Rail News Roundup #17


Today’s Headlines

• Hartford Line | 69,000 trip in First Six Weeks

• MGM and PVTA Launch Downtown LOOP Bus Service

• Taking the Train to MGM Springfield

• Bikes Now Allowed On CTrail Operated Hartford Line Trains

• Hartford Line Track Work & a New Schedule

• Rail Event on Track for October 13th

• Work on New Platform Starts at Springfield Union Station

• Taking the Train from Windsor Locks

• ValleyBike Share Goes Live

• Website Updates



Sat. October 13, 2018 | Noon – 5 pm
Rail Users’ Network Annual Meeting
PVPC | 60 Congress St, Springfield
FREE and Open to the Public
Further details below


Hartford Line | 69,000 trip in First Six Weeks of Service

CTrail Hartford Line train on the bridge over the Connecticut River | Windsor Locks, Ct. | June 9, 2018
Courtesy of the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker have announced that the recently launched Hartford Line service saw a total of 69,067 passenger trips during its first six weeks of operation through July 31, 2018 – not including the opening weekend of June 16 and 17 when service was free.

The average weekday ridership on the Hartford Line is now at 1,860 riders, just 85 short of CTDOT’s first-year goal of 1,945 passenger trips per day. This puts the Hartford Line on track to exceed the first year ridership goal well before June 2019, the end of the first full year of train service.

Commissioner Redeker noted that Hartford Line ridership gains have been increasing through the summer, a period of time when rail ridership tends to decline due to vacations and schools being out of session.

Further reading

Hartford Line Ridership Press Release
Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy | September 7, 2018


MGM and PVTA Launch Downtown LOOP Bus Service

“MGM Springfield reveals ‘The Loop’ bus service”
Photo Credit: Don Treeger | The Republican | August 13, 2018

MGM Springfield opened their doors to the public on August 24th and on the same day the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority launched a new service — the Downtown LOOP.

The downtown LOOP bus circulates between Springfield Union Station, MGM Springfield and other downtown attractions and hotels.

MGM Loop Bus | eff. August 24, 2018

This bus – which is free – runs hourly between 10 am and about 9 pm between Wednesday and Sunday. The scheduled travel time to MGM is 10 minutes and the travel time from MGM back to Union Station is 20 minutes.

The full schedule can be found on this link
PVTA Loop Bus schedule (PDF)


Further reading

“The Loop, free bus service connecting downtown Springfield attractions, debuts with MGM the destination for most riders”
By Diane Lederman | The Republican | August 24, 2018


Taking the Train to MGM Springfield

Screenshot of mgmspringfield.com | August 2018

Thinking of skipping the traffic and taking a train to MGM Springfield?

We’ve just posted a new web page called — Take the Train to MGM Springfield — with everything you need to know.

We created this page after noticing that roughly 30% of the cars in the 3,400-space MGM Springfield parking garage had license pates from Connecticut.

We think the most likely user of this service will people who live near a Hartford Line station — in particular, communities near Berlin, Meriden, or Wallingford where parking at the station is just $2/day.

Once you get to Springfield you can walk, take the new Downtown Loop bus, take a PVTA local bus, take a taxi, take a ride share service or hope on a bike at the new ValleyBike Share dock at the station.

All of the details can be found on the new Take the Train to MGM Springfield page.

Further reading

“Union Station, CTrail ready for surge of passengers for MGM Springfield opening”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | August 21, 2018

“MGM Springfield has Connecticut gamblers riding the rails: CTrail and Hartford Line busy”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | August 24, 2018


Bikes Now Allowed On CTrail Operated Hartford Line Trains

Photo Credit – Patrick Raycraft / Hartford Courant

“All Aboard Cyclists: New Bicycle Policy For Hartford Line Trains Begins”
By Maya Moore | Hartford Courant | August 16, 2018

Bikes are now permitted on all CTrail operated trains on the Hartford Line

No extra fee or reservations will apply to travel with your bike on a CTrail train.

Important Note — this new policy does *not* apply to Amtrak operated trains on the Hartford Line. The only bikes permitted on an Amtrak Hartford Line train, at this time, are folding and collapsible bikes.

Further reading

Bike Will Be Allowed on CTrail Hartford Line Trains
Press Release | CTDOT | August 16, 2018


Hartford Line Track Work & a New Schedule

CTDOT has announced Hartford Line Service Changes for the weekend of September 7-10, 2018 and a new schedule effective September 10th, to accommodate track work in Connecticut.

Beginning at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7, CTrail Hartford Line and Amtrak Hartford Line rail service between Springfield and Hartford will be served by buses. This will allow Amtrak workers to complete installation of the final section of double track between Hartford and Windsor, Connecticut. Buses will continue to transport passengers on this portion of the Hartford Line corridor until 5:00 a.m. on Monday, September 10th.

Amtrak regional through trains will be bused between Springfield and New Haven and operated by train between New Haven and Washington. The Amtrak trains that will be bused from all stations New Haven through Springfield are numbers 140, 143, 146, 147, 148 and 157.

