VTrans Declines to Purchase New Passenger Trains
December 7, 2007: MONTPELIER: The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), after collaboration with both the Vermont Attorney General and the Vermont State Treasurer, decided not to contract with a Colorado company to purchase $17.5 million worth of new passenger train cars.
VTrans approached the Legislature in 2006 about purchasing five new rail cars three engine cars and two passenger cars as a way to potentially lower costs because the new train sets would be less expensive to run than the decades old cars now used, and owned, by Amtrak on the Vermonter line that runs from St. Albans to Springfield, Massachusetts and eventually New York City and Washington D.C.
The Vermont Legislature in 2007 approved the purchase. Among the conditions was a requirement that the manufacturer, Colorado Railcar Manufacturing, agree to either buy back the cars or resell them at 90 percent of the purchase price after three years if the state determined the project to be unsuccessful.
The purchase was also contingent on the State Treasurer and Attorney Generals approval of the deals financial guarantees.
An investment of $17.5 million is substantial, and everyone had to be comfortable that the states investment would be protected, said VTrans Secretary Neale Lunderville. Unfortunately, neither the manufacturer nor Amtrak were able to supply us with enough guarantee that the state would recoup 90 percent of its investment should things not work out.
After months of negotiations which also included Amtrak, the sides were unable to forge an agreement that assured that Vermont was able to return the rail cars to either the manufacturer or Amtrak if the demonstration was unsuccessful.
Existing passenger rail service will continue with Amtrak-owned cars. VTrans will continue to work with the Legislature to pursue improvements to both the availability and affordability of public transportation.
We continue to believe that this type of equipment is the future of passenger rail, Lunderville said. We believe that such equipment will be more affordable, have a smaller environmental impact and allow improvements to Vermonts passenger service.
VTrans continues to discuss the value of new equipment with Vermonts congressional delegation, and has requested federal financial assistance. The Agency will continue communicating with the delegation to express its ongoing interest in making improvements to Vermonts passenger rail service.