Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inland

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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby dowlingm » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:09 pm

never ceases to amaze me about American transit planning that there can be serious discussion about state supported rail service into thinly populated counties in corrugated landscapes, but crickets (with the exception of a dubious private venture) re direct service between the second and third most populous cities in New England.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Safetee » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:06 pm

For the past 40 years the state of mass has been desperately trying to devise various schemes to revitalize north adams which economically vaporized in the late 50s and 60s. At one point, they considered putting in a gambling casino on mount greylock. then there was the western gateway heritage park that they built. It is a railroad themed park that unfortunately not many people go to. Then mass moca happened with major funding that some people go to. Then they made the berkshire scenic thing happen.
So using the railroad as an economic development tool today is not much different than it was for developing the hoosac tunnel back in the 1860s.

If enough local political pressure is put on the state, things could happen in North Adams. But from Mass DOTS perspective at the present time they don't even want to think about Greenfield being a gateway to Boston much less having runs out to North Adams. Certainly making Greenfield to Boston happen first will be perquisite for thinking about anything west of Greenfield. But whether any of this happens will have a lot more to do with the degree of political arm twisting on the way than whether or not there's a perception of a sufficiently large enough population to support it.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby gokeefe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:56 am

dowlingm wrote:never ceases to amaze me about American transit planning that there can be serious discussion about state supported rail service into thinly populated counties in corrugated landscapes, but crickets (with the exception of a dubious private venture) re direct service between the second and third most populous cities in New England.


That's strictly a function of political boundaries and Amtrak's funding scheme which requires state level funding for short routes.

I would also note that the likely demand for such service has only recently reappeared with the modern trends in reurbanization.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:38 am

And a function of which lines the state of MA could buy. Basically passenger service is going exactly where a public entity owns.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Allouette » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:03 am

I took a look at a couple of B&M Employee Timetables from decades ago to see what an extension to North Adams would involve.

It's about 35 miles. MAS in 1964 was 50 with 30 and 25 MPH restrictions. Six mile Hoosac Tunnel was 30 MPH. Probably an hour of running time.

Some upgrades have been done, but PAS still seems to be under lots of slow orders. 50 MPH MAS is probably near the top possible even without maintenance-related slow orders, limited by alignment. 1974 passenger MAS was 40.

North Adams track layout is about the same as Greenfield - push-pull still required. That might be a show-stopper for PAS. Not sure I would want to be in an ex-metroliner cab in the HT...

Nearest wye to the west is at Hoosick Jct, NY.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:06 am

Ok, I think we've chased the North Adams rabbit into its Hoosac rabbit hole. Can we get back to more feasible, likely stuff?

In the 2018 state rail plan,
https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/20 ... prng18.pdf
of interest here are:

PASSENGER
Tier 1 (IMPLEMENTATION)
NHHS operations
Greenfield pilot program

Tier 2 (STUDY)
Western Mass to Boston Rail Study (Inland Route)
Berkshire Flyer via Empire & LSL route (see its separate thread)
Tier 3 (NO ACTION)
Palmer Station for LSL (insufficient Inland service to warrant construction)
Housatonic Passenger Rail (No current likelihood of service improvements in Connecticut)
Montreal via Springfield (Challenges with line ownership)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Safetee » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:19 pm

In this business, what is politically impossible today may be totally possible tomorrow. It's all about pressure.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:50 pm

Safetee wrote:In this business, what is politically impossible today may be totally possible tomorrow. It's all about pressure.

I think you're missing the part where Massachusetts* ranks projects on $ per passenger effectiveness and chooses the high ranked ones.
EG: Greenfield is getting its pilot because the economics predict that its subsidy would be less than the cost of a ridership study.

Also, you're missing the part where politicians count votes, which is how Fall River and New Bedford have kept South Coast Rail in play despite failing the $/passenger tests. If Mass is going to leave its Conn River ROW to probe for demand in freight RR territory, Palmer and Worcester are going to vastly out vote AND out patronize the Adamses.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demograph ... sachusetts

The seemingly-empty parts between Springfield and Worcester are nonetheless 10x as dense as the population Greenfield-Adams. As a rule of thumb, Inlands should be getting 10x the attention

The stretch between Greenfield and North Adams is literally the emptiest part of Massachusetts.

