Trains will now stop in Greenfield and Northampton instead of Amherst. This project replaces the Palmer backup move and combined with already completed work in Vermont and work in Connecticut to be completed by 2016, will take an hour and a half off the schedule.
The faster running times are not yet evident. Seven separate slow orders remain on the new line as construction is finished up. Rather than try to run the new schedule while it’s not yet achievable, Amtrak has kept the running times in Vermont the same for the time being and will introduce the new schedule in the spring. Trains will leave Vermont points about half an hour later than they do now and arrive about half an hour earlier in the evening. Top speed in Massachusetts will be 79 mph.
In Vermont, the state worked in partnership with the New England Central on the upgrades, relying on the expertise of the railroad while keeping an oversight role. In Massachusetts, a different approach was taken: the state purchased the tracks from Pan-Am (successor to the Boston & Maine). The state of Massachusetts did more of the project management itself.
Discussions are underway in Massachusetts regarding adding more than one train a day from Greenfield to
Springfield. Some of these trains could be run from Brattleboro or White River Junction if Vermont contributed to the costs of their operation. (Hint, hint – talk to your legislators. )
Upgrades on the Vermonter route were paid for by federal stimulus funds. Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut were able to snag funding because the states worked together and had a history of supporting intercity passenger service, especially Vermont.
Thanks for the information to Christopher Parker of the Vermont Rail Action Network