Rail News Roundup #10

 

Today’s Headlines

• TIV Greenfield Event | Thur. Feb 1st

• 2018 State Rail Plan Draft Released

• New Hartford Line Website Launched

• Vermonter Extended to Montreal by 2020?

• CSX Considers Sale of Lines in Massachusetts (UPDATED)

• Transitdocs.com Train Status Data

• FRCOG | 20 Years of Working for Franklin County and You

 

Calendar

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

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
https://trainsinthevalley.eventbrite.com

 


Trains In The Valley Event | Thur. Feb 1st

Please join us in Greenfield this Thursday, February 1st at 6 pm to hear about the past, present, and future of passenger rail service in our region.

 

Further details and registration information can be found on this link:
https://trainsinthevalley.eventbrite.com

Note that registration is requested but not required. Walk-ins are more than welcome.

— As of 6 pm on Friday, January 26th we have 29 people registered for this event.

UPDATE | We now have 38 people registered as of 9 pm on Wed. Jan. 31st. The room holds 60+ so we’ve got lots of space if anyone wants to just walk in at the last minute.

 


2018 State Rail Plan Draft Released

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) today released the 2018 State Rail Plan Draft for Public Comment.

2018 State Rail Plan Draft for Public Comment (PDF)
MassDOT | January 26, 2018

2018 State Rail Plan Draft for Public Comment (PDF)
MassDOT | January 26, 2018 | 129-pages

 

Of particular note

  • The draft plan says that MassDOT is working with Amtrak and Connecticut to assess the feasibility of a pilot service that would extend New Haven – Springfield passenger rail service to Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield.
  • The draft proposes a “Western Massachusetts to Boston Passenger Rail Service Study.”

 

We encourage interested parties and stakeholders to attend the Information Meeting on the State Rail Plan Update to be held at 6 pm on Monday, January 29th.

The meeting will be held at Worcester Regional Transit Authority, 60 Foster Street, in Worcester.

The State Rail Plan is a federally required document that must be updated at least every five years. Future rail activities in each state are generally guided by this document, so if a desired initiative or program is not in a state’s rail plan, it makes it more difficult for the state to undertake it in the coming years.

Note that the 2018 State Rail Plan is an update to the 2010 State Rail Plan. The plan documents the state rail system and planned improvements, and outlines the Commonwealth’s 20-year vision and four-year plan for the statewide rail system.

We also encourage interested parties and stakeholders to submit written comments on the State Rail Plan during the three-week public comment period which we understand will open on or about January 29th.

We will have more to report on this once we’ve had a chance to review the draft document in detail.

Further details
Massachusetts State Rail Plan (Mass.gov)

 


New Hartford Line Website Launched

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has launched a new website for its upcoming passenger rail service, the CTrail Hartford Line.

Screenshot of the hartfordline.com website | January 25, 2018

Here’s the link to the new site:
http://hartfordline.com/

The new website provides future Hartford Line riders a taste of what to expect when the service launches in May 2018 with expanded rail service between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

Over the next several months, the Hartford Line website will be enhanced with additional information and features, including detailed information on connections to other local transit options; interactive, 360-degree views of the train stations that will serve the line; and milestone events as the service approaches its launch date in May 2018.

This new website supplements the project website which can still be found on the link below.

Further Reading

CTDOT Launches hartfordline.com website In Preparation for May 2017 Service
Press Release | Connecticut Dept. of Transportation | January 11, 2018

New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program (official project website)

 


Vermonter Extended to Montreal by 2020?

“Restored train service to Montreal chugs closer to reality”
By Kyle Midura | Gray Washington News Bureau | January 15, 2018

“Restored train service to Montreal chugs closer to reality”
By Kyle Midura | Gray Washington News Bureau | January 15, 2018

“It took acts of Congress and Canadian parliament, but an effort to reconnect DC to Montreal — with stops in Vermont — is back on-track. ‘I would think no later than 2020,’ said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) when he expects the service to return.”

The Canadian Parliament passes new customs preclearance language into law [in December 2017] that will make possible improved rail travel between the U.S. and Canada.

The passage of the bill in Canada removes all legislative hurdles to the creation of a preclearance facility at Montreal’s Central Station, for reestablishing passenger train service between Vermont and Montreal.

Further Reading

Vermonter Extension to Montreal (Trains In The Valley)

 


CSX Considers Sale of Lines in Massachusetts

> > Updated January 30, 2018 < <

Screenshot | CSX – Massachusetts Operations (csx.com) | January 26, 2018

Trains magazine, an industry publication, reported on January 28th that CSX Transportation (CSX) is reviewing 8,000 miles of its rail lines for potential sale — including the former Boston & Albany main [between Schodack, New York (near Albany) and Worcester] as well as related branch lines in Massachusetts.

CSX operates nearly 700-miles of track within the Commonwealth and handles over 344,000 carloads (as of 2015).

If CSX puts its lines out to bid, any number of regional railroads could step forward to purchase some or all of CSX’s assets in the state. Some have speculated that MassDOT may be interested in some of the assets, in particular the lines near Boston and the 54 miles of track between Worcester and Springfield Union stations.

> > Updated January 30, 2018 < <

“CSX rules out sale of former Boston & Albany line”
Times-Union | January 26, 2018
A CSX spokesman told the Times-Union last Friday, “… this line is not for sale.”

 

Further Reading

“CSX considers sale of former Boston & Albany line”
By Eric Anderson | Times Union | January 24, 2018

“CSX reviewing 8,000 miles of rail lines for potential sale”
By Bill Stephens | Trains Newswire | January 22, 2018

CSX | Operations in Massachusetts (csx.com)

 


Transitdocs.com Train Data

We’ve  recently been alerted to a useful website that allows you to track the progress of each Amtrak (and Via Rail) train in much more detail that is currently available on the Amtrak.com site.

Screenshot transitdocs.com | Amtrak Train 56 (01/24)

In the example shown above, you can review the progress of Amtrak Train 56 (the northbound Vermonter) on January 24, 2018.

At the top of the page you see a detailed timetable of the train for that date. The timetable also shows the actual arrival and departure time for each station along the route – which allows you to see the dwell time at each station, if you’re interested.

On the lower part of the page is a route-trace of the train’s journey along with breadcrumbs showing the location, date, time and speed of the train along the route.

So how do you find these maps?

The easiest way is to from unofficial Amtrak Status Maps page. Just select your train and then click on the “Details” link at the top of the page.

This is a great examples of what can be done with open data.

 


FRCOG | 20 Years of Working for Franklin County and You

We try hard to remain very selective with what we report here in the Rail News Roundup, since some would say that we live in the “too much information age” today.

The Rail News Roundup simply tries to provide news and information on topics that are relevant to passenger and freight rail service in the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts.

With that said, we sometimes come across things that we can’t let pass by without a mention.

This story map — from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) — is one such item.

Screenshot of Discover the FRCOG Story Map | January 25, 2018

Discover the FRCOG | 20 Years of Working for Franklin County and You
Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) | 2018

This particular story map walks the reader through the FRCOG’s accomplishments over the past twenty years using an interesting and interactive mix of images, maps and text.

 

 

Last updated: January 30, 2018