Amtrak expands Valley Flyer service with evening runs to and from Valley to NYC

Ben Heckscher, co-founder of  Trains in the Valley, waits for  the Valley Flyer as it makes its  stop in Northampton Tuesday.

Ben Heckscher, co-founder of Trains in the Valley, waits for the Valley Flyer as it makes its stop in Northampton Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Ben Heckscher, co-founder of Trains in the Valley, gets ready to board the Valley Flyer as it makes its stop in Northampton on Tuesday evening. Amtrak has launched a new service that offers a northbound train in the afternoon from New Haven, Conn., to Greenfield, with stops in Springfield, Holyoke and Northampton. The train then heads south in the evening from Greenfield back to New Haven, making the same stops in the other direction.

Ben Heckscher, co-founder of Trains in the Valley, gets ready to board the Valley Flyer as it makes its stop in Northampton on Tuesday evening. Amtrak has launched a new service that offers a northbound train in the afternoon from New Haven, Conn., to Greenfield, with stops in Springfield, Holyoke and Northampton. The train then heads south in the evening from Greenfield back to New Haven, making the same stops in the other direction. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 05-29-2024 3:36 PM

Modified: 05-30-2024 10:29 AM


NORTHAMPTON — Residents in the Pioneer Valley looking to get away to New York City for the weekend now have more of a means to do so, thanks to additional Amtrak Valley Flyer trains running between Greenfield and New Haven, Connecticut, that can transfer to the Big Apple’s Penn Station.

The new northbound afternoon train No. 486 reaches its terminus in Greenfield at 5:30 p.m. after starting in New Haven at 2:50 p.m. The schedule would allow a passenger to board the train after transferring from a New York City train departing at 12:37 p.m. Stops along the way are made in Springfield, Holyoke and Northampton.

The southbound evening train No. 479, meanwhile, leaves Greenfield at 6:05 p.m. and reaches New Haven at 9 p.m. Passengers can reach New York City at 10:57 p.m. after transferring. Stops along the way are made in Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield.

With this new southbound train, it will be possible to travel in the evening from Greenfield, Northampton, and Holyoke to New York City for the first time since the 1960s.

“For the first time, you now have the ability to go down the valley and on to New York in the evening. We’ve never really had that before,” said Ben Heckscher, the co-founder of local advocacy group Trains In The Valley. “As you add additional trains at different times, you start to pick up more ridership because there’s more options for moving.”

Both the new northbound and southbound lines will run only during weekdays, from Monday to Friday. The current southbound morning line also now begins at Greenfield at 6:20 a.m., instead of starting at Springfield.

The new trains join an existing timetable for Amtrak Valley Flyers that run during the morning and afternoon times, as well as the Vermonter train that goes northbound to St. Albans, near the U.S.-Canada border in Vermont. Fares for the train can span from around $45 to $140 for a one-way trip, depending on which train is used and whether it’s business class or coach.

The announcement of the additional trains comes as advocates across the state have pushed for more rail service, citing it as a more sustainable travel option compared with flying or drivings. Last year, the state received more than $108 million in federal funding to expand rail services across Massachusetts, with plans to connect Springfield and the rest of the Pioneer Valley eastward to Worcester and Boston. The expanded rail project is expected to be completed some time around 2029.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Music in the sky: Summit House Sunset Concert Series returns to its 173-year-old home
Knitters’ paradise: Webs, ‘America’s Yarn Store’ and a mainstay for Valley crafters for generations, turns 50
Easthampton to lose Pepin school gymnasium as public recreation space
Easthampton’s 11 Ferry St. project promises affordable five-story, 96-unit complex
Taylor Haas takes the reins as new executive director at Three County Fairgrounds
Sunderland receives $195K grant to study, design multi-use trail from Whately to Amherst

“If you get on the train you can open your computer and continue to work or read something, or take a nap,” Heckscher said. “It has great benefits for anyone that wants to travel to any number of places along the corridor all the way to Washington, D.C.”

Heckscher also said there were plans to expand the Vermonter line into Canada and the city of Montreal, which it had previously done until 1995, although updates continued to happen at a slow pace.

Amtrak is currently requesting $30 million in grants for fiscal 2025 to support improvements that would enable the return of service to Montreal.

“After 9/11, the border is more complicated than it used to be,” Heckscher said. “It takes time.”

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.