Greenfield to Boston Passenger Train Would Parallel Route 2

Local activists are praising a proposal by a state senator to create a passenger train line between Greenfield and Boston. “It would parallel Route 2,” Jared Freedman told the Valley Post in a phone interview on January 28. He is a spokesman for Senator Jo Comerford, who made the proposal.

Volunteer activists in Northampton have a web site at www.TrainsInTheValley.org. One of the activists is Ben Heckscher. “On weekdays there are currently 34 trains on the MBTA Fitchburg commuter rail line that start or end their journey in Wachusett,” he told the Valley Post on January 28. The Wachusett train station is in Fitchburg, a city on Route 2 that's about halfway between Greenfield and Boston. Greenfield is about 100 miles from Boston.

If Comerford's bill passes, the state transportation department would write a report about how to make the train line happen. The report would be due by June 2020.

In November 2018 Tim Brennan told the Valley Post that more frequent passenger train service between Greenfield and Springfield with stops in Northampton and Holyoke will probably start in June 2019. It will connect with trains to New York City. “I'm cautiously optimistic that it will start in June,” Brennan said. He runs the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a government agency with 47 employees.

The challenge now is persuading the state to keep fares low on the new commuter trains. Brennan said the state is planning to charge the same fare Amtrak now charges to get between Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield. “We want the fares to be the same, or close to, the fares on commuter trains between Springfield and Hartford,” Brennan said.

A group of students at Umass Amherst is lobbying politicians to reduce train fares in the Valley. Wei Cai is a spokesperson for the group. “The fares are too high, especially for students with limited means,” Cai told the Valley Post in a phone interview in December 2018. The group has a web site at www.umass.edu/sga.

Meanwhile, the nation's first bullet train is under construction between Los Angeles and San Francisco. More than 2,300 workers are currently laying out the tracks for the bullet train. Trains there will go 200 mph. At that speed from Springfield it would take about 45 minutes to get to New York City and about half an hour to Boston. Details on the California train are at www.hsr.ca.gov.

Traveling by train rather than by car is better for the environment and safer. Roads are bad for the environment even if no one drives on them.

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