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Amtrak returns to Vermont Monday

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 8:08 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 1:20 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s been more than a year and a half since Amtrak has rolled through Vermont, but that changes Monday morning. And just about every town with a stop along the route has festivities to mark the day.

“Just having rail, passenger rail back in St. Albans, it’s important,” said Chip Sawyer, the planning and development director for St. Albans. “It’s an important travel option both for the residents who live here who like to travel down south to visit family, but also to bring in visitors, tourists and business travelers.”

Sawyer says the numbers aren’t huge, but it’s more than there are now for a city recovering from the pandemic. Local shops, restaurants and lodging all will see traffic.

“We think that our trains serve a great service to the taxpayers of Vermont and we’re excited to be bringing them back,” said Dan Delabruere with VTrans.

Delabruere says ridership has continued to increase in recent years so this is a big step forward for Vermont.

“We are back to the pre-pandemic service level. Same service, same time schedule, nothing changes,” said Delabruere.

He says for next year, the extension of the Ethan Allen Express is first. But in future years, plans for upgraded stations and even consideration for the return of the Montrealer are on the table.

One local village is just excited their namesake is back.

“Essex Junction has a strong identity with trains going back over a century,” said Wendy Hysko, the director of the Brownell Library.

Hysko says while Essex Junction is a hub, the local economy will see some more traffic.

“It’s just sort of a whimsical thing, kids love trains, adults love trains, you don’t sort of outgrow the magic of trains,” said Hysko.

It’s an additional transportation option. So whether it’s to work or to somewhere new, Hysko says it’s simply a different perspective.

“You just can’t get any better for seeing the world, and it’s not the world you’re going to get from the highways, it’s sort of this unique view,” said Hysko.

On Monday in St. Albans, Rutland and Essex Junction, there are also programs with speakers from the state, as well as local governments to welcome back service and some activities for kids.

Congressman Peter Welch credits Vermont’s leadership in Montpelier and everyday Vermonters for getting the train back on track.

If you are looking to hop on one of these trains, you’re going to want to remember health safety is still first.

“Anyone riding a train is going to be required to wear a mask and anyone that has a trip on the return shuttle will have to wear one as well, the federal requirement is still there and still in place,” said Delabruere.

That mandate is still in place for the near future, not just on Monday.

Schedules are back to normal and all services will be the same.

The trains running Monday with the $1 fare are all sold out, so there is definitely some excitement surrounding the return of these trains.

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