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Old 02-11-2010, 08:25 AM
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The February 4th issue of the Valley Advocate has a good summary of the expansion of passenger rail service in Western Massachusetts.

1. The Amtrak Vermonter is being rerouted to add service in Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield. All three cities are looking at new station sites. Service is being cut in Amherst and Palmer.

2. Metro North is being expanded from New Haven, CT to at least as far north as Northampton. The state of Connecticut has committed to having at least 15 trains a day each way.

3. The two Western MA congressman are in negotiations to build a new line from Springfield to Boston, which would possibly have a stop in Palmer.
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:43 AM
Location: Springfield and brookline MA
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the Springfield to Boston line will be a hard sell,the powers that be just really do not care enough about Wmas to give forth the effort.

As for the rest of those projects i hope they do it quickly and do it right,we have been in the stone ages out here for far too long.
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Old 02-12-2010, 12:36 AM
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I'm all for having lots of public transit and mass transportation where it will be used and not be a waste of money to build. The issue of how much use there would be is my only question about a Springfield-Boston connection with more frequent trains than what Amtrak currently provides. I have some doubts about how much of a market there would be for this because it's a long enough trip between these cities that I'm not sure there would be a lot of demand by commuters. If there would be enough demand related to general use to justify more trains, then I'd give this one a thumbs up. It's my understanding that Amtrak has reinstated some Northeast Corridor routes up through Hartford and Springfield. This is a plus if I've got that info correct.

I'm guessing that trains between S'field and Worcester would get enough use to justify some increase in frequency. It seems as if a connection between S'field and Hartford is long overdue. Big plus if they're going to extend a line up as far as Northampton.
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Old 02-12-2010, 06:33 AM
Location: East Boston, MA
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MNRR to NoHa? Really? That's one HELL of a commuter rail trip. It's 1.5 hours from New Haven to Grand Central as it is. It would have to be some sort of high-speed, express route (i.e. only stop in NoHa, Springfield, and Hartford before getting to New Haven's Union Station).

There's federal money out there for High Speed Rail, and Springfield should jump on that bandwagon. If you're going to do all these increases in rail service to Springfield, then they need to be done right. Springfield really deserves more connectivity and has for a long time. Given its distance from all important cities not named Hartford, High Speed connections are a must for any of these connections to have enough passengers to be viable. Furthermore, Springfield could REALLY establish itself as a transit hub (which would be very good for the economy).

It's about 90 miles from Springfield to Boston. Real High Speed trains travel about 250mph. The fastest U.S. high speed trains travel about 150mph (Acela... only a small portion of the route). Even with a mere Acela type train, there's no reason Springfield-Boston can't be done in right around an hour (especially if you make limited stops). Sprinfield to Palmer or Sturbridge to Worcester then to Boston would be ideal. Limited stops, and that Worcester segment would really benefit too.

Same goes for service to New Haven/New York. High Speed is an absolute must. I'm thinking you can have high speed with stops in Northampton, Springfield, Hartford, Meriden, then New Haven. You can connect in New Haven to the high speed Acela express; or they could expand MNRR with High Speed connectivity all the way to Grand Central.

I do like the idea of moving Vermonter service to Holyoke and NoHa. Those are two places that could REALLY benefit from the connectivity. Especially Holyoke. I love Holyoke... it's chalk full of potential as an urban area. Amherst doesn't take a big hit because it's connected to Northampton by extensive bus networks, but Northampton is the true urban center of that area.

Last edited by lrfox; 02-12-2010 at 06:46 AM..
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:58 PM
Location: near bears but at least no snakes
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Whatever they do, it's about time!!!!!!! Too bad they closed all the rr stations in the first place.

In the '50s you could go from Springfield to N'ton for the day and you could go to NY for the day. I don't know if there was ever train service to Boston (was there?) but living in WMass I didn't get to Boston until I was 12 years old and that was just once. In the '60s you could still hop on the train in Springfield and your friend in Ct could get on down the line and you could go to NY together.

