VTR HONORED AS 2022 SHORT LINE RAILROAD OF THE YEAR

Nicole Carlson /

Uncategorized

VTR HONORED AS 2022 SHORT LINE RAILROAD OF THE YEAR

Nicole Carlson /

Uncategorized

Vermont Rail System has been honored for the second time by Railway Age as Shortline Railroad of the Year.   According to  Railway Age Executive Editor Marybeth Luczak, the 2022 award reflects VTR’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and its success with the Middlebury main line tunnel project in which VTR was able to leverage public-private partnerships and teamwork both within its organization and with other railroads to repair aging infrastructure and better serve customers.  The Middlebury Project was a multi-year reconstruction effort that put VTR’s main line out of service for a period of ten weeks and included daily detour trains over the New England Central Railroad (NECR) in addition to lengthy periods during construction when VTR had to operate around very tight work windows.

   The project in Middlebury included severing and rebuilding 3,500 linear feet of railroad track, crossties and ballast; excavating tens of thousands of cubic yards of soil and bedrock; constructing a new drainage system by microtunneling through solid rock 30 feet below grade; assembling 422 individual pieces of precast concrete fabricated in New York; and reconstructing portions of both Main Street and Merchants Row, including new sidewalks and lighting. For close to a year prior to the shutdown, VTR adjusted its daily train operations to accommodate very tight 20-hour work windows and minimize impacts on customers, providing the flexibility to contractors to keep the project moving forward. A priority for VTR was to guarantee rail customers uninterrupted service during the ten-week shutdown  of its main line, so VTR diverted all rail traffic through Middlebury onto an alternate New England Central Railroad route that ran along the opposite side of the state.  Working closely with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and NECR,  VTR put in place a plan for two detour trains each day. The trains were powered by eight GMTX GP-38-2s leased by VTR and operated over NECR from Burlington to Bellows Falls and additional train crews were  brought in, trained, and qualified on both railroads. In some cases, partial off-loading or complete transloading of product from railcar to truck was required at VTR’s Riverside Reload Center in Bellows Falls, Vt., before cars could be accepted onto the detour route. 

     For VRS President Selden Houghton, maintaining quality customer service  during the Middlebury project was the priority from the start.  Close communication and teamwork with VTrans, contractors and the NECR through years of planning and construction made this a real success not only for VRS customers and shippers but in helping to advance the State of Vermont’s longstanding goal to bring Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express service to Burlington, Vermont and accommodate the “high and wide” shipments on this critical freight route.  “We are gratified and honored to accept this award on behalf of all the team members, both in and outside of VRS, who were instrumental in making this project a success” said VRS President Houghton. “I can’t give enough credit to the folks at VTrans for the years of careful planning, attention to detail and coordination with the Town of Middlebury, VHB, New England Central Railroad, ECI and Kubricky Construction that made such a complicated infrastructure project possible.”  

       This is the second time that the team at Vermont Rail System has been honored by Railway Age, having been named Short Line of the Year by Railway Age in 2012 as well.   Started in 1964, the 150 dedicated railroaders of VRS now operate more than 400 miles of track and haul in excess of 25,000 freight cars each year, with over 90% of that traffic serving local business.  VRS also operates passenger services running seasonal excursions and dinner trains along with providing complete freight car repair and inspection services from its certified car shop facility in North Walpole, New Hampshire. Over the past 58 years, VRS has embraced change and welcomed opportunity, all while staying true to the mission statement – ‘Serving America’s Industry with Pride’.

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