Posts Tagged ‘CTrail’

CTrail Tickets Will No Longer be Accepted on Some Amtrak Trains on Hartford Line

September 11, 2020

Amtrak will no longer accept CTrail Tickets for travel aboard certain trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, effective Sept. 14.

Amtrak said the policy change was a result of the implementation of its RideReserve program that requires holders of multi-ride tickets to confirm their travel.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers wishing to ride Northeast Regional trains between the two cities must have Amtrak ticket.

The intercity passenger carrier said it will continue to accept CTrail tickets on Amtrak Hartford Line and Valley Flyer trains.

FRA Awards Grants for Passenger Rail Projects

May 7, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration announced this week that it has awarded more than $22 million in grant funding to three passenger-rail projects affecting eight states.

The money from the Restoration and Enhancement Grant Program is aimed at projects to “initiate, restore or enhance intercity passenger-rail service around the country,” FRA officials said in a news release release.

The grants will help fund a possible expansion of Amtrak service between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, a possible restoration of Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast and improving CTrail Service in Connecticut.

The Southern Rail Commission received $5.45 million to be used to implement Amtrak service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation received $12,569,200 toward the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger-Rail Service Project.

The project calls for adding a second daily roundtrip train between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota, to supplement Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The additional train would provide more convenient travel times and serve 12 stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation received $4,395,616 for the CTrail-Hartford Line Rail Enhancement Project.

That project envisions two additional weekday trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

The additional service will allow for more connections with MTA Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak trains.

Amtrak Pennsylvania Service Suspension Extended

April 21, 2020

The suspension of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended to May 17.

The trains have been suspended since March 19 due to the pandemic.

The Amtrak website shows that reservations can be made starting May 18 although that it subject to change.

The Pennsylvanian operates between New York and Pittsburgh while Keystone Service operates between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia.

The trains are funded largely by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

In a related development, operations of the combined CTrail/Amtrak Hartford line were further reduced on Monday due to a sharp decline in ridership.

The line how has seven weekday round trips in each direction, including four Amtrak Regional trains and three CTrail trains.

There had been 11 round trips, including five Amtrak Regional trains and six CT rail trains.

VIA Makes More Service Cuts

March 31, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said that beginning March 31 it will further cut service on most routes.

The new schedule calls for only one train per day on all routes in the Quebec City-Windsor, Ontario, corridor.

All trains will stop at every station on all routes.

Montreal-Jonquiere, Quebec; Montreal-Senneterre, Que; and Sudbury-White River, Ontario, routes will operate with one round trip per week.

The Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, train is no longer offering Sleeper Plus service.

Other operations, including the Canadian and Ocean, have been suspended through May 1.

VIA said carry-on baggage assistance offered by employees is temporarily suspended on all trains across the network.

However, it said it will continue to offer the same level of assistance to passengers with disabilities and/or limited mobility.

Checked baggage service has been temporarily suspended on all routes except Sudbury-White River and Winnipeg-Churchill.

In the United States, Amtrak and CTrail Hartford Line trains have begun operating on an even more reduced schedule with a combined 11 round trips (six CTrail, five Amtrak) on weekdays and revised weekend schedules on Amtrak’s Hartford line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

New Station to be Built at Windsor Locks

March 3, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded a $17.4 million grant to Connecticut to be used to build a new station in Windsor Locks on the Hartford Line.

The depot will be built a mile north of the existing station and is part of a larger transit-oriented development project in downtown Windsor Locks.

Windsor Locks also has received more than $321,000 in grant funding from the Connecticut Department of Transportation for pedestrian improvements as part of the project.

The federal grant money will also be used for track and signal work, street-level rail crossings, and Amtrak rail yard work.

The Hartford Line is used by Amtrak and CTrail Line trains.

Greenfield Still Awaits Date for New Service

May 5, 2019

Officials in Greenfield, Massachusetts, are still awaiting a date for when expanded Amtrak service to that community will begin.

They are hoping that it will get underway by the end of summer.

“We don’t have a firm date yet, but it is going to happen,” said Franklin Regional Council of Governments Transportation Planning and GIS Program Manager Maureen Mullaney.

The new service has already been delayed, having once been planned to start in June and then in July.

But now, Mullaney said, Amtrak and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation have told the city it needs more time.

The new service will link Greenfield with New York City and include two extra trips on weekdays and one extra trip on weekends and holidays.

The trains will depart the John W. Olver Transit Center at 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and returning in the evening.

The existing service to Greenfield by the Vermonter leave Greenfield southbound at 1:30 p.m., and returns at 4:30 p.m.

“People have to make plans to stay overnight if they want to go into the city,” Mullaney said.

The additional service was made possible by an agreement with Connecticut and Amtrak to for a pilot program to provide the two extended daily CTrail trains from Springfield with stops in Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield.

This service would be in addition to the existing Vermonter schedules, which are not expected to change.

The pilot program is expected to cost about $1 million a year to operate.

Greenfield has seen rising Amtrak ridership of late. It has increased from 5,315 in 2015 to 6,497 last year.

Ridership has also been rising at stations in Amherst, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield.

Brattleboro Hopes to See More Rail Service

April 5, 2019

Officials in Bratleboro, Vermont, are hoping that an extension of CTrail trains from Springfield to Greenfield, Massachusetts might be a sign of additional service to their city.

The trains will provide additional service in coordination with Amtrak between Greenfield and New York City.

