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New Connections Via Train?
Julia Dixon '16 Associate Editor and Caroline Coppinger '15 Senior Writer
January 28, 2015
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RAILROAD UPDATE: The railroad tracks at the base of Pocumtuck Ridge will host more frequent and faster trains from this point forward. While increased public transportation will be a plus for the local community, there are risks as well. Soon trains will pass at 80 miles per hour—without stopping and without sounding a horn. For your safety, do not cross the tracks except at designated crossings. Care must be taken at designated crossings as well: the time between when warning lights flash and train arrival is less than 60 seconds.

Before winter break last December this announcement appeared on the Daily Bulletin alerting the community to the new higher-speed Amtrak line along 5 & 10—with quieter trains and less warning.

Director of Safety and Security David Gendron explained how “they welded all the tracks together so you won’t hear the clack.” The more seamless track eliminates the old-fashioned noise and allows for increased speed.

Greenfield’s John W. Olver Transit Center, at the corner of Federal and Olive Streets, first opened on May 7, 2014 and was formerly used as a bus stop. As of December 29, 2014, it now offers the Amtrak Vermonter, which runs from Washington D.C. to St. Albans, Vermont, with stops throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Northampton has also been added as a stop, and Holyoke will soon follow; meanwhile, service in Amherst has ceased. According to The Reporter’s Richie Davis, the first time the Vermonter saw action in Greenfield was 25 years ago.

The Connecticut River Line, the route that travels through Greenfield, was rebuilt with $73 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money and $10 million in state funds, according to Wikipedia.

In an article in an early-December issue of The Recorder titled “Next stop: Commuter rail,” journalist Chad Cain notes that regional planners and city officials are foreseeing improvements such as, “boosting economic development, tourism, housing and job creation, while reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality,” following the railway’s opening.

In another Recorder article, Davis commented, “Vermonter could be first spike in path of new rail future— or not.” He reported that Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Timothy Brennan has highlighted the importance of the revived railway as “a way to reduce traffic congestion along I-91, cut traffic-caused air pollution and greenhouse gases, but also as a way of driving economic development and attracting to the region young workers.”

In any case, Mr. Gendron believes that the new rail service will also be a plus for the Deerfield community who will have greater access to other areas. The train to New York leaves Greenfield daily at 1:07 p.m. and arrives at Penn Station at 6:24 p.m. The New York train departs Penn Station at 11:30 a.m. on weekends (11:33 on weekdays), reaching Greenfield at 4:27 p.m.

Samantha Chai ’15, a native of Norwell, Massachusetts, commented, “This train service will convenience student travel for parents and will also be a much cheaper alternative to a car service. Otherwise, I don’t think these new stops will change how frequently students leave Deerfield because the trip home is still decently long.”