Following an improvement in the working relationship between Pan-Am Railway and Vermont Rail System, the two carriers worked together to re-open rail service at the interchange point of Hoosick Junction, near Bennington.
The first interchange traffic via this route was handled the week of April 21, following repairs to the Vermont Railway line between Hoosick Junction - North Bennington and Rutland.
A long-term (but unfunded) plan exists to re-route the Ethan Allen Amtrak train over this route. The repairs and increased use of this line for freight increase the likelihood of this coming to pass.
Pan‑Am will be competing for traffic that moves from Vermont Rail System to and from the west via connections with Norfolk Southern and CSX.
(Pan-Am is the successor to Guilford Transportation which took over the Boston & Maine Railroad in the early eighties.)
Pan-Am believes it will be able to offer Vermont shippers faster access to the west, avoiding extra switching and the need to ship cars east to Bellows Falls and south on the New England Central Railroad to a CSX connection in Palmer, MA.
The development of a limestone slurry unit train from Vermont to Maine ( running once a week since the beginning of the 2007) has deepened confidence in closer working relationships between the parties, enabling this next step, according to several officials involved in the planning. The unit train has now been rerouted via Hoosick Junction, saving energy by using a route with lower grades and saving time and thus reducing the number of cars required for the service.
In fall 2007, Vermont Rail System Vice President of Marketing Ed Fitzgerald told the New England Association of Rail Shippers that VRS moves OMYA traffic to a variety of connections: NECR in Bellows Falls to CN in St.Albans, or in Burlington to CN in St.Albans; VRS to Whitehall NY for CP and NS; NECR in Bellows Falls to Palmer, Massachusetts for CSXT.
Omya is looking at every lane to see what traffic could be rerouted through, Hoosick Junction, Omya Logistics Manager Scott McCalla said later. Omya production in Vermont goes throughout the Northeast and into eastern Canada, with some varieties of product going into the Southeast.
Other traffic that could use the route is grain which Vermont Railway delivers for six large on‑line feed mills, much of which comes off CSX from the west. Since last fall some of this traffic has already begun moving via Pan-Am through the interchange at Bellows Falls.
Vermont Railway is running a 5 day a week train from Rutland to North Bennington and return as there is not room to store cars for the unit train in Rutland (one reason the Rutland rail yard project is needed). Most interchange with Pan-Am takes place in North Bennington, but the weekly unit train to Maine is forwarded to Pan-Am near Hoosick Junction.
Before significant traffic could move, the track north of Hoosick Junction needed work. A bridge in Arlington, VT got emergency repairs, lifting a restriction that had required an empty between each load.
The railroad will install 20,000 ties along the route. South of Manchester, the line has welded rail, but between Manchester and Rutland needs work.
[Adopted from articles originally written for Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports]