Rail New Roundup #7

 

Summary of Today’s Roundup of Rail News

• Proposed Fares for CTrail Hartford Line Service Released

• Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference Recap

• Sen. Eric Lesser Continues Push for East-West Rail

• Planned Pioneer Valley Railroad Bridge Repairs

• New Turnout in East Northfield

• Northampton Underpass Status

 

Calendar

Joint Committee on Transportation Hearing
Tu. October 24, 2017 | 10 am to 12:30 pm
Hearing Room A-1 | State House, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA
(The agenda includes discussion of Sen. Lesser’s and Rep. Kocot’s proposed bills in support of East-West rail service)

CTrail Hartford Line Fare Hearing
We. November 15, 2017 | 5:30 to 8:30 pm
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission | 60 Congress St, Springfield, MA

 

CTDOT Releases Proposed Fares for CTrail Hartford Line Rail Service;
Launches a 35-day Public Comment Period

Proposed fares for the new CTrail Hartford line service were released earlier today.

CTDOT Press Release | October 23, 2017
Source: http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=1373&Q=597212&PM=1

We have not had much time to study the fare offering but it would appear that the proposed fares are basically in-line with fares on CTrail’s Shoreline East service and Metro-North’s intra-state (CT) service.

Public Hearings to review and discuss the new proposed fares will be held in New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield over the next few weeks.

The Springfield hearing will be held on Wed. November 15, 2017 between 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the offices of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 60 Congress St, Springfield, MA

Further Reading

Hartford Line Fare Hearings
CTDOT Press Release | October 23, 2017

 


Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference Recap

Link to Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2amvAPK9SpA

 

Here’s a quick recap of the Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference that was held at Springfield Union Station last week.

The highlight of the event was the speech by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.

“Quite frankly, one of the things Massachusetts needs to do is get a rail line between Boston and Springfield to connect to the rail line we are building in Connecticut,” Malloy said to applause from the 300 or so people in the audience at the conference.

Malloy has long been a strong advocate in his state and our region for expanded and improved public transportation. One only has to look at the success of the CTFastrak bus rapid transit system and the coming CTrail Hartford Line rail service to know that Connecticut is focused on the future.

The video recording of the conference is just over three hours long so we’ve created a list of “start points” so that you can jump to sections that might interest you.

Anyone interested in the future of transportation in our region is encouraged to have a look at the video. Conferences like this, with speakers like this, are few and far between.

 

Video start points for key speakers:

5:30 | Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

21:50 | Congressman Richard Neal (MA-1)
29:55 | Governor Dannel Malloy (CT)

1:04:00 | Robert Puentes (Eno Center of Transportation)

1:27:50 | Panel 1
Congressman Richard Neal (MA-1)
Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-2)
Congresswomen Elizabeth Esty (CT-5)

2:11:00 | Panel 2
Kevin Kennedy, Springfield Redevelopment Authority
Rep. Aaron Vaga (MA-5th Hamden)
Rep. Chris Perone (CT-137th District)
Kevin Dillon, Connecticut Airport Authority

Further Reading
“Malloy Calls For Boston-Springfield Rail Connection To Hartford Line”
By Paul Tuthil | WAMC | October 18, 2017

“Malloy: CTfastrak Proves Rail Service Will Transform ‘Knowledge Corridor’ “
By Dan Stacom | Hartford Courrant | October 17, 2017

 


Sen. Eric Lesser Continues his Push for East-West Rail

On October 17th Sen. Eric Lesser launch a website highlighting stories that have been submitted to his office in support of passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston.

Rail Matters | Office of Senator Eric Lesser
Source: https://spark.adobe.com/page/WcZZVafFh26Fy/

::

On Tuesday morning at 7.30 am a chartered bus will be departing from Springfield for the Statehouse in Boston.

The bus, which is being sponsored by Sen. Lesser’s office, will be transporting people from our region who will offer testimony before a hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Transportation.

Rebecca Townsend, a founding member of Trains In The Valley, will be on Sen. Lesser’s bus and she will be offering testimony to the committee. (further news on this on Tuesday afternoon.)