Funding for the Greenfield service is being provided by Massachusetts on a two-year trial basis for $1 million. The trains are expected to draw 24,000 passengers a year.

Brattleboro is served by Amtrak’s Vermonter, which operates daily between St. Albans, Vermont, and Washington.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation, which provides funding for the Vermonter, is watching the Greenfield extension, but has no plans to seek an extension of that service to Battleboro, said Dan Delabruere, the agency’s rail program director.

“The issue of course is cost,” said state Rep. Mollie Burke, a member of the Vermont House of Representative’’s Committee on Transportation.

“Vermont pays Amtrak to run in Vermont, and it is all state money.” The state currently pays Amtrak $8.3 million for the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express.
Burke said the state is considering providing bus service from Brattleboro to Greenfield that would connect with the CTrail trains to New York.

Some Vermont rail advocates would like to see not just additional rail service north of Greenfield, but a reinstatement of service to Montreal.

Burke said extending the Vermonter to Montreal won’t happen until the Canadian Province of Quebec funds track repair and a secure immigration facility is created in Montreal.

She noted that the U.S. and Canada reached an agreement to allow U.S. immigration officers on Canadian soil but the Vermont’s top passenger rail priority at the moment is extending the Ethan Allen Express north of Rutland, Vermont, to Burlington, Vermont.

“There is state money for improvements along the Western Corridor,” Burke said. “The only federal money we receive for rail comes from competitive grants and some Federal Highway Administration formula funds.”

Fewer Advance Reservations Now Allowed on CT Line

January 18, 2019

In an effort to effort to address crowding aboard its trains operating during afternoon hours on the CTrail Hartford Line, Amtrak is limiting advance ticket sales.

The effect is to allow more seats for travelers with Hartford Line tickets.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation agreed to the change, which effects Train 475 (Hartford to New Haven) and Train 474 (New Haven to Hartford).

CDOT said the limitations on advance reservations for those trains will open up seats for for up to 72 riders with CTrail Hartford Line tickets.

Overcrowding of afternoon Amtrak trains on the route has persisted since last summer in part due to Amtrak agreeing to honor CTrail tickets on its trains on the Hartford Line.

But the overcrowding has resulted in Amtrak personnel sometimes refusing to allow CTrail ticket holders aboard Amtrak trains that are at capacity.

Although then-Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called this practice a violation of the state’s agreement with Amtrak, Connecticut Public Radio recently reported that its review of the contract between the state and Amtrak found it does not contain language that makes CTrail and Amtrak tickets equal.

CDOT has maintained since September under the agreement Amtrak conductors can’t ask CTrail and student-ticketed passengers to exit trains that are full on the Hartford line.

But the agreement does not explicitly state that there is a formal “One Ticket, Any Train” agreement between Amtrak and CDOT.

Amtrak trains run with two cars, which is two fewer that CTrail trains have.

“The challenge that we’re faced with is we have more customers wanting to use the service than available seats,” said Rich Andreski, CDOT’s bureau chief of public transportation. “The bottom line is we need to provide more seats for customers.”

CDOT has asked Amtrak to add more cars and even more trains to the route to help meet passenger demand.

In particularly, the agency wants to see Amtrak operate at least one more train during the afternoon hours.

“We understand the frustration of passengers being asked to wait for another train and appreciate their patience until we can resolve this issue,” CDOT spokesman Judd Everhart said.“At the same time, we recognize Amtrak’s position that having passengers standing in the aisles and vestibules can be a safety concern.”

CTrail service began last June between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, with stops in Windsor Locks, Windsor, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden and Wallingford.

Since September, when Amtrak trains are full conductors have asked CTrail and U-Pass ticketed passengers to either stay on the platform or give up their seats to those holding Amtrak tickets.

Amtrak has been generally honoring CTrail’s “One Ticket, Any Train” desire except when its own trains are full.

Amtrak has said it only leaves CTrail ticket holders behind or ask non-Amtrak passengers to give up their seats during such “unsafe conditions” as passengers have to stand in the vestibule.

Passengers booking travel through Amtrak must have a reservation, but CTrail ticket buyers do not.

However, Connecticut officials acknowledge they are limited in their ability to demand that Amtrak increase capacity of its trains.

The state could request that of Amtrak in writing but acceding to those requests is at Amtrak’s discretion.

One other option that state officials are considering is to establish a system whereby CTrail and Amtrak passengers would essentially purchase the same ticket.

Amtrak Turning Away CTrail Ticket Holders

January 3, 2019

Amtrak is refusing to permit holders of CTrail commuter rail tickets to use its trains in Connecticut, citing safety reasons.

The two carriers jointly use a route via Hartford and CTrail has marketed its service by saying its tickets can be used on either railroad’s trains.

Instead, Amtrak crew members have been asking CTrail ticket holders to wait for the next CTrail train.

The safety concern Amtrak has expressed is CTrail passengers standing in the vestibules of moving Amtrak trains.

CTrail has asked Amtrak to expand the capacity of the Hartford line while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said Amtrak’s practice of refusing to allow CTrail ticket holder aboard Amtrak trains violates the agreement between Amtrak and Connecticut.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has been touting a “one ticket, any train” policy.

An Amtrak spokesperson said the carrier is working with CDOT “to resolve the crowding issues that are occurring on some . . . trains.”

CTrail service began in June 2018 with 17 weekday CTrail and Amtrak round trips between New Haven and Hartford. Thirteen of those round trips also serve Springfield, Massachusetts.