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Amtrak service resumes July 19 with dollar fares

  • Following a Thanksgiving holiday visit, Allie Meberg, of San Francisco, center, hugs her twin sister Cille Meberg, of South Royalton, Vt., and Cille's boyfriend Tom Remp, also of South Royalton, as she boards the Amtrak Vermonter to begin her journey home, in White River Junction, Vt., on Monday Dec.2, 2019. (Rick Russell photograph) Rick Russell photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2021 8:03:49 PM
Modified: 7/12/2021 1:22:51 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Vermont Amtrak trains the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express plan to return July 19, with commemorative festivities at all of the state’s eleven stations.

To celebrate the return, $1 train fares are available for Vermont travel during the day. As of Friday, about three-quarters of tickets for the day were sold.

“The spirit of the whole thing is to welcome back these trains; they’ve been idle since the pandemic,” said Toni Clithero, Amtrak Grants program manager and state coordinator of Vermont’s Operation Lifesaver. “I think the trains are kind of symbolic of Vermont’s relative success in dealing with COVID. It’s cause for celebration, that’s for sure.”

Last week., the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 76.4% of Vermont residents age 18 or older have been fully vaccinated.

However, face masks will still be required to ride Amtrak trains because of a Federal Railroad Administration emergency order.

With $500 financial support provided by the Vermont transportation agency to each station town, each celebration will be unique, said Clithero. Music, food, artwork, historical society involvement, and speakers are all possibilities. At the Montpelier station, there will be free maple creemees, while coupons for free maple creemees will be handed out in Brattleboro. Provided by Palmer Lane Maple of Jericho, the creemees are funded by Vermont dairy farmers and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

At the St. Albans station, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., will be speaking.

“It’s wonderful because each event is by the community,” said Clithero. “(The event) really reflects how the community wants to refect itself in how they are welcoming back the Amtrak train.”

One constant will be a short presentation by Operation Lifesaver reminding the community of railroad dangers. Vermont Amtrak trains can move up to 79 mph, about twice as fast as many of the freight trains operating through the pandemic.

For those riding to Montpelier and Brattleboro, return shuttles to St. Albans will be available by reservation.

The sign up form that can be found at vtrans.vermont.gov/rail/providers must be submitted by July 13 with a name and email included.

“Some people have been filling out the form without a name and email and I’m afraid people are going to show up and … get stranded,” said Clithero, stressing that if their name is not on the reservation list they will not be allowed to board. “That’s keeping me up right now.”

All events will begin 45 minutes before the train is scheduled to arrive.

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at jtaudvin@vnews.com.




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