Study suggests high-speed rail for Vermont

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(Host) A preliminary study of high-speed rail service between Boston and Montreal has concluded the idea warrants a closer look. The 330-mile route was one of three potential high speed rail corridors identified by the federal government two years ago.

A consulting firm hired by Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will release its findings at a series of public meetings beginning this week. The study says the rail lines and rights of way exist for a train that could travel at over 90 miles an hour. The study also looks at potential ridership.

Ronald O’Blenis is project manager for the survey. O’Blenis says there’s strong support for rail service among people who travel the train’s proposed route.
But he says it’s too early to tell if a Boston to Montreal train is a good idea, economically.

(O’Blenis) “There’s not been a determination, and I would say this quite strongly, that high speed rail is feasible within the route. At this point we don’t have all those elements to make that determination.”

(Host) O’Blenis says the next phase of the study will look at the cost of operating the train, and how much revenue it would generate. There’s a lot of uncertainty about where the money to run the train would come from. He says while Amtrak is an unlikely source, there are other possibilities.

(O’Blenis) “We are an international route, going into Canada, so that opens up new possibilities versus lines here. High-speed rail corridors are also looked at for public and private type of scenarios.”

(Host) The study’s findings will be reviewed at a series of public hearings, including one in Montpelier Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Pavilion Auditorium.

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