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Vermonter

The Executive Office of Transportation is conducting a 21-day public comment period for the Environmental Assessment for the Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Project. Written comments will be accepted during this public review period beginning today through October 14, 2009.

EOT has submitted a competitive grant application under the High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program to the Federal Railroad Administration to fund this project and today launched a new Vermonter project website. The Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Project to restore the Amtrak Vermonter to its original route is one of the initiatives included in the Vision for the New England High – Speed and Intercity Rail Network which was announced in July by the New England Governors.

Written comments may be sent to 10 Park Plaza, Room 4150 Boston, MA 02116. This document is also available online.  For questions or additional information, please contact the Office of Transportation Planning, (617)-973-7313, TTY:(617)-973-7306 or e-mail: planning@eot.state.ma.us.

The Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Project will restore Amtrak’s intercity passenger train service to its original route by relocating the Vermonter from the New England Central Railroad back to its former route on the Pan Am Southern Railroad.  The Pan Am Southern route provides a shorter and more direct route for the Vermonter between Springfield and East Northfield, and improves access to densely populated areas along the Connecticut River.  The Pan Am Southern route would include station stops at the former Amtrak station at Northampton and the new intermodal station at Greenfield. The routing of Amtrak service in Vermont and south of Springfield would remain unchanged.  

The benefits of the Project include:
•    Reduction in overall travel time for the Vermonter service of approximately 25 minutes.
•    Improved on-time performance for the Vermonter Service
•    Estimated 24% increase in ridership.

The Project would require improvements to the existing Pan Am Southern rail line, including crosstie replacement, rail replacement, rehabilitation of grade crossings, reactivation of passing sidings and portions of double track, upgrading of switches, improvements to signal and communications systems, surfacing and alignment of track, and improvements to bridges and station platforms. These improvements would facilitate the relocation of the Vermonter by improving safety, increasing operating speeds for existing freight train traffic and the Vermonter, and enhancing capacity on the rail line to accommodate future increased levels of train traffic. The improvements and rehabilitation work will be done within the existing railroad right of way.

The importance and value of this project was identified through a study sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), in conjunction with the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOTPW).  The preliminary findings of that study has determined that the expansion of intercity passenger rail service in the I-91 Knowledge Corridor, between White River Junction, VT and New Haven, CT, has the potential to be a major component in producing economic revitalization, spurring job creation, improving air quality, increasing overall mobility and reducing vehicular traffic congestion.

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