Vermonter (train)

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Vermonter
Northbound Vermonter at Brattleboro station, March 2015.JPG
The Vermonter at Brattleboro, Vermont, in March 2015
Overview
Service typeRegional rail
StatusOperating (truncated)
LocaleNew England, Mid-Atlantic states
PredecessorMontrealer
First serviceApril 1, 1995
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Annual ridership92,699 total (FY2016)[1]
Route
StartSt. Albans, Vermont
Stops29 (weekdays)
30 (weekends)
EndWashington, D.C.
Distance travelled611 miles (983 km)
Average journey time12 hours 30 minutes
Service frequencyOne daily round trip
Train number(s)55, 56
On-board services
Class(es)Business class
Reserved coach
Catering facilitiesOn-board café
Technical
Rolling stockAmfleet coaches
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speedSt. Albans–Springfield: up to 80 mph (129 km/h)
Springfield–New Haven: up to 110 mph (177 km/h)
New Haven–Washington: up to 125 mph (201 km/h)
Track owner(s)NECR, MassDOT, MNCR, AMTK

The Vermonter is a passenger train operated by Amtrak between St. Albans, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., via New York City.[2] It replaced the overnight Montrealer, which terminated in Montreal until 1995. Amtrak receives funding from the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont for Vermonter operations north of New Haven.[3] As of March 26, 2020, services north of New Haven were suspended indefinitely.[4] On December 3, 2020, service was cut back further from New Haven to New York.[5]

During fiscal year 2018, the Vermonter carried 97,909 passengers (not including riders between New Haven and Washington, D.C.), a 2.2% increase from FY17.[6] In FY16, the train earned $5,718,268 in revenue, a decrease of 1.8% from FY15.[1]

History[edit]

Montrealer[edit]

The Vermonter was preceded by an overnight train between Montreal and Washington that was known as the Montrealer, which was inaugurated in 1924 as a joint service of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New Haven Railroad, the Boston & Maine Railroad, the Central Vermont Railway, and the Canadian National Railway. Another train, the Ambassador ran the same route during the daytime, but terminated in New York City. Both services used the Boston and Maine's Connecticut River Line south of Vernon, Vermont, rather than the route prior to 2014 over the New England Central. Amtrak took over the train in 1971, and continued operating it until 1995 (excepting a brief suspension from 1987 to 1989).

Vermonter[edit]

The Vermonter at White River Junction, Vermont, in 1996

The Vermonter replaced the Montrealer on April 1, 1995, bringing daytime Amtrak service to Vermont.

Business Class was added to replace the sleeping cars that were taken out of service upon the change to the Vermonter. The route was changed to allow travelers from Vermont to again 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 continue north on the Central Vermont. This detour added an hour of running time, but at the time was judged more practical than seeking to use the direct route over the former Boston and Maine Railroad owned by the Guilford Rail System. 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 high labor and terminal costs in Montreal. For a time 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.

On 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.

In the late 2000s, Amtrak and the State of Vermont considered the purchase of diesel multiple unit (DMU) trainsets for use on the New HavenSt. Albans stretch of the line,[7] with Amtrak offering 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.[8] In 2008 the Vermont state legislature approved the purchase of five cars from Colorado Railcar at the cost of $18.2 million, but the company closed while the decision was awaiting approval of Governor Jim Douglas.[9] With no other DMU designs available that were capable of operating in mixed traffic with other trains, the plan was dropped.

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.[10]

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. Within the states of Vermont and New Hampshire 190 miles (310 km) of track 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).[11][12] The Massachusetts portion of the track work was ongoing as of 2015.

On October 5, 2015, the southbound Vermonter derailed in Northfield, Vermont, after striking a rock slide. Five cars and the engine derailed; the engine and an empty car slid down an embankment. Five passengers and two crew members were injured, one seriously.[13]

Starting June 9, 2018, the Vermonter no longer serves the Berlin and Wallingford stations in Connecticut. These locations are served by other Amtrak trains and by the new Hartford Line commuter rail service.[3]

In March 2020, Vermonter service north of New Haven was suspended indefinitely as part of a reduced service plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[14][15]

2014 route change[edit]

A Vermonter backing up at Palmer in 2007. Visible are two GE P42DCs and six Amfleet cars.

