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Vermont Rail Action Network annual meeting, dinner, Oct. 23

Letter to the Editor

— Oct. 23 is the date of the Vermont Rail Action Network annual meeting, a dinner, presentation and celebration with other rail advocates that you won't want to miss.

The event is co-sponsored with the Franklin Environmental Center, the hub of environmental and sustainability education at Middlebury College.

There has been some exciting progress on the Western Corridor between Rutland and Burlington over the last year and the state and the Shumlin administration has committed to bring intercity passenger service north from Rutland to Burlington by 2017.

Meeting at Middlebury will give us a chance to hear more about the Western Corridor and how it will benefit Middlebury College, Vermont, and our rail network.

We'll also hear about the just completed ARRA funded "high speed rail" upgrade on the route of the Vermonter over the New England Central Railroad.

Both David Wulfson, president of the Vermont Rail System and Charles Hunter, RailAmerica assistant vice president for government affairs, will update us on the doings at their railroads.

We'll hear from Tom Donahue and Tom Torti of the Rutland and Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, from Sarah Simonds of Middlebury who leads the Transportation Stakeholders Coalition in Vermont and is a rising star at the Vermont Community Foundation and we'll hear from Chris Cole, Vermont Agency of Transportation Director of the Policy, Planning & Intermodal Division (which includes the rail program). The focus will be on the potential and necessity of the "Western Corridor" - the rail line up the Western side of the state that will allow Amtrak's Ethan Allen to be extended through Middlebury to Burlington.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has promised that using state resources the tracks can be upgraded to passenger standards, allowing the Ethan Allen to serve Vermont's largest population center, upgrading freight capabilities and set the stage for possible future commuter trains. Chris Cole will tell us how the Agency of Transportation plans to do this, as well as provide a breif update about the study process covering the Bennington and Manchester part of the route.

Amtrak recently sent their "track geometry" car down the Western Corridor, measuring the current condition of the track allowing for a much more precise plan for what work is necessary.

We'll be at the Kirk Alumni Center at Middlebury College. Reception with cash bar will begin at 5:30 and the event is 6-9.

An RSVP is requested: 802-536-4607

Christopher Parker

Vermont Rail Action Network

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