Rail News Roundup #26

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Today’s Headlines

• Amtrak Finally Moves into Springfield Union Station

• Hartford Line | the One Year Anniversary

• Northampton | Station Parking News

• Northampton | A Bridge to Low

• Senators Comerford and Lesser Speak about Rail service

• Draft Pioneer Valley 2020 Regional Transportation Plan Update

• Springfield | State St Crossing Closed by Amtrak

• Springfield | Clinton St Crossing gets Warning Lights

• A Rail Milestone in the Berkshires

 

CALENDAR

2020 Region Transportation Plan Update
Public Meetings

Springfield
Tues. June 25, 2019 | 7 pm
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
60 Congress Street

Northampton
Wed. June 26, 2019 | 7 pm
City Hall, 201 Main Street
2nd Floor Hearing Room

Westfield
Thur. June 27, 2019 | 7 pm
City Hall, 59 Court Street

Further details below.

 

MassDOT East-West Passenger Rail Study
Advisory Committee Meeting #2
May 14, 2019 – POSTPONED

New Date | July 23, 2019 from 1 pm – 3 pm
Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel
Mahogany Room, Second Floor

 


Amtrak Finally Moves into Springfield Union Station

Amtrak moved its Springfield ticket office into the main hall at Union Station on June 6, 2019 — nearly two years after the historic station was re-opened to the public — and on the following day they closed their 1990s-era waiting room at track level.

Here are a few pictures that visually summarize “moving day” for Amtrak in Springfield.

Amtrak’s waiting room at track level on its last day
Springfield, Ma. | June 6, 2019

 

The soon-to-be opened Amtrak ticket office at Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

The existing stairway to Platform D
Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

The new Amtrak ticket office at Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

Not to bury the lede… but in related news, it has been announced that the new high-level platform at the station is expect to open in July.

Further reading

“Amtrak Moves Passenger Services To Springfield’s Union Station”
By Paul Tuthill | WAMC | June 11, 2019

 


Hartford Line | the One Year Anniversary

A southbound train out of Springfield rips through banner at Hartford Union Station, marking inaugural run for the Hartford Line
Photo by Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant

“Hartford Line beats expectations with 634,000 trips in first year”
By Russell Blair | Hartford Courant | June 17, 2019

 

Great news for the Hartford Line!

Ridership on the new rail service exceeded expectations, with an estimated 634,000 trips during the rail line’s first year of operation.

The busiest day of the year was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when 3,500 riders used the service.

Also included in the announcement was news that the Connecticut Department of Transportation intends to start construction of a new Hartford Line station in Windsor Locks in 2020. (Bids for the new station are scheduled to be advertised on May 13, 2020.)

Further information

Hartford Line One Year Report (PDF)
Connecticut Dept. of Transportation | June 17, 2019

Video | Hartford Line beats expectations with 634k passengers in first year (15:22)
Office of Gov. Ned Lamont | June 17, 2019

 


Northampton | Station Parking News

The extension of the train platform off Pleasant Street in Northampton continues
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 10, 2019

“Train station expansion nearly finished in Northampton, parking management changes in works”
By Bera Dunau | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 12, 2019

 

A recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette provided an update on the evolving parking situation at the Union Station lots in Northampton.

As many people are aware, passengers wishing to take the train from Northampton unfortunately can’t park at the station today.

This parking situation is expected to change this summer when the owner of the lot at Union Station completes the installation of an an automated parking control system — with a new gate to be located at the Pleasant Street exit from the lot.

According to the article, parking will then cost $0.75/hour which works out to $18 for a 24-hour period. This hourly rate is that same rate that is currently charged by the city at E. J. Gare Municipal Garage in downtown Northampton.

Clearly these rates are high compare to the $10 weekday ($6 Sat or Sun) maximum rate at the Olver Street Parking Garage in Greenfield, or the $5 “daily commuter rate” at the Union Station Garage in Springfield.

 


Northampton | A Bridge to Low

Cars passing under the bridges above Bridge Street
Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 17, 2019

“Despite city’s best efforts, low bridge still taking hits”
By Bera Dunau | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 17, 2019

 

Early this month yet another tractor-trailer got stuck after attempting to pass under the railroad bridge that carries the Connecticut River Main Line over Main Street in Northampton. This bridge, which is only 11′ 0″ above the road surface, is too low for some vehicles.

