Vermont Rail Action Network

Vermont Rail Action Network

Promoting the revitalization of Vermont's rail network for passengers and freight

Amtrak's Ethan Allen, threatened with extinction, stops at the Rutland train stationSpurred by pressure from Rutland area rail advocates, the Vermont Legislature's Joint Fiscal Committee today unanimously rejected VTran’s proposed elimination of Rutland’s Ethan Allen train. 

Representative Richard Westman, who is also chair of the Joint Transportation Committee, voiced concerns that the proposal “represented a huge policy change for the region” and thus the committee would find it “difficult to proceed.”  The committee felt this action needed to be held and a decision made when the full legislature returns to session.

Other highway budget cuts proposed by VTrans were accepted after the Amtrak and local road funding cuts were removed.

Members of the Joint Fiscal Committee mentioned that they had heard from “dozens” of Rutland area residents and business leaders as well as Rutland delegation members.

The excellent leadership of David Allaire and Tom Donahue played a lead roll in organizing the effort to save the service.  Former Representative Allaire is on the Vermont Rail Action Network board, the Vermont Rail Council, the Rutland Regional Transportation Commission and is President of the Rutland Board of Alderman Donahue is Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.  They and the Rutland Economic Development Corporation have been working together for some time on rail issues, most recently on advancing the design of the Rutland rail-yard.

VTrans had tried to position the cuts as an improvement, offering a bus which would run from Burlington to Bennington serving Middlebury, Rutland and Manchester (“not cancel, but convert” said Transportation Secretary David Dill).  Rail advocates would have none of it.  A bus is not a train!

While this is a small victory, VTrans will be returning to the legislature with further cuts in January including Amtrak service according to Secretary Dill.
Delaying the decision on the train until January, he said, would reduce the budget savings from $400,000 to $300,000.

Your continued communication with your elected officials will keep the pressure up to keep Amtrak off the list of cuts, or help convince the legislature to put it back in the budget if necessary.

Once the trains are cut, it becomes much more difficult to ever get them back.  Track will deteriorate and reassigned equipment will no longer be available. 

Click here to link to your Vermont State Legislator's office and contact them!

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Upcoming Events

  • Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction
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    09/13/2014 –09/13/2014
    Glory Days Festival celebrates its 22nd year as a family oriented, fun-filled, day long festival of the railroading and transportation modes of the past, present & future. Free Admission. For more information, see The Amtrak Exhibit Train is coming to Glory Days Festival. Climb aboard and tour a free exhibit to learn about Amtrak’s history and catch a glimpse into the company’s future. Displays include vintage advertising, past menus and dinnerware, period uniforms, photographs, and other items of memorabilia from Amtrak’s creation in 1971 to a model of today’s modern-sleeping accommodations and high-speed rail service displays. Interactive displays include railroad horns, trivia questions, workable signals and an engineer’s stand. Festival events include: Model train show, LEGO train show, Children entertainment, Main stage / music, food , excursion train rides on the White River Flyer($), engine displays, vintage cars and tractors, carnival rides, and food. The White River Flyer train excursion is a 45 minute ride along the scenic Connecticut River. Admission: $10.00 for all ages. Tickets are sold at the festival. Excursions run on the hour beginning at 10AM. The Children’s Stage will feature dazzling performers and the Main Stage will come alive with musicians from around New England. This event is produced by the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Foliage Excursion Trains, Chester-Ludlow VT
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    09/23/2014 –10/14/2014
    Runs Tu, Th, Sat, Sun between Sept 23 and Oct 14th Leaves Chester at 10:00 for Ludlow, 12:30 for Rockingham and 2:45 for Ludlow. Leaves Ludow at 11:15 am, running round trip to Chester and Rockingham, returning at 3:30pm. Reservations at
  • VRS 50th Anniversary Special Train from Burlington
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  • Rutland Train Show
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    09/27/2014 –09/27/2014
    Rutland Railway Association invites you to the annual train show, formerly at the Howe Center, now at the Holiday Inn, with model railroads on display, dealers and displays. We'll be there too.
  • St. Albans Annual Meeting: "Montreal Here We Come"
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    11/13/2014 –11/13/2014
    Join fellow rail advocates at the St. Albans Historical Museum to celebrate the value of rail in Vermont. This year's theme honors the hope to upgrade freight and extend passenger train service to Montreal.