Thursday, January 28, 2010

$100 million in rail funds coming for Springfield to New Haven and Springfield to Vermonth rail projects

"More than 100 million for projects affecting Western Massachusetts..." YES! Governor Deval Patrick: "This is exceptional news. The Knowledge Corridor is a cornerstone of our vision for regional rail and regional economic growth. This $70 million will support long-awated improvements, create jobs and restore access to cities in the Pioneer Valley." YES!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bonding OK Seen As Important First Step In State's Rail Plan

Progress worth cheering. Might seem modest dollarwise given the total needed to make commuter rail from New Haven-Hartford-Springfield a reality, but puts Connecticut in a better position to win substantial federal rail funding.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

U.S. Railroad Head: Hopeful for January $8B Stimulus Spending

Dow Jones reports: "The agency had planned to divvy up the money in October, but "the fact of the matter is, this is a transformational time for passenger rail. We're taking a few more months to make sure the $8B is clearly invested in the right places."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CT Bond Money for New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail

Gov. Rell expects approval Oct. 30 when the Bond Commission meets for $26 million for work on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail project. That would be a very welcome development.

Connecticut has also applied for federal stimulus funds for improving service on this lines as part of a very competive grants process that should start revealing winning projects "soon."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally, a rail plan for New England

Amherst rail stop pushed

Mass. seeking stimulus money for high speed rail

Massachusetts will be competing in the first round of rail stimulus funding with two applications for rail improvements.

A Full-Court Press For Rail Funds for New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail improvements

A Hartford Courant editorial highlighting a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration authored by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and signed by a wide variety of business, environmental, housing and transportation groups, including Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New England Rail Summit Aug. 3 -- Next Steps?

The good news is that the New England states are stepping up coordinated efforts to attract federal stimulus funds for rail projects that greatly benefit the region. The bad news is that at least 39 states, with project requests totaling about $100 billion, are competing for the $8 billion dollars currently available for high-speed rail development.

On Aug. 3, high level state and federal transportation planners and leaders will meet in Burlington, VT at the New England Rail Summit to help ramp up collaborative rail planning and project development. New England transportation leaders agree that this kind of planning effort needs to be increased dramatically to help New England gain ground on the much more advanced rail planning efforts of other regions and states, most notably the Midwestern region and California.

PVACR President, Herb Singleton (thanks, Herb!), is planning to attend the summit, as are other members of the New England Rail Coalition. As a NERC coalition member, PVACR recently signed on to a letter sent to the New England governors urging strong interstate cooperation on rail issues.

On Aug. 4 at 7:00 p.m., PVACR will hold its next general meeting by teleconference (call-in details below). The main topics will be the Aug. 3 New England Rail Summit and how PVACR can support applications for federal stimulus funds that benefit Western Mass and the New England region (not to mention the country!) as a whole.

Please join us for an update and to share your ideas!

PVACR August General Meeting Teleconference
Everyone is welcome! Some supporters have mentioned that the need to drive fairly long distances to meet with other supporters has prevented them from participating more fully. So we are trying a conference call this month instead of an in-person meeting to try to make it easier for more supporters to share their ideas and help.

IMPORTANT: Call participants will pay their usual long distance charges for this call. This is not a toll-free call and no local numbers are available.

Call-in number: 1 (218) 339-2699
Conference call access code: 128651 followed by the pound key (#)

For more information, call Jen Cosgrove, 413-636-6707.
If you can’t make it to the meeting, please feel free to chime in by email at

Thank you for your help and support!

Jen Cosgrove

PVACR Communications Director

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dodd: Connecticut Has Solid Chance Of Receiving Funds For New Haven-Springfield Rail

Not surprisingly, there is a LOT of pent up demand for rail investment across the country. Sen. Dodd has been very actively promoting the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail improvements.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Governors Join Hands for Rail Plan

More good news about cooperation among New England states to attract funding for a rail network that will boost the whole region. Projects that are being touted include establishing commuter rail service between Springfield and Hartford and New Haven, and improving and increasing passenger rail service from Springfield to Vermont AND establishing commuter rail from Springfield to Worcester (!), which already has commuter rail service to Boston.

Great news all around. Far from a done deal funding wise, but at least New England can make a much stronger pitch for key projects like these when the states act in concert.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Connecticut formally applies for stimulus funds for New Haven to Springfield rail line


"Governor M. Jodi Rell announced the state is proceeding with its efforts to establish high-speed rail service between New Haven and Springfield by applying for a share of the $8 billion in stimulus funds available for high-speed rail projects."

"Governor Rell and Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick have been working together to expand commuter rail between the two major cities in the respective states. They wrote a letter in March to Amtrak President Joseph H. Boardman expressing their shared vision, outlining the benefits a reliable, high-speed service would bring to the region. State transportation officials from the two state and Amtrak officials have been meeting since March to move the project forward."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Springfield Union Station as Commuter Rail Hub by 2012?

Will we be riding better train service north and south from Springfield in the near future?Another positive report about the Union Station redevelopment agreement that has just been struck.

"I believe by the time Union Station is built, we should have commuter rail service from Vermont and from Connecticut," Mary MacInnes, head of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority said.

An optimistic projection, maybe, but at least there is a lot of activity at the state and federal levels to speed up and increase rail development. We're not complacent, though. Keep speaking up for rail!

Union Station Redevelopment Agreement Reached--Finished 2012?

This is good news. Forward movement on this project helps create positive momentum for rail projects that would use Springfield as a hub, such as the proposed commuter rail link from New Haven-Hartford-Springfield and rail improvements from Springfield to Vermont.