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's Union Station, 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 New England Central Railroad (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.[16][17]

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.[18][19][20]

In January 2015, the number of Vermonter riders using the two new stations (in Northampton and Greenfield) was up 84 percent compared to the equivalent station in Amherst the previous year.[21] An infill stop in Holyoke was added 27 August 2015.[22][23]

Planned extension of the Vermonter to Montreal[edit]

Efforts have been underway for many years to extend the Vermonter to Montreal. In 2012 the Federal Railroad Administration awarded $7.9 million to allow for the upgrade of the existing freight rail line between St. Albans and the Canada–US border.[24] Work on this project was completed in late 2014.

On March 16, 2015, Canada and the United States signed the "Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada". The agreement would allow for the establishment of a preclearance customs and immigration facility within Central Station in Montreal that could be used by the Vermonter and Amtrak's Adirondack train.[25]

Before the Vermonter can be extended to Montreal the Congress must pass enabling legislation for the preclearance agreement and the Parliament of Canada must ratify the agreement. Construction of a preclearance facility in Central Station is expected to take about three years; one year for planning and permitting and two years for construction. Construction of the preclearance facility is not expected to start until after the preclearance agreement has been approved by both governments.[26][27] Enabling legislation was enacted by the United States on December 16, 2016 as the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016.[28] As of late 2018, logistics have delayed the extended route's introduction until at least 2021.[29]

Route and stations[edit]

Map of the Vermonter route (interactive map)

The Vermonter uses Amtrak and ConnDOT's Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to New Haven, Connecticut. After switching engine types at New Haven, it then uses Amtrak's wholly owned New Haven–Springfield Line up to Springfield, Massachusetts[3] and the MassDOT-owned Connecticut River Line between Springfield and Northfield, Massachusetts. From Northfield to St. Albans, Vermont, it traverses New England Central Railroad trackage.[citation needed]

Weekend trains have an additional stop at Metropark station in Iselin, New Jersey.[3]

Unlike most long- and medium-haul trains operating along the Northeast Corridor, the Vermonter allows local travel between Washington and New York in both directions.

Mile (km) Station Location Began service
0 (0) St. Albans St. Albans, VT April 1, 1995
24 (39) Essex Junction Essex Junction, VT April 1, 1995
47 (76) Waterbury Waterbury, VT April 1, 1995
56 (90) Montpelier Montpelier, VT April 1, 1995
86 (138) Randolph Randolph, VT April 1, 1995
118 (190) White River Junction White River Junction, VT April 1, 1995
131 (211) Windsor Windsor, VT April 1, 1995
140 (230) Claremont Claremont, NH April 1, 1995
157 (253) Bellows Falls Bellows Falls, VT April 1, 1995
181 (291) Brattleboro Union Station Brattleboro, VT April 1, 1995
205 (330) John W. Olver Transit Center Greenfield, MA December 29, 2014[30]
224 (360) Northampton Northampton, MA December 29, 2014[30]
235 (378) Holyoke Holyoke, MA August 27, 2015[31]
245 (394) Springfield Union Station Springfield, MA April 1, 1995
260 (420) Windsor Locks Windsor Locks, CT April 1, 1995
271 (436) Hartford Union Station Hartford, CT April 1, 1995
289 (465) Meriden Transit Center Meriden, CT April 1, 1995
308 (496) New Haven Union Station New Haven, CT April 1, 1995
321 (517) Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT April 1, 1995
344 (554) Stamford Transportation Center Stamford, CT April 1, 1995
379 (610) New York Penn Station New York, NY April 1, 1995
390 (630) Newark Penn Station Newark, NJ April 1, 1995
404 (650) Metropark Iselin, NJ April 1, 1995
437 (703) Trenton Transit Center Trenton, NJ April 1, 1995
470 (760) Philadelphia 30th Street Station Philadelphia, PA April 1, 1995
496 (798) Wilmington Wilmington, DE April 1, 1995
564 (908) Baltimore Penn Station Baltimore, MD April 1, 1995
575 (925) BWI Airport Linthicum, MD April 1, 1995
596 (959) New Carrollton New Carrollton, MD April 1, 1995
605 (974) Washington Union Station Washington, DC April 1, 1995

Equipment[edit]

A typical Vermonter currently consists of five Amfleet I passenger cars and a single Amfleet I split business/cafe car. Between Washington and New Haven, the train is pulled by a Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive. Electrification ends at New Haven, where the ACS-64 and the first Amfleet coach are taken off the train and swapped for a GE Genesis diesel locomotive for the remainder of the trip.

Prior to the 2014 reroute, the Vermonter operated with an ex-Budd Metroliner cab car, three Amfleet coaches, a Business Class/Cafe, and a GE P42; the consist reversed directions in Springfield, typically having the locomotive leading north of Springfield and trailing south of Springfield. During winter periods the cab-car would be swapped for an Amfleet coach, and a locomotive would be on either end.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Amtrak FY16 Ridership and Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  2. ^ "Vermonter". Amtrak. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Vermonter Timetable" (PDF). Amtrak. June 9, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  4. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus". Amtrak. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  5. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus". Amtrak. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  6. ^ https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FY18-Ridership-Fact-Sheet-1.pdf
  7. ^ "Commuter rail study faces old questions, new opportunities". VT Digger. June 21, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  8. ^ "Vermont considers buying smaller passenger cars for Amtrak route". Connecticut Post. August 9, 2006.
  9. ^ Edwards, Bruce (June 22, 2008). "Rail plan off track for now". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  10. ^ "Vermont, Amtrak formally kick off high speed work". Trains Magazine. November 9, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  11. ^ "Railroad Amtrak Article - USDOT, FRA mark completion of Vermonter rail project. Information For Rail Career Professionals From Progressive Railroading Magazine". Progressiverailroading.com. October 8, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  12. ^ "Vermonter improvements completed on time and on budget | Railway Track & Structures". Rtands.com. October 5, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  13. ^ Carrero, Jacqueline (October 5, 2015). "Amtrak Train Derails in Northfield, Vermont: State Police". NBC News. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  14. ^ Tourangeau, Ariana (March 27, 2020). "Amtrak's Vermonter train temporarily out of service". WWLP. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  15. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus" (Press release). Amtrak. April 6, 2020. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Merzbach, Scott (February 27, 2014) [February 16, 2014]. "Pioneer Valley Business 2014: Development hopes ride on expanded rail". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  17. ^ "Lieutenant Governor Murray, Congressman Olver and Congressman Neal Announce Construction Underway for ARRA-Funded Knowledge Corridor" (Press release). Commonwealth of Massachusetts. August 27, 2012. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Roessler, Mark (May 7, 2009). "Train Departing Amherst Station". Valley Advocate.
  20. ^ Garofolo, Chris (May 26, 2009). "Groups study improving train service". Brattleboro Reformer.
  21. ^ Epp, Henry (March 24, 2015). "Amtrak Line in Western Massachusetts Sees Boost in Riders; Business Impacts Unclear". WNPR News.
  22. ^ Eisenstadter, Dave (December 22, 2014). "Vermonter rolls up 'Knowledge Corridor' to show off higher-speed rail service coming to Valley". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
  23. ^ Plaisance, Mike (March 24, 2019) [27 August 2015]. "Holyoke Celebrates Return of Passenger Train Service with $4.3 Million Station Platform". MassLive. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  24. ^ Bowen, Douglas John (June 21, 2012). "Grant aids Montrealer's return, advocates say". Railway Age. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "United States and Canada Sign Preclearance Agreement" (Press release). Washington: Department of Homeland Security. March 16, 2015.
  26. ^ Vermont Rail Council Minutes of Meeting (Draft) (PDF) (Report). Vermont Rail Council. December 16, 2015. p. 6.
  27. ^ Bowen, Douglas John (March 16, 2015). "Pact bodes well for restored Amtrak Montrealer". Railway Age. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  28. ^ Pub.L. 114–316 (text) (pdf), H.R. 6431, 130 Stat. 1593, enacted December 16, 2016
  29. ^ "Amtrak Canary Coalmine". Montpelier: Vermont Business Journal. September 1, 2018.
  30. ^ a b Kinney, Jim (December 29, 2014). "Amtrak Vermonter makes first Knowledge Corridor run in Springfield, Northampton and Greenfield". Springfield Republican. Springfield, Massachusetts. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  31. ^ Kinney, Jim (August 20, 2015). "Opening date set for Holyoke Amtrak train station". MassLive. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  32. ^ 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.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Route map:

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