Connecticut River Passenger Rail
Connecticut River Passenger Rail
The Federal Railroad Administration is providing $70 million in stimulus funds to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to improve the Connecticut River Rail Line to reestablish passenger rail service on the west side of the Connecticut River from the Connecticut border to the Vermont border. Additional funds were provided for track improvements in Connecticut and in Vermont.
The funding includes track improvements in Northampton and includes refurbishing the rail platform at Union Station with a covered self service ticket kiosk. As matching money to the federal funding, the State Department of Transportation has committed to building the tunnel under the railroad tracks at King Street to connect the Northampton Rail Trail with the Norwottuck Rail Trail. As a long term downtown improvement, the City will be undertaking an analysis to evaluate locations for a multi-modal facility near to the railroad tracks which would include an indoor train station, bus connections, and commuter parking.
Mayor Higgins was an early supporter of the project working with the MA Department of Transportation, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Vermont Department of Transportation to support the Pioneer Valley Rail Study which laid the groundwork for the track improvements. As part of the project, the MA Department of Transportation will build the bike tunnel connecting the Northampton Bike Trail with the Norwottuck Rail Trail, an important safety feature to increasing train traffic along the tracks in Northampton. It will also significantly increase the commuter and recreational use of the bike trails with a direct link to the newly proposed passenger rail stop at Union Station. Community & Economic Development Director, Teri Anderson, represents the City on the Rail Study Advisory Committee. The City will continue to coordinate and collaborate with state and regional agencies as this project proceeds to the construction phase. Construction is expected to begin in 2010 and will be complete in two years. Improved tracks and rail infrastructure will allow for phased improvements in passenger rail service.
Phase 1 – Return Amtrak service to the Connecticut River with 1-2 round trips per day between St. Albans, VT and New Haven, CT with stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield. Track upgrades and Amtrak service expected in 2013.
Phase 2 – Enhanced passenger service increasing round trip service to 4-6 round trips per day. This service is dependent upon enhanced rail improvements on the track in Connecticut that is yet to be funded. Enhanced service date to be determined.
Phase 3 – Commuter rail service with 7-9 trips per day also dependent upon track improvements in Connecticut. Commuter service date to be determined.
For more information on the Connecticut River Rail Improvement Project and the Knowledge Corridor Rail Study can be found on the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission website at the link below.
With the return of passenger rail service to Northampton, with it will come increased public transportation access to urban areas such as Hartford, New Haven, and New York City; alternative transportation access for students to Smith College and the Five College system; increased intercity transportation access for commuters and workers in the Pioneer Valley; alternative access to Northampton for tourism to our downtown; enhanced economic development potential in our business districts.
Knowledge Corridor Rail Study