Amtrak Getting Better in the Valley

Currently, one Amtrak train per day runs north and one runs south between Springfield and Brattleboro, via Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield. “The plan is to have two trains in the morning and two in the evening, in addition to the existing trains,” Tim Brennan told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on November 21. He is the director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a government agency with 47 employees. “I'm pretty confident this will happen within two years. If people want more trains they should contact Stephanie Pollack, the head of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.”

Her contact information is at:

www.massdot.state.ma.us/ContactUs.aspx

There are already seven round-trip Amtrak trains per day between Springfield and New York City. The new trains between Brattleboro and Springfield would connect with the New York City trains so passengers would not have a long wait in Springfield, Brennan said.

Chris Cole runs the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “We are going to monitor the expansion plans as they develop south of our border and as they extend commuter trains north to Greenfield, we will evaluate opportunities for connections to that service,” Cole told the Valley Post on November 21.

A spokesman for Stephanie Pollack told the Valley Post on November 21, “The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDT) has had several conversations with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Franklin County Council of Governments regarding local support for more frequent passenger rail service between Springfield and Greenfield. MDT is continuing to assist those agencies in developing a proposal for a pilot project that could include use of refurbished Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) equipment.” The MBTA runs trains in Boston.

In January 2018, Amtrak will get at least 35 minutes faster between the Valley and New York City. That's according to:

www.nhhsrail.com/objectives/expanded_network.aspx

That victory is the result of the work of activists who have web sites at:

www.TrainsInTheValley.org

www.RailVermont.org

www.narpRail.org

Massachusetts state Senator Eric Lesser lives in the town of Longmeadow, which borders Springfield. "Fast, frequent, reliable train service between Springfield and Boston could transform our economy and create thousands of new jobs for western Massachusetts families," Lesser told the Valley Post in July.

In California, construction is underway on new Amtrak train tracks between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Trains there will travel at up to 200 mph. Details are at www.hsr.ca.gov.

Traveling by train rather than by car is better for the environment and safer.

Comments

Amtrak Service

As I type this I am sitting Amtrak's Vermonter headed to Brattleboro...

It's worth noting for the sake of clarity that the California High Speed Rail project is overseen by the State of California and is largely independent of Amtrak. Also, the project to increase commuter train service in the Valley from Springfield is most likely independent of Amtrak as well, other than connecting to Amtrak services in Springfield, though it still could be very useful for Amtrak riders such as myself.

Also the project that State Rep. Lesser talks about is a standalone project as well to increase rail service in Mass and Vermont called the Northern New England Intercity Rail initiative. That program could truly revolutionize rail service in Northern New England and has faced a fair amount of opposition from special interests. It is certainly worth digging deeper into for a story of its own.

AMTRAK

Great work, activists. More trains make life better for all.

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