Ethan Allen Express

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Ethan Allen Express
Ethan Allen enters Croton Harmon 08 12 08.jpg
Rutland-bound train #291 entering Croton–Harmon station on August 12, 2008
Service typeInter-city rail
First serviceDecember 1996
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Ridership50,717 total (2016)[1]
StartNew York City
EndRutland, Vermont
Distance travelled241 miles (388 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)290, 292, 296 (southbound); 291, 293, 295 (northbound)
On-board services
Class(es)Business class and reserved coach
Seating arrangementsAirline-style coach seating
Catering facilitiesOn-board cafe
Baggage facilitiesCarry-on only
Rolling stockAmfleet coaches
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speedUp to 110 mph (180 km/h)
Track owner(s)Clarendon & Pittsford Railroad
Canadian Pacific Railway
CSX Transportation
Metro-North Railroad
Route map
Burlington Bus interchange
Extension opens 2022
0 mi
0 km
9 mi
14 km
14 mi
23 km
Fair Haven (closed)
44 mi
71 km
Fort Edward
63 mi
101 km
Saratoga Springs
82 mi
132 km
100 mi
161 km
128 mi
206 km
153 mi
246 km
169 mi
272 km
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209 mi
336 km
MTA NYC logo.svg
227 mi
365 km
MTA NYC logo.svg
241 mi
388 km
New York City enlarge…
BSicon SUBWAY.svg NJ Transit MTA NYC logo.svg

The Ethan Allen Express is a 241-mile (388 km) higher-speed passenger train service operated by Amtrak between New York City and Rutland, Vermont via Albany, New York. With a scheduled trip time of 5.5 hours from Penn Station to the Green Mountains, the Ethan Allen Express is popular among vacationers traveling to the ski town of Killington. The train is named for Vermont founding figure and American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen.

Operations are subsidized by the states of Vermont and New York. Between Penn Station and Schenectady, the route follows the Empire Corridor: a federally-designated high-speed rail corridor.

Plans are in place to extend the Ethan Allen Express from Rutland to Burlington by summer 2022, with stops in Middlebury and Vergennes.


The Ethan Allen Express at Rutland in 2001

In April 1995, the Montrealer was shifted to daytime operation, cut back to St. Albans, and renamed as the Vermonter, providing daytime service to eastern and central Vermont for the first time since 1966.[2] The western part of the state then advocated for rail service to Rutland as well. $4.7 million in federal funds was secured to upgrade the former Delaware and Hudson Railway Whitehall Branch between Whitehall and Rutland for passenger speeds.[3] Service was initiated on December 2, 1996.[4] This was the first passenger service to Rutland since the Rutland Railroad ended its Burlington–New York City service in 1953, and the first passenger service on the Whitehall Branch since 1936.[3]

The Ethan Allen Express began with stops in Rutland, Fort Edward, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Albany–Rensselaer, Hudson, Rhinecliff, Poughkeepsie, Croton, Yonkers and New York City.[5] A stop at Fair Haven was added in November 1997.[6]

Until May 2002, the train included a baggage car for skis and unboxed bicycles as well as checked baggage.[citation needed]

In October 2008, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) proposed eliminating the Ethan Allen Express and replacing it with a bus citing budgetary restrictions. The proposal was rejected by a legislative committee.[7] VTrans again proposed ending service in January 2009; two hundred people rallied at Rutland station against the proposed cut.[8] Rail advocates, led by the Vermont Rail Action Network[9] and local political leaders[10] organized to fight the cut and plans to drop the service were abandoned.[11]

On January 2, 2010, the Ethan Allen Express began stopping at Castleton. Service to Fair Haven ended on January 9.[12]

