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 #2

 

The latest regional rail news from Trains In The Valley

Today’s Reports

• Union Station is Open!

• Senator Eric Lesser’s “Rally4Rail” Whistle Stop Tour

• Democratic Party Platform Includes Support for East-West Rail

• Strong Vermonter Ridership in Northampton Reported

• Design for Expanded Northampton Station Platform Released

• Vermonter Extension to Montreal Takes Another Step Forward

• New Rail Dropped along the Conn River Line

• Track Washout in Vermont Affects Vermonter Service

 


Union Station is Open!

Springfield Union Station re-opened to the public on Sunday morning June 25th.

Main waiting room | Union Station
Springfield, Ma. | June 25, 2017

The first Amtrak passengers in over forty years to enter though the main waiting room — captured in the image above — were spotted in the building shortly after it was opened at 10 a.m.

 

Public Open House at Union Station
Springfield, Ma. | June 25, 2017

An open house was held from 10 a.m until 3 p.m. for the public and then at 4:30 p.m. the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority moved the hub for their bus operations in Springfield to the station.

(Yes, that is the Cat in the Hat in the middle of the picture.)

 

Trains In The Valley & Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop at the Open House
Union Station | Springfield, Ma. | June 25, 2017

Trains In The Valley and the advocacy group Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop shared a table at the open house.

We talked with people all day long about the rail service in our region and we thank everyone who stopped by to say hello.

 

Union Station | view from the parking garage roof | looking East
Springfield, Ma. | June 26, 2017

 

Bronze rededication plaque at Union Station
Springfield, Ma. | June 25, 2017

Further Reading

“Union Station grand opening honors Springfield history”
By Elizabeth Roman | The Republican | June 25, 2017

Video | “Springfield’s restored Union Station filled with history”
By Kait Walsh | WWLP-22News | June 24, 2017

2017 Union Station Open House (48 images)
Flickr album | Spirit of Springfield | June 25, 2017

Infrastructure | Springfield Union Station
Trains in the Valley

 


Senator Eric Lesser’s “Rally4Rail” Whistle Stop Tour

On Monday, June 19, 2017, State Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) embarked on a “whistle stop” tour across the state to make the case for expanded East-West passenger rail service.

Making stops in — Boston, Framingham, Worcester, Palmer, and Springfield — Lesser spoke of the benefits to all of making this rail connection.

Focus Springfield Community Television joined the senator and his staff for the tour and recorded each of the public events.

Credit:
Focus Springfield Community Television: Stephen Cary, Executive Producer | Brendon Holland, Producer | Josue Vazquez, Editor

Further Reading

“State Sen. Eric Lesser rallies for high-speed rail study at Springfield’s Union Station, last stop of day-long tour”
By Brian Steele | The Republican | June 19, 2017

 


Democratic Party Platform Includes Support for East-West Rail

The 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Party platform now includes support for East-West rail service between Springfield, Worcester, and Boston.

The new wording, quoted below, was adopted at the quadrennial platform convention that was held in Worcester on June 3, 2017.

“Investment in transportation infrastructure that links communities to each other and to jobs across the Commonwealth, including: increasing the expansion of capacity and reach of the MBTA, including the Green Line Expansion; the construction of the North-South Rail Link to unify north-side and south-side commuter rail systems and to extend the Northeast Corridor; building high speed rail along the East/West route between Springfield, Worcester, and Boston; and construction of the South Coast Rail Project.”

 


Strong Vermonter Ridership in Northampton Reported

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz announced on June 23, 2017 the follow news regarding passenger rail service in the city.

• Northampton station has become the 3rd leading station for passenger traffic on the Amtrak Vermonter line since rail service resumed in the city on December 29, 2014

• Northampton ridership has increased to over 18,000 people annually which is 20% of the Vermonter’s total rail ridership of 88,006.

• Travel between Northampton and New York’s Penn Station is the leading travel “pair” for passenger arrivals and departures.

• Unofficial ridership data for April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2017 shows that Northampton ridership is up 20% with 15,781 passengers in 2016 to 18,980 for 2017.

• The 2009 HDR Knowledge Corridor Study projected that realignment of the Vermonter to its original CT River corridor would result in 28 riders per day in Northampton. In 2015, Northampton station averaged 44 riders per day and in 2016 that increased to 50 riders a day.

Further Reading

“Northampton’s popularity among rail riders boosts push for more service”
By Amandra Drane | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 26, 2017

Vermonter Performance | Ridership
Trains in the Valley

 


Design for Expanded Northampton Station Platform Released

It has been announced that the passenger station platform in Northampton will be be expanded to a length of 120-feet by the end of the year.

Architectural rendering of planned expanded rail platform
Northampton, Ma. | June 2017

The expanded station platform will allow for two pairs of passenger car doors to be opened on the platform, which would basically double the speed of boarding (and deboarding) passengers in Northampton.

The platform expansion project will go out to bid soon and if all goes well the project should be completed by the end of 2017.

Further Reading

Infrastructure | Northampton
Trains in the Valley

 


Vermonter Extension to Montreal Takes Another Step Forward

On June 21, 2017 the House of Commons of Canada adopted Bill C-23, the “Preclearance Act, 2016″, which among other things would allow for establishment of a preclearance facility in Central Station in Montreal. The passage of this bill is is one of the many things that must happen before Amtrak’s Vermonter service is extended to north to Montreal.

The bill has been sent to the Senate of Canada, where it will sit until the Senate returns to session on September 19, 2017.

Further Reading

Vermonter Extension to Montreal
Trains in the Valley

 


New Rail Dropped along the Conn River Line

New pieces of continuously welded rail have been laid along portions of the MassDOT owned Connecticut River Main Line over the past two weeks.

Connecticut River Main Line | looking North
Keets Road crossing | Deerfield, Ma. | June 26, 2017

In the image above, new rail has been dropped next to the so-called Deerfield Siding. Presumably this siding will be rebuilt, with new ballast, ties and new rail, in the near future.

 


Track Washout in Vermont Affects Vermonter Service

> Updated on July 5, 2017 at 4 p.m. <

Amtrak’s Vermonter was temporary replaced with bus service between stations north of Springfield, Ma. from Sunday, July 2nd through to the morning of Wednesday, July 5th.

WCAX in Burlington reported that about 800 feet of New England Central Railroad’s track in West Hartford, Vt. had been “compromised” after heavy rain on Saturday, July 1st caused an embankment to become unstable from the saturated ground.

Amtrak service was restored when the northbound Vermonter (Train 56) departed Springfield on Wednesday afternoon, July 5th. It is expected that the Vermonter will operate normally in both directions tomorrow.

Further Reading

“Vermont Amtrak passengers bussed, rail track unstable”
By WCAX News | July 2, 2017

“Amtrak Service Restored in Hartford”
By WCAX News | July 5, 2017

New Grade Crossing Signals go up in Northampton

new-rr-crossing-at-pca-in-northampton-6-jan-2017
Packaging Corporation of America siding| looking south
Northampton, Ma. | January 6, 2017

This unremarkable image shows the siding that leads from the Connecticut River Main Line into the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) plant off of Mount Tom Road (U.S. Route 5) in Northampton.

In the last few weeks, crews have installed flashing light signals on Mount Tom Road on both sides of this track. Additionally, a large cantilevered flashing light signal has been set up to warn vehicular traffic exiting the PCA site.

Presumably, these active signals were mandated after a car drove into a Pan Am freight train on this track on October 6, 2015.  At the time of the accident, this crossing had been protected by a set of passive signals known as crossbucks.

 


Further reading

Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook
Revised Second Edition
U.S. Department of Transportation | August 2007