The pending reintroduction of passenger rail to Middlebury, Vermont, paves the way for a rural college town to be linked by public transit to New England and the rest of the region.
Passenger Rail Returns to Middlebury
The Vermont Agency for Transportation recently announced that in 3-4 years, passenger rail service will resume between Rutland and Burlington, Vermont with a stop planned for Middlebury. For attendees of Middlebury College, it would be the first time since 1953 that students will be able to get to and from campus without solely relying on automobile transportation. If the project succeeds, will innovate public transportation in Vermont. As Middlebury continues to grow as a town, it is imperative that it be linked to the greater New England area, to reduce dependency on low capacity and inefficient automobile transportation.
The project was recently awarded ten million dollars in federal funding, which will be used to improve the quality of the tracks, build new stations (including one planned for Middlebury), and install 13 new rail crossings. Once tracks quality is improved, trains will be able to travel at 60 miles per hour, rather than the current maximum speed of 10-25 mph for freight trains.
Vermont’s rail resurgence is reflective of a growing desire for public transit. Currently there are only several train stations in the state. As the project develops in coming years, the hope is that Vermont and surrounding areas will be able to rely more heavily on public transit, and reduce the state’s dependency on automobile traffic.
For students at Middlebury, the hope is that the project will connect them to other public transit throughout New England, providing them with an even broader link to the region.
In this film, I spoke with senior architecture students working on proposals for a new train station in Middlebury. The students, who are working on these projects as their senior theses, will present them to the Town of Middlebury select board at the end of the year.