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

East-West Passenger Rail Study (2018 – )

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is examining the feasibility of passenger rail service — up to and including high speed rail — from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield, with the speed, frequency, and reliability necessary to be a competitive option for travel along this corridor.

Status | This study is currently underway and is expect to be completed by the Spring of 2020.

Further reading

East–West Passenger Rail Study | Official webpage

East–West Passenger Rail Study Information | Train In The Valley



Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation (RTP) Plan Update (June 2019)


Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan Update (June 2019)


Rail Vision (2017 – )

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) have 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

Commuter Rail Vision | Official webpage

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


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


Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study (June 2020 – )

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

Status | Work on this study will commence in June 2020 and be completed by Jun 1, 2012.

Further reading

Northern Tier Rail Study Information | Trains In The Valley


Past Reports & Studies

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.

Final 2018 State Rail Plan | MassDOT

Final vs. Draft 2018 State Rail Plan – Compare Report (PDF 14 Mb)
This report compares the text of the Final State Rail Plan [dated June 8, 2018] with the Draft State Rail Plan [dated February 8, 2018].

Note that the compare report linked above was prepared by Trains In The Valley using the Adobe Acobat Pro DC Compare Files utility. This report is not an official MassDOT document.


Attracting Visitors by Passenger Rail to Franklin County, MA (PDF) | 2017

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) | 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.


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.


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


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.

Further reading

NNEIRI Study Information | Trains In The Valley


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.


Market Analysis of the Knowledge Corridor | Task 4 Report (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.


Transforming the Rail Network for Economic and Community Development Report (PDF) | 2012

A progress report on efforts to transform the rail network in Massachusetts.


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 (archived) | 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) | 2009


Preserving Freight and Passenger Rail Corridors and Service (PDF) | 2007

A report that documents current national practices with respect to rail corridor preservation.


Boston-Western Corridor High-Speed Transportation Market Feasibility Study | 1973
By John D. Atwood, Jr. et al. | Prepared for Massachusetts Port Authority

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


Page last updated: December 23, 2019
Page last reviewed: July 3, 2018