The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

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The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:30 am

Today while on a conference call, I saw a pic of an RDC running the shuttle in the 70's. It inspired me to ask "Whats the deal?" with regard to the shuttle. Why does it exist? Springfield is pretty inconsequential in the great scheme of the NEC. Why not a shuttle to Worcester, Allentown, or Hagerstown? Why does Amtrak run what is really a local train?

There's no right or wrong answer here, and I have no agenda, but it seems the Springfield Shuttle has been the Little Train that Could for decades when most connector/shuttles are long gone.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Jenny on a M2 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:49 am

I think the value in the shuttle isn't measured in its endpoint of Springfield but rather in the intermediate stops served in CT - most notably Hartford, ESPECIALLY in the 70s/80s when it was the insurance powerhouse of America. So, if you take into account everywhere the Shuttle stops between NHV and Springfield, I'd hazard to say that's a pretty large - and important - population that would use the NEC for both business and personal travel. I can personally attest to this as a regular rider to Berlin to visit family when I'm not feeling like driving due to choice or inclement weather; except for the really off hours those shuttles are pretty darn full at least from NHV-BER.

As for why the shuttle only extends as far as Springfield and doesn't terminate elsewhere, my guess is track availability and ownership; Amtrak owns and dispatches the rails up to Springfield, not sure beyond that.

Lastly, from a historical perspective: I picked up an old NYNH&H timetable from the 50s at a tag sale a couple years ago and that timetable shows Hartford to Grand Central to be a VERY important route, almost as much as the shoreline...so I'm guessing that the Shuttle is also a vestige of that service.

This is the point where I'm going to page Mr. Weaver to weigh in as the resident NYNH&H historian :-D
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Jenny on a M2 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:00 pm

Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure a couple of the NE Regionals actually originate and terminate in SPG and thus serve the intermediate stations, as does the Vermonter.

So, I'd think of the Springfield Line as less as a "local" line and more as a spur of the NEC, and the Shuttles just fill in the scheduling gaps to provide NEC service between the SPG originating/terminating trains.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Lentinula » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:35 pm

I do wish It extended to Worcester. Lake shore is useless as a connector, if I want to get anywhere else in the NEC from Worcester I have to go to Boston and pay a fortune or go to SPG and have an overnight layover...
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:39 pm

Lentinula wrote:I do wish It extended to Worcester. Lake shore is useless as a connector.
There's frequent commuter rail service.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:57 pm

I was going to say that too...take the T to Boston from Worcester, the cost of what they would charge for the inland route would even out.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:38 pm

Back in the mid 1950's there was as much and maybe even more service between New York and Springfield as there was between New York and Boston. Most of the service was through trains as well with a one seat ride. A good number of the Springfield trains had parlor cars and dining or grill cars as well. The service was that good. At least during the mid 1950's no trains just ran to Hartford, everything ran to Springfield or beyond on the B & M. Often through coaches were provided to or from the B & M but parlor or food service cars generally ran only south of Springfield. It's the same story here, government money for highways, Bradley Airport and the railroad lost business at every turn. Some of the Springfield trains while offering a one seat ride to or from New York also offered a cross platform transfer at New Haven to a Boston train that made few if any stops to or from New York as the Springfield trains often made 7 or 8 stops enroute to or from New York. Many of the Springfield trains also offered a cross platform transfer to trains enroute to or from Washington which was far better than a transfer in New York which involved changing stations and subways or taxis. The rush hours included a couple of hot express trains between Springfield, Hartford and New York. I don't have my timetables handy here but they made it in better time than anything that Amtrak does today and these trains were almost always on time too. Trains 67, 69, 80 and 86 were just as important as anything else and made few if any stops west of New Haven. A good number of the Springfield trains had the newest cars as well. They could do well to follow this example today.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:42 pm

As someone who uses the line and departs from Springfield it gets more use than you might think. It's definitely the second highest traffic stop on the line after Hartford and you can see that clearly when riding it. And now with Hartford Line commuter rail starting the Shuttles will serve an increased purpose as the Amtrak trains will function as part of the schedule for that service along with the state operated dedicated commuter trains assuming Connecticut and Amtrak come to an agreement on fares. The rates along the corridor now are already almost in commuter fare territory.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:44 pm

Ms. Jenny and Mr. Weaver do a very good job of summarizing the situation in their posts above. Hartford isn't a small town -- it has a metropolitan population of 1.2 million -- and the stations between there and New Haven also draw a fair amount of business. Plus the Springfield Line is a legacy service that was important in New Haven days, somewhat diminished by Penn Central (which cut some trips back to New Haven-Hartford), and revived by Amtrak, although ridership has suffered due to recent construction-related train cancellations. The question at this point is what role Amtrak shuttles should have on the line after CT Rail's commuter service launches.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby AmtrakLocomotiveEngineer » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:22 pm

CSXT is one of the biggest hurdles preventing ever restoring service between SPG & BOS (aka Inland route). CSXT doesn't want any Amtrak trains on their property due to insurance and liability issues. Given this past weekends accident, that will probably support their argument of keeping passenger trains off their lines.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:31 pm

Yeah, they probably want to avoid getting sued for negligence.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:53 pm

All very interesting, thanks for the informative posts.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:04 pm

TomNelligan wrote:Ms. Jenny and Mr. Weaver do a very good job of summarizing the situation in their posts above. Hartford isn't a small town -- it has a metropolitan population of 1.2 million -- and the stations between there and New Haven also draw a fair amount of business. Plus the Springfield Line is a legacy service that was important in New Haven days, somewhat diminished by Penn Central (which cut some trips back to New Haven-Hartford), and revived by Amtrak, although ridership has suffered due to recent construction-related train cancellations. The question at this point is what role Amtrak shuttles should have on the line after CT Rail's commuter service launches.
The Shuttles are sticking around. Connecticut doesn’t have enough rolling stock to run all the new service so Amtrak will be launching 3 new round trips to fill in the schedule and the state will be operating 8 dedicated commuter trains. Also if Connecticut gets its way they will have joint ticketing with Amtrak along NHV-SPG so a commuter will be Able to board any train that approaches the platform regardless of operator with the commuter ticket. Obviously if you used an Amtrak train and were NY or Stamford bound you’d need to disembark Amtrak in New Haven and board Metro North to stay at commuter fares.
Last edited by lordsigma12345 on Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:29 pm

They are also tweaking the existing Amtrak schedule a bit. Once the expanded service starts a couple of the Shuttles will connect with Acela rather than Regional service. Through trains are getting a bit of a tweak too - I believe train 148 which is the weekday Regional northbound through train and the last train of the night most nights on the line (leaves NHV somewhere around 8:30 to 8:45) is moving to the time slot when the Friday night only 136 train runs (gets in Springfield after midnight - the main purpose of this train is to get a second regional trainset to Springfield for the two through trains that they run on weekends.) 136 will run right around where 148 currently runs and on Monday-Thursday a shuttle will run in 136's place connecting to Acela 2172. I'm guessing the reason for this change is to provide a daily (except for Friday) Acela round trip option. The southbound leg of this will be the first train of the morning on weekdays- departing Springfield around 5:30 and connecting the Acela 2151. Looking forward to having a direct Acela connection from Springfield and this train would be able to get you to DC before noon.
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Re: The Springfield Shuttle - What's the Deal?

Postby lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:33 pm

Oh and I think they are dropping Berlin and Wallingford from the Vermonter. New proposed timetable for the line showing both the commuter and Amtrak trains here: http://www.hartfordline.com/
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