Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Mass. Study Find Higher Ridership Projections

June 12, 2020

A study of expanded rail service between Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts, has concluded that the service would attract more passengers than previous estimates.

However, the study said there still would not be enough riders for the service to qualify for federal funding.

The latest study projects ridership could be as high as 1,200 per day. Earlier studies had projected ridership ranging from 36 to 800 per day depending on the route chosen, speed of service and how often trains ran.

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said her agency still believes the service would could cost $2 billion to $25 billion to build, depending on the scope of the project.

At the higher ridership estimate levels the project would fall short of federal requirements balancing costs and benefits.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is reviewing six options for the service and plans to narrow those to three.

It will issue a final report on the project in the fall.

Governors Seeking Boston-Providence Express Trains

August 31, 2019

Two New England governors are pressing for express rail service between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said they have talked with Amtrak about the service as a way of alleviating traffic congestion in Greater Boston.

The governors spoke about their efforts during the National Governors Association’s Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit in Boston.

“We need more [rail service] and it has to be faster,” Raimondo said. “Having Just driven up here this morning, I can tell you the traffic is brutal.”

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is seeking to lease equipment from Amtrak to use in a pilot program of the express service.

Among the other challenges that need to be addressed before the service could begin are capacity and scheduling issues.

Cape Cod Service Resumes for the Summer

May 25, 2019

Seasonal weekend service has returned to Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The CapeFLYER began service on Friday (May 24) and will operate from Boston to Cape Cod through Sept. 2.

The trains are sponsored by the Cape Code Regional Transit Authority.

The CCRTA said that a planned bridge rehabilitation project on the line used by the CapeFLYER will not affect operations of the trains.

Workers are replacing sections of the bridge over the Cohasset Narrows on the Cape Main Line.

Boston-Springfield Proposal Gets Boost in Boston

May 9, 2019

A proposal to launch rail passenger service between Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts, got a boost when the Boston City Council approved a resolution in support of the service.

It was the first time the council had expressed support for the service, which would be operated by MBTA.

Council member Matt O’Malley, who offered the resolution, described the proposed service as having the potential to be transformative for both cities.

O’Malley said rail service to Springfield could directly address housing and environmental issues.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is currently studying the proposed service as part of its East-West Passenger Rail Study.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited currently operates between the two cities, but does not have a commuter friendly schedule.

Money Might Fund Boston North-South Link Study

June 15, 2018

Building a rail link between North Station and South Station in Boston may be studied after the Massachusetts state legislature approved a bond bill that includes $10 million for the study.

The link would be built in an underground tunnel and Gov. Charlie Baker will determine if the money will be spent for the study. He has not always been receptive to the project.

Senator Jamie Eldridge, who pushed for the funding, said the long-proposed tunnel would “allow for easier movement across the region’s 138 stations and link lines north of Boston to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor . . . with the potential to reduce the amount of cars driving into Boston by as much as 55,000 vehicles a day.”

Eldridge also said that the $10 million in the bond bill “sends a strong message to Governor Baker of the growing support the North-South Rail Link has in the legislature.”

Options Shown for Pittsfield-NYC Service

April 18, 2018

A study has laid out three options for reviving intercity rail passenger service between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City.

One option is to use existing Amtrak Empire Service from New York Penn Station on Friday afternoons to Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with a new schedule to Pittsfield and on Sundays, doing the reverse.

Option two would involve a new schedule from New York to Pittsfield on Friday afternoon and back on Sunday afternoon.

The third option calls for building a connecting track between the CSX Berkshire Subdivision and its Schodack Subdivision, to connect the new train from the Amtrak Empire Line just north of Hudson, New York, to the line to Pittsfield.

This project would cost between $18 million and $36 million. This includes the need to install positive train control on freight-only tracks on the Berkshire Sub.

The connecting track would be more than a half-mile long and meet CSX’s standards for a curve at 40 mph, the same speed as the Schodack Subdivision.

The route would be 18 miles shorter than operating via Albany-Rensselaer and feature a running time 20 minutes shorter.

Most of this would be time saved from avoiding adding a locomotive and reversing the train at Albany-Rensselaer.

Depending on the option chosen, the proposed service would have a New York to Pittsfield running time of three-and-a-half to four hours.

The study of route options was conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation at the request of Massachusetts State Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield.

Hinds has in mind a weekend service similar to the Boston to Cape Cod Cape Flyer.

The Pittsfield-New York train would not serve any stations in Connecticut.

