Passenger Rail Service
History of Connecticut River Passenger Rail
Prior to 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration provided $70 million in stimulus funds to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to improve the Connecticut River Rail Line to reestablish passenger rail service on the west side of the Connecticut River from the Connecticut border to the Vermont border. Additional funds were provided for track improvements in Connecticut and in Vermont.
Vermonter Service Background
In early 2014, the Amtrak Vermonter began serving Northampton as a part of the Vermonter's service route change moving service from Amherst ( east side of the Connecticut River) over to Northampton (west side of the river). The Vermonter operates from St. Albans, Vt. through Northampton, Holyoke, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven and all points along the eastern coast ending in Washington, D.C. The southbound Vermonter stops in Northampton at 2:01 pm and the northbound arrives in Northampton at 3:57 pm.
Since December, 2014, ridership at Northampton for the Vermonter has reached 19,000 riders annually. This level of ridership has been well above the prior Vermonter service to and from Amherst. And this number of riders comprises a strong percentage of total Vermonter ridership. This level of participation has generated calls for increased "North-South rail service between Northampton and points south.
Expanded Rail Service from Springfield to Hartford and New Haven Starting in 2018
The State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working to start Hartford Line service between New Haven, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, Hartford and Springfield. CDOT has indicated that this service will be starting in May, 2018 with 12 trains daily between Springfield and New Haven with 17 trains daily to and from Hartford.
Springfield Rail Station Renovation and Expansion
Springfield Union Station has opened for operations and offers travelers a new 300 car parking garage as well as a bus depot to accommodate Peter Pan, Greyhound and PVTA which offers frequent bus service to Northampton, Holyoke and Amherst.. The Springfield Amtrak Station currently houses "Shuttle" service between Springfield to Hartford and New Haven with 6 Amtrak "Shuttle" trains in each direction daily.
"Trains In The Valley" Advocacy
The Trains in the Valley web site represents the efforts of local residents to promote the expansion of rail service through their web site which contains useful and current information on rail and transit issues and positive events.
North-South Rail Advocacy
The increased ridership on the Vermonter and the upcoming expansion of rail service from Springfield to New Haven has generated positive local interest in establishing a modest schedule of "North-South" rail service from Greenfield south to Northampton, Holyoke and into Springfield.
With the return of passenger rail service to Northampton, with it will come increased public transportation access to urban areas such as Hartford, New Haven, and New York City; alternative transportation access for students to Smith College and the Five College system; increased intercity transportation access for commuters and workers in the Pioneer Valley; alternative access to Northampton for tourism to our downtown; enhanced economic development potential in our business districts. For more information on the Connecticut River Rail Improvement Project access the Knowledge Corridor Rail Study.