On February 23, 2011, VTrans began an investigation into the Vermont Rail System's (VRS) handling of the Ethan Allen Express between Whitehall, New York and Rutland after Amtrak notified the state that track conditions meant the train was frequently delayed. Amtrak evaluated the line as the worst in the nation.[13] During the summer of 2011, VRS conducted work to improve the track in question, planned to result in an eighteen-minute reduction in travel time by the end of the year, with additional work planned for the summer of 2012.[14] The project was funded by both the railroad and the state of New York at a cost of $3.25 million, and involved rebuilding about 8 miles (13 km) of track and eight grade crossings.[14] By February 2012, the trackwork had resulted in a 15-minute southbound and 25-minute northbound reduction in travel time between Rutland and Whitehall, while the total time the Ethan Allen Express operated behind schedule fell to 135 minutes in December 2011, from 11,068 minutes a year earlier.[15]

All trains using the Empire Connection, excluding the Lake Shore Limited operated into Grand Central Terminal from May 26, to September 4, 2018 to allow work on the Empire Tunnel, the Spuyten Duyvil movable bridge, and Track 19 in New York's Penn Station.[16]

In April 2020, the Ethan Allen Express was truncated to Albany–Rensselaer as part of a round of service reduction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[17] The move was forced after the pandemic prompted Vermont Governor Phil Scott to declare a state of emergency. On April 8, 2021, Amtrak and VTrans announced that the Ethan Allen Express would resume its full schedule in mid-July.[18][19] Service to Rutland resumed on July 19, 2021, with $1 promotional fares on that date for travel within Vermont.[20][21]

Extension to Burlington[edit]

Union Station in Burlington, Vermont will be the northern terminus of the Ethan Allen Express beginning around 2021-22

There have been plans to extend the Ethan Allen from Rutland to Burlington since at least 2000.[22] The last passenger service between the cities was in 1953 on the Rutland Railroad's Green Mountain Flyer and Mount Royal.[2]

In 2005, a $30 million earmark was obtained by Senator Jim Jeffords to, in part, fund the extension. Of this, $19 million remained by 2011, the balance having been used for other projects such as a new spur for freight traffic.[22][23]

Advocates, led by chambers of commerce and the Vermont Rail Action Network, renewed the push for an extension to Burlington.[24] They believed that service to Burlington would secure the long-term sustainability of the service by generating much more ridership than Rutland is capable of.[25]

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) applied for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds to rebuild the tracks between Rutland and Burlington to passenger standards (59 mph (95 km/h)).[26] While the initial application was not approved, the state subsequently entered a second US$70 million application for similar grants,[27] and later a third, all of which were rejected.[23]

In 2013, the extension received additional funding via a $9 million grant from the fifth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER V) program to pay for the replacement of jointed rail with continuously welded rail.[28] In October 2015, the Vermont Agency of Transportation was awarded a $10 million TIGER 2015 grant to rehabilitate 11 miles of track, add a wye in Rutland, add crossovers and passing sidings, and install passenger platforms in Middlebury, Vergennes, and Burlington. These improvements will result in increased speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) for freight and 60 mph (97 km/h) for passenger trains between Rutland and Burlington.[29]

In October 2015, VTrans said that service to Burlington would begin in three to four years.[30] Service was expected to start in 2020 or early 2021, but was delayed. It is anticipated that the train will arrive in Burlington in the evening and depart in the morning. Middlebury has hired a consultant to study locations for its station, while Burlington hired a consultant to study where the train should be parked overnight.[31][32] The train storage issue has been resolved with the decision to store trains overnight to the south of the station. The trains will be stored in the Vermont Rail System yard.[33]

In October 2021, Amtrak and Vermont Rail System began running "qualification trips" between Rutland and Burlington to familiarize train crews with the new route.[34] Though a month later VTrans announced the extension would be delayed to summer 2022 due to backordered switches required for the rail yard in Burlington.[35]

Route details[edit]

The Ethan Allen Express operates over trackage owned by the following railroads:

The Ethan Allen Express operates as higher-speed rail – up to 110 mph (180 km/h) – on the Hudson Subdivision, and up to 80 mph (130 km/h) on the Hudson Line.


