BRATTLEBORO—The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) announced last week that Amtrak passenger rail service in Vermont will resume, effective July 19.
“We are very pleased to announce the restart of these vital transportation services for Vermonters and those who wish to travel to and from Vermont by train or bus,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn in a news release.
Amtrak service in Vermont was suspended on March 26, 2020, due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency order issued by Gov. Phil Scott.
Flynn attributed the decision to resume service to Scott’s phased reopening plan, which is based on the state’s projected vaccination rate.
State officials project that 60 to 70 percent of all Vermonters should be vaccinated by early June, making a full re-opening possible by July 4 if the vaccination rate continues as expected.
Amtrak requires at least a 90-day notice from the state to resume its passenger rail service, since Amtrak personnel must complete route certification to prepare for the resumption of service.
Two Amtrak lines serve Vermont. The Vermonter originates in Washington, D.C., travels through Connecticut and Massachusetts, and makes stops in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. The Ethan Allen Express runs between New York City and Rutland.
Vermont, which pays the bulk of the cost of running the two trains, is the only state served by Amtrak that has not resumed passenger rail service. Other states that shut down their Amtrak service last spring due to the pandemic, such as Maine, have since resumed regular schedules.
Chris Parker, executive director of the Vermont Rail Action Network (VRAN), praised the Scott administration for its decision to set a firm reopening date. The rail advocacy group launched a letter writing campaign to Scott in March, urging him to resume passenger rail service.
“Cheers to the Governor and the Agency of Transportation for ensuring that the re-opening is done well, the right way, without a frantic scramble and with enough advance time for travelers to book tickets and make plans,” Parker wrote last week in an email to VRAN members.