VT commits to extending Ethan Allen to Burlington by 2017

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The Davy Crockett

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I think you'd really have to do WAS-MTR to make it worthwhile.
This service is something everyone south of NYP misses, as getting to Canada from points south of NYP requires either an overnight stay in NYC or points north, or spending some quality time in NYP in the deadest part of the night.

I don't think there's a huge ski crowd from MTR. Jay Peak is very popular with Canadians and St Albans is the closest stop to there. But they'd just as soon take a day trip into St Albans. It's still quite a haul from St Albans.
I went to school in VT's Northeast Kingdom for a year a while ago.. At that time the Quebecois went to Stowe in fairly large numbers, not sure if they still do, but IMHO it would not be very practical for them to take the train to any place in VT for skiing other than Waterbury, then getting a shuttle to Stowe, etc., but that would be too indirect and take too much time vs. driving.
 

Anderson

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I think you'd really have to do WAS-MTR to make it worthwhile.
This service is something everyone south of NYP misses, as getting to Canada from points south of NYP requires either an overnight stay in NYC or points north, or spending some quality time in NYP in the deadest part of the night.

I don't think there's a huge ski crowd from MTR. Jay Peak is very popular with Canadians and St Albans is the closest stop to there. But they'd just as soon take a day trip into St Albans. It's still quite a haul from St Albans.
I went to school in VT's Northeast Kingdom for a year a while ago.. At that time the Quebecois went to Stowe in fairly large numbers, not sure if they still do, but IMHO it would not be very practical for them to take the train to any place in VT for skiing other than Waterbury, then getting a shuttle to Stowe, etc., but that would be too indirect and take too much time vs. driving.
Well, from WAS you can get in on the 4-ish AM Regional or the 5 AM Acela, but it's a nerve-wracking connection. Coming in from elsewhere, though, you're right...and I hate having to hoof it to WAS.
 

afigg

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BTW, one intriguing idea that has been floated around is to run an overnight train NYP to MTR via Rutland, Burlington timed so as to depart Burlington in the morning and get into MTR before noon and depart MTR in the evening getting through Burlington late evening and Rutland around midnight. It can dither around Albany for a while to arrive (and depart) NYP at a reasonable hour. Of course it will carry Sleepers and even spring for a Cardinal style Diner/Lounge perhaps. This would make a day trip possible from Rutland and Burlington to MTR, as well as a convenient overnighter from New York. OTOH it misses the Ski crowd from MTR if there is such.

Then the Vermonter can pretty much run on its current schedule but to Burlington instead of to SAB, where hardly anyone goes to anyway. Naturally the overnight train would probably have to be in addition to a daytime Ethan Allen. Thought I'd throw this into the pot since we are brainstorming ideas.
You would do this in place of a (daytime) Vermonter that runs to MTR? A Vermonter to MTR provides direct access to MTR for Stamford and the central New England axis from NHV to western VT. If you cut off the Vermonter at Burlington and extend a Rutland-Burlington route train north to MTR, unless there is a BOS-MTR train as well, most of New England loses access to MTR. MA, CT have a stake in the Vermonter getting extended to MTR so their citizens can travel to MTR. If a BOS-MTR train does not happen, day trips to MTR from BOS should be feasible by scheduling an Inland Route Regional to provide connections at SPG to the Vermonter to MTR.

Honestly, some of the ideas we're posting here, are not just counting chickens before the eggs hatch, but counting them before the eggs are even laid. :p The focus for the next few years on the projects that are not fully funded should be: 1) getting the customs facility open in MTR, 2) for VT and NY to work with the Quebec government and CN to persuade them to make track and switch improvements north of the border; 3) extend the Vermonter to MTR with a faster trip time than the Montrealer ever had; 4) extend the Ethan Allen to Burlington with a competitive trip time; 5) for CT to find the additional funds to complete NHV-SPG track upgrades for a 110 mph corridor; 6) for MA to complete studies and start on projects for BOS-WOR-SPG track upgrades; 7) add several Inland Route Regionals to the schedule for much improved train options for trips to/from SPG, WOR (not small population centers for New England you know). Oh, for fun, start a Brunswick ME to BON to NYP daily train over the Grand Crossing and the Inland Route to take the place of the planned 3rd Inland Route Regional.

