Holyoke Celebrates the Return of Passenger Rail Service

Mayor Alex Morse hosted the Grand Opening Celebration and Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the Holyoke Passenger Rail Platform at Depot Square on Thursday, August 27 at the intersection of Dwight and Main streets. The inauguration of the platform marked return of the first passenger rail train to Holyoke in approximately 50 years, and three years to the day when Mayor Morse announced the final location of the new station.

“The return of passenger rail to Holyoke represents a critical component of our revitalization strategy to transform downtown Holyoke. With expanded rail service, this project has the ability to enhance our connectivity to the metropolitan area and improve the real estate market in our Center City. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished as a City to make this happen, with the strong support, guidance and resources provided by our partners at the State and Federal levels,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse.

ABOUT THE HOLYOKE PLATFORM:

Holyoke’s new platform is constructed at the bottom of Dwight Street, near the intersection with Main Street in Center City Holyoke, on the west side of the track.   Although extended rail service has been available since December at temporary platforms in Greenfield and Northampton, Thursday marks both the beginning of ticketed rail service in Holyoke, and completion of the first permanent station along the new extended Vermonter line.

Adding a station on the Knowledge Corridor Line has been a key priority for the community. In three years the City of Holyoke sited, designed, permitted, obtained funding, performed land aggregation and business relocation as part of the construction project. Construction was made possible through several sources of state and federal funding, including: $1,063,000 from MassDOT, $3,230,000 from Massworks and $215,000 for design work through a PVPC subgrant from the US HUD Sustainable Communities Program. The project was managed by the City of Holyoke’s Office of Planning & Economic Development in cooperation with the Department of Public Works. The project was designed by Michael Baker International of Rocky Hill, CT., and the selected Constructed Contractor was D.L Sullivan & Sons, Inc. of Northampton.   The Holyoke bears the abbreviation “HLK” and tickets are available for purchased at Amtrak.com or 1-800-USA-RAIL.

The Vermonter operates daily between Washington and St. Albans, VT, with service to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, CT, Springfield, MA and Essex Junction, VT, and other intermediate stops.  In Fiscal Year 2014, while the rail line was re-routed towards the Knowledge Corridor rail line, ridership on this route increased 6.6 percent, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers.

ABOUT THE KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR RAIL LINE:

Restoration of passenger rail service in Holyoke was made possible due to the realignment of the Knowledge Corridor Rail Line, which will shorten the distance and improve speeds along Amtrak’s Vermonter service line.  Funded through a $73 million federal grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, the Knowledge Corridor project has brought service to Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield.

The Knowledge Corridor is comprised of a cross-state region between the Springfield-Hartford metro area, initially used to describe an economic area within the Connecticut River Valley to foster an economic, cultural, and civic partnership within the region. The Knowledge Corridor is a region with strong economic potential containing 29 colleges and universities, 800,000 skilled workers, 108,000 college students, 40,000 businesses, and is ranked 10th nationally in key New Economy data indicators, including the number of PhD scientists and engineers per 1,000 workers, number of patents per capita, and percentage of population holding a college degree. The term Knowledge Corridor has gained currency locally with businesses and universities promoting their ties to the Knowledge Corridor, and even the White House recognizing the region by that name.