The Central Vermont Railway


The Central Vermont Railway was another of the fabled New England railroads (like the Boston & Maine, Rutland, Maine Central, and others) that once connected southern Connecticut (at New London) with Montreal, Quebec on the U.S./Canadian border. While the CV did have money troubles at various times throughout its history the railroad was a mostly profitable system ferrying traffic to and from the U.S. and Canada (somewhat interesting considering that the nearby Rutland Railroad was always having financial woes and eventually shutdown in 1961). After the Canadian National Railway, which had controlled the CV for many years, became a private company in 1995, it sold the railroad, which eventually became part of today’s New England Central Railroad, which remains a profitable operation.

All of the CN's subsidiaries wore paint schemes inspired or directly from the parent such as seen here on GP9 #4550 laying over at the yard in St. Albans, Vermont on June 23, 1978. This particularly elegant livery was one of the earliest employed by the CN.

The CV dates back to late 1845 when the Vermont Central Railroad began construction to connect Burlington, Vermont with the capital at Montpelier, and then south to Windsor, Connecticut. Unfortunately, due to rough terrain, the railroad was forced to reach the capital via a branch instead of a through main line as it had originally intended.  Despite this setback, by 1849 the railroad had connected Burlington with both Windsor and Montpelier.  While the Vermont Central had financial troubles during the 1850s it remained solvent and by 1864 had reached the major interchange point of Montreal via the Montreal & Vermont Junction Railway, giving the railroad tremendous amounts of through traffic. By the late 19th century, through mergers and leases the railroad (having changed its name in 1873 to the Central Vermont Railroad) had reached its maximum length (over 360 miles) connecting New London with Montreal along with a few branch lines diverging from its main line.

Because of the prosperity the railroad was able to reap during much of the latter half of the 19th century it was even able to lease nearby competitor Rutland in 1871. The Rutland Railroad was a fabled system located in the New England area. Based out of Rutland, Vermont the railroad is best remembered for the large amount of milk and dairy products it moved over its system and its classic forest green and yellow livery. The railroad finally succumbed to a long battle of money troubles in the early 1960s when a strike collapsed any hope of the Rutland staying solvent as it shutdown operations in 1961. Today, happily, much of the former Rutland Railroad system is still operated by successor Green Mountain Railroad, which hauls both freight and excursion passenger service over the line, much to the delight of the thousands of passengers which arrive annually to ride aboard its popular trains.

Unfortunately, in 1898 the CV fell into receivership and was forced to divest itself of the Rutland, along with the Sullivan County Railroad, which connected Windsor, New Hampshire and Bellow Falls, Vermont. It was the loss of this railroad that significantly hurt the CV as it was a key route in its system connecting Montreal and New London (and unfortunately, the gap would remain so until the government gave the line back to the CV in the 1980s).  After the 1898 bankruptcy the original CV it emerged as the Central Vermont Railway and throughout the first years of the 20th century the railroad did quite well earning handsome profits. It was also around this time that the CV came under the control of the Grand Trunk Railway, which in turn became part of the Canadian National Railway system in 1923, thus making CN the new parent of the CV. In 1927 the railroad again fell into bankruptcy but soon emerged under guidance of its parent and renamed the Central Vermont Railway, Inc.

A CV RS11 was sporting the road's latest livery at the time as it takes a break between assignments in Portland, Maine on August 3, 1981.

Still, while after this point the CV was no longer independent it did keep much of its corporate identity and was run as a separate railroad from the rest of the CN system. Until the CV was spun-off by the Canadian National Railway in 1995 it remained a mostly profitable system, although it did have a few financial crunch periods along the way. By the time the railroad was sold in early 1995 to RailTex shortline, New England Central Railroad, it was again turning healthy profits. Today, the railroad is no more having been assimilated into the New England Central system but its original main line remains an important part of the NECR system.  For more information regarding the CV please click here.

Diesel Locomotive Roster

The American Locomotive Company

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
RS31859-186019542
RS113600-3614195615 (Ex-DW&P)
S27918-791919422
S48015, 8027, 8080-80811951-19554

Electro-Motive Division

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
GP94547-4557, 4923-4929195718
GP38AC5800-5810197111 (Ex-GTW)

Steam Locomotive Roster

Class Type Wheel Arrangement
D, D-2-aMogul2-6-0
I-7-aTen-Wheeler4-6-0
K-3-bPacific4-6-2
M-2-a, M-3-a, N-4-h, N-5-aConsolidation2-8-0
P-1-aSwitcher0-8-0
U-1-aMountain4-8-2
T-3-aTexas2-10-4

Notable Passenger Trains

Ambassador/New Englander:  (Boston - Montreal)

Montrealer/Washingtonian: (Washington - New York - Montreal)


A collection of CN subsidiary units lay over at the engine terminal in St. Albans, Vermont including CV GP9 #4925, Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific RS11 #3600, and Grand Trunk Western GP9 #4445 on June 23, 1978.

For more reading on the Central Vermont Railway you might want to consider the book Canadian National Railway by author Tom Murray, which covers the CV's parent. The book gives an excellent general history of the railroad so if you are particularly looking for a starting point about learning more on the CN and its long history from the early 20th century until today I would very much suggest starting with Mr. Murray's book. If you're interested in perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.

Share Your Thoughts

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below. Please note that while I strive to present the information as accurately as possible I am aware that there may be errors. If you have potential corrections the help is greatly appreciated.

Check out the website's digital book (E-book), An Atlas To Classic Short Lines, which features system maps and a brief background of 46 different historic railroads.



Related Reading

Other Eastern Railroads



Baltimore & Ohio




Chesapeake & Ohio




Reading Lines




Boston & Maine




Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh




Delaware, Lackawanna & Western




Erie Railroad




Erie Lackawanna




Lehigh & New England




Lehigh Valley




New York Central




Pennsylvania




Penn Central




Lehigh & Hudson River




New Haven




Conrail




Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines




New York, Ontario & Western




Rutland




Central Vermont




Delaware & Hudson




Maine Central




Central Railroad Of New Jersey




Long Island Rail Road




Bangor & Aroostook


Notable Trains



Ambassador/New Englander




Montrealer/Washingtonian