The two-year project making upgrades and repairs along 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon on Amtrak’s Vermonter line was completed on-time and on-budget.
The project is one of the first major rail corridor projects to be completed under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project received $52.7 million in Recovery Act funds. The improvements will result in increased speeds, reduced travel time, greater reliability and an increased number of trains traveling each day.
Upgrades to the rail track included heavier continuously-welded rail, bridge work, new tie installation and ballast work. These improvements enable the scheduled running time for the Vermonter to be reduced by about a half hour, and passenger-train track speeds in signaled territory to increase from 50 to 79 miles per hour.
The upgraded track increased weight capacity from 263,000-pound to 286,000-pound freight cars. The project also repaired and strengthened more than 50 bridges and improved 52 highway-rail grade crossings on track owned by the New England Central Railroad.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has made more than $315 million in rail investments throughout New England. Other FRA grants on the Vermonter line include $72.8 million to Massachusetts for improvements between Springfield and East Northfield, Mass., which will reduce travel times by an additional 30 minutes upon project completion. Additionally, $191 million is being invested on the rail line between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., which is also used by the Vermonter.
All of these improvements will reduce travel times, improve reliability and add capacity. The Vermonter runs daily between Washington, D.C., and St. Albans, Vt.