The new route for passenger rail through the Pioneer Valley is exceeding expectations. That’s according to numbers from Amtrak. But it’s hard to tell if its had much of an effect on local businesses.
Right now there’s one train, each way, between Boston and Springfield: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, which also stops in Framingham, Worcester and Pittsfield on its way to Chicago.
The change was spurred by federal stimulus money to update Amtrak’s Vermonter line. The trip is now slightly shorter, but the trains aren’t coming through the area any more often.
Amtrak’s Vermonter is serving Amherst for the last time this weekend. Train service shifts to Northampton and Greenfield starting Monday
Residents in Springfield’s north end say higher speed trains slated to start running at the end of December pose serious safety risks. Jose Claudio, of the New North Citizen’s Council says hundreds of people cross the track at a section called…the alleyway. Claudio says that includes children, and parents with strollers.
Massachusetts officials announced Wednesday the state has an agreement to purchase the right-of-way for nearly fifty miles of railroad running between Greenfield and Springfield. Amtrak service is scheduled to begin late this year on the line, but a more regular commuter service is far from a done deal.
Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration says it will begin accepting competitive proposals from railroad companies in the next six to twelve months to operate the shuttle, which is scheduled to begin service in late 2016.
An update to the north-south Amtrak line along the Connecticut River is expected to be running by the end of 2014. The project has been delayed, and might be running over budget.
It’s been more than two years since the Massachusetts Department of Transportation secured $73 million in federal stimulus funds to speed up North-South Amtrak service in Western Massachusetts.
Solving cross-border travel problems is on the to-do list for New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers.
With $17 million now secured for for the renovation of Springfield’s Union Station, more frequent passenger rail service through Western Massachusetts is on the horizon.