If you are not planing to attend the hearing — but you wish to offer testimony in support of Springfield-Boston rail service — please send your testimony to Samantha.Kelly@MAsenate.gov. Samantha Kelly is Sen. Lesser’s legislative aide. She will see that it finds its way to the committee.

See Also

Get Involved > Rail Bills | Mass. Legislature

Further Reading

Joint Legislative Committee on Transportation

 


Planned Pioneer Valley Railroad Bridge Repairs

Curved open-deck bridge | Pioneer Valley Railroad
Near South Canal & Cabot streets | Holyoke, Ma | October 12, 2017

Earlier this month the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that it had awarded the Pioneer Valley Railroad a grant of $495,000 to assist with the cost to repair of an out-of-service rail bridge in downtown Holyoke. The grant was one of eight recent grant awards made under MassDOT’s Industrial Rail Access Program.

The Pioneer Valley Railroad operates a network of rail lines in Holyoke and Westfield. The open deck bridge that will undergo repair, which is shown in the image above, will have both steel and masonry work performed on the structure.

The re-opening of this bridge, which was last used in 2013, will allow the Pioneer Valley Railroad to interchange freight rail cars with the Pan Am Southern railroad company which operates the north-south rail line through Holyoke.

The re-opening of the interchange with Pan Am Southern should allow some freight rail customers on Pioneer Valley’s rail network to improve the routing of certain rail cars to and from other rail networks, e.g., Norfolk Southern and railroads in Canada.

See also

Freight Rail > Industrial Rail Access Program

 


New Turnout in East Northfield

NECR connection with Conn River Line | East Northfield, Ma. | October 13, 2017
By Bruce Nelson | Source: http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=240633

It has been reported that the turnout on the New England Central Railroad’s Main Line that allows rail traffic to diverge (to the right in the image above) onto the MassDOT owned Connecticut River Main Line has been replaced. The report, which appears in the caption attached in this image, indicates that new #20 turnout was recently installed at this location.

Why does this matter? The short answer is that the turnout at this location has been in need of replacement for some time. Amtrak’s Vermonter all to often in recent years has had to craw across this switch at speeds as slow as 10 mph. The new #20 turnout should allow the Vermonter to pass over this switch at a speed of 40 mph.

 


Northampton Underpass Status

A view of the east entrance to the new bike/pedestrian underpass
Woodmont Road | Northampton, Ma. | October 18, 2017 / 6.49 pm

National Grid established electric service at the site of the bike/pedestrian work site a few days ago.

From the look of things at the site MassDOT should be ready to take down the temporary fencing and cut the ribbon on this long awaited project very soon.

See also

Infrastructure > Current Projects > Northampton Underpass

Rail News Roundup #6

 

Regional Rail news for the Pioneer Valley

Summary of Today’s Reports

• Updated Knowledge Corridor Conference Program

• CTrail Hartford Line Factsheet Released

• MassMoves Report Shows Strong Support for Rail Service

• Sixt Rent a Car opens office at Union Station

• Trash Cleared at the Station in Holyoke

• Vermont Rail Action Network Annual dinner

Calendar

Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference
Springfield Union Station
We. October 18, 2017 | 7:30 am – 12 Noon | Free
Please note that this event is now Sold Out

Live Stream link
http://focusspringfield.com/2017StateOfTheRegion
(live stream starts at 9 am ET)

 

Updated Knowledge Corridor Conference Program

An updated program (shown below) for this week’s “State of the Region” Transportation Conference has been released.

The most notable update is that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy will be be attending the conference and making a few brief opening remarks.

Note that this event will be Live Streamed on this link:
http://focusspringfield.com/2017StateOfTheRegion

Final Conference Program | October 17, 2017

 


CTrail Hartford Line Factsheet Released

CTrail Hartford Line Service Factsheet | October 2017
Source: http://www.nhhsrail.com/pdfs/hartfordline-factsheet-final.pdf

Of particular note:

  • Hartford Line fares will be similar to the current fares on CTrail’s Shore Line East service, which operates between New Haven and New London.
  • Parking at CTrail stations is expected to be $2/day and $20/month, with free parking on weekends and holidays.
  • The CTRail Hartford Line website is reported to be “coming soon.”

