Rail News Roundup #9


Today’s Headlines

• TIV Springfield Event Recap

• TIV Greenfield Event | Feb 1st

• TIV’s Hartford Line Comments

• CT Plans Possible Cuts in Rail Service

• New Springfield Union Station website

• How a State Senator Championed Constituent Testimony

• New Greenfield Parking Garage

• MassDOT Meeting | State Rail Plan (NEW DATE)

• Vermonter Performance Report | 4Q2017

• Holiday on the Property



State Rail Plan Information Meeting
– Meeting organized by MassDOT –
Mo. January 29, 2018 | 6 pm – 7:30 pm
*** NEW DATE ***

Worcester Regional Transit Authority
60 Forster St
Worcester, MA 01608

Further details
Massachusetts State Rail Plan (Mass.gov)


Lessons from the VERMONTER for
Northern New England Rail Passenger Service

– Event organized by Trains in the Valley –
Thurs. February 1, 2018 | 6 pm – 7:30 pm
(Snow Date Wed. February 7th)

Olver Transit Center
12 Olive Street
Greenfield, MA 01301

Registration link
(Further details below)


TIV Springfield Event Recap

A big thank you to all who turned out on a very cold December evening for our “Hartford Line – Coming in May 2018” event in Springfield!

Our guest speaker was John Bernick, Asst. Rail Administrator for Rail Design, Construction and Maintenance of Way at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the event we’ve embedded (and linked) a video of the event below.


“The Hartford Line – Coming in May 2018”
Trains In The Valley | Springfield Central Library | December 13, 2017

Here are the video start points:
0:00 – Opening Remarks | Rebecca Townsend, Trains In The Valley
01:30 – Introduction | Ben Heckscher, Trains In The Valley
07:40 – John Bernick’s presentation
36:00 – Questions & Answers

Thanks goes out to Stephen Cary, Station Manager/Executive Producer, of FOCUS Springfield Community Television who was on hand to record the event.

We had great media coverage of the event, including crews from all three local TV channels.

Selected Media coverage

Springfield to Hartford rail service discussion held to answer questions” (0:47)
By Hayley Crombleholme | WWLP-22News | December 13, 2017

“Hartford Line meeting discussed at Springfield meeting” (1:44)
By Jeff Cramer & Jamie Leslie | Western Mass News | December 13, 2017


TIV Greenfield Event | Feb. 1st

Amtrak station stop | Greenfield, Ma. | 2014

Trains In The Valley’s next event in this series will be in Greenfield on Thursday, February 1st (6 pm  – 7:30 pm).

Our topic on this evening will be
Lessons from the VERMONTER for
Northern New England Rail Passenger Service

Our guest speaker will be Carl Fowler, Owner/President of CHF Rail Consulting

Carl Fowler has been an advocate for passenger rail service for over 45 years. He ran a worldwide rail tour company for 33 years and is a long time member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (now known as the Rail Passengers Association) and was for many years a member of its Board of Directors.

He made the original proposal to Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s administration for the daylight schedule that became the Vermonter, when Amtrak decided in 1994 to discontinue its overnight Montrealer service.

Carl will share some history of northern New England passenger service and offer insights for a much more positive future in our region, drawn from his experience with other corridors like the Cascades and Capitol routes on the West Coast.

Further details and registration information can be found on this link:


TIV’s Hartford Line Comments

Back in November the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) hosted three hearings — in New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield — to solicit public input regarding the proposed fares for the planned Hartford Line rail service.

Trains In the Valley attended the Fare Hearing in Springfield on November 15th and submitted the following set of written comments to CTDOT.

Comments Submitted by Trains In The Valley to CTDOT | November 24, 2017 | 3 pages
https://pvraildotorg.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/comments-for-ctdot-2017_11_24.pdf (PDF)


The final determination of the fare hearings will be posted on this page [www.ct.gov/dot/hartfordlinecomments] at the conclusion of the review process.


