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August 02, 2014

To Vermont By Train

Like many, I love Vermont.  But I’m not crazy about getting there.
From my home to Burlington VT is about 300 miles.  By car, that’s at least five hours and about $50 in gas each way.  Flying may seem quicker, but with the airport drive it’s not much better and about $150 each way. But there’s another alternative: Amtrak.
There are actually three trains a day that will take you to (or close to) Vermont:
THE VERMONTER:          Your best choice, this train runs daily from Washington DC to St Albans VT, coming through Stamford at about noontime each day.  It also stops in Bridgeport and New Haven before heading up the Connecticut River Valley to Vermont stops in Brattleboro, Windsor, Montpelier, Waterbury (Stowe) and Essex Junction (Burlington), to name but a few.
It’s not the fastest run (Stamford to Essex Junction is 8 hours), but it’s certainly beautiful and relaxing.  A frustrating reverse move at Palmer MA will be eliminated this fall with new tracks, shaving an hour off the run.
The Amfleet seats in coach are comfy. There’s also business class seating (for a premium).  The AmFood is tasty.  The crew is great… and there’s even free wifi.  Despite the many stops, the train hits 80 mph in many stretches on smooth, welded rails.
Remember:  Amtrak runs in any kind of weather, so if you’re thinking of skiing this winter when there’s a blizzard and its 20 below zero, the train will get you there when airports and highways are closed.
THE ETHAN ALLEN EXPRESS:            If you’re heading to Rutland VT, this is your train. Originating at NY’s Penn Station mid-afternoon, this train bypasses Connecticut and shoots up the Hudson Valley, arriving in Rutland just before 9 pm with stops in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls and Castleton VT.  
Best strategy here is to catch this train at Croton-Harmon (in Westchester County) where there’s plenty of paid parking available.  The hope is that the Ethan Allen may be extended from Rutland north to Burlington in the coming years.
Same kind of Amfleet cars, coach and business, AmCafé and free wifi.
THE ADIRONDACK:         This daily train from NY’s Penn Station to Montreal doesn’t go through Vermont, but it gets you close… if you don’t mind a ferry boat ride.  Leaving NYC at 8:15 am, you detrain at Port Kent NY on the western shore of Lake Champlain about 2:30 pm, walk about 100 yards down to the dock and catch the ferry to downtown Burlington.
The Ferry takes 1 hr to cross.
Same kind of seating, wifi etc, but on this train you’re traveling with a much more international crowd of Quebecois.  Poutine anyone?  
In the Fall, The Adirondack often adds a dome car.
Thanks to state subsidies and increasing ridership, fares on all of these Amtrak are very affordable:  on The Vermonter, Stamford to Burlington (booked in advance) is just $55 one-way ($47 for seniors and kids are half-price).  

So if you’re planning a vacation in The Green Mountain state, remember that getting there can be half the fun if you leave the driving to Amtrak… the “green” way to travel.

1 comment:

Homer105 said...

I just took the Vermont to DC train from Brattleboro to Stamford for the second time in as many months. The first trip was $51.00 on a Thursday while the second, on a Friday, was $69.00, probably because Fridays aer busier. A little pricey but the peace of mind and relaxation are worth it. When I arrived in Stamford, I bought the $2.50 ticket to Darien.
This is a wonderful way to travel! The trains were on time (12:30 arrival at Brattleboro and 5:30 at Stamford), clean and the conductors are super friendly, helpful, informative and ever present. The station at Brattleboro is manned by volunteers who seem to be in a contest to see who can be friendlier, most helpful and funnier. A totally pleasant trip all the way around. Nina Miller