An Amtrak train prepares to head north at the Brattleboro station. (Reformer file photo)
An Amtrak train prepares to head north at the Brattleboro station. (Reformer file photo)
Thursday May 9, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Much of the country observes National Train Day to recognize the significant role trains have played in its development.

And Vermont is no exception, as both Brattleboro and Bellows Falls plan to be involved in commemorating the day and celebrating Windham County's proud history of locomotion Saturday.

Christopher Parker, the executive director of Vermont Rail Action Network, said a small ceremony (with refreshments) will be held in the bottom floor of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

He said National Train Day has been observed in Brattleboro for a few years and the ceremony will conclude with the passing of an Amtrak train through town.

Parker said there will be an historic model of the Brattleboro train station (located at 10 Vernon St.) at the museum and a train simulator that is always popular with children.

Bob Atchinson, a rail project coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said the celebration in White River Junction will begin with an Amtrak Vermonter ride south departing from St. Albans at 8:58 a.m. to Bellows Falls, where people will get off at 11:48 a.m. before the train makes its way to Brattleboro. Atchinson said the intention is for participants to experience the high speed of the Amtrak, which travels at 79 mph.

After picking up a box lunch, riders will then board the White River Flyer, which will bring them back up to White River Junction for the main celebration, which is set to start at 1:45 p.


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m. According to VTrans, Secretary Brian Searles is slated to host the celebration and there will also be presentations by the operating railroads and other invited state and local officials.

All seats have already been claimed for this event. VTrans, Amtrak, Green Mountain Railroad (GMRC) and New England Central Railroad (NECR) are sponsoring it this year.

Parker said National Train Day is meant to promote quality train service for the betterment of Vermont's economy and future. The railroad industry staggered following the installation of the Interstate highway system but has since bounced back. Parker said freight traffic has doubled over last 10 or 15 years.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.