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Do you want to help the cause of better train service in Vermont?  You are needed.  We are creating four working groups to improve (1) our written & web outreach, (2) events & personal outreach, (3) improve passenger stations & service and (4) Fundraising.  Can you volunteer?

 

Read more: Can You Volunteer?

We are excited - thrilled - at the announcement today by Senator Patrick


Leahy's office of the signing of an agreement to allow pre-clearance in
Montreal Central Station for Amtrak's Vermonter.

The agreement paves the way for the extension of Amtrak's Vermonter back
to Montreal.


  It is necessary in order to make the train reliable
(without a lengthy and uncertain wait at the border).  It will be
similar to pre-clearance of airline passengers that occurs at Montreal
and other Canadian airports.

Senator Leahy's office has done a lot of hard work on this issue. We say
a big "Thank you" for their efforts and commend him for his victory in
making this happen.  In addition to the senator himself we lift up with
thanks the work of his DC transportation staffer Maggie Gendron and
former transportation staffer Greg Cota.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch were also
supportive and we thank them.  Governor Peter Shumlin also leaned into the
issue to make it happen and we are thankful.

Vermont Rail Action Network's "Montreal, Here We Come" themed Annual
Dinner Meeting was held in Saint Albans last November to give the
process a kick.   Governor Shumlin and Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott
both spoke.

This was not an easy achievement.  We needed the work of the Senator to
bring the parties forward to reach this agreement.  Established
procedures are not always easy to change.  This kind of leadership is
what we pay our elected leaders to do!

Returning train service from Vermont to Montreal is one of the two top
priorities of the Vermont Rail Action Network.   The five million people
of Quebec represent a tremendous economic opportunity for Vermont and
Montreal is the closest large city (and economic and cultural hub) for
Vermont.

Right now the Vermonter leaves Saint Albans with only a few riders,
adding more at each stop until it is full at Hartford going into New
York, Philadelphia and Washington.  Being able to start from a major
metropolitan city will be like having an anchor store at both ends of
the mall.  The train will start out full, Quebecors will get off at each
stop and Vermonters will board.  And so, by running only another hour
north to Montreal, the load factors and train-miles (and thus the
train's economics) will improve drastically.

The agreement must become law in both Canada and the U.S. to have force,
so we will have more occasion yet to be grateful to our delegation.

Challenges still remain.  An operating agreement with CN is required -
at a reasonable price and US crews need to be able to run right to
Montreal.  These were challenges which led to the end of the former
Montrealer, but we believe they can be resolved.  We are particularly
hopeful because of the support of the Quebec government.

Many Vermonters fondly remember the overnight Montrealer.  This will be
a daytime schedule, which will suit Vermonter riders better.  We would
like to see this development lead to an eventual overnight run.

The press release from Senator Leahy's office has more details:

http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-hails-us-canada-pre-clearance-agreement-that-brings-closer-the-goal-of-restoring-vermont-to-montreal-passenger-rail-serv

 

The Governor has submitted to the legislature a 2016 transportation budget request. 

Overall, the upcoming budget calls for a 5.9% decline in rail spending, against a background of an overall 8.1% decline in total transportation spending.

Read more: Governors Rail Budget As T-Funds Decline

Our work involves showing up.  We show up at meetings.  We engage the Agency of 

Transportation.  We show up at the state house.  We engage the railroads and Amtrak. We show up around the state, engaging the public.   We even showed up in Washington DC, doing the work of advocating for better trains in Vermont.

Read more: 2014 Highlights and Accomplishments

CMQ RAilway logoThe new Central Maine & Quebec Railroad which took over bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad has spent the summer doing trackwork, bringing it's Farmham, Quebec to Newport VT line up to 25 mph standards.

Read more: CMQ Rebuilds Former MMA

 

People waiting for Amtrak Train at Essex JunctionAmtrak reported for the operating year ending September 30, the two Vermont supported trains, the Vermonter and Ethan Allen, recorded a passengers gain of 3.7 percent.   The Vermonter growth of 6.6 percent year over year ranked second among the 29 state-supported Amtrak routes while the Ethan Allen -1 percent performance ranked 22nd.  The 142,395 passengers on the two Vermont trains included some to and from stations in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Data on those boarding and disembarking at each Vermont station will be available in the near future. 