The article, linked above, got us thinking. . . isn’t there a way that this could be solved with technology?

The short answer is yes, and last week we set the “maxheight” parameter for this bridge on the OpenStreetMap site to 11′ 0″.

 

Screenshot of the OpenStreetView site (in edit mode) | June 19, 2019

This is important because many navigation products (Garmin in particular) use the data from OpenStreetMap as a primary data source.

Will this solve the problem of trucks driving into this bridge? No, it won’t, but it should help.

Many drivers don’t use navigation devices and some use navigation apps (such as Waze) that do not use the bridge height data when navigating.

Time will tell whether or not this change reduces the number of bridge strikes on Main Street. We hope it does.

Further reading

“Tractor-trailer gets jammed under Northampton railroad bridge”
By Dusty Christensen | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 11, 2019

 


Senators Comerford and Lesser Speak about Rail service

 

In this interesting ten minute interview Senators Jo Comerford (D-Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester) and Eric Lesser (D-First Hampden and Hampshire) talk in depth with Carrie Saldo of WGBY about their efforts to secure funding to support marketing of the planned new Greenfield – New Haven passenger rail service.

 


Draft Pioneer Valley 2020 Regional Transportation Plan

Happening this week 

On Tuesday this week the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is expected to release its draft 2020 Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

The RTP outlines the direction of transportation planning and improvements for the Pioneer Valley for the next twenty years, through to the year 2040. Importantly, it provides the basis for all state and federally funded transportation improvement projects and planning studies.

This plan is only updated every five years so its important for interested parties to speak up now, since the next chance to review this plan won’t occur again until 2024.

With that said, we would encourage you to —

  1. Attend one of the public meetings this week in Northampton, Springfield or Westfield; (meeting dates and locations can be found in the calendar section above)
  2. Review the draft RTP (on the link below) when it is released on Tuesday; and
  3. Provide written comments on the RTP as detailed in the link below.

Comments on the draft RTP are due by July 15, 2019.

Our experience suggests that pubic input to planning efforts like this one can and does make a make a difference.

We strongly encourage you to offer your input to the draft plan, in particular in support of expanded passenger rail service in our region.

For further information about the draft Pioneer Valley RTP — including links to the draft plan and details on how to provide comments — please click on the project link below:

Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan

 


Springfield | State Street Crossing Closed by Amtrak

State Street crossing | looking west
Springfield, Ma. | June 10, 2019

The State Street crossing of the Amtrak rail line in Springfield is now blocked by locked gates (shown above) on both sides of the tracks.

We assume that this step was taken for safety reasons.

This crossing until last year provided a means for pedestrian to access the Connecticut River Walk, over a railroad crossing that was not protected by automatic warning signals (bells, lights and gates.)

 

New signs at the crossing instruct people who wish to cross the tracks to use either the underpass just to the north of this location or the overpass to the south, which is behind LA Fitness.

Amtrak’s future plans are for this crossing are not known to us at the moment.

Further reading

“Springfield’s Riverfront Park reopens after $3.1 million renovation project”
By Peter Goonan | The Republican | June 12, 2019

“Riverfront Park in Springfield is getting a facelift — but is a rail crossing a barrier to access?”
By Greg Saulmon | The Republican | October 16, 2018

 


Springfield | Clinton Street Crossing gets Warning Lights

Clinton Street crossing | looking east
Springfield, Ma. | June 10, 2019

Pan Am Railways recently completed the installation of new active warning lights at the Clinton Street crossing in Springfield.

This crossing until recently was only marked with passive crossbuck signs.

We assume that this work, which is funded by MassDOT, was done to increase the safety at this railroad crossings, which is a good thing for sure.

 


A Rail Milestone in the Berkshires

Earlier this month the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) released a draft copy of their 20-year Regional Transportation plan.

On page 33 of the 288-page document is this chart which lists transportation service projects that were ranked according to the BRPC’s scoring framework rating system.

What is particularly interesting about this table is the focus on expanding passenger rail service in the Berkshires and in particular the clear priority assigned to the re-establishment of passenger rail service along the Housatonic Line corridor.

The Housatonic Line, which runs generally south from Pittsfield to Danbury, would allow for intra-regional travel along the corridor and potentially could once again open a direct passenger rail connecting between the Berkshires and the New York City.

Is this going to happen tomorrow? No. But people should not underestimate the importance of what has happened here.

