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 #23

 

Today’s Headlines

• New Hartford Line Schedule

• Northampton (NHT) | March 8, 2019

• Greenfield and Northampton | Station Work Update

• Update | Planned New Greenfield–New Haven Service

• Update | East–West Rail Study

• Springfield Library Earth Day Event

• Fatality in Springfield

• Springfield | State St Crossing News

• Berkshire Flyer Report Released

 

Calendar

Earth Day Talk
Springfield to Boston Train Service, Are We on Track?
Mon. April 22, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 7:45 pm
Sixteen Acres Branch Library
1187 Parker St
Springfield, MA 01129

further details below

 


New Hartford Line Schedule

Hartford Line Timetable | eff. April 14, 2019 | weekday page view

A new schedule for the Hartford Line went into effect this past Sunday, April 14th, 2019. The most notable change was the elimination of the one CTRail weekday train that arrived in Springfield from stations to the south before 9 am.

New England Public Radio (NEPR) reported said that the train was dropped due to low ridership, which is not surprising considering that the train was scheduled to arrive in Springfield at the unfriendly time of 6.07 am.

Unfortunately the new schedule provides no way for anyone who lives in Connecticut to commute to Springfield on the train for a 9–5 job. Amazingly, the schedule has four trains south (from Springfield) and no trains north (to Springfield) before 9 am.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) says that the problem is the single track between Windsor and Enfield. We also suspect that CTDOT desire is to focus their CTrail train sets on the New Haven–Hartford corridor since MassDOT at the moment only provides financial support for the Amtrak operated trains on the line.

Carmen Baskauf, a producer for Connecticut Public Radio who rides the Hartford Line, posted this interesting series of five Tweets on the schedule change —

What’s also interesting is this sentence from the NEPR piece linked below:

“He [Rich Andreski, with CTDOT] said his agency has not determined whether there would be greater demand for a train that arrived [in Springfield] closer to 9:00 am, but that such service would require additional track capacity that doesn’t currently exist.”

We don’t doubt that this statement is true, but one only has to walk through the Springfield Parking Authority’s garages on a weekday to see the many cars with Connecticut plates to figure out that -yes- there is demand for northbound service that arrives into Springfield before 9 am.

Further reading

“No More Early Morning Commuter Rail Service From Hartford To Springfield”
By Alden Bourne | New England Public Radio | April 15, 2019

 


Northampton (NHT) | March 8, 2019

Record ridership out of Northampton on the Vermonter.

Northampton station | looking north
By Robert Kearns | March 8, 2019 | 2.02 pm

The panoramic image above shows the scene at the station in Northampton on Friday, March 8, 2019 — the last day of classes before the start of Spring recess at UMass Amherst and Smith College.

How many people are in this line you might ask? We counted about 150.

Just how long was the train stopped? A total of 10 minutes¹.

¹ Transit Docs website [https://asm.transitdocs.com/train/2019/03/8/55]

 


Greenfield and Northampton | Station Work Update

The project underway to extend the station platforms in both Greenfield and Northampton continues to move forward.

The progress photos below show that most of the precast concrete foundations are now in place.

Greenfield station | looking south | April 19, 2019
Source: Franklin Regional Council of Governments

 

Northampton station | looking north | April 7, 2019

If all goes well this project will be substantially complete by early July.

Further reading

Greenfield platform extension project | Trains In The Valley

Northampton platform extension project | Trains In The Valley

 


Update | Planned New Greenfield–New Haven Service

Vermonter Ridership Survey Now Underway in Western Mass

If you are riding Amtrak’s Vermonter to or from western Mass between now and July 31, 2019 please take the on-line ridership survey that is now underway.

The survey can be found on this link
www.surveymonkey.com/r/RailRider

Over the coming weeks surveyors will be meeting selected trains to distribute survey cards (shown above) to the arriving and departing passengers at each station.

