Train stations drew sold-out railcars and scores of trackside celebrants July 19, when Amtrak passenger service resumed in the Green Mountain State after a 16-month pandemic absence.

“This is a good day for all of Vermont,” Ray Lang, Amtrak’s vice president of state-supported services, told a crowd at one of nearly a dozen stops. “We’re honored to be able to continue to provide transportation options for you.”

Amtrak’s return started at 7:30 a.m. with its Ethan Allen Express departing Rutland for Castleton (riders were required to wear masks) before continuing to New York City for the first time since March 2020.

Shortly after, Amtrak’s Vermonter train left St. Albans at 8:30 a.m. for celebratory stops in Essex Junction, Waterbury, Montpelier, Randolph, White River Junction, Windsor, Bellows Falls and Brattleboro before heading south to Washington, D.C.

The festivities drew locals lured by $1 in-state first-day fares that sold out the Vermonter’s 300 seats.

In St. Albans, a crowd of nearly 100 people heard from leaders, including U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who thanked residents for helping the train to return.

“Each person here cared about the person next to him and her, wore that mask and kept that social distance, so that we could get to this day,” Welch said.

Speaking for Amtrak, Lang said his company had record ridership in 2019 — the Vermonter alone carried more than 98,000 passengers — and was on track to do so again in 2020 before “the bottom fell out.” He voiced gratitude that federal and state legislators “stepped up” to support funding during the pandemic. 

Canada will open to Americans Aug. 9

U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can visit Canada starting Aug. 9, the Canadian government announced Monday.

The northern border will be open to any Americans who present proof of full vaccination: either two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Read more at VTDigger.org (Amtrak returns to Vermont after a 16-month pandemic absence).

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