Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Vermonter’

Illinois, Vermont Trains Coming Back July 19

May 21, 2021

Suspended Illinois-funded corridor trains will resume operation on July 19. On the same day, the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express will also return to service.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said that it is restoring service as part of its Rebuild Illinois capital plan.

One daily roundtrip each will be added to the Chicago-Quincy and Chicago-Carbondale routes while two roundtrips will be restored to the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Chicago-Quincy Carl Sandburg was suspended along with the Chicago to Carbondale Saluki and Carbondale to Chicago Illini.

Those suspended trains left Chicago in the morning and returned in the evening.

In Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Transportation said the Vermonter will return between St. Albans, Vermont, and Washington.

Also coming back is the Ethan Allen Express between Rutland, Vermont, and New York.

Amtrak Vermont Service to Resume July 19

April 9, 2021

Amtrak service to Vermont will resume on July 19.

The service has been suspended for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the trains suspended since March 26, 2020, are the Washington-St. Albans Vermonter and the New York-Rutland Ethan Allen Express.

The routes will be among the last of those suspended during the pandemic to resume service.

“We are very pleased to announce the restart of these vital transportation services for Vermonters and those who wish to travel to and from Vermont by train or bus,” Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said in a statement.

 “With the Governor’s announcement this week of the Vermont Forward Plan to re-open Vermont fully during the next few months, we now have a target date for when we will be able to safely resume Amtrak and transit services.”

Amtrak May Return to Vermont Late This Year

September 17, 2020

A resumption of Amtrak service to Vermont is at least two to three months away, the state’s governor has indicated.

Gov. Phil Scott said state officials have discussed with Amtrak resuming operations of the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express.

Once state officials decided to resume the service, it would be 30 days before the trains are operating.

Although the Amtrak website shows that tickets for travel on the Vermonter are available effective Oct. 8, similar sales were held for travel in July and September but the trains did not operate.

Vermont-funded Amtrak trains stopped running in March due to Scott’s stay home orders issued during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news conference this week, Scott cited low ridership of public transportation throughout the state for holding resumption of Amtrak service in abeyance.

However, he said there were promising signs that travel could improve by the end of the year.

“I’ve heard that there’s some news [Amtrak] want to start coming back to Rutland first, maybe in the coming weeks, and we’re engaged with them to do whatever we can to provide for the service into Vermont when it’s safe,” Scott said.

Amtrak Trims More Service, Brightline Suspended

March 26, 2020

Additional Amtrak service reductions have been announced and Florida intercity rail passenger operator Brightline has suspended all service.

The latest Amtrak cancellations include reducing the level of service of Missouri River Runner service effective March 30

The two daily roundtrips between St. Louis and Kansas City will be cut to one with trains leaving Kansas City at 8:15 a.m. and St. Louis at 4 p.m.

The St. Louis-Kansas City corridor was the last in the Midwest to be unaffected by the COVID pandemic-induced service reductions.

Effective today Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has ordered all Amtrak in that state to be suspended.

The Vermonter, which normally operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont, will not operate north of New Haven, Connecticut.

On its reduced schedule, the Vermonter will not operate on Sundays.

The Ethan Allen Express, which normally operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont, will not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Scott said he took the action after consulting with Amtrak. He also issued a stay-at-home order for residents of his state and directed the closure of in-person, nonessential businesses in order to minimize unnecessary activities outside of homes.

In Florida, Brightline, which is owned by Virgin Trains USA, laid off 250 of its more than 300 South Florida workers this week.

Brightline said on Wednesday that it was suspending all service in the wake of the pandemic.

The layoffs included Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development.

In a statement, Brightline said it hoped to rehire most of its workers once service resumes, but said it could not say when that might be.

A report in the Miami Herald said more than 700 construction workers on a project to extend Brightline track to Orlando remain employed.

Equipment Storage Site in Burlington Remains Elusive

February 26, 2020

Vermont transportation officials continue to study where to store Amtrak equipment laying over in Burlington, Vermont, between runs.

