Springfield Union Station (Massachusetts)
Springfield Union Station in August 2018
|Location||55 Frank B. Murray Street|
|Line(s)||New Haven–Springfield Line|
Connecticut River Line
|Platforms||2 side platforms, 2 island platforms|
|Connections||PVTA: LOOP, G1, G2, G2E, G3, B4, G5, B6, B7, B7S, R10, P11, B12, R14, B17, P20, P20E, P21, P21E, X92, WPE|
|Parking||377 spaces (parking garage)|
|Station code||SPG (Amtrak)|
|Opened||1839 (original station)|
1851 (first Union Station)
1891 (second Union Station)
1926 (third Union Station)
1973 (first Amtrak station)
November 1994 (second Amtrak station)
|Rebuilt||2017 (third Union Station)|
|Passengers (FY 2018)||99,283 10.77% (Amtrak)|
Springfield Union Station is a train and bus station in the Metro Center area of Springfield, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1926, Springfield Union Station is the fifth busiest Amtrak station in the Commonwealth.
A large-scale $94 million renovation project restored the former station building, and it reopened in late June 2017 as a regional intermodal transit hub. It features not only Amtrak service, but also serves as the new hub for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), along with Peter Pan Bus Lines, Greyhound Lines, and the Hartford Line commuter rail. PVTA and intercity bus services began using the renovated station in 2017, and the Hartford Line opened in June 2018. Amtrak moved from a 1994-built structure to the renovated station in June 2019.
Springfield's grand Union Station was constructed in 1926 by the Boston & Albany Railroad to replace an earlier Richardson Romanesque unique dual-station by Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, the successor firm to that of noted American architect, H. H. Richardson (architect of Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston). Prior to that, an Egyptian Revival structure served the city until the first so-called Union Station was built in 1851.
Springfield is exactly equidistant to both Boston and Albany at 89 miles (143 km) from each. The New York, New Haven & Hartford (including the Central New England Railway) and Boston & Maine railroads also utilized the station.
Already in the 1950s, the New York Central Railroad, the parent company of the Boston & Albany, wanted to sell the grand Springfield station, calling it "a white elephant". The opening of the Massachusetts Turnpike in 1958 was said to have caused a 50% decline in passenger trips to Boston. By 1962, train departures had fallen from a 1920s-30s peak of 97 per day to fewer than 15 per day. The station was sold in 1970 to David Buntzman, a real estate speculator from Larchmont, New York.
The 1926 main station building and baggage building closed in 1973 as passenger traffic could no longer justify the 221,000-square foot station and the Boston & Albany intercity routes were taken over by Amtrak. The building had been neglected for a number of years and was in poor condition, and the required rehabilitation to the building was deemed too costly. After this, Amtrak opened a makeshift station at street level within the passenger tunnel, with the sole entrance being from Lyman Street. The connection from the tunnel to the old station was sealed.
In 1994, Amtrak constructed a station building at track level and sealed off the passenger tunnel except for the Lyman Street entrance and the southernmost stairway and elevator shaft to track level. A modern elevator was installed in the remaining open shaft to connect from street level to the new station building above.
In October 2008, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and the Springfield Redevelopment Authority released a redevelopment plan for Union Station. The plan, estimated to cost $65.2 million, called for restoring the 1926 Union Station Terminal building for reuse as an intermodal rail and bus station and fully building out the first floor and main concourse with rentable commercial space and ticketing and waiting areas for both rail and bus. The baggage/railway express building was to be demolished and baggage tunnel sealed. A parking garage and bus bays for both inter-city and regional bus services (which would replace the Peter L. Picknelly Transportation Center a block away) would go on the footprint of the former baggage building. Additionally the pedestrian tunnel to Lyman Street would be restored, and the platforms raised for handicapped accessibility. The final plan announced in December 2014, at a cost $75.7 million, additionally includes restoring and building out the upper floors of the 1926 station building to usable vacant "shell space". This would include only infrastructure and utility work on those floors, with final finishing work to be done by the eventual tenants based on their needs. This space is aimed for use by office or other commercial tenants. By the time the station opened, the full cost had risen to $94 million.
