Amtrak announces NYC-Burlington, Vermont service for first time since 1953
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Amtrak and the Vermont Agency of Transportation announced yesterday that train service to Burlington, Vermont, will resume July 29, for the first time since 1953. The approximately 7.5-hour-long trip aboard the Ethan Allen Express between New York City and Burlington will offer fares starting at $75. “Very soon, we will be able to climb aboard a train in downtown Burlington, and arrive in New York City in time for dinner,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement. “This long-desired service will give a boost to our economic recovery at a critical time, and give travelers a new, lower-carbon connection to New York and the rest of the Amtrak system.”
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Details of the Ethan Allen Express expansion
The new extension of the Ethan Allen Express route from New York City will include daily northbound service departing Penn Station at 2:21 p.m. and arriving in Burlington at 9:55 p.m., according to the state transportation department’s press release. Southbound service will depart Burlington at 10:10 a.m. and arrive in New York City at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are not yet available for booking on Amtrak’s website.
The route concludes in the newly restored and updated Burlington Union Station, located on Main Street along Burlington’s scenic Lake Champlain waterfront. The station is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is located within Burlington’s Battery Street Historic District, so passengers can enjoy a bit of history during their visit. The station was last used as a hub by The Rutland Railroad company in 1953. The Vermont Rail System operates passenger excursion trains from Burlington’s Union Station, so visitors can extend their train exploration of Vermont.
The new Amtrak route and station expansion has been in the works since 2019. It has required some long-term construction on tracks, stations and platforms at some Vermont locations including Burlington, Middlebury and Vergennes. The train will introduce new stops at the Vergennes and Middlebury stations. “Local, state and federal officials have been working to re-establish this vital transportation link for decades,” according to the Burlington mayor’s statement.
Previously, Amtrak service on the Ethan Allen Express had reached just as far as the Rutland, Vermont station — about 70 miles south of Burlington. Currently, Amtrak offers access as far as Essex Junction (about 8 miles from downtown Burlington) albeit on the local Vermonter train route which takes nearly 9 hours, due to many more stops on a route winding through Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Train travel a good choice in a high-priced summer
Riding the rails to northern Vermont will be a smarter choice during a summer of high gas prices. “Passenger rail travel offers beautiful scenery, relaxation, and spacious and comfortable seating, and trains are nearly three times more energy-efficient than automobiles,” Joe Flynn, Vermont’s secretary of transportation, said in the announcement. The Ethan Allen Express route runs through upstate New York through Albany, with stops in Saratoga Springs and Schenectady. The route provides great views of the scenic Hudson River Valley, which is a great place to stop for a summer excursion. During the fall, this route will give passengers a chance to sit back and enjoy a fine leaf-peeping trip.
Amtrak believes that railroad leisure travel is making a comeback, with spokesperson Jason Abrams telling TPG that “the love for train travel hasn’t gone away” during the pandemic, and that more than 30% of passengers in recent months have been new passengers, perhaps signaling to a future of overall increased train travel. In May 2022, Amtrak had more than 4,200 riders aboard the Ethan Allen Express, according to Abrams, an increase of more than 400 riders at the same time in 2019.
Featured photo courtesy of Amtrak.
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