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Energy entrepreneur hopes to bring commuter rail to Vermont

In this Sept. 5, 2017 photo, David Blittersdorf, right, and Charlie Moore pose in Barre, Vt., in front of one of a dozen passenger rail cars Blittersdorf bought to try to jump-start a commuter rail system in Vermont. Moore, a long-time rail expert in the state, is working to make that happen.

In this Sept. 5, 2017 photo, David Blittersdorf, right, and Charlie Moore pose in Barre, Vt., in front of one of a dozen passenger rail cars Blittersdorf bought to try to jump-start a commuter rail system in Vermont. Moore, a long-time rail expert in the state, is working to make that happen.

David Blittersdorf spent $5 million of his own money to buy the fully functional, 1950s-era cars, and he has hired one of the state’s most experienced rail experts to get those cars carrying passengers once again.

“Part of the vision is you’ve got to show the pictures, you’ve got to show the real stuff,” Blittersdorf said recently inside one of the new cars. “If we were to buy the new hardware or worked the way the folks have been working on rail it would be decades away and we don’t have time. We have an oil crisis. We have a climate crisis.”

David Blittersdorf spent $5 million of his own money to buy the fully functional, 1950s-era cars, and he has hired one of the state’s most experienced rail experts to get those cars carrying passengers once again.

“Part of the vision is you’ve got to show the pictures, you’ve got to show the real stuff,” Blittersdorf said recently inside one of the new cars. “If we were to buy the new hardware or worked the way the folks have been working on rail it would be decades away and we don’t have time. We have an oil crisis. We have a climate crisis.”

Blittersdorf maintains many young people now don’t want to be tied to their vehicles, as their parents have been. He hopes to set up a public-private partnership that could run a commuter rail system with the cars he bought. He would like to see at least some of the cars carrying the first paying passengers in a year or so.

He hired out of retirement Charlie Moore, a 40-year veteran of the Vermont rail industry, to be president of his company AllEarth Rail, to work out the details. They are working to identify a first route, but possibilities are from Burlington, the state’s largest city, to Vergennes or Middlebury, communities to the south. Or between Essex Junction, just outside of Burlington, and Montpelier, the state capital.

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