Amtrak’s Vermonter passengers will be transported by bus between New Haven and all points north to Vermont, beginning on Saturday September 8 through Tuesday, September 11. The extended service modification for the Vermonter train is to accommodate rail bridge rehabilitation work being done in Massachusetts along the Connecticut River Main Line.

Effective September 10, 2018 a new Hartford Line train schedule will take effect through September 30th to accommodate continuing track work along the rail corridor. Along with this new schedule, all Amtrak Hartford Line trains will now stop at New Haven State Street Station.

The new schedule can be found on this link
Hartford Line schedule for the period 9/10 – 9/30/2018 (PDF)


Rail Event on Track for October 13th

Rail Users’ Network’s Annual Meeting / Public Forum

Sat. October 13, 2018 | Noon – 5 pm

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
60 Congress St. Springfield, MA


Registration is now open for the Annual Meeting of the Rail User’s Network (RUN) which will be held in Springfield on October 13th.

The meeting, which is sponsored by the Rail Users’ Network — a national passenger rail advocacy organization — and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, is *Free* and open to the public

The focus of the Springfield meeting will be the recent expansion of rail service in the region with the launch of the Hartford Line, and the potential for passenger rail service expansion in western Massachusetts.

The program will begin at noon with a brief RUN business meeting to elect board members with opening remarks given by the organization’s chair, Richard Rudolph who will talk about some of the challenges that rail advocates are currently facing across North America.

The scheduled speakers for the public forum include:

U.S. Congressman Richard Neal (invited)

Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lessor

Jim Redeker, Connecticut’s DOT Commissioner (invited)

John Bernick, Assistant Rail Administrator for Rail Design, Construction and Maintenance of Way at CTDOT

Tim Brennan, Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Thomas Matuszko, Executive Director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Jennifer Slesinger, Transportation Planner, MassDOT

Karen Christensen, President, The Train Campaign

Ben Heckscher, Co-Founder, Trains In The Valley


Further details on this link
Save the Date | RUN Annual Meeting | October 13, 2018 (PDF)


To register for the meeting click on this link
Rail Users’ Network 2018 Annual Meeting Registration | Eventbrite


Work on New Platform Starts at Springfield Union Station

We are happy to report that work has started on the new high-level platforms at Springfield Union Station, at long last!

Platform C | looking east
Springfield Union Station | August 24, 2018

The existing low-level platform between tracks 4 and 6 (known as a Platform C) is in the process of being removed. It will be replaced by a 362-foot long high-level boarding platform.

The existing steel canopy over Platform C will be disassembled and transported to a steel fabrication shop for de-leading, repaired as necessary, and then repainted.

The existing canopy will then be reinstalled and a new roofing system will be installed.


Platform C | looking east
Springfield Union Station | August 24, 2018

In the image above you can see open doors that lead to the existing west stairway. This stairway leads to the concourse level under the tracks. Note in particular what looks like a 1970s-era red, white and blue paint scheme in the stairwell.

Further reading

“Union Station will get new $8.2 million rail passenger platform; MassDOT awards contract to Framingham company”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | May 8, 2018


ValleyBike Share Goes Live

ValleyBike station at Union Station – near Bus Berth 15 | August 24, 2018

ValleyBike Share stations are active at many locations in the Pioneer Valley, including Springfield Union Station and at locations near the stations in Holyoke and Northampton.

For information on how to use this new service check out the ValleyBike Share website.


Taking the Train from Windsor Locks Station

Windsor Locks station | June 2018

We’ve recently added a page (again, under the Passenger Rail tab on the website) with information on taking the train from Windsor Locks station in Connecticut.

We did this because for people living in towns like Agawam and Longmeadow it probably makes more sense to drive south to the station in Windsor Locks than to drive north to Springfield to catch an Amtrak or CTrail train — for a number of reasons.

Reason #1 – it will save you time

Reason #2 – parking at Windsor Locks station is free

If you use this station be sure to read the “Ticket Situation” section on this page before you go. We hear that CTDOT is working to install a ticket vending machine at Windsor Locks, which will make it possible for people to take the train without the need for purchasing a ticket in advance.

Link to the new page
Windsor Locks station


Website Updates

We’ve refreshed the Station pages (under the Passenger Rail tab on the website) with updated and new information — including links that provide additional options for getting to the station without a vehicle.

As example, on the Springfield Union Station page you can now find links that provide bus connections that will get you to Union Station from

Amherst  |  UMass Amherst

Greenfield  |  Holyoke  |  Northampton

All other points

These links will take you to Google Maps — where, thanks to the good work of Google and their transit partners, you can easily find connections between local and regional transit services, including Amtrak, the Hartford Line, the FRTA, the PVTA, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Greyhound. It’s not perfect, but its better than having to check multiple websites.

You might ask, “why would we list Northampton when the Vermonter stops there already?” The answer is simply — because the Vermonter only stops in Northampton once a day. People who need to get to New York City, as example, need other options — like taking a bus to Springfield to catch a train south.