Governor Douglas Announces Stimulus Grants to Improve Passenger Rail Service

Posted January 28, 2010

Vermont to receive more than $50 million to upgrade lines and create jobs 

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Jim Douglas today announced that the state will receive a $51million federal economic stimulus grant to improve passenger rail speeds between St. Albans and Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as a $500,000 rail planning grant to extend passenger rail service along Vermont’s western rail corridor.
 “Improving Vermont’s intercity passenger rail service has long been one of my top rail priorities,” Governor Douglas said. “Shortening the travel time between Vermont and major destinations like New York City and Washington D.C. will not only benefit our economy, but expanding this type of public transportation is one of the best measures we can take to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
The $51 million grant will fund track and bridge upgrades along a rail line owned and operated by the New England Central Railroad, and will result in a 30 minute travel time savings for passengers using Amtrak’s Vermonter service between St. Albans and Springfield, Massachusetts. The Vermonter has continuing service from Springfield, Mass onto Washington, D.C., passing through Connecticut and New York City.  Should these other states also receive stimulus money for their plans to improve track speeds, the time it takes to travel by rail between Vermont and Washington D.C. will be reduced by about 80 minutes.
The grant money will be put to work immediately, with track and bridge improvements slated to begin in the spring with the start of Vermont’s construction season. To comply with the terms of the grant, Vermont has two years to complete all improvements.
“Construction activity will create numerous jobs over the next two years,” said David Dill, Vermont’s Transportation Secretary. “Our goal is to get people hired and rail crews working as early as possible this spring.”
The $500,000 in planning funds for Vermont’s western rail corridor will enable Vermont, in cooperation with New York State, to develop passenger rail service options along the west side of Vermont – from Burlington to Bennington, and then on into New York State. Developing these options will position Vermont to apply for rail construction funds that will be awarded in future years.
The $8 billion in stimulus funding for high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects is part of the overall $787 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. According to the Obama administration, 31 states will receive funding to help upgrade 13 major rail corridors throughout the nation.