Midnight train

An Amtrak train rolls through on a snowy night past Waterbury’s historic train station in 2019. The daily Vermonter route runs from St. Albans and makes stops throughout the state taking travelers as far south as New York City and Washington, D.C.

After a 16-month hiatus due to the pandemic, Amtrak this week resumed train service throughout Vermont, including stops at Waterbury’s historic train station.

A crowd of approximately 200, double the turnout expected, showed up at the station Monday morning to greet the return of the Vermonter, the train that runs from St. Albans and makes stops throughout the state taking travelers as far south as New York City and Washington, D.C.

The train was 20 minutes late.

“It’s an active railroad. It’s very busy. In terms of Amtrak, we’re just absolutely thrilled to have them back. We want visitors to come and get off the trains in Waterbury and then explore our town, stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, go shopping, go hiking. Everything that we'd love to do in the area,” said Karen Nevin, executive director of the nonprofit Revitalizing Waterbury.

The nonprofit restored the train depot, which was built in 1875, after buying it in 2005.

The train may have finally returned, but the cafe inside the train depot, previously operated by Green Mountain Coffee and its owner Keurig, left for good when the pandemic began. Nevin said her group is looking for a new tenant to take over the space.

Gov. Phil Scott, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Rep. Peter Welch spoke in celebration of Amtrak’s return at its northernmost terminus in St. Albans.

“Like many, I remember my first Amtrak trip. I was 22 and I had just started working for Congressman Peter Welch in Washington. I remember standing at Union Station and hearing the ‘all aboard’ for ‘the Vermonter’. Although I was far away, I felt close to home knowing I could always take the train home to Vermont or all the way to St. Albans,” Gray said in a statement.

Nevin, naturally, believes the Waterbury station to be the better destination.

“We couldn’t convince the governor to come down,” she said. “He had to be up in St. Albans for the first stop, though it’s so much more fun to be in Waterbury.”

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