Get all those done along with a 3 hour NYP-BOS Acela trip time, New England has a pretty solid foundation to build additional train service and all sorts of connection options on. Easy. :lol:
 

jis

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Oh I actually do not believe much of any of this will actually happen. We will be lucky if Vermonter actually gets extended to Montreal within the next ten years. :) I have no problem with throwing out random ideas of things that would be nice to have.

Even for moving C&I to Montreal, the only thing that has been done is the basic architectural framework. The rest it is currently on hold pending finalization of US - Canada treaty and passage of that in both US Congress and Canadian Parliament. If this happens by mid next year then necessary contracts can be let and construction can begin in late 2013 if lucky or later, which is more likely. So even though people are saying 2014, I will be very pleasantly surprised if it happens by 2015. And of course if one certain candidate wins then he will have to explain to his followers why he is signing a bill that extends Amtrak Service when he promised that he will kill Amtrak. So much uncertainty involved.
 

afigg

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I think you'd really have to do WAS-MTR to make it worthwhile.
This service is something everyone south of NYP misses, as getting to Canada from points south of NYP requires either an overnight stay in NYC or points north, or spending some quality time in NYP in the deadest part of the night.
If the Adirondack trip times can be improved, close to what they once were, the departure time from NYP can be moved to allow for better connections from south of NYP. I pulled several old Amtrak Adirondack schedules from the Museum of Railway Timetables when we were having the NY state HSR and Adirondack discussion.

In 1988, the Adirondack departed Grand Central at 10:45 AM daily, scheduled to arrive at MTR at 8:01 PM. There is a reference to a shuttle service departing NYP at 10 AM. Must have been fun. In 1993, after the train moved to NYP, #69 departed NYP at 10:25 AM, scheduled to arrive MTR at 8:05 PM. If a custom facility is built at MTR and other improvements allow for a 9 to 9.5 hour trip time, Amtrak would probably move the Adirondack departure to 9:30 AM or later to allow for better connections from PHL-WAS & HAR. On the other hand, a Vermonter to MTR also provides that for WAS to PHL.
 

AlanB

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On the one hand, I didn't jest on the commissary front. On the other hand, I would counter that with the NYP-ALB only trains not having food service (and NYP-ALB-NYP not likely being a long enough run not to be workable on a single food order out of NYP), and with the others only potentially being topped up for the last two hours of a run, a commissary at ALB would be somewhat redundant. On the other hand, one at Buffalo would actually make sense, even with "only" four trains.

With that said, I like the "fridge car" idea, and indeed that idea would probably be a good one for more than a few of the longer trains out there.
There is simply no need for a horribly expensive commissary in Montreal, much less a couple of fridges in the baggage car. The trains aren't running out of food because they can't carry enough food; they're running out of food because they're not being properly stocked. Period.

If my Maple Leaf could carry enough food not to run out of food until after Albany on the return on a very busy weekend with sold out crowds, as well as the requirement to have at least 1 fridge & 1 freezer empty by NFL for the VIA Rail crew, then clearly the cafe cars have the storage needed to actually carry enough food for the round trip on the Adirondack.

The problem isn't a lack of a commissary in Canada; the problem is a failure to properly stock those cars with enough food to last for the round trip.
 

afigg

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Update on the prospects of Ethan Allen getting extended to Burlington by 2017: Improved. Governor Shumlin has in the proposed 2014 state budget $5 million to replace rail, switches for fixing up part of the tracks from Rutland to Burlington. Going to fund the upgrades year by year until done.

Railway Age article on the Govenor's budget proposal.

Rutland Herald article "Governor pushes western rail funding"

Excerpt from the Rutland Herald article:

“What’s most important is the governor has put this in his budget,” said Rep. Herb Russell, D-Rutland City. “There are places — clean water, for example — Chairman (David) Deen (of the Fish and Wildlife Committee) was furious he didn’t get all the money he wanted for clean water. Rail is clearly a priority for this administration.”
 