The results of the survey will be used during the development of the marketing plan for the new Greenfield-New Haven rail service.

Note that this ridership survey is sponsored by the Franklin County Regional Council of Governments, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and Trains In The Valley.

:

State Reps. Seeks Funds for Rail Marketing

Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa (D-1st Hampshire), Paul Mark (D-2nd Berkshire), and Aaron Vega (D-5th Hampden) have filed an amendment to the Massachusetts state budget bill requesting that a sum of $25,000 be provided to support a marketing campaign for the new Greenfield–New Haven passenger rail service.

The funds were requested as Amendment #461 to the Fiscal Year 2020¹ state budget bill.

We remain hopeful that these funds will be approved when the state budget is finalized in a few months.

Further information

New Greenfield–New Haven Service | Trains In The Valley

¹ The state fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th.

 


Update | East–West Rail Study

East-West Rail Study Public Meeting #1
By Robert Kearns | Springfield, Ma. | March 12, 2019

It was a standing room only crowd at the first public meeting for the East-West Passenger Rail Study in Springfield back on March 12, 2019, with over 100 people signed in on the official roster of attendees.

The meeting consisted of a presentation (given by the MassDOT project manager) which was followed by a public comment period. The formal part of the meeting then ended and attendees were invited to join an “Open House” where people could talk with members of the project team.

A detailed written summary of meeting is linked further below in this post.

Of particular interest is this page from the presentation –

To the surprise of some, the official list of “potential approaches” now includes a Bus Rapid Transit option and a Maglev option.

Maglev, which is derivative from the words magnetic levitation, is form of transportation that allows for high-speed ground travel at speeds in excess of 300 mph.

It is safe to say that we will never see a Maglev line built in Massachusetts, for countless reasons, including the construction costs — which at the moment are in excess of $265 million per mile¹.

The new Bus Rapid Transit option was quickly criticized for numerous reasons in a published Op-Ed piece [“Keep East-West Rail On Track” | The Republican] which argued that the study needs to stay focused on rail options.

Next up for this study — The 2nd meeting of the East-West Rail Study Advisory Committee, later this spring.

Further Reading

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Presentation (PDF)
MassDOT

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Open House Boards (PDF)
MassDOT

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Summary (PDF)
MassDOT

“Former Senate president prods DOT to expand rail study”
By Larry Parnass | The Berkshire Eagle | March 13, 2019

“Proposed East–West rail provides challenges”
By G. Michael Dobbs | Reminder Publications | March 14, 2019

Opinion | “Keep East-West Rail on Track”
By Ben Hood (co-founder Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop), Karen Christensen (President, The Train Campaign, Ben Heckscher (Co-founder, Trains In The Valley), and Dave Pierce (President, Chester Railway Station)
The Republican | March 18, 2018
(also published in the Berkshire Eagle, the Berkshire Edge, and the Daily Hampshire Gazette.)

Opinion | “Two big rail projects, one big vision for Massachusetts”
Stan Rosenberg | The Republican | March 22, 2019

¹ Based on the expected costs to build the Chuo Shinkansen maglev line in Japan.

 


Springfield Library Earth Day Event

Springfield to Boston Train Service, Are We on Track?
Mon. April 22, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 7:45 pm
Sixteen Acres Branch Library
1187 Parker St
Springfield MA 01129

Rail service is on the rise in Western Mass. Hear from key leaders about train service from Springfield to Boston.

  • Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, speaking about more passenger rail from Springfield and some recent, climate-friendly developments in public transportation.
  • Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will talk about his appointment to the Advisory Committee for MassDOT’s Study of East-West rail, and why expanded Springfield to Boston passenger rail which could be a boon for commuters, job hunters, and the economy.
  • Reggie Wilson, Sixteen Acres Branch Library Manager, will present on environmentally friendly trains that could be used between Springfield and Boston.

