A two-year project to upgrade and repair 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, Vt., on Amtrak's Vermonter line has been completed on time and on budget, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Friday during a ceremony attended by state and federal officials to mark the project's end.
The trackwork was one of the first major rail corridor projects to be completed under the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program.
The project received $52.7 million in federal stimulus funds. The improvements will accommodate faster trains, reduce travel time, and enable the Vermonter to provide more reliable service and increase the number of trains traveling daily, FRA officials said in a prepared statement. The scheduled running time for the Vermonter will be trimmed by about a half hour, and passenger-train speeds in signaled territory will increase from 50 to 79 mph, they said.
"The Vermonter project will grow our economy by moving people and goods more efficiently than ever before," LaHood said.
Track upgrades featured the installation of continuous-welded rail and ties, bridge work and ballast replacement. The trackwork increased the weight capacity of freight cars using the line from 263,000 pounds to 286,000 pounds. In addition, more than 50 bridges were repaired and strengthened, and 52 grade crossings were improved on track owned by the New England Central Railroad.
Other FRA grants on the Vermonter line include $72.8 million to Massachusetts for improvements between Springfield and East Northfield, which will reduce travel times by an additional 30 minutes upon completion. In addition, $191 million is being invested on the line between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass, which also is used by the Vermonter.
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