Rail News Roundup #15

 

Today’s Headlines

• All Aboard for the Hartford Line!

• Final 2018 State Rail Plan Released

• Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Car Culture

• Springfield | New Parking Rates at Union Station Garage

• Northampton | Expanded Station Platform to Move Ahead?

• Northampton | Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting

• Greenfield | Parking Garage Update

• Freight railroads’ key role Western Mass

• WMassPI | Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…

 

Calendar

June 16/17, 2018
Opening Weekend for the Hartford Line
All Hartford Line passenger rail service (CTrail and Amtrak) will be FREE this weekend.

For further information visit
TrainsInTheValley.org/ctrail-hartford-line

 

Wed. June 20, 2018 | 6 pm – 8 pm
Exploring Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities
Theodore’s BBQ | 201 Worthington St, Springfield
[information/registration link]

Free BBQ, a cash bar, networking with fellow smart growth advocates, and a chance to hear directly from the researchers on the possibilities of Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) near Springfield Union Station

 

July 27–28, 2018
Northampton | Golden Spike 2018
The largest rails-to-trails conference of the year in New England.

 


All Aboard for the Hartford Line!

Ride for free from Union Station to Union Station this weekend!

Free service on the Hartford Line (CTrail and Amtrak trains) all weekend long.

 

And — there will be FREE parking at the Union Station Parking Garage (1755 Main St, Springfield) this weekend.

 

Making plans to ride the Hartford Line from Springfield?

Check out our new Hartford Line page
TrainsInTheValley.org/ctrail-hartford-line

 

For those of you using the new Hartford Line, please keep in mind that this service is unique in many ways. In particular, the service is being provide by two distinct operators — CTrail and Amtrak — which as far as we know, is a first in this country.

All of the details have yet to be totally worked out, in particular a few issues related Hartford Line ticketing (CTrail vs. Amtrak).

Our Advice to You — if you are traveling between Springfield and New Haven on the Hartford Lineif possible, purchase your ticket from a CTrail ticket vending machine — not the Amtrak website.

Why? Because there are still a few open questions related to the use of Amtrak tickets on Hartford Line trains. In a nutshell — Amtrak-issued tickets are for a “reserved coach seat” on a specific Amtrak train on the Hartford Line, which implies that the ticket is valid only for a specific train.

The Hartford Line website does say that “valid” Amtrak tickets can be used on any CTrail train but we have yet to find out what the term “valid” means in this context.

 

If you have comments about the new service please let CTDOT know.
HartfordLine.com/customer-service

 


Final State Rail Plan Released

The final version of the 2018 Massachusetts State Rail Plan was released today.

The document can viewed by clicking on this link
2018 Massachusetts State Rail Plan (PDF)

The final plan includes a new chapter, Chapter 6, which details MassDOT’s public engagement effort and summarizes the updates to the plan from the draft version.

We note in particular MassDOT’s comment (in Chapter 6) that they received nearly 300 emails and letters during the public comment period, including an open letter signed by 667 high school students in Western Massachusetts on their support of a feasibility study for East-West rail.

We will have further comment on the Final version of the State Rail Plan in a future edition of the Rail News Update.

 


Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Car Culture

“Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Connecticut’s Car Culture”
By Rebecca Lurye | Hartford Courant | June 10, 2018

An insightful look at what the coming Hartford Line might mean for the Springfield–Hartford–New Haven corridor.

“Some commuters say the new, $700 million rail line is their way out of a congested car culture that weighs heavily on their wallets, time cards and nerves. The state [Connecticut] Department of Transportation expects thousands of people to trade in driving for the convenience of the Hartford Line, which promises to make the 62-mile trip from Springfield to New Haven in about 80 minutes, and for less than traditional Amtrak tickets.”

 


Springfield | New Parking Rates at Union Station Garage

“Springfield Union Station offers commuter parking rate as CTrail service begins”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | June 14, 2018

At long last, the City of Springfield offers a Commuter Rate for parking at the Union Station Garage.

Effective Mon. June 18, 2018 the commuter rate for parking in the garage will be $5.

Effective for July 2018 the monthy parking rate will be $65.

This is really significant news because until now the parking rate had been $20/day — which is a level which was simply not attractive to people in this area.

Thanks go out to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno the executive leadership of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority for making this happen.

 


Northampton | Expanded Station Platform to Move Ahead?

Architectural rendering of planned expanded rail platform
Northampton, Ma. | June 2017

Late today we received word that the delayed project to expand the station platform in Northampton may finally be ready to move forward.

We don’t have the details yet, but as soon as we do we’ll be sure to let you know.

Further Reading
Infrastructure | Northampton | Trains in the Valley

 


Northampton | Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting

Northampton Underpass Ribbon Cutting
Mary C. Serreze | Special to The Republican | June 8, 2018

“Northampton celebrates completion of rail trail underpass”
By Hannah Nelson | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 8, 2018

One June 8th MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack joined Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, MassDOT staff, local leaders, and members of the public to celebrate the ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass beneath the MassDOT owned Connecticut River Line in Northampton.

This new $4.4 million underpass in the area of Woodmont Road and King Street connects the Mass Central Rail Trail – on the east side of the railroad tracks – with the Northampton Bike Trail on the west side of the railroad tracks.

It was a 43 years ago (i.e., in 1975) that the idea of a bicycle tunnel under the Connecticut River Rail Line was first floated, said Mayor David Narkewicz.

Specifications were first developed 25 years ago, and construction finally starting in 2016.

Further reading
Northampton Underpass | Trains In The Valley

 


Greenfield | Parking Garage Update

Pre-cast Traffic Route | Olive St Parking Garage | Greenfield, Ma.

