Arrival of Amtrak passenger train raises questions of train storage

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The Amtrak Ethan Allen Express Passenger Train is expected to be extended into Burlington by 2021 or 2022.

But that extension is bringing up a big question: where will Amtrak store and service its passenger trains?

A recent 27-page report puts Union Station at the top of the list.

But people who live nearby say the report says there will be new tracks added, making the bike path eight feet wide and putting the trains even closer to the homes here.

People seem to support a passenger train coming to Burlington, but the disagreement is where it should be stored.

"We don't want to have the extension of the rail yard north toward the middle of Burlington," said Larry Sudbay, the property owner of the Wing Building.

Sudbay says it's only logical for the train to be stored at the rail yard even though the recommended location is Union Station where they would add tracks and store the trains eight feet from his building.

"To install a second set of track for the purpose of storage and servicing the Amtrak train is ludicrous, it's insane, you wouldn't do it, it's ill-advised," Sudbay said.

According to the June report, Union Station got 26 out of 33 possible points, the highest out of the five locations.

That report looked at 12 different categories ranging from estimated cost to air quality, giving each a score of 0 to 3.

"They said this location was the worst location for air quality," said Melinda Moulton, the CEO of Main Street Landing.

Moulton is also the founder of “Lovers of Burlington’s Waterfront” which is an organization created to start conversations about storing the trains at Union Station.

"We believe train stations should be a place where there is a lot of love. When you pick up your family members or see your child off to college, or whatever; it’s a place of beauty," said Moulton. "This is the place to bring passengers, it is not the place to have a second rail track."

However, she says it just doesn't make sense for the trains to be stored here. So she wants to start conversations about what's going on.

"If they don't think it should be here then people need to speak up before this happens," said Moulton.

In the end, she says if the people of Burlington want to see the trains stored at Union Stations, she will acquiesce.

Right now, the proposed plan is for a more than 700-foot train to be stored overnight from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Moulton says that wasn't what Main Street Landing envisioned when they built this station 20 years ago.

WCAX News reached out to the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission for a comment and they were unable to get back to us before the deadline.