VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:58 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Reportedly they were on a BNSF train headed to KC. That's the long way from Dallas to Portland, OR.

Where and Who did TriMet contract with to refurbish the RDCs heading towards them? For all we know, they could be heading to a contractor based in Quebec that specializes in RDCs. I'll admit I don't know, but I'm not surprised those heading towards Portland might be taking the long way to get there. They're not going to do TriMet any good until they have been refurbished to meet their needs.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:01 pm

Perhaps I added 2+2 and got 5? Based on a previous posts, I thought someone had said 2 were heading to TriMet.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:12 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Perhaps I added 2+2 and got 5? Based on a previous posts, I thought someone had said 2 were heading to TriMet.

TriMet did buy 2 of them from AllEarth. TriMet also needs to add PTC to them and remodel them to match what they already have (branding is important). So somebody somewhere is going to have to do that work.
Meanwhile. AllEarth doesn't have anything to match, and could easily continue to use the DCTA interiors already in most of them. AllEarth doesn't have to install PTC if they keep the number of trains ran everyday down below a specific number. All AllEarth should have to do to the ones they plan to use in Vermont is perform the specific inspections required by the FRA to put them back into service. Major mechanical inspections are due on them, which is why the TRE decided to save some money by selling them. It's why they were a great buy, even for TriMet.
Who AllEarth is going to use to perform those inspections I have no idea. But they too will have to have someone somewhere do it.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby NH2060 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:01 pm

One step closer to reality?
Ten of Williston-based AllEarth Rail's newly purchased, self-propelled passenger rail cars arrived in Vermont last week and into Montpelier today, bringing AllEarth's intentions of initiating a private commuter-rail service in the Burlington area one step closer to reality. AllEarth president Charlie Moore told VBM that he's looking forward to showing the public what the cars can do in a demonstration run this fall.

http://www.vermontbiz.com/news/2017/aug ... ll-vermont
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:39 pm

I'm not clear on who AllEarth wants to have pay for this service. The state? The cities or counties affected? It's also not fully clear whether this is just Montpelier-Burlington or if there are more/different lines in play. (Burlington-Rutland-Bennington in particular.)

Didn't strike me until seeing pictures how well-maintained the RDCs are. Even if this intra-state service never gets off the ground, AllEarth has a small fleet it can probably sell for a profit.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby TomNelligan » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:39 pm

Vermont's alternative weekly newspaper Seven Days carried a lengthy interview with AllEarth head David Blittersdorf. Among other things, the writer checked in with officials of the Vermont Railway and New England Central, who both say they're agreeable to negotiation but that Blittersdorf hasn't yet initiated anything. Nor, as the article points out, does he have any current public funding for the project.

https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/dav ... id=7098903
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:55 pm

That's what I thought, Tom - thanks.

electricron: is the inspection something that could be performed at the VRS shops or another local facility, or does it have to be at a specified provider certified in RDCs? I'm not fully clear on anything beyond COT&S.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:09 pm

3 of the RDC's are getting checked over at GMRC's North Walpole shop,the rest of the fleet were towed to the former BBD plant
at Barre Vt. All were in long term(mothballed) storage,so everything needs to be checked and serviced as needed,before any form
of service or demonstration run.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:40 pm

"Can anyone see which RDC units from the TRE made it to Vermont? (#2001-2013). The TRE had their unit numbers along the exterior side centered in the middle of the car. The interiors of units 2007 and 2011 (7-11 home is Dallas) were not refurbished by the DCTA if that bit of information helps."

This YouTube video answered my question.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BuDCOhyRBnM

In order on the train you'll see:
2006, 2008, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2012.

Which means all of these RDCs were used by the DCTA last as late as 2012, and had their interiors refurbished recently.
I suspect, admittingly not entirely sure, that the TRE kept 2001 and units 2007 and 2011 were sold off to TriMet for WES commuter rail service.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:25 am

mtuandrew wrote:I'm not clear on who AllEarth wants to have pay for this service. The state? The cities or counties affected? It's also not fully clear whether this is just Montpelier-Burlington or if there are more/different lines in play. (Burlington-Rutland-Bennington in particular.)

Didn't strike me until seeing pictures how well-maintained the RDCs are. Even if this intra-state service never gets off the ground, AllEarth has a small fleet it can probably sell for a profit.


I read or heard somewhere that VIA strongly believed their low ball bid was actually going to win the auction. They must have been surprised to hear that they lost? ;)
Which means they will have to get busy rebuilding or refurbishing more idle, rusting away, mothballed RDCs. In the mid 1990s, TRE paid around $2 million per RDC doing so.VIA really wanted these RDCs for about a tenth of those costs for their new proposed commuter service in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Maybe those new commuter rail projects will die or be delayed significantly in the Atlantic providences now?

