Valley Flyer rail service to become permanent

  • Shauneen Kocot, wife of the late state Rep. Peter Kocot, speaks at the dedication of a plaque honoring Kocot’s life and work at the Northampton Train Station on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Former Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo speaks at the dedication of a plaque honoring Peter Kocot’s life and work at the Northampton Train Station on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A plaque honoring the late state Rep. Peter Kocot’s, life and work at the Northampton Train Station. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Congressman Jim McGovern speaks at the dedication of a plaque honoring the late state Rep. Peter Kocot’s, life and work at the Northampton Train Station on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A plaque honoring the late state Rep. Peter Kocot’s life and work has been installed at the Northampton train station. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Meredith Slesinger, left, rail and transit administrator with MassDOT; Shauneen Kocot, wife of the late state Rep. Peter Kocot; and their two sons, Jake and Luke Kocot, stand with the plaque honoring Peter Kocot’s life and work at the Northampton Train Station. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shauneen Kocot, wife of the late state Rep. Peter Kocot, listens as former Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo speaks at the dedication of a plaque honoring Kocot’s life and work at the Northampton Train Station on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shauneen Kocot, wife of the late state Rep. Peter Kocot, listens as former Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo speaks at the dedication of a plaque honoring Kocot’s life and work at the Northampton Train Station on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2022 8:35:02 PM

The pilot Valley Flyer passenger service will become permanent, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced on Friday.

The Valley Flyer, an intercity rail that runs every day of the week, was initially offered as a pilot program beginning Aug. 30, 2019, and was reduced during the pandemic, before resuming the full schedule on July 19, 2021. The service is designed to increase the Pioneer Valley’s access to the New York metropolitan area and other points on the Northeast Corridor. The rail also provides connections via New Haven Union Station, allowing travel between western Massachusetts, central Connecticut and New York City.

“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,” Amtrak Vice President of State-Supported Services Ray Lang said in a statement. “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 announcement to make the service permanent was made as the Northampton Train Station platform was dedicated in memory of former Rep. Peter Kocot, who served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 2001 to 2018. Kocot, who died at the age of 61 on Feb. 21, 2018, after a brief illness, represented the 1st Hampshire District that includes Montgomery, Hatfield, Southampton, Westhampton and Northampton.

“Rep. Kocot was a steadfast advocate for western Massachusetts,” Congressman Jim McGovern said in a statement. “Public transit and passenger rail were key priorities for him, and I could not think of a better way to honor his legacy than by dedicating Northampton’s train station in his memory and making Valley Flyer passenger service permanent. Connecting western Massachusetts with the rest of the commonwealth and country not only celebrates Rep. Kocot’s memory — it improves the lives of the people here in the Pioneer Valley who he dedicated his career in public service to.”

“Peter Kocot was a remarkable public servant with an incredible commitment and selfless drive to serve his constituents and the commonwealth,” Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra added in a statement. “He is dearly missed in Northampton as a stalwart colleague, dedicated community member and loyal friend. The city of Northampton is grateful to play a role in this well-deserved dedication of the Northampton Train Station in Peter’s honor.”

“Rapid transit was a very important issue for Peter,” Shauneen Kocot, Peter’s widow, said in a statement. “One of the last bills he filed was for a proposal to study the east-west rail service. Peter would be humbled to have the commonwealth and the Department of Transportation dedicating the Northampton Train Station in his memory.”

Amtrak, in conjunction with MassDOT, has been running Valley Flyer trains along the Connecticut River using a rail line referred to as the Knowledge Corridor, with trains making station stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield, according to MassDOT. The Valley Flyer has two round-trip trains on weekdays, and one round-trip train on Saturdays and Sundays.

The permanence of the Valley Flyer service may be of particular benefit to the most rural western Massachusetts communities, many of which have residents who commute to cities for work.

“I really am very happy about it becoming permanent. It’s a long time coming for us to have some reliable rail service,” commented Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner.

Wedegartner also expressed optimism that western Massachusetts might see increased tourism due to easier access. She recalled a recent trip home from Melrose on a Saturday afternoon where she was held in “bumper to bumper” traffic for a miserable stretch.

“That’s no way to live,” she said, suggesting that the Valley Flyer might free up traffic.

According to MassDOT, ridership on the Valley Flyer has been strong during the past year. Although demand for passenger rail service across the Northeast is reduced from pre-pandemic conditions, the rail has continually exceeded expectations, including meeting projected ridership and matching Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor on its return to pre-pandemic demand. The service is on track to provide 24,000 annual trips for fiscal year 2023.

In terms of improvements, Wedegartner said she would like to see more service times added to the Valley Flyer schedule.

“The commonwealth and Amtrak have had a strong partnership for many years to provide rail services in Massachusetts, connecting communities across the Northeast and beyond,” Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler said in a statement. “With the Valley Flyer service continuing, I see the partnership growing and getting stronger in the years ahead.”

For more information about the Valley Flyer rail service, visit amtrak.com/valley-flyer-train.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy