BOSTON (State House News Service) — Citing "strong" ridership, state officials and Amtrak announced Friday that train service for passengers traveling between western Massachusetts and New York City will become permanent.
The so-called Valley Flyer service, which has been operating as a pilot program, is on track to provide 24,000 annual trips for fiscal 2023 and transportation officials said it "has continually exceeded expectations" for ridership.
The seven-day-a-week service features a connection in New Haven Union Station on the route to New York City. The announcement was made in Northampton on Friday, where the station platform was dedicated in memory of former Rep. Peter Kocot, who served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 2001 until 2018.
Amtrak has been running Valley Flyer trains seven days a week along the Connecticut River rail line known as the Knowledge Corridor, with trains making station stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. It's an extension of its New Haven-to-Springfield service.
"We launched the Valley Flyer with our partners at MassDOT with the expectation it would become permanent, and we are delighted that our joint vision has come to fruition," said Amtrak Vice President State Supported Services Ray Lang. "We thank our customers for riding with us as their demand for train travel has helped provide numerous benefits to Western Massachusetts communities, residents, and visitors."
The Valley Flyer pilot began on Aug. 30, 2019, and was reduced during the pandemic, before resuming the full schedule on July 19, 2021. It has two round-trip trains on weekdays, and one round-trip train on Saturdays and Sundays.
The service announcement comes as state officials continue to explore expanded service to better connect eastern, central and western Massachusetts.
Written by Michael P. Norton/SHNS