Governor Douglas and Vermont’s Congressional Delegation kickoff $70 Million Passenger Rail Improvement

November 10, 2010

Governor Jim Douglas, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch and a host of national and local rail officials and advocates today drove a golden spike along the tracks outside of the St. Albans Amtrak Station to signify the beginning of a two-year, $70 million construction project that will significantly improve track speeds along the Vermonter Passenger Rail line between St. Albans and New York City, with continuing service to Washington D.C.


The project, which received $50 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, involves installing new rail, rail ties, crossing improvements including new signals, and bridge rehabilitation along the Vermonter’s 191-mile Vermont corridor. Once complete, the improvements will reduce by about 30 minutes the time it takes the Vermonter to travel through the Green Mountain State.


“Over the long term, this project will greatly improve our passenger rail service as it is designed to dovetail with an additional $110 million in stimulus-funded track improvements in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Those improvements will ultimately result in a nearly 90 minutes reduction in the time it takes the Vermonter to travel from St. Albans to New York City,” Governor Douglas said. “While in the short term, construction of the Vermont portion alone will generate an estimated 150,000 man-hours of labor over the next two years and provide much needed jobs to our region.”


“In Vermont, our infrastructure needs an enormous amount of work. Our rail system is totally inadequate and we must move to replace our Civil War-era train lines with high-speed rail. We are making progress,” Senator Sanders said. “I am pleased that we were able to secure $50 million through the federal stimulus program to improve ‘The Vermonter’ rail line, part of $160 million awarded to Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut to improve rail service between New Haven, Conn. and St. Albans, Vt. That’s a good start, but much more needs to be done.”


Governor Douglas and members of Vermont’s Congressional Delegation were joined at the St. Albans ceremony by Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Rae, who praised Vermont’s efforts to improve the state’s intercity passenger rail service.


“President Obama’s push into high-speed and intercity rail truly is an historic time in the U.S.,” Deputy Director Rae said. “His commitment to rail will rebalance our national transportation system, create good jobs, promote interconnected livable communities, spur economic redevelopment, and decrease our carbon footprint and dependence on expensive foreign oil.”


Earlier this year, Vermont received $50 million in stimulus funding to conduct track improvements along 191 miles of track owned by the New England Central Railroad. The railroad, in turn, contributed an additional $20 million to bring the total to $70 million worth of improvements. Railroad officials also attended today’s groundbreaking.


“We are extremely pleased to advance this project to the construction phase.” said Charles Hunter, Director of State Relations – East for the New England Central Railroad. “This project is a perfect example of a public-private partnership with shared benefits.”


Aside from increasing passenger rail track speeds, freight rail will also benefit from this upgrade as the improvements will allow freight trains to run at the national rail freight car standard weight limit of 286,000 lbs verse the current 263,000 lbs that are possible along this stretch of track.


Source: Office of the Governor