Reports & Studies

The page contains a listing of studies and reports that relate — either directly and indirectly — to freight and passenger rail service in the Pioneer Valley region of western Massachusetts.


Active studies

Past studies

Other studies


Active Studies

Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study (2021-)

With his study the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will look at the feasibility of restoring passenger rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston.

Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study (Official site)

Northern Tier Rail Passenger Rail Study Overview
Trains In The Valley

Palmer Transit Oriented Development Study (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.

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

Past studies

Rail Improvements Economic Impact Study (2020 – 2021)

The Capitol Region Council of Governments [in Hartford CT] and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission completed a study of the economic benefits of that would result from two sets of proposed passenger rail improvements — finishing the Hartford Line and connecting it to Worcester, Massachusetts.

The report projects between $47 and $84 billion in new regional Gross Domestic Product over 30 years would result from the $6 to $9 billion rail investment.

Rail Improvements Economic Impact Study (archived)
Capitol Region Council of Governments

Metro Hartford-Springfield Passenger Rail Economic Impact Report Briefing (31m 42s)
via YouTube | May 6, 2021

East-West Passenger Rail Study (2018 – 2021)

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) completed a study examining the feasibility of expanded passenger rail service between Boston, Springfield and Pittsfield, with the speed, frequency, and reliability necessary to be a competitive option for travel along this corridor.

East–West Passenger Rail Study (Official webpage)

East–West Passenger Rail Study Overview
Trains In The Valley

Regional Transportation Plan updates (2020)

Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan Update

Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan Update

Rail Vision (2019)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) conducted a two year study 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 identified possible service alternatives, including longer distance service Regional Rail services that potentially could include service extensions beyond the traditional MBTA commuter rail service area.

Massachusetts State Rail Plan Update | 2018

The Massachusetts State Rail Plan examines 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 documents 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.

Central Corridor Passenger Rail Feasibility Study (PDF) | 2017

The Central Corridor Line Passenger Rail Feasibility Study examined 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.

NEC FUTURE Plan | 2017

NEC FUTURE is the Federal Railroad Administration’s comprehensive plan for improving the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston, MA. The plan creates a framework for the future investments needed to improve passenger rail capacity and service through 2040.

Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative | 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.

NNEIRI Study Information
Trains In The Valley

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.

Market Analysis of the Knowledge Corridor Study (PDF) | 2012

This study looks at the market potential for transit-oriented development (TOD) along the Knowledge Corridor rail lines. The study identifies the economic development benefits of transit, discusses the drivers of TOD demand nationally, and provides an introduction to concepts of real estate economics, in order to provide a context for the regional market study.

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 (PDF) | 2010

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.

Boston-Western Corridor High-Speed Transportation Market Feasibility Study (1973)

The only known public copy of the study is in the UMass Amherst main library.

Other studies

This section includes a few recent studies from outside of western Mass that we found to be of particular interest.

MA/NH | Nashua-Manchester (Capitol Corridor) Commuter Rail project

An effort to extend MBTA Commuter Rail service from Lowell to southern New Hampshire, with proposed station stops in Nashua (2 stops), Bedford and Manchester.

Official project website
New Hampshire Department of Transportation

CT | Southeast to Danbury Rail Link Feasibility Study (2021-2022)

The Southeast, NY to Danbury, CT Rail Link Feasibility Study evaluated the restoration of passenger rail service on the southern Beacon Line, an approximate 11-mile rail corridor between the Southeast and/or Brewster Stations on the MTA Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line in New York and the Danbury Station on the State of Connecticut/Metro-North Danbury Line in Connecticut.

Official study webpage
New York Metropolitan Transportation Council


Towards a Passenger Station on the East-West Massachusetts Train Line: The Case for Palmer (PDF)
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Center for Economic Development, UMass Design Center | 2019

Long-Distance Commuting in the Boston Region: Necessity or “Strategic Mobility Choice”? (PDF)
Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization | 2017

Attracting Visitors by Passenger Rail to Franklin County, MA (PDF)
Franklin Regional Council of Governments | 2017

Rebooting New England
Regional Planning Studio, Department of City and Regional Planning, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania | 2016

Making it Happen: Opportunities and Strategies for Transit-Oriented Development in the Knowledge Corridor (PDF)
Capitol Region Council of Governments, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor Consortium by Jonathan Rose Companies and the Center for Transit Oriented Development | 2013

Transforming the Rail Network for Economic and Community Development Report (PDF)
Office of Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray | 2012

Environmental Assessment: Knowledge Corridor – Restore Vermonter Springfield to East Northfield, Massachusetts
Mass. Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works | 2009

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

Preserving Freight and Passenger Rail Corridors and Service
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine | 2007

Page last updated: July 20, 2023
Page last reviewed: December 2, 2020