Southwestern Vermont Rail Corridor Committee (SVRCC)
Southwestern Vermont Rail Corridor Committee is a coalition of citizens and community leaders committed to enabling environmentally sound economic development by restoring passenger rail service to promote sustainable growth, community connections, and increased opportunities for those who reside, work in or visit Southwestern Vermont.
We will inform and educate the public of relevant issues and benefits relating to passenger rail service.
We believe that passenger rail service in Southwestern Vermont is an important means of developing our local economy in a way that embraces our Green Mountain ethic of preserving our environment and supporting Vermonters for generations to come.
There is a major reason why we cannot close the Ethan Allen, because it is part of a major corridor project for the Rutland Region and Western Vermont.
The strategic funding plan for the Western Transportation Corridor Project included improvements to US RT 7 and rail improvements on western lines, from St. Albans to Bennington, ending in Rensselaer NY. The improvements are broken into small projects but are part of the whole plan to improve the transportation network in Southwestern VT. The Ethan Allen will be a stepping stone to the Albany, Bennington, Rutland, Burlington, Essex (ABRBE) Regional Passenger and Freight System to serve Vermonters in state, Tourism business travelers and the Southwestern Vt Economy (JOBS). This system is going to be a seamless service to connect to the southern and western section of US freight and passenger service. This would be the final stage. To stop at stage 1 of the plan, the Ethan Allen, would cut future federal funding and private investment to this Corridor Project. This Rail project has been key to getting major federal funding for track improvements and highway improvement funds. (Senator Jefford’s Legacy Bill $30 million rail improvement)
This was the deal to abandon the Rutland Bypass Project during the 1980's (proposed $175,000 Million project). The State and the Rutland Region agreed to improve existing corridor projects (rail and RT 7) are a major part of this agreement. Therefore, why are we not funding the largest transportation plan in the state. During the 1950’s when Interstate 91 and 89 were built, Southwestern Vermont had been promised that western Vermont was next for improvements. We cannot pull one small piece of corridor infrastructure that’s supporting the economic or transportation network in southwestern Vermont without hurting the whole structure.
We are not asking for a new highway, interstate or rail projects, we are just asking to improve what we have in place today. This has been the Agency of Transportation's policies for five years. So, when are we going to finally say that it is time to keep our promises and complete and preserve these western corridor improvement projects.
The Ethan Allen is part of this promise.
Here are numerous unanswered questions and points regarding the VAOT Amtrak Bus that should be raised with the Governor and legislators. The Rutland County delegation is unified in their opposition to the administrations proposal and understands the economic importance of the train.
1) The Administration is promoting the bus as an improvement over the train to Rutland. When asked recently no Amtrak passengers seem to agree.
2) They also say it is temporary. Even the Governor himself gave caution in the Rutland Herald recently about that point.3) Amtrak indicated last week that there is a deficient in equipment in the US so if we eliminate the Ethan Allen Express train it will get quickly scooped up and may be a long wait to get it back.
The ETHAN ALLEN is a successful and growing service: Patronage on theRead more...
ETHAN ALLEN has been growing every month for most of the last two
years. Overall ridership in FY 2008 climbed 17.5%, with revenues up
13.6%. It is completely counter-productive to squander this gain with
a "bustitution" that will not work. Rather we can enhance the train
with a properly-designed bus connection and gain added revenues higher
than the projected savings from the train-off proposal.
Once gone there is little chance the train will ever return: The last
passenger service before the ETHAN ALLEN on the
Albany-Whitehall-Rutland route closed in 1937, 59 years before the
ETHAN ALLEN began in 1996. The last service on the more direct line
from Troy to Bennington, Rutland and Burlington was lost in 1953.
If the ETHAN ALLEN is canceled Amtrak is certain to reassign its
equipment, as the company is already desperately short of cars. Once
the cars are gone Vermont will have to buy new cars in order to
restore service. Even at today's prices this would cost us at least
$3,000,000 per car and probably more by 2013.
It was very disturbing to see the recent piece in the Free Press
Trainriders/Northeast and the Vermont Rail Action Network are working for better train service in Vermont, but we are working as part of a regional approach and we want to tell you more about that.
In New England it’s never far to the state line. Vermont’s trains depend on the regional network in order to get to New York and other destinations. The overall health of the network is critical. What happens in other states impacts Vermont.
We are stronger when we work together. Vermont has been fortunate to secure some federal rail funding, but when the congressional delegations of several states work together we are even stronger. When we pool knowledge we can learn from successes elsewhere – for example, replicating the successful TrainHost program that Trainriders/Northeast pioneered in Maine.
In the short-term it will take hard work on the state level to take the next steps to expand rail service. In the long term, the gaps on the map will only be linked from a regional approach, as they cross state lines. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to Boston from Burlington? That’s why an organization that also works in New Hampshire matters!
Trainriders/Northeast has, since 1989, been acquiring experience and a track record of success. We have strong relationships with Amtrak and the states.
Trainriders/Northeast is a membership organization and if you aren’t already a member you should be. It does take resources to make good work happen! And do not forget that there is political power in numbers, if we are committed, unified and focused.
Along with many environmental and business groups both Vermont Rail Action Network and Trainriders/Northeast are members of the New England Rail Coalition.
Click here to give by credit card (via PayPal) or check. Send checks to PO Box 75, Putney VT 05346