 


Fatality in Springfield

A well worn footpath across the rail line | Springfield, Ma. | March 27, 2019
Courtesy of the Republican

A woman was killed while attempting to cross the active rail line near Wason Avenue in Springfield’s North End on Monday, March 25, 2019.

The person who died, who was said to be trespassing on the tracks, was hit by Amtrak train 56, the Vermonter, which was traveling north on the MassDOT-owned Connecticut River Main Line.

Tragically this accident happened only weeks before the start of construction of a long-planned pedestrian tunnel under the tracks near the location of the accident.

Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased, the crew members on the train, and the first responders.

Further reading

“Woman crossing railroad tracks killed after being hit by a train in Springfield”
By Taylor Knight | WWLP-22News | March 26, 2019

“Pedestrian tunnel under Springfield train tracks arriving too late to prevent tragedy”
By Patrick Johnson | The Republican | March 27, 2019

Springfield underpass project | Trains In The Valley

 


Springfield | State St Crossing News

Courtesy of the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association held its annual meeting two weeks ago in Washington, D.C. This meeting brings together rail advocates from across the country for three days of meetings and presentations.

The keynote speaker during lunch on Monday April 1st was Kenneth Hylander, the Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer for Amtrak. His presentation focused on the Safety Management System that Amtrak is putting in place across the organization.

About half way through the presentation he got to the subject of railroad crossing safety.

To the surprise of some in the room, the State Street crossing in Springfield was noted as the example of an extremely dangerous crossing on Amtrak’s network.

In his remarks he said that Amtrak is actively working with the city of Springfield to find ways to make it possible for people to cross the Amtrak-owned tracks at this location using the underpass that is just to the north of the crossing rather than via the existing at-grade crossing at the end of State Street.

How and why the State Street crossing became Amtrak’s poster-child for safer railroad crossings we do not know, but we are happy to see that Amtrak has finally started to pay attention to the dangerous situation that has existed at this crossing for many years.

Further reading

State Street Crossing | Trains In The Valley

Presentation of Kenneth Hylander to the RPA DC meeting | April 1, 2019

 


Berkshire Flyer Report Released

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and 1Berkshire has released their final report for the Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Project — A Pilot Seasonal Rail Service between New York City and The Berkshires.

Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Final report (PDF)
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission | 3/1/2019

The new Berkshire Flyer service will operate use the existing tracks between Pittsfield and New York Penn Station via Albany/ Rensselaer and will function as an extension of Amtrak’s Empire Service.

The two-year pilot service, which is scheduled to start in 2020, will run on a Friday northbound/ Sunday southbound schedule for twenty weeks of service annually between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend.

The estimated fare between New York Penn Station and Pittsfield, Mass. is projected to be $70 – $75 one-way.

Further reading

Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Project website
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

“Berkshire Flyer Team: Berkshires To NYC Rail One Step Closer”
By Josh Landes | WAMC | March 3, 2019

Rail News Roundup #20

 

Today’s Headlines

• East–West Rail Study Committee to Meet

• Greenfield | New Train Status Display

• Windsor Locks | Ticket Vending Machine Installed

• NECR Rail Line Upgrade Project Funded

• Holyoke | PVRR Bridge Work Complete

• Franklin County | Transportation Plan Update

• Pioneer Valley | Transportation Plan Update

• Meanwhile, Up in Vermont…

 

Calendar

East–West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee | Meeting 1
Tue. December 18, 2018 | 1 pm – 3 pm
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
2nd Floor Conference Room
60 Congress Street, Springfield, MA

::

Regional Transportation Plan Public Input Meetings
Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Tues. January 8, 2019 | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Erving Senior Center
1 Care Drive, Erving, MA

Wed. January 9, 2018 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Olver Transit Center, 1st Floor Meeting Room
12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA

Wed. January 16, 2019 | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Sunderland Library
20 School Street, Sunderland, MA

 


East–West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee To Meet

MassDOT will publicly kick-off the East-West Passenger Rail Study tomorrow with the first meeting of the East-West Passenger Rail Advisory Committee.

