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Train platform will have access from Olive Street, transportation center

GREENFIELD — The $2 million accessible train platform that the state plans to build to the rear of the John W. Olver Regional Transportation Center on Olive Street will be accessed from both the street and from inside the center.

Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which is paying for the project, said there will be a roof over part of the platform and the rest will be open.

The platform will be a high-level one, which means it will be at the same elevation as the floor of a train.

Verseckes said it will be accessible to all — no one will have to climb stairs onto the platform or a train, if they can’t or don’t want to.

The state will begin building the train platform sometime early this year and construction will be “substantially” completed by the end of the year.

This is all in preparation for Amtrak’s return to Greenfield early next year, after a more than 30-year absence.

Meanwhile, the state House of Representatives has unanimously passed a $12 billion transportation bond that includes $30 million to refurbish MBTA passenger coaches and locomotive equipment for passenger commuter service between Springfield and Greenfield. The proposal, which is said to have support with members of Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, is now in the Senate.

Verseckes said the money the state will use to build the platform will come mostly from a $75 million Federal Railroad Administration grant the state received, but the state will add some of its own money, because the federal grant only allows for construction of a low-level platform, which would mean people would have to climb stairs to board a train.

He said bike racks and benches will be installed on the platform.

Verseckes said Amtrak will most likely manage the platform and ticket sales. He said tickets will be purchased either before boarding or on the train.

Franklin Regional Transit Authority Administrator Tina Cote said there are still issues for the agency to discuss with MassDOT or Amtrak. She said she is not sure yet whether tickets will be purchased inside the center.

Cote said FRTA will have to wait to see when trains will come through Greenfield and then decide whether the building will be open during those times, especially if it happens nights or weekends, when the building is currently closed.

The plan is for Amtrak’s Vermonter to begin coming to Greenfield in early 2015 for a twice-daily run. Officials are looking at the possibility of as many as four commuter trains a day running between Greenfield and Springfield.

The last time Amtrak stopped in Greenfield was in the 1980s.

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