Although the project has been at a standstill for years, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority has just reached an agreement with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. Together they will design build and operate the union station transportation center as a joint venture.

When the project is finished, the terminal will house PVTA, Amtrak, commuter rail and intercity bus services, as well as having office space, rentals for economic development, a transportation conference center and even a day care.

The project will use a combination of federal transit and state transit grants totaling $65.2 million. The design phase is expected to begin this fall, with an anticipated completion date of 2012.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sen. Dodd Continues Pushing for New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail


Starting commuter and high-speed train service along the route "will create new transit villages, get people off the roads, and revitalize our regional economy," Dodd said as he convened a Senate banking committee hearing in Washington.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said "people need access to buses, light rail, walking, biking. That direction is the wave of the future."The federal Department of Transportation will expedite new mass transit projects, which can languish for 10 to 15 years between initial proposals and actual start of service, LaHood said.Transit advocates in Connecticut have been pushing for New Haven-to-Springfield commuter rail service since the mid-1990s, but the project had little momentum until this year. Massachusetts and Connecticut officials are working with Amtrak to apply for a share of the Obama administration's stimulus funding for high-speed rail to make major improvements along the 62-mile line. Amtrak would use the corridor for part of new, 110-mph service linking Hartford to New York and eventually to Boston. The state DOT would use the same tracks for daily commuter trains with nearly 10 stops along the way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hearing explores expanding Vermonter Amtrak service

This story offers a good quick overview of pro and con views offered at the two Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) public meetings on the Knowledge Corridor Passenger Rail study. About a dozen PVACR supporters attended the PVPC meetings (THANK YOU!) to speak up in support of the plan to realign the Amtrak Vermonter and lay the groundwork for increased passenger service and possibly full-blown commuter rail service in the future.

PVACR volunteer, Nancy Considine, asked the grandslam question of the meeting tonight: "How do you plan to use the support you've heard here tonight to help you get money for the project?" Timothy Brennan, Executive Dir. of the PVPC, responded bluntly that we need to keep building public support for the project, because any impression of tepid support will hurt our application for federal stimulus funding in the eyes of the evaluators. We are up against very stiff competition, he says, and it won't matter how stellar our request is if public support for the project is not strong.

So send your two cents! Short and sweet is fine -- and so is long and strong. Just take a quick minute to email your support of improved passenger rail service from Springfield to Vermont to:

Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates, Inc. Attn: Knowledge Corridor Project, 11 Hanover Square, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 or Deadline for comments: June 1. (The applications for federal stimulus funding for rail projects are due in August).

As always, feel free to post to this blog -- especially if you have impressions or questions from the May 19 & 20 PVPC meetings.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Riding a Good Rail Idea - Editorial

Editorial: Riding a good rail idea by Daily Hampshire Gazette
Transportation planners think in decades, so when proponents of improved rail service in the Pioneer Valley got wind of a funding source available within months, they went into overdrive.
At stake: a tiny piece of federal stimulus funding that could move a long-held transportation goal off the sidings.

Naturally, there would be winners and losers. That is a given when big sums of money are allocated for public projects.

If chosen for up to $30 million in U.S. funding, an effort led by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to improve tracks on a rail line that runs north and south through Northampton would end daily Amtrak service through Amherst.

Amherst's loss of that service, while an inconvenience to people who rely on it, would be the Valley's gain. We believe this is one of those public issues that demands an accounting that reaches beyond personal gains and losses.
Next Wednesday, people who want to see the Valley have greater access to passenger rail service can speak in support of the application for the stimulus funding, at a public meeting in Northampton.

As good luck would have it, the planning commission was already knee deep in a study, also paid with federal money, that is scoping out ways to improve rail service. Wednesday's public meeting is a required element of that study. Comments offered at the session will be made part of the application that will be reviewed in a few months by those deciding whether the rail-improvement project gets the green light. (see meeting details on this blog or

On the flip side, those who believe that a good deal for Amherst-area travelers must not be scrapped can and should make their case at Wednesday's meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Northampton Clarion Hotel.
But that case, we believe, must give way to the greater good of increased ridership, needed improvements to the area's rail system infrastructure and the simple benefit of significantly reduced travel times through the Valley for riders on Amtrak's Vermonter trains.
It is true that 12,679 riders climbed on or off Amtrak trains in Amherst last year. But that figure cannot be claimed as Amherst's vote for continued service from the Railroad Street depot. With just two daily stops in the Valley, rail travelers from throughout the region have to travel to Amherst to catch their rides. By rerouting the Vermonter onto 50 miles of improved track, the service will be able to add stops in the region's important population centers of Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield.
Further, with the track improvements, and by ending a detour through Palmer, 50 minutes will be shaved from the trip from Springfield to St. Albans, Vt. That makes train travel more competitive with driving, transportation planners note.
After years of stalled hopes for improved Valley rail travel choices, this is no time to get in a fight over whose ride to the depot will get longer.
We say, all aboard on this one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hearings slated on expanded rail service for Western Massachusetts

We urge all rail supporters to attend one or both of the public meetings that the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) has scheduled for the Knowledge Corridor Passenger Rail Line Study to learn project details and ask questions.

A number of Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail members will be attending the meetings to show support for this project and the many benefits it would bring to whole region. Please join us!

Date: 05-19-2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: TD Banknorth, 1441 Main St., Suite 1200, Springfield, MA 01103. Google map/directions. Parking is available in the lot behind the TD Banknorth building.

Date: 05-20-2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 1 Atwood Dr., Northampton, MA 01060. Google map/directions
From the Massachusetts Turnpike: Take exit 4. From I-91 North and South: Take exit 18, take a right at end of ramp. Hotel is 3 tenths of a mile on the right.