jp1822 wrote:The Shuttles between Springfield and New Haven need to be extended somewhere. Frankly, all could be extended "somewhere" - Springfield to NYC/Philly. New Haven to Boston (not sure how this will happen unless CSX double tracks the old B&A), New Haven to White River, New Haven to Albany (again the B&A issue comes into play).
If Amtrak is going to operate a such a short route between Springfield and New Haven, they need to figure out a way to do so without full train sets - diesel and cab car with another Amfleet coach in stuffed in the middle. It's not going to look good when CDOT starts-up commuter service on this line (even if to just Hartford).
EDIT - correction, meant B&A, not B&M! Thanks for correction!!!
The ongoing study is for taking them to Boston with a full B&A upgrade, with a Boston-Montreal via Springfield feasibility study the second service pattern to be studied (basically just takes a B&A-half Inland Shuttle slot and turns it into a second Vermonter frequency north-of-Springfield). Can't find the URL for the study website and don't recall when the full study results are supposed to wrap up and be released, but they have been doing lots of public meetings over the past year with archived meeting presentations on the site. Lot of info out there about what they envision and what they're currently studying. NHV-BOS is definitely going to be a 5-6 car train if they're in go-for-it mode.
The B&A upgrades west of Worcester are not all that pricey relative to mileage because the CSX line is in very good state-of-repair with pre-existing and easily modifiable cab signal installation. It's the double-tracking, new crossovers, and then the decision on whether they want to uprate the tracks to Class 4/79 MPH or spend the money for Class 5/90 MPH to take advantage of the tangent Springfield-Palmer segment as schedule saver for the unimprovably curvy Palmer-Worcester segment. The far bigger expense for making that route cook is all tied up in MBTA territory. Worcester-Framingham is in good shape and just needs the decision on whether to upgrade to Class 5...but Framingham-Boston is in poor state-of-repair with ancient speed-capped signal system and too few crossovers to keep commuter rail locals and CR + Amtrak expresses from getting in each other's way. That part's going to be a brutally expensive fix, and if MassDOT gets scared by a too-high price tag into deferring the project it'll be that stretch of shared MBTA territory that supplies the biggest share of that sticker shock. Not so much Springfield-Worcester.
Alternately, if they're tight on cash for the B&A upgrade a temporary extension of the Shuttles
to Greenfield is an easy grab as a placeholder until MassDOT sets up Knowledge Corridor commuter rail up the Conn River Line. That could be useful since jumping the gun on Conn River commuter rail wouldn't net useful service until CDOT Hartford Line service scales up from its meager Year 1 starter schedule to its full-blown Year 5+ schedule and starts to offer usefully frequent transfers out of Springfield.
At any rate, CDOT and MassDOT have lots of options to chew on for a repurposed Shuttle
and are going to do something with it--even if just a short-term placeholder in advance of a long-term Boston schedule--to keep it running after the Hartford Line supplants it. It's way too valuable a chip for the two states to turn back in and possibly not get back when they need it for its next-gen role.