CVRA7 wrote:The routing should be changed to the Conn River Line, plain and simple. This routing is far more direct, and Pan Am maintains the line to Portland in good shape because they are compensated. The NECR certainly does not maintain their trackage to the standards of predecessor CV, it seems every year I hear of service suspensions due to track problems on the NECR. Sorry Mr Weaver, routing the train to New London via the NECR would just add to the annual slow downs.While Pan-Am today may maintain the Portland line in good shape, it took some 10-15+ years of fighting to get that problem solved. Then Guilford was complaining about every little thing, from the thickness of the ballast, to the speeds, to the rail weight, etc. It was only when the Downeasters finally started running when Pan-Am got their act together. Now this line sees the best on-time performance anywhere on the Amtrak system, with the fastest growing ridership.
Unless someone steps in, I don't see a quick "Conn River Line" reroute or upgrade. Last I heard in Rumourpace, Pan-Am wants to discontinue signals, and that speeds are down to 5-10 mph. There's a lot of work to do on the line, something which I don't see Pan-Am doing quickly. Now if the line were to be seized and given to a different operator....maybe. Too bad Amtrak didn't also seize the line back in 1988 and sell it to then-CV like they did to the line in VT & NH.
I still think the best interim solution would be to go down the NECR the entire way to New London. While there may be a few slow orders, you'd be moving at least, off CSX, no more backup move, and only one diesel required (so no complaining over using 2 units). Don't know for sure what the conditions of tracks are down there south of Palmer but I don't think they're in horrible shape.
Regarding the northern terminus of the Vermonter, when I boarded at ESX, there were but a handful of passengers on board from SAB. I see no point in running up there... NECR would have to rehab the Burlington Branch - doesn't even have to be up to 59 MPH but 40 would be ok for the few miles. To solve the bus to Montreal problem, have the Vermont Transit buses make a stop at Union Station (their main depot is about a mile south of there anyway) and there you go - they can stop at SAB and Montreal. As for servicing, I'm sure Amtrak can strike a deal to service the train in the VTR yard at Burlington just south of Union Station. VTR already services the Ethan Allen I'm assuming further to the south.
If you could bring the Vermonter right into Burlington, restore the bus connection, and somehow up the speeds and reduce trip time in Mass, then this train would have a booming ridership. Oh yeah, and PROMOTE IT!