Long awaited by many, this study will assess passenger rail service alternatives along the Boston–Worcester–Springfield–Pittsfield corridor.

Time / Date
Tue. December 18, 2018 | 1 pm – 3 pm

Location
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
2nd Floor Conference Room
60 Congress Street, Springfield, Ma.

Note that this meeting is open to the public.

 

East-West Passenger Rail Advisory Committee Mtg 1 Agenda (PDF)

 

A roster of 33-member Advisory Committee is available on this link:
East-West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee | MassDOT

 

We will pass along links to the noteworthy media reports via the Trains In The Valley Facebook page with a longer report on the meeting which will appear in the next edition of the Rail News Roundup.

::

In related news, the Town of Palmer this week appointed a 13-member “Rail Stop Steering Committee” to monitor and act on developments as MassDOT’s East–West Passenger Rail Study gets underway. (a list of members can be found on the link below.)

It will be interested to see if other communities along the east–west rail corridor appoint similar committees to focus local attention to this important study.

Further reading

East-West Passenger Rail Study | MassDOT

East-West Passenger Rail Study | Train In The Valley
Our landing page for this topic

“Palmer Town Council appoints 13-person Rail Stop Steering Committee”
By Jim Russell | The Republican | December 11, 2018

 


Greenfield | New Train Status Display

Train information display screen
Olver Transit Center | Greenfield, Ma. | December 31, 2018

A train information display screen has been installed in the Olver Transit Center in Greenfield in the main waiting area.

The layout of the information on the screen is meant to look like the slit-flap display screens that were once common at major Amtrak stations. The display information is provided by the firm Dixieland Software, at no cost.

Clearly there is lots of room for more trains on this display screen.

Last we checked the responsible parties at Springfield Union Station are still working to get the Amtrak train information added to the display screens in the main waiting room. We remain hopefully that this will happen before too long.

 


Windsor Locks | Ticket Vending Machine Installed

New CTrail TVM at Windsor Locks station
Courtesy of CTDOT | November 17, 2018

Good news for people taking the train from Windsor Locks, CT — a new Ticket Vending Machine is up and running, as of November 16, 2018.

Tickets purchased from this machine are good for travel on any train (Amtrak or CTrail) between Springfield and New Haven — with the exception of the Vermonter. Note also that you can purchase tickets from this machine for travel on Metro-North trains, if your journey involved travel past New Haven.

Further information

Windsor Locks station | Trains In The Valley

 


New England Central Rail Upgrade Project Funded

Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Richard E. Neal and Jim McGovern have announced the release of a $10.8 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant to upgrade the 55-mile New England Central Railroad (NECR) main line through western Massachusetts.

This $10.8 million BUILD grant will be combined with $9.6 million in already approved state funding from MassDOT’s Capital Investment Plan, and $9.6 million from the New England Central Railroad.

The NECR line, which is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, runs from East Alburg, Vt. (on the Canadian border) to the port of New London, Ct. and passes through western Massachusetts along a rail corridor that runs north to south through Millers Falls, Amherst, Belchertown, Palmer and Monson.

The planned upgrades to the line include the installation of 31 miles of new rail and 20,000 new crossties. Additionally, 20 bridges along the line will be rehabilitated and strengthened.

Once this work is complete the western Massachusetts portion of the NECR line will be certified for the movement of 286,000 lb. gross-vehicle-weight (GVW) rail cars.

At present the line can only handle non-standard 263,000 lb rail cars. This limitation prevents the movement of many rail shipments along this rail line today.

Our understanding is that the NECR line in Vermont and Connecticut has already, or soon will be, be rated to handle 286,000 lb. GVW rail cars.

