Holyoke Railroad Station

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Holyoke Railroad Station
Amtrak inter-city rail station (planned)
Holyoke passenger rail platform work site - December 2014.jpg
Site of the planned platform in December 2014
Station statistics
Address Dwight Street & Main Street
Holyoke, MA
Coordinates 42°12′15″N 72°36′10″W / 42.204263°N 72.60287°W / 42.204263; -72.60287Coordinates: 42°12′15″N 72°36′10″W / 42.204263°N 72.60287°W / 42.204263; -72.60287
Platforms 1 side platform
Tracks 1
Parking 25 spaces (planned)
Bicycle facilities Yes
Other information
Opened 1885 (Original station)
Spring 2015 (planned reopening)
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
Spring 2015
toward St. Albans

The new Depot Square Railroad Station will be located near the corner of Main and Dwight streets in Holyoke, Massachusetts.[1][2] The station was scheduled to open in late December 2014 when Amtrak's Vermonter service was re-routed to the Conn River Line through the Pioneer Valley but the opening has been delayed until the Spring of 2015.[3]

The first railroad depot in Holyoke opened in 1845, followed by the H.H. Richardson-designed Connecticut River Railroad Station in 1885.

The construction of the new railroad station in Holyoke will return passenger rail service to Holyoke for the first time in about 30 years, and to the Dwight and Main streets site for the first time in 120 years.[1]


The Connecticut River Railroad opened to passenger service between Springfield and Northampton in late 1845; trains reached Deerfield in August 1846, Greenfield in December 1847, and the junction with the Central Vermont Railway in January 1849. When the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad reached Brattleboro in 1850, the Connecticut River Railroad began running through service from Springfield to Brattleboro.[4] Over the next century, the line was host to a mix of local and long-distance passenger and freight service. It became part of the route for numerous New York-Montreal trains as early as the 1860s, and was acquired by the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1893.[4]

The original depot[edit]

The original depot, ca. 1880

Holyoke’s original train depot, which was located near Dwight and Main Streets, was a modest wooden structure that served both passenger and freight needs.[5] The site of the original depot is today occupied by an automobile repair shop and dealership.

Connecticut River Railroad Station[edit]

The former station, ca. 1904
The former station in disrepair in 2008

The Connecticut River Railroad Station was built in Holyoke in 1884-5 for the Connecticut River Railroad.[6] Designed by the American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, it was one of the last in his series of Northeastern railroad stations.

The station building, which is rectangular in shape, was originally designed with a double-height waiting room lit by high dormers. The building, which was constructed with granite and brownstone, included a slate covered hipped roof with multiple dormers.[7]

In 1965, as it became apparent that passenger service on the line was at its end, the station was converted into a mechanical shop by Perry's Auto Parts, and in 2004 the structure (along with Richardson's house in Brookline, Massachusetts) was cited as one of the ten most endangered historic sites in Massachusetts.[8]

In May 2009, as the building sat littered with graffiti and falling into disrepair, it was purchased from a private owner by the City of Holyoke's Gas & Electric department. Plans to repair the building did not at the time include allowing its use as a rail depot.[8]

In August 2014 the Holyoke Office of Planning & Economic Development issued a report detailing a number of potential new uses for the former Connecticut River Railroad station building. Proposed potential uses were divided into four broad themes: Food Uses, Collaborative Workspaces & Commercial Uses, Community & Cultural Uses and Academic Engagement & Educational Uses.[9]

Long-distance service over the line ended in October 1960, with local service between Springfield and Brattleboro lasting several more months.[4] In 1972, Amtrak began running the Montrealer, which ran along the line at night, stopping at Northampton but not Holyoke or Greenfield.[10] The Montrealer was discontinued in 1987 due to poor track conditions on the line.