Demolition of the baggage/railway express building began on December 1, 2014, and was completed in early 2015. The only remnant of the baggage facility is a tunnel under the rail viaduct that was used for freight and baggage transport between the warehouse and the trains above. The only remaining entrance to this tunnel is a set of doors along the retaining wall in the bus loading area at the location of where the tunnel formerly connected to the warehouse although it is off limits to the public. By February 2016 the parking garage had been assembled and restoration work on the station terminal building had begun, with new windows and roofing installed. The restoration was nearly complete in March 2017 when officials took journalists on a tour and the grand opening occurred on June 24, 2017.
The PVTA was the first transportation operator to use the renovated station; it began operations there on June 24, 2017, leasing 18 bus berths. Peter Pan and Greyhound buses began operating out of Union Station on September 6, 2017. The companies ended their revenue-sharing agreement and began operating competing services three weeks later. The CTrail Hartford Line commuter rail service began operating out of the renovated terminal in June 2018.
MassDOT and Amtrak finalized designs for a widened high-level platform C along with stairwell and elevator access to said platform. The design was finalized in March 2018. The platform project is the last phase of the Union Station revitalization and its expected cost is $6.5 million. The platform has been delayed due to insufficient space between the stairwell head house and the platform edge and the Federal Railroad Administration denied a waiver from the clearance requirement. The project was awarded to a construction contractor in May 2018.
Actual construction work on the platform began in August 2018 and is presently underway. The work includes realigning tracks 4 and 6 to accommodate the higher platform and a new wayside power system for powering trains while they layover in the station. The new power cabinets and supporting infrastructure were installed between May and July 2018. The new platform will be long enough to allow boarding and disembarking from five passenger cars on tracks 4 and 6 (in a five car boarding/disembarking situation this would include one door in the first and fifth cars and both doors of the middle three cars.) It will retain some historic elements of the old low level platform it is replacing, including the existing overhead canopy structure. The canopy will be rebuilt four feet higher over the new high-level platform, using the structural steel components of the old canopy with new roofing and drainage materials to retain a historic look. Along with the historic elements, the platform will be equipped with information displays for both tracks, an elevator and stairwell to the passenger tunnel below, and emergency egress ramps on both ends of the platform. Completion is expected in July 2019.
The primary passenger rail service at Springfield Union Station are the Hartford Line trains connecting Springfield to the Amtrak's Northeast Corridor trains in New Haven. An additional 1–2 daily Northeast Regional round trips start or terminate their service at Springfield.
The station is also served by the Vermonter and Lake Shore Limited trains. The Vermonter currently uses the north-south Connecticut River Line to Connecticut and Vermont, while the Lake Shore Limited makes use of the east–west Boston Line platforms as it continues to and from Albany, New York.
In the past a single Northeast Regional round trip (usually trains 142 and 145) would travel between New Haven and Boston via the so-called "Inland Route" via Springfield and the Boston Line, as opposed to the faster, electrified Northeast Corridor. In 2003, a problem pulled the Acela Express trainsets out of service and in an effort to find substitute rolling stock, Amtrak first curtailed the inland round trip to a three-car shuttle between Boston and New Haven before canceling it completely. Today, all normally scheduled Regional trains using the Inland Route only use the portion between Springfield and New Haven; in the event of a service disruption on the Northeast Corridor, trains may be scheduled to run via the complete Inland Route. One such occasion was the replacement of the Thames River Bridge movable span in June 2008, when Amtrak scheduled three round trips per day over the Inland Route to substitute for the complete suspension of regular Northeast Corridor service.
Union Station serves as the region's bus hub. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, which operates local buses serving Springfield and surrounding towns and cities, occupies 18 bus berths at the station. Springfield-based Peter Pan Bus Lines uses seven bus berths for intercity buses, and Greyhound Lines uses the remaining two for its intercity service.
Springfield's renovated Union Station is the northern terminus for the Hartford Line, a commuter rail service which began operating out of Union Station on June 16, 2018. CTrail operated service uses the new Union Station facility for ticketing and waiting while Amtrak continues to operate out of the older station located trackside. On July 24, 2017 the Connecticut Department of Transportation announced that a joint partnership between TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts Inc. was chosen as the operator for the new service. This partnership operates similar commuter services in other markets. Amtrak continues its present intercity service on the line and will continue to own and maintain the infrastructure on the rail line between New Haven and Springfield. The expanded service to Springfield Union Station from New Haven includes a total of seven additional roundtrips, four of which are commuter trains operated by the new CTrail operator, and the other three of which are additional Amtrak Shuttles which brings the service to eight Amtrak round trips and four CTrail round trips. On August 30, 2019, Amtrak extended two daily New Haven–Springfield Shuttle round trips (branded as Valley Flyer) to Greenfield as a pilot program.
