Member Spotlight: Vermont Rail System
The Green Mountain Railroad (GMRC) is one of five short line railroads that make up the Vermont Rail System (VRS). The company was founded in 1963 when the Rutland Railroad abandoned operations after two years of labor strikes. Jay L. Wulfson, an experienced railroader from New Jersey, heard about the opportunity to restore rail service in Vermont, and the challenge intrigued him. On August 6th, 1963, Wulfson signed a lease agreement with the State to begin service on the Vermont Railway, the nation’s first privately owned railroad to operate on a publicly-owned right of way. Though Jay passed away at a young age in 1980, the company was left in great hands. His oldest son, David, is the current President, and his daughter, Lisa, is Executive Vice President & Treasurer. The Vermont Rail System takes pride in the family work atmosphere that has been present since its beginning.
In May of 1997, the Vermont Railway purchased the Green Mountain Railroad, leading to the formation of the Vermont Rail System. Today, the VRS family of over 150 dedicated railroaders operate more than 350 miles of track and haul over 25,000 freight cars each year. Nearly 90% of freight traffic serves local Vermont businesses such as farms, fuel facilities, lumber yards, breweries, and more. Along with freight service, the Vermont Rail System provides passenger services through the Green Mountain Railroad. They offer seasonal train rides, special event trains, dinner trains, and charter services, giving Vermonters and visitors a chance to enjoy Vermont by rail.
The Green Mountain Railroad has been offering passenger service for many years. In the Fall of 2016, the GMRC began operating the Green Mountain Dinner Train out of Chester, Vermont, offering guests a gourmet meal while rolling through the beautiful Green Mountains during foliage season. In addition to the dinner trains, the GMRC operates daytime fall foliage excursions out of Chester with historical narratives and a delicious lunch menu on board. They also offer a social train on Friday nights called “Cocktails on the Rails”, with live music, hors d’oeurves, and hand crafted cocktails. In May of 2018, the GMRC embarked on a new endeavor: bringing classic railroad-style dining to Northern Vermont during the summer. The company now operates the Champlain Valley Classic Dinner Train; a three-hour round trip from Burlington to Middlebury with a three-course dining experience on board vintage dining cars. In the summer, they also operate a commuter train for the annual Fourth of July Celebration in Burlington, and a number of other “special event” train rides such as Kids Day, Brunch Trains and Rails & Sails. In late May, GMR hosted LCRCC’s First Annual Chamber Train mixer. Each train provides visitors with a view of Vermont that can’t be seen anywhere else.
In addition to their scheduled train rides, the GMRC’s passenger equipment is available to be chartered anywhere along the Vermont Rail System’s 350 miles of track, all year round. The vintage rail cars make a perfect venue for weddings, receptions, reunions, corporate functions, and more! For more information, visit the Green Mountain Railroad Passenger Services online at www.trainridesvt.com or call 800-707-3530 during regular business hours.