MONTPELIER (AP) - Ridership on Vermont's two Amtrak trains was up 4 percent last year to a total of just over 137,000 riders, an Amtrak official told a committee of the Vermont House on Wednesday.

Of those riders, about 81,000 were on the Amtrak Vermonter, which runs up the Connecticut River valley before crossing the state and ending in St. Albans. The Ethan Allen Express, which runs from New York to Rutland, had just over 53,000 riders in fiscal 2013, William Hollister, an Amtrak government affairs official from Albany, N.Y., told the House Transportation Committee.

During an hour-long meeting, Hollister and other officials updated lawmakers on the two Amtrak trains that serve the state.

They only made passing mention during the meeting about Vermont's long-term plans of restoring passenger rail service to the western side of the state by extending Amtrak service from Rutland to Burlington.

But after the meeting, Chris Cole of the Vermont Transportation Agency, said state officials were readying an application for federal money to help pay to upgrade the last 11-mile stretch of tracks between Rutland and Burlington, clearing the way to restore Amtrak service to the western side of the state.

The rails along much of that 75-mile corridor have already been upgraded or funds have been allocated for that purpose.


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