Amtrak sign

An Amtrak sign is seen on the platform at the train station in St. Albans. Congress passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 Wednesday. The bill secures a number of state investments including better program flexibility to allow Vermont to fund both Amtrak services and transit services. 

With an affirmative vote by the Vermont Rail Advisory Council on Thursday, the state’s 2021 rail plan was adopted, and among its top priorities is extending Amtrak’s Vermonter line into Montreal.

With the recent announcement by Gov. Phil Scott’s office that the state is working with Amtrak to restart the Ethan Allen and Vermonter lines, which have been inactive since the beginning of the pandemic, the plan also lists restarting and boosting ridership as a top priority. The plan also goes over infrastructure improvements needed to meet increased shipping demand, including upgrading trackage to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars.

Here are five interesting numbers: from the 2021 report:


Estimated ridership on the Vermonter line in 2040 if the line is extended to Montreal and one train runs to the city daily. This would be a 149% increase over fiscal year 2019 ridership of 76,673, and would be double the estimated ridership of 89,400 in 2040 if the line remains as is. The line currently runs from Washington, D.C. to St. Albans. Cambridge Systematics compiled data from numerous studies and historical ridership numbers for its estimates.


The estimated cost of short-term initiatives (zero to five years) outlined in the rail plan. When coupled with the estimated cost of long-term initiatives, the rail plan calls for a total of $263 million in spending over the next 20 years.


The amount of energy in BTU expended per mile using passenger rail. According to Amtrak data, this compares to 2,320 BTU per mile for air travel, 2,939 BTU per mile by car and 3,437 BTU per mile by truck.


The number of tons of commodities carried by the Vermont rail system in 2018, comprising roughly 15% of total tons shipped to, from, within, or through the state, according to the rail plan.


The amount of active rail line in miles across Vermont. Of those miles, 305 are owned by the state.

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