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AllEarth Rail Newsroom

Transportation Secretary Responds to Push for Commuter Train Route in Northwest Vermont

Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn says commuter rail service in the state's northwest corridor is an idea "with merit" but says key details remain unknown.

Flynn was responding to a Wednesday story that featured the founder of All Earth Rail, David Blittersdorf, who spoke at a demonstration project near the Statehouse featuring a restored passenger train car.

Blittersdorf said he has invested nearly $6 million to purchase a dozen self-propelled rail cars that are ready to roll between St. Albans and Essex Junction -- and perhaps continue on to Montpelier.

Commuter train service, Blittersdorf said, could begin as soon as mid-2019 and fares he projected would be significantly lower than the cost to drive a car over the same route.

 

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Rail Pitched to Lawmakers

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers got their first look Wednesday at a “back to the future” effort to reintroduce passenger rail service in Vermont to counteract transportation costs, parking problems in the Capital City and concerns about climate change.

Several lawmakers, including freshmen who are passionate about addressing energy use and climate change, welcomed the arrival of a Budd Rail diesel car in Montpelier, one of 10 that could be used to start passenger rail service in central and western Vermont.

The proposal is the brainchild of David Blittersdorf, a Vermont industrialist with a long history in the renewable energy business, first through NRG wind turbines and then with solar energy through allEarth Renewables, both based in Williston. A spinoff division, allEarth Rail, is focused on bringing back passenger rail with 1950s-era diesel rail cars that can each carry up to 94 passengers.

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Decision time for commuter rail service in northwest Vermont

Commuter rail could connect St. Albans and Essex Junction as soon as next summer if state leaders act soon.

David Blittersdorf, owner of All Earth Renewables, has purchased 12 fully restored self-propelled passenger rail cars and hopes state lawmakers grab the opportunity to establish new commuter train service.

One of the 94-passenger cars was on display Wednesday near the Statehouse allowing lawmakers in town for orientation briefings to see one up close.

Blittersdorf says the first logical route would connect St. Albans to the Global Foundries campus in Essex Junction, a trip thousands of Vermonters make every day by car.

Schedules would integrate with Chittenden County buses, he said, and train cars could continue on from Essex Junction to Montpelier.

The company's analysis suggests an operator could charge significantly less in fares than commuters are now spending driving a car the same distance.

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AllEarth Rail Moves on, to Montpelier Wednesday

Legislators will be offered a distinctive breakfast ambiance Wednesday when AllEarth Rail, the startup commuter-rail initiative spearheaded by clean-energy entrepreneur David Blittersdorf, hosts them on board a rehabbed railcar parked on the Washington County Railroad tracks adjacent to Taylor Street in Montpelier, a short stroll from the State House.

The event will mark a milestone of sorts for Blittersdorf's project, which is built around 12 vintage "Budd cars" that he acquired in early 2017 from Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The cars, which carry their own engines underneath the floorboards, need no locomotive – making them an economical alternative, in the view of some observers, for small commuter-rail operations such as Blittersdorf envisions for northwestern Vermont.

The Wednesday program will feature a continental breakfast for interested lawmakers from 8:30 to 10:30, with Blittersdorf and AllEarth Rail president Charlie Moore on hand to introduce their initiative to the attendees.

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Man With a Plan: A Sustainable Transportation Vermont editor shares Blittersdorf’s vision

On a brisk afternoon last month, I joined 50 people gathered in an industrial park on a hill above Barre to take a “joy ride.” Awestruck preschoolers, their parents and other more experienced passengers, climbed aboard a self-propelled, 1950s-era railcar. Despite the low speed and short distance—it crawled just a few hundred yards to the end of the rail yard and back—the atmosphere inside the car was buoyant if not joyful. These train fans were focused on the future, as they conjured a glimpse of how rail travel might become part of their daily lives.
 

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Burlington Company Aims For Commuter Rail Renaissance With 'Self-Powered' Cars

The future of Vermont rail often looks north to Canada and the reintroduction of The Montrealer for passenger service between Vermont and Quebec. But a Burlington company is aiming to expand rural commuter rail service within the state with individually-powered rail cars that could restart local rail service between communities across the state.

David Blittersdorf, CEO of solar panel systems supplier AllEarth Renewables, has now turned his attention to commuter rail and created a company called AllEarth Rail

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Essex Officials, Residents Tour Commuter Rail Cars

The future of Vermont rail often looks north to Canada and the reintroduction of The Montrealer for passenger service between Vermont and Quebec. But a Burlington company is aiming to expand rural commuter rail service within the state with individually-powered rail cars that could restart local rail service between communities across the state.

David Blittersdorf, CEO of solar panel systems supplier AllEarth Renewables, has now turned his attention to commuter rail and created a company called AllEarth Rail

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Budd car on track small

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