Amtrak’s Vermonter service was suspended on March 26, 2020 — almost one year ago.
There was good reason then to suspend the service, as we headed into pandemic — but the Covid tide has turned now and we think it’s time to start the process to put this train back in service.
Here’s what we, and others, think needs to happen now —
The State of Vermont should announce that the train will return at the end of May, in time for the unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day.
This will give Amtrak the time to recall furloughed employees and give those employees the needed time to be re-qualified on the rail lines north of Springfield.
As soon as this date is set, Amtrak should update their systems so that people can start making reservations for future travel on the train. (The Amtrak website currently says that the next available date for travel on the Vermonter is January 1, 2022.)
And finally — Amtrak, and the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont need to initiate some level of marketing “to get the word” out that the Vermonter is returning. You can be sure that Trains In The Valley will do its part to pass on the news!
The Ask —
If you live in Massachusetts
We need you to contact the Office of Vermont Governor Phil Scott. (contact details)
Call his office (best option), or send him a brief email or letter.
The message that you need to communicate to his staff is that you want the governor to restart Amtrak’s Vermonter service by Memorial Day so you can travel to Vermont by train this summer.
If you have time, it would also help if you contacted your state representative and senator and tell them that you’d like MassDOT to push Vermont to get the Vermonter running again because you want to use this train this summer.
If you live in Vermont
Please call or write your governor, Phil Scott. (contact details)
You should let his staff know that you want the governor to restore the Amtrak Vermonter service by Memorial Day, so that you can use train to travel within Vermont and/or to points further south (like New York City) this summer.
(Note that the Vermont Rail Advocacy Network, the state-wide rail advocacy group in Vermont, is also pushing to get the Vermonter service running again.)
If you live outside these two states
Please call or write to the Office of Vermont Governor Phil Scott (contact details)
The message that you need to communicate to his staff is that you would like the governor to restart Amtrak’s Vermonter by Memorial Day — ideally because you’d like to travel to Vermont by train this summer.
Amtrak’s Vermonter service normally operates daily between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vt. This service was suspended on March 26, 2020 due the Covid pandemic.
Notably, the State of Vermont is currently the only state that has declined to restore its Amtrak service. All other Amtrak routes (except those impacted by the closure of the Canadian border) are operating with at least some service.
Amtrak’s Vermonter service, north of New Haven, is financed primarily through funds made available by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
While all three state transportation departments work together to oversee the service the State of Vermont “calls the shots” on this train because they provide the highest state subsidy, by far, to support the operation of the service.
A final note — the Vermonter carried 98,186 passengers in 2019 (this number includes only riders who started and/or ended their trip at a station north of Springfield.)
Those looking for further details are encouraged to read “It’s time to restore Vermont’s Amtrak service”, an Op-Ed that was released by Carl Fowler in early March. Carl is resident of Williston (Vermont) and a long-time member of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council.
March 26, 2020 | Amtrak suspends service along the route of the Vermonter (north of New Haven) — at the request of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation and the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation — due to the the Covid pandemic.
September 28, 2020 | Vermont Public Radio broadcasts an extensive report on the plight of Amtrak’s Vermonter: “Amtrak Hasn’t Run in Vermont since March, and the State Won’t Commit to a Restart Date.”
December 9, 2020 | Joe Flynn, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation appears before the quarterly meeting of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council to explain at length why now is not the time to restore passenger rail service in Vermont.
March 9, 2021 | Carl Fowler, a resident of Williston (Vermont) and long-time member of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council, releases an Op-Ed, “It’s time to restore Vermont’s Amtrak service,” which was published by numerous media outlets in Vermont.
March 10, 2021 | Amtrak announces that it will restore daily service on all of its long distance trains by early June 2021.
March 15-18, 2021 | An Amtrak test train was seen operating on the route of the Vermonter, north of Greenfield.
March 23, 2021 | Vermont Governor Phil Scott said, at a press conference, that Amtrak’s Vermonter services may be up and running in the next few months.
Guide to contacting elected officials
Page last updated: March 26, 2021
Page last reviewed: March 12, 2021