Further reading

“Cargo rail line running through Western Mass. gets $10.8M from feds, $9.6M from state for modernization”
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | December 10, 2018

2018 $1.5 Billion in BUILD Transportation Grants Announcement
Press Release | U.S. Dept. of Transportation | December 11, 2018

 


Holyoke | PVRR Bridge Work Completed

The Pioneer Valley Railroad (PVRR) and its contractors have completed the rehabilitated of the curved open deck bridge in Holyoke that carries the PVRR over the Third Level Canal near Cabot Street.

This work was partially funded by a grant of $495,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The grant was one of eight grant awards made in 2017 under MassDOT’s Industrial Rail Access Program.

The re-opening of this bridge, which was last used in 2013, will allow the PVRR to interchange freight rail cars with the Pan Am Southern (PAS) railroad which provides freight rail service on the north-south rail line through Holyoke.

Curved open-deck railroad bridge | looking northeast from Cabot St
Near South Canal & Cabot streets | Holyoke, Ma. | November 16, 2018

 

The diagram below, from the rail industry journal Atlantic Northeast Rail & Ports (ANR&P), provides a nice overview of the area area in and around the bridge.

Source | Atlantic Northeast Rail & Ports – Issue #18-11 | December 7, 2018
Used with Permission

 

ANR&P’s December 8, 2018 edition reported that the PVRR/PAS Holyoke interchange is expected to reopen in early 2019 with the first traffic destined to the James Hardie Building Products, a major new customer for the PVRR.

The James Hardie 237,000 sq-ft facility is located on the site of the former National Envelope Co. property at 70 Turnpike Industrial Road, Westfield — a site which was leased because of its proximity to the PVRR and the planned re-opening of the Holyoke interchange between the PVRR and PAS railroad lines.

Further reading

Former National Envelope plant in Westfield sold to James Hardie Building Products; 50-80 jobs expected
By Jim Kinney | The Republican | December 17, 2018

 


Franklin County | Transportation Plan Update

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is currently updating the Regional Transportation Plan for Franklin County.  This plan is updated every 4 years and examines the current state of the transportation system in the region, including all modes of transportation – such as driving, walking, biking, and riding the bus or a train.

The plan will identify the long-term transportation needs of the region and prioritizes key projects and activities.

As part of the planning process, the FRCOG is seeking input from Franklin County residents and employees.

There are 3 upcoming public meetings to listen to feedback and comments on transportation needs and priorities.

If you are unable to attend a meeting, please take the survey to let the FRCOG know your thoughts:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019RTPsurvey.

We would also encourage people submitted using one of the addresses listed below.

Megan Rhodes
Franklin Regional Council of Governments
12 Olive Street
Greenfield, MA 01301
email | mrhodes@frcog.org

 

Further reading
Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan 2016

 


Pioneer Valley | Transportation Plan Update

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is in the process of updating the Region Transportation Plan for the Hampden and Hampshire County regions.

The Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan outlines the direction of transportation planning and improvements for the Pioneer Valley through the year 2040.

Progress related to the 2020 Pioneer Valley Transportation Plan update can be viewed on the project site linked below.

Comments/question/input to the plan my be submitted using one of the addresses listed below.

Gary Roux
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
60 Congress St
Springfield, MA 01104
email | gmroux@pvpc.org

 

Further reading

2020 Regional Transportation Plan | Project site

Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan 2016

 


Meanwhile, Up in Vermont…

“Man with a Plan” A quicker, cheaper way to build commuter rail”
By Julie Campoli | Sustainable Transportation Vermont | November 9, 2018

In this report, Julie Campoli of Sustainable Transportation Vermont, looks at efforts underway to bring additional passenger rail service to the Green Mountain State.

The plan being put forward by David Blittersdorf of AllEarth Rail relies on the use of refurbished rail diesel cars that his company recently acquired from the transit agency known as Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Until not so long ago these cars were in service on Trinity Railway Express line between Dallas and Fort Worth.

How this plays out is anyone’s guess at the moment, but its interesting to watch the many efforts in New England to re-establish or expand passenger rail service.