Rail News Roundup #25

 

Today’s Headlines

• MassDOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan Update

• Working on the Railroad

• Rail Pilot Marketing Funding Included in Senate Budget

• Proposed North Adams / Greenfield – Boston Rail Study Passes Senate

• Platform Progress in Greenfield & Northampton

• Holyoke | Vandalism at the Station

• Holyoke | New Freight Activity

• Hartford Line | a View from the Cab

 

CALENDAR

Public Meeting | MassDOT Capital Investment Plan Update
Thur. June 6, 2019 at 6 pm
Springfield Public Library (Mason Square Branch)
765 State St.

MassDOT East-West Passenger Rail Study
Advisory Committee Meeting #2
Planned for June 2019
Details to be announced

 


MassDOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan Update

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has released the draft version of its 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) Update for public comment.

The draft plan can be found on this link:
2020-2024 Capital Investment Program Update

 

This plan is important because is details all of the planned transportation and transit infrastructure spending for the four-year period starting on July 1, 2019.

We focus on this plan each year because it helps us to better understand MassDOT’s plan for rail infrastructure improvements in our region.

You can participate in this process by attending a CIP Public Meeting and/or submitting comments to MassDOT on the plan.

Public Meeting | MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
Thur. June 6, 2019 at 6 pm
Springfield Public Library
(Mason Square Branch)
765 State St.

If you cannot attend this meeting you may wish to view the recorded video of the CIP public meeting that was held in Boston on May 21st.

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We have extracted all of key data, for the rail projects in our region, from the draft CIP and summarized the data in this two-page worksheet.

Public comments

If you wish to leave comments on planned rail projects in our region follow these steps:

  1. Click on this link to the CIP Comment Tool
  2. Click on the “2019 Rail and Transit Division Projects” tab on the right
  3. Click on “Rail Line Projects” and/or “Statewide Rail Projects”

 

Alternatively comments can be submitted by email to MassCIP@state.ma.us

Keep in mind that the public comment period ends on Monday, June 10, 2019.

Further reading
MassDOT 2020-2024 CIP Update
A page on the Trains In The Valley website

 


Working on the Railroad

As many people have noticed, there’s a lot of track work taking place on the north-south rail corridor in the valley at the moment.

We went out to have a look last week and here’s what we found just off of Route 5 in Easthampton.

Track workers and their machines moving south on the Conn River Main Line | looking north
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

What’s happening is that MassDOT’s contractor LM Heavy Civil Construction is replacing ties on the state-owned Conn River Main Line.

This crew started in Greenfield about a month ago and is slowly and methodically working its way south to Springfield — as they replace thousands of old ties along the rail line used by Amtrak’s Vermonter and Pan Am Railways.

On a good day the crew can replace over 900 ties during its eight-hour work window, which runs from 5 am to 1 pm.

 

New ties being inserted under the rails on the Conn River Main Line | looking east
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

 

New and old ties along the Conn River Main Line
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

 

Track workers on the Conn River Main Line | looking east
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

Not all of the work is done by machine. In this image workers can be seen positioning tie plates between the rails and the new ties.

 

Tie replacement on the Conn River Main Line | looking south
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

Funding for this project was provided in the current MassDOT Capital Investment Plan.

Further reading
Infrastructure | Current Projects
A page on the Trains In The Valley website with information on the many infrastructure projects in progress across our region.

 


Rail Marketing Funding Included in Senate Budget

Amendment 705 to the Senate version of the State Budget — which calls $250,000 to be allocated for marketing the planned new passenger rail service between Greenfield and New Haven — was passed in the state Senate on May 21, 2019.

Heartfelt thanks go out to Senators Jo Comerford and Eric Lesser, and their staff, for all the work that they did to get this amendment through the budget process in the Senate.

Why do you need to market this service you might ask?

Because, for the new service to be really successful (which is what we want) there needs to be a robust marketing effort to make people aware of the new service.

Then we need to do some marketing to get people out of their cars on the train (first-time train riders in particular).

And then we need to be able to offer special promotions to fill seats that might otherwise be empty.

Next stop… the Senate budget goes to a Conference Committee where it will be reconciled with House version of the budget, and then it must be signed by the by Governor Baker — two steps that are not at all certain.

CALL TO ACTION

If you support additional rail service between Greenfield and New Haven, then please reach out to the members of the Conference Committee [LISTED HERE] and

ask them to support the funding in the budget for a marketing campaign to be managed by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in support of Knowledge Corridor pilot program, which expands train service along the Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield line. (Referenced as Section 2, item 7007-0300)

Further reading
“Senate adds $250K to budget for Knowledge Corridor”
By Anita Fritz | The Greenfield Recorder | May 28, 2019

 


Proposed North Adams / Greenfield – Boston Rail Study Passes Senate

Amendment 30 to the Senate version of the State Budget — which calls for a study of the feasibility of passenger rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston — was passed in the state Senate on May 21, 2019.

To move forward, the language calling for a study must be included in the budget that comes out of the 2020 Budget Conference Committee, and then it must be signed by the by Governor Baker — two steps that are not at all certain.

CALL TO ACTION

If you support a study of the feasibility of passenger rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston, then please reach out to the members of the Conference Committee [LISTED HERE] and

ask them to support the outside section that calls for a feasibility study of rail access between the cities of North Adams and Boston. (Referenced as Section 107).

Further reading

“Plenty of people on board with resurrecting passenger rail linking North Adams, Boston”
By Adam Shanks | The Berkshire Eagle | June 1, 2019

Proposed Northern Tier Rail Study
Trains In The Valley

 


Platform Progress in Greenfield & Northampton

The project underway to extend the station platforms in Greenfield and Northampton continues to move forward.

The progress photos below show that most of the timber work is now well underway.

Greenfield station | looking south | May 22, 2019
Courtesy of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments

 

Amtrak Train 55 in the station at Northampton | looking south
Northampton, Ma. | June 3, 2019

This image shows the new section of platform located just to the south of the existing 43-foot station platform.

Further reading

Greenfield platform extension project
Trains In The Valley

Northampton platform extension project
Trains In The Valley

 


Holyoke | Vandalism at the station

Holyoke station | May 22, 2019

The station in Holyoke was recently vandalized when someone decided to smash two of the large decorative glass panels at the north end of the station structure.

The remaining panels have since been removed as the city takes steps to replace the panels.

 


Holyoke | New Freight Activity

Holyoke rail yard as viewed from South Canal St | looking north | May 22, 2019

Pan Am Railways has a new freight customer.

What you see here in this image are flatcars loaded with with 20′ containers.

The containers arrive by rail empty in Holyoke and are trucked to Republic Services in Chicopee. They are filled with municipal solid waste and then trucked back to Holyoke were they are loaded onto flatcars. Pan Am then picks the cars as an outbound movement.

 


Hartford Line | a View from the Cab

This recent video shows the complete journey of a CTrail Hartford Line train, traveling from New Haven to Springfield, as viewed from the front of the train.

Here is the caption that was posted on YouTube for the video:

Driver’s eye view of the entire Hartford / Springfield Line from New Haven to Springfield, courtesy of the friendly train crew. We were even lucky enough to get a set with SLE Mafersa cars, with cab car 1703 sporting a fine sounding raised letter K5LA. Maximum operating speed for CTrail is 80 MPH. Enjoy the ride =)

We know that not everyone is interested in such stuff, but we thought it was useful to post since the video allows the viewer to take a quick look (using fast forward) of the entire 62-mile rail corridor.