 


MassMoves Report Shows Strong Support for Rail Service

Recently released MassMoves report shows strong support for improved and expanded passenger rail service across the Commonwealth.

“Whatever region people came from, people saw regional rail as a top mobility priority,” said Jim Aloisi, a former state transportation secretary who worked on the Senate study.”¹

“Asked what effect the latest study will have on the Springfield to Boston rail proposal, State Senate President Stan Rosenberg replied, ‘We’ve got to do it. We’ve got to get rail going all over the state.’ “¹

MassMoves Report | October 2017 | Page 24

Nine regional MassMoves workshops were held as part of the State Senate’s Commonwealth Conversations listening tour between January and April 2017.

The Western Region meeting, which was held in Springfield on March 28th, attracted an overflow crowd of 104 participants and 14 state senators.

MassMoves Report | October 2017 | Page 40

Further Reading

2017 MassMoves Report

¹ “Study finds improving rail service is top transit priority for Western Mass. residents”
By Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com | September 26, 2017

 


Sixt Rent a Car opens at Springfield Union Station

Sixt Rent a Car has opened a rental location at Springfield Union Station.

Springfield Union Station | October 12, 2017

The Sixt office is now open from 8 am – 5 pm Monday thru Friday.

Rental cars can be picked up or dropped of on the ground floor of the Union Station Parking Garage.

 


Trash Cleared at the Station in Holyoke

Full trash cans on the platform | Holyoke, Ma. | October 12, 2017

We received a report of full trash cans on the station platform in Holyoke — so we reported the issue using the City of Holyoke’s page on SeeClickFix.com. The problem was resolved the same day.

A minor point, yes — but details like this matter. Overflowing trash cans are unsightly and they have the potential of attracting rodents.

 


Vermont Rail Action Network Annual Dinner

The Vermont Rail Action Network’s (VRAN) annual dinner and award celebration will be held on Wednesday evening November 8th in Rutland.

This is an important rail advocacy event in Vermont and we will be attending the dinner to show our support for VRAN’s ongoing efforts to improve passenger rail service in Vermont — in particular the Vermonter.

Please contact us if you are interested in car pooling to this event from either the Whatley or Greenfield Park and Ride lots.

VRAN event registration link

 

 

Posting last updated: October 17, 2017

Rail News Roundup #5

 

The latest regional rail news from Trains In The Valley

Today’s Reports

• Peter Pan and Greyhound Move to Union Station

• Hartford Line Update | New Meriden Station Garage Opens

• Planned Refresh of Amtrak’s Coaches

• Northampton | Missing Station Signage

• Northampton | New Bike Underpass  – Still Waiting for Power

• Dome Cars in the Valley

 

Trains In The Valley website page updates

About > About Us

 

Calendar

Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference
Springfield Union Station
We. October 18, 2017 | 7:30 am – 11:40 am | Free
Meeting Agenda (PDF)
Eventbrite | registration link
Only a limited number of tickets are still available

 

Peter Pan and Greyhound move to Union Station

A view from the top of the Union Station Garage | looking east
Springfield, Ma. | September 13, 2017 | 4:15 PM

Peter Pan Bus Lines and Greyhound are the latest new tenants at Springfield Union Station. Peter Pan moved on September 5th and Greyhound made the move just a few days later, on September 11th. When Amtrak will move — from their historic station building at track level — into the renovate main waiting room is not clear at the moment.

The image above shows the state of affairs at Union Station on a weekday afternoon in mid-September. Seven Peter Pan coaches along with a single Greyhound coach can be seen parked in the intercity berths at the station.

On the right is the existing Amtrak portion of the station complex — with its three low-level boarding platforms and station building.