WMass shouldn't be cut off from its capital city or isolated from other areas--and the only way to get anywhere is to drive drive drive.
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:35 PM
Location: Boston, MA
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The days of simple brick or wooden depots have sadly past. Railroad stations built nowadays will more often have state of the art features, handicapped access ramps and platforms, parking, and of course electricity. While all of this is great and all, it is much more expensive to build stations nowadays than years past.
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:31 PM
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A coalition of northeastern states is proposing a high speed rail plans for the region which focuses on an inland route as a relief for the overburdened ACELA coastal route between New York and Boston. The route would go north from New Haven to Springfield and then head east to Boston. The inland route would be faster than the existing route and also serve more population in cities along the way (I91 towns in CT, Hartford, Springfield, Worcester) than does the existing coastal route.
This idea is very much 'real' but MA needs to get cranking on the Springfield-Worcester rail link if the region can compete successfully for future High Speed Rail funds.
It is my belief that without HSR funds, commuter service will be extended north as far as Springfield and from there north will simply be the existing Amtrak service (but rerouted as planned to the western side of the river serving Holyoke and Northampton).
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:57 PM
Location: East Boston, MA
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^does the proposed route utilize existing rail beds? Obviously if it does, then they'll need major renovation for high speed capacity; but I'm just wondering if there is already rail where this proposed route is. If so, what are those beds/lines currently used for (freight or abandoned, I'm sure) and what is the plan for acquiring them (assuming they're privately owned like most freight lines are)?

I like the idea of complimenting the Acela route, but I'm a bit skeptical. If this proposed route will be faster than the Acela route, why wasn't it chosen in the first place? Second, this sounds good on paper, but wouldn't it be taking business away from Amtrak and Acela (unless, of course, they're operating it but they don't want to take away from their routes either)? Providence is the second largest metro area in New England (over 1.6 Million people) and it would be left out of the proposed route. It's included in all of the high speed rail proposals for the region that I've seen. It will be left out of the proposal you're discussing.

Personally, I want to see a rail connection for Springfield (and Hartford). However, the Acela is a problem because it hasn't reached it's potential speed capacity, not because the route is too long. It's capable of cruising at well over 150mph, but doesn't do that on the Boston-NYC route because of outdated R.O.W.s and rail. I'd rather see money invested FIRST into fixing the Acela line so it can reach it's potential; not on an entirely new rail service for the same basic route (yes, I know the new one adds Hartford/Springfield and drops PVD).

After the Acela is run at it's potential level (which could make the NYC-Boston trip in 2 hours or so), you can worry about adding routes. Springfield would make a great hub on an East-West high speed rail line (i.e. Boston-Cleveland and beyond) and could probably be served well by a spur commuter connection via Hartford to New Haven.

There's no question in my mind that Springfield and Hartford need rail connections (better rail connections, really). However, drawing a route that does exactly what the Acela does doesn't seem like an appropriate allocation of funds. The money should be used to improve the Acela Service (which serves a more populated area than any route through Hartford/Springfield) to it's full potential (and there's a LOT of room for improvement). Some of the Fall River/New Bedford proposal includes major expansion at South Station which will make entering/exiting easier. Improving Acela's track and right of ways will allow the train to reach the cruising speeds it was designed for. If you get Acela running right, you can focus on high speed rail to points like Springfield and beyond which I think is a must. Springfield would do VERY well with an East/West HSR stop and a North/South Amtrak or MNRR stop.

I'm not convinced that Acela needs, essentially, a parallel route. If it reaches its service potential (i.e higher speeds and thus, faster commuter) and it's STILL a problem, then you can discuss running an alternate route through Hartford/Springfield. As of right now, Acela's not nearly at it's potential and we need to get it there before we discuss alternatives. Improve what we have before building something new.
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Old 03-04-2010, 06:55 AM
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Maybe the fastest NYC-Boston route is through Hartford and Worcester rather than the present shore line through New London and Providence. Just as most sensible people driving to Boston will take 91 to 84 to Mass Pike rather than 95 all the way. Would probably need a new roadbed in many places, I don't know; but that's what the federal funds are for. The shore line, as anyone knows who's been following developments over the years, has too many curves for the high-speed trains to run at high speed. Running through Hartford and Worcester would of course connect up the major population centers in southern New England better than the shore line route does. The shore line is scenic--that's for sure--but not very fast.

Yes Springfield had rail service to Boston--the New Haven Railroad ran Budliners on the route in the '50s-- basically self-propelled diesel cars. There were also some long-distance trains on the Chicago to Boston route. Once the Turnpike was built, the railroad couldn't compete because Peter Picknelly could run his Peter Pan buses over the turnpike in half the time. As Ogre says, you'd have to show that Springfield to Boston would warrant the investment given the ease and convenience of bus service over the turnpike. The railroad between Springfield and Framingham follows a slow, winding route. Not sure how fast passenger service could ever be given that limitation, unless they straightened it out. Maybe use the turnpike median?
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:23 AM
Location: East Boston, MA
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^Using the turnpike median isn't unprecedented. Places all over Europe do that.

I'd still rather see the "shore line" improved so the Acela can reach its potential speeds. I think Providence and New London could really benefit from real high speed service between Boston and New York.
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