WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travel time on Amtrak’s Vermonter line will be cut by nearly 30 minutes through a $72.8 million grant to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
The project will restore a rail line, improving 50 miles of track and infrastructure on a direct route from Springfield to East Northfield, MA along the Connecticut River Valley.
“Thanks to President Obama’s commitment to create jobs and strengthen our manufacturing sector, these dollars are delivering more than 200 new jobs along with the purchase of 50 miles of American-made steel rails,” LaHood said. “Coupled with previous federal investments along the Vermonter line, these improvements will bring almost a one hour reduction in travel time for passengers traveling in Vermont and Massachusetts.”
With more than a sixteen percent ridership increase in 2010, the Vermonter line operates between St. Albans, VT and Washington, DC. The Massachusetts portion of the rail line dates back to the mid-1800’s. After track conditions deteriorated in the 1980’s, Amtrak service was shifted to a rail line farther east. Work to restore the original passenger route on Pan Am Southern Railway’s Connecticut River mainline also includes construction of two new stations in Greenfield and Northampton, MA.
Progress on the Vermonter service began last year with a $50 million grant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, improving 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, shaving 30 minutes off of travel time within Vermont. Long-term, the investments in Vermont and Massachusetts will also increase reliability and for future expansion of service to Montreal, Quebec.