CT Plans Possible Cuts in Rail Service

“New and old Metro-North train cars wait on lines at New Haven’s Union Station”
Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant | January 9, 2018

“State Plans Big Rail, Bus Fare Increases”
By Gregory B. Hladky | Hartford Courant | January 9, 2017

The Hartford Courant is reporting today that the Connecticut state government has proposed a “reduction of weekday off-peak service on Shore Line East, Danbury, Waterbury and New Canaan branches and elimination of weekend service on these rail lines.”

The proposed reduction in service (and increase in fares) is part of an effort to manage a significant shortfall in the state’s Special Transportation Fund.

“Governor Malloy called on lawmakers to move quickly to enact new revenue measures such as electronic highway tolls, higher gasoline taxes or dedicating more sales taxes to transportation – all politically unpopular options the legislature has rejected in the past.”

What is unclear at the moment is whether the transportation budget crisis in Connecticut will impact the planned launch of CTrail Hartford Line service in May 2018.

Stay tuned.


New Springfield Union Station website


Springfield Union Station now has its own website


Facebook page


How a State Senator Championed Constituent Testimony

“How a State Senator Championed Constituent Testimony”
Quorum Analytics | January 3, 2018

An interesting overview of how Sen. Eric Lesser has engaging constituents in the debate over the East-West Rail.

“We often get very bogged down on the how and we forget the why so the debates quickly devolve into the nitty-gritty of which bill, which coalition, which interest group is against it, who’s for it, who’s up who’s down, who wants it, who doesn’t, who’s jealous, who’s not,” Lesser said.

“Its very easy in that kind of a situation to forget the why — why is this important, why are we doing this, what’s at stake for actual people.”


New Greenfield Parking Garage | Under Construction

“Construction crews work through frigid temperatures drilling the foundation for the Olive Street parking garage”
Dan Little / The Recorder | December 27, 2017

Much progress has been made at the site of the planned Olive Street Parking Garage in Greenfield over the past few months. Work at the site will soon close down for the rest of the winter and then will restart in mid-March.

The Olive Street garage will relieve parking congestion in Greenfield’s downtown and providing capacity for new commercial and residential growth.

The garage will also service the John W. Olver Transit Center, which provides multi-modal transit connections for the upper Pioneer Valley.

Further reading
Olver Street Parking Garage Project (official website)
City of Greenfield


MassDOT Meeting | State Rail Plan (NEW DATE)

>> Updated January 11th and 23rd


The public information meeting on the draft update to the Massachusetts State Rail Plan has been moved from January 23 to Monday, January 29, 6 – 7:30 PM.

If you have noted the earlier date in an electronic calendar, please update.

It is our understanding that the updated State Rail Plan will be released for public review next week, on the link noted below.

We have now been told that MassDOT intends to released the draft State Rail Plan Update on Friday, January 26th.

MassDOT will open a three-week comment period after the January 29th meeting in Worcester.

Further information will be provided once MassDOT releases the plan to the public.

Further details
Massachusetts State Rail Plan (Mass.gov)


Vermonter Performance Report | 4Q2017

Here’s the quarterly summary of how well the Vermonter has been doing relative to the published timetable.

The southbound Vermonter continues to be delayed by temporary slow orders along the New England Central Railroad’s main line in Vermont and issues related to winter weather.

A word to the wise — we strongly recommend that passengers boarding in Northampton, Holyoke and Greenfield (on weekends, when the Olver Transit Center is closed) check the status of their train before arriving at the station — to limit the amount of time standing outside on the platform.

We are hopeful that later this year we will finally — after three years of passenger service on the Knowledge Corridor — start to see some consistent on-time departures from our stations in the Pioneer Valley.

Further reading
Vermonter Performance (Trains In The Valley)


Holiday on the Property

Amtrak Train 55 in Northampton
December 12, 2017 | 2:35 pm

In early December we replaced the cover photo on our Facebook page with this image of southbound Vermonter standing at the station in Northampton.

On most days this train stops in Northampton for just 2-3 minutes but in late December — when holiday travel overlaps with the end of the semester for Smith College and UMass Amherst — the dwell time increases due to the increased number of passengers getting off and on the train.

As example — we know that the southbound train was stopped in Northampton for six minutes on December 20th and the 21st and for seven minutes on the December 22nd. How do we know this? We’ll explain that in the next edition of the Rail News Update.



Last updated: January 24, 2018