The Vermonter at Brattleboro, Vermont, in March 2004
|Service type||Regional rail|
|Locale||New England, Mid-Atlantic States|
82,086 total (FY12)
|Start||St. Albans, Vermont|
|Distance travelled||611 miles (983 km)|
|Average journey time||13 hours 27 minutes|
|Service frequency||One daily round trip|
|Catering facilities||On-board cafe|
|Rolling stock||Amfleet coaches|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Operating speed||max:79 miles per hour (127 km/h)|
|Track owner(s)||NECR, CSX, MNCR, AMTK|
The Vermonter is a daily passenger train service operated by Amtrak between St. Albans, Vermont, New York City, and Washington, D.C.. It replaced the overnight Montrealer which terminated in Montréal, Québec. When the Montrealer route was threatened with cancellation due to budget cuts, the state of Vermont stepped in to subsidize service as far north as St. Albans, near the Canadian border.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2015)|
The Montrealer was originally a service of the Boston and Maine Railroad (BM), running between Montreal and Washington. The Ambassador ran the same route but terminated in New York. Both services used the Boston and Maine's Connecticut River Line south of Vernon, Vermont, rather than the current route over the New England Central. The southbound service from 1972-1974 was called the Washingtonian, and the northbound was called the Montrealer. The Washingtonian was also Train 185, which came from New York and later along with most other regular trains on the Northeast Corridor, folded into one NortheastDirect in 1995. In 1992 a stop was added at Willimantic, Connecticut, but service there was discontinued in 1995 upon inception of the Vermonter.
The Vermonter replaced the Montrealer on April 1, 1995, bringing daytime service to Vermont. Business Class was added to replace the sleepers that were taken out of service upon the change to the Vermonter. The route was changed to allow travelers from Vermont to stop in Springfield and Hartford. This was made possible by the use of cab cars or locomotives on both ends so that the train could travel east from Springfield to Palmer, Massachusetts, and reverse direction to connect with the Central Vermont to continue north (see Palmer backup move, below). This detour added an hour of running time, but was judged more practical than seeking to use the direct route over the former Boston and Maine Railroad owned by Guilford. The train travels from Washington to New Haven on the Northeast Corridor, where electric locomotives are substituted for the diesel locomotives used north of that location.
Vermont declined to pay for continuing the Vermonter to Montreal due to very high labor and terminal costs (Amtrak did not have the ability to use its own crews on the short Canadian portion of the run). Amtrak offered passengers a connecting Thruway bus service, operated by Vermont Transit, which met the train at St. Albans for connections to and from Montreal. Ridership plunged when the train schedule was moved two hours earlier, requiring a southbound departure before 5:00 a.m. The schedule was returned to its previous position, but the service was dropped by Vermont Transit (which had been running it without a subsidy as part of its regular schedule) on October 30, 2005.
Due to a schedule change effective October 30, 2006, the Vermonter began stopping at the towns of Wallingford and Windsor Locks (near Bradley International Airport) in Connecticut for the first time in its existence.
On November 9, 2010, the State of Vermont, Amtrak, and New England Central began a $70 million project to increase train speeds along the route in Vermont to 59 miles per hour (95 km/h) between St. Albans and White River Junction, Vermont, and to 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) between White River Junction and Vernon, Vermont.
On October 5, 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration announced the completion of track work within the states of Vermont and New Hampshire for the above-mentioned stimulus plan (track work in Massachusetts is ongoing). 190 miles (310 km) of track within the states of Vermont and New Hampshire were refurbished. The track work included installation of continuous welded rail, road-crossing improvements, ballast replacement, tie replacement, bridge repair and renovation, and embankment improvements. The top speed of the line within Vermont was increased to 79 miles per hour (127 km/h). The Massachusetts portion of the track work is ongoing as of 2014.
Amtrak and the State of Vermont have tentatively discussed adding another train between White River Junction and Springfield, Massachusetts, that would enable greater flexibility in passenger travel times.
