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.

 

Please follow our page on Facebook for the latest news and information | Facebook: Trains in the Valley

Union Station to Reopen June 26th

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

Waiting for the event to start
(the screen hanging from the ceiling is the future train status display board)

 

Congressman Neal speaking to invited guests and dignitaries

 

A view from one of the station alcoves

 

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno offering his remarks for the occasion
(Note the new murals on the wall)

 

Construction workers observing the event from the upper floors

 

Congressman Neal and Mayor Sarno are presented with copies of the Certificate of Occupancy for the “new” Union Station

 

Congressman Neal being interviewed by WWLP 22 News

 


Images from Inside the Station

Looking south from the main concourse — towards the passageway under the tracks

 

The east side of the main concourse

 

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.

 

 

 

The corridor leading to the intercity bus waiting area

 

A view of the waiting area for bus passengers

 


Train Platforms

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.

Platform C (on the left) – looking east

 

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.

 

An original — and future — stairway to “Platform C”

 

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.

 


Images from Outside the Station

From the top of the new parking garage – Looking east, towards Boston

 

A view of the new six-story elevated parking garage

 


Further reading

“After 4 decades and $95 million renovation, grand opening date set for Springfield’s Union Station”
By Jim Kinney | MassLive | March 6, 2017

“Springfield Union Station: What’s next, rental spaces, platforms, Lyman Street and more”
By Jim Kinney | MassLive | March 6, 2017

“Amid ongoing negotiations, Peter Picknelly confirms plan to move Peter Pan into Springfield’s Union Station”
By Jim Kinney | MassLive | March 6, 2017

“Union Station to reopen in a few months” (1:59)
By Kait Walsh | WWLP 22 News | March 6, 2017

 

Recent website updates and additions

Infrastructure > Current projects > Northampton Underpass
This page has been updated with new images.

Passenger Rail > Vermonter Performance
The On-time Performance & Departure Delay spreadsheet for the Vermonter has been updated with data through to the end of February 2017.

WWLP-22News Special Report: Springfield-Boston Rail Service

WWLP-22News Anchor/Reporter Katie Walsh’s amazing full hour-long special report on the potential for Springfield-Boston passenger rail service is now available on the this link:

“InFocus: Lawmakers considering rail service from Springfield to Boston”
By Kait Walsh | WWLP-22News | January 29, 2017

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.

Springfield Union Station – Coming Along

On Monday October 24th we took a tour of the soon-to-reopen Union Station building in Springfield to have a look at the progress to date.

The historic building, which has been vacant for many years, will start to return to service in January 2017 — as an intermodal rail and bus station.

As the images below show, a lot of progress has been made — but clearly, a lot of detail work still has to take place over the next few months before the historic station building can re-open to the public.

Thanks are due to Christopher Moskal, the Executive Director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, who led us on this tour.

 

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Looking East | the west side of the terminal building on a blustery October day

 

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Looking East |a few of the new intercity bus bays (on the right)

 

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Some of the bays that will be used by Pioneer Valley Transit Authority’s (PVTA) buses

 

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The north side of the new parking garage (on the right)
and some of the PVTA buses bays (on the left)

 

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A new covered walking path along the south side of the new parking garage (the path connects Main Street to the terminal building)

 

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A view of the main concourse inside the terminal building

 

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Looking south, from the second floor

 

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The main concourse and the passageway under the tracks | ca. 1970s
By Ed Malley | The Republican

 

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Unfinished space on the second floor — waiting to be fitted out for new office tenants

 

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Additional unfinished space on the second floor

 

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Unfinished rentable space on the main floor

 

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On the main floor | the future home of three retail shops

 

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Looking south | into the large passageway that leads under the tracks and to Lyman Street

 

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Looking north | from the passageway, back towards the main concourse
(Note the large set of steel beams supporting the railroad tracks above)

 

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An unfinished stairway leading to Platform C

 

Please note:
Due to the limited amount of time that was available for this tour we were unable to spend any time reviewing the current platform situation at track level. We will review this topic in a future posting.

 

 

Further reading

Springfield Union Station (Trains in the Valley)