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IMG_0239Governor Charlie Baker, Congressman Richard E. Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Amtrak officials and community members gathered today to highlight the Valley Flyer rail pilot, which began service on August 30th and will run for two years.

Amtrak, in conjunction with MassDOT, has been running Valley Flyer trains seven days a week 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 also connect with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at New Haven and serve stations between New Haven and Springfield.

“Our administration will continue to encourage creative transportation options, provide resources for innovative ideas, and strengthen and expand existing services to meet the current and future needs of the Commonwealth’s communities,” said Governor Baker. “The Valley Flyer pilot increases rail accessibility in the region, and we thank Amtrak and other stakeholders for their support of this program.”

“Public transit investments improve the quality of life for the Commonwealth’s residents, support local economic growth and help us take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “This new service offers riders a safe, reliable and efficient mobility option to get between Springfield and Greenfield.”

“The new Valley Flyer service highlights the continuing growing demand of train travel throughout this country,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “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.”

“We’ve appreciated the enthusiasm and support of municipal officials, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, railroad companies including Amtrak and the business community in helping to launch the Valley Flyer,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.  “We believe the Valley Flyer will be an economic boost to the region, a convenient travel option, and a step toward reaching our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

“The start of the Valley Flyer train service in western and northern Massachusetts is a welcome one and one that I take great professional and personal pride in,” said Congressman Neal. “Thank you to our partners on the state level and, in particular, Tim Brennan from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and Linda Dunleavy of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments for their steadfast work and this great achievement. Renewing rail across our state has long been a priority of mine. With federal stimulus money, we were able to update and improve the tracks, and complete a $110 million renovation of Springfield Union Station where these trains will originate. Residents of western Massachusetts are already reaping the benefits of improved rail and I am hopeful that this pilot program will spark the continued conversation about the importance of east-west rail, as well.”

Congressman James McGovern added, “This is a big day for the entire region. The Valley Flyer will bring more travelers to Massachusetts and finally make it possible for those in the Knowledge Corridor to travel to places like New York City and back in a single day. Smart investments like this also encourage more businesses to open their doors right here in our community. It’s a win for travelers and our economy.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “First of all, my many thanks to Congressman Neal, Governor Baker and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Tim Brennan and our staffs’ unique and fruitful partnership we’ve created. ‘It’s back to the future!’ Our efforts have not only stimulated transportation initiatives, but also economic development and jobs.”

“This launch is about building momentum for a train that continues into Boston, and bridges our communities,” said State Senator James T. Welch.  “The Valley Flyer opens up possibilities for housing, cultural, and economic development opportunities for the Pioneer Valley right now and into the future.”

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.  Infrastructure improvements along the corridor prior to the launch of Valley Flyer service in August, included extending station platforms in Northampton and Greenfield, replacing approximately 30,000 railroad ties, upgrading signals at three interlockings, repairing culverts and making ADA-compliant improvements where passengers board and disembark.

Valley Flyer customers receive 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 (no “airplane mode”), 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.

Trains 461, 471 and 495 are now originating in Greenfield traveling to Springfield and New Haven, and Trains 478, 488, and 494 are now originating in New Haven traveling to Springfield and Greenfield. Train 400 is originating in Springfield and terminating in Greenfield while train 499 is originating in Greenfield and terminating in Springfield. Trains 471, 478, 494, 495 run Monday through Friday, and Trains 400, 461, 488 and 499 run on weekends. Tickets may be purchased on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, at Amtrak ticket desks and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL.

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