The Vermonter uses Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and New Haven–Springfield Line between Washington, D.C., and Springfield, Massachusetts. It then uses the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)-owned Connecticut River Line between Springfield and Northfield, Massachusetts. North of Northfield it uses the New England Central Railroad (NECR).
2014 route change
Until 1987, the Montrealer traveled on the Connecticut River Line between Springfield and Brattleboro with a stop in Northampton. Due to the deteriorating condition of the tracks in that section, Amtrak ceased service of the train. When the Vermonter service restored train service between Springfield, Brattleboro and points north in 1995, the Vermonter traveled a somewhat indirect route east to Palmer, Massachusetts, and then up the east side of the Connecticut River via Amherst, Massachusetts. It used CSX Transportation's Boston Subdivision between Springfield and Palmer. At Palmer, it made a backup move on to the NECR, as no direct track connection existed. Massachusetts rehabilitated the more direct Connecticut River Line route with $10 million in state and $73 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
During rehabilitation of the Connecticut River Line, Vermonter service was restored to it on December 29, 2014. With the re-route, the train ceased stopping at Amherst but a stop was restored to Northampton and, for the first time for Amtrak, a stop at Greenfield was added. The re-route and consequent elimination of the backup move is expected to eliminate about 25 minutes of travel time between Springfield and Brattleboro when the line rehabilitation is complete sometime in 2016.
In the 2010s a typical Vermonter had four or more Amfleet passenger cars and an Amfleet cafe car. Between New Haven and Washington the train was pulled by either an HHP-8 or EMD AEM-7 electric locomotive. North of New Haven diesel GE P42DCs handled the train. Two locomotives, one on each end, were used because of the backup move at Palmer, Massachusetts.
Amtrak had urged the state of Vermont to purchase diesel multiple unit (DMU) trainsets for use on the New Haven–St. Albans stretch of the line. These DMUs would have been a smaller and more efficient alternative to the current locomotive-pulled configuration. Instead of remaining in the same passenger coaches while the crew switched locomotives at New Haven, passengers would have had to change trains.
Amtrak offered a $2 million grant to help make the switch and market the new service. The new cars would purportedly have saved $4.25 million over three years, being four times more fuel efficient than a locomotive-hauled train. In 2008 the Vermont state legislature approved the purchase of five cars from Colorado Railcar at the cost of $18.2 million, but the decision was pending the approval of Governor Jim Douglas when the company closed. With no other DMU designs available capable of operating in mixed traffic with other trains, the plan was dropped.
- "Amtrak Sets New Ridership Record" (PDF). Amtrak. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "Vermont, Amtrak formally kick off high speed work". Trains Magazine. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- "Railroad Amtrak Article - USDOT, FRA mark completion of Vermonter rail project. Information For Rail Career Professionals From Progressive Railroading Magazine". Progressiverailroading.com. 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
- "Vermonter improvements completed on time and on budget | Railway Track & Structures". Rtands.com. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
- Merzbach, Scott (16 February 2014). "Pioneer Valley Business 2014: Development hopes ride on expanded rail". Gazette Net. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- "Lieutenant Governor Murray, Congressman Olver and Congressman Neal Announce Construction Underway for ARRA-Funded Knowledge Corridor". Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Davis, Richie (May 7, 2009). "Gov. Deval Patrick takes train to region, announces state to spend $17 million on track for passenger service". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
- Roessler, Mark (May 7, 2009). "Train Departing Amherst Station". Valley Advocate.
- Garofolo, Chris (May 26, 2009). "Groups study improving train service". Brattleboro Reformer.
- Vermont Agency of Transportation (January 2010). "Passenger Rail Equipment Options for the Amtrak Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express". Vermont Legislature. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "Vermont considers buying smaller passenger cars for Amtrak route". Connecticut Post. August 9, 2006.
- Edwards, Bruce (June 22, 2008). "Rail plan off track for now". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
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