Monday, August 27, 2012

Massachusetts eyes Pan Am Railways ROW

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Massachusetts reportedly is preparing to acquire Pan Am Railways right-of-way between Springfield, Mass., and the Vermont border, in order to facilitate passenger rail development on the "Knowledge Corridor." The price is pegged at about $17 million.

The stretch runs immediately north of right-of-way owned by Amtrak between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, and offers a more direct route to cities in Vermont for Amtrak service, as well as the potential to re-establish passenger service for Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield, Mass., en route to St. Albans, Vt., near the Canadian border.

Amtrak's Vermonter at present runs east from Springfield, a detour activated in 1989 that adds to trip times to and from Vermont points (as well as Claremont, N.H.). Supporters of the Knowledge Corridor also hope the reroute will aid efforts to re-establish Amtrak service directly to and from Montreal on the route.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission would make the purchase, backed by the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Pan Am Railways has been upgrading the right-of-way, aided by a federal stimulus funding package totaling $70 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, awarded last January.

North Billerica, Mass.-based Pan Am Railways operates in several New England states and in New York. It has partnered with Norfolk Southern to provide Patriot Corridor service in the region.