Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts Knowledge Corridor’

Valley Flyer Gets Ridership Goal for Continued Funding

February 14, 2020

Preservation of Amtrak’s Valley Flyer will hinge on the experimental service handling 24,000 passengers a year by 2021.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has set that ridership goal that must be met if the state is to continue it funding of the service between Springfield and Greenfield.

The Valley Flyer began operations on Aug. 30, 2019, and also stops in Holyoke and Northhampton.

The line is also used by the Vermonter, which is funded by the state of Vermont.

Massachusetts is paying $1 million a year to support the Valley Flyer.

The ridership goal is double the number of passengers that were being handled by the Vermonter before the Valley Flyer began service.

Dana Roscoe, principal planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield, said supporters of the Valley Flyer are trying to determine how ridership has been going.

They have sent staff to station platforms to count the number of passengers boarding and disembarking.

Compiling ridership data is complicated by the fact that Amtrak only publishes that information once a year.

“We can’t just have an annual number and go with that,” Roscoe said. “At this point I honestly can’t tell you how we’re doing. My sense, completely anecdotal and word-of-mouth and from visiting stations, is that we are probably doing OK but we are absolutely are not where we need to be.”

Officials do know from Amtrak ridership data that patronage of the line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield has been growing at a rate of 25 percent a year.

The ridership information gleaned from hand counting Valley Flyer passengers will be used as part of a $350,000 marketing and branding campaign seeking to boost business.

In the meantime, the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to improve stations in that state at Windsor and Windsor Locks.

The work will include installation of platforms on each side of the tracks, sheltered waiting areas, real-time train arrival displays, snow melt systems at ramps and on platforms, parking on both the east and west sides of the tracks, and security cameras and emergency phones.

That work is expected to be completed in 2021.

The work at Windsor Locks station includes a single platform, a multi-use trail with connections to the Canal Trail via Bridge Street, parking, and other amenities.

The 510-foot-long platform will comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with level boarding from every train car.

Other work being undertaken by CTDOT includes adding a second tracks north of Hartford to increase the frequency of service in the region.

A connecting is being built in Windsor Locks to link to Bradley International Airport and digital displays are being installed at stations on the Hartford Line station to provide real-time train arrival and departure times.

Trial Service to Greenfield to Launch Aug. 30

August 27, 2019

A two-year pilot program begins Aug. 30 in which Amtrak will extend shuttle service to Greenfield, Massachusetts.

The shuttles currently operate between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

The test will examine demand for expanded rush-hour service in the Knowledge Corridor connecting with Northeast Corridor trains. It will add 40 miles to the route of the shuttles.

The pilot program will have two weekday round trips going south in the morning and north in the evening.

This service will be addition to the daily Vermonter that operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont.

Trains will depart Greenfield at 5:45 a.m. and 7:35 a.m., and return at 10:23 p.m. and 12:38 a.m.

All trains will connect in New Haven with other Northeast Corridor trains.

On weekends, northbound train No. 400 departs the newly refurbished Springfield Union Station at 7:50 a.m. without a connection from New Haven, then turns back south as an extension to train 461.

In the evening, northbound No. 488 from New Haven heads to Greenfield at 6:45 p.m., but returns only as far as Springfield as train No. 499, departing at 8:10 p.m.

The State of Massachusetts is not underwriting the fare being charged for the new service. Instead, Amtrak is using its “saver” and “value” yield management fare system dictate pricing.

It is not certain how the program will be evaluated to determine its success.

Western Mass. Service Expansion Set

February 5, 2019

Amtrak plans to increase service this summer in western Massachusetts.

Pioneer Valley Planning Commissioner Timothy W. Brennan told local news media that he has been told by Massachusetts Department Officials that the added service might start as early June, pending completion of high-level Platform C at Springfield Union Station and tie replacement and bridge repairs on the route.

Although no schedules have been finalized, Brennan said there is expected to be morning and afternoon round trips that will operate between Springfield and Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Intermediate stops in the “Knowledge Corridor” include Holyoke and Northampton.

The route is already used by Amtrak’s Vermonter. The additional service was made possible in part by a $73 million rebuilding of the route, which is former Boston & Maine trackage but now owned by the state and used by Pan Am Railways.

The Vermonter has been using this route since August 2015. Before then, the train between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont, ran via a more circuitous route through Palmer and Amherst, Massachusetts.

The service expansion to Greenfield is a two-year pilot project and officials have yet said what criteria they will use to evaluate the success of the trains.