September 12, 2015
Dear Senators Leahy, Sanders and Congressman Welch,
Thank you for your past and continuing support securing the TIGER grant to finally make the improvements to the State owned Western Corridor running from Rutland to Burlington. With only ten miles left of welded, heavy rail and certain crossing and bridge improvements left to do, this will be the last grant we will need to bring the Ethan Allen Express to Burlington.
It has been more than 20 years since we made lemonade out of lemons in response to Amtrak’s announcement to curtail service 21% nationwide, we saved the Vermonter by terminating in St. Albans instead of Montreal and by creating a new service, the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland. Both trains have performed very well and continue to have substantial growth in ridership despite the fact that Montreal is the better destination for the Vermonter and Burlington for the Ethan Allen Express.
It has been 16 years since I did a study for the City of Burlington of extending the Ethan Allen to Burlington from Rutland. Everything in that report is still relevant today except for the cost estimates, of course. More important than a two-hour plus faster ride to New York City and starting in downtown Burlington is the tremendous improvement in service when there are two trains from which to choose. So long as the schedules of the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen are at different times of the day, having two to choose from will put the trains into a much more serious realm of consideration by potential passengers who are otherwise driving or not going at all.
The potential ridership is greater than we may think when we consider how many people are riding both trains presently when most people don’t even think of the train as an option. Having only one train a day is the primary reason for this omission.
Thank you again for your constant support and for whatever influence you may be able to have at this point in the TIGER grant application.
Rep. Curt McCormack