Rail News Roundup | July 25, 2017

 

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 the National Railroad Passengers Association (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 Graduate Planning Studio Released

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

Rail News Roundup

 

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

Rail News Roundup

 

There’s a lot happening currently so we thought we should pause for a moment to review a few of the major news stories and highlight whats on tap for the coming week.

 

Recent Regional Rail News

“Plans revealed for $32 million transformation of Springfield’s Paramount Theater and Massasoit Block into boutique hotel”
By Peter Goonan | The Republican | June 15, 2017

$32 million redevelopment of the historic Massasoit Block and Paramount Theater on Main Street, just two blocks from Springfield Union Station.

This is very big news for Springfield, and the redevelopment of the area near Union Station.

 

 

“Canada-U.S. preclearance bill finally moves ahead, but privacy concerns mount over Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’
By Marie-Danielle Smith | National Post | June 15, 2017

Montreal Central Station / Pascal Normand
Montréal Central Station / Pascal Normand

The Canadian bill, which among other things, would allow for the establishment of a preclearance facility at Montreal Central Station.

With some luck the bill will be approved by Parliament this summer so that the long discussed plan to extend the Vermonter to Montreal can move forward.

Further Reading | Vermonter Extension to Montreal

 

“Track laid at CRRC subway car factory in Springfield”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | June 16, 2017

Newly laid track at the CRRC factory in Springfield, Ma.
Dave Roback/ The Republican

Continued progress at the CRRC rail factory in Springfield.

“At 204,000 square feet, the $95 million factory at the old Westinghouse site in East Springfield is the largest industrial investment in greater Springfield in generations. The factory building is about 300 by 700 feet, with room inside for three and a half football fields.”

“CRRC, also known as China Railway Rolling Stock Corp., plans a grand opening celebration at the plant in October or early November, with production on new MBTA subway cars to begin early in 2018.”

 


Upcoming Events

Monday, June 19th

Senator Eric Lesser travels from Boston to Springfield, with stops in Framingham, Worcester, Palmer and Springfield, on a ‘whistle-stop’ tour to promote expanded East-West passenger rail service.

Here’s a summary of Monday’s westbound-only schedule.

9:00 am in Boston – Press conference with Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Sen. Joe Boncore

11:00 am in Framingham – Press conference at Framingham MBTA commuter rail station with Sen. Karen Spilka and local elected officials to discuss the regional and state-wide importance of modern rail infrastructure and concerns about the Framingham at-grade rail crossing.

12:30 pm in Worcester – Meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler and the Editorial Board of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette to discuss how expansion of MBTA rail service to Worcester has transformed the city.

3:30 pm in Palmer – “Rally for Rail | Palmer” event and meeting with Sen. Anne Gobi and local business leaders at Palmer’s Steaming Tender Restaurant to discuss Transit Oriented Development opportunities for the town and region.

5:30 pm in Springfield – “Rally for Rail | Springfield” event at Springfield Union Station hosted by Sen. Lesser and other local elected officials. (You can park for free inside the new Union Station parking garage.)

The rallies in Palmer and Springfield are open to the public and we would encourage people to attend.

 

Tuesday, June 20th | 6 pm – 7:45 pm

A special evening program at Sixteen Acres Branch Library, 1187 Parker St, Springfield, on the long-awaited grand reopening of the Springfield Union Station.

 

Sunday – June 25th | 12 Noon to 2 pm

Official Public Open House for Springfield Union Station

Activities include:

• Guided tours by the designers of the new murals in the station

• “Saving Union Station” Book Signing

• Model Train Exhibit by Amherst Rail Society

• Amtrak Safety Display

• Antique Cars and Bus Displays, including historic Peter Pan buses from the past

• Little Hands on the Move – Explore the city streets and landmarks of the Springfield Cultural District using wooden cars and motorcycles on a giant carpeted map.

• Early Transportation Please Touch Table – Put on your white curator gloves and touch car parts from a century ago.

• Marble Run – Use plastic, wood, recycled, and even illuminated materials to create twists and turns to see how far you can get your marbles to roll.

• Make & Take: Union Station Themed Buttons – Color a train, bus or Union Station Grand Opening logo then have it made into a wearable button.

• Appearance by the Cat in the Hat – Meet and greet with the Cat from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• Appearance by Springfield Thunderbirds “Boomer”

• WMAS FM

• Cupcakes and other sweets for sale

• Springfield Water Department Hydration Station

And yes, Trains in the Valley will be at this event with its own table. Please stop by and say hello!

 

Sunday – June 25th | 4:30 pm

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) shifts its regional bus hub to Springfield Union Station.

Details can be found on this link to the PVTA website.

 

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