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All photos by Ron Goodenow. Reproduction without Ron's permission is prohibited.

A recent visit to Vermont -- I once lived near Woodstock -- reminded me that it's just a great place if one likes trains. There's Amtrak's Vermonter in the East and the Ethan Allen Express in the West. Short lines carry the Vermont Valley Flyer, soon the new River Valley Rambler, and the Green Mountain Flyer, connecting the likes of North Bennington, Manchester, White River Junction, Norwich, Bellows Falls, and Chester Depot to a splendid landscape of working farms, bubbling streams and highways filled with happy leafers and geekers from Boston and Manhattan. On the left is Monadnock Central's Bellows Falls - Chester Depot run, photographed arriving in the latter in 1964. On the right is a Steamtown excursion pulling into its home base in Bellows Falls in 1978. The Monadnock Central is no more. Its trains now trundle behind diesels over Vermont RR tracks operated by the Green Mountain Railroad Corp, which runs the other short line trains mentioned here. Steamtown has relocated to Pennsylvania but, as they say, the memory lingers on in the Connecticut Valley.

The Amtrak station at Rensselaer, NY, just across the Hudson River from Albany, was a bustling place on May 24, 2000. Serving 28 weekday trains to and from Chicago, Vermont, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Buffalo and New York City, it dishes up quite a collection of equipment, including turbos, Heritage Fleet, Amfleets and Viewliner sleepers. Here's the New York-Boston Bound Lake Shore arriving an hour late with a consist of nine Heritage, Amfleet and Viewliner cars, one heck of a passenger load and the usual mail-express cars. The real excitement here is the new station, scheduled to open in 2001, along with a parking lot that will hopefully relieve the pressure which currently plagues anyone arriving mid-day. This is all quite a contrast to the last days of Penn Central and the early Amtrak years, which I remember well. Now if Amtrak can just get new equipment to keep up with all these new stations...and rising customer expectations.

I've never seen an airplane add much to a landscape, especially one that is pretty bleak and remote. Certainly, I wouldn't stand around waiting for one to fly over to make things look better. Trains are different and I well recall long waits for these two. The one on the left is the Rock Island's eastbound Rocky Mountain Rocket near Limon, Colorado, on a grim day in 1965. Reduced to but a sleeper, club lounge and coaches, one from Denver and one from Colorado Springs, en route to Chicago [it would pick up a sleeper in Des Moines enroute], this train was approaching its last days. A happier sight -- service continues on this route to this day on the Skeena -- is VIA's Jasper - Prince Rupert run, photographed on a cold day in 1983 near Jasper, its deep blue and yellow a wonderful complement to the wilderness it traversed.

In mid-June the Worcester, Massachusetts, Union Station opened for business. Though it is devoid of a ticket office and even a place to buy a cup of coffee, public reaction has been very positive and MBTA commuter runs to Boston are jammed. Further good news is that Amtrak and the MBTA, which owns the station, have reached an agreement for Amtrak to move in within the next few weeks -- moving Amtrak out of its tiny station about a hundred yards away. Less good are the inability of the station's developers to attract long-promised shops and concessions and a highly controversial veto by Governor Paul Celluci of a transporation bill which would increase MBTA service significantly to accomodate crowds and provide for a far more balanced schedule -- the Governor wants to wait for new equipment which is on order for delivery in approximately a year. Aside from the political haggling which affects anything that moves in Massachusetts, the station is a magnificent restoration. And, with the news that a coffee concession just moved into Worcester's underutilized but increasingly busy airport, there is hope all around these parts.


Page created by: Craig O'Connell
Changes last made on: July 1, 2002.



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