The Western Corridor links Albany – Bennington – Rutland – Burlington.  This railroad line (between Bennington and Burlington) is owned by the state of Vermont and operated under lease by the Vermont Railway, part of the Vermont Rail System.

Amtrak serves Rutland with, “The Ethan Allen”, connecting the region with New York City.  The goal is to extend that train to Burlington and begin passenger service via Bennington, rebuilding the route to passenger train standards.

The Vermont Railway began operations in 1964 after the state of Vermont purchased the property of the bankrupt Rutland Railroad in order to avoid the loss of service to that part of the state.  Family owned, the Vermont Railway has grown and established a reputation for excellent customer service and aggressive marketing in order to bring business to the railroad and off the highway.

Because this part of the state lacks an interstate the railroad is crucial to the economic health of several communities.  Much of the feed grain, oil, gasoline, rock salt and other commodities consumed in Vermont are delivered by this railroad, and Omya (a marble processor) and other other shippers depend upon the railway to competively access markets.

According to the terms of the lease, the Vermont Railway must maintain the line to freight standards, but the state (as landlord) is responsible for any capital upgrades and is responsible for bridge maintenance.  The  condition of many of the bridges is one reason the route is limited to a 263,000 lb weight limit instead of the national weight limit of 286,000 pounds.  Cars coming to or from Vermont now have to be only partially loaded, which puts Vermont’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage.