Additional Knowledge Corridor Service

Status: In Planning

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 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.

There are the two service options currently being explored:

Option 1
Extend a few of Amtrak’s Springfield–New Haven Shuttle service trains north to Greenfield.

Option 2
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.

 


Draft 2018 State Rail Plan | January 2018

On January 26, 2018 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) identified “expanded passenger rail service between Springfield and Greenfield” as a “Priority for Implementation” in the draft 2018 State Rail Plan.

The draft State Rail Plan states that this passenger service could be implemented through a multi-phased plan.

Phase 1 | A pilot service would extend passenger rail service north to Greenfield as an adjunct of the new service that Connecticut will be bringing to Springfield in Spring 2018.  The goal is to use this pilot program to define success and test service, market, and rationale for future long-term investment.

Phase 2 | If the near-term pilot moves forward and were to be successful, added intercity rail service from Springfield to Greenfield could be considered.

Phase 3 | Permanent passenger rail service could be achieved as an extension of the CTrail Hartford Line creating continuous service from New Haven, Connecticut to Greenfield.

Phase 1 of this service could be operational by the end of 2018.

 


Updates

February 2016  | It was announced that Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the PVPC would develop a memorandum of understanding for a “demonstration project” on the Knowledge Corridor rail corridor. Conceptually this would be a pilot service to test the feasibility of providing expanded service.

January 26, 2018 | MassDOT identified expanded passenger rail service from between Springfield and Greenfield as a “Priority for Implementation” in the draft 2018 State Rail Plan. The plan says that, “MassDOT is exploring a pilot that would extend passenger rail service north to Greenfield as an adjunct of the new service that Connecticut will be bringing to Springfield in Spring 2018. ”

 


Further Reading

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: January 31, 2018
Page last reviewed: August 25, 2017