A single high-level boarding platform will be built to replace Platform C along with an elevator and stairs to connect the new platform to the concourse level below. The latest report suggests that the platform should be completed by mid-2018.

 


Hartford Line Update | New Meriden Station Garage Opens

Photo credit | The Record Journal

The Connecticut Department of Transportation opened a new three-level parking garage in downtown Meriden last week — an improvement that will make parking more convenient for CTrail Hartford Line Meriden station rail passengers and provide easy access to the City’s new transit-oriented development sites.

Parking costs $7 a day and $40 a month, with free parking on weekends and holidays. The garage will also offer discounted parking for riders on the Hartford line.

By comparison, the daily parking rate at the new Springfield Union Station garage is $20 a day and $90 a month.

Further reading
“Officials anticipate opening of downtown Meriden parking garage will create economic growth”
By Bryan Lipiner | Record-Journal | September 18, 2017

 


Planned Refresh of Amtrak’s Coaches

Rendering: Refreshed Coach Class seat cushions on board select Northeast, Midwest trains
Credit: Amtrak Media Center | August 23, 2017

Amtrak has announced its intention to overhaul the interior of their fleet of Amfleet I coaches over the next two years. The “refresh” will include new seat cushions, new carpeting, new LED reading lights, new bathroom flooring, upgraded wainscoting and bulkheads, new curtains in the Business Class cars and redesigned galleys in the café cars.

New interiors will roll out on the following routes that service the Pioneer Valley: Northeast Regional trains that serve Springfield, the Vermonter, and the Springfield Shuttles.

Further Reading
“We’re Enhancing the Customer Experience One Seat at a Time”
Amtrak Blog | September 2017

“Refreshing the Amfleet”
Amtrak History Blog | September 18, 2017
A historical look at the interior of Amtrak’s Amfleet passenger cars through the years.

 


Northampton | Missing Station Signage

Pleasant Street – looking North
Northampton, Ma. | September 24, 2017

In a recent letter to the Daily Hampshire Gazette a resident of Florence questioned why there was no signage to mark the entrance the Amtrak station on Pleasant Street in Northampton — as shown in the image above. (the entrance to the station is on the right in this image.)

The writer has raised an interesting question whose answer, at the moment, seems to be a mystery.

 


Northampton | New Bike Underpass – Still Waiting for Power

Looking at the west entrance of the new underpass
Northampton, Ma. | September 23, 2017

A recent check of the bike/pedestrian underpass work site in Northampton suggests that most of the finish work is now nearly complete — including the new signage and road surface marking.

The image above shows that an electric meter has not yet been installed in the panel to the left of the path — which means that electric service at the underpass site has not yet been established by National Grid. Without electric service there is no power for the lighting and surveillance cameras.

Further reading
Trains In The Valley > Northampton Underpass

 


Dome Cars in the Valley

“AAPRCO Private Passenger Car Special on PAN AM in Easthampton 9 17 17” | via YouTube | conrailSD40guy

Many people have reported sighting an odd looking Amtrak train in our area recently.

The special train operated northbound on the MassDOT’s Connecticut River Main Line through the Pioneer Valley on Sunday evening September 17th. The train, which was dubbed “The Green Mountain Flyer,” was operated by Amtrak for the American Association Of Private Railroad Car Owners as part of their 2017 Convention in Burlington, Vt.

In the YouTube video above you can see the special 18-car train passing through Easthampton, Ma. (near Route 5) on its way to Vermont. If you look closely you will see a total of four dome cars and an open platform observation car.

This is clearly not something that we see very often on the tracks in our area.

Further reading
“A slice of rail history at Rensselaer station”
By Eric Anderson | Times-Union | September 13, 2017

“What are those fancy railroad cars doing in Burlington?”
By C. B. Hall & Timothy McQuiston | Vermont Business Magazine | September 20, 2017

 


Trains In The Valley website page updates

About > About Us
To simplify things a bit, we’ve combined the “Purpose” and “Who We Are” pages into a single new page with the title “About Us”. This new page includes refreshed text and a few images.

