The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) and many elected officials in our region have been advocated for additional passenger rail service north of Springfield for many years.
The existing Vermonter service, while greatly preferable to no service at all, has drawbacks that are not easily overcome. Simply stated, the Vermonter service — only operates once a day in each direction, is timed (scheduled) and priced for long-distance travel, and departs at a time of day that makes it impossible to travel south past Springfield and return in the same day.
Efforts to expand service north of Springfield stem from the completion of the PVPC’s “Knowledge Corridor Passenger Rail Feasibility Study” (linked below) in 2009. The study assessed the feasibility of future passenger rail improvements intended to reduce travel time, maximize accessibility, and provide viable transportation alternatives within the Knowledge Corridor.
The study found there to be strong opportunities and benefits for restoring and enhancing passenger rail along the Connecticut River Line in the Pioneer Valley.
As far as we are aware, these are the two service options currently being explored:
Extend a few of Amtrak’s Springfield–New Haven Shuttle service trains north to Greenfield.
Extend a few CTrail Hartford Line trains past Springfield and north to Greenfield.
Either option would, as example, allow a passenger to board a train in Greenfield in the early morning and travel as far as New Haven — without changing trains — to connect with Amtrak, Metro North, or Shore Line East service.
In early February 2016 it was announced that Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the PVPC would develop a memorandum of understanding for a “demonstration project” on the Knowledge Corridor rail line. Conceptually this would be a pilot service to test the feasibility of providing expanded service along the line.
The initial plan seems to be that 2-3 trains a day would be run during peak commuting hours to collect data on ridership, ticket revenue, and other information to see if the service would be made permanent.
Stay tuned for updates.
Knowledge Corridor Feasibility Study (PDF)
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
“Greenfield could see added passenger trains within 5 years”
By Richie Davis | The Recorder | June 26, 2016
Page last updated: August 28, 2017
Page last reviewed: August 25, 2017