The regional planning organization for the region, the Berkshire Planning Commission has now said that re-establishing passenger rail service along this line is a priority transportation service project for the region in the long term transportation plan.

This is a big step for passenger rail in western Massachusetts. The goal has now been set by the BRPC and now we simply have to find a way to reach this goal, over time.

Further reading

The Train Campaign
A regional advocacy group in the Berkshire working for the restoration of passenger rail service on the Housatonic Line.

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.

::

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.

Rail News Roundup #24

 

Today’s Headlines

• Proposed Northern Tier Rail Study

• Vermonter Ridership Continues to Rise

• New Greenfield Service Pushed Back to Late Summer

• Working on the Railroad

• Springfield | Platform C Update

• Boston City Council Votes for East-West Rail

• New Website for Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop

• Holyoke | Cars in the Freight Yard

• WGBY video | Freight Rail in Western Mass

 

CALENDAR

POSTPONED: Advisory Committee Meeting #2
MassDOT East-West Passenger Rail Study
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
1500 Main St
Springfield, Ma.

 


Proposed Northern Tier Rail Study

Joint Committee on Transportation hearing | May 14, 2019
Massachusetts State House | Boston, Ma.

On Tuesday May 14, 2019 Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester) and Rep. Mindy Domb (D-3rd Hampshire) appeared before the Joint Committee on Transportation to offer their testimony in support of Bill S.2054, “An Act to examine the feasibility of rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston.”

Comerford presented her own testimony, and provided the committee with over 700 comments for constituents in her district.

The comments poured in after she reached out with this Facebook post last Friday afternoon.

Also offering testimony at the hearing, in support of the study, were Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator for the Rail Passengers Association, and Clint Richmond, Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee and Executive Committee member of the Massachusetts Sierra Club .

Clint Richmond offered the Sierra Club’s support for the proposed study and pointed out that proposed Northern Tier Route could create many more new destination pairs, such as Fitchburg–Springfield and importantly Boston to Vermont/Montreal via Greenfield.

He also made the strong point that such a service would connect numerous gateway cities in the commonwealth and that it will complement the proposed Boston-Springfield route.

In related news, Sen. Comerford and Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex) have introduced Amendment 30 to the Senate version of the draft 2020 Massachusetts State Budget.

If the amendment is approved as part of the budget process, which is not at all certain, a study of the feasibility of passenger rail service between North Adams and Boston would commence on June 1, 2020 and be completed no later than June 1, 2021.

See also

Proposed Northern Tier Rail Study
A new page on the Trains In The Valley website

Further reading

“Comerford files bill for east-west rail study”
By Anita Fritz | Greenfield Recorder | May 14, 2019

“Lawmakers pitch northern rail route to Western Mass”
By Colin A. Young | State House News Service | May 14, 2019

 


Vermonter Ridership Continues to Rise

The Amtrak Vermonter pulls into the station at the Olver Transit Center
Courtesy the Greenfield Recorder

“Passenger rail ridership continues to climb on the Valley line”
By Beru Dunau | Daily Hampshire Gazette | May 6, 2019

The good news just keeps on coming.

Ridership in the Pioneer Valley on the Vermonter for the last fiscal year exceeded 32,000 riders — with Northampton the busiest station, with almost 22,000 riders.

Further reading

Vermonter data
A page on the Trains In The Valley site with detailed ridership data for the Vermonter.

 


New Greenfield Service Pushed Back to Late Summer

Amtrak train at Springfield Union Station
Greenfield Recorder / Paul Franz

Greenfield to see extended passenger rail service by end of summer
By Anita Fritz | Greenfield Recorder | May 2, 2019

The headline sounds like good news, but what actually is happening is that the start of the new Greenfield service is being pushed back from June to late summer.

Back in June of 2018 Governor Charlie Baker announced that the new service would start in the spring of 2019. Then immediately following his formal announcement MassDOT said that the service would start in June 2019.

Why the delay? The news article does not say, but it looks to us like some of the infrastructure projects along the corridor are taking a little longer than planned.

Yes, the delay is frustrating, but everyone should keep in mind that operating a passenger rail service is much more complicated than people imagine.

Simply put, the service will start when MassDOT, Amtrak and CTDOT are ready and not a moment sooner.

Further reading

Passenger Rail | Valley Flyer
A page on the Trains In The Valley website with information about the planned new new service.

