• Pittsfield/Springfield/Boston East-West Passenger Rail

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

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  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I agree about once getting to Pittsfield, you might as well just go to Albany. Again, as I mentioned many times, it might be tough time competitivewise to have frequent passenger trains continue west of Springfield given the fact that there are too many curves along the Boston Line. I think MassDot will probably have to look into running some sort of Thruway Bus from Springfield to Rensellaer and this would be as fast as you can get. It's basically like saying how in California, a person who is traveling from Fresno to San Diego by Amtrak must take that Amcal bus from Bakersfield to LA and then get the Pacific Surfliner there.
  by Safetee
 
Living in a covid environment it's hard to seriously be thinking about new train services. Especially since the train dialog hasn't been happy of late.

there is no doubt that Pittsfield is admirably seated on a largely vacant portion of the mass turnpike that can get you to albany pretty darn quick and probably to boston faster than the train too. To think that post pandemic folks in pittsfiledwill gladly jump out of their cars for the short hop to albany or longer jump to boston by train with no snack cars etc borders on delusional thinking.

However, admittedly with tons of local political pressure, the new assessment of the pittsfield springfield boston super market is that the original potential passenger survey waaaaaay underestimated the ridership potential.
so armed with new fabulous figures mass dot is actually hoping to make this pig fly. my guess is that regardless of the promise of the new trumped up figures, there will still be plenty of room for social distancing as may be required on all the Pittsfield Zephyrs. Just like the Valley Flyers.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Maybe we will all be done with this covid mess before any rail extensions happen across Massachusetts. If the train west of Springfield to Albany is going to take significantly longer than driving when planning track and signaling improvements along the existing Boston & Albany, then it's not worth continuing the studies along that route. The ridership on a Thruway Bus between Springfield and Albany today would probably be as good as you can get and having that same ridership on a corridor train for those passengers continuing west of Springfield wouldn't be high. CSX and Amtrak don't always play nice with each other. For any passenger service to happen between Boston and Springfield, it would have to be a super express train. The MBTA trains that run local from Boston to Worcester take too long-like an hour and a half to go about 45 miles.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
I really do not think Massachusetts is going to provide service to a neighboring state without that state's financial contribution. Service to Rhode Island would be an example. Again, I think service going beyond Pittsfield is best handled by Amtrak.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I would probably want to see Amtrak provide the service west of Worcester to Springfield, especially if it ever continues west of Springfield. If MBTA were to provide any service west of Worcester, I wouldn't go west of Springfield. Let's also see how CSX feels about more passenger trains running on their tracks. The right of way up the grades west of Springfield and through the Berkshires is meant for freight trains, not passenger. NY State would also have to give the approval for corridor trains to run from Boston to Upstate NY once they enter NY State.
  by CRail
 
Cape Flyer is not an MBTA service. It is a CCRTA service provided by its parent agency (MassDOT) using another subsidiary’s equipment and hiring that subsidiary’s contractor to provide the service.

Service to the west would be provided by MassDOT in a similar fashion. The MBTA’s district is irrelevant to this proposal. (The service is really irrelevant to the MBTA as a whole but it has so far been the SOP that MassDOT passenger rail discussions take place in this forum since New England Railfan’s discussions generally focus less on pax service).
  by Rockingham Racer
 
" The right of way up the grades west of Springfield and through the Berkshires is meant for freight trains, not passenger."

This is an odd statement. Up and over the Bershires is two main tracks with a universal crossover up on top of the grade. And the New York Central historically ran a few passenger trains each day over it.
  by Choo Choo Coleman
 
If it is decided to only go to Springfield, I would really like to see it go one more stop to Westfield which is a 10-15 minute drive, not sure how long on the train but I doubt it would be too much longer than that.
The train station is in downtown Westfield, has parking, and is a five minute drive off exit 3 on the Mass Pike.
Westfield State now has dorms and buildings in the downtown, and the main campus is only a short drive via the school shuttle buses. The local PVTA bus could also be rerouted not even a mile to service the station.
Plus, Westfield would be a good location for the "Hill Towns" of Russell, Otis, etc., as it would be much easier for them to access the station by driving down Rt. 20 then going all the way to Springfield.