Donctor

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The line between Essex and Burlington is indeed active - I'm actually looking at it from my window right now!

It sees about 1-2 trains on an average weekday - a wood chip train from Swanton that services the McNeil generating station and a train that brings interchange traffic to the Vermont Rail System railyard in downtown (I believe this originates at the NECR railyard in St Albans). The track is not in great shape and I believe it is currently in "excepted" status, meaning that a passenger train could not currently operate on it. There is a tunnel under North Ave which was rehabbed in the not too distance past by
I hear them from my house, and can see them if I cross the street.

It would be nice to have an Amtrak service nearby. Hopefully they'll use the station downtown.
 

jphjaxfl

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Isn't the New York track part of the old Rutland Railroad?
Yes, the Rutland Railroad which is what will used between Rutland and Burlington, VT had trackage in New York and their trains to Vermont operated on that trackage prior to the 1950s when they were discontinued. The Rutland was bankrupt and filed for abandonment in 1961. The state of Vermont bought up parts of the railroad.
 
C

Cats

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Several years ago, the VTRR tracks between Charlotte and Burlington were upgraded and a VTRR commuter train was tried. It failed miserably and was pulled even before the end of the federally-sponsored trial period. As far as I know, there is now a "fast" VTRR freight line. If the State of VT can't find better uses for it's taxpayers' dollars, it ought to try to think harder.
 

transit54

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Several years ago, the VTRR tracks between Charlotte and Burlington were upgraded and a VTRR commuter train was tried. It failed miserably and was pulled even before the end of the federally-sponsored trial period. As far as I know, there is now a "fast" VTRR freight line. If the State of VT can't find better uses for it's taxpayers' dollars, it ought to try to think harder.
While I wasn't living here at the time, I believe there were some politics involved in pulling the service. Namely, it was one of Gov Jim Douglas's first moves upon arriving in office. The problem with the train is that it went between Burlington and Charlotte. Had they run the train to Middlebury, it would have been a success. Montpelier, even more so (although that's a different line). It's not that taxpayer dollars were wasted, it's that not enough were invested to make the service a success. However, rest assured that those improvements are helping the Ethan Allen extension.
 

CHamilton

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At Issue: Rail Travel's Future in Vermont
BURLINGTON, Vt. -
The state is getting ready to spend millions of dollars upgrading the railroad tracks between Rutland and Burlington with the goal of bringing passenger service to that region. But is rail travel worth the investment in Vermont?

Last year, ridership on Amtrak was up four percent according to federal officials. More than 137,000 riders used the rail service. Of that, about 81,000 took the Vermonter line up the Connecticut River Valley to St. Albans, and 53,000 took the Ethan Allen Express from Rutland to New York.

We sat down with analysts at UVM's Transportation Research Center to figure out what kind of future rail travel has in Vermont.

"I think they have a really positive future in Vermont. I think a lot of their obstacles that the bus transit services don't have are involved with the track infrastructure, which has some problems," says Jim Sullivan, a researcher at the center. "So I think if they could spread their services they would, and they would do okay. But they're limited to where they can spread to because there are track improvements that are needed."

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: "And would it be the type of thing where if they wanted to be financially sound in Vermont, do they really need to serve up to the Montreal market?"

Sullivan: "Yeah, connecting to Montreal would certainly be a great next step for Amtrak. And I don't know much about what track infrastructure exists between Burlington and Montreal, or Essex and Montreal, where Amtrak currently reaches because sometimes there can be freight track there and maybe the two aren't totally compatible. So just because we see that there is a rail line doesn't mean that it's of the quality that Amtrak needs."
 

FreeskierInVT

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Any update on when Ethan Allen service to Burlington might start up? The WCAX story didn't mention any concrete dates, and quite frankly I didn't like the "tone" of the article. All I got was "High Speed Rail" or it's simply not worth it, but what is "High Speed Rail" to the UVM Transportation Research Center?
 

