Reports & Studies

Here’s a listing of reports and studies that relate — both directly and indirectly — to rail service in the Pioneer Valley.


-Active Studies

Current Studies

MBTA Commuter Rail Vision (2017 – )
The Massachussets Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachussets Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has initiated a 2 – 2½ year study to identify the most cost effective strategies for leveraging the MBTA’s extensive rail network to increase ridership and better meet the transportation and economic growth needs of the Greater Boston region.

The study will also include the identification of possible service alternatives, including longer distance service Regional Rail services that potentially could include service extensions beyond the traditional MBTA commuter rail service area.

Further Reading

“MBTA Launching Study of Future Needs of Commuter Rail”
MBTA Press Release | June 16, 2017

MBTA Commuter Rail Vision RFP (PDF)
MBTA | June 16, 2017


Palmer Transit Oriented Development Study (2017 – )

Palmer TOD Draft Conceptual Downtown Plan presentation (PDF)
September 2017

Following the inclusion of station in Palmer in the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative study, the Palmer Redevelopment Authority commissioned Chris Ferrero and Jon Allard of Fuss & O’Neill to prepare a preliminary transit-oriented development plan focused on a passenger rail stop in downtown Palmer.

The Palmer Transit Oriented Development Draft Conceptual Downtown Plan enumerates the economic benefits of locating this passenger rail stop in Palmer’s Depot Village. The plan also demonstrates the viability of locating rail platforms at this location to take full advantage of Palmer as a regional crossroads on the Inland Route and Central Corridor rail lines. This rail junction is within a mile of Exit 8 on the Massachusetts Turnpike and the intersection of U.S. Route 20 and Mass. Routes 32 and 181.


Massachusetts State Rail Plan Update (2015 —  )

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is currently developing a state rail plan update that will examine changes to the network and services since the original state rail plan was released in 2010, as well as trends that have arisen since that time. The plan will document the state rail system and planned improvements, and outline the Commonwealth’s 20-year vision and a four-year plan for the statewide rail system.

This plan is in the final stages of review and is expected to be finalized during the Spring of 2018.


NEC FUTURE (2012 — )

NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor. The planning effort is being managed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  NEC FUTURE will create a framework for the future investments needed to improve passenger rail capacity and service through 2040.


Proposed Studies

Western Massachusetts to Boston Passenger Rail Study
Proposed in the draft version of the 2018 Massachusetts State Rail Plan.


Feasibility study relative to high-speed rail access between the cities of Springfield and Boston
This proposed study would examine and evaluate the costs and economic opportunities related to establishing high-speed rail service between the cities of Springfield and Boston

Current Status
Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) is the primary sponsor of Bill S.1936, “An act to study the feasibility of high-speed rail access between Springfield and Boston.

This is the second attempt by the legislature to have this bill enacted. In the previous session, Senator Lesser’s bill was approved as an amendment to the budget, but it ultimately died when Governor Baker referred the amendment back to the legislature with a request for a much broader study. The governor’s asked that the study instead focus on the potential expansion and enhancement of several modes of transportation between the “Knowledge Corridor” and Springfield and Boston, including automobile, bus, passenger rail, freight rail, and other common carrier services.


Past Reports & Studies

This report, which was prepared by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, looks at ways to attract more visitors to the the region by passenger rail.


Central Corridor Passenger Rail Feasibility Study (PDF) | 2014 – 2017
The Central Corridor Line Passenger Rail Feasibility Study examines the implementation and operation of an intercity passenger rail service along the Central Corridor. The Central Corridor Line connects the cities of Brattleboro, Vermont to New London, Connecticut via the New England Central Railroad Palmer Division line south.


Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative | 2013 — 2016
This study, which is often referred to as the NNEIRI Study, examines the opportunities and impacts of more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service on two major rail corridors known as the Inland Route (New Haven-Springfield-Boston) and the Boston to Montreal Route.


Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan (PDF) | 2016
Section 7 – Passenger Rail (PDF)
Section 8 – Freight (PDF)


Making it Happen: Opportunities and Strategies for Transit-Oriented Development in the Knowledge Corridor (PDF) | 2013
This report is a market analysis for transit-oriented development in the region’s bus rapid transit and rail corridors.


Massachusetts Regional Bus Study | 2013
This study analyzes the changes since 1980 in the regional bus services (both intrastate and interstate) that operate within Massachusetts, identifies the reasons for the changes, and examines how these regional services relate to local rail and bus services.


Transforming the Rail Network for Economic and Community Development Report (PDF) | 2012
A progress report on efforts to transform the state rail network.


Holyoke Station Feasibility Study and Site Analysis (PDF) | 2011
This study was prepared to evaluate the options for a new passenger rail station in the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The study also examined the feasibility of providing a passenger rail stop in Holyoke as part of the restoration of passenger rail service on the route that passes through the City.


Massachusetts State Rail Plan | 2010
The State Rail Plan provides an overall plan for the development of rail transportation in the Commonwealth.

The findings and recommendations of the Rail Plan are based on a comprehensive evaluation of the Commonwealth’s freight and passenger rail transportation system: its operations, and effect on economic development and quality of life.


Knowledge Corridor Feasibility Study (PDF) | 2009
This study was prepared to assess the feasibility of possible future passenger rail improvements to reduce travel time, maximize accessibility, and provide viable transportation alternatives within the Knowledge Corridor.

The study also evaluated the impact to freight rail shipping costs and opportunities to move goods by rail rather than truck.


Environmental Assessment, Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Springfield to East Northfield, Massachusetts | 2009
This Environmental Assessment was prepared is part of the project to restore passenger rail service along the Knowledge Corridor between Springfield and East Northfield in Massachusetts.


Redevelopment Plan for the Union Station Intermodal Transportation Facility (PDF)
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and Springfield Redevelopment Authority | 2009


Preserving Freight and Passenger Rail Corridors and Service (PDF) | 2007
A report that documents current national practices with respect to rail corridor preservation.



Page last updated: April 2018, 2018
Page last reviewed: August 29, 2016