The Ethan Allen passenger train will debut at Middlebury, Vergennes on July 29

Several hundred people lined both sides of the Main Street train tracks and viaduct in September 2020 to watch the first train slide through the newly opened rail tunnel through Middlebury town centre. Officials announced today that the first passenger train will enter service on July 29. Independent File Photo/John S. McCright

MIDDLEBURY – The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announced today, Thursday, June 16, that the Amtrak Ethan Allen Express passenger train will begin expanding passenger rail service to Burlington, Vergennes and Middlebury on Friday, July 29.

Extended southbound Ethan Allen Express service will depart Burlington daily at 10:10 a.m. and arrive at Penn Station in New York City at 5:45 p.m. The northbound Ethan Allen Express will depart Penn Station at 2:21 p.m. days and will arrive in Burlington at 9:55 p.m.

State officials said Ethan Allen’s fare structure will allow a passenger to travel from Burlington to New York starting at $75 – which, with gas prices currently hovering around $5 a gallon – provides people with an affordable transportation option.

The Independent contacted VTrans officials earlier this week for background details on the Ethan Allen Express, with the intent of including that information in today’s print edition. The Independent was advised that no advance information could be provided and to tune into a June 17 Zoom meeting on the service to be co-hosted by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce.

But, today, Thursday, June 16, at 8:08 a.m., VTrans released details about the highly anticipated service.

Today’s press release did not include details of arrival/departure times and fare details for Ethan Allen’s Middlebury and Vergennes stops.

Middlebury’s new passenger rail platform hugs the tracks between Seymour Street and the Marble Works complex. It features a 300 foot deck with a 200+ foot canopy, as well as lighting throughout the deck.

Vergennes will be served by a newly renovated train depot and a new platform at the Ferrisburgh Park & ​​Ride lot off Route 22A near Route 7.

“The agency will soon announce more details about the event, as well as information on ticket sales, including promotional 50% off the Ethan Allen Express this summer,” reads the statement, which also promoting a celebratory event to mark the launch of the service, at Union Station in Burlington on July 29 from 9 a.m. until the train departs at 10:10 a.m.

According to state officials, the beginnings of this expanded passenger rail option were somewhat of a moving target, due to extensive planning and the need to upgrade tracks between Rutland and Burlington to accommodate passengers. higher speed passenger trains.

“Our agency’s talented and dedicated railroad executives, engineers and planners deserve immense credit for their unwavering dedication to bringing Vermonters and visitors to the state this new transportation option for travel between New York and Burlington,” said Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said in the press release. “Passenger rail travel offers beautiful scenery, relaxation and spacious, comfortable seating, and trains are nearly three times more energy efficient than automobiles.

Creating the rail tunnel high enough to accommodate possible double-decker passenger cars caused major disruption in Middlebury town center between 2017 and last September. The $75 million downtown rail tunnel project was finished this spring.

Jose P. Rogers