
We were disappointed that Vermont did not receive the funding to complete the Western Corridor. We're close. We continue to push the importance of it. We will hold our annual meeting in the Rutland area next November to underline the importance (and hopefully celebrate some success).
Legislative Breakfast - Tuesday, January 20th at the state house (7:30 am). You are invited
Please help us promote a better Vermont through better train service. Your contribution to the Vermont Rail Action Network supports our work to insure investment in Vermont ’s rail infrastructure. Make your gift at www.RailVermont.org/give or send checks to VRAN Treasurer, PO Box 6094 Rutland VT 05701