Officials from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) were joined by federal, state, municipal and Amtrak leaders, as well as local residents and rail advocates, on the morning of July 29, 2022, to celebrate the extension of daily Amtrak Ethan Allen Express service from Rutland to Burlington, Vermont’s most populous city. It marked the first time since 1953 that Burlington and intermediate stops at Ferrisburgh-Vergennes and Middlebury had been served by regularly scheduled passenger trains. The Ethan Allen Express, which is financed primarily through funds made available by VTrans and the New York State Department of Transportation, connects 15 communities from Burlington to New York City.
Following refreshments and live music at historic Burlington Union Station on the shore of Lake Champlain, the crowd listened to remarks from Sen. Bernie Sanders, Governor Phil Scott, Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn, Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Jennifer Mitchell, Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gardner and many others.
“The thing that unifies everybody at Amtrak is a really simple idea – which is that trains can do and must do a lot more for the nation. We need more trains in more places serving more people,” said Gardner. “Today’s event is about… setting a new narrative for a sustainable, just, convenient rail service across the nation.”
After officials together cut a large green ribbon, they boarded the first southbound train along with hundreds of customers. Cheers greeted the train as it made stops at Ferrisburgh-Vergennes, Middlebury, Rutland – the train’s former northern terminus – and Castleton, the last stop in Vermont before the route enters New York State and heads west to Albany-Rensselaer and then south along the majestic Hudson River to the Big Apple.