Hartford Line fares will be similar to the current fares on CTrail’s Shore Line East service, which operates between New Haven and New London.
Parking at CTrail stations is expected to be $2/day and $20/month, with free parking on weekends and holidays.
The CTRail Hartford Line website is reported to be “coming soon.”
MassMoves Report Shows Strong Support for Rail Service
Recently released MassMoves report shows strong support for improved and expanded passenger rail service across the Commonwealth.
“Whatever region people came from, people saw regional rail as a top mobility priority,” said Jim Aloisi, a former state transportation secretary who worked on the Senate study.”¹
“Asked what effect the latest study will have on the Springfield to Boston rail proposal, State Senate President Stan Rosenberg replied, ‘We’ve got to do it. We’ve got to get rail going all over the state.’ “¹
Nine regional MassMoves workshops were held as part of the State Senate’s Commonwealth Conversations listening tour between January and April 2017.
The Western Region meeting, which was held in Springfield on March 28th, attracted an overflow crowd of 104 participants and 14 state senators.
This is an important rail advocacy event in Vermont and we will be attending the dinner to show our support for VRAN’s ongoing efforts to improve passenger rail service in Vermont — in particular the Vermonter.
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
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
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.
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.
“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
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
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.
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 Ownersas 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.
Peter Pan Moving to Union Station on September 6th
Peter Pan Bus Lines has announced that they plan to move their regional hub to Springfield Union Station on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017.
On this date all Peter Pan and Greyhound bus services and ticket sales will move into the newly renovated Union Station complex.
In related news, Peter Pan has announced that it will end its 19-year partnership with Greyhound Lines on September 27th. According to this article in MassLive, “the move will allow Peter Pan to offer paperless boarding on all its routes, more express service and to be on-time more often.”
Updated Union Station Garage Parking Rates
People have asked about the cost to park at the new Union Station Garage in Springfield.
The parking rate is calculated as $1.50 for the first 30 minutes and then $2.00 for each additional hour — up to a maximum of $20 for the day. Longer term rates are also available.
The current rates are shown on these display screens on each parking kiosk at the garage.
Note that Ken’s Parking, at 73 Taylor Street, has a day rate that starts at $10.
Track Construction Machine Makes Progress in Connecticut
In July 2017, the NHHS Rail Program captured the Track Construction Machine (TCM) in operation as it layed new track in Berlin, Connecticut. By utilizing an unmanned aerial vehicle, video crews were able to provide the public with a “bird’s-eye” view of the 250-ton machine, which can assemble up to 1,000 feet of track per hour in ideal conditions, totaling over one mile of track per day.
This summer the TCM layed ten miles of new track between Meriden and Newington. Later this fall, it will return to lay an additional four miles of new track between Hartford and Windsor.
The CTrail Hartford Line commuter rail service — which will operate between Springfield, Hartford and New Haven — is scheduled to open in May 2018.
Safety >Railroad Crossing Safety
This page was updated with the most current version of the “Public Highway-rail Crossings Ranked by Predicted Accidents report” for Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties (as of 12/31/2016).
The report shows that there were a total of four reported accidents at public railroad crossing in the Pioneer Valley during the five-year period from January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2016.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New pieces of continuously welded rail have been laid along portions of the MassDOT owned Connecticut River Main Line over the past two weeks.
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.
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.”
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
• 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.
On Monday, March 6th, Congressman Richard E. Neal hosted a “Media Day” event at Union Station to celebrate the rebirth of Union Station in Springfield. During the event, it was announced that Union Station will reopen to the public on Monday, June 26th, 2017.
At that time Amtrak’s passenger waiting room and ticket offices will move into the newly renovated station. It is expected that Peter Pan Bus Lines, Greyhound, and the bus operations of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority will then follow as quickly as practical.
The images that follow highlight today’s media event and the station as it looks today — as final preparations for the re-opening are put in motion.
Images from Today’s Event
Images from Inside the Station
A highlight of the new station is the wonderful set of large graphic displays (murals) that were developed by Design & Advertising Associates LLC of Springfield and the Museum of Springfield History.
At track-level, you will unfortunately not find much that is new or improved at the moment. The current MassDOT Capital Improvement Plan includes funding for the construction of one high-level platform at the station. The new platform will replace the existing low level “Platform C”, which is shown in the image below.
We are hopeful that the planned high-level platform will be completed before the new Hartford Line service starts in early 2018.
Behind a door in the passageway under the tracks is the framing of the new elevator shaft and a set of original stairs that once led to Platform C — clearly a work in progress.
In the meantime — until the new high-level platform is built — train passengers will continue to access the boarding platforms using the existing stairway and elevator at the south end of the passageway.
This is by far the most comprehensive report on this topic by any media outlet in the Pioneer Valley to date.
WWLP’s report, which was 6 weeks in the making, includes interviews with all the key players, including
Tim Brennan | Exec. Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
Governor Charlie Baker
Astrid Glynn | Rail & Transit Administrator, MassDOT
State Senator Eric Lesser | First Hampden and Hampshire
Mary Macinnes | Administrator, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
Guy McLean | Wood Museum of Springfield History
Tim Murray | President & CEO, Worcester Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Representative Richard Neal | 1st District of Mass.
Peter Picknelly | Owner, Peter Pan Bus Lines
Rick Sullivan |President, Economic Dev. Council of Western Mass.
Trains in the Valley was interviewed for the piece in the historic Union Station building in Northampton.
The report is balanced and comprehensive. We would encourage everyone with an interest in this topic to take the time to view this report, from start to finish.