Amtrack through Vermont
- From the Bennington Banner:
Dreams of train service dead for this year
By BOBBY GATES
Tuesday, June 04, 2002
MANCHESTER -- Amtrak passenger rail service will not begin this summer in
North Bennington and Manchester because the state's rail budget was
level-funded for the coming year.
The $2.05 million approved by legislators for passenger rail service might
not be enough to continue current service in other parts of the state, and
it will not be enough to begin service to North Bennington and Manchester.
Currently, Amtrak runs the Vermonter from Brattleboro through White River
Junction and on to St. Albans and the Ethan Allen Express runs from
Whitehall, N.Y. to Rutland.
Last October, Charlie Miller, director of rail for the Vermont Agency of
Transportation, told the Shaftsbury Select Board passenger train service to
Manchester, with a stop in North Bennington, would likely begin this month.
"It could start earlier than that," Miller said at the time.
On Monday, Bob Stannard of Railhead Ltd., a Manchester-based lobbyist, said
the state should be "moderately embarrassed" that the service has not begun.
The state budget, finalized over the weekend, didn't provide money to
subsidize Amtrak service to Bennington County.
On Monday, Miller said he had asked Amtrak in May what $2 million would buy,
when it was becoming clear that was the amount Amtrak would be getting. "I
haven't gotten an answer yet," he said. "The ball's in Amtrak's court at
It's a wait-and-see game to find out what service Amtrak will now provide,
and if anything service will be cut, Miller said.
"That's all I can do," he said. "I have no idea what their response will be;
we've put them in a position where they have to decide what they will do
with that amount of money."
Amtrak has said it wants just over $1 million from Vermont state not talking
about putting a man on Mars," Stannard said. He called the latest budget
decision "another obstacle. "This is not the end of rail service to
Manchester," Stannard said.
He said he's running short on money but not on enthusiasm. The least the
state government could do for the Bennington area, after significant job
losses, is to provide passenger rail service. "It's time for the rank and
file to be outraged," Stannard said.
There's no reason passenger rail service can't begin by winter, Stannard
said, if efforts continue to work towards bringing rail service to the