In the 2010s a typical Ethan Allen Express had three-four Amfleet passenger cars, an Amfleet business class car, and an Amfleet cafe car, with the train being pulled by a GE P32AC-DM dual-mode locomotive.[36]

Proposed upgrades[edit]

Infill stations[edit]

VTrans is considering the possibility of adding infill whistle stops in Brandon and Shelburne following the train's extension to Burlington, noting the tradeoff between access and travel time.[37]

Speed upgrades[edit]

VTrans is also looking into positive train control and related infrastructure upgrades that would allow the Ethan Allen Express to reach speeds of 79 mph (127 km/h), up from 59 mph (95 km/h), on sections between Whitehall and Burlington. This would save about 15 minutes per trip—barring any gains in operational efficiency—and in turn incentivize an additional 1,400 to 2,600 estimated riders per year by 2040.[38]

Burlington to Essex Junction[edit]

The 2021 Vermont Rail Plan lists a number of "potential initiatives" for increasing rail ridership in the state. Among these is the option to connect the Ethan Allen Express with the Vermonter by extending it from Burlington to Essex Junction via the New England Central Railroad's 7.8-mile Winooski Branch. Upgrading the branch for higher speeds would be a prerequisite for the service, since its passenger train rating is just 15 mph (24 km/h) at present.[39] VTrans forecasts that the project would attract between 4,900 and 7,800 additional riders per year by 2040, assuming the Vermonter is extended to Montreal.[40]

Station stops[edit]

Mile (km) Station Location Began service Connections
0 (0) Rutland Rutland, VT December 2, 1996[41]
9 (14) Castleton Castleton, VT January 2, 2010[42] MVRTD "The Bus": Fair Haven-Rutland Connector
44 (71) Fort Edward–Glens Falls Fort Edward, NY December 2, 1996[41] Amtrak: Adirondack
GGFT: 4, Train-Catcher Service
63 (101) Saratoga Springs Saratoga Springs, NY Amtrak: Adirondack
CDTA: NX Northway Xpress, 471, 472
82 (132) Schenectady Schenectady, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf
100 (160) Albany–Rensselaer Rensselaer, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf
CDTA: 214, 24
Megabus: M27
Vermont Translines: Vermont Shires Connector
128 (206) Hudson Hudson, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Maple Leaf
153 (246) Rhinecliff–Kingston Rhinecliff, NY
169 (272) Poughkeepsie Poughkeepsie, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Maple Leaf
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
City of Poughkeepsie Transit: Main Street
Dutchess County LOOP: Poughkeepsie RailLink
209 (336) Croton–Harmon Croton-on-Hudson, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
Bee-Line: 10, 11, 14
227 (365) Yonkers Yonkers, NY Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Maple Leaf
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
Bee-Line: 6, 9, 25, 32, 91 (seasonal)
241 (388) New York Penn Station New York, NY Amtrak: Acela Express, Adirondack, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Keystone Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
Long Island Rail Road: Main Line, Port Washington Branch
NJ Transit Rail: North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor Line, Gladstone Branch, Montclair-Boonton Line, Morristown Line
New York City Subway: 1, ​2, ​3, A, ​C, and ​E trains
New York City Bus: M7, M20, M34, M34A, Q32