Anderson

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The article is curious insofar as it is...well, it seems slightly hostile to current plans, but I think that is more a case of a reporter sitting down with someone without a lot of facts. Oops.

As to "high speed rail", that is such a muddled term in the US that it isn't even funny. I could interpret those comments as either wanting a 220 MPH train or simply wanting something that doesn't average 20 MPH for hours and hours. Honestly, it probably "actually" means:
(A) Upgrade tracks into the 79-90 MPH range wherever possible to at least get decent 40-50 MPH average speeds; and

(B) Don't take two hours to get into Montreal from the border.
 

afigg

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Any update on when Ethan Allen service to Burlington might start up? The WCAX story didn't mention any concrete dates, and quite frankly I didn't like the "tone" of the article. All I got was "High Speed Rail" or it's simply not worth it, but what is "High Speed Rail" to the UVM Transportation Research Center?
The goal in Vermont was 2017 for extending the Ethan Allen to Burlington. The state in the FY2015 transportation bill that was recently signed by the Governor provides a total of $19 million for the western rail corridor. Governor Shumlin's press release. As the language in the press release lists state matching funds for federal grants, the $19 million number likely includes the federal TIGER grant funds. So there is support and funds to extend the Ethan Allen and the western corridor track upgrades to 60 mph track may be completed by 2017, but extending the EA will also require stations to be built or restored. Building or restoring stations can be a slow process.
 

neroden

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The funding picture is a bit murky. I believe the $19 million does *not* include proposed federal money, but does include state money which is intended to be the state match for federal money; so if Vermont gets the TIGER grant, the total will be more than $19 million.

This is going directly to trackwork; the line from Rutland to Charlotte has needed a LOT of work, including culvert and bridge replacements. The Middlebury tunnel is already fully funded and under construction, but there are a number of other smaller bridges and culverts to replace (including some with hurricane damage), and a bunch of grade crossings. And there's a lot of track replacement to do. (North of Charlotte this work was done for the Champlain Flyer and is still usable.)

As for stations, Burlington is in fine condition and can probably be reopened; even though a new platform would be desirable, it probably qualifies as an existing train station (it's used for excursion service) and doesn't need one immediately. Even when it does need one, I'm thinking it'll be in the $1-2 million range, since it's only the platform which is needed. Since the line is owned by the state, the freight hauler isn't going to raise spurious objections to high platforms the way the class Is do.

Middlebury will need to have a station built from scratch pretty much. I'm expecting a bare platform, again $1-2 million.

That's it for stations; the plan is to open with just Middlebury and Burlington if that's all they have funding for, other stations are considered bonus.
 

FreeskierInVT

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What about the station in Charlotte that was built for the Champlain Flyer service? From the pictures I've seen, it would work fine as an Amtrak station. Pictures of both Charlotte and Burlington are here
 

Donctor

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As for stations, Burlington is in fine condition and can probably be reopened; even though a new platform would be desirable, it probably qualifies as an existing train station (it's used for excursion service) and doesn't need one immediately. Even when it does need one, I'm thinking it'll be in the $1-2 million range, since it's only the platform which is needed. Since the line is owned by the state, the freight hauler isn't going to raise spurious objections to high platforms the way the class Is do.
The platform is currently part of the bike path.
 

FreeskierInVT

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As for stations, Burlington is in fine condition and can probably be reopened; even though a new platform would be desirable, it probably qualifies as an existing train station (it's used for excursion service) and doesn't need one immediately. Even when it does need one, I'm thinking it'll be in the $1-2 million range, since it's only the platform which is needed. Since the line is owned by the state, the freight hauler isn't going to raise spurious objections to high platforms the way the class Is do.
The platform is currently part of the bike path.
The platform is part of the bike path, however it does have a canopy and yellow safety strip which were installed for the Champlain Flyer service.
 

FreeskierInVT

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I can't imagine it being a problem, the bike path is plenty wide at that point (perhaps the widest along the entire path). Enough to accommodate bike path traffic and a boarding or alighting train.
 
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