It would be nice to go to Pittsfield, but maybe the once a day train by Amtrak is plenty at this point. Although the east bound Amtrak train gets in kind of late in the day. It would be nice if a morning alternative was offered. And I am in agreement too that if you do end up going to Pittsfield then you should go to Albany, which would open up a variety of connections in that part of the state.
  by MBTA3247
 
The old station in Westfield has several businesses and an apartment in it, and very little dedicated parking.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Absolutely, if this Amtrak corridor service serves Pittsfield, then it might as well go to Albany. In fact, if there was a way for this train to be extended to Niagara Falls, that would be great, but I'm going to not get in much detail about west of Albany-Rensellaer. Pittsfield Station serves as the gateway to the Berkshires. I think that city is almost smack in the center of the Berkshires. You are very close to Lee and then north of Pittsfield, you have the Adams. I know that this suggestion has been mentioned-having a station in Chatham, NY. This would be a good idea as it would serve the Stockbridges and any other town in MA along 90 close to the NY State Line. Chatham would serve NY State towns like New Lebanon.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:23 am Something BandA said made me wonder: Is the idea for this to be a commuter service mostly, or is the idea for it to be a state-sponsored intercity service that MassDot and the T would operate because the already exist and would be more under state control than Amtrak?
This is being developed as an intercity express corridor service not a westward extension of the commuter rail system. Studied Stops are Pittsfield Chester Springfield Palmer Worcester Lansdowne Back Bay and South Station.
There have been no decisions about details such as who or how it would be operated. I would anticipate they’d open it up for proposals from Amtrak as well as other operators such as MBTA/Keolis and CTrail/TASI all of whom may have an interest. Given the intercity look of this I think a great way to do it would be extending New Haven - Springfield trains to Boston as maybe half the service with the other half running out to Pittsfield or possibly Albany. I think you’d pick up extra ridership from Hartford - Boston and such.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Additionally in a recent interview CTDOT announced that the replacement for the Mafersa Shore Line East and MBB Hartford Line cars will be an intercity - not commuter - style coach. One of the reasons they gave is that they anticipate running longer distance trains from New York to Springfield and possibly eventually to Boston. Connecticut has a major interest in the inland route. Also it sounds like surveys given to Hartford Line riders indicated that riders like the Amtrak coaches better. This order includes additional options and CTDOT has invited additional states to join the order and could ultimately provide an opportunity to secure equipment for a potential future east west service.
  by Pensyfan19
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:50 pm Additionally in a recent interview CTDOT announced that the replacement for the Mafersa Shore Line East and MBB Hartford Line cars will be an intercity - not commuter - style coach. One of the reasons they gave is that they anticipate running longer distance trains from New York to Springfield and possibly eventually to Boston. Connecticut has a major interest in the inland route. Also it sounds like surveys given to Hartford Line riders indicated that riders like the Amtrak coaches better. This order includes additional options and CTDOT has invited additional states to join the order and could ultimately provide an opportunity to secure equipment for a potential future east west service.
I bet $2 they use retired Amfleets and Horizon coaches... :P

Although it will be interesting to see what CDOT will purchase for their service, now that you mention CDOT running these extended services from NY eastward.
  by BandA
 
Why would CTDOT (presumably with the help of MassDOT) run and subsidize Inland Regionals? Let Amtrak pick up the deficit.

Of course passengers prefer coaches that are more comfortable, better & roomier seats.
  by BandA
 
Why would you want an Amtrak station in Chester? Apparently it's about half-way between Pittsfield and Springfield. Looks relatively inexpensive to set up, and since there are few people in the area only a small parking area would be required. The train has to slow down for the curve and steep grade anyway, so might as well stop, right? It's in the middle of the Berkshires, also half way between Lee and Westfield interchanges, accessible basically by US-20 only, unless you built a new Blandford interchange. Chester has the only original 1840's Western Railroad wooden station, but it has been moved away from the tracks & turned into a museum. It is quite large as it was also a dinner stop.
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