Vermont lawmakers discuss rail-car purchase

| 11/20/2006

Vermont lawmakers soon will consider a plan to spend $17.5 million to purchase five new rail cars for use on one of the state's Amtrak passenger routes.

The Joint Transportation Oversight Committee decided last week to hold off on the rail-car purchase until the House and Senate transportation panels could discuss the matter as part of a broader discussion of transportation priorities when the Legislature convenes in January, The Associated Press reported.

Vermont Transportation Secretary Neale Lunderville agreed to wait until the end of January 2007. However, Lunderville said he doesn't want to wait too long because the state could lose the promised price or delay their delivery, The AP reported.

Gov. Jim Douglas, who won re-election last week, wants lawmakers to authorize the purchase of three self-propelled diesel cars and two passenger coaches. It's believed the smaller cars would cost the state less money to run than the traditional Amtrak cars.

Lunderville said it is cost prohibitive to continue subsidizing the inefficient trains that run between St. Albans and New Haven, CT.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Richard Mazza, D-Colchester, said the issue would be brought up in his committee as soon as the Legislature convenes Jan. 9, 2007.