Next stop: Castleton

May 9 marked the second year that Castleton has celebrated National Rail Day and it came at a pretty convenient time for owners of the Castleton Depot. The prospect that future generations of Castleton students and Vermonters might have a rail stop is in clear sight, as the Castleton Depot is on its way to becoming a permanent stop along Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Expressway.

“I think with this event they are trying to stir up interest and show that a lot of people could benefit from a train stop here,” said Castleton English Professor Burnham Holmes.

The Amtrak train traveled from Rutland to Castleton around 11 a.m. on Saturday, welcomed by sunlight, music, cheers and a vast amount of support.

On board were various speakers for the event, including Secretary of Transportation David Dill, who represented Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas who was unable to attend the event due to a last-minute legislation issue.

The Castleton Depot, which is located on Main Street in Castleton, is co-owned by MaryAnn and Val Jakubowski, who have been pushing hard for their depot to once again become a permanent passenger-rail service stop.

“It’s an opportunity to increase the ridership on the passenger line by stopping in Castleton,” said MaryAnn Jakubowski. “Although it is not definite yet, we are very, very close”

The Depot was expected to become a permanent stop by June 1, but there are still a few kinks that are being worked out, Jakubowski said.

The Castleton Depot provided passenger rail service between 1945 and 1946, and now the only way people in Castleton can travel by train is through Fair Haven or Rutland, which have only been in service since 1996.

“The Fair Haven train station is very worn down,” said community member Allison Reuling, who attended the event. “It’s all boarded up and there is no telephone service.”

Speakers, including Transportation Representative Dill and Castleton President Dave Wolk, spoke fondly of the benefits of the potential train stop for traveling college students, families, and tourists alike.

“I fully expect that it will become a permanent stop. It’s the perfect building and that helps the appeal for rail travel,” Wolk said.

Wolk also commented on the ever-increasing number of students visiting Castleton, and noted that a train traveling throughout the New England states will be extremely convenient for these students and their families.

Two other ardent supporters include Kelly Draper and Lynn Kratochvil, who own the Green Mountain Country Depot store which is attached to the train depot. The small shop offers coffee, baked goods, and deli meats, and will likely be affected by the train stop.

Draper and Kratochvil recently invested in a massive outdoor train grill and Kratochvil could be found flipping burgers diligently Saturday, as he put the grill to use for the first time.

“I can’t wait for this to become a train stop. This is a place where people want to be and not where they have to be. It’s a nice atmosphere and that makes all the difference,” said Kratochvil.

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