Castleton now has Amtrak service for the first time in more than 50 years. The Ethan Allen Express made its first stop at the town's recently renovated depot today. A crowd gathered Saturday at the newly renovated Train Depot to witness the first passenger boarding in over 50 years.
Depot Owner Maryann Jakubowski says, "We've invited everybody from the neighborhood and all up an down the street around town telling them that todays the first day!"
Two passengers boarded the Ethan Allen train Saturday at the newly renovated location. This stop will replace the old boarding location in Fairhaven and will provide a comfortable waiting place for passengers.
Bill Hollister of Amtrak states, "Coming in to this train station this is just pure Vermont and it really adds a great touch."
An Amtrak representative says rail service has struggled in this economy. Passenger boardings are down nationwide -- but he says the Ethan Allen line is doing well in Vermont.
Hollister added, "the Vermonter had an increase and the Ethan Allen was pretty flat and this year they both have increases so its good news for the state of Vermont we're doing pretty well up here compared to the rest of the country."
Bringing the train stop back to Castleton not only creates convenience for travelers but locals say they are optimistic for future business. Lynn Kratochivic of the Green Mountain Country Depot thinks, " It will increase it you know as time goes on its definitely a plus."
And stores agrees, says Laura Steere of the Castleton Village Store, "I'm hoping we can have some new business because all of the businesses in town I think would benefit."
The state has filed an application for a 73 million dollar federal grant that would fund the expansion of the Ethan Allen line from Rutland to Burlington. Officials say news about the grant should come in the next few months.
The Ethan Allen Express will stop in Castleton twice a day. Transportation officials say growing demand from the area -- especially Castleton State -- led to the move.
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