On the snowy Tuesday before Thanksgiving, during my long drive home marked by cautious breaking and downshifting, I finally understood what rail could do for people like me.
Rail is to community as roads are to solitude. On a rainy day, inside the massive warehouse where the Budd Cars are maintained, Greg Morgan, Chair of the Essex Economic Development Commission, expressed how rail is important to the future in a time of evolution and change.
On a brisk fall day in Barre, former Vermont legislator Chuck Bohi of Hartford took a ride on the Budd RDC train cars, and recalled his past experiences riding in Canada. Traffic congestion across the nation is much worse since Bohi last rode these RDCs in the 1960s, and he is adamant on the relevance of trains for today's needs. “These Budd cars are perfect for short-haul routes,” he said.
Vermont’s US Senator Patrick Leahy has a passion for rail. For a state that that is hungry for improved public transportation, this is very good news.
On Sept. 12, Leahy’s Field Office Representative, Chris Saunders, visited the Budd cars in Barre to ride them first-hand. Like everyone who’s seen the Budd cars in person, Saunders was impressed. In fact, he said he’s confident that Senator Leahy will support AllEarth's Budd car project.
Left to Right: Lynn and Chuck Bohi, Founder of AllEarth David Blittersdorf and President of AllEarth Rail Charlie Moore.
Maybe it was the Kansas City air, the smell of oil or the sounds of trains coupling up, but it was sometime in early childhood when Charlie Moore of St. Albans caught the train ‘bug.’ And It hasn’t left him since.
It began when Moore’s uncle took him for a ride on a small track inspection motorcar. “He took me for a ride when I was visiting. I was so impressed by the experience, seeing the rails and the infrastructure first-hand.”
Lift off! The Budd Cars are running and ready to serve VT for good.
The RDCs were just tested on the railroad lines between Barre and Montpelier where they ran perfectly. This was the first time they’ve run outside of the rail yard.
Vermont Rail Systems worked with AllEarth Rail to create this opportunity, lending assistance and sharing train personnel. With this success, we’re just another step closer to having a reliable and renewable solution to transportation.
The Budd cars will serve as a platform for future regional transportation and rail service. Right now, each RDC carries over 90 passengers. Just imagine the possibilities for placing this equipment into daily service!
Don’t forget that these RDC’s are also well-built and dependable. They’ve proven their value over years of reliable performance.
The CEO of AllEarth Renewables and founder of AllEarth Rail, David Blittersdorf, and the President, Charlie Moore, joined this ‘shakedown’ run. Blittersdorf hired Moore, who has over 40 years of railroad experience, to lead his rail project.
Moore began working for what’s now known as Norfolk Southern railroad where he remained for 30 years. He worked at Rail America for another 10 years before Blittersdorf approached him about working for AllEarth Renewables. “It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s amazing because I’m learning so much about renewable energy, like wind and solar power.”
Blittersdorf invested $5 million into purchasing these Budd cars with the ambitious goal to create a comprehensive passenger rail network in Vermont. It marked the perfect opportunity for Blittersdorf to invest in energy efficient transportation. Planned routes include Middlebury to Burlington, St. Albans to Essex Junction and Burlington, and Barre/Montpelier to Essex Junction and Burlington.
Vermont’s mayors are getting serious about rail and it’s easy to see why. Dave Allaire, mayor of Rutland, and Tim Smith, mayor of St. Albans, took a short ride on the newly refurbished Budd RDC cars on August 27, in Barre. They experienced the sights and smells of the Budd cars before they begin their new life transporting Vermonters and visitors.
“This project speaks a lot to what the future of rail is in Vermont,” Allaire said in an interview conducted by VRAN’s board president Lee Khan. Smith had similar sentiments: “It’s great to see the future first hand. I think these Budd cars are very appropriate for Vermont. It will be great for St. Albans to transport people so efficiently.”
Like the mayor of Rutland, Smith endorsed AllEarth Rail’s plans, understanding the importance of rail. Smith sees rail as an opportunity to bolster the corridor between Franklin and Chittenden counties. Smith explained that 10,000 residents of Franklin county travel south on the interstate every day for work, while 4,500 people also come into the county from elsewhere for employment.
by Matthew Pramas, student intern at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT – Sept. 2018
For two motivated students cutting their teeth as diesel mechanics, working on equipment 40 years older than they are has provided a remarkable learning experience.
Ricky Kulawitz and Cody Bryan are students at Vermont Technical College (VTC). They interned with AllEarth Rail this summer to rehab 12 sturdy Budd rail cars that will be used by passengers for years to come. The trains are being worked on at the old Bombardier rail facility in Barre, VT. They’re studying diesel technology, so working on a bunch of diesel powered trains became an internship to remember.
“It was definitely a process of trial and error, because working on one of these trains is so different than working on trucks,” Cody said in an interview conducted by Net Zero Vermont’s Debra Sachs. That’s partially because diesel-powered trains bear little resemblance to diesel-powered trucks beyond the engine bay. As diesel tech students, “everything other than the engine was new to us,” Cody said.
When was the last time you took a trip by train? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to reconsider your travel options.
Yes, trains take longer than some other options. Your time is valuable and you’d like to get from here to there as quickly as possible. But when we think about our choices in long-haul transportation, there are many other considerations besides speed—especially if you’re concerned about the environment and the future of our planet.