Vermont Advocates push for Winooski rail line upgrades as part of passenger rail plans

September 7, 2015

The release in June of a draft state rail plan has drawn attention to the status of the Winooski Branch, an inconspicuous eight miles of railroad track that links Essex Junction with downtown Burlington.

The Winooski Branch, owned by the New England Central Railroad, connects with the Vermont Railway System at downtown Burlington’s Union Station, which in a few years is expected to see passenger trains calling from points south for the first time since the 1950s.

The Aug. 26 meeting of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council may have accelerated the little-used freight line’s prospects for rehabilitation as part of the plan, due for finalization this fall.

While the Winooski Branch links Vermont’s two main rail corridors and knifes across the state’s biggest metropolitan area, the branch sees no passenger traffic at all, and little freight traffic. The New England Central Railroad uses it to bring wood chips to the McNeil Generating Station in the Winooski Intervale several times a week, and, about as often, to exchange freight cars with the Vermont Railway System. The 167-page draft rail plan makes little mention of the line, although, according Christopher Parker, president of the Vermont Rail Action Network, the state’s passenger rail advocacy group, the route lies “right in the middle of a lot of possibilities” for better freight and passenger rail service.

Read C.B. Hall’s full story at VTDIGGER.ORG by clicking here.


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