AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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lordsigma12345
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by lordsigma12345 »

Realistically, I don't even think Pittsfield gets rail in the first "phase" provided Western Mass gets anything at all out of this study (anything other than a "no build" recommendation by MassDOT.) If we get a positive non no build result, I'd expect a BOS-SPG rail corridor with Palmer and Worcester stops and a bus connection to Pittsfield with a possible long range phase 2 extension to Pittsfield. Such a corridor would serve not only Western Mass - Boston ridership but also provide better rail options for Worcester to get to New York by rail and provide Worcester passengers more options for an express ride into Boston. The service could have connections from the Hartford Line (Amtrak/CTrail) services as well as the Vermonter. There are a surprising amount of Springfield area to Boston commuters.

Greg Moore
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by Greg Moore »

There continues to be one reason to keep Pittsfield in the mix: Two words: Berkshire Flyer.

It's not a foregone conclusion, and it's a temporary, once a week service, but the point is, it ties Pittsfield to Albany and NYC.

Ultimately, Massachusetts and New York in an ideal world need to work together to increase service.

A train to North Adams isn't going to go beyond that.

Honestly, in the next decade or two, I think New England has potential for a lot more rail, between the Valley Flyer, an eventually expanded Berkshire Flyer, and eventually an extended Vermonter and who knows what else.

I'm more hopeful now than I have been in decades.
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ryanch
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by ryanch »

I was unaware of the Berkshire Flyer. Is $240,000 from Mass. the entire startup cost or is Amtrak or someone else pitching in?

That's a really interesting pilot. If it's succesful, I think a lot of places will be looking at Friday/Sunday vacay service.

gokeefe
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by gokeefe »

State sponsored trains are subject to cost sharing based on a fixed formula that take into account specific route and service characteristics. That formula is required by law and minimizes Amtrak's exposure to losses from state supported services.

So ... In short the $240k is very close to the full cost of the service.
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ryanch
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by ryanch »

Thanks. That's what I thought. I'm just stunned that it's so little. This has me thinking again about the idea of extending a Hiawatha to the Wisconsin Dells for tourists. I hadn't realized Amtrak might consider a weekend-only service.

gokeefe
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by gokeefe »

It all depends on how the formula works. Its a lot cheaper when Amtrak doesn't have to deadhead equipment to get in position for the runs (as is the case with the Valley Flyer).
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Greg Moore
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by Greg Moore »

ryanch wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:28 pm
Thanks. That's what I thought. I'm just stunned that it's so little. This has me thinking again about the idea of extending a Hiawatha to the Wisconsin Dells for tourists. I hadn't realized Amtrak might consider a weekend-only service.
Keep in mind (and I've probably got details wrong) the $240K only covers 20 weekends of service, so that's just extending 20 trains from Albany to Pittsfield. And it's covering losses, passengers obviously will be covering some of the costs.
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ryanch
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by ryanch »

It's running 20 weeks per year. The Berkshire Eagle describes the costs as $615,000 over two years, including $422,000 the first year, budgeted as if that will be offset by $185,000 in fare revenue. That seems to imply second year costs of $193,000, which isn't much more thzn projected first year revenues.
It's also possible they're projecting $185,000 from fares over the whole two years. That makes more sense with a prediction elsewher that they need 3,200 passengers total, and full fare NYC to Pittsfield will be $70.

lordsigma12345
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by lordsigma12345 »

I do have one concern that overrides all other concerns and I mentioned this in an earlier post. I still don't see any sort of a plan for the Warehouse Point Connecticut River Bridge. That bridge is the biggest threat to service into Western Massachusetts and if it ever deteriorated to the point of unsafe I could see CTDOT just truncating the line to Windsor Locks if Massachusetts wasn't willing to contribute anything to repair it. I was a little encouraged that the governor's most recent state plan includes the double tracking north of Windsor Locks - I will be honest I was a bit concerned when I saw the design for the new Windsor Locks station as it seems like the new additional siding work at the station seems to be designed to make WNL an alternative northern terminus and was worried they were throwing this in there just in case a decision was made to abandon the bridge and the line north of WNL. But I still see no discussion of what to do about the bridge. While it is true that CTDOT would like a station in Enfield, is the Enfield station alone enough justification to redo the bridge without any help from Massachusetts when there is a station in Windsor Locks? CTDOT could also argue that people that use Springfield, Holyoke, and Northampton could just drive to the Windsor Locks station as a defense for truncating the line (as a number of Springfield area people do use the Windsor Locks station already.) I think an insufficient amount of attention is given to the situation of this bridge. Worst case this could cut all service to SPG, HLK, NHT, and GFD with the only western Mass rail service being the Lake Shore at SPG and probably the return of the Vermonter to Amherst via the NECR from New London. Thinking about this from a pure business standpoint one could even make a pretty good argument that trimming the MRS line to Windsor Locks and just returning the Vermonter to the full NECR route is actually a better business decision than replacing the bridge anyway and that Springfield and CT River Line ridership isn't worth the investment and could easily be accommodated at an improved Windsor Locks station. I don't support that direction, but from a pure business standpoint (and not the standpoint of wanting to provide rail service to the areas profits or not) it's probably the case. MassDOT needs to bring more to the table to support the service.

