<font color=red>Web Extra:</font> Amtrak brings rail travel closer to Vt. college

Posted on January 11, 2010

[IMAGE]METUnivTransitethan-allenamtrak2FULL.jpg[/IMAGE] As of Jan. 2, students at Castleton College, located in Castleton, Vt., will have convenient access to train service for the first time in 55 years.


Amtrak, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Castleton College worked together to bring the state-supported “Ethan Allen Express” train to a new stop located within walking distance, at less than one mile from campus. The train, which has been running for the past 10 years, makes twice daily stops at the new station.


The historically refurbished Castleton Depot, originally built in 1850, is replacing the small outdoor Fair Haven, Vt. stop located about six miles west of Castleton College. The new station will be more accommodating to the rising number of students attending the college.


“Our enrollment has been increasing a lot over the last decade and in the last year as well. This year, we have an all-time record,” said Ennis Duling, communications director. “Our current full-time undergraduate enrollment is at an all-time high of 1,814 students. In the past five years, full-time undergraduate enrollment has increased by more than 15 percent. In the past year, it's up by more than three percent.”


Recently, the owners of the Castleton Depot, Mary Ann and Val Jakubowski, whose family bought the property from the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in 1966, renovated the property. The rehabilitated station features an indoor waiting room, free parking and meets Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements. ”The [owners] have done a wonderful job of fixing it up. It’s a classic 19th Century railroad station. There’s a deli and a nice waiting room, and it just makes sense. The other station in Fair Haven was outdoors,” Duling said.


The station also provides convenient access to the downtown area and will be open one hour prior to scheduled arrivals and departures of “Ethan Allen Express” trains that operate between Rutland, Vt. and New York, N.Y. via Albany, N.Y. The Green Mountain Country Depot deli, bakery and coffee shop also is located in the building. Amtrak and the Vermont Agency of Transportation will continue to enhance station parking capacity and upgrade the existing platforms at the renovated facility.


Castleton College had a large role in bringing the rail service to the campus, starting 10 years ago when Duling served as a college representative on a town committee addressing the issue. “I was actually on the original committee, when the first Ethan Allen service was going to come through and the question was should it stop in Fair Haven or the village of Castleton. At that point Fair Haven made more sense. They were going to fix up their station. Castleton station needed an incredible amount of work, and it didn’t appear like it was going to happen that quickly,” said Duling.


Before the Castleton Depot was made available to students this year, catching the train was not nearly as convenient, Duling said. “There was really no way to get from Fair Haven to campus. This [station] is actually walking distance, about three-quarters of a mile, from campus,” he added.


The service to the new station, Duling points out, will have a significant impact on students. “This really ties us in. We get a lot of out-of-state students, from the corridor going down toward New York City and the Albany area. The train goes right through that area. This should be a good thing.”


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