A Vermont company planning to launch a regional commuter rail service has purchased 12 self-propelled rail cars from Dallas Area Rapid Transit that ran reliably for years on the Trinity Railway Express between Dallas and Fort Worth. AllEarth Rail, an affiliate of Williston-based solar manufacturer AllEarth Renewables, has announced its purchase of 12 rail coaches to be used in launching a commuter rail service in northwestern Vermont. The announcement comes in the wake of a skeptical Agency of Transportation (AOT) report on the feasibility of a commuter rail system that would connect Burlington with Montpelier and St. Albans.
David Blittersdorf, CEO of AllEarth Renewables and managing member of AllEarth Rail, LLC, said that Texas's Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) had awarded AllEarth Rail a contract for purchase of the cars after it won a bid for the equipment over three other parties. He expected delivery of the cars to Vermont – probably to a rail storage yard in St Albans – by early July at the latest, and anticipated operating a demonstration service, at least, this fall. He had no target date for the institution of regular revenue service.
The cars will cost AllEarth $3,606,000, or about $300,000 per car. The transaction also includes parts and other related inventory valued at $400,000, bringing the total purchase price to just over $4 million.
The cars, he said, “are in great shape. They're like brand new.”
According to DART, however, the agency decided to dispose of the cars because of the expense of finding parts for, and otherwise maintaining, the vintage equipment, which was built in the 1950s by the now-defunct Budd Company of Philadelphia.
The Budd cars served commuters in the greater Dallas area from 1996 to 2012 and were also used at the start of passenger rail service in Denton County on the "A" Line. Prior to that, they were used by VIA, the Canadian intercity passenger rail provider – which, ironically, bid to buy the cars back from DART, but lost out in the bidding to AllEarth.
While most transit and intercity passenger rail providers have shunned the use of vintage cars, the Budd RDCs, among railroaders, enjoy an excellent reputation as well-built equipment.