Photo courtesy of David Narkewicz
A new passenger train service operated by Amtrak in conjunction with Mass Department of Transportation (MassDOT) launched on Friday, August 30, 2019 in Western Massachusetts. Called the Valley Flyer, the new service is making stops in Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield on its way to New Haven, CT.
The first train started with the 5:45 a.m. departure of Amtrak train 495 from Greenfield on August 30. It will operated seven days a week, with two trains heading south from Greenfield to New Haven in the morning, and two trains going north from New Haven to Greenfield in the evening. Each of the new trains will have scheduled connections with both Amtrak and Metro-North service at New Haven Union Station.
Governor Charlie Baker called the new Valley Flyer “an important step forward as we seek to meet the needs of residents and communities in Western Massachusetts. We look forward to this opportunity to partner with Amtrak and other stakeholders to bring this important new rail service to support communities from Springfield to Greenfield.”
Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson said the new service “highlights the continuing growing demand of train travel throughout this country. We are proud to launch this service with our partners at MassDOT and offer Massachusetts residents and visitors with the ability to see all the state has to offer through rail travel.”
The train will travel along the Connecticut River, a region referred to as the Knowledge Corridor, with trains making station stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. The trains will also connect with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at New Haven and serve stations between New Haven and Springfield.
Congressman Richard E. Neal said the new service “running through the recently re-opened and renovated Springfield Union Station, will help to grow the economy and tourism in the area and support a new field of workers who now have access to convenient employment hubs in the Pioneer Valley by simply travelling by rail. I am proud to be a partner in this great endeavor.”
Congressman James McGovern said the pilot program “could be a game-changer for our region, better connecting travelers and businesses while growing our economy. The Valley Flyer will finally make it possible for those in the Knowledge Corridor to commute to places like New York City and back in the same day while bringing more travelers into Massachusetts.”
MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said, “We are pleased to be collaborating with Amtrak on this two-year pilot passenger train service which will provide another transportation option along the Knowledge Corridor.”
According to Amtrak, Valley Flyer customers can expect the same amenities onboard as they do on all other Amtrak trains including, free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times, the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, no middle seat, and one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry, applicable for two personal items and two carry-on bags.
In preparation for the start of new service, Amtrak ran service readiness trains on the Knowledge Corridor throughout August, and Amtrak officials and the Amtrak Police Department (APD) hosted several presentations to various schools and positive enforcement grade crossing awareness events in the area, and shared rail safety messages to improve education on rail safety. Outreach efforts utilized material and rail safety information from Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profit organization dedicated to reducing railroad-related deaths and injuries.
The augmentation of train service to the Knowledge Corridor is a project of MassDOT. Amtrak also currently runs service along this rail corridor, with its Vermonter train, which connects St. Albans, Vermont to Washington, D.C.
Read about the advocacy group, Trains in the Valley.
For more information, visit Amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.
For details on visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.