Rail News Roundup #4

 

The latest regional rail news from Trains In The Valley

Today’s Reports

• Northampton Underpass Nears Completion

• Peter Pan Moving to Union Station on September 6th

• Updated Springfield Union Station Parking Rates

• Video | Hartford Line Track Construction Machine Makes Progress

• Transit Oriented Development on the Hartford Line

 

Trains In The Valley website updates

About > Transparency & Accountability

Safety > Railroad Crossing Safety

 

Calendar

Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference
Springfield Union Station
October 18, 2017 | 7:45 am – 11:55 am | Free

 

Northampton Underpass Nears Completion

Construction progress image of the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass
Northampton, Ma. | Behind the Walgreens – looking South | August 20, 2017

Work on the new bicycle and pedestrian underpass in Northampton is nearing completion.

Last week the contractor was working on the final grading and hardscape work at the site. Paving of the access ramps on either side of the underpass would appear to be next.

It would appear that MassDOT and its contractor for this project Northern Construction are well on their way towards completing this project on-time.

Further reading

Infrastructure > Current projects > Northampton Underpass

 


Peter Pan Moving to Union Station on September 6th

Intercity bus bays at Springfield Union Station | June 25, 2017

Peter Pan Bus Lines has announced that they plan to move their regional hub to Springfield Union Station on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017.

On this date all Peter Pan and Greyhound bus services and ticket sales will move into the newly renovated Union Station complex.

In related news, Peter Pan has announced that it will end its 19-year partnership with Greyhound Lines on September 27th. According to this article in MassLive, “the move will allow Peter Pan to offer paperless boarding on all its routes, more express service and to be on-time more often.”

 


Updated Union Station Garage Parking Rates

People have asked about the cost to park at the new Union Station Garage in Springfield.

The parking rate is calculated as $1.50 for the first 30 minutes and then $2.00 for each additional hour — up to a maximum of $20 for the day. Longer term rates are also available.

The current rates are shown on these display screens on each parking kiosk at the garage.

Parking kiosk display screen 1
Union Station Garage | August 18, 2017
Parking kiosk display screen 2
Union Station Garage | August 18, 2017

Note that Ken’s Parking, at 73 Taylor Street, has a day rate that starts at $10.

Further reading

Passenger Rail > Amtrak Stations > Springfield Union Station

 


Track Construction Machine Makes Progress in Connecticut

In July 2017, the NHHS Rail Program captured the Track Construction Machine (TCM) in operation as it layed new track in Berlin, Connecticut. By utilizing an unmanned aerial vehicle, video crews were able to provide the public with a “bird’s-eye” view of the 250-ton machine, which can assemble up to 1,000 feet of track per hour in ideal conditions, totaling over one mile of track per day.

This summer the TCM layed ten miles of new track between Meriden and Newington. Later this fall, it will return to lay an additional four miles of new track between Hartford and Windsor.

The CTrail Hartford Line commuter rail service — which will operate between Springfield, Hartford and New Haven — is scheduled to open in May 2018.

Further reading

Passenger rail > Future Service > CTrail Hartford Line


Transit Oriented Development on the Hartford Line

“There is action near the station as development ramps up”
By Tom Condon | The Connecticut Mirror | July 27, 2017

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects take off near future CTrail Hartford Line stations in Connecticut.

Key takeaways from the article —

“Dozens of communities [in Connecticut] — Windsor, Windsor Locks, Wallingford, Branford, Stamford, Norwalk, New Britain, Westport and others — have TOD studies or projects underway.”

“Towns have to get the zoning right. Most communities that embrace TOD create overlay zones around stations to encourage mixed-use development.”

“Towns must get the parking right. A railroad station surrounded by acres of surface parking is not transit-oriented development…”

The area north of Springfield Union Station, with its many surface parking lots and single-story commercial structures, is an obvious location for TOD.

LINK TO STORY

“There is action near the station as development ramps up”
By Tom Condon | The Connecticut Mirror | July 27, 2017

 


Trains In The Valley website updates

Safety > Railroad Crossing Safety
This page was updated with the most current version of the “Public Highway-rail Crossings Ranked by Predicted Accidents report” for Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties (as of 12/31/2016).