 


Working on the Railroad

Maintenance of Way equipment parked for the weekend on a siding | Sat. May 4, 2019
just off of South Main St. in South Deerfield | looking north

The equipment in this image is being used for a large tie replacement project that is now underway along the MassDOT-owned rail corridor between Springfield and Greenfield.

While this work is taking place travelers should expect that the Vermonter may be slightly delayed (10-15 minutes) at stations in the region until they are finished with the work.

The delays occur because of one or more temporary “slow orders” that are put in place in the work zone where the ties are being replaced. A slow order then remains in effect for a period of time after the work is completed while they wait for the track to fully settle.

As of today (May 17, 2019) the tie crew was reported to be working in Hatfield. The crew is working their way south and should arrive in Northampton sometime next week.

Some of you may wonder what we are looking at in this image. The machine at the head of the line is a Harsco Rail Mark IV Production/Switch Tamper. It is used to pack (or tamp) the ballast in and around the ties and to set the proper level for each rail of the track.

Further reading

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

 


Springfield | Platform C Update

A lot has happened at the high-level platform work site at Springfield Union Station in the past few weeks.

By late April the contractor had the site ready for the installation of the precast concrete sections for the new high-level platform at the station.

A large mobile crane was then setup on Lyman St for about a week so that the precast concrete sections could be lifted from flatbed trucks at street level and then carefully placed onto the new foundations at track level.

 

Crane in position on Lyman St | April 23, 2019
By Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican

If you’re wondering, this crane would appear to be a Liebherr LTM 1500 crane. Its maximum load capacity is 550 tons.

 

Springfield Union Station as viewed from the top of the garage | looking east | April 29, 2019

 

Platform C (now under construction) | looking east
Springfield Union Station | May 9, 2019

Here you can see the high-level platform, in its current form, with all of precast concert sections now installed.

You can also see that the newly installed structural members for the canopy, which was fabricated using steel from the historic canopy at the station.

When complete the platform will be accessed from the concourse level of the station via a new elevator and new set of stairs.

Further reading

“Crane lifts Platform C into place at Springfield Union Station”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | April 24, 2019

 


Boston City Council Votes for East-West Rail

On May 1, 2019 the Boston City Council adopted a resolution supporting East-West rail service between Boston and Springfield.

The resolution, which is shown below, was adopted by unanimous vote of the council.

Resolution Adopted by the Boston City Council | May 1, 2019

Further reading

Boston City Council votes to support Springfield-to-Boston high-speed passenger rail
By Shira Shoenberg | The Republican | May 1, 2019

 


New Website for Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop

We are happy to report that the new website for Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop is now live.

PalmerTrain.org

Interested parties may also wish to visit the Facebook group for this organization.
Facebook.com/palmertrain

 


Holyoke | Cars in the Freight Yard

Holyoke rail yard as viewed from South Canal St | looking north | May 9, 2019

This seemingly nondescript image shows something that until recently has not been seen in Holyoke for quite a few years.

What you are looking at are five freight cars on the interchange track in Holyoke. This track is used to transfer cars between the Pioneer Valley Railroad (PVRR) and Pan Am Railways.

The reopening of the interchange track was made possible by a MassDOT Industrial Rail Access Grant (IRAP) to the PVRR. The IRAP funds along with funds provide by the railroad were used to repair of the bridge that carries the PVRR tracks over the Second Level Canal near Lyman Street.

We have been told that the three northernmost cars are center-beam flatcars that are used for hauling building and lumber materials. These flatcars were unloaded at the Lowe’s Distribution Center in Westfield and are now headed back empty.

The first two cars are gondolas which are normally used for hauling scrap material. Its unclear what they were doing on the PVRR system, but it could be that they were at Rescar Industries in Westfield being repaired.

 


WGBY video | Freight Rail in Western Mass.

The video below, which was produced by WGBY in Springfield, provides a nice overview of the freight rail system in western Massachusetts.

Here is the caption on YouTube that goes with this video:

When the Pinsley Rail Company purchased the railroad formerly operated by Conrail in 1982 and turned it into what is now known as the Pioneer Valley Railroad, it ushered in a new era for the short line rail industry in Western Massachusetts.

Since that time, Pinsley’s client list, warehouses, and distribution services have continues to grow along with rail service.

Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan chased trains around several 413 towns to get a look at the state of rail freight transport in Western Mass.