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 #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