 

 

The revenues reported for the two trains increased 10 percent on the Vermonter and 3 percent on the Ethan Allen.  The total 2014 revenues of $8.5 million for the two trains represented an increase of 7.7% over 2013.

 

November 13th is our annual dinner meeting in Saint Albans at the Historical Museum.  A special train to the event will be operated from Montpelier Jct., stopping at Waterbury, Richmond and Essex Junction.  You'll want to be there!

This event is expected to sell out, as it did last year, but you can register now.   The registration link is railvermont.org/annual-meeting

The theme of the evening will be “Montreal, Here We Come!”

Read more: Registration Open for VRAN Annual Dinner Meeting

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) launched a new informational website outlining the benefits of passenger rail as an alternative mode of transportation in New Hampshire. The website, www.nhrta.org, features detailed information about current rail projects in the state, including the ongoing NH Capitol Corridor Study

Read more: New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority Launches Website

Vermont sealEvery fall, the Transportation Board embarks on a series of public hearings. This year, the Board’s forums will be held at college campuses and are specifically designed to engage young adults (ages 18-34) in a conversation about what Vermont needs to do transportation-wise to meet their needs and be an attractive place for them to live, work and raise a family.

 

The purpose for these hearings is to gather information on public opinion about transportation to create a report to the legislature.

 

The Board will hold public hearings on the following dates:

·         October 14: Norwich University, 6:30 p.m., Milano Ballroom, Crawford & Roberts Halls, Northfield VT.

·         October 15: Castleton State College, 7 p.m., Jeffords Center Auditorium, South Street, Castleton, VT.

·         October 21: Lyndon State College, 6:30 p.m., Burke Mountain Room, Library & Academic Building, 1001 College Road, Lyndon, VT.

·         October 22: Vermont Technical College, 6:30 p.m., Room 102 Conant Hall, 81 Judd Drive, Randolph, VT.

·         November 4: Brattleboro CCV-VTC, 6 p.m. Room 245, CCV-VT Building, Harmony Place, Brattleboro, VT.

·         November 6: University of Vermont, 6 p.m., Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building, 85 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT.

·         November 12: Johnson State College, 6:30 p.m., Room 1867 Dewey Hall, 337 College Hill, Johnson, VT.

·         November 13: Bennington College, 6:30 p.m., The Symposium, Center for the Advancement of Public Action, 1 College Drive, Bennington, VT.

 
 

 

Jim Jeffords did much for Vermont and the nation, but it's his legacy of support for rail in Vermont that we lift up now.



Jeffords, a rail buff, brought brought passionate support of better train service to secure funding for the state's rail network and lead the Agency of Transportation toward a more sustainable rail-inclusive future.

His support enabled the restoration of Amtrak's Montrealer on the route of today's Vermonter, enabled a trial of Champlain Valley commuter service, upgraded track to Benington County and secured a critical $30 million earmark to support the upgrade of the Western Corridor.

Read more: Jim Jeffords Was Passionate Rail Advocate

According to Eastern Railroad News, Pan-Am Southern has "completed" upgrade work on the Connecticut River line in Massachusetts and Amtrak's Vermonter will begin using the route by December 31st.  

 

 

"The major work is done," Pan-Am Vice President Cynthia Scarano told Eastern Railroad News.  There are still some new signals to install and clean-up to do, she added.

 

The upgrade will remove 25-60 minutes from the schedule of the train, ending the Palmer back up move.  Instead of taking the New England Central Railroad through Amherst and CSX between Palmer and Springfield, the Vermonter will travel on Pan-Am Southern (former Boston & Maine) stopping at Greenfield, Northampton and Holyoke.

 

Photo shows new track laid at Bernardston MA before surfacing.  Note shiny new rail and new ties and the perfect flat profile.

Here's what you can do to stay safe around trains...

Never trespass on any railroad property or right of way!
Doing so is illegal and risks serious injury or death.

Cross only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings!
Look for a train moving from either direction -- and then look for a second train from either direction.

Always expect a train!
Trains do not have set schedules and can approach from either direction at any time of day or night.
Trains do not take holidays.

Don't stand next to tracks!
Trains can overhang the tracks by three feet on either side, and straps and tiedowns can extend even further.

Never try to beat a train!
Because of their size, you cannot judge a train's speed or distance. Trains cannot make sudden stops. Remember that a locomotive weighs 200 tons. An automobile being hit by a train is equivalent to a soda can being hit by an automobile.

 

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