About us

Trains In The Valley was founded in 2016 as a regional advocate organization in the Pioneer Valley region of western Massachusetts.

We are volunteers who do this because we believe that rail transport, both passenger and freight, can be a viable option for our region.

We come from different backgrounds and understand how deeply transportation impacts our lives and our communities.

Our Mission
To advocate for improved and expanded passenger and freight rail service in the Pioneer Valley region of western Massachusetts.

Our Focus
Passenger rail, Freight rail, Infrastructure, Safety and Transparency

We are a founding member of the Western Mass Rail Coalition

Our goals

  • To ensuring that existing passenger and freight rail services in our region continue
  • To promote and expand the use of the existing intercity passenger service (Amtrak’s Valley Flyer and Vermonter services) for travel to/from Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield
  • To advocate for improved and expanded integration of local and regional transportation options that connect with the region’s passenger rail network
  • To increase the number of freight rail customers connected to the region’s rail network and to increase the volume and type of material transported by rail in region

We seek to encourage cooperation and coordinated action among all parties, including elected officials, governmental agencies, railroads, railroad unions, regional planning groups, other transportation operators, current and future rail users, and the public.

We use our website TrainsInTheValley.org to increase transparency with regard to all matters related to passenger and freight rail services in the region.

Founding members

Ben Heckscher (co-founder) has published the well-regarded blog about the Second Avenue subway for nearly ten years: The Launch Box. As a person with knowledge of business, engineering, and photography, he began to research and report on the project’s accomplishments, setbacks, and impact on the community as a whole. In 2010, The Village Voice cited his site as one of New York City’s best blogs.

Ben’s interest in rail-related topics can probably be traced to his grandfather who worked for many years at the Budd Company, a former manufacturer of stainless steel passenger rail cars. Originally from Pennsylvania, Ben now lives in Hatfield with his wife Julie.

Zane Lumelsky (co-founder) has been a marketing and advertising consultant since 1988 as well as co-owner of a nationally distributed business-to-business company. One reason that Zane and his spouse moved to the area eight years ago was the promise of restored passenger rail service. During the initial stages of the rail reconstruction, Zane formed a business to promote rail freight called Knowledge Corridor Services.

Zane’s earliest train experiences were at his father’s scrap iron yard, sandwiched between two southeastern Minnesota rail lines. The scrap yard was Zane’s “playground” and the railroad men his playmates. Zane currently resides in downtown Northampton within earshot of the station.

Rebecca M. Townsend, Ph.D., is a communication professor who has studied transportation and public engagement, for which the White House named her a “Champion of Change for Transportation Innovation” in 2012. The International Association of Public Participation lauded her work with students to increase engagement in transportation planning, and her scholarship earned her the inaugural State of Connecticut Scholarly Excellence Award.

Originally from Rhode Island, she saw how greater access to rail can improve economic activity. She founded the Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail (2006-2010) with fellow residents of the Greater Springfield region to garner support for rail in our region of Massachusetts.

Interested in getting involved?

Please visit the Get Involved page for information.

See also

Transparency & Accountability

Further reading

“Getting more aboard: How Trains In The Valley is helping to boost local rail”
By Sarah Buttenwieser | Daily Hampshire Gazette | August 16, 2019

Contact Details

Contact form

Telephone | (413) 341–0123

Page last updated: November 28, 2022
Page last reviewed: September 19, 2017