Rail News Roundup #15

 

Today’s Headlines

• All Aboard for the Hartford Line!

• Final 2018 State Rail Plan Released

• Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Car Culture

• Springfield | New Parking Rates at Union Station Garage

• Northampton | Expanded Station Platform to Move Ahead?

• Northampton | Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting

• Greenfield | Parking Garage Update

• Freight railroads’ key role Western Mass

• WMassPI | Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…

 

Calendar

June 16/17, 2018
Opening Weekend for the Hartford Line
All Hartford Line passenger rail service (CTrail and Amtrak) will be FREE this weekend.

For further information visit
TrainsInTheValley.org/ctrail-hartford-line

 

Wed. June 20, 2018 | 6 pm – 8 pm
Exploring Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities
Theodore’s BBQ | 201 Worthington St, Springfield
[information/registration link]

Free BBQ, a cash bar, networking with fellow smart growth advocates, and a chance to hear directly from the researchers on the possibilities of Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) near Springfield Union Station

 

July 27–28, 2018
Northampton | Golden Spike 2018
The largest rails-to-trails conference of the year in New England.

 


All Aboard for the Hartford Line!

Ride for free from Union Station to Union Station this weekend!

Free service on the Hartford Line (CTrail and Amtrak trains) all weekend long.

 

And — there will be FREE parking at the Union Station Parking Garage (1755 Main St, Springfield) this weekend.

 

Making plans to ride the Hartford Line from Springfield?

Check out our new Hartford Line page
TrainsInTheValley.org/ctrail-hartford-line

 

For those of you using the new Hartford Line, please keep in mind that this service is unique in many ways. In particular, the service is being provide by two distinct operators — CTrail and Amtrak — which as far as we know, is a first in this country.

All of the details have yet to be totally worked out, in particular a few issues related Hartford Line ticketing (CTrail vs. Amtrak).

Our Advice to You — if you are traveling between Springfield and New Haven on the Hartford Lineif possible, purchase your ticket from a CTrail ticket vending machine — not the Amtrak website.

Why? Because there are still a few open questions related to the use of Amtrak tickets on Hartford Line trains. In a nutshell — Amtrak-issued tickets are for a “reserved coach seat” on a specific Amtrak train on the Hartford Line, which implies that the ticket is valid only for a specific train.

The Hartford Line website does say that “valid” Amtrak tickets can be used on any CTrail train but we have yet to find out what the term “valid” means in this context.

 

If you have comments about the new service please let CTDOT know.
HartfordLine.com/customer-service

 


Final State Rail Plan Released

The final version of the 2018 Massachusetts State Rail Plan was released today.

The document can viewed by clicking on this link
2018 Massachusetts State Rail Plan (PDF)

The final plan includes a new chapter, Chapter 6, which details MassDOT’s public engagement effort and summarizes the updates to the plan from the draft version.

We note in particular MassDOT’s comment (in Chapter 6) that they received nearly 300 emails and letters during the public comment period, including an open letter signed by 667 high school students in Western Massachusetts on their support of a feasibility study for East-West rail.

We will have further comment on the Final version of the State Rail Plan in a future edition of the Rail News Update.

 


Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Car Culture

“Supporters Hope Hartford Line Will Help Upend Connecticut’s Car Culture”
By Rebecca Lurye | Hartford Courant | June 10, 2018

An insightful look at what the coming Hartford Line might mean for the Springfield–Hartford–New Haven corridor.

“Some commuters say the new, $700 million rail line is their way out of a congested car culture that weighs heavily on their wallets, time cards and nerves. The state [Connecticut] Department of Transportation expects thousands of people to trade in driving for the convenience of the Hartford Line, which promises to make the 62-mile trip from Springfield to New Haven in about 80 minutes, and for less than traditional Amtrak tickets.”

 


Springfield | New Parking Rates at Union Station Garage

“Springfield Union Station offers commuter parking rate as CTrail service begins”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | June 14, 2018

At long last, the City of Springfield offers a Commuter Rate for parking at the Union Station Garage.

Effective Mon. June 18, 2018 the commuter rate for parking in the garage will be $5.

Effective for July 2018 the monthy parking rate will be $65.

This is really significant news because until now the parking rate had been $20/day — which is a level which was simply not attractive to people in this area.

Thanks go out to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno the executive leadership of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority for making this happen.

 


Northampton | Expanded Station Platform to Move Ahead?

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

Late today we received word that the delayed project to expand the station platform in Northampton may finally be ready to move forward.

We don’t have the details yet, but as soon as we do we’ll be sure to let you know.

Further Reading
Infrastructure | Northampton | Trains in the Valley

 


Northampton | Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting

Northampton Underpass Ribbon Cutting
Mary C. Serreze | Special to The Republican | June 8, 2018

“Northampton celebrates completion of rail trail underpass”
By Hannah Nelson | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 8, 2018

One June 8th MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack joined Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, MassDOT staff, local leaders, and members of the public to celebrate the ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the new bicycle/pedestrian underpass beneath the MassDOT owned Connecticut River Line in Northampton.

This new $4.4 million underpass in the area of Woodmont Road and King Street connects the Mass Central Rail Trail – on the east side of the railroad tracks – with the Northampton Bike Trail on the west side of the railroad tracks.

It was a 43 years ago (i.e., in 1975) that the idea of a bicycle tunnel under the Connecticut River Rail Line was first floated, said Mayor David Narkewicz.

Specifications were first developed 25 years ago, and construction finally starting in 2016.

Further reading
Northampton Underpass | Trains In The Valley

 


Greenfield | Parking Garage Update

Pre-cast Traffic Route | Olive St Parking Garage | Greenfield, Ma.

The parking garage across from the Olver Transit Center is coming together.

Concrete pours for the footings and foundations have been completed. The crane (300-ton lift capacity) arrived on Mon. June 11th and the contractor began installing precast concrete panels on the site on Wed, June 13th.

The garage should be completed before the end of 2018.

Further Details on this link
greenfield-ma.gov/index.cfm?p=p.330

 


Freight railroads’ key role Western Mass economy

CSX GE-ES44AC Locomotive #0948 on the headend of a Freight | Springfield, Ma.
By CORNELIUSSEON | Wikimedia Commons | License: Attribution 3.0 Unported

Freight railroads’ key role in moving the Western Mass economy
Opinion | By Tim Brennan | via MassLive | May 30, 2018

Tim Brennan, the Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, makes a strong case for moving more freight over an improved and modernized rail network in Western Mass.

 


WMassPI | Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…

Western Mass Politics and Insight | June 13, 2018

“Briefings: Baker Climbs aboard Rail Study…at Yorktown…”
Western Mass Politics & Insight | June 13, 2018

Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight this week took a fresh look at Senator Lesser’s four-year effort to get the state to study East-West rail. Their work is a masterful piece of political analysis.

As always, a must-read for people in the Valley who are following the ins and outs of this long running story of political intrigue.

Rail News Roundup #7

 

Summary of Today’s Roundup of Rail News

• Proposed Fares for 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 Courant | 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: http://www.senatorlesser.com/RailMatters

::

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 a 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 crawl across this switch at speeds as low as 10 mph. The new turnout should allow the Vermonter to pass over this turnout 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