Although Amtrak does not operate into Burlington now, the state has proposed extending the New York-Rutland, Vermont, Ethan Allen Express 68 miles north to Burlington.

Officials have looked at six options and appear to be favoring building a new siding near the McNeil Generating Station just west of Intervale Road or a new siding adjacent to Burlington Union Station.

Both options have drawn opposition, particularly the location next to the station.

Much of that has come from Main Street Landing, which owns property east of the railroad tracks.

MSL said noise and engine emissions from the train’s locomotive would be within 14 feet of apartments in the Wing Building south of the station.

Extending the Ethan Allen Express to Burlington would also bring service to Middlebury and Vergennes.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation wants to implement the extension by the end of 2021.

A decision on where to store the train overnight had been expected by late 2019, but has been delayed.

VTrans now doesn’t expect a decision to be made until late March.

“The state is giving the city more time to consider all of the options more thoroughly,” said city spokeswoman Olivia LaVecchia.

Other options for storing the train include the Vermont Rail System freight yard just south of the station, a rail spur in Burlington’s south end, and two sites in the city’s Urban Reserve, north of the station.

In the meantime, host railroad VRS plans to rebuild the track and work on signals on the mainline track at the station.

VRS leases from the right of way upon which is tracks are located between College Street in Burlington to Bennington.

The railroad has notified the city that it plans to terminate the city’s lease for the alignment of the Burlington Greenway bike path, which uses part of the right of way east of the mainline tracks.

VRS plans to realign the tracks to reduce a sharp curve south of the station.

If the equipment for the Ethan Allen is stored elsewhere other than by the station, VSR officials have indicated that it might not build a siding there that would house the train overnight.

The Ethan Allen equipment could also be taken 32 miles north of Burlington to St. Albans, Vermont, where the equipment for Amtrak’s Vermonter is stored overnight.

However, VTrans has indicated it wants to store the Ethan Allen equipment somewhere in Burlington.

VTrans is facing a late 2021 deadline to launch the Ethan Allen extension or facing having to return $10 million in federal funding it received for the extension of the route to Burlington.

Valley Flyer Gets Ridership Goal for Continued Funding

February 14, 2020

Preservation of Amtrak’s Valley Flyer will hinge on the experimental service handling 24,000 passengers a year by 2021.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has set that ridership goal that must be met if the state is to continue it funding of the service between Springfield and Greenfield.

The Valley Flyer began operations on Aug. 30, 2019, and also stops in Holyoke and Northhampton.

The line is also used by the Vermonter, which is funded by the state of Vermont.

Massachusetts is paying $1 million a year to support the Valley Flyer.

The ridership goal is double the number of passengers that were being handled by the Vermonter before the Valley Flyer began service.

Dana Roscoe, principal planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield, said supporters of the Valley Flyer are trying to determine how ridership has been going.

They have sent staff to station platforms to count the number of passengers boarding and disembarking.

Compiling ridership data is complicated by the fact that Amtrak only publishes that information once a year.

“We can’t just have an annual number and go with that,” Roscoe said. “At this point I honestly can’t tell you how we’re doing. My sense, completely anecdotal and word-of-mouth and from visiting stations, is that we are probably doing OK but we are absolutely are not where we need to be.”

Officials do know from Amtrak ridership data that patronage of the line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield has been growing at a rate of 25 percent a year.

The ridership information gleaned from hand counting Valley Flyer passengers will be used as part of a $350,000 marketing and branding campaign seeking to boost business.

In the meantime, the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to improve stations in that state at Windsor and Windsor Locks.

The work will include installation of platforms on each side of the tracks, sheltered waiting areas, real-time train arrival displays, snow melt systems at ramps and on platforms, parking on both the east and west sides of the tracks, and security cameras and emergency phones.

That work is expected to be completed in 2021.

The work at Windsor Locks station includes a single platform, a multi-use trail with connections to the Canal Trail via Bridge Street, parking, and other amenities.

The 510-foot-long platform will comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with level boarding from every train car.

Other work being undertaken by CTDOT includes adding a second tracks north of Hartford to increase the frequency of service in the region.

