Posts Tagged ‘Burlington Vermont’

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.

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.

Vt. City Wants More Info About Amtrak Expansion Plan

November 6, 2019

A plan to bring Amtrak to Burlington, Vermont, has hit a snag.

The city council is asking Vermont’s Agency of Transportation about plans to extend Amtrak service to Burlington after several residents expressed opposition to having the trains layover at Burlington Union Station.

Vermont officials are eyeing extending the state-funded Ethan Allen Express from its current northern terminus of Rutland, Vermont, to Burlington in 2021 or 2022.

The state transportation agency has proposed building a second track in front of the station between King and College streets that would be used to store the trainset overnight.

The 900-foot track has drawn objections from residents who contend storing the train at the station will bring additional noise and pollution, with some saying it would destroy their quality of life.

One person who spoke at a council meeting contended the location could become a railroad yard for host railroad Vermont Rail System.

He said once the siding is built “the railroad will do whatever it wants and we’ll be powerless to stop it.”

Some are also concerned that construction of the siding will displace an existing bike trail.

The council has expressed concern about the cost to replace it.

Train Storage Site in Burlington Raises Concerns

August 13, 2019

A developer in Burlington, Vermont, has raised concerns about a proposal to store Amtrak trains overnight at the city’s Union Station.

The issue has arisen because the state-supported Ethan Allen Express is expected to be extended to Burlington in 2021 or 2022.

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission has identified five potential sites to store the trains between runs with Union Station ranked at the top of the list.

However, Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing said storing trains along the waterfront would threaten its current use as a public park and recreation area.

“By allowing the railroad to basically expand the railroad onto the waterfront, it’s not just about expanding an Amtrak,” said Moulton, who supports the return of rail. “It’s about changing the character of the community.”

Eleni Churchill, the regional planning commission’s transportation director, said the study examined air quality and noise as well as other factors.

“We actually had a very colorful public meeting, I would say,” Churchill said. “A lot of people came out to give us their comments, and that was good. We needed to hear all that.”

The Vermont Agency of Transportation, which funds the Ethan Allen Express, will make the final decision on where the trains are to be stored overnight.

The Ethan Allen Express currently operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont.

The extension to Burlington would add additional stations in Middlebury and Vergennes.

The equipment to be used for the service includes two locomotives and five passenger cars.

Churchill said that regardless of where the train is stored overnight, a siding will be built adjacent to the existing railroad track along the waterfront because the line is used for freight service.

Nick Cartularo, a VTrans spokesperson, said the report created by the Chittenden planning agency is not binding and there is no set timeline for making a decision on where to store the train.

Also sites studied for storing and servicing the trains during their layover include two sections of the Urban Reserve, land north of the waterfront near the bike path; Flynn Avenue, next to the new City Market store; and the existing railroad near Perkins Pier.

Union Station topped the list because it would have a low impact on current train operations.

It also had advantages in terms of cost, infrastructure, horn noise and travel distance for the crews.

It also was rated the closest site in proximity to residences and posted the worst score for air quality and emissions.

Brattleboro Hopes to See More Rail Service

April 5, 2019

Officials in Bratleboro, Vermont, are hoping that an extension of CTrail trains from Springfield to Greenfield, Massachusetts might be a sign of additional service to their city.

The trains will provide additional service in coordination with Amtrak between Greenfield and New York City.

Funding for the Greenfield service is being provided by Massachusetts on a two-year trial basis for $1 million. The trains are expected to draw 24,000 passengers a year.

Brattleboro is served by Amtrak’s Vermonter, which operates daily between St. Albans, Vermont, and Washington.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation, which provides funding for the Vermonter, is watching the Greenfield extension, but has no plans to seek an extension of that service to Battleboro, said Dan Delabruere, the agency’s rail program director.

“The issue of course is cost,” said state Rep. Mollie Burke, a member of the Vermont House of Representative’’s Committee on Transportation.

“Vermont pays Amtrak to run in Vermont, and it is all state money.” The state currently pays Amtrak $8.3 million for the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express.
Burke said the state is considering providing bus service from Brattleboro to Greenfield that would connect with the CTrail trains to New York.

Some Vermont rail advocates would like to see not just additional rail service north of Greenfield, but a reinstatement of service to Montreal.

Burke said extending the Vermonter to Montreal won’t happen until the Canadian Province of Quebec funds track repair and a secure immigration facility is created in Montreal.

She noted that the U.S. and Canada reached an agreement to allow U.S. immigration officers on Canadian soil but the Vermont’s top passenger rail priority at the moment is extending the Ethan Allen Express north of Rutland, Vermont, to Burlington, Vermont.

“There is state money for improvements along the Western Corridor,” Burke said. “The only federal money we receive for rail comes from competitive grants and some Federal Highway Administration formula funds.”