If AllEarth Rail can't move this Vermont project forward, maybe they will sell these to a willing buyer up north of the border? VIA still wants them badly.
Last edited by electricron on Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:38 am

mtuandrew wrote:That's what I thought, Tom - thanks.

electricron: is the inspection something that could be performed at the VRS shops or another local facility, or does it have to be at a specified provider certified in RDCs? I'm not fully clear on anything beyond COT&S.


I don't think there's any really special technology on them requiring specialists. The diesels and transmissions are fairly common, although spare parts are becoming fewer and fewer over the years as old spare parts supplies are being consumed. The car bodies, seats, flooring, lighting, and other systems were newly installed with mid-1990s commercially available stuff. So I don't think they will need to be sent to a special facility for routine maintenance. FRA certification fi for passenger rolling stock, if there is any such requirement for passengers, should be all that is needed. Just about every rail car shop could do the work. Finding and keeping qualified workers to do the job in Vermont will probably be the hardest task. Herzog has workers familiar with them already. Maybe AllEarth Rail could lure some of them away from Dallas?
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:10 am

mtuandrew wrote:I'm not clear on who AllEarth wants to have pay for this service. The state? The cities or counties affected? It's also not fully clear whether this is just Montpelier-Burlington or if there are more/different lines in play. (Burlington-Rutland-Bennington in particular.)

Didn't strike me until seeing pictures how well-maintained the RDCs are. Even if this intra-state service never gets off the ground, AllEarth has a small fleet it can probably sell for a profit.


Herzog did an excellent job maintaining and operating these RDCs for the TRE and DCTA. I wouldn't be surprised if the TRE chrome plated the one they kept, just kidding! But i do expect the stainless steel body will remain shiny with frequent application of elbow grease. ;)

I believe they will be looking at every government body pitch in their own way. The state financing track refurbishments, cities with stations and their platforms, counties with crossing gates, and the Feds for environmental justice funds for operations.

One thing for certain; $300,000 to purchase each RDC is just the beginning of filling the "hole in the sea". 10 RDCs for significantly less than the $1,000,000 (+++) for a brand new passenger coach and even more for even used locomotives was a great deal. But there's more to running and maintaining a railroad than having cars for passengers to ride on. There's gaining trackage rights, FRA certifications, constructions permits, legal liability insurance, finding and qualifying certified drivers/engineers, fare colllections, policing aboard the trains, civil engineers building platforms, lawyers, acccountans; just about everyone you will need to run a small business. Expenditures will be going on for months, if not years, nd they don't start earning revenues until the first passenger buys a ticket to ride.

Some fun with math. I read recently that these RDCs average 2-2.5 mpg. Which doesn't sound good until you realize there's 88 seats on each RDC. If 88 passengers were riding the train, that's at least 176 mpg per passenge. If the train was half full, that's 88 mpg per passenger. With just 10 passengers, that's 20 mpg per passengers. The environmental justice these trains will supply really depends on how full they are with passengers...
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby BandA » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:28 pm

Those cars are so beautiful!!! At ~$300,000 per car, that's about one-tenth (1/10) of the original price Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit paid in 2010 for their modern Nippon-Sharyo DMUs which only seat 79 instead of 88! Albeit those DMUs come with greater crash safety features and Tier-IV emissions. By comparison, a new Toyota Camry costs roughly $21,000 for 5 passengers...these DMUs only cost ~$17,045 per five passenger seats and get better mileage than the auto, but the car you don't have to pay a conductor or driver, and I believe the car emissions are lower than Tier-IV diesel.

Why did TRE get rid of such well-maintained cars?

So, all the additional inspections required for an RDC vs a coach, they could be done locally by railroad employees in VT? Where costs are presumably lower than Amtrak or MBTA or Septa or SMART or TRE.

Is the Trinity Railway Express name painted over the original railroad's name, etched into the stainless?
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby electricron » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:17 pm

BandA wrote:Is the Trinity Railway Express name painted over the original railroad's name, etched into the stainless?

I believe they're vinyl stickers/wrappers near the doors. At one time DCTA had their own vinyl stickers atop the TRE's. If they are painted, using a paint remover carefully should get rid of them without damaging the stainless steel.
The Trinity Railway Express white lettering on blue background at the top may be etched plastic. I sort of remember them having a 3-D look. But maybe they are vinyl wraps? Whichever, they shouldn't be too hard to replace.

But what would you replace them with? A new livery and branding will be required. What do you think a new commuter rail line in northern Vermont should be called? Winooski Railway Express?, Yankee Clipper?, or Green Mountains Cannonball? Surely they will hire a marketing company and do a survey to find out what Vermonters would prefer.
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Re: VT Burlington - Montpelier - St. Albans Commuter Rail

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:42 pm

If you want to talk relative prices per seat, I could buy a beautifully-maintained 1991 Toyota Camry for $4,000; only $800 a seat :wink:

AllEarth got a bargain, TRE got rid of cars that really didn't fit their fleet utilization anymore and got $3.6m out of the deal for twelve Budds. Heckuva deal all around :-D

Green Mountain Express? I dunno, the AllEarth guys will think of something for their pitch to get money.
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