Green Mountain Railroad expands dinner train service

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A Green Mountain passenger excursion waits at the Ludlow, Vt., depot in 2015. In addition to the new Burlington trips, dinner trains will resume out of Chester in September.
Steve Glischinski
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Vermont Railway System’s Green Mountain Railroad is expanding dinner train service next month with the introduction of the Champlain Valley Dinner Train operating out of Burlington. The railroad also operates a dinner train at Chester each autumn.

Beginning May 11 the train will depart Burlington at 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays offering a three-hour round trip to Middlebury. Passengers will be served a three-course meal.

The train, which will be pulled by Vermont Railway System freight units, includes five cars from what Green Mountain refers to as its “Silver Fleet.” These include the following, which were all built by Budd in 1937 for the Santa Fe as coaches:

No. 3074: Built for Santa Fe as part of Lot 977, an order for 30 52-seat coaches made in February of 1937, and delivered between July and October 1937. The cars were originally assigned to the Scout but later were assigned to trains such as the San Diegan, Golden Gate, Kansas Cityan/Chicagoan, Tulsan, and El Capitan. In 1969, the car was sold to the New Jersey Department of Transportation and rebuilt as 82-seat commuter coach 3074. In 1989, it was sold to Green Mountain and has since been rebuilt into a 64-seat dining car.

No. 3075: Sold by Santa Fe to NJDOT in 1969 and converted to 82-seat commuter coach 3075. Sold to GMRR in 1989, today it serves as a 60-seat dining car.

No. 3089: Sold in 1969 to NJDOT and rebuilt as 82-seat commuter coach 3089. In 1989 it sold to Green Mountain and later rebuilt into a 48-seat dining car with a bar on one end.

No. 3091: Sold to NJDOT in 1969 and rebuilt as 82-seat commuter coach 3075. In 1989, the car was sold to the Green Mountain and later rebuilt into a 21-seat lounge car with a large bar on one end.

No. 3101: Sold this car to Penn Central in 1970, which converted it to 84-seat commuter coach 2403. Later it went to New Jersey Transit before being sold to Green Mountain Railroad as car 3101. It has been rebuilt into a 68-seat table car with a small lounge area on one end.

“In addition to the Silver Fleet, we will, of course, be pulling our new Kitchen Car 3010, to prepare all meals on board,” says Nicole Wulfson, who handles passenger marketing and customer service for Green Mountain.

No. 3010 is former Ringling Brothers "pie car" No. 63010 built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1962 for Union Pacific as postal storage car 5770. It was sold to Ringling Brothers in 1999 and came to Green Mountain in 2017. In addition to the kitchen area, No. 3010 also has a dining area for 24 passengers.

“We will seat up to 150 people, even though the capacity of the train is probably about 260. Strangers won’t be sitting with strangers; we are going to spread everybody out so everyone gets the most of their experience," Wulfson adds. “It’s a really nice, relaxing experience where people can just unplug, enjoy it, and not worry about rushing. Passengers can lose track of time, take in the scenery and enjoy a very nice, new experience.”

The train will also offer a smoother ride, which is one reason the railroad decided to operate dinner trains out of Burlington, Wulfson says. The line south of Burlington now has welded rail installed in preparation for the expansion of Amtrak service from Rutland to Burlington, which is expected by 2020 or 2021.

Tickets for the train are $85 per person. First Class service is available at $100 for 18 passengers that include a complimentary drink and seating in a first class lounge car after the meal. There will be special brunch trips offered on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

For the past two years, the railroad operated the Green Mountain Dinner Train fall foliage trips out of Chester. That train will resume Sept. 14 after the Lake Champlain Dinner Train ends its season Sept. 1. The Green Mountain Dinner Train will run through Oct. 20.

For more information, go to www.rails-vt.com/cvdinnertrain.

This story was edited April 19 to correct the photo caption.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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