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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Vermont seeks $52 million in ARRA funds for track improvements


The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and New England Central Railroad (NECR) are seeking $52 million in federal funds to boost the speeds of Amtrak's Vermonter intercity passenger-rail service and enable NECR to move heavier freight carloads.

The two-year project calls for upgrading continuous-welded rail, rehabilitating bridges, and installing new ties and ballast on 191 miles of the Vermonter route — which operates over NECR tracks — between St. Albans, Vt., and the Vermont/Massachusetts state line.

The upgrades would reduce the scheduled running time for the Vermonter service by about half an hour and enable passenger trains to increase speeds in signaled territory from 59 mph to 79 mph. In addition, NECR — which would contribute 10 percent of the project costs — would be able to accommodate 286,000-pound freight cars. Axle loads currently are restricted to 263,000 pounds.

Amtrak's Vermonter runs daily between St. Albans and Palmer, Mass. Between 2005 and 2008, ridership on the route increased 44 percent.

The funding request is being submitted through the Federal Railroad Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.