The southbound Vermonter at Holyoke station in August 2018
|Location||74 Main Street|
|Owned by||City of Holyoke|
|Line(s)||Connecticut River Line|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Bicycle facilities||Bike racks are available|
|Architect||Michael Baker International|
|Station code||Amtrak code: HLK|
|Opened||1845 (original station)|
1885 (Connecticut River Railroad Station)
August 27, 2015
|Closed||1885 (original station)|
1966 (Connecticut River Railroad Station)
|Passengers (2017)||1,487 23.6% (Amtrak)|
Holyoke is an Amtrak intercity train station near the corner of Main and Dwight streets in Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States. The station opened on August 27, 2015, eight months after Amtrak's Vermonter service was re-routed to the Conn River Line through the Pioneer Valley.
The first railroad station in Holyoke had opened in 1845, followed by the H.H. Richardson-designed Connecticut River Railroad Station in 1885. Though passenger service to Holyoke ended in 1966, the 1885 depot is still extant. The opening of the new station returned passenger rail service to Holyoke for the first time in 49 years, and to the Dwight and Main streets site for the first time in 130 years. A two-year pilot program will add two daily Amtrak Shuttle round trips in June 2019.
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. 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.
The original depot
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. The site of the original depot is today occupied by an automobile repair shop and dealership.
Connecticut River Railroad Station
The Connecticut River Railroad Station was built in Holyoke in 1884-5 for the Connecticut River Railroad. 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.
In 1965, with passenger service waning, the station was converted into a mechanical shop by Perry's Auto Parts. Long-distance service over the line ended in October 1966, with local service between Springfield and Brattleboro lasting several more months.
In 1972, Amtrak began running the Montrealer, which ran along the line at night, stopping at Northampton but not Holyoke or Greenfield. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Restoration of passenger service
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 was rebuilt with $73 million in federal money and $10 million in state funds. The Vermonter was rerouted to the line on December 29, 2014 with new station stops in Northampton and Greenfield.
A stop at Holyoke was originally planned to open with Northampton and Greenfield but later delayed. 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. The new Depot Square Railroad Station, which cost approximately $3.2 million, includes a 400-foot (120 m)-long high level platform, 170-foot-long canopy, and a waiting area and staircase facing Dwight Street. The station has a 25-space parking lot and loop for bus drop off and is fully handicapped accessible. The city first planned a one-car-length "mini-high" platform with a longer stretch of low platform, but changed to the longer high-level platform in 2014. The construction of the new station was funded by a $2 million MassWorks Infrastructure grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Construction for the station began in November 2014, and a formal groundbreaking was held on December 22, 2014, one week before the Vermonter was rerouted to the line. The station was then intended to open in April 2015, but construction took longer than expected. Depot Square Railroad Station opened on August 27, 2015.
Commuter rail service has also been proposed for the corridor, running between Springfield and Greenfield with four daily round trips. A 2014 state transportation funding bill included $30 million for acquiring used MBTA Commuter Rail rolling stock and new locomotives for the service. In June 2018, Governor Charlie Baker announced that two daily Amtrak Shuttle round trips would be extended to Greenfield in 2019 as a pilot program. As of February 2019[update], the two-year pilot is expected to begin in June 2019.
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 Canada–US border and onward to Montreal Central Station in Quebec. This study has been designated the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative.
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- "Session Laws: Chapter 79 of the Acts of 2014". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. April 18, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
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- "About this Project". Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
- HDR Engineering, Inc. (March 2011). Holyoke Station Feasibility Study and Site Analysis (PDF) (Report). Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
- The Center for Design Engagement (August 2014). "H. H. Richardson Building Study Documents". Office of Planning & Economic Development. City of Holyoke.
- Laidlaw, Scott (February 2012). "Holyoke's Depot Square and the Richardson Train Station" (PDF). City Of Holyoke Office of Planning and Development.
- "Holyoke Station Design Plans". Holyoke Redevelopment. Holyoke Office of Planning & Economic Development.
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