Amherst MA is home, home to the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system, was once a great location to begin a trip to western MA. In the past, Amtrak’s Vermonter stopped here twice daily on it’s run between Washington DC and St. Albans Vermont. Amtrak has since moved the Vermonter to the Connecticut River line which passes through nearby Northampton. Amherst still sees trains though as the New England Central Railroad passes through the town. NECR traffic is not as predictable as the Vermonter once was though.
A good place to catch the NECR is at the former Amtrak depot, located at 13 Railroad St, Amherst, MA 01002. Currently, the depot is used as a Pilates studio. You can find information about the radio frequency used by NECR at Radio Reference.
The photo shows the potential for this location in the spring and fall during the morning hours. This is a location I would recommend in the fall or spring or even winter, and not in the summer.