Second Valley Flyer roundtrip train service resuming July 26

  • The Valley Flyer will revert to its pre-pandemic schedule of four trains per day starting July 26. STAFF FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz

For the Recorder
Published: 7/12/2021 3:56:46 PM

Amtrak, in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation, will re-launch the second roundtrip of the Valley Flyer, a state-supported seven-day-a-week passenger train, on July 26.

The Valley Flyer travels along the Connecticut River, also referred to as the Knowledge Corridor, making stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. The trains connect with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at New Haven and serve stations between New Haven and Springfield.

The Valley Flyer first opened with four trains in August 2019. However, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, two of those trains were removed from the rotation “as members of the public were quarantining and traveling less frequently,” according to Amtrak. With vaccination rates rising, the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Amtrak decided that it would be safe to resume full operation.

“We are pleased to return additional Valley Flyer service in Western Massachusetts, as now residents and visitors can see friends and family they have missed over the past year and experience all the state has to offer,” Amtrak Vice President of State Supported Services Ray Lang said in a statement. “As people feel comfortable traveling again, we are honored that our customers trust us on their journey.”

Restoration of full service means that Train 495 (departing from Greenfield at 5:45 a.m.) will operate in addition to Train 471 (departing from Greenfield at 7:35 a.m.) each weekday traveling southbound to New Haven. Northbound Train 478 (arriving in Greenfield at 12:38 a.m.) will be added to Train 494 (arriving in Greenfield at 10:23 p.m.) to round out each weekday schedule.

In addition to the restoration of the second Valley Flyer weekday train, three trains that were suspended in March 2020 that provide service between New Haven and Springfield will be restored. This will result in a full restoration of Amtrak service along the entire corridor between New Haven and Springfield to early 2020 service levels. The additional trains give riders more flexibility in deciding when to leave the Pioneer Valley and when to return.

“This pilot passenger train service is offering another transportation option along the Knowledge Corridor and we have appreciated the efforts of municipal officials, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the Massachusetts congressional delegation, railroad companies and the business community in getting the word out to the public that the service is an efficient alternative to driving,” MassDOT’s Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler said in a press release.

The Valley Flyer is part of a MassDOT and Amtrak pilot program, which means that its funding depends on its ridership. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield hopes to get ridership back up as Massachusetts reopens.

Valley Flyer trains offer the same amenities as all other Amtrak trains. Passengers will be able to use free Wi-Fi, bring two personal items and two carry-on bags, and use their electronic devices throughout the trip.

All passengers are still required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. However, Amtrak is no longer limiting capacity on their trains. Tickets can be purchased on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, Amtrak ticket desks and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Reporter Zack DeLuca contributed to this story.




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