With adequate funding and operational support from Amtrak and CSX, the service could begin in 2019 or 2020.

Pittsfield is currently served by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

Consultant Says Getting New Intercity Rail Passenger Service Takes Persistence

March 28, 2018

A consultant told those seeking rail passenger service from western Massachusetts to New York City that the process is all about finding money to fund the service.

“The list is long where there was no money,” said Vinay Mudholkar, an international transportation consultant. “There will be no railroad if you don’t push hard.”

Mudholkar said that advocates for the service must use finesse and tenacity in dealing with government bureaucrats and railroad companies.

“You have to have that fire in you — don’t say you don’t have the money,” he said during a public hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The campaign to start the rail service is being headed by Karen Christensen, who is on a quest to restore intercity rail passenger service over the Housatonic Line between Grand Central Terminal in New York and Pittsfield.

The line lost passenger service in 1972 and is now operated for freight service by the Connecticut-based Housatonic Railroad

The State of Massachusetts has acquired 37 miles of track between Pittsfield and Canaan, Connecticut, with the idea of restoring passenger service.

But the project has lagged due to doubts about Connecticut’s ability to invest in track upgrades.

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has estimated it could cost $200 million to rebuild the track between Pittsfield and Danbury, Connecticut.

Massachusetts transportation officials may use The Berkshire Flyer, a seasonal weekend line, as a pilot to test the New York-Pittsfield market.

That service would offer service from New York Penn Station to Pittsfield via Albany on Amtrak.

Some lawmakers also want to upgrade rail service between Boston and Pittsfield, which is current provided by on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Mudholkar said government officials need to act quickly and not let the existing rail fall apart.

He also urged building a working relationship with the freight rail company using the line. “Don’t create animosity,” he said.

Acknowledging that it won’t be easy, Mudholkar said getting money for rail service is never easy. “You’ve got to have that spirit,” he said. “It’s easy to say, ‘We can’t do anything.’ ”

Long Day Trips to New York Draw Criticism

February 1, 2018

A day trip to New York from some areas of New England will result in longer day in the Big Apple than some passengers might desire.

Amtrak plans to launch a pilot rail shuttle between Greenfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, in May with intermediate stops at Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield as well as Hartford, Connecticut, and Bradley International Airport.

The service will make it possible for the first time to make a day roundtrip to New York. Passengers will arrive at 10:30 a.m., but would not be able to leave to return home until 7:30 p.m.

The shuttle to Greenfield will involve two trains in the morning and two return trains in the evening.

Amtrak has not said when the shuttle service will begin nor has it disclosed schedules.

But Franklin Regional Council of Governments Transportation Planning Manager Maureen Mullaney said that discussions she has had with state department of transportation officials call for the addition of two “early morning” southbound trains from Greenfield, and two nighttime trains daily, in addition to the current trains, which are scheduled to arrive at 1:36 p.m. southbound and 4:22 p.m. northbound.

She said officials have long been seeking schedules that would enable a day trip to New York.

But the proposed schedules would not allow for regular commuting between Greenfield and New York, or for that matter, for workers going to jobs in Springfield, Northampton or Holyoke.

“The times being considered — and we don’t have a lot of control of those — aren’t conducive to that,” said Mullaney. “We’ll try to keep on working to get more.”

She said it is “certainly realistic” that the additional Amtrak runs could be added this year — although they would not necessarily continue northward to Vermont.

Connecticut transportation officials plans to begin to double the number of daily round trips from six to 12 per day between New Haven and Springfield beginning in May.

The state wants to eventually see 17 to 22 trips between the two cities, with stops in Hartford and Windsor Locks, where Mullaney said there could be an airport shuttle bus connection,

“All along, we’ve been saying it makes sense to use those additional trains to come a little further north and then go back down,” Mullaney said. “It looks like that’s how it’s going to work out.”

Berkshire Passenger Study Set

September 30, 2017

A working group seeking to bring intercity rail passenger service to the Berkshire Mountains recently held its first meeting.

The group is studying establishment of seasonal train service between the Berkshires in Massachusetts and New York City.

The NYC/Berkshire Passenger Rail Working Group is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and was included the state’s fiscal 2018 budget bill.

The group will conduct a study to identify and evaluate the economic and cultural benefits, while also identifying any legal, logistical, or political challenges that may knock the project off track.

Members of the group include federal and state transportation officials, local representatives, industry leaders, and transportation advocates. Their report is due by March 1.