  1. ^ "Amtrak FY16 Ridership & Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Lindsell, Robert M. (2000). The Rail Lines of Northern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 35–46, 175. ISBN 0942147065.
  3. ^ a b Lloyd, Barbara (December 19, 1996). "Train Trip to Vermont Offers Some of the Fun". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  4. ^ "In Amtrak History" (PDF). Amtrak Ink. 18 (11). December 2013.
  5. ^ "Amtrak Northeast Timetable". Amtrak. November 10, 1996. p. 24 – via Museum of Railway Timetables.
  6. ^ "Amtrak Northeast Timetable: Fall/Winter 1997-98". Amtrak. October 26, 1997 – via Museum of Railway Timetables.
  7. ^ "Ethan Allen Safe...Until January". December 18, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  8. ^ Hirschfeld, Peter; Peters, Stephanie M. (January 20, 2009). "Amtrak rally draws 200 people". Rutland Herald. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  9. ^ "2009 Vermont Rail Action Network Accomplishments". Vermont Rail Action Network. November 25, 2009. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2009.
  10. ^ Peters, Stephanie M. (January 10, 2009). "State panel, county delegation speak against Amtrak bus service". Rutland Herald.
  11. ^ Hirschfield, Peter (February 26, 2009). "Official softens stance on Amtrak". Rutland Herald. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  13. ^ "Amtrak ranks Vermont last as worst railroad". The Burlington Free Press. February 24, 2011. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
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  15. ^ "Vermont Rail System's bolstered track improves Amtrak transit times". Progressive Railroading. February 8, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  16. ^ "Most Hudson Line trains to Operate to/from Grand Central Terminal during Infrastructure and Bridge replacement Period" (Press release). Amtrak. April 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus" (Press release). Amtrak. April 6, 2020. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  18. ^ "Amtrak to resume Vermont service in mid-July". WCAX-TV. April 8, 2021.
  19. ^ "PASSENGER SERVICE". VTrans. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  20. ^ "Vermont marking return of Amtrak service after COVID". AP NEWS. July 19, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  21. ^ "Amtrak and Vermont Agency of Transportation Celebrate Restoration of Vermont Trains With One Dollar Tickets, Half Off Summer Travel and Special Events". Amtrak Media Center. July 13, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Critics question whether money for rail in western Vermont is being well spent". Vermont Public Radio. May 15, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
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  24. ^ "Chambers push for revitalized rail system". Rutland Herald. March 24, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  25. ^ "Extending the Ethan Allen To Burington". Vermont Rail Action Network. July 29, 2008. Archived from the original on September 13, 2017. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  26. ^ Hirschfeld, Peter (December 28, 2009). "Rutland to Burlington state rail service tied to stimulus". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  27. ^ "State Will Re-Submit Application to Rebuild Track for Ethan Allen to Burlington". Vermont Rail Action Network. April 21, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2010.[dead link]
  28. ^ "USDOT announces $474 million in TIGER V grants". Progressive Railroading. September 6, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  29. ^ "TIGER 2015 Awards" (PDF). United States Department of Transportation. p. 40.
  30. ^ Mansfield, Erin (October 27, 2015). "Vermont lands $10 million to finish Rutland to Burlington passenger rail". VT Digger. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  31. ^ Flowers, John (April 30, 2018). "Middlebury begins search for passenger rail platform". Addison County Independent. Archived from the original on July 7, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  32. ^ Dawson, Cory (December 15, 2017). "Waterfront denizens to Amtrak: stop but don't stay". VTDigger. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  33. ^ Walsh, Molly (March 12, 2020). "Amtrak Trains Will Be Kept in the Rail Yard in Burlington". Seven Days.
  34. ^ St. Angelo, Lilly. "Watch for trains: Amtrak's route to Burlington is doing practice runs". Burlington Free Press.
  35. ^ Flowers, John (November 18, 2021). "Summer debut eyed for passenger train". Addison Independent. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  36. ^ Vermont Agency of Transportation (January 2010). "Passenger Rail Equipment Options for the Amtrak Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express" (PDF). Vermont Legislature. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  37. ^ "Vermont Rail Plan" (PDF). Vermont Agency of Transportation. May 2021. p. 41. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  38. ^ "Vermont Rail Plan: Passenger Rail Forecasting Scenarios" (PDF). Vermont Agency of Transportation. May 2021. p. 17-19. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  39. ^ "Vermont Rail Plan" (PDF). Vermont Agency of Transportation. May 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  40. ^ "Vermont Rail Plan: Passenger Rail Forecasting Scenarios" (PDF). Vermont Agency of Transportation. May 2021. p. 15-17. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  41. ^ a b "In Amtrak History" (PDF). Amtrak Ink. 18 (11). December 2013.

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