National Train Day to be celebrated in Brattleboro, Bellows Falls

This Saturday, May 11, is National Train Day, and activities to mark the occasion will take place at the Bellows Falls and Brattleboro stations.

This year will be a celebration of the higher speeds of Amtrak's Vermonter, which now travels at speeds up to 79 mph between White River Junction and South Vernon, thanks to a $52 million track upgrade paid for with federal economic stimulus money.

Christopher Parker of the Vermont Rail Action Network, a train advocacy group, said ridership on Amtrak's trains in Vermont was up 5 percent in 2012 and that there were more than 100,000 Amtrak trips in Vermont during that period.

Not only have speeds been increased on the New England Central's main line in Vermont, but the tracks can accommodate heavier freight loads now that they have been upgraded to the national weight limit standard of 286,000 pounds.

Southbound passengers will be riding the Vermonter free between St. Albans and Bellows Falls on May 11. All tickets have been reserved for that day.

After the train arrives in Bellows Falls at 11:48 a.m., passengers will be treated to music and a box lunch before taking the Green Mountain Railroad's White River Flyer for a free ride to the White River Junction station and a chance to view historic displays of railroading in Vermont and other rail exhibits.

Festivities in White River Junction begin at 1:45 p.m.

Events at the Brattleboro station will take place between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., shortly after the southbound Vermonter departs the station.

There will be exhibits, talks, food, and a train simulator for those who want to experience what it's like behind the throttle of a locomotive.

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