A connecting is being built in Windsor Locks to link to Bradley International Airport and digital displays are being installed at stations on the Hartford Line station to provide real-time train arrival and departure times.

Work Continues on Vermont Rail Line

January 22, 2020

A rail line between Rutland and Burlington, Vermont, is expected to be rebuilt for Amtrak service sometime within the next year say Vermont transportation officials.

They said that the track work is needed to extend Amtrak’s New York-Rutland Ethan Allen Express to Burlington.

The work involves 75 miles of rail and a new tunnel in downtown Middlebury.

The work has been underway for a few years and also involves grade crossing upgrades and new stations.

The Ethan Allen Express is funded by Vermont. Burlington has never been served directly by Amtrak although nearby St. Albans is the northern terminus of Amtrak’s Vermonter to and from New York.

Vermont Town May Buy Bellows Falls Station

January 9, 2020

The town of Rockingham, Vermont, is considering buying the Bellows Falls station used by Amtrak’s Vermonter.

The Rockingham Select Board has before it a proposal to spend $120,000 to buy the station, which is in poor condition.

The station was once owned by the State of Vermont, but is now the property of the Green Mountain Railroad.

Rockingham Development Director Gary Fox told the Board that the station is a key to boosting tourism in the community of 5,282 which includes the incorporated village of Bellows Falls.

Fox said if the town owned the depot it could maintain the waiting room for Amtrak and rent the rest of the building for other purposes, such as a a cafe, restaurant or brewery.

Vermonter Stranded After Hitting Tree

January 2, 2020

Passengers aboard Amtrak’s southbound Vermonter were stranded for seven hours on Monday after the train struck a tree near Claremont, New Hampshire.

Service in both directions on the route was canceled on Tuesday but restored on Wednesday.

There were 175 aboard the Vermonter when the locomotive pulling the train struck the tree and became disabled.

The incident occurred just south of the Claremont station. An Amtrak spokesman said the Vermonter was eventually rescued by a northbound train.

Liz Niland, a passenger aboard the stranded train were kept in the dark about what was going on.

“We just kind of came to a slow stop, as far as I was concerned, and we just sat there. And all of a sudden all the engines went down and everything in the car went down,” Niland said. “We are sitting here, you know, saying what’s going on?” she said.

Niland said passengers had to buy food on the train rather than receive complimentary service.

“It’s a big corporation. They knew we were stuck. I mean, the right thing to do, like I said, call ‘ahead to a station once we get started or even provide food to us where we’re stuck,’” Niland said.

An Amtrak spokesman told WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont, in an email, “We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”

The TV station said the email response included social media accounts where passengers can track schedules and service updates.

Springfield Station Work to Be Completed Soon

November 23, 2019

A platform construction project at Springfield Union Station in Massachusetts is expected to be completed soon, perhaps in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel periods.

The Springfield Redevelopment Authority, which owns and manages the depot, said the last work to be completed includes installation of an elevator to take passengers to the boarding platforms and completion of work on a pedestrian tunnel to the platforms.

The $11 million state-funded project includes a new ADA compliant high-level platform.

Although the new Platform C has been ready to use for some time, but stairs and elevator have not.

Most of the work on the station was completed in June 2017, but Platform C and the rest of the $103 million refurbishment of the station was not.

An inspection found the original platform was too narrow to meet ADA standards and replacing it was a lengthy process involving coordination among the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the railroads and the redevelopment authority.

Amtrak moved its ticket office last summer to the main concourse where it is near Greyhound, Peter Pan Bus Lines, a Subway sandwich shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, an auto rental counter and a convenience store.

In an unrelated development, Amtrak released ridership figures showing an increase in patronage on routes serving Springfield.

The New Haven-Springfield route — which operates in tandem with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s CTrail Hartford Line — had a 26.5 percent increase from 286,477 in fiscal 2018 to 362,442 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Ridership of the Vermonter up 1.4 percent from 97,909 to 99,280.

The Lake Shore Limited saw patronage rise 5.9 percent from 337,882 to 357,682.