The report shows that there were a total of four reported accidents at public railroad crossing in the Pioneer Valley during the five-year period from January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2016.

About > Transparency & Accountability
The page has been updated and refreshed. We have also added our 2Q2017 financial report.

NARP Meeting in Springfield

 

New England 2017 Regional NARP Meeting – Springfield, MA

‘A Connected New England’

Presented by the National Association of Railroad Passengers

Sa. August 19, 2017
11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Sheration Monarch Place Hotel
1 Monarch Place
Springfield, Ma.

 


MEETING SUMMARY

Springfield is at a crossroads, both literally and figuratively. From the remodeled Union Station to the under-construction MGM Casino, major investments are being made in Springfield’s civic and economic growth. And geographically, Springfield is a key connecting point between the Boston area and upstate New York, as well as between Western Connecticut and Vermont.

Join us as we discuss the role of passenger rail in connecting these regions and the economic development that inevitably follows such investments.

Among other issues, we’ll discuss the need to extend the MBTA’s commuter rail west from Worcester to Springfield, as well as the need to run more frequent service north and south along the “knowledge corridor” between Springfield and Greenfield via Holyoke and Northampton.

A Connected New England benefits the entire region, and Springfield is key.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Timothy Brennan
Executive Director
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Jim Mathews
President/CEO
National Association of Railroad Passengers

Lunch Remarks:

Springfield Mayor
Dominic Sarno

Meeting Program Includes A Complete Hot Lunch Buffet

REGISTRATION LEVELS

Early Regular Attendee Registration
$45.00 If Paid In Full By August 11

Late Attendee Registration
$50.00 If Paid After August 11 or At Door

Student Attendee Registration – $25.00

Sponsor Level Registration – $100.00

 

On-line Registration is now Closed

Please register in-person at the registration table at the event between 10:30 am and 11 am.
Click here to Register ON-LINE Here Today

Click here for the Register By Mail Form


TENTATIVE AGENDA

9:30: Morning tour of Springfield Union Station (RSVP required)

10:30 – 11:00: Check-in and on-site registration

11:00 – 11:10: Welcoming remarks and council introductions
11:10 – 11:50:  Jim Mathews, plus Q&A
11:50 – 12:00: Break

12:00 – 13:00: LUNCH, with speakers
> 12:15: Brief remarks from Mayor Sarno
> 12:30ish: State updates, complete by 12:50

13:00 – 14:00: Tim Brennan, plus Q&A
“Leveraging Rail Assets and Connections to Move the Knowledge Corridor’s Economy”

14:00 – 15:00: Adjourn and socialize

15:30: Afternoon tour of Union Station (RSVP not required)

 


SPRINGFIELD UNION STATION TOURS

For meeting attendees, a general post-meeting tour of the newly-remodeled Springfield Union Station will be available at 3:30 pm.

A pre-meeting tour at 9:30 am is available by specific advance request. If you are interested in a tour at this time please contact Tom Girsch at tgirsch@yahoo.com to reserve a spot.

 

Last updated: August 19, 2017

Rail News Roundup #3

 

The latest regional rail news from Trains In The Valley

Today’s Reports

• Hartford Line service to begin in May 2018

• Amtrak Inspection Train Runs North to Montreal

• EVENT | NARP meeting in Springfield | Aug 19th

• EVENT | Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference | Oct 18th

• Central Corridor Passenger Rail Study Released

• Rebooting New England | UPenn Graduate Planning Studio

• TIV website | Updated station information pages

• TIV website | Northampton Underpass project update

 



Hartford Line service to begin in May 2018

New Meriden station – under construction | June 29, 2017

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has announced that the “Hartford Line” commuter rail service – between New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Ma. – will start in May 2018.

When the Hartford Line service launches, a total of 17 roundtrip trains between New Haven and Hartford will operate each weekday, with 12 of those roundtrip trains continuing to Springfield. On weekends, a total of 13 roundtrip trains will operate between New Haven and Hartford, with 9 of those trains continuing onto Springfield.

A joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts was chosen over Amtrak and three other bidders as the service provider for the service.

See also
Train In The Valley | Hartford Line

Further reading
“Gov. Malloy Announces TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts Selected as Service Provider for the Hartford Line”
Press Release | The Office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy | July 24, 2017

“Connecticut DOT picks transit team to operate Hartford Line”
By Luther Turmelle | New Haven Register | July 24, 2017

“DOT: Amtrak’s history not a factor in selection of joint venture to operate CTtrail Hartford Line”
By Mike Savino | Meriden Record-Journal | July 25, 2017

 


Amtrak Inspection Train Runs to Montreal

NECR trestle at East Alburgh, Vt. | looking East | July 18, 2017
Photo Credit: Kevin Burkholder | Steel Wheels Photography
Source: http://www.railpictures.net/photo/623639/ | Image used with permission

Amtrak operated an inspection train from St. Albans, Vt. (SAB) to Montreal (MTR) on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 – another clear signal that plans are progressing to extend the Vermonter north into Canada.

In this image the inspection train is seen crossing the upper part of Lake Champlain on the New England Central railroad (NECR) trestle at East Alburgh, Vt. Various reports suggest that Amtrak President & CEO Wick Moorman was on the train along with other U.S. and Canadian officials.

People who remember taking Amtrak’s former overnight train – the “Montrealer” – north may recall that crossing this trestle was the indication that the train was just moments away from entering Canada.

See also
Trains In The Valley | Vermonter Extension to Montreal

 


EVENT | NARP meeting in Springfield | August 19th

‘A Connected New England’

New England Regional Meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP)

Saturday, August 19, 2017
11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel – Springfield, Ma.

Keynote Speakers:
Timothy Brennan
Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Jim Mathews
President/CEO, National Association of Railroad Passengers

Note that this meeting is open to the public.

Further information is available on this link
https://www.narprail.org/events/new-england-2017-regional-meeting

 


EVENT | Knowledge Corridor Transportation Conference

Mark your calendar for the special half-day conference, “Leveraging the Knowledge Corridor’s Transportation Assets and Investments to Drive Economic Progress.”

Date and time | Wednesday, October 18, 2017 / 8 am – 11.45 am

Venue | Springfield Union Station

The keynote speaker will be Robert Puentes, President/CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation.  Panelists will include five members of Congress from the region:  Richard Neal and James McGovern from Massachusetts and John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, and Elizabeth Esty from Connecticut.

The meeting agenda also includes plans for talks by Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation James Redeker and his counterpart in the Bay State, Stephanie Pollack, Secretary/CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Further details to follow

 


Central Corridor Passenger Rail Study Released by MassDOT

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has posted a copy of the recently completed Central Corridor Passenger Rail Feasibility Study on their website. The study, which apparently has been in the works since 2014, examines the implementation and operation of  intercity passenger rail service along the Central Corridor.

The Central Corridor is a freight rail line running north-south approximately 100 miles between Brattleboro, Vt. and New London, Ct., including the communities of Amherst and Palmer, MA. MassDOT conducted the feasibility study to examine potential for intercity passenger rail service along the Central Corridor.

It is unclear at this time what if anything MassDOT plans to do now that this study is complete.

The report can be viewed on this link
http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/planning/Main/CompletedStudies.aspx

 


Rebooting New England | UPenn Graduate Planning Studio

Rebooting New England, a Fall 2016 graduate planning studio convened by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, sets forth a strategy to rebuild the economy of New England’s cities, which have been bypassed economically and physically for decades.

This strategy is underpinned by a modern high-performance rail network between New York and Boston that would link all of New England’s urban centers with these two global cities and with each other.

The 184-page report, which is audacious in its scope, looked closely at the UK initiative known as the “Northern Powerhouse”, an economic revitalization plan for the North of England and its older industrial cities. Underlying this strategy is the $52 billion high-speed rail project, which will link London with Manchester and Leeds. Another planned line will create a network that links all of the major cities in the North of England with each other.

