Amid cancellations, railroads – and railroaders – remain on the job for us.
Our own legislative reception on March 24th is cancelled, along with the legislature itself. The state house is shut down. The legislature is making plans for how to accomplish business remotely. VTdigger has more.
Amtrak continues to run the Vermonter and Ethan Allen.
In New York, trains no longer cross the Canadian border and the Adirondack is cancelled north of Albany. In Massachusetts only one of two regular “Valley Flyer” trains from Greenfield to New York is running (along with it’s flip side positioning move out of Springfield up to Greenfield and vise versa).
VIA is cutting train service by 50% in Canada.
Northeast Corridor Amtrak trains from Washington – Philadelphia – New York – Boston were reduced to a “Saturday Schedule” and then further reduced to run only 40% of a normal schedule. Commuter trains throughout the northeast are running a “Saturday Schedule.” Some “Downeaster” trains between Boston and Portland are cut. Some cafe cars will no longer be open.
Further Amtrak cuts are expected.
It’s a good time to make Amtrak reservations. Bargains are widespread. Amtrak is reporting future bookings are down by more than 50%. But we’ll be through this soon enough. (An interesting exception: northbound auto-trains from Florida are selling out as everyone goes home).
Freight seems to be moving like normal. Toilet paper mills in Maine are shipping and that traffic continues to detour through Vermont via Rutland because of the closure of the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts. (It’s not just toilet paper – the trains haul lumber, propane, autos, garbage from Massachusetts and all the rest of the commodities that New England uses and ships).
Vermont rail system and it’s people have been working extra hours because of detour moves from the tunnel. So has New England Central.
Further detours are coming in April when the rail line through Middlebury is cut for construction of the new tunnel. Traffic for Burlington (including all the oil and gasoline used in northern Vermont) will detour through Bellows Falls, White River Junction, Waterbury, Essex Junction and Winooski. These will be daylight trains.
Elsewhere in America, container shipments from China are disrupted. Intermodal freight traffic is down 14%. The Port of Los Angels is down 23%. Auto makers are beginning to shut down factories (nobody out buying cars right now). Other commodities are holding steady except for coal, down significantly (now a long-term trend).
As our lives get disrupted, this is an opportunity to realize what is most important. We’re all giving up a lot, making a sacrifice for our collective good. It is interesting that as we practice social distancing, we’re all in this together, more than ever.
I wish you the best, under these circumstances. Thank you for your support.
Christopher Parker, Executive Director