Note: after this was published Amtrak and Massachusetts re-routed the Vermonter over the Connecticut River Line north of Springfield, eliminating the back-up move. This will be updated after I ride it again.
From Washington, D.C. northeast along the Northeast Corridor through New York to New Haven, Connecticut, then due north up the Connecticut River to Springfield, Massachusetts to St. Albans, Vermont, just short of the Canadian border. An extension to Montreal is under discussion.
The Vermonter has an Amfleet cafe/lounge which serves ala-carte.
I’ve only ridden as far north as Brattleboro, Vermont. The Northeast Corridor (Washington-New York-New Haven) is unremarkable: you’re traversing the Northeast megalopolis. The approach to Manhattan is noteworthy and you get a good view of Queens as you cross the Hell Gate Bridge. You do run close to Long Island Sound through Connecticut but nothing stands out. North of Springfield some parts are pretty, especially north of Amherst, but again nothing spectacular.
The Vermonter is equipped with free public wifi, which works for low-bandwidth tasks (blame your fellow passengers). Wireless reception along the Northeast Corridor is excellent. Signal can be very weak between Springfield and Brattleboro.
The Vermonter is a Northeast Regional service in all but name, though it tends to carry fewer cars. Typical is 5-6 Amfleet coaches, with one a cafe/lounge/business class car.
Why take it?
If you’re traveling to or from anywhere between Springfield, Massachusetts and St. Albans, Vermont, it’s the only game in town. Unlike most Northeast Regionals if offers a one-seat ride between New York/Washington and Springfield (in most cases you’d have to change trains in New Haven). Because of its longer schedule it does have longer dwell times in stations and should be avoided for purely Northeast Corridor trips, especially if you’re traveling southbound.