* Governors both Democratic and Republican
Last edited by Arlington on Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Safetee » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:01 pm

The residents living between Greenfield and North Adams readily acknowledge that they live in the emptiest part of the state. We prefer it that way. Given the choice we would probably prefer to be part of Vermont. What's interesting is that the arguments against any thought of passenger service to North Adams today almost exactly mirrors the arguments against the Hoosac Tunnel back in the 1850s. Well the tunnel eventually got built despite the shrieking efforts of it's south state opponents. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised that sometime in the next ten years, the rebuilding of the tunnel for expeditious accommodation of double stacks could be (pardon the pun) piggybacked on a program for seasonal service between North Adams and the Hub.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:50 pm

I am all for 286k + double stack everywhere including the Hoosac. And more second track.

But that's because we don't want all that freight on our roads, and it would be great to have NS & CSX competing.

But there is going to be a vote count before this happens to decide what we get from NS and CSX in exchange. From CSX it is going to be Inlands, and from PAS it is likely to be something in MBTA territory.

For passenger service in empty parts, a subsidy to a bus operator like Greyhound or Megabus or Peter Pan seems optimal (Virginia is doing this).
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby charlesriverbranch » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:08 pm

Arlington wrote:Montreal via Springfield (Challenges with line ownership)


Montreal via Springfield?

There used to be three perfectly good routes between Boston and Montreal: the Cheshire Branch via Keene, the Northern Main via Lebanon, and another route via Plymouth, and all three have been abandoned! You literally can't get there from here.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:34 pm

charlesriverbranch wrote:
Arlington wrote:Montreal via Springfield (Challenges with line ownership)
Montreal via Springfield?

It is on the list as part of a three-legged rail hub proposed for Springfield in the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative (NNEIRI) in 2016
The three legs being:
    Springfield-Worcester-Boston
    Springfield-Vermont-Montreal
    Springfield-Hartford-New Haven
And the routes that'd operate on the legs being:
    BOS-SPG-NHV (8x Inland round trips)
    BOS-SPG-MTR (1x L-shaped routing per day)
    NHV-SPG-MTR (1x 8h40m routing per day) (in addition to Vermonter)
NNEIRI_Fig2_2016.PNG
New Haven-to-Montreal Service – This service would run along the Boston-to-Montreal Route. It would provide one daily round-trip with stops at all existing stations between New Haven, Springfield, and Montreal with departures coordinated with Amtrak’s Vermonter schedule. The one-way travel time would be 8 hours 40 minutes.

 Boston-to-Montreal Service – This service would also run along the Boston-to-Montreal Route. It would provide one daily round-trip with stops at all existing stations between Boston, Springfield, and Montreal. Train schedules would be coordinated with other
intercity trains to provide adequate spacing and coordination of service. The one-way travel time would be 8 hours 10 minutes.

 Boston-to-New Haven Service – This service would provide eight daily departures with trains stopping at all existing stations along the Inland Route. Operating throughout the day, this 3 hour 40 minute-long one-way trip would provide both business and leisure travelers with convenient departure times.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Ridgefielder » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:46 pm

charlesriverbranch wrote:
Arlington wrote:Montreal via Springfield (Challenges with line ownership)


Montreal via Springfield?

There used to be three perfectly good routes between Boston and Montreal: the Cheshire Branch via Keene, the Northern Main via Lebanon, and another route via Plymouth, and all three have been abandoned! You literally can't get there from here.

That's exaggerating a tad. The routes through *New Hampshire* have been abandoned. But there are plenty of routings (three at least) that use existing trackage through Mass.

It's important to remember that service patterns in the past were an artifact of route ownership. The management of the Boston & Maine ca. 1915 would have been delighted to operate a train that connected the three largest cities in the Commonwealth with Montreal. So would the management of the Boston & Albany. But the route structures didn't work. The B&M reached both Springfield and Worcester on N-S lines from its Fitchburg main, while the B&A didn't connect with its fellow New York Central System-controlled Rutland until it reached the south end of the "corkscrew" division at Chatham, NY.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Safetee » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:22 pm

As far as the Montreal to Boston service is concerned, Vermont is in bed with the Springfield center of the universe vision right now. However, you can bet your boots if a Greenfield to to Boston North station opened up they'd jump in bed with the Greenfield proposal so fast the pillows would fly. Historically, Vermont passenger service never went to South Station.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby gokeefe » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:36 pm

Arlington wrote:Ok, I think we've chased the North Adams rabbit into its Hoosac rabbit hole. Can we get back to more feasible, likely stuff?

Just figured I would throw this out there ...

Reading the tea leaves that I've seen I would not be surprised to see Greenfield to Boston via Ayer emerge as a proposal eventually.

I know the Inland Route is by far the more populated option but for the moment the railroad doesn't want to play ball.
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