The parking garage across from the Olver Transit Center is coming together.

Concrete pours for the footings and foundations have been completed. The crane (300-ton lift capacity) arrived on Mon. June 11th and the contractor began installing precast concrete panels on the site on Wed, June 13th.

The garage should be completed before the end of 2018.

Further Details on this link
greenfield-ma.gov/index.cfm?p=p.330

 


Freight railroads’ key role Western Mass economy

CSX GE-ES44AC Locomotive #0948 on the headend of a Freight | Springfield, Ma.
By CORNELIUSSEON | Wikimedia Commons | License: Attribution 3.0 Unported

Freight railroads’ key role in moving the Western Mass economy
Opinion | By Tim Brennan | via MassLive | May 30, 2018

Tim Brennan, the Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, makes a strong case for moving more freight over an improved and modernized rail network in Western Mass.

 


WMassPI | Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…

Western Mass Politics and Insight | June 13, 2018

“Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…at Yorktown…”
Western Mass Politics & Insight | June 13, 2018

Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight this week took a fresh look at Senator Lesser’s four-year effort to get the state to study East-West rail. Their work is a masterful piece of political analysis.

As always, a must-read for people in the Valley who are following the ins and outs of this long running story of political intrigue.

Rail News Roundup #14

 

Today’s Headlines

• Expanded Knowledge Corridor Service to Start in 2019!

• East-West Rail Study RFP Issued

 

Calendar

June 16/17, 2018
Opening Weekend for the Hartford Line
All Hartford Line passenger rail service (CTrail and Amtrak) will be FREE this weekend.

For more information visit
TrainsInTheValley.org/ctrail-hartford-line

 

Wed. June 20, 2018 | 6 pm – 8 pm
Exploring Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities
Theodore’s BBQ | 201 Worthington St, Springfield

An an evening of tasty refreshments, networking and a brief presentation of findings from a recent MassINC’s report on Transit-Oriented Development in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities
[information/registration link]

 

July 27–28, 2018
Northampton | Golden Spike 2018
The largest rails-to-trails conference of the year in New England.

 


Expanded Knowledge Corridor Service to Start in 2019!

The Amtrak Vermonter arrives in Holyoke, Ma. | Courtesy of WAMC

Governor Charlie Baker announced today that a term sheet has been finalized with the Connecticut Department of Transportation which will enable the start of passenger rail service between Springfield and Greenfield beginning on a pilot basis in the Spring of 2019.

The pilot service will be operated by Amtrak — with two trains operating from Greenfield to New Haven in the morning and two trains north from New Haven to Greenfield in the evening. Station stops in the Pioneer Valley will include Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield.

The service will be timed to allow people from the region to travel to points beyond New Haven — as example New York City — in the morning and return the same day.

Transportation Secretary Pollack said today that the pilot service would start after necessary capital projects along the rail corridor are completed. These projects include construction of a high-level boarding platform at Springfield Union Station, an expanded boarding platform in Northampton, as well as track and bridge work along the rail line.

Further information

“Expanded North-South Rail Service in June 2019”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | June 12, 2018

“Northampton mayor sees busy train station getting busier with planned north-south Knowledge Corridor service expansion”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | June 13, 2018

Video of Springfield Union Station News Conference (23:46)
Courtesy of WWLP-22News | June 12, 2018
(click on the 2nd video)

 


East-West Rail Study RFP Issued

Press Conference at Springfield Union Station | June 12, 2018
Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Eric Lesser

Governor Charlie Baker today joined Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, Congressman Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, members of the Massachusetts Legislature and local leaders at Union Station in Springfield to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant team to study the feasibility of east-west passenger rail service.

The Request for Proposals will enable the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to carry out an extensive study over approximately 18 months, and analyze many aspects and options for potential east-west passenger rail service.

“I have always believed that improved and enhanced rail service between Springfield and Boston has the potential to be a game changer for our region. That’s why I thank Governor Baker for coming to Union Station today to announce that he is authorizing a comprehensive study on the feasibility of east-west rail. It will build on the study of local rail service funded by the Federal Railroad Administration that former Congressman John Olver and I requested in 2006. With the debut of expanded passenger rail service between New Haven and Springfield later this week, these two significant projects will help grow our economy and greatly improve the quality of life in the region. Investing in our transportation infrastructure will benefit people across the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

“Carrying out a comprehensive study on east-west passenger rail will allow us to have a rigorous, fact-based discussion regarding options for potential service,” said Transportation Secretary Pollack. “Many legislators, local and regional officials and business leaders called for such a study and we are pleased to take a step in advancing this planning for future service.”

 

The Purpose of the Study, as detailed in the East-West Rail Study Scope, reads as follows:

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) seeks to examine the feasibility of passenger rail service – up to and including high speed rail – from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield, with the speed, frequency, and reliability necessary to be a competitive option for travel along this corridor.

This study will closely examine any associated implementation challenges, in particular those related to the movement of freight along the corridor, and identify all necessary improvements to support more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service between Boston and Western Massachusetts.

Given the recent or ongoing studies of portions of this corridor, this study should minimize the duplication of analysis.”

 

At 3:05 pm today MassDOT posted the Bid Solicitation for the East-West Rail Study on COMMBUYS, the official procurement record system for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Departments.

Of particular interest are the following two documents:

East-West Rail Study Scope (8 pages)

East-West Passenger Rail Study RFP (14 pages)
Request for Proposal Number EW2018

These documents can be viewed on this COMMBUYS link
Bid Solicitation: BD-18-1030-0P100-0P021-28369

Bids are due to be opened on July 9, 2018.

 


Please Note | A more extensive version of the TIV Rail News Update will be issued on Thursday, June 14th.

 

Post last updated: June 13, 2018