ryanch
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by ryanch »

Is there information somewhere on the condition of the Warehouse Point bridge? How close is it to needing replacement or serious rehabilitation?

Also, is there any preliminary passenger data for the Valley Flyer after 3 months?

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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by Jeff Smith »

Since Amtrak owns the ROW, any CT River bridge replacement north of Windsor Locks would be their responsibility, not CtDOT, for Shuttle/NEC service. There's no current station in Enfield (that's an infill station), so WNL is really all CtDOT would care about for the Hartford Line.
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jxzz
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by jxzz »

In latest CT2030 plan by Lamont governor, there is no mentioning of Connecticut River Bridge. There are 18 CT bridges, many rail related bridges in the plan that needs a huge dollar bill for repair or replacement. In fact, the whole CT tolling argument is to get the money for repair/replace bridges.

I would assume if the bridge is not in CT2030, it is either not so bad, no need of repair or none of CtDOT responsibility. If the bridge is MA or Amtrak responsibility, it is unlikely that CtDOT want to voluntarily pay up for the cost. One controversial bridge in CT2030 for tolling is the one in fairfield county where the bridge is almost within New York stateline and majority of users on the bridge is expected to be from Weschester NY. Some NY congressmen protested against CT for such tolling plan ripoff.

lordsigma12345
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by lordsigma12345 »

jxzz wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:33 pm
In latest CT2030 plan by Lamont governor, there is no mentioning of Connecticut River Bridge. There are 18 CT bridges, many rail related bridges in the plan that needs a huge dollar bill for repair or replacement. In fact, the whole CT tolling argument is to get the money for repair/replace bridges.

I would assume if the bridge is not in CT2030, it is either not so bad, no need of repair or none of CtDOT responsibility. If the bridge is MA or Amtrak responsibility, it is unlikely that CtDOT want to voluntarily pay up for the cost. One controversial bridge in CT2030 for tolling is the one in fairfield county where the bridge is almost within New York stateline and majority of users on the bridge is expected to be from Weschester NY. Some NY congressmen protested against CT for such tolling plan ripoff.
The MRS line and bridge are owned by Amtrak. Amtrak is probably responsible to maintain the bridge in a minimal state of good repair. But as we are dealing with a line that only carries state supported Amtrak services and a state operated commuter rail line, a major capital improvement like renovating or replacing the bridge would likely have to be at least contributed to by the two states. I doubt pulling all the money from Amtrak’s federal capital grants would fly.

EuroStar
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by EuroStar »

According to Wikipedia this is the one of the few iron bridges that were imported from England and riveted together on site. Does anyone here have an idea the conditions of the abutments and the pylons in the middle of the river are? If the bridge required only deck replacement the expense should not be too bad. If the abutments and the stone work cannot be reused we are looking at a $1B+ and that is quite a lot even if Massachusetts throws in some money.

jxzz
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Re: AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Post by jxzz »

EuroStar wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:11 am
According to Wikipedia this is the one of the few iron bridges that were imported from England and riveted together on site. Does anyone here have an idea the conditions of the abutments and the pylons in the middle of the river are? If the bridge required only deck replacement the expense should not be too bad. If the abutments and the stone work cannot be reused we are looking at a $1B+ and that is quite a lot even if Massachusetts throws in some money.
I will be shocked if the bill is $1 B +. A lots of CT2030 plan bridges cost around hundreds of million dollar number. Bridge replacement cost is huge.

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