Amtrak rail service resumes in Vermont on July 19 after a nearly 16-month hiatus, and train stations throughout the state — including Brattleboro and Bellows Falls — are planning off-the-rails festivities to mark the occasion.
Amtrak announced it’s offering $1 train fare for one-way travel within Vermont on that Monday. The Vermont Agency of Transportation says it will provide a free shuttle service between stations. Riders from the southeastern corner of Vermont can board a shuttle at 11:15 a.m. from the Brattleboro Transportation Center on Flat Street to Bellows Falls, where they can take the train back to Brattleboro for a buck.
The Downtown Brattleboro Alliance is planning a celebration on the green adjacent to the Connecticut River across from Whetstone Station restaurant, according to information provided by Patrick Moreland, Brattleboro assistant town manager. The event will begin at 12:45 p.m. and include free gelato and an hour of live music by the DiTrani Brothers.
Free parking will be provided at the Brattleboro Transportation Center, according to Moreland’s news release about the event.
At noon and at 5 p.m. rail fans are invited to gather at Bellows Falls Train Station to greet the Vermonter, one of Amtrak’s two lines in the state. Local leaders and state representatives are planning to be on hand for the celebration, which includes music by an eight-piece jazz band.
Smokin’ Bowls soup shack will offer food at noon and Jamaican Jewelz Catering will do the same at 5 p.m.
Reservations are required for transportation on the shuttle from Brattleboro to Bellows Falls. To reserve a seat, visit amtrak.com/vermont.
The Vermont transportation agency says similar celebratory events will be held throughout the state. They generally begin 45 minutes before trains are scheduled to arrive at all stations, according to the transportation agency.
The day’s events kick off at 7:30 a.m. at Rutland Station with the return of the Ethan Allen Express. The Vermonter leaves St. Albans Station at 8:30 a.m.
At Montpelier Junction, Palmer Lane Maple of Jericho will be serving free Maple Creemees (soft serve ice cream with maple syrup), funded by the Vermont diary farmers and the transportation agency.
For more information on other events throughout Vermont, visit https://vtrans.vermont.gov/rail/providers.
In addition, Amtrak has announced that summer fares on the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express are now half price when booked in advance through July 15. The Vermonter provides daily service between St. Albans and Washington, D.C., while the Ethan Allen Express offers daily service between Rutland and New York City.
Vermont suspended Amtrak service on March 26, 2020 as Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopening of rail service in the state comes on the heels of a recent announcement that Amtrak is planning a major investment in new trains, some of which will be hybrid battery operated.
In a statement made July 7, the company said it is contracting with Siemens Mobility Inc. of California to manufacture a new fleet of up to 83 multi-powered modern trains that will be used for state and northeast services, with options for up to 130 additional trains to support Amtrak’s plans to add more than 1.5 million riders annually. The new fleet will offer modern amenities that better serve Amtrak customers, the company said, such as individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard Wi-Fi and self-service food options. The trains will also feature upgraded health and safety measures, including enhanced HVAC, touchless restroom controls and automated steps.
“These new trains will reshape the future of rail travel by replacing our aging 40- to 50-year-old fleet with state-of-the-art, American-made equipment,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in prepared remarks. “This investment is essential to preserving and growing our Northeast Regional and state-supported services and will allow our customers to travel comfortably and safely, while deeply reducing criteria pollutants.”
The Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express are in line to get new rolling stock as part of this $7.3 billion investment, Amtrak said.