Interesting summer reading.

The report can be viewed this link
https://www.design.upenn.edu/city-regional-planning/graduate/work/rebooting-new-england

 


TIV website | Updated station information pages

The station information pages on the website have been updated and refreshed.

Direct links to these pages can be found  below:

Amtrak Station | Greenfield, Ma. (GFD)

Amtrak Station | Holyoke, Ma. (HLK)

Amtrak Station | Northampton, Ma. (NHT)

Amtrak Station | Springfield Union Station (SPG)

 


TIV website | Northampton Underpass project update

Construction progress image of the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass
Northampton, Ma. | Behind the Walgreens – looking South | July 16, 2017

Continued progress at the bike and pedestrian underpass work site in Northampton.

Additional new images and commentary can be found on this link
Train In The Valley | Northampton Underpass

The Importance of Buses

PVTA Route 33 bus | Amherst, Ma. | 2011
By Newflyer504 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] | via Wikimedia Commons
On Wednesday, July 19th, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority Advisory Board will meet to considering significant cuts to the PVTA route network in Hampden and Hampshire counties.

The possible cuts in service (detailed below) are driven by the need to address an operating budget deficit at the PVTA of up to $1.2 million for the coming fiscal year.

Source: http://www.pvta.com/media/pdfs/PVTA%20FY18%20Deficit%20table%2005-19-17.pdf

 

We can’t speak to the details of the PVTA’s FY2018 operating budget but we can speak to the importance of the overall service provided by the PVTA in our region.

Source: http://www.pvta.com/media/pdfs/SystemMap2017.pdf

 

The PVTA is the largest regional transit authority in the commonwealth. During the last fiscal year their fixed-route network carried in excess of 12 million passengers.

Simply put — the services provides by the PVTA are absolutely critical to our region.

The PVTA’s fixed-bus network network of fixed-buses

• are often the only transport option for people who don’t drive, can’t drive, or have disabilities

• are flexible, fast, green and clean

• play an important role in social cohesion, helping people, especially those on low incomes, access education, work and healthcare

• play a crucial and expanding role in connecting different modes of transit (in particular passenger rail)

And with minimal investment, new routes – across town or the region – can be launched.

 

In particular, we are naturally very concerned about the possible elimination of M40 express route between UMass Amherst and Northampton since we know that there are aware of many UMass students who use this bus to travel to/from the train station in Northampton.

We would encourage the PVTA Advisory Board to find other ways to cut costs and enhance their passenger revenue streams before cutting major routes.

 

On a more positive note it must be mentioned that Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) has no plans to cut any of their major routes and instead will be adding two new routes starting in September.

Source: http://frta.org/wp-content/uploads/FRTA_Summary_of_Fixed_Route_Changes_09_05_2017.pdf

Unfortunately though the FRTA fixed-network continues to be one of the only two regional transit authorities in the commonwealth that do not provide service on Saturday, Sundays and holidays – despite the continued efforts of the advocacy group Transportation Justice for Franklin County Mass.

 

Just to say it one more time – buses are important for the Pioneer Valley.

Next time you take the train ask yourself, “can I take the bus to the station instead of a car?” Chances are, the answer is yes.

 

> Updated on July 20, 2017 at 8 a.m. <

“The PVTA Advisory board voted Wednesday to eliminate or cut bus service on 20 routes, saving $838,000 in the coming year on the way toward closing a $1.38 million gap in its total budget of $48.21 million.”

A full news report from the meeting can be found on this link:

“PVTA approves bus service cuts, spares some routes while decrying state budget that forced its hand”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | July 19, 2017

 

 


Further Reading

“Riders troubled by PVTA’s proposed service reductions”
By Rebecca Mullen | Daily Hampshire Gazette | July 9, 2017

“Colleges balk at bus service reductions”
By Rebecca Mullen | Daily Hampshire Gazette | July 12, 2017

“PVTA bus service loses out in state budget”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | July 12, 2017