Possible future rail service
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation have completed 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, Massachusetts, and Brattleboro, White River Junction, Essex Junction (Burlington), and St. Albans, Vermont. From St. Albans, 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.
Springfield Union Station layout
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The Union Station building, bus bays, and parking garage are located on the north side of the rail viaduct adjacent to Frank B. Murray Street. The stairwell and elevator to the boarding platforms is located on the south side of the viaduct next to Lyman Street. A tunnel leads under the viaduct, allowing Union Station to be accessed from Lyman Street. The main hall in Union Station includes a waiting area for rail passengers, restaurants, retail spaces, and ticket windows for rail and intercity bus services; a PVTA local bus waiting area and an intercity bus waiting area are located in an adjacent room. Commercial space is located on the second and third floors.
The rail viaduct holds six tracks, which are numbered 1, 2, 2a, 4, 6, and 8 from north to south. Tracks 1 and 2 are primarily used by CSX Transportation for freight service on their Berkshire Subdivision and are served by platforms A and B - track 2 is also used for boarding and disembarking of the daily Lake Shore Limited train. Track 2a, which connects with both the New Haven-Springfield Line and the CSX tracks, is owned by Amtrak and is normally used mainly for train layovers although it is presently being actively used for passenger operations while track 4 is closed. Tracks 4 through 8 (serving platforms C and D) are currently used for most Amtrak service; they connect directly to the New Haven–Springfield Line west of the station, but only connect to the CSX tracks east of the station. (The Lake Shore Limited uses the CSX tracks for this reason.) Presently track 4 is shut down and covered over for platform C construction. West of the station, the New Haven–Springfield Line curves to the south while the Berkshire Subdivision continues on to cross the Connecticut River on a twin truss bridge. The Connecticut River Line connects to both lines west of the station, although it requires a backup move to reach tracks 4 though 8.
The four current platforms were once all island platforms, with stairways to the under-track tunnel and cargo elevators to a separate tunnel serving the baggage/railway express building. Platform C, between tracks 4 and 6, has been removed and a high-level boarding platform is under construction in its place.
On June 6, 2017, Dietz & Company Architects, the largest architecture firm in the region, announced they would be occupying approximately 8,200 square feet (760 m2) on the second floor.
On November 20, 2017, Peter Pan Bus Lines announced the signing of a lease for 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of office space at Union Station for the company's corporate headquarters. The company will occupy the entire third floor of the building.
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- Porter, Mikaela; Owens, David (June 17, 2018). "Thousands Take A Free Ride On Hartford Line's Inaugural Run". Retrieved June 17, 2018.
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- "AMTRAK AND MASSDOT ANNOUNCE START OF NEW VALLEY FLYER TRAIN SERVICE IN WESTERN AND NORTHERN MASSACHUSETTS" (Press release). Amtrak. August 27, 2019.
- "About This Project". Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
- Kinney, Jim (May 9, 2017). "With Peter Pan bus deal in place, 1st floor of Springfield's Union Station nears 100% occupancy ahead of grand opening". MassLive. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
- Kinney, Jim (July 28, 2017). "Springfield's Union Station: What businesses are moving in soon?". MassLive. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
- "Rail News Roundup #12". Trains in the Valley. April 14, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- Kinney, Jim (November 3, 2017). "Springfield's Union Station getting busy with fast food, rental car service and more open for business". Mass Live. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- Kinney, Jim (June 6, 2017). "Dietz & Company Architects moving to Springfield Union Station". Mass Live.
- Kinney, Jim (November 20, 2017). "Peter Pan signs lease for Union Station offices". Mass Live.
- Phaneuf, Wayne E.; Carvalho III, Joseph; Boyle, Margaret L. (2017). Saving Union Station. The Republican. ISBN 978-0-692-85718-2.
- Simon, Ellis B. (2016). "Springfield Union Station". Passenger Train Journal (2016–4): 18–23. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016.
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