Service resumed in 1989 after Amtrak seized control of the line in Vermont from the Boston and Maine Railroad, but the train was rerouted over the Central Vermont Railway through Massachusetts and Connecticut to avoid the still-dilapidated Conn River Line which Amtrak did not control. A stop was added at Amherst to replace Northampton. The Montrealer was replaced by the daytime Vermonter in 1995, using the original route through Connecticut but still avoiding the Conn River Line in Massachusetts.[4]

Depot Square Railroad Station[edit]

The new Depot Square Railroad Station, which will cost approximately $3.2 million dollars, will include a 400-foot-long high level platform, 170-foot-long canopy, and a waiting area and staircase facing Dwight Street. The site will have a 25-space parking lot and loop for bus drop off. Construction of the station began in November 2014 and is expected to be partially ready in the spring of 2015 so that Amtrak's Vermonter can start using the station stop. Full completion of the station is planned for September 2015.[1]

Restoration of passenger service[edit]

Track work at the new station site in October 2014

In order to shorten travel times on the Vermonter and add additional local service to serve the populated Connecticut River Valley, the Pan Am Railways Conn River Line is being rebuilt with $73 million in federal money and $10 million in state funds.[11] The Vermonter is to be rerouted to the line on December 29, 2014 with new station stops in Northampton and Greenfield.[12][13] A stop in Holyoke will be added in 2015 when construction of its platform is competed. Groundbreaking for the platform, which is to be ready for service by April, was held on December 22, 2014.[14]

New handicapped-accessible platforms are being built at all three stations. The construction of the new passenger station on southwest corner of Main and Dwight street in Holyoke is funded by a $2 million MassWorks Infrastructure grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.[15] The city considered reactivating the former station building, but instead decided that a site at Dwight Street a block west provided a better place for a modern station design.[16]

Possible future service[edit]

Commuter rail service has also been proposed for the corridor, running between Springfield and Greenfield with four daily round trips.[17] A 2014 state transportation funding bill included $30 million for acquiring used MBTA Commuter Rail rolling stock and new locomotives for the service.[18]

Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation are conducting a study to examine the opportunities and impacts of more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service between Boston and Montreal. The Boston to Montreal corridor runs from Boston to Springfield Union Station. From Springfield the rail corridor follows the route of the Vermonter northerly through Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield and Vermont. From St. Albans, Vermont the corridor continues to the Canadian border and onward to Montreal Central Station in Quebec. This study has been designated the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Plaisance, Mike (January 29, 2015). "Holyoke 2015: 4 'significant, visible investments that can support more economic activity and neighborhood formation'". The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts). Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  2. ^ Plaisance, Mike (27 Aug 2012). "Officials: Holyoke to see passenger train platform by spring 2014". The Republican. Retrieved 8 Jun 2014. 
  3. ^ Cain, Chad (November 24, 2014). "Long a dream, high-speed passenger rail service set for Dec. 29 launch throughout the Valley". Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts). Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 173–175. ISBN 0942147022. 
  5. ^ The Center for Design Engagement (August 2014). "H. H. Richardson Building Study Documents". Office of Planning & Economic Development. City of Holyoke. p. 10. Retrieved 2014-09-11. 
  6. ^ Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. pp. 167–169. ISBN 9780942147087. 
  7. ^ Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl (1982). H. H. Richardson, Complete Architectural Works. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. pp. 323–324. ISBN 978-0262650151. 
  8. ^ a b Roessler, Mark (June 18, 2009). "Holyoke's Famous Rail Station". The Valley Advocate (Northampton, Massachusetts). Retrieved 2015-01-06. 
  9. ^ The Center for Design Engagement (August 2014). "H. H. Richardson Building Study Documents". Office of Planning & Economic Development. City of Holyoke. p. 6. Retrieved 2014-09-11. 
  10. ^ Amtrak (26 October 1986). "Amtrak National Train Timetables". Museum of Railway Timetables. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Merzbach, Scott (16 February 2014). "Pioneer Valley Business 2014: Development hopes ride on expanded rail". Gazette Net. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "MassDOT Offers Update on Amtrak Train Through Northampton". ABC40. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Cain, Chad (9 July 2014). "Amtrak crews hard at work upgrading tracks". The Recorder. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Plaisance, Mike (18 December 2014). "Holyoke to begin $3.2 million construction of passenger train platform at Main and Dwight streets". MassLive. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Amtrak (2013). "Rail Platform Design Meeting Scheduled". Holyoke Office of Planning & Economic Development. 
  16. ^ Plaisance, Mike (27 Aug 2012). "Officials: Holyoke to see passenger train platform by spring 2014". The Republican. Retrieved 8 Jun 2014. 
  17. ^ Fritz, Anita (4 February 2014). "Train platform will have access from Olive Street, transportation center". The Recorder. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Session Laws: Chapter 79 of the Acts of 2014". Commonwealth of Masschusetts. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "About this Project". Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 

Further Reading[edit]

External links[edit]