09.December, Montpelier VT – Vermont Agency of Transportation Rail & Aviation Director Dan Delabruere updated the Vermont Rail Council on the extension of Amtrak’s Ethan Allen route to Burlington. The project remains on schedule and the train is expected to begin early in 2022.
“We had some CoVid delays, contractor issues, but not that bad. For the most part our construction projects essentially stayed on schedule,” Delabruere reported.
“The Middlebury tunnel project is the biggest key to getting the Ethan Allen north of Rutland, said Delabruare. “I can’t say enough great things about how VRS and NECR worked together and made everything work. The project is not completed, it still has a cosmetic piece, but the rail piece is completed.”
A number of other projects next summer will complete the work. “Vergennes station is substantially complete. We’re looking for a tenant there that can meet the federal requirements of a non-profit that can also act as a station caretaker for the train,” Delabruare reported. “Platforms to build at Burlington and Middlebury are all scheduled next spring and summer,” Delabruare said. A passing siding in Pittsford will be built next summer, allowing the multiple trains serving Omya to pass. “The entire route needs one more surfacing,” Delebruare noted. “There is a bridge project in Charlotte. The Burlington yard Amtrak overnight location. We know where it is going to go but the design is not done.”
“I’m very happy to say I can see the finish line coming, said Delabruere. “One more really busy construction season should get us there. If we can get all this stuff done and it works out exactly the way it is down on paper, it will be done this time next year. I’m projecting first quarter of 2022 start.”
The schedule has not yet been set. The latest draft has the train leaving Burlington at 7am and returning at 6:30 or 7ish from am 11:45 am New York departure. “We’re trying to create the best schedule for a 7 day a week schedule because we’ve heard there is confusion. We think this is better and we’ll get more ridership,” predicted Delabruare.
Christopher has 15 years of railroad experience, starting as a Conductor on Cape Cod and 15 years of public policy advocacy and outreach work. Christopher is Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, communicating the vision of better trains to elected and government officials, community leaders and the public. Christopher is a consultant for freight and passenger